Derrick Lewis and Francis Ngannou’s UFC 226 heavyweight contender bout was expected to produce fireworks. Given the pair’s shared propensity for violent, one-punch knockouts, it seemed almost impossible that the fight would go to a decision.
In the end, of course, it did. And, man, it wasn’t pretty.
Over the course of three-round contest, Derrick Lewis unleashed very in the way little offense, while Francis Ngannou shockingly unleashed much less. In the end, Lewis would be awarded a unanimous decision victory on the strength of his higher output, but it didn’t do much to elevate his standing in the division.
Post-fight Francis Ngannou attributed his disappointing performance to residual nerves from his January decision loss to Stipe Miocic.
“I am not proud of my last performance,” Ngannou said of his UFC 226 loss to Derrick Lewis. “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.”
Speaking on the MMA Hour this week, Derrick Lewis divulged that it certainly seemed like Ngannou was nervous, and that that fact, in turn, threw him off his game.
“To me, whenever he stepped inside the Octagon, he looked scared from the get-go,” Lewis said (via MMA Fighting) “He wasn’t the same guy that I saw at the weigh-ins. Like, his facial expressions and his emotions and everything, it wasn’t the same. So all of that right there, that threw me off in the fight too, because I didn’t believe that he was really that scared of me, but the look in his eyes, it really did show that he was scared.”
Scared or otherwise, it was truly surprising to see the feared knockout artist Francis Ngannou refuse to mount anything resembling an attack. Lewis says this confused him too.
“I was confused too,” he said. “I tried to make him engage. I did a couple of things to try to make him engage, and he just wouldn’t do it.
“I tried to do a little bit more than him and it just was weird to me too, the whole fight, so I don’t know. I don’t know what was going on.
“I believe he was scared of taking a shot.”
What do you think of Derrick Lewis’ assessment of Francis Ngannou’s bizarre UFC 226 performance?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/14/2018.