UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou successfully retained his title at UFC 270, and hailed his team for adding to his skillset, and keeping his head calm, for his bout with Ciryl Gane.
Ngannou’s matchup with Gane was packed with intrigue, with the champ going up against his former coach and teammate.
And after earning a unanimous decision victory over Gane, Ngannou said he needed his team to help him keep his cool against such a tough, tricky opponent.
“I knew that he was going to be a tough opponent, no doubt. I know him,” he told Joe Rogan after his victory.
“I was surprised that he held on to the end of the fight, but he was very good and knew how to manage that.
“My coach reminded me all the time, stay composed, calm down, don’t chase him. Trust yourself. and yeah, man, we got it.”
Ngannou then revealed that he suffered a significant setback in the lead-up to fight night after sustaining a knee injury.
“It’s been an incredible journey, it’s been a very tough training camp, a tough 10 months. A lot of s**t,” he said.
“Three weeks ago I hurt my knee, tore my MCL completely, hurt my ACL and other stuff, and wanted to call out of this fight, but couldn’t see myself retreating from this fight because it was a moment for me to make a statement and remind people that I am the champ.
“You guys might sleep on me, kind of like forget about me. I put in work every day and now I train at Xtreme Couture, which has an elite class of wrestling there.
“We have great coaches for wrestling and jiu-jitsu so my ground game is now evolving, and I’m gonna be on another level.”
Ngannou was also asked about his next move, with the Cameroonian publicly stating that he would like to compete in boxing while still in his fighting prime.
Ngannou doubled down on that sentiment, saying, “Well, as I always say, boxing is always in my back pocket. It’s something that I must do before the end of my career.
“Right now I’m really looking to any opportunity to get that, because it’s not like I have a lifetime here. So, yeah, I better start thinking about it.”