After Francis Ngannou’s back-to-back decision losses to then UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis, UFC President Dana White accused the Cameroonian-French heavyweight contender of having an ego problem.
“I can tell you that his ego absolutely did run away with him,” White said of Francis Ngannou in an interview with MMA Fighting. “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.”
In the opinion of coach John Wood, who has overseen Francis Ngannou’s recent training at Syndicate MMA, however, White’s comments about the heavyweight knockout artist aren’t accurate. In his eyes, Francis Ngannou is actually a stand-up guy.
“Francis is always a pleasure,” Wood said of Ngannou. “Nicest guy, funny dude, always enjoyed having him around. Great to have him in the gym, always playing with the kids. Just a good dude, man. I never had any experience like that with him at all.”
In Wood’s opinion, White’s comments about Francis Ngannou are simply just a product of his character.
“You can’t ever really be taken by surprise by what Dana says,” Wood said. “It’s one of those things, you never know what Dana is gonna say. That’s his thing, to make headlines. He feels a certain way about certain things and he spoke about it. I don’t know what their personal interactions were or had been to that point, but Francis has always been a pleasure for me to be around and never been different toward me. But different people have different interactions. Sometimes people say things that they don’t exactly mean in the moment and they’re pissed off. Everybody was kind of pissed off after that fight. But yeah, nothing is ever shocking with Dana.”
Wood also discussed Francis Ngannou’s explanation of his poor showing against Lewis, in which the heavyweight knockout artist cited lingering fear from his loss to Stipe Miocic.
“I really had no idea about any of that stuff,” Wood said. “That’s getting to know somebody and getting comfortable in camps and working with each other more. Every time you work with a fighter, you learn and grow. That’s something with him I look forward to doing. He took a big step and admitted to his faults in that fight. I think that’s gonna set him in the right direction. I think he’s only gonna come back stronger for it.”
Francis Ngannou will return to the cage on November 25, when he rematches Curtis Blaydes in the main event of UFC Beijing.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 9/12/2018.