At UFC 220, Francis Ngannou (11-1) will battle UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (17-2) for a chance to crown his incredible run through the division with a gold UFC title belt. The French-Cameroonian fighter’s opportunity to become the king of the UFC giants comes on January 20th at TD Garden in Boston, MA.
Ngannou got to Stipe Miocic after knocking out former title challenger Alistair Overeem with a thunderous uppercut at UFC 218 in December. The first round stoppage has been a near consensus pick for 2017’s Knockout Of The Year.*
Bloody Elbow asked Ngannou if the plaudits he has received for that uppercut were a point of pride. The 31-year-old gave the impression he wasn’t that fussed about it.
“The thing that makes me happy is for people to know who I am, what I’m capable of doing and what I’m trying to do,” responded Ngannou. “Because I am more than that knockout. I’m still improving and trying to show people what I’m able to do and I think I can do a lot more than that.”
Just because Ngannou does not want people to focus purely on that punch, it doesn’t mean that the former boxer wasn’t delighted with the performance he turned in versus a former K1 and Strikeforce champion.
“I am very happy [with the Overeem performance] because it went as well as I could of hoped for and it basically gave me the right for a title shot. Which I’m taking right away,” said Ngannou.
Ngannou’s title shot comes less than 50 days after his remarkable finish versus Overeem. It will be Ngannou’s seventh fight in the Octagon since he joined the UFC in 2015. Ngannou is perfect in his UFC fights, finishing all but one by KO/TKO. He submitted Anthony Hamilton with a shoulder lock in December 2016.
Ngannou’s impressive UFC run bolstered his overall MMA winning streak to ten fights (and ten finishes). The man he’ll meet on Saturday is also on an stellar run, though. Miocic is currently on a five-fight winning streak; with all victories coming against established UFC talent and all coming via KO/TKO. His last win was over Junior dos Santos at UFC 211 in May 2017.
“He’s good,” said Ngannou of the champion he hopes to dethrone in Boston. “He’s good at everything. He’s good at wrestling. He’s good at striking. But none of that will matter. I have the opportunity here to use everything I have to win. And that’s what I am going to do.”
Ngannou wouldn’t be drawn out on any tactical talk. He said he sees weaknesses in Miocic’s games and that he’s very confident of defeating him, but he wouldn’t say anything more than that.
“If I explain more, then it’s just going to expose my game plan,” he explained, before adding, “I’m really looking forward to doing something spectacular and to show some spectacular skills on January 20th against Stipe.”
*Click here to vote in Bloody Elbow’s year-end award for best knockout.