UFC heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou was one of the fighters impacted by the covid-19 restrictions that forced the UFC to postpone several events. He now sees a light at the end of the tunnel. Ngannou may have a fight on the UFC 249: Khabib vs. Ferguson card that UFC president Dana White says he is close to pulling off on April 18 as scheduled.
“There is a chance that I can be fighting on that card, but they have to settle everything down. For now, it seems like they have a location, but they have to double check and see how they can handle this event safely for people,” Ngannou said during a recent interview with Submission Radio.
Ngannou had been slated to fight Jairzinho Rozenstruik in the UFC Fight Night main event on March 28 in Columbus, Ohio. That event, along with the UFC Fight Nights in London and Portland, have been postponed, if not cancelled outright. White, however, has said he fully intends for the scheduled bouts from those events to take place at some point.
The Ngannou vs. Rozenstruik bout is one that may take place sooner than many had anticipated, as White and his team focus on trying to make UFC 249 happen somewhere in the world on April 18.
“I think it’s still the guy, it’s still the same opponent. I assume that he got tested as well. But yes, if he’s well, yeah, I think it’s still the plan (to fight Rozenstruik),” Ngannou said before White confirmed as much on a quick Instagram live stream with ESPN reporter Brett Okamoto on Wednesday.
Per Dana White, UFC 249 will likely get revamped fight card
White is fully intending to feature Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson in the UFC 249 main event, but after New York made it clear that event could not happen in its state on April 18, the UFC president admits they’re expecting to have to make changes, like the addition of Ngannou vs. Rozenstruik.
“Some of the things (for UFC 249) are gonna work out. Some of the things aren’t gonna work out. If some of them don’t, we’re trying to figure some things out,” White said.
“Francis (vs. Rozenstruik) is one of the things we’re looking at (for UFC 249).”
White has yet to reveal the location, of which he said he was 99.9 percent sure of, and Ngannou wasn’t giving it up either.
“Even if I know, I won’t tell you,” he said, laughing. “It’s gonna be somewhere on Earth, it’s gonna be on this planet.”
Ngannou not overly concerned about health risks
Everyone around the globe, of course, is concerned about the current covid-19 pandemic. Across the United States and many other countries, sheltering in place or at least heavily restricted social interaction is the order of the day.
Ngannou isn’t overly worried about the virus, believing that the UFC is doing its best to ensure the safety of its fighters and others involved in pulling off an event in the next month.
“First of all, it’s not just about (fighters). They are not just expecting to work with people that are fighting, they’re also trying to make things to care about our health. So, I got tested, they got me tested for the covid-19, so I guess they tested other fighters, which is kind of like a positive thing and makes you feel a little bit safe to get close or along with those people,” said Ngannou.
“I won’t be concerned because, once again, I don’t wanna say that covid-19 is nothing, I don’t want to say it’s not bad, but technically I think it’s a flu that we have all the time. The only problem with it is that it’s contagious and it can spread very fast. But no, I won’t be concerned about it because even after I’ve had a test, I wasn’t very worried. I was like, it’s gonna be okay. It’s not like bad.
“Because I think the thing right now is just the panic. This thing has caused more panic than the real pain itself. We are just panicking.”
While it is still not yet clear where UFC 249 will happen, White’s plan is to move ahead with it on April 18 somewhere in the world, though a revamped fight card is almost a certainty. Ngannou appears to be looking forward to potentially becoming part of the revisions.