Reigning UFC heavyweight champion, Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou has admitted that he had felt disrespected by the promotion following the introduction of an interim title just less than months since he scooped undisputed gold, claiming that sometimes he’s not entirely sure if he’s a viewed as a champion or not.
Cameroon native, Ngannou headlined UFC 260 at the end of March in a heavyweight championship rematch against two-time opponent, Stipe Miocic in a rematch of their January 2018 unanimous decision pairing.
Dropping and eventually stopping Miocic with a thunderous second round knockout victory, Ngannou was minted as the undisputed heavyweight champion. And a pairing opposite former two-time light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones was widely expected after months of speculation.
Ultimately the pairing of Jones and Ngannou hit the rocks indefinitely with the former running into some rather public negotiation fallouts with the organization.
An undisputed heavyweight championship rematch between Ngannou and past-foe, Derrick Lewis was then expected to land, however, scheduling conflicts prevented Ngannou from competing at UFC 265 earlier this month.
As a result, a highly criticized and dubious interim championship was introduced into the division by the promotion, with Lewis meeting the undefeated French standout, Ciryl Gane for the gold on home soil in Houston, Texas.
In an upset victory in enemy territory, Gane dismantled Lewis for three round prior to an eventual ground strikes stoppage, which subsequently sets up a highly-anticipated unification bout with former training partner, Ngannou.
Sharing the same sentiment as many in the community regarding the interim title’s introduction, Ngannou revealed recently that he felt disrespected by the UFC — and questioned if he was even a champion or not as a result.
“Yes I have that feeling (of being disrespected),” Ngannou told GQ. ” Just recently they (the UFC) gave me the UFC heavyweight champion (championship), and months later they’re talking about someone else being champion, Sometimes I’m not even sure if I’m really the champ or not, it’s really confusing.“
Ngannou explained how he had informed the UFC that would be able to defend the title against originally targeted opponent Lewis in September, but despite that, an interim title was still brought into the fold.
“I think it was all business, and the UFC wanted to do a pay-per-view (event) in Houston (, Texas),” Ngannou continued. “It wasn’t the right timing for me, but they wanted to do it no matter what. Just before that, they were asking me if I was ready to fight in September and I told them I’d be more than ready.“
“Then suddenly, we just saw they had an interim title… I don’t know what truly happened. It’s all from the UFC’s end. They will be the only ones who know what happened.” (H/T MMA Fighting)
In the midst of a stunning five-fight knockout run since a unanimous decision defeat to the aforenoted, Lewis in July 2018. Prior to his championship-clinching knockout win over Miocic, the Batie native stopped Jairzinho Rozenstruik, as well as former champions, Junior dos Santos, and Cain Velasquez — after a second career knockout win over Curtis Blaydes.