Very few UFC athletes have risen to stardom as quickly as Francis Ngannou, and just as few have seen their stock fall as precipitously in such a short period of time.
At UFC 226, Ngannou was able to erase nearly all the excitement surrounding his career with a performance that ranks among the worst in promotion history. In losing a unanimous decision to Derrick Lewis in Saturday’s co-main event at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Ngannou appeared timid throughout the bout, landing just 11 significant strikes in the 15-minute affair.
All told, Ngannou and Lewis combined to land 31 significant strikes, the second-lowest total ever in a three-round UFC contest. UFC President Dana White laid most of the blame on Ngannou for the forgettable fight.
“I think that he had a pretty quick rise here and obviously the fight over Alistair Overeem catapulted him,” White said at Saturday’s post-fight press conference. “Everybody was talking about him. I thought he was going to be the next guy. I think his ego ran away with him. Big time. I can tell you that his ego absolutely did run away with him. And the minute that happens to you in the fight game, you see what happens. You start to fall apart.”
Ngannou, who began his promotional tenure with six consecutive finishes in the heavyweight division, released a statement apologizing for his performance via Instagram on Monday. “The Predator” admitted that his previous defeat, a five-round beating at the hands of Stipe Miocic in a title bout at UFC 220, affected him against Lewis.
“I am not proud of my last performance. I have carried my fear from the last fight to this one,” Ngannou wrote. “I completely understand the frustration [and] anger that it has caused to my fans, coaches, teammates, family and friends and I am truly sorry for that. I won't let everyone down again. All I can do now is prove myself and make you proud again.”
I am not proud of my last performance. I have carried my fear from the last fight to this one. I completely understand the frustration & anger that it has caused to my fans, coaches, teammates, family and friends and I am truly sorry for that. I won't let everyone down again. All I can do now is prove myself and make you proud again. #UFC226