With a ridiculous number of knockouts on his UFC ledger already, Francis Ngannou looks like he could be a dominant champion.
Can anyone stop him? Right now it seems doubtful, but there are definitely a handful of UFC fighters who have the potential to do so.
Here are five UFC fighters who have a chance of stopping Francis Ngannou.
#1 Jon Jones (UFC record: 20-1-1)
Whether or not the UFC can get a fight between Francis Ngannou and Jon Jones done is a major question mark. But there’s no denying that right now, it might be the most interesting fight for ‘The Predator’.
Jones has never fought at Heavyweight before. So there will be questions around how he’ll adjust, even if he appears to be packing muscle onto his frame.
But despite this, ‘Bones’ is easily one of the greatest fighters in UFC history. He ruled the UFC’s light-heavyweight division with an iron fist for practically a decade, and his only loss came by disqualification in a fight he was comfortably winning.
While he clearly isn’t as muscular as Ngannou, Jones is the same height as the current UFC Heavyweight champ – and incredibly, he’d have a reach advantage in a potential fight.
Add in the fact that ‘Bones’ is one of the best wrestlers in UFC history, having taken down even Olympian Daniel Cormier, and he’d definitely provide Ngannou with a very difficult test.
#2 Derrick Lewis (UFC record: 16-5)
On the face of it, it seems insane that a fighter as limited as Derrick Lewis could provide Francis Ngannou with a tough test. After all, ‘The Black Beast’ struggles on the ground, doesn’t have the best cardio, and certainly isn’t the most durable fighter at heavyweight.
However, he’s arguably the one man on the UFC roster who can match Ngannou for sheer punching power, as he’s proven time after time. No other heavyweight can match his number of UFC knockouts (12), with his most recent coming over Curtis Blaydes.
And more to the point, Lewis already owns a win over Ngannou, albeit in a 2018 fight that was a damp squib. That fact alone suggests that Ngannou wouldn’t simply blow Lewis away like he’s done to so many others. In fact, you could argue that ‘The Predator’ should be wary of Lewis’ power.
This fight wouldn’t sell like a fight with Jones would, but you certainly couldn’t count Lewis out of it.
#3 Ciryl Gane (UFC record: 5-0)
Perhaps the most intriguing prospect in the UFC’s heavyweight division right now is Ciryl Gane.
Surprisingly enough, ‘Bon Gamin’ has a similar background of sorts to Francis Ngannou, initially learning his kickboxing game in France. And in his early UFC career, he’s also made a big splash.
Right now Gane is 5-0 in the UFC, with big wins over Junior dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik under his belt. And while he received some criticism for the way he beat Rozenstruik, Gane showed more patience and poise than we’d ever seen from him before in that fight, as well as the cardio to go five rounds.
Sure, Ngannou took Rozenstruik out in a rush, but to see a striker of that calibre comprehensively outpointed by Gane was impressive too.
We don’t know a lot about Gane’s chin, admittedly, which makes any fight with Ngannou dangerous.
But the Frenchman has the size (6’5”, 248lbs), striking power and skills to be a problem for any fighter at heavyweight. And given that we’ve also seen him grapple well, there’s always the chance he’d look to take ‘The Predator’ down too.
Give it perhaps one year, and this may well be the fight to make at Heavyweight.
#4 Tom Aspinall (UFC record: 3-0)
Outside of Ciryl Gane, perhaps the best prospect in the UFC at heavyweight right now is Tom Aspinall.
The native of Liverpool, England burst onto the UFC scene in 2020 with two wins via TKO, and most recently took out former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski.
That fight was particularly impressive. Not only did Aspinall unleash his heavy hands again, but he finished the fight with a rear naked choke – becoming just the second man to submit Arlovski in his lengthy career.
The win showed exactly why Aspinall is so dangerous. Not only does he have knockout power in his hands, but his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt makes him very tricky on the ground too. And at 6’5” and 256lbs, the Englishman is hardly a small heavyweight, meaning that it’s unlikely Ngannou would simply dwarf him inside the Octagon.
Aspinall naturally needs to prove a lot more before he moves into contention for Ngannou’s UFC heavyweight title.
But if what he’s shown so far is anything to go by, it won’t be too long before he’s knocking on the door of a big fight. And that gives him the potential, at least, to beat Ngannou.
#5 Alexander Volkov (UFC record: 7-2)
Alexander Volkov has always been looked upon as a potential UFC heavyweight title contender. And his physicality alone would make him a potential threat to Francis Ngannou.
At 6’7” and 265lbs, ‘Drago’ might be one of the only fighters in the UFC to be actually bigger than ‘The Predator’. And while he isn’t a physical bully inside the Octagon in terms of grappling, he knows how to use his long 80” reach to his advantage.
Volkov was often criticised for a safety-first approach in his early UFC days. But in his recent win over Alistair Overeem, he looked much more aggressive than he’d ever done before and came away with a nasty second-round TKO.
After his loss to Derrick Lewis in 2018, there are probably fair questions around Volkov’s chin, and that would definitely mean that Ngannou would be the favourite in this fight.
But ‘The Predator’ isn’t the most technical striker, meaning that ‘Drago’ could look to take advantage of that by staying on the outside and using his length to land strikes.
With perhaps one more win, we could well end up seeing this fight in the UFC in the near future.