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Francis Ngannou is next in line for a shot at UFC heavyweight title

Francis Ngannou has been the no.1 contender in the heavyweight division of UFC for the best part of two years now.
Francis Ngannou has been the no.1 contender in the heavyweight division of UFC for the best part of two years now.
Mibom Taggu
ANALYST
Modified 29 Jul 2020, 14:00 IST
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Francis Ngannou is still paying the price for his costly mistake at UFC 220. That loss against Stipe Miocic sent Francis Ngannou to do some serious soul-searching. Miocic’s performance that night was something spectacular to see as he ate some bombs from Francis Ngannou before taking him down multiple times.

The trepidations of that loss still loomed large over Francis Ngannou’s head when he fought six months later in one of the most remarkable snoozefests of all-time. That fight against Ngannou gave Derrick Lewis a shot against Daniel Cormier at the heavyweight title, while many were writing “The Predator” off, citing what was supposedly a weak mentality on his part.

Ngannou
Ngannou's first fight with champion Stipe Miocic saw a lot of holes being highlighted in the Cameroonian's game.

But this is a guy who has worked in sand mines since the age of 12. This is a guy who left his country because he felt he could achieve much more in his life if given the opportunity. This is a guy who spent two months in jail because he came over to Europe illegally.

Also, Francis Ngannou was living homeless in the streets of Paris before he finally started earning some money. You simply can’t faze someone like that. While he had some mental blocks to overcome after his loss against Miocic, Francis Ngannou has cleared those cobwebs of doubt which so entangled him during his fight against “The Black Beast”.

In hindsight, Francis Ngannou’s loss against Derrick Lewis made the Cameroonian better. Dana White claiming his ego was out of control may have had something to do with that.

Because it has rejuvenated Francis Ngannou and jolted him back to life in a way that has been even more impressive than his pre-Miocic days. He has barely fought more than half around in his last four fights combined while taking out names like Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos, and recently Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 249.

The last fight was the scariest display of power by Francis Ngannou, barring his legendary knockout of Alistair Overeem. Rozenstruik might have felt some regret for his trash talk as he ended up paying for it in the most vicious of ways. Ngannou’s wins over wrestlers like Curtis Blaydes and former champion Cain Velasquez is also a sign that he has worked relentlessly on his perceived weakness which Miocic took advantage of in their fight.

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This all makes Ngannou one of the most intriguing no.1 contenders in UFC history. Fighters in the promotion have to make their way back up to the top if beaten convincingly, and Ngannou has patiently bided his time in the two years since that loss against Curtis Blaydes.

Ngannou will also have a clearer picture of who he has to fight than most other no.1 UFC contenders. Cormier has already announced the trilogy fight as his last, which means Miocic is probably the one Ngannou is training for.

If Miocic can beat Daniel Cormier at UFC 252, it will set Ngannou up with what should be a revenge fight the Cameroonian has been waiting on for two-and-a-half years at this point. Miocic will turn 38 this August, and he could bid farewell to the octagon as well at UFC 252 alongside his trilogy rival DC.

UFC has left the rugged Ohio native and firefighter disappointed by the treatment given to him after he lost his title at UFC 226. Miocic was the best heavyweight champion in UFC history when DC knocked him out and the way Miocic had to grit out a rematch left him with a sour taste in his mouth.

If both guys in the main event of UFC 252 retire following a legacy trilogy fight, it will leave Ngannou with a simple task at hand. Considering he has already convincingly beaten all the top contenders in his division, it will then be a case of ‘wait and see’ for the Mike Tyson of UFC.

Published 29 Jul 2020, 14:00 IST
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