It’s suspected that heavyweight title challenger Francis Ngannou didn’t train much grappling in preparation for UFC 220, where he lost a 50-44 unanimous decision to reigning champion Stipe Miocic in the main event.
Ngannou who, despite being the challenger, was the betting favorite over Miocic and was strongly marketed as the next potential heavyweight champion, with long-time UFC commentator Joe Rogan claiming that his knockout of Alistair Overeem was one of the most ‘terrifying things’ he’s ever seen in all his years calling sports.
We saw flashes of that terrifying knockout power at UFC 220, as ‘The Preadtor’ wobbled Miocic in the opening two rounds but ultimately fell prey to the champ’s onslaught of take downs.
Rogan, 50, still believes Ngannou is one of the most terrifying fighters in the sport but needs to fix up the holes in his grappling.
“He tried to take Stipe out in the first round. His thought was that Stipe’s not going to be able to survive,” Rogan said in a recent edition of his podcast, per Abhinav Kini of the International Business Times.
”Stipe was a very good college wrestler and obviously a bad motherf****r. He took some hard shots too but that’s the thing about Stipe. It’s not just that he knows how to fight, he’s just f*****g tough.
”I thought it’s very possible Francis could win this fight, he’s just so scary. I’ve never seen anyone that’s so terrifying with one punch.”
Rogan, who has a background in taekwondo, believes Ngannou would evolve at a much faster rate if he joined the likes of Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, Luke Rockhold, and Khabib Nurmagomedov at San Jose’s American Kickboxing Academy (AKA). The Cameroonian-born fighter currently trains in Paris, France at the MMA factory.
AKA houses some of the best talent in the sport (listed above) and head coach Javier Mendez has gone on to produce world class champions.
“You watch the training camps with Daniel Cormier, Luke Rockhold and Cain Velasquez, there’s a reason why those guys are so goddamn good because iron sharpens iron,” Rogan said.
”Those guys are in there, world champions going at it with each other on a daily basis and because of that, that’s what turned them into those f*****g monsters that they are today.
”Francis is just a physical freak but if he was in that camp? Holy s**t. One camp in San Jose has some of the best fighters that have ever done the sport.”
Cormier, Velasquez, and Khabib are also elite-level wrestlers and could, with the right instruction, iron out the chinks in Ngannou’s grappling.
Despite losing, Ngannou, 31, is the only fighter to take Miocic the distance in almost four years and showed lots of promise early on in the bout. The former boxer only made his UFC debut in 2015 and has already surged to the top of the rankings.