In the run-up to his UFC heavyweight title rematch against Stipe Miocic, Francis Ngannou had taken less than three cumulative minutes to knockout his last four opponents. When the time came to take on one of the greatest heavyweight champions ever, Ngannou took a little over five minutes to take out Miocic at UFC 260.
Five fighters who can beat Francis Ngannou:
Armed with incredible knockout power and now an improved grappling game, Francis Ngannou looks unbeatable. Would he retire with the UFC Heavyweight title still around his waist, or can some fighters pose a threat to the 263-pounder?
In this article, we'll take a look at five heavyweights who have a realistic chance of beating the newly crowned UFC Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.
#5 Daniel Cormier
During his time inside the octagon, Daniel Cormier was one of the strongest heavyweights in the UFC. In his 22 professional wins, Cormier secured ten knockouts and five submissions, displaying a well-rounded striking and wrestling IQ.
Given the former UFC heavyweight champion's Olympic wrestling credentials, he could be a lethal opponent for Francis Ngannou. He has been a part of the US Olympic team on as many as six occasions. Cormier is a world bronze medalist, a World Cup runner-up, a gold-medallist in the Pan American Games and has been the Pan American champion twice.
DC is also known for his striking prowess, having knocked out Stipe Miocic in 2018 to win the heavyweight title. Although he would face a disadvantage against Ngannou in terms of height and reach, Cormier can be more than a match for his taller opponents.
It's also noteworthy that Daniel Cormier came really close to fighting Francis Ngannou in 2020. With Stipe Miocic not yet ready for the trilogy, DC had claimed that he was ready to fight Francis Ngannou for the vacant title and was 'not afraid of anyone'.
Cormier eventually retired in 2020 after completing his trilogy with Stipe Miocic. However, if ever he makes a comeback, he could give Francis Ngannou a tough time inside the octagon, considering his immense experience.
#4 Stipe Miocic
Even though Francis Ngannou beat Stipe Miocic to become the new UFC heavyweight champion at UFC 260, he has split his two meetings with the American. A trilogy fight is indeed in the talks, and it would all depend if the 38-year-old Miocic decides to make a comeback in time.
Miocic beat Francis Ngannou at UFC 220 in 2018 to end the Cameroonian's six-match unbeaten streak. It took Ngannou about three years to adapt and adjust his tactics to be better suited to face the most successful UFC heavyweight champion in a rematch.
Stipe Miocic now knows Francis Ngannou's strength and weaknesses better. If he gets the time to prepare, he could again prove why he is one of the greatest heavyweight fighters in the UFC. Miocic has immense experience of winning fights in the heavyweight division, having defended his title the most times (4) in UFC history.
Going by the size of the two fighters, Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou match up well against each other. The two fighters have the same height, and Miocic's weight and reach are just a few units less than that of Francis Ngannou's.
Miocic could use all of his previous experience and better understanding of Francis Ngannou's improved game to emerge victorious in their third fight, if it ever takes place.
#3 Derrick Lewis
Derrick Lewis (25-7-0, 1 NC) is one of the very few fighters in UFC to hold a win over Francis Ngannou and still wants a rematch. With 12 knockout finishes in his professional career, Lewis is considered one of the best knockout specialists in the UFC, along with Francis Ngannou.
Derrick Lewis has proven time and again that he is not afraid of Francis Ngannou. In the UFC 226 weigh-ins, Lewis stood right in the face of Francis Ngannou before shoving him despite Ngannou visibly avoiding any violence.
Although Derrick Lewis won his UFC 226 bout against Francis Ngannoou, it was considered to be an underwhelming face-off, as only 31 strikes landed in three rounds.
Wishing to continue his dominance against Francis Ngannou, Derrick Lewis recently said that he wants a rematch with the new UFC heavyweight champion. Intriguingly, 'The Black Beast' isn't even interested in the belt!
#2 Cyril Gane
There are several factors why Cyril Gane (7-0-0) is high up in this list of fighters who can beat Francis Ngannou.
One, the French fighter and Francis Ngannou are supposed to have similar styles after having trained at the same MMA gym in France and under the same head coach, Ferdinand Lopez.
Two, having made his UFC debut in 2019, Cyril Gane is undefeated in five matches so far, winning through a TKO, a heel hook, a triangle arm choke and two unanimous decisions. His most recent wins have come against Junior dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
Three, Cyril Gane was always aware that he would have to face his former training partner Francis Ngannou sooner or later. Speaking about the possibility of the same, 'Bon Gamin' had said that he had just one condition - the fight should be for the UFC heavyweight title.
Now, with Francis Ngannou being crowned the UFC heavyweight champion and Cyril Gane having no other opponent for his next UFC bout, the path to the octagon seems clear for the two fighters. Notably, Cyril Gane is an inch taller than Francis Ngannou.
#1 Jon Jones
Whenever there is a debate about who is the GOAT in UFC, Jon Jones invariably finds a mention. Currently the number one UFC pound-for-pound fighter,\ and a former two-time UFC light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones is very likely to face Francis Ngannou in the near future.
In 2020, Jon Jones relinquished his light heavyweight title in a bid to move up to the heavyweight division. Just as Francis Ngannou lifted the UFC heavyweight title after defeating Stipe Miocic at UFC 260, Jon 'Bones' Jones has expressed his wish to fight the newly crowned champion in a title fight.
Jon Jones is undefeated so far, with his only professional loss coming by disqualification. Statistically speaking, at 6' 4" and with a 4" reach advantage over Francis Ngannou, Jones has the best chances of beating the new UFC heavyweight champion.
Jones recently took to Twitter to explain how he would pose a tougher challenge to Francis Ngannou than Stipe Miocic did.
However, the fight is not likely to be booked any time soon, as the UFC and Jon Jones are not in agreement on payment terms.
Nevertheless, Francis Ngannou is ready to defend his title against Jon Jones. And if the fight does take place, it could be a blockbuster that could see 'Bones' go on to add a seemingly improbably victory to his burgeoningl egacy.