Is Francis Ngannou the new Mike Tyson?
This in the last couple of years, boxing has experienced a reinvigoration of it’s Heavyweight division. Tyson Fury dethroned Vladimir Klitchko and opened the door for burgeoning superstars Deontal Wilder and Anthony Joshua. The UFC has sorely needed similar Heavyweight superfights, and now it looks like they have one.
Francis “The Predator” Ngannou will face Stipe Miocic for the undisputed Heavyweight belt at UFC 220, January 20.
Ngannou (11-1) knocked out Alistair Overeem last weekend at UFC 218 to claim this shot. Overeem is nothing if not a veteran, but he is not on the same level as Stipe, who knocked him out over the summer. Ngannou is relatively new to the sport, yet he has shown remarkable improvements in every fight. His knack for evolution combined with unique physical gifts present a frightening package to any Heavyweight.
Recently Joe Rogan told MMAJunkie that, “I think Ngannou, one or two more fights, you’re going to be looking at Mike Tyson days. That’s what I think. You’re going to watch fights just to see how long these mother(expletives) can survive against this guy.”
Stipe Miocic possesses less star power, but a far more impressive resume. He is on a 5- fight win streak over the best of the Heavyweight division, and has finished all opponents by KO or TKO. He also possesses two weapons that Alistair Overeem did not: wrestling and a jab. The former comes from his college years, when he was Division I in folkstyle. Although Ngannou is extremely powerful, he has shown susceptibility to takedowns in the past. He’s also shown susceptibility to the jab. Curtis Blaydes gave Ngannou serious trouble with it, although he too eventually became another clip for the French -African’s highlight reel. Despite Ngannou’s momentum and confidence, Miocic seems exited for the fight, posting this on Twitter the night Ngannou knocked out Overeem.
Although it would be easy to style this fight as skill against brawn, doing so does a disservice to Ngannou and his opponents. For Ngannou to beat Stipe, he will need more than just a big punch. He will need technique, timing, and understanding of the total game. If he beats Stipe he may just be a Heavyweight champion to stand the test of time.