Dana White was conspicuous by his absence following UFC 270 on Saturday night, no-showing both his customary role of putting the belt around the heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou’s waist in the octagon after his decision win against Ciryl Gane, and also the post-fight press conference, but he has now attempted to shoot down claims that this was due bad blood with ‘The Predator’.
“I wasn’t out there for the main event — I actually walked out of the arena right after the co-main event because there was stuff going on backstage that I was dealing with,” White claimed during a fan Q&A on ESPN+ yesterday.
“For anybody to think that I was showing any type of disrespect towards Francis — I saw Francis all week, you idiots. I shook his hand, I said hi to him, I was out there for the staredowns, the whole thing.”
White attempted to strengthen his story by also adding that he’d also came close to missing putting the middleweight title around Michael Bisping’s waist following his shock win over Luke Rockhold a few years ago after having missed the actual fight itself.
“For anybody to think there was some type of disrespect shown towards Francis, I wasn’t out there for Michael Bisping [vs. Luke] Rockhold either because I was dealing with some stuff,” White said. “I sprinted from the back, I didn’t even have my jacket on. I only had my shirt on to go out there and put the belt on Bisping. But I couldn’t make it out there to put the belt on Francis.
“There’s only been one time that I’ve walked out on a fight and made it very clear, showed up to the press conference and said this is exactly why I left. It was in Abu Dhabi with Anderson Silva [at UFC 112], it was the Demian Maia fight. So there’s the answer. I don’t know if somebody asked that, but somebody wanted to. There you go.”
Suspicions that White had snubbed Ngannou after his win emerged just hours after the UFC had threatened the star’s management with a potential lawsuit after rumors that they had been in contact with Nikisa Bidarian, a business partner of Jake Paul’s.
The fighter has also made it clear that any new deal with the UFC would have to include a clause enabling him to also take boxing matches, which so far has proven to be a major stumbling block at the negotiating table.
With that in mind there’s been suggestions that Ngannou may opt to simply sit out for the rest of the year until he becomes a free agent – something that the champion didn’t deny when asked about it post-fight at the weekend.
Nevertheless, during his Q&A yesterday, White praised Ngannou for his unexpected gameplan against Gane, which helped him retain his title.
“I think the heavyweight main event was a shocker,” White said. “I don’t think anybody expected to see Francis come in and wrestle. During the fight, I was very surprised [by Ngannou’s game plan]. After the fight, it was genius.
“It was genius for him to go work on his wrestling. I guarantee you — I don’t know this for a fact — but I would guarantee you that Ciryl Gane did almost no wrestling to prepare for that fight. So to come in and implement the game plan that he had, it was brilliant.”
And while at this stage Ngannou’s future in the UFC appears to hang in the balance, White did indicate that if he does step into the Octagon again, then it could well be in a mouthwatering superfight against a certain former light-heavyweight champion.
““I think another big fight if it’s possible to get it done would be Jon Jones and Francis,” White said.