Francis Ngannou has his eyes on the title.
On Saturday night at UFC 218, Heavyweight prospect Francis Ngannou became the clear Number 1 contender when he knocked out Alistair Overeem with the most terrifying uppercut ever witnessed in MMA.
Overeem is a legend in combat sports. He is Strikeforce K1 Grand Prix champion and holds victories over many UFC Heavyweight legends. Many predicted this fight would be a test of Overeem’s experience and pedigree against Ngannou’s physical gifts. In the opening seconds of the fight, Alistair charged Francis, looking to land a long left hook which won him a knockout over Junior Dos Santos, but Francis reacted quickly, threatening punches of his own.
Then, surprisingly, Overeem clinched, potentially looking to tire his heavily muscled opponent, but Francis easily controlled Overeem against the fence. The referee separated the fighters and soon after, Overeem leapt in to land his left hand and was caught with a looping right uppercut which nearly separated head from body.
Ngannou followed Overeem to the ground and landed a gratuitous strike, which helped put Overeem unconscious for almost a minute. With that, the Heavyweight division found itself a new contender. Fortunately, Overeem has tweeted that he is healthy and back to the drawing board.
On the microphone after the fight Francis took the time to thank his trainers and comment on the recent media coverage of slavery in Libya: “Fuck slavery. Fuck racism.” Ngannou’s story is well known. He travelled from Cameroon to Paris, where he was homeless for a time, before he walked into a gym looking to box. He found MMA and several years later is perhaps the hottest rising star.
UFC president Dana White seems more than happy with his new prospect. He believes Ngannou could be the next UFC superstar. At the post-fight press conference he said Ngannou would definitely fight for the belt next and that, “He’s a big, scary monster.” Later adding, “I think he’s going to be a rock star globally.”
But standing between Ngannou and the UFC belt is Stipe Miocic, Golden Gloves boxing champion, and NCAA Division 1 wrestler. Stipe will be smaller by about 20 pounds, and many are already dooming him as Ngannou’s next victim. But Stipe is trying to make a name as the most dominant Heavyweight ever, and he knocked out Overeem as well. One thing is for sure, if Francis and Stipe fight, there is no chance it will go 5 rounds. Someone is getting finished.