Francis Ngannou may have taken out the UFC’s third-ranked heavyweight yesterday, at the promotion’s latest Fight Night card in Beijing, but “The Predator” knows he has some work to do before he calls for a title shot.
Ngannou faced Curtis Blaydes in the card’s headliner, and after flooring the wrestler moments into the bout, he brought about the stoppage with follow-up strikes. The fight marked the second time Ngannou has defeated Blaydes, and perhaps more importantly, it ended the feared slugger’s two-fight losing skid.
Well, following the victory, Ngannou had this to say about his performance and whether he thinks the win could deliver him a title shot (quotes via MMA Junkie):
“I came back tonight to have fun,” Ngannou said. “My last fight wasn’t that good, just because I was too concerned about what’s going to happen. I put a lot of stuff in my mind. Then, after that, I took time and thought about why I started this sport. Because, at the beginning, my dream was to become a world-class boxer.
“And why I stepped into MMA, it was to have fun. I had to kind of remind myself what was the purpose, what was the goal – first of all, have fun…”
“Right now, (Cormier) is the champ of the division,” Ngannou relayed, when asked about the possibility of facing Daniel Cormier or Stipe Miocic next. “And then, for my last few fights, I didn’t do great. So I don’t think I’m going to have a chance now. So, (between these) two fighters, I’ll take the one that I can have – (it) would be Stipe.”
While Ngannou will likely move into the #3 spot at heavyweight, as a result of his victory Saturday, his comments here are on point. At this juncture, the only way Ngannou could possibly fight for the belt next is if Cormier retires in March, and he gets tapped to fight for the vacated title. But, on account of the fact Ngannou lost to Derrick Lewis in July, even in that scenario nothing is certain. Although Cain Velasquez hasn’t fought since 2016, the UFC could look at having the former champ face Miocic for a vacated belt.
What’s most likely here is that Ngannou will get booked for a fight in the interim, against another top contender like Alexander Volkov or the winner of Junior dos Santos vs. Tai Tuivasa (who are fighting December 1st). There’s also a chance the UFC might look at Ngannou – Overeem 2, but, Ngannou doesn’t have much to win in that contest, on account of the fact he bombed out the “Reem” last year.