UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic defeated Daniel Cormier on Saturday night at UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Miocic, 37, defeated Cormier, 41, via unanimous decision in the rubbermatch of one of the most epic trilogies in heavyweight history. The action took place in the main event of UFC 252.
But UFC president Dana White had already revealed who was “next in line” for the UFC heavyweight champion.
White revealed earlier in the week that the next title challenger should be Francis Ngannou.
“Francis is next in line,” White said. “Again, we’ll see what happens on Saturday, and then yeah, Francis is the guy.”
Why Ngannou Makes Sense As Next Title Challenger
Ngannou, 33, is one of the most terrifying and powerful fighters in UFC history.
While the prodigy suffered back-to-back losses via decision to Miocic and Derrick Lewis back in 2018, “The Predator” has overcome those setbacks by delivering four dominant performances over some of the best heavyweight contenders the UFC has to offer.
Ngannou defeated Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velazquez, Junior dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik all by first-round knockout.
So Ngannou, aka the “Mike Tyson of MMA”, is now absolutely the division’s top contender right now.
He deserves the next crack at the title.
Ngannou Would Have Likely Fought Either UFC 252 Fighter Next
Ngannou would likely have been next in line no matter who won the main event at UFC 252.
Miocic revealed to Heavy that he believed Ngannou deserved next crack at the title even though the champ has already defeated the terrifying monster just two years ago.
“He’s looking better, and he’s gotten better,” Miocic said. “He’s destroying guys.”
Even Cormier admitted Ngannou might get a crack at the heavyweight championship. While Cormier mostly talked before the event about UFC 252 being his last fight, the fighter told Heavy he could see himself being lured back to the Octagon to fight either Ngannou or Jon Jones next if that’s something the UFC wanted to make happen.
“I’ll fight any of those guys,” Cormier confessed.
Finally, White told The Schmo that even if Cormier had won and retired, he’d probably just make the Miocic vs. Ngannou rematch happen to fill the vacant title anyway.
“It would be hard to deny Stipe,” White said. “We’re saying that this Saturday, the greatest heavyweight ever is the winner of this fight, so to say he’s not good enough for another title fight for the vacant title would be crazy.”
So Ngannou entered Saturday night in a good spot regardless of who left the cage with the title belt.
What About Jon Jones?
Just about as soon as the fight was over on Saturday night, Jon Jones also expressed interest in fighting for the UFC heavyweight championship “real soon.”
Jones would be an apt contender to face Stipe Miocic next as well, but it would seem to be a bad business move for the UFC to allow Jones to leapfrog ahead of Ngannou at this point.
Besides Jones’ prior plan was to fight Ngannou next anyway. Maybe that’s something that will happen first, or maybe Jones is simply talking about his next career move sometime next year.
“I’m still here,” Ngannou reminded Jones after this post.
Whatever the case, Ngannou is the top contender at heavyweight and should be able to decide his future.
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Ngannou Has Expressed Frustration Over Not Getting Title Shot
It’s super hard to predict such things, but Ngannou looks like the type of talent that will someday become UFC heavyweight champion.
He’s been on such a tear of destruction over the last two years that he started being hailed as the UFC’s uncrowned king by some observers.
But the lack of the crown, more specifically not being given a chance to fight for that honor, had arguably the UFC’s most important heavyweight contender feeling deeply frustrated earlier this year.
Ngannou told me that all he was concerned about doing was fighting out his UFC contract so that he potentially leave for another promoter.
“The problem is the power is on one side, and the UFC decides what happens,” Ngannou revealed to me for Bleacher Report. “That’s rough, but that’s how it is. You do what you have to do, and what I’m concerned about is fighting out my contract.”
But now, it appears Ngannou is going to get his chance.
At least, that’s what White said would happen just a few days before UFC 252.
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