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UFC Vegas 55, The Morning After: What took so long for Chidi Njokuani to join UFC?

Here’s what you may have missed!

UFC Fight Night: Njokuani v Todorovic Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

Chidi Njokuani is a valuable asset for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

Last night (Sat., May 21, 2022), “Bang Bang” picked up his second first round knockout victory inside the Octagon over Dusko Todorovic. Though it took a few minutes longer, it was arguably more impressive than his 16-second starching of Marc-Andre Barriault. After showcasing quality takedown defense, Njokuani took a chance by jumping on an anaconda choke. His setup was actually pretty brilliant, even if he didn’t manage to finish the choke.

As a result of the failed submission, Todorovic managed to rack up some control time. Nevertheless, Njokuani fought hands like the veteran he is, returned to his feet, and then brutally planted Todorovic on the canvas with a single elbow on the break.

Three trips to the Octagon (counting Contenders Series) resulted in three vicious knockouts. Njokuani is clearly a worthwhile member of the Middleweight division, capable of defeating tough opponents in highlight reel fashion.

At 33 years of age, however, it has to be asked: what took so long?

Njokuani began his professional career in 2007, quickly establishing himself as a knockout artist on the regional scene. He wasn’t a perfect fighter, and perhaps he’s still unlikely to become an elite threat given that his ground game remains something of a liable compared to his Muay Thai. Still, with a strong record that featured some quality names like Alan Jouban on his early resume, Njokuani would’ve been a reasonable UFC pickup as early as 2013.

It never happened. Njokuani ended up joining Bellator in 2015 and spent four years on their roster, picking up some quality wins but losing to the cream of the crop. Around this time period is also when Njokuani figured something out: he was too damn big for 170 pounds. There were growing pains, but nowadays, he looks the part of a lanky and strong Middleweight knockout artist.

“Bang Bang” never should have been forced to fight on “Contenders Series.” He’s not some 6-0 unproven prospect. By the time Njokuani made his first walk to the official UFC Octagon, he was a complete product, one ready to put on a show. He’s done just that, quickly establishing himself as a premier action fighter at 185 pounds at the very least, and perhaps his ceiling is even higher than we expect.

It was a long road for Njokuani, but fortunately, it doesn’t seem like time wasted. Njokuani has found his correct weight class, filled the biggest holes in his game, and stands ready to put on a show each and every time. He’s a major finishing threat, one who brings action to any card he’s on.

In the UFC Apex era especially, that’s exactly what the organization needs to function.

For complete UFC Vegas 55: “Holm vs. Vieira” results and play-by-play, click HERE.

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