Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) will give heavyweight wrecking ball Francis Ngannou another chance to dethrone reigning division kingpin Stipe Miocic, a goal “The Predator” failed to accomplish when they first went to war at UFC 220 more than three years back.
“I didn’t spend enough time in the Octagon to have that experience,” Ngannou told Joe Rogan (transcribed by Jed Meshew). “Even though it was almost four years since I’d been doing the sport but I didn’t spend enough time in the Octagon to have that experience. I think in one night I covered more than what I’d been spending in the Octagon for the rest of my career.”
Ngannou was expecting to win by early knockout but when Miocic didn’t stick to the script, “The Predator” failed to implement (or perhaps didn't have) Plan B. What followed was a lopsided whooping that drew the ire of promotion president Dana White.
“Some people get here when they’ve been having athlete lives for a long time,” Ngannou continued. “Maybe wrestling, maybe doing some different sport at school, at college, but I never got into that stuff. Growing up I was just finding my way to survive and then I end up finding myself in somewhere that I never been there so the experience was just crazy.”
Ngannou (15-3) would stumble in his very next fight, dropping a decision to Derrick Lewis in what is widely considered one of the worst fights in the history of the heavyweight division. What followed was a murderous tear that ended with four straight knockouts.
Two of which came over former UFC heavyweight champions.
“For the Stipe fight, I think I rush for the first round,” Ngannou said. “Now I’m like, ‘Damn, I had five rounds. Why should I rush and run out of gas?’ Looking at that fight, I watch that fight, I see the guy look like me, but I don’t recognize myself because it’s not the way that I fight. I look back at other fights and it looks like two different persons. The way that I used to fight I was kind of calm, I’d push the fight and let myself get into fight and if there’s an opportunity — most of the time my opponent will be the first to attack. But this one I just rushed in there. So I’m like, I should have calmed down.”
Ngannou, 34, will have a chance to prove he’s not the same fighter he was in 2018 when Miocic meets him inside the cage for the UFC 260 pay-per-view (PPV) main event, going down on March 27 inside APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.