Francis Ngannou was happy to admit he learned a lot during his loss to heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic, but Ngannou’s coach Fernand Lopez isn't’ too happy with some of the criticism his student has been getting. Ngannou came into UFC 220 with a metric ton of hype, but a lot of that praise turned to confusion after Miocic handled the Cameroonian with relative ease on the mats over their five round battle.
An example of this would be Joe Rogan, who went from singing Ngannou’s praise as a one in a million athlete in his Mike Tyson days to questioning whether the fighter had even bothered to train wrestling before the fight.
“Before, everyone was saying ‘Oh my God, he’s in tremendous shape, everything is amazing!’” Rogan said on his podcast. “Then afterwards it’s like ‘Oh, he doesn’t train on the ground.’ What? He doesn’t train on the ground? They go ‘All he wants to do is strike.’ You can’t let him do that. You can’t let him. He’s going to fight a Division-I wrestler. How is he going to do this? How is he going to stand up? He’s going to magically get up? You have to train it.”
MMA Factory Paris head coach Fernand Lopez had some words about that with MMANYTT.
“I was surprised that someone like Joe Rogan said that Francis didn’t know what to do on the ground,” he said. “I think people should go check the fight again ... If Francis didn’t know what he was doing on the ground, how come Stipe [Miocic], who has way more experience in professional MMA and who has vicious ground and pound, how come Stipe didn’t finish Francis on the ground if Francis didn’t know what he was doing?”
“The fight was on the ground nearly 80% of the time. So, how come he didn’t finish him? Francis has a good ground game and if you check at the end of the fourth round, Francis went for a heel hook and it made Stipe run away. Francis could’ve stood up, but he didn’t have enough energy, that’s why he just laid down. We spent a lot of time working on his ground game with legit black belts. We spent time in Vegas and he was working with Vinny Magalhaes. He showed very good things. Stipe had head control, but he didn’t finish [Ngannou]. Stipe had a guillotine, but he didn’t finish him. Stipe escaped a heel hook from Francis – when was the last time you saw a heavyweight go for a heel hook? It’s not fair to say he didn’t work his ground game. He did. It’s not fair to say that Francis didn’t work his wrestling. He did. Wrestling isn’t just about attacking, it’s about defending and he showed good things on that.”
The nature of MMA is that sometimes you can be pretty good at something, but the moment you lock horns with someone superior they can end up making you look pretty bad. As Rogan noted, Stipe has a history of wrestling while Ngannou is pretty green timewise in MMA across the board. Really, it shouldn’t be all that shocking that Miocic imposed his will on the canvas against Ngannou.
Unless, of course, you let all that hype cloud your vision of things leading up to UFC 220.