Ngannou says he was 'a little concerned' after slow start vs. Gane

Chris Unger / UFC / Getty

On two judges' scorecards and in the eyes of many MMA fans, Francis Ngannou lost the first two rounds of his heavyweight title fight with Ciryl Gane at UFC 270.

The prevailing wisdom was that Ngannou needed a knockout to win the fight - he had never won a decision in his professional career - and that his best chance would be in those opening rounds.

So, Ngannou was in a precarious position at best, and he admitted afterward that he was indeed worried about how the fight was playing out through 10 minutes.

"Actually, for the first two rounds, I couldn't find my spot, couldn't move properly, and was a little concerned basically by the end of the second round," Ngannou said at the postfight press conference, according to MMA Fighting.

Between the second and third rounds, Ngannou said he thought about the support he was receiving in his native Cameroon and told himself he wouldn't let his countrymen down.

The heavyweight champion resorted to an unfamiliar weapon in the last three rounds - his grappling - and eked out a unanimous decision victory over Gane to retain the title. Ngannou says his confidence skyrocketed after winning the third round.

"At the end of the third round, I kind of like see (Gane) desperate," Ngannou said. "At that moment, I know that he's going to lose this fight. ... I could tell that he wasn't himself anymore."

While Ngannou said he would have preferred a patented knockout, he didn't mind going the distance with his former training partner.

"This five rounds, it wasn't my call," Ngannou said. "But, meanwhile, it was a good thing because I finally had a chance to prove that I can do it. Everyone counts me out when it goes to five rounds - 'Ciryl by decision. If Francis wins, it's by knockout.' But you were wrong."

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Ngannou says he was 'a little concerned' after slow start vs. Gane
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