UFC 226 was indeed an unforgettable night, mainly due to Daniel Cormier’s historic UFC heavyweight title win over Stipe Miocic.
On the other hand, there was one fight that UFC fans alike will probably want forget, and for good reason.
That reason being, with the hype that surrounded the matchup, it was considered to be one of the most exciting ones on the card but failed to deliver.
Why you ask? Well, that’s because one of the fighters involved never really made the effort to engage in the action. That fighter I’m referring to of course is Francis Ngannou. His opponent? Derrick Lewis.
Revered for being one of the most feared strikers in the UFC today, it came as a utter surprise to see Ngannou visibly hesitant once he and Lewis came to the center of the octagon.
But it just wasn’t Ngannou, as Lewis himself never made an attempt to initiate any offense in the early going either.
Knowing the reputation the two competitor’s share for finishing their contests in rather quick fashion on usual occasions, you almost couldn’t imagine this fight going to a decision, but it did, and was overall disappointing.
The bout, for the most part was a sheer stalemate, as both men seemed to just circle each other with neither man not even throwing a jab, but towards the end, both men finally unloaded strikes, though very minimal, with Lewis’s display being more persuasive than Ngannou’s to the judges, which allowed ” Black Beast” to get the decision win.
The following week after UFC 226, Ngannou made a post on his Twitter to explain what attributed to his horrendous performance against Derrick Lewis. The African slugger said it was residual nerves stemming from the loss he’d suffered when facing Stipe Miocic for the UFC Heavyweight Championship.
“I am not proud of my last performance,” Ngannou said of his UFC 226 loss to Derrick Lewis. “I have carried my fear from the last fight to this one. I completely understand the frustration & anger that it has caused to my fans, coaches, teammates, family and friends and I am truly sorry for that. I won’t let everyone down again. All I can do now is prove myself and make you proud again.”
Lewis responded to Ngannou’s claims when appearing on the MMA hour this week, in which he agreed that there was indeed a sense of nervousness on Ngannou’s part, an that it definitely effected him in their fight.
“To me, whenever he stepped inside the Octagon, he looked scared from the get-go,” Lewis said (via MMA Fighting) “He wasn’t the same guy that I saw at the weigh-ins. Like, his facial expressions and his emotions and everything, it wasn’t the same. So all of that right there, that threw me off in the fight too, because I didn’t believe that he was really that scared of me, but the look in his eyes, it really did show that he was scared.”
Whether him being scared or not was the reason Francis Ngannou wasn’t his typical dangerous, aggressive self, it was still shocking and puzzling to see the heavy hitter from Cameroon not mounting offense of any kind in that fight, Lewis was also confused by this.
“I was confused too,” he said. “I tried to make him engage. I did a couple of things to try to make him engage, and he just wouldn’t do it.
“I tried to do a little bit more than him and it just was weird to me too, the whole fight, so I don’t know. I don’t know what was going on.
“I believe he was scared of taking a shot.”
Do you agree with Derrick Lewis’s assessment of why Francis Ngannou fought so poorly at UFC 226?