A scheduled bout between former UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum and Derrick Lewis was set for UFC 216, but then Lewis pulled out of the fight on the day of the event due to a back injury.
Walt Harris ended up being a late replacement in the fight, but another heavyweight in Francis Ngannou was willing to fight Werdum on short notice as well.
“It’s a good matchup. Definitely this is a good matchup that I would never dodge it,” Ngannou said backstage at UFC 216. “I knew I was going to fight Alistair Overeem one day. I’ve been waiting for this fight and got ready for it since a long time ago. I got no answer, but I called when I saw the news. I tried to contact the matchmaker (Mick Maynard). He was busy. If I call, and he picks up, I say, ‘OK, I’m ready for him.’ Honestly I would take the fight. I’ve been preparing for this, maybe something was going to happen between Werdum and Lewis. I’ve been preparing for this in case somebody pull out of this fight. I feel like something was going to happen. I got ready for it. It was last minute, there was no way to change with the commissions.”
Ngannou is currently slated to fight Alistair Overeem this coming December at UFC 218.
The heavyweight feels that a victory over the Dutch striker should get him a shot at the UFC Heavyweight Title.
“I think after the fight there is no way to deny me the title shot,” Ngannou said. “I’m sure I’ll beat Alistair and get a title shot. I still haven’t fought the champion. There’s no way not to give me the title shot after this fight.”
UFC 218 takes place on Saturday, December 2 from the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan with Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar headlining. Fightful is providing live coverage of the event, with a post-show podcast to follow.