Last weekend, Ngannou bet on himself like not many had before him. With a torn MCL and damaged ACL, “The Predator” defied doctor’s advice to withdraw and put his heavyweight gold on the line against interim champion and former teammate Ciryl Gane.
After two rounds, Ngannou was down, troubled by his injury, and unable to get close to the technical and fast “Bon Gamin.” That all changed with one third-round takedown.
After turning to his wrestling game, a facet of his development not many had considered heading into the unification showdown, the Cameroonian controlled the remainder of the contest and took home a unanimous decision verdict.
Ngannou’s Camp Dealt With A Lot Ahead Of Fight Night
An incredible amount was riding on Ngannou’s first title defense. As well as the possibility of “irreversible damage” to his knee, “The Predator” entered the PPV headliner with a bitter feud with his former coach Fernand Lopez in the limelight and his ongoing uncertain future with the UFC attracting major attention.
Ngannou and his team have long been vocal about their displeasure with the champ’s current contract, which would have expired had he been defeated by Gane; another reason the clash was so crucial for Ngannou’s negotiating position.
While many assumed the struggle to reach an arrangement was down to money, Ngannou’s manager Marquel Martin explained the two things the Cameroon native is looking for from the UFC: activity and promotion.
While most will acknowledge Martin’s endeavour to fulfil his client’s wishes in the world’s premier MMA organization as a positive, one individual clearly sees his role in the contractual dispute differently, as they displayed ahead of UFC 270 with an abusive anonymous text.
The rant, which included a racial slur, branded Ngannou a “dumb piece of sh*t” for listening to Martin’s advice. The expletive-ridden text, which came from a number with a Las Vegas area code, showed another side to Ngannou’s difficult lead-up to his Octagon walk.
In the caption, Martin didn’t make any accusations or infer who the text could have come from. Instead, he sent a message to others who have received racism for simply doing their jobs.
“Just a small piece of what has been going on recently. All for trying to do my job to the best of my ability. All supporting my brother Francis. All for trying to do what’s right and fair. All for believing in respect. I don’t share this for pity, I know I’m not perfect, but I share this to help show support and uplift Anyone who is or has experienced ANY type of racism, hatred, self-doubt, etc. I feel it trust me. Especially this week haha. It will be hard, it will be scary but stand strong and keep the faith.
“Also sharing because I am thankful for these experiences (trials). I have grown SO much. So thank you to my enemies, God bless you. I have grown in wisdom, I have grown in patience, I have grown in spirit and I have grown in knowing who I KNOW I am as a man…And I’m proud of myself.”
If the message was intended to play a part on Ngannou and his team’s mindset, it certainly failed. With one of the best performances of his career, through extreme adversity, “The Predator” maintained his spot on the heavyweight throne.
Is Francis Ngannou’s victory even more impressive given the factors he and his team dealt with prior to the fight?