UFC boss White addresses ‘idiots’ over Ngannou snub claims
UFC president Dana White has offered his reasons for not putting the belt around heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou's waist following his first successful title defense at UFC 270.
The Cameroonian was impressive in battling his way to a unanimous decision over Cyril Gane in Anaheim on Saturday.
But when White was not in the octagon to put the gold strap on the champ as is customary, fans and pundits suggested this might be related to an ongoing pay dispute 'The Predator' has with the elite MMA promotion.
White has attempted to clear up the row in an interview, claiming there was no disrespect behind not honoring the tradition.
"I wasn’t out there for the main event – I actually walked out of the arena right after the co-main event because there was stuff going on backstage that I was dealing with," insisted White during a fan Q & A.
"For anybody to think that I was showing any type of disrespect towards 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.
"For anybody to think there was some type of disrespect shown towards Francis, I wasn’t out there for Michael Bisping [vs. Luke] Rockhold either because I was dealing with some stuff," White pointed out, in relation to a UFC 199 event where he had to eject journalist Ariel Helwani for breaking a scoop prematurely.
"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, showed up to the press conference, and said this is exactly why I left. It was in Abu Dhabi with Anderson Silva [at UFC 112], it was the Demian Maia fight. So there’s the answer. I don’t know if somebody asked that, but somebody wanted to. There you go," White finished.
Ngannnou's camp allegedly received an e-mail from the UFC hours before the bout at the Honda Arena threatening to sue his agent Marquel Martin for speaking to Jake Paul's business partner Nakisa Bidarian.
Yet despite the apparent bad blood, White praised Ngannou's performance in the headline spectacle which saw him take the action to the ground rather than go for a knockout of the Frenchman.
"I think the heavyweight main event was a shocker," said White. "I don’t think anybody expected to see Francis come in and wrestle. During the fight, I was very surprised [by Ngannou’s approach]. After the fight, it was genius.
"It was genius for him to go work on his wrestling. I guarantee you – I don’t know this for a fact – but I would guarantee you that Ciryl Gane did almost no wrestling to prepare for that fight. So to come in and implement the game plan that he had, it was brilliant."
As for what he would like to see next in the division, White touted a "big fight" between Jon Jones and Ngannou "if it's possible to get it done".
Francis Ngannou will undergo knee surgery before he is able to train or compete again, his manager Marquel Martin told @bokamotoESPN.After defending his title at UFC 270, Ngannou revealed he went into the fight with a torn MCL and damaged ACL, which he injured during training. pic.twitter.com/KzWnXujX24— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) January 26, 2022
Yet with Ngannou suffering a torn MCL and damaged ACL during sparring in the build-up to the Gane showdown, he will have to undergo knee surgery that will keep him out of action for nine to ten months and shelve such plans until the end of the year or possibly even 2023.
"I continue to be amazed and inspired by Francis' heart and resilience," Martin explained to ESPN, when revealing news on the development which also includes a trip to Cameroon.
"Fighting on one leg to overcome all odds, and remind the world he is the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. I think we can all agree he deserves some time to go back home and be with his family and countrymen.
"Upon his return, we plan on getting surgery and starting the recovery process so we can get him back to 100 percent as soon as possible. In the meantime, we hope we can find a peaceful resolution in these contract talks. We'd like to thank all the fans for their continued support and belief in Francis," Martin concluded.
Francis Ngannou deserves much better than the lies and disrespect Dana White has shown him and his manager. It’s time for everyone to say Fuck Dana White and support the men and women who put their bodies at risk to make him fat and rich. #FuckDana— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) January 27, 2022
Elsewhere in MMA, Paul, who appears to be planning a crossover to the sport from boxing, took to Twitter to say that Ngannou "deserves much better than the lies and disrespect Dana White has shown him and his manager".
"It’s time for everyone to say 'F**k Dana White' and support the men and women who put their bodies at risk to make him fat and rich," he added, continuing a long-standing beef with the UFC head honcho over fighter pay.