Stake's Exclusive Interview with Francis Ngannou

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Francis Ngannou: I have tried to keep life the same since I became champion… if you change your approach too much, you will make mistakes “My life has been pretty much the same since I became champion, other than the fact I know I completed what I wanted to achieve and had chased for so long. I proved to myself that I can be a champion. “I achieved my goal but know I have to stay grounded and focus on the next challenge. “It didn’t change my mentality very much. “Yes I know I am a champion, but when I look for a fight I don’t think about that. I just think about improving myself and becoming a better fighter, which has been my goal since the very beginning. I haven’t gone too far away from that in my approach. “Whoever I face, I just want to be the dominant one regardless of which title is at stake. Because at the end of the day without a belt you are just another fighter. “If you do not balance that out, you will make a mistake somewhere along the way.”

Francis Ngannou: Me and Tyson Fury may fight in 2023… it will be tough, but I will throw some bombs at him that he will not have experienced before “I don’t know exactly when Tyson and I will fight, but I think maybe some time in 2023. I am still under contract with UFC so I don’t know right now the state of my situation or how it will play out. “But I will say it will probably happen at some point. It is definitely something I want to do, but we don’t have control over it right now. “I know it will be very tough when we fight. Not only am I coming from a distant sport, but I am testing myself against one of the best, if not the best, boxer ever. “But I’m not thinking of fighting someone like Cyril Gane the same way as I would fight Tyson Fury. Obviously I am confident, but it will be something totally different and new for me. “Fury has obviously proven he can last a very long time in a fight – but I am sure I will throw some bombs at him that he will not have experienced before.”

Francis Ngannou: I bypass all of Fernand and Cyril’s psychology… Fernand says he knows me, but in truth he knows s**t “Cyril and in particular Fernand Lopez have tried to distract me, but they know their only approach is to come physiologically to try and get inside my head and under my skin. “That is all they have got and it is a huge thing for them. But I am a champion and bypass whatever they are doing. It means nothing to me. “Fernand has said he knows my weaknesses, but that is the whole problem with him. He may think he knows me well, but he knows s**t. “He does not know me at all – even when we were together he didn’t know, because all he tried to know was himself, not me.”

Francis Ngannou: It’s a big risk for Gane to try and last five rounds… with my power, it will be his lucky day if he even lasts one round! “I am not actually very familiar with Gane – I have only trained with him less than eight times for a few weeks three years ago. “That is not enough to know that much about it. Also, everyone has improved and worked on different things since then – so it doesn’t mean anything for me. “But yes, he is an all round good fighter whose abilities I am aware of.

“I heard Gane wants to go five rounds and win on points. That is definitely a BIG risk with my power to try and last that long. “It will have to be his very lucky day to survive the first round or two, let alone five. If he makes five rounds, it will be a big accomplishment for him. “My prediction is that it will probably be a second round knockout from me – or at least I will have knocked him out in under two rounds.”

Francis Ngannou: I haven’t been doing too much different ahead of Gane, I just try to slim down and focus on cardio and conditioning as opposed to strength “I have not been doing anything different in practice ahead of Gane. I am really focused on my diet and emphasising cardio and conditioning over strength. So far everything has been good for us. “I always try to slim down as much as possible. I know my power is always there and I am not going to lose it, so I don’t really put a big focus on gaining weight. “I have a natural genetic ability to have muscle mass, so I don’t focus on that. My main goal is always to slim down. “When you fight someone like Stipe Miocic who is lighter, the fight goes longer and the cardio is the advantage. “That is the same with the Gane fight coming up. So my goal is to be lean and work more on my cardio, that is the most important thing for me.”

Francis Ngannou: It is a dream for me to fight for my African people – ideally with the UFC, but even without them it will happen one day “It is a big dream to fight in Cameroon, but I also know it will be very hard to make a reality at this point. “However, I believe eventually we will figure out a way to make it happen to fight for our people. “It’s very important to each of us – myself, Israel and Usman. Ideally with the UFC, but even without the UFC that is going to happen one day.”