Francis Ngannou‘s coach Eric Nicksick has revealed what convinced him and his team that the UFC heavyweight champion’s knee injury had been leaked prior to UFC 270.
At the opening pay-per-view of 2022, Ngannou overcame adversity, pressure, and the odds to secure his status as the undisputed heavyweight king. In a battle against undefeated Frenchman Ciryl Gane, who was widely expected to bring a new breed of technical heavyweights to the top, “The Predator” adapted and re-strategized to hunt down his prey.
After struggling to get close to Gane on the feet in the opening two rounds, Ngannou capitalized on a caught kick and took the fight to the ground. From there, he showed his improved wrestling game and maintained top control for much of the remaining minutes and, in doing so, secured a unanimous decision victory.
As if the performance wasn’t impressive enough, Ngannou revealed in his post-fight interview that he’d fought through a torn MCL and damaged ACL. While rumors of a potential knee injury appeared to have been proven true when he entered the Octagon wearing knee wraps, not many would have expected the extent of the injury to have been as serious as it was.
Nicksick Explains Why Ngannou’s Injury Was Always Going To Get Out
Despite some rumors floating around, talk of a potential injury wasn’t as prevalent as many would have expected given the nature of it. That discussion came up during a recent episode of Bruce Buffer’s It’s Time! podcast. Co-host TJ De Santis questioned how the lines, which had Ngannou as an underdog, would have looked had news of the injury broke.
Eric Nicksick, who appeared on the podcast alongside Ngannou and the champ’s manager Marquel Martin, pointed out that they knew people were aware of the damage prior to UFC 270. According to the Xtreme Couture coach, the leak was obvious once the betting lines began to shift.
“They knew, TJ,” said Nicksick. “‘Cause I said to Marquel, ’cause we’re Vegas boys, I said to Marquel, like two weeks out, I go, ‘Hey, when we start seeing these lines move, the lines start moving, we’ll know that the word is out that he’s messed up.’ There’s enough eyes, enough people around, and it’s not like, malicious; it just happens to be that way.”
Nicksick added that news of Ngannou’s hurt knee was always likely to get out, especially in Las Vegas.
“If he’s at the PI getting his knee wrapped or he has a knee brace on, if one person sees it, he’s gonna tell three or five people,” added Nicksick. “And in Vegas, we know, we’re born and raised here, so they’re looking for any way they can to move that line. I told Marquel, ‘Hey, that line’s moving, the word is out.’”
In late December, Ngannou was set as a narrow favorite by FanDuel, a line that flipped in the weeks prior to the event.
In the aftermath of 2022’s first UFC PPV, the seriousness of Ngannou’s injury was put into perspective. According to the Cameroonian, he’d been warned against fighting by a doctor due to the possibility of “irreversible damage.”
Having bet on himself and on his knee, and won, Ngannou has emerged from the other side in a strong position, both in terms of his status in the heavyweight division and in contract negotiations with the UFC.
What did you make of Francis Ngannou’s performance at UFC 270, especially given his knee injury?
Posted from Source