There are not a lot of people who can make Shaquille O’Neal feel like a child. Apparently UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou is one of the few people who were able to do just that.
Standing at 7’1, and weighing upwards of 325lb in his prime, it is safe to say that Shaq is a big guy. He played as a center in the NBA for many years, doing well enough to earn a spot in the NBA Hall of Fame where he was inducted after his 19-year long career.
Over the years, O’Neal has shown an interest in mixed martial arts, even training a few times in the past. This has made him a friend of the UFC, regularly showing up at events and hanging out at the Performance Institute.
— Francis Ngannou (@francis_ngannou) April 17, 2020
Francis Ngannou Made Shaq Feel Like A Child
One such instance of Shaquille O’Neal crossing over into the world of MMA came from him meeting up with Francis Ngannou. While he is a beast of a man himself, the newly crowned heavyweight champion is still dwarfed by the basketball player, but that did not stop Francis from picking O’Neal up in shocking fashion.
Speaking in a recent interview, O’Neal looked back on this moment, and reflected on Francis being the first man to actually pick him up. He said that he was surprised with how easily Francis could pick him up, and that it made him feel like he was being treated as a child.
“You know in high school, when you fight the little guys that are built strong, they try to get you but I wouldn’t let them, I would always sprawl out. The football players that I fought always tried to pick me up, but this guy picked me up with ease, and I was trying to resist,” Shaq said.
“He just picked me up and held me up there with ease and then dropped me gently like I was the kid. I felt like a kid again. I’m 385 (pounds).”
As for Ngannou’s win over Stipe Miocic to capture the title, Shaq could not resist watching this fight. After that experience with getting picked up by the Cameroonian, he knew that it was going to be hard for Francis to lose.
“I’d seen him before but when he was fighting for the belt the other day, I knew I had to watch it. I knew coming in that he was in great shape, he was hitting hard, and he was determined. This was something he wanted,” he said.
“His fight and his determination, he deserves to be the champ. I’m happy for him.”
It seems all but certain that if Francis Ngannou faces Jon Jones, Shaquille O’Neal will be watching. All it takes to make the NBA superstar a fan, is to be able to lift him up.