After all the hype, Francis Ngannou fell short in his challenge for the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 220 in Boston a couple of weeks back, his lauded and undeniably formidable punching power proving no match for the more rounded skill set of defending champion Stipe Miocic.
As is often the case with heavily-hyped fighters who suffer their first high-profile defeats, Ngannou is now being written off by many of those same folks who saw him as the next big thing just weeks ago. Miocic ably demonstrated that Ngannou’s game has its holes and now some people can only see those holes.
Ngannou, however, is still very new to the sport. He has only been training for a little over five years, and at such an early stage in one’s development, rapid improvements can still be made. At 31, he is also a baby in heavyweight terms. Time is very much on his side.
Strangely, though, not everyone is convinced that Ngannou actually has the benefit of relative youth.
In a recent interview on the ‘Slip n’ Dip’ podcast, Ngannou’s fellow heavyweight Derrick Lewis questioned the French-Cameroonian fighter’s billed age. What’s more, Lewis went on to suggest that Ngannou is also a performance-enhancing drug user.
“That motherf***er is at least 40,” Lewis, 32, said. “They say he was homeless so he probably don’t even know. Tell me where his birth certificate is at.”
“He’s 40, man, juiced-up. They say he’s younger than me, there’s no way he’s younger than me(via MMANytt).”
It’s actually not the first time that Ngannou’s age has been called into question. When MMAFighting journalist Ariel Helwani put it to Alistair Overeem in November of last year that Ngannou was “in diapers” when Overeem was fighting in PRIDE FC years ago, the Dutch striker took exception.
“No, he was not because the man is older than he says he is. I need some documentation,” said Overeem, who just days later was brutally chinned by Ngannou inside a round at UFC 218.
“I think he is the same [age] as me, if not older,” added the 37-year-old.
Lewis’ problems with Ngannou go beyond his suspicions about the African-born fighter’s age and physique, however.
“I’ll fight him on sight you know,” Lewis told ‘Slip n’ Dip’ hosts Kendrick Johnson and Matthew Wells. “This guy over here, every time somebody asks me a question about him, I say something nice, but every time somebody says something to him, he’s like trying to talk down on me, saying I’m not on his level, talking about how I’m too slow and this and that.”
“I really don’t care, but, don’t try and talk s*** about me every chance you get. He talks s***, but he’s never like, ‘Oh, I want to fight Derrick.’ He’s always talking down on me, but he doesn’t want to fight me.”
Following his defeat to Miocic, Ngannou indicated that he is going to take some time out. Lewis, on the other hand, is set to see action in just over two weeks at UFC Fight Night 126 in Austin, Texas. His opponent is Poland’s Marcin Tybura.