Saturday’s UFC 270 PPV event ended with heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou retaining his UFC heavyweight championship, and that seemed to possibly be an issue for UFC President Dana White.
The Leadup and Building Tension
Going into the highly-anticipated heavyweight matchup there was a lot of buzz around the fight, mainly for two reasons. The first reason was because Ngannou’s opponent was the interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane, a former trainer partner of Ngannou’s who everyone believe would give Ngannou his hardest test yet. The other reason for the buzz around the fight, which possibly made more noise than the matchup itself, was that Ngannou was very vocal about the fact that this was the final fight on his current UFC contract.
Ngannou and the UFC had been at odds for years now, with tensions only continuing to heighten. In May, 2020 at UFC 249 (the first UFC PPV event in the Covid-19 era and basically the only live sporting event at the time) Ngannou was robbed of the opportunity to fight for an interim championship in his fight against Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
Just five months after Ngannou won the undisputed heavyweight title in March 2021, the UFC created an interim heavyweight title fight for UFC 265 in August despite the fact that Ngannou was not injured and had no plans to be out long term. This would be when Gane would win the interim title to force this eventual meeting with Ngannou to unify the belts.
Now, in the leadup to this monumental heavyweight matchup, Ngannou was very vocal about his displeasure with the UFC and the way he’s been treated. His main points of frustration were that he was not making nearly enough money to match his status as undisputed UFC heavyweight champion, and that he wanted to take part in a boxing match against one of the big name boxing heavyweights, particularly Tyson Fury (mostly because of the amount of money that can be made in a blockbuster boxing match).
In the week leading up to the fight, Ngannou told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that he would never fight for $600,000 again.
Dana White’s Actions After The Results
Ngannou secured a unanimous decision win over Gane on Saturday night, primarily by out-wrestling Gane much to the complete shock of everybody watching. So now the reigning UFC heavyweight champion has an expired contract and is threatening to walk away, just like an old school WWE storyline.
Dana White’s actions, or in fact lack-there-of, were possibly quite telling of how he was feeling about the dominant win.
First, White was not the one who wrapped the belt around Ngannou in the cage after he got his hand raised. Typically, White is always the one who wraps the belt around the champion after championship fights. This time, it was UFC match maker Mick Maynard who put the belt around Ngannou’s waist. Take a look.
Ngannou was asked at the post-fight press conference about why White didn’t put the belt around him, and he responded that it had nothing to do with him.
Francis Ngannou asked why Dana White didn't present the UFC title belt after his win.
"I dont know. You have to ask him. I didn't have anything to do about that. That was their decision."
— Greg Rosenstein (@grosenstein) January 23, 2022
(The video below will start at the beginning of the question about the belt if you want to listen for yourself):
Speaking of the post-fight press conference, this would be where White refused to show his face for the second time of the night. Traditionally White always addresses the media in the post-fight press conference, along with other fighters who are medically cleared to attend after their fights. Typically, if there’s one thing you that’s always must see, it’s White’s portion of the press conference. He typically gives away clues as to what the UFC might be looking to do next after the craziness that is any given UFC PPV.
But guess who was missing from the UFC 270 post-fight press conference? Mr. Dana White.
You can see the look of confusing on Ngannou’s face when it was revealed to him that White didn’t show up for the press conference, and listen to his response.
Ngannou stated “well it’s been a long time that I’ve wondered about my position in the company.”
“Well it’s been a long time that i’ve wondered about my position in the company.” – Francis Ngannou
Now, I can’t end this article without stating that it is possible that Dana White had some sort of family or venue emergency that he simply had to attend to. If it comes out that that is the case, all will be forgiven.
However, given that no announcement has been made about such an emergency, it really makes you wonder about why Dana would just disappear like this. It wouldn’t be above his ego to just run away and hide like this after an extremely popular fighter put himself in a situation where he has more bargaining power than ever to make drastic changes for himself and all other fighters for the better.
Ngannou’s manager (who White has publicly directed much of his hate towards) posted on Instagram the morning of the fight that he received this text from an anonymous Las Vegas number…
There’s no doubt that White will be asked about his absence the next time he publicly faces the media, whenever that may be, and we’ll have to hear what his excuse was. But until then, this is a TERRIBLE look for the UFC and it’s standing President.