On Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, Francis Ngannou re-upped on his previous calls for a fight with former UFC heavyweight champion and current WWE star Brock Lesnar.
“Please Brock, come back, come back my friend. We need you here,” Ngannou said (h/t MMAFighting). “We need you to put the fun in this division. I need you to give me that f*cking fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time, I’ve been dreaming for [it].”
In a subsequent chat with MMA Junkie, Ngannou explained the reason for this callout. At a glance, it might look like he’s trying to maximize his potential payday by fighting the biggest possible name, but he’s really just keen to prove that he can wrestle, after being soundly outwrestled by Stipe Miocic in his failed UFC 220 heavyweight title bid. He’s looking for a way to silence his doubters.
“I don’t think my problem is wrestling,” Ngannou said. “I can’t believe my wrestling is bad. I think my wrestling defense is good. I think I can prove it, and maybe not in this fight, but I have had a very good strategy of wrestling defense for my previous fight. I can show that Brock won’t hurt me to show that my wrestling defense is not bad.”
While Ngannou is keen to erase doubts about his wrestling by thwarting the bulldozer-like takedowns of Lesnar, however, he will accept another fight if this dream matchup isn’t doable.
“If they tell me, you have to take Derrick [Lewis], I’m going to take Derrick,” Ngannou said. “I’m not just going to take everyone and say, ‘OK, let’s fight this one for nothing.’ I want a plan. It doesn’t matter who it is. If the UFC says that Derrick will be that one (that gets me a title shot), I’ll fight Derrick. I don’t have a problem to fight anyone else. I just want to keep looking forward.”
“Right now, I have a goal,” Ngannou said elsewhere in this interview. “I’m the No. 1 contender. I just lost a title shot, and my goal now is to come back to the title shot. So everything that I set up is to get the title shot.”
Who do you want to see Francis Ngannou fight next?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/20/2018.