Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Ngannou Coach Obsessed With UFC 220 Loss, Wife Growing Frustrated

Francis Ngannou‘s head coach is doing everything in his power to make sure his fighter is prepared for UFC 260 by painstakingly studying what went wrong three years ago.

At UFC 220, Francis Ngannou had his first world title shot, and it’s a night that he will never forget. In fact, the fight is so engraved in Ngannou’s memory that he has never even had a need to rewatch the fight in its entirety.

“I never watched the whole fight. Because I have it in memory,” Ngannou told ESPN in an interview released Wednesday. “But when I try to look (and watch that fight), I don’t recognize the guy. The guy looks like me, obviously. But for me, it’s not me. I’m like, what the heck (is) this guy doing? But once again, you have to go through some stuff like that sometimes in order to understand how it works.”

Fortunately for Ngannou, his head coach, Eric Nickswick, is spending an admittedly abormal amount of time rewatching the fight on Ngannou’s behalf, even at the expense of his home life, to ensure that no stone is left unturned prior to the epic UFC 260 rematch this Saturday night (h/t MMA Fighting).

“Every night. I watch it,” Nicksick told MMA Fighting. “It’s creepy as can be but I watch it every night. When I was on Fight Island, and the fight got announced, I started watching the tape and I’ve watched it numerous times prior to that but I just made it a nightly regimen for me. Just as far as mannerisms and watching movements and patterns.

Stipe Miocic defeats Francis Ngannou to defend heavyweight title at UFC 220  | MMA News | Sky Sports
Stipe Miocic Smoothers Francis Ngannou At UFC 220. Image Credit:

“It’s definitely overdoing it. It’s not healthy. I should turn it off, I will definitely admit but it’s just something that it’s almost been a valued tradition now. My wife is going to be over that pretty soon, too. I plug it on and watch it quite a bit.”

Turning Ngannou’s Weaknesses Into Strengths

We all would love to have someone in our corner, literally or figuratively, who is willing to exhibit this level of commitment to our success. This dedication certainly bodes well for the Cameroonian, who could serve as a prime example of just how much of a team sport MMA really is. Because if the fight this Saturday has a different outcome than the one-sided defeat Ngannou suffered three years ago, a large sum of credit would have to go to his team for adjustments made, particularly if Ngannou is able to continue performing well in an extended fight.

Nickswick’s nightly ritual has been put to good use, and he is sure that his fighter is well prepared for the occasion. Why? Because they’ve centered the attention on the problematic areas that were on full display at UFC 220.

“The exact analogy I told him was, look, if for some reason we didn’t throw one punch for an entire camp, you’re still going to hit hard but if you really double down on all these things you’re not really comfortable with yet and center our focus on those improvements, how do you think that’s going to make you? He said ‘that’s going to make me unstoppable.’ So I said let’s start doubling down on those areas of improvement and to his own admission, what aren’t you comfortable with? Cardio and this and this and this. OK, let’s start doubling down on that,” Nickswick shared.

Wrestling defense and the aforementioned cardio were the two holes in Ngannou’s game that Miocic exploited most in their first encounter. Today, Nickswick is confident that both these weaknesses and then some have been properly addressed. Come Saturday night, we will see if enough has been improved for Ngannou to capture the gold and thus enrich both the professional and personal lives of himself and his team.

How much improvement do you anticipate Ngannou has made in the three years since his first fight against Stipe Miocic?

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