Ngannou lost the battle but may have won the war in delivering a near-upset of the heavyweight champ Fury in his first pro-boxing outing this past Saturday in Saudi Arabia. Of all the victory laps he might be expected to take, one would be with his former promoter, who banned him from the UFC after he declined a new contract offer, triggering his exit.
Instead, Ngannou shrugged.
“Who cares?” the ex-UFC heavyweight champ said Monday on The MMA Hour. “Dana White feels like he feels. Personally, I feel great. I think you have to send him an invite so you could ask him. I would like to know, too.”
Prior to Ngannou’s fight with Fury, it was pretty clear how White felt about his move. The UFC executive accused him of avoiding a fight with current heavyweight champ Jon Jones in favor of easier opposition. White also opined that Ngannou had overplayed his hand in seeking a “money fight” with Fury and wrote off “gimmick fights” as beneath the UFC – despite several high-profile examples of them such as CM Punk’s short octagon stint and James Toney’s one-time appearance.
After massively over-delivering on expectations, Ngannou isn’t sure what he’d say to White. He’s also not sure anything he did would change the executive’s opinion.
“We have to ask him, but I don’t know,” Ngannou said when asked whether White was happy for him. “I’m not sure, though, because he’s been throwing little stones my way, like trying to poke me.”
White has so far been mum about this past Saturday’s fight, which validated Ngannou’s seismic decision to vacate his UFC title at the peak of his career. Ngannou poked fun at White’s claim that he sought lesser competition, a dig that aged very poorly in light of his performance.
“We know Dana is Dana,” Ngannou said. “[Dana] said what Dana said, which most of the time doesn’t mean anything. But yes, like a lesser fighter, like Tyson Fury? He was right. That’s what I wanted.”
White wasn’t the only one to throw stones at Ngannou’s choice. Several fighters jumped on the bandwagon, including Jones, who echoed the UFC exec’s argument shortly after re-signing with the promotion. Jones had sat on the sidelines for three years in a dispute over pay that was touched off by a potential fight against Ngannou.
“But you have to understand,” Ngannou explained. “Dana has the power over a lot of fighters. A lot of them, they are just there to please the boss. They don’t have their own personality, they don’t have their own identity, so they just want to fit in something, and you can’t blame them.
“It costs a lot and takes a lot to stand up and say what you think, and some people don’t just have it. Some people just make themselves a puppet. It’s OK. But I can’t be anybody puppet. I’m too big for that. I’m too proud for that.”
In the wake of his big night, Ngannou said one of his prevailing thoughts was not regret for leaving the UFC, but not leaving sooner.
“I was like, why didn’t I do this earlier?” he said. “Why did I did I even try so hard? Why did I even put so much energy into a relationship that wasn’t working? Sometimes you just have to let [it] go when it doesn’t work. Move on, and potentially you’re going to find your place somewhere else. And even then, no matter what, you’re going to be in peace with yourself.
“So I was in peace in myself, and I would have been peace in myself either way, because I do not regret my decision. I do not take my decision to hurt anybody. I do not take my decision to please anybody. I thought about my decision, and I took it based on what I want, and based on my principle.”