In a rare moment during a UFC PPV, company president Dana White was MIA. He wasn’t there to wrap the belt around Francis Ngannou’s waist after the main event, and he was nowhere to be found during the post-fight presser.
White’s absence raised some questions, particularly because of his reportedly strained relationship with the UFC heavyweight champion. But in an ESPN+ Q&A with Laura Sanko on Wednesday, the boss gave his side of the story.
“I actually walked out of the arena right after the co-main event ‘cause there was stuff going on backstage that I was dealing with. But for anybody to think that I was showing any type of disrespect toward Francis… I saw Francis all week, you idiots. I shook his hand, I said hi to him, I was out there for the staredowns, the whole thing,” he said.
To further prove his point, White talked about a similar situation during Michael Bisping’s title win over Luke Rockhold at UFC 199 in 2016.
“So for anybody to think that there was some type of disrespect shown towards Francis, I wasn’t out there for the Michael Bisping-Rockhold fight, either ‘cause I was dealing with some stuff,” White explained. “And I sprinted from the back, I didn’t even have my jacket on. I only had my shirt on to go out there and put the belt on Bisping. But I couldn’t make it out there to put the belt on Francis.
“There’s only been one time that I’ve walked out on a fight, and made it very clear. I showed up to the press conference and said this was exactly why I left. It was in Abu Dhabi with Anderson Silva. I think it was the Demian Maia fight.”
For his part, Ngannou feels White’s absence during the main event and post-fight presser “was their decision.” He also says his status with the company remains in limbo after having fought the last fight in his contract on Saturday night against Ciryl Gane.