At UFC 260 on Saturday night (March 27, 2021), we witnessed a new, calmer, more composed Francis Ngannou dethrone Stipe Miocic with ease, knocking out the consensus best Heavyweight champ ever in the second round (watch highlights). Where he was once a high-octane bulldozer, this Ngannou was an inevitable steamroller, taking its time to roll across the Octagon.
After the fight, Ngannou credited his team and the extended training period he had waiting on the Miocic fight to finally come together. He also credited Miocic, in a way, for kicking his ass the first time they met in Jan. 2018.
“That was my biggest experience in combat sports,” he said during his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. “That night of January 18th was the biggest night of my life. And it might sound weird to say this, but even though I didn’t have a belt, I know I didn’t lose that fight. How I gained my experience and how I learned about mixed martial arts, my fight IQ, how I manage fights, I had a great outcome from that fight. It was a great benefit from that fight and I believe that benefit pushed me, raised me higher to this.”
This time Ngannou didn’t just win the exchanges on the feet. He also out-wrestled Miocic in their one grappling exchange, stuffing a takedown and then taking Miocic’s back and dragging him to the mat for some ground-and-pound.
“In that specific moment I didn’t think about it because in the past few months I’ve been stuffing a lot of takedowns and that has been the most part of my training,” Ngannou revealed. “I had a training camp before a training camp, I’ve been working on my wrestling for like six months before the fight. So at that moment I didn’t think about it. What I thought about was how he was able to take shots and still coming. But I’ve been here before, he’s tough, I know he’s tough. There’s nothing surprising about it. Don’t get overwhelmed. Calm down and reset.”
“I have a different perspective about this, being happy about my improvement and how I can do, my fighting IQ, seeing how I can go out there being very patient. I’m also happy about my performance, even though it didn’t last long. But I’m happy that I was able to calm myself and calm myself and say ‘Okay, listen to what your corner are telling you, calm down, you got this. You have 25 minutes, you don’t have to rush. It can happen any time within 25 minutes.’”
So the big question now is what’s next for UFC Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou? Will it be Jon Jones ... Derrick Lewis ... a Stipe Miocic rubber match?
“I don’t feel the need [to fight Stipe Miocic again],” Ngannou revealed. “He said I won’t be the champion until he retires ... so maybe he retires? If not, I’d still be down to fight him. I had a loss against him and he stands as the greatest heavyweight of all time. So it makes sense to fight him if needed.
“Obviously, Jon Jones makes more sense for me,” he continued. “Either way, I’m going to fight. If Jon Jones doesn’t come to heavyweight, the division has to move. And as the new heavyweight champion, I decide to put more activity in the division than [Stipe] has in the past two or three years. ... I never asked less. I always asked to be active. And I hope with the belt now I can be more active, I can do two to three fights a year, so that’s my intention.
“I would like to fight as soon as possible,” he finished. “I’ll be ready by summer — July or August.”
Asked if he was willing to put his foot down and demand UFC make the Jones fight happen, Ngannou shrugged.
“I might be the champ, but I don’t make the call on the chosen fighter,” he said. “So the UFC decides what really happens. But what I want, or what I would like? I would like that.”
For complete UFC 260: “Miocic vs. Ngannou 2” results and play-by-play, click HERE.