UFC heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou has slammed champion Stipe Miocic for “holding the division up for a long time.”
Ngannou guaranteed his place as the favourite for a title shot after knocking out Jairzinho Rozenstruik in 20 seconds at UFC 249 in May. But almost seven months later, the 34-year-old is still waiting for a word on his fight with Miocic.
No Clarity On Future
Speaking to MMA Fighting, Ngannou expressed his frustration over not getting his title shot yet, saying that he had hoped to have already fought by now.
“It’s been a lifetime [since I last fought],” Ngannou said. “It’s still kind of like frustrating even though I’m trying to take it out of my mind knowing that I can’t do nothing to change it. Even before fighting in May, I’ve been through this same story, this same situation and it got me ready to face it again. I was waiting for Stipe and DC, who was in August and obviously I was expecting something in December. That’s why after their fight, I just came back from Cameroon expecting maybe sometime in December because it’s four months away, or maybe January at the latest, I might have a fight.
“Obviously, now I don’t know. What I know, they just said March but it’s not official. Who knows. Who knows how that will play out.”
Frustrated With Miocic
There have only been three title fights in the UFC heavyweight division in the last three years, all involving Daniel Cormier and Miocic. While UFC president Dana White has talked about booking the rematch between the heavyweight champion and Ngannou, the promotion is yet to make things official.
Ngannou is clearly frustrated with the lack of inactivity, and has accused the reigning champion of “holding the division up”.
“My only thing with that trilogy is that [Stipe] has been holding the heavyweight division up for a long time,” Ngannou said. “There hasn’t been a title fight in this division for two years except for those between Stipe and DC and other than that there hasn’t been a fight with contenders, which is what contenders fight for. To fight for the title but there is no title going on in this division. I don’t know how long that is going to last. I’m sure it’s not just me saying that. Other contenders who also feel the same way because if there’s not a title fight, contenders they’re not moving on. They’re just fighting without purpose. Without a real goal.
“Because when you’re a prospect, you fight to become a contender. When you’re a contender, you fight to be champion. Now, heavyweight contenders right now don’t really know what they’re fighting for. For those who are fighting, obviously. In my case, I’m not fighting. I can’t even dare say I’m fighting.”
While ‘The Predator’ is visibly unhappy with Miocic, he does not shy away from giving his one-time opponent benefit of the doubt when it comes to making the final decision.
“At the end of the day, Stipe doesn’t decide much,” Ngannou said. “I think the UFC is in charge of things. That’s why my last fight, we requested that to be an interim [title] fight so we can fight for something and if that would have been for an interim fight, I’m sure I would be fighting by now.
“Obviously, Stipe on his end wants to do things his way, which is what everyone wants to do. But it’s not for him to regulate the situation in the division. It’s not his duty.”
Lack Of Motivation
After defeating Junior dos Santos at UFC Minnesota in June 2019, Ngannou had to wait almost a year for the Rozenstruik fight. Now, with seven months of inactivity, the UFC heavyweight is finding it really hard to stay motivated.
“I just want to fight next,” Ngannou said. “It’s been seven months since my last fight. I don’t know exactly for sure when is my next fight. It’s kind of like really hard to find motivation and everything. Even when you’re training and don’t have motivation. It’s kind of a little bit hard.”
Ngannou lost his first encounter to Miocic via unanimous decision at UFC 220 two years ago. He then lost his next fight against Derrick Lewis, before racking up four straight first round (T)KO finishes to earn the next title shot.
Do you agree with Francis Ngannou, that Stipe Miocic is holding the heavyweight division up?