Back in early 2016, when Stipe Miocic crushed Fabricio Werdum to capture the UFC 265-pound title, neither Francis Ngannou nor Curtis Blaydes were ranked in the heavyweight top 15 and were probably unknown to most mixed martial arts (MMA) fans.
“The Predator” was just a few weeks removed from his technical knockout win over “Razor,” which came by way of doctor’s stoppage thanks to a nasty cut suffered in the second round of their FOX Sports 1 affair (more on that here).
Two years later, Ngannou (11-2) and Blaydes (10-1, 1 NC) are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, with each hulking goliath capturing violent technical knockout wins over former title contender Alistair Overeem in the process.
Which means a rematch seems to be a matter of when, not if.
“I would be okay with that,” Ngannou said during a recent media scrum. “Curtis Blaydes is doing well, he would deserve it. There is nothing to say about this guy, this guy is one of the contenders to keep an eye on. If he wants the rematch, I am open to that.”
That might take awhile.
Blaydes is expecting to earn the next shot at the heavyweight title after Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier finish their business at UFC 216 in July. Meanwhile, Ngannou is tasked with turning away Derrick Lewis, also at next month’s pay-per-view (PPV) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Let’s hope we eventually get Ngannou vs. Blaydes 2, as so much has chanced since April 2016 there’s no telling how the fight would play out.