Especially at the highest level, fighters are never at 100% physical condition entering the contest. But for UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou, it was quite a dire situation heading into his UFC 270 title defense against Ciryl Gane.
As “The Predator” revealed to Joe Rogan during the Octagon interview, he nearly pulled out of the fight because of a “completely” torn MCL.
“It’s been an incredible journey. It’s been a very tough training camp, very tough ten months. A lot of shit. Three weeks ago, I hurt my knee, tore my MCL completely. Hurt my ACL and all those stuff,” he said.
“Wanted to call off this fight, but couldn’t see myself retreating from this fight. Because it was a moment for me to make a statement and to remind people that I’m the champ. You guys may sleep on me, forget about me. I put in work every day.”
Ngannou says up until fight week, he was struggling to get clearance from a doctor.
“(The fight) was, like, one inch to being canceled because when we did the MRI (and) the report came out, it was scary. It wasn’t good,” Ngannou told UFC correspondent Laura Sanko backstage.
“I remember (UFC doctor Jeff) Davidson reading the report to me, it was scary. (He was) like telling me how my MCL is torn grade three, my MPFL is torn, my ACL is damaged. Basically, the only thing that I had left on my leg was my PCL and my LCL.
“But we did a lot of work at the (UFC) PI, they helped me a lot with the rehab. Did a lot of stem cell, did everything that we can, and obviously, rely on the muscles on my quadricep. And until Tuesday, I went here to see a doctor who can clear me, and I wasn’t very positive about it. But I’m doing this.”
Ngannou utilized his wrestling and grappling to come out victorious via unanimous decision to successfully defend his title for the first time. He now improves to a record of 17-3.