From the early vantage point, Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis’s UFC 226 co-main event battle was anticipated in the way that we might anticipate two asteroids colliding. The matchup seemed to guarantee violent, Octagon-shaking chaos, no matter who won.
In the end, however, we got one of the worst fights ever: a slow, action-free fight between two gun-shy heavyweights who looked more like line dancing partners than opponents.
Post-fight, UFC President Dana White discussed this snoozer, which Lewis won by decision. He, like the rest of us, was shocked that two of the UFC’s most notorious knockout artists could produce such a terrible fight. But he thinks he knows why it went down the way it did.
In his eyes, ego was the probable cause of Ngannou’s complete unwillingness to throw a punch:
“I can tell you that his ego absolutely did run away with him,” White said at the UFC 226 post-fight press conference (via MMAJunkie). “The minute that happens to you in the fight game, you start to fall apart. I had some personal encounters with him, as did other people in the organization, and this guy’s ego was so out of control.”
“Ego is what hurt Francis Ngannou,” White concluded.
And Lewis? White believes he was slowed down by lingering back problems.
“He’s a fun guy – he’s funny,” White said of Lewis. “When he gets in there and throws, the fights are exciting. But he always has problems with his back. And that’s going to be a problem. You don’t want to go in there with a bad back against [New UFC heavyweight champ Daniel] Cormier. But I like him, and I don’t think his stock dropped at all.
“Tonight is the last time he was in a boring fight. The card was so good, people will forget about that. And the heavyweight championship was so good, it was immediately erased from people’s memories.”
What do you think of Dana White’s explanation of Derrick Lewis and Francis Ngannou’s heavyweight snooze fest?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 7/8/2018.