Francis Ngannou doesn’t appear to be pleased with the UFC’s decision to book an interim title fight in the heavyweight division.
After the promotion reportedly hit an impasse at finalizing a date for Ngannou’s (16-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC) first title defense, it opted to move on and put together an interim championship bout between Derrick Lewis (25-7 MMA, 16-5 UFC) and Ciryl Gane (9-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) at UFC 265 on Aug. 7.
Ngannou’s management told ESPN it was surprised by the fight considering “The Predator” is only three months removed from winning the belt from Stipe Miocic. Shortly thereafter, Ngannou took to social media and noted the organization’s unevenness when it comes to handling these situations, pointing to how he should’ve got his own interim title fight against Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 249 in May 2020 after then-champ Miocic had been out of action for nine months (via Twitter):
I remember my interim title fight against Jairzinho …. oh wait 🙄
Nothing has been right here
It’s been a dramatic shift for the heavyweight division from where things stood just a few months ago. Coming out of Ngannou’s knockout win over Miocic in their rematch at UFC 260 in March, all signs pointed to a superfight with Jon Jones being the next move.
Negotiations with Jones quickly deteriorated, though, and the UFC brass shifted to Lewis as the first challenger for Ngannou.
Fast-forward to the present day, and now neither Ngannou nor Jones will be involved in the next title bout at heavyweight.
Ngannou wasn’t the only one surprised by the decision. Check out how some others in the MMA community reacted to the Lewis vs. Gane news.
The promotion tried to book Lewis against Francis Ngannou, but Ngannou informed them he wouldn't be ready to defend his title by August. pic.twitter.com/vHQwb77YXI
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) June 28, 2021
— Belal Muhammad (@bullyb170) June 28, 2021
Two slaps in the face here:
One to Francis Ngannou, for obvious reasons. An interim belt ALREADY? 👋🏽
The other to Amanda Nunes, for making an interim title fight the main event over an actual title fight involving a GOAT. 👋🏽 https://t.co/EuGMn5bqb2
— Simon Samano (@SJSamano) June 28, 2021
Wow that’s a swerve I didn’t see coming…. https://t.co/tcsoEGuqkB
— Funky (@Benaskren) June 28, 2021
Let’s send it over now to Francis Ngannou for reaction: pic.twitter.com/jdVnvLvun5
— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) June 28, 2021
Winner of this will become the 5th interim UFC heavyweight titleholder.
Top of this division giving off major late-2008 vibes right now with roadblocks outside of the cage involving the champ and key players. https://t.co/oxDZdFDVCT
— Mike Bohn (@MikeBohnMMA) June 28, 2021
Ciryl Gane vs. Derrick Lewis for the interim belt 😬🔥😀. I knew Gane was going to get something big soon!
— Derek Brunson (@DerekBrunson) June 28, 2021
I have so many questions. https://t.co/0QZbY8ok5A
— Matthew Wells (@MrMWells) June 28, 2021
https://twitter.com/aaronbronsteter/status/1409622527568224258 [vertical-gallery id=521509]