Losing is never a pleasant experience for any true, pure competitor, but the levels of despair that accompany it vary from person to person. For Francis Ngannou, the night of January 20, 2020, was one he anticipated would be filled with joy, trump, and the culmination of an inspirational journey from poverty to UFC champion. Instead, he left a defeated man, both physically and emotionally.
In an interview with BT Sport this week, Ngannou opened up about just how hard he took the loss in the days that followed the event.
“It was pretty hard,” Ngannou began. “I remember I’m in home, and then feeling like everything has fell apart. It was horrible. I remember sometimes going to bed at night and didn’t want the sun to rise the next day, just thinking about how (I) can go back and fix it. No way.”
Ngannou will finally have a way to fix it as much as possible when he faces Stipe Miocic in a rematch in the main event of UFC 260. With a win, Ngannou will be able to bring the title back home as he had originally planned instead of returning to the bittersweet homecoming he did back in 2018 following the loss to Miocic.
“When I got back to Cameroon, this is what hurt me a lot to deal with that situation. I had like a hero’s welcome. (My countrymen) was very happy, very proud,” Ngannou said. “And they was like, ‘Oh, you put us on the map. Nobody could have imagined that somebody from here could have done that. They was all calling me ‘champ,’ all happy. I’m like, ‘But I lost the fight.’ (They were) like, “That doesn’t matter. The destination is always not what matters but how you get there…
“And that’s kind of what hurt me to deal with that.”
As it stands, there are two other UFC champions from Africa at the moment: welterweight champion Kamaru Usman and middleweight champion Israel Adesanya. Ngannou would love to join his fellow Africans and feel the thrill that they did in bringing gold back home. As Ngannou’s countrymen have already demonstrated to him, though, he will be an inspiration to them whether he wins or loses on Saturday night. But as the humble giant can attest from past experience, everything just feels a whole lot better after a win, including the adulation of your native admirers.
Do you think Francis Ngannou gains redemption at UFC 260 and brings the UFC heavyweight championship home to Cameroon?