Ngannou: UFC used interim title fight to 'control the narrative'
UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou didn't like how the UFC promoted the interim heavyweight title fight between Ciryl Gane and Derrick Lewis in August.
"What bothers me is the fact that to promote that fight, they were trying to discredit me and pretend, 'If you want to go on vacation, keep yourself and when you want to fight, we are here.' No, I want to fight and I wasn't on vacation," Ngannou told Ariel Helwani on Wednesday's "The MMA Hour."
Ngannou added, "That bothers me because that's not right. I know that is not true. It's just to discredit me, to control the narrative. I mean, I don't have a problem if they want to do the interim (title) - just do the interim (title) without sabotaging me."
Ngannou reportedly wanted to defend his title against Lewis in September, but the promotion needed a main event for the August pay-per-view card so it opted to book Lewis against Gane instead. Ngannou spent all of May in his native Cameroon and returned to the United States in June.
"The Predator" and his team have had a somewhat rocky relationship with the UFC brass since he captured the heavyweight belt in March with a devastating knockout win over Stipe Miocic. His manager traded harsh words with UFC president Dana White on social media after Gane-Lewis was announced.
When asked whether he believed the UFC was interested in promoting and doing business with him, Ngannou expressed doubt.
"Honestly, that's not the feeling that I have. ... I might be wrong, but I don't feel that because in my opinion for right now, from what I'm seeing, the UFC is trying to discredit me. That's what I know," Ngannou said. "And those promoting somebody cannot work together with discrediting him. You don't do that to somebody that you want to promote."
Ngannou ultimately wants to stay with the UFC - he said he realizes it would be difficult to get out of his contract anyway - but the champion also wants more respect.
"The UFC is a beautiful and nice promotion," Ngannou said. "I love being in the UFC. The only part that is challenging now is (the) behind-the-scenes part. But fighting, I love it. ... I still hope that this works out. ... I wish that it would work out. In the meantime, if it doesn't work out, I can't do anything (about) that."
Ngannou is scheduled to defend his title against Gane - who finished Lewis to claim the interim championship - at UFC 270 in January.
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