It’s not hyperbolic to say that Francis Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis was one of the worst pay-per-view fights in UFC history.
Saturday’s co-main event at UFC 226 was billed as a must-see heavyweight bout between Lewis, a legitimate brawler, and Ngannou, a freakishly athletic rising star whose raw power is second-to-none. Instead, fans in Las Vegas watched (and booed) a fight almost entirely void of action, with Lewis ultimately winning via unanimous decision.
(Referee Herb Dean actually warned both fighters about timidity at one point.)
Lewis cited back spasms as reason for his lack of assertiveness — and, considering his history of entertaining fights, he probably deserves the benefit of the doubt. But Ngannou, who was coming off a humbling loss to Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 in January and should’ve been motivated to prove doubters wrong, had some serious explaining to do.
After the fight, UFC president Dana White, who called the bout an “abomination,” explained where he believes things went wrong for the 31-year-old Ngannou.
We don’t care what profession you’re in, when your boss labels your work “horrible” and says your ego was “out of control,” it’s probably time to look in the mirror.
So, what does Ngannou have to say for himself? To his credit, he apologized for the performance and offered an explanation in a tweet Monday.
As far as apologies go, that was pretty good.
Ngannou, a native of Cameroon, has been through far tougher times than a couple UFC losses, so it’s probably unwise to write him off this early. Still, he might be one clunker away from being buried on the UFC depth chart.
And that’s an awfully sad reality for someone who less than a year ago looked like the future of the heavyweight division.
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