Heading into UFC 270, much was made about the stalemate between Ngannou and the UFC regarding his contract status. Ngannou remained vocal about his dissatisfaction with the nature of his current deal and wanted more money and more freedom if he were going to re-sign with the promotion.
Being that his heavyweight title unification bout against Ciryl Gane was the final fight on his contract, that made it a must-win for Ngannou. Because had he lost, he not only would lose the title but the negotiating leverage that comes with it. Contrarily, if Ngannou won, it practically forces the UFC’s hand to budge on their stance if not fully acquiesce to Ngannou’s demands, lest they risk their heavyweight champion exiting the promotion with the company belt in tow.
With this context in mind, after Ngannou retained the heavyweight title at UFC 270, White was very conspicuous in his absence. Not only was he absent from the post-fight press conference but he didn’t even wrap the title around Ngannou’s waist, a process that has become customary for UFC title-fight winners.
White has denied that his absence had anything to do with any bad blood or frustrations and claimed he had matters to attend to. As for Ngannou, he doesn’t care at all, because he had already did what he set out to do and delivered his message loud and clear, even if White wasn’t physically there to receive it on behalf of the UFC. (h/t The Mirror)
“Personally, I didn’t care,” Ngannou said of the belt presentation during an appearance on the PBD Podcast. “I made my statement that night. I was happy. And I don’t know if that’s true or not.
“I don’t care. What I do know is like, I made my statement. It wasn’t about the belt, it wasn’t about Dana wrapping the belt around me, or the press conference, or anybody….
“By the way, Mick Maynard, who for me is a great guy, wrapped the belt around my waist,” Ngannou continued. “And that wouldn’t be a problem for me. Maybe Dana had a situation going on. I have no problem with Mick wrapping the belt around my waist. I’m very cool. I’m very happy with Mick. Doesn’t mean things was great.”
Ngannou is currently recovering from knee surgery and is expected to return around early 2023. There is currently no word yet on if there will be an interim heavyweight title bout as the champion recovers.
What are your thoughts on Dana White’s post-UFC 270 absence?