Renowned MMA journalist Ariel Helwani has questioned the intention behind one of Joe Rogan‘s questions during the post-fight interview with Francis Ngannou at UFC 270.
At the opening pay-per-view of 2022, the UFC Heavyweight Champion fought through an abundance of adversity to successfully defend his title for the first time. From his torn MCL and potential “irreversible” knee damage to his uncertain future with the UFC and possible looming free agency, “The Predator” wasn’t short of potential distractions.
But while his knee injury may have played on his mind during his struggles on the feet in the opening two rounds, the only thought in his head for the final three frames was victory. He secured that with a controlling display of wrestling, taking rounds three to five to secure a unanimous decision triumph.
In his Octagon interview with Rogan, there were a host of questions that could have been asked. One that some feel was perhaps out of place was a query about the champ’s desire to crossover to the boxing ring in the near future.
“Now, it was beautiful to see this evolution to your game and adding the grappling, but we’ve heard talk of you potentially boxing. Have you thought about doing that? What is your future plan? You obviously retained the title, it’s your option now what to do with your future?”
Helwani Questions Motive Behind Boxing Question
While some put the question down to the pre-fight talk surrounding Ngannou’s hopes to face the likes of Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder inside the squared circle, one prominent name in the MMA industry has pondered whether it had a deeper meaning.
During an appearance on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour just days after his UFC 270 victory, Ngannou revealed that the UFC had threatened to sue his manager just hours before his unification showdown with Gane. The reason given was alleged boxing talks between Marquel Martin and Jake Paul‘s business partner Nakisa Bidarian.
Having already slammed UFC President Dana White for his post-fight actions, which saw him choose not to put the belt on Ngannou or attend the presser, Helwani has now questioned whether Rogan’s post-fight interview was designed to trip up “The Predator.”
During a recent post on his Substack, Helwani pointed to the timing of the legal threat and Rogan’s subsequent boxing question after the fight, which he believes was out of place given the abundance of other intriguing queries he could have asked.
“So much to unpack from that interview, most of which I mentioned right after he signed off, but I’ll add this: when I was watching Joe Rogan interview Ngannou after the fight, I thought it was rather odd that he asked him a question about boxing,” Helwani wrote. “They never do that. Especially since there were, like, 50 other questions pertaining to the fight one could have asked (not to mention a follow-up on the knee injury).
“And then we find out about that legal e-mail they received on the night of the fight, and, well, I can’t help but wonder if Rogan was asked to ask that question to trip up Ngannou,” added Helwani. “Because, again, in the moment, it seemed really out of place, considering how they usually handle those situations. For those who don’t know, all broadcasters wear an earpiece (aka an IFB) so the producer can speak to them during the show, so it’s possible someone asked him to ask that.”
WOW Francis Ngannou just told @arielhelwani that he and his team got an email from the UFC as they were on their way to the Honda Center that they were going to be sued after having talks with Nakisa Bidarian who is Jake Paul’s promoter about Boxing#TheMMAHour #UFC270
— Jason Hagholm (@JHagholm1) January 24, 2022
With new discussions, accusations, and theories surrounding the promotion’s relationship and attitude towards its heavyweight titleholder continuing to rise to the surface, Dana White will hopefully provide some answers when he takes part in a fan Q&A later today.
Do you think Ariel Helwani could be on to something with his post-fight interview theory?
Posted from Source