When Francis Ngannou first burst onto the UFC heavyweight scene, he made an immediate impact, mowing down seemingly every opponent the UFC put in his way en route to ultimately challenging for the UFC title.
In that streak, the powerhouse Frenchmen, looked unstoppable, knocking competition in orbit with his thunderous fists and feet.
Then came UFC 220, a night that would’ve been a crowing achievement or a “coronation” of sorts for Ngannou, as he had the UFC’s full investment leading into the event, dubbing him “the most powerful puncher in the company”.
In his preparation for his fight with then champion Stipe Miocic, it was as if Ngannou wasn’t taking the fight as serious as he should’ve, almost as if he was overconfident and was “too sure” of himself he’d win.
But once the fight finally began, and Miocic was able to impose his will on Ngannou, not to mention expose the main weakness in his MMA game, all of that over-confidence was completely shattered.
After the first round of the fight, Ngannou was instantly tired, as he could not handle the pace an conditioning of the champion.
Miocic eventually won the bout and retained his title after 5 rounds of complete dominance, dictating the fight the entire time and out-wrestling the french striker. Ngannou, defeated and totally outclassed, was visibly devastated.
A few months later, after taking some time off to work on his conditioning as well as polishing up the flaws in his skillset, Ngannou made his return to the UFC, this time in a semi-grudge match with fellow hard hitting heavyweight, Derrick “Black Beast” Lewis.
In the build up to this fight, it was expected to be the tailor-made bout for Ngannou’s return, a good ole slugfest, especially against an opponent like Lewis who like Ngannou, fights that exact style.
The bout was one UFC fans were anxiously awaiting, and one of the more promoted bouts of the UFC 226 card.
Unfortunately though, once the fight actually happened, it did not live up to the hype it’d been given as both men put out a virtual 3 round stalemate, followed by a furious chorus of boos projected from the UFC audience.
Lewis was awarded the victory despite the poor showing in the fight.
For Francis Ngannou, it was another humiliating defeat.
The following week, Ngannou put out a heartfelt Instagram post discussing how unhappy he was with his performance against Derrick Lewis, saying that the loss hurt him more than it helped.
I think maybe what Ngannou is really trying to say is that his competitive ego got the best of him and now he’s suffering because of it.
And I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way, and a matter of fact, the other person who feels the way I do about Francis Ngannou’s ego, is the man who’s most responsible for his career, UFC President Dana White.
White also stated that he saw Ngannou’s downfall developing all along, while admitting to being one of those who mainly contributed in the ongoing hype of Ngannou leading into UFC 220.
“Francis Ngannou, at the time that he was coming up, I believed this guy was going to be the guy, was going to be the heavyweight champion,” White said (via MMA Fighting). “And he lost his mind. This guy completely lost his mind and started to act in a way that you just don’t act. I completely saw it coming, that Stipe, obviously Francis Ngannou is a massive, strong, hard-hitting guy and anything can happen when he gets in there, but Stipe has this thing where he feels disrespected. This guy’s always on fire and pissed off at the world, pissed off at us and I saw that coming. I knew, Francis Ngannou left the training center here where had trained for previous fights, took off to France, was in France training or doing whatever he was doing leading up to the Stipe fight, because he absolutely, positively knew he was going to beat Stipe.”
“I don’t know,” White added. “Ngannou has a lot of things he needs to fix personally and professionally to see if he ever gets back on track again.”
Do you think Francis Ngannou will ever get back to his victorious ways?