In the co-main event of UFC 226, fans were fortunate enough to witness two of the most brutal knockout artists of the UFC’s heavyweight division (who also legitimately hate each other) locking horns. It was expected to be Fight of the Night or one of the fighters should have earned a Knockout of the Night, it rather turned out to be an awfully boring snooze-fest. Both fighters even resisted to engage too much and spent the entire fifteen minutes of the fight feinting.
To make things worse, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White blamed “The Predator’s” out of control ego as the cause of his poor performance.
Coach John Wood, however, who has worked extensively with Ngannou at the UFC’s Performance Institute in Las Vegas, can’t understand the criticism. According to Wood, ‘The Predator’ has always been a pleasure to work with.
“Francis is always a pleasure,” Wood told MMA Fighting’s Marc Raimondi in a recent interview. “Nicest guy, funny dude, always enjoyed having him around. Great to have him in the gym, always playing with the kids. Just a good dude, man. I never had any experience like that with him at all.”
“You can’t ever really be taken by surprise by what Dana says,” Wood continued. “It’s one of those things, you never know what Dana is gonna say. That’s his thing, to make headlines. He feels a certain way about certain things and he spoke about it. I don’t know what their personal interactions were or had been to that point, but Francis has always been a pleasure for me to be around and never been different toward me. But different people have different interactions. Sometimes people say things that they don’t exactly mean in the moment and they’re pissed off. Everybody was kind of pissed off after that fight. But yeah, nothing is ever shocking with Dana.”
“He’s still learning, he’s still growing,” Ngannou said. “And yes, he’s still green. That dude is a freak. It’s a freak how fast he learns, how strong. In another year or two, if he keeps moving the way he is, yeah he’s gonna be an unstoppable force. But some people take to it quicker. There’s just little pieces that need to click. But if he goes out there and starches Stipe with one punch, then … we’d be thing he’s the best fighter there’s ever been, that kind of thing.”
UFC Fight Night: Ngannou vs. Blaydes takes place later this year, Nov. 25 at Cadillac Arena in Beijing, China.