UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou was able to defend his title in September, according to his representatives. But it wasn’t early enough for the promotion, who were due to put a belt on the line for UFC 265 and chose Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane to fight for one when a deal couldn’t be struck with Ngannou. .
“You knew this would happen for weeks if we couldn’t come to a deal,” UFC President Dana White told UFC Arabia reporter Farah Hannoun. “It has happened a million times. “
On Tuesday, White explained what he said was the promotion reasoning behind an interim title fight between Lewis and Gane, which was booked just three months after Ngannou won the undisputed belt from Stipe Miocic.
For White, the move was a consequence of the need to keep the UFC title schedule. The executive was annoyed by a statement by the representative of Ngannou according to which this decision was “a total shock”.
“What happens is we run a business and we fight every Saturday night, and we had to do this fight in Houston, we couldn’t make the deal, so we had a title fight. interim, which makes perfect sense, ”Blanc said.
Earlier this year, Lewis was named by White as Ngannou’s next title challenger; he won a lackluster decision against the champion when they first met in 2018. Gane recently claimed his sixth straight UFC victory.
Ngannou rep Marquel Martin hit back on social media after White attacked the CAA agent’s initial ‘total shock’ reaction to the reservation of the interim title. Martin indicated that the UFC tried to strengthen the champion after being told why the champion couldn’t fight until September. The agent also threatened to make all of their communications public ahead of the ruling.
Ngannou also expressed his frustration with the decision, saying the UFC had not responded to his request to book him an interim title fight against Jairzinho Rozenstruik before a trilogy between Miocic and Daniel Cormier ends.
When asked if Ngannou’s booking for UFC 266 on September 25 had ever been considered an alternative to booking a provisional title fight at UFC 265, White reiterated that UFC needed the title fight and didn’t provide more details. UFC 265 is co-titled with a bantamweight title fight between dual division champion Amanda Nunes and Julianna Pena.
White’s explanation of planning matches his explanation when negotiations with other fighters turned south. After saying that former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones would challenge the winner of Miocic against Ngannou 2, he named Lewis as the No.1 contender as Jones spoke about his salary for the fight. Jones, he said, would decide whether or not to fight again, but the promotion would favor fighters who said yes to fights offered under contracts they had previously negotiated.