UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou was supposed to compete for this weekend against Derrick Lewis in his first title defense, but instead, Lewis will face rising contender Ciryl Gane for an interim belt at UFC 265 in Houston, TX.

Ngannou and UFC president Dana White haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, most recently with the heavyweight champion’s comments regarding the issues surrounding UFC fighter pay amidst his reportedly icey negotiations with the promotion after his second-round knockout over Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 to win the title.

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In a recent interview with Sirius XM’s Jimmy Smith, Ngannou revealed his frustrations with White and the UFC brass after an interim title was announced for UFC 265.

“It’s been radio silence,” Ngannou said when asked about his communication with White and the UFC. “I want to fight, and as a champion, I want to defend my title. But I just want to make it right for me. If they’re a legit contender, you have to fight them. It’s not your choice.”

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“I shouldn’t be surprised anymore about anything. What they are doing now out there, it doesn’t matter to me. … If somebody says I don’t want to fight, they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

White recently admitted in an interview with MMA Junkie that his relationship with Ngannou, leading up to his first fight with Miocic early on in his career. While he admitted that he and Ngannou haven’t always been on the same page, he remains committed to making the heavyweight champion happy going forward.

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Ngannou will keep a close eye on the interim heavyweight title bout this weekend and will face the winner at a later date in a fight that should be another fascinating matchup for the champion.

What are your thoughts on Francis Ngannou’s comments regarding the interim title?

Curtis Calhoun is a Combat Sports Contributor based in Seattle, Washington. After a longtime dream of becoming a sports journalist, he was able to accomplish his goals upon graduating from Washington State University in 2016.