For a man on the verge of an Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight title shot, Francis Ngannou is not a very happy man.
That’s because he’s fought just 20 seconds in the last 1.5 years, stuck on the sidelines waiting for that title shot to materialize ... in vain. Following a long recovery after fighting Daniel Cormier in Aug. 2019 and then a ferocious war with Cormier again in Aug. 2020, division champion Stipe Miocic hasn’t been in too much of a rush to step in and face the Cameroonian knockout king.
“It’s been a lifetime, and it’s like frustrating, even though I’m tryin to take it out of my mind, knowing I can’t do nothing to change it,” Ngannou said on the MMA Fighting podcast. “Even before fighting in May, I’d been through the same sort of story, situation, which kind of got me ready to face this waiting again. I was waiting for Stipe and D.C., which was in August. And obviously, I was hoping for something in December. After that fight I had just came back from Cameroon, and I was expecting that sometime in December because it’s four months away, maybe January at the latest.”
“But obviously ... not. I don’t know. What I know is they just said March, but it’s not official. And who knows? Who knows how that will play out.”
UFC has currently booked its pay-per-view (PPV) events up til March, with UFC 259 on March 6, 2021, featuring three title fights already. Barring a surprise second title fight addition to UFC 258 in February (headlined by Usman vs. Burns), Ngannou will be waiting until at least April to step back into the cage.
“My only issue with the [Miocic vs. Cormier] trilogy is it’s been holding the Heavyweight division up for two years,” he said. “There hasn’t been a Heavyweight title fight in this division for two years outside of those two guys. There hasn’t been any title fights for contenders. Which is why contenders fight, fight toward the title.”
Francis seems to spread the blame around on the general trilogy situation, UFC, and Miocic wanting things “his way.”
“UFC is in charge of this, which is why my last fight, we requested it be the interim fight so we can fight for something,” he said. “And if that would have been for an interim fight, I’m sure I would have been fighting by now. At the same time, I just think Stipe on his end wants to do things his way. But, it’s not for him to impose his situation the whole division. He has a duty.”
Ngannou is also bummed out that a potential fight with Jon Jones never came together ... another opportunity for a big money payday scuttled because of UFC’s refusal to negotiate with Jones.
“It’s obviously something that everyone would love to see,” Ngannou said. “If I were to say myself, I would have liked to see that fight. I wanted it to happen. If this fight would have happened, I would have been active by now. If I have two positive things, which is fighting Jon Jones, who is probably the greatest of all time, the No. 1 pound-for-pound in the world in my opinion.
“But the main thing I would stay active,” he finished. “Because right now, right here, it’s just lacking. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know what I am doing exactly. Having a fight is a good fight and having a big fight is a great thing. That’s something I’m looking forward to.”
Damn ... it sucks for Ngannou to spent this long on the shelf not fighting. One fight a year feels almost criminal, and it all comes down to Ngannou wanting what he’s worth. UFC still largely refuses to pay people properly if they don’t have a belt around their waist, so now we’re in a situation where “The Beast” rides the bench waiting for an opportunity to challenge for the belt.