Francis Ngannou is days out from a crucial heavyweight matchup with fellow knockout artist Jairzinho Rozenstruik. The bout will go down on the main card of UFC 249 this Saturday.
While this matchup will finally go down this Saturday, Ngannou originally expected it to happen much sooner.
The pair were originally scheduled to fight at UFC Columbus on March 28. When that card was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, they were booked to compete at UFC 249 on April 18, which was also ultimately canceled due to the pandemic. Finally their fight was rescheduled for the revamped UFC 249 card this Saturday—a whopping six weeks after they originally expected to meet in the cage.
Ngannou, who is currently the UFC’s No. 2 ranked heavyweight, admits training through these constant shakeups has been fairly taxing.
“It’s been very exhausting, very frustrating, [mentally],” Ngannou told Damon Martin of MMA Fighting. “It’s been very hard to keep motivation and go out there everyday. Go out there and train without knowing if the fight is going to happen. [You’re] always suspicious – maybe it’s going to happen or not, and to keep the same intensity for the fight.
“When you train for a fight it’s different than just training to stay in shape. So even when you don’t have that target, that goal, you still have to be motivated to go. That’s the hard part of it.”
Ngannou continued, opening up on the difficulty he’s had staying focused throughout this unprecedented situation.
“Between every cancellation and the new schedule, there’s always a day where you’re kind of like the fight is postponed, so you drop everything, and in your mind, you don’t know what’s next,” Ngannou said. “Then a few days after that, it gets rescheduled for that date, and you have put your sh*t together and go out there.
“Cause once again, that won’t be an excuse if you don’t perform out there,” Ngannou added. “Right now, after three cancellations, it’s very tough to be confident about something. You just hope, cross your fingers and hopefully that happens. But you don’t know exactly.”
Thankfully for Francis Ngannou and Jairzinho Rozenstruik, it seems as though the fight will finally happen this Saturday. And when the cage door closes, the former is confident he’ll win by knockout.
“Every time that I think about it, that’s the only way that it could end,” Ngannou said.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 5/4/2020.