The last time Francis N’Gannou fought a NCAA Division I wrestler, he was overwhelmed and repeatedly taken down by former UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic en route to a unanimous decision loss at UFC 220.
N’Gannou is set to face another wrestling powerhouse in Cain Velasquez at UFC on ESPN 1, but ‘The Predator’ assured reporters that, this time, he is ‘well prepared’ to deal with his opponent’s wrestling onslaught.
“I’ve been well prepared,” N’Gannou told MMA Junkie when asked about the wrestling skill of Velasquez (h/t Tom Taylor of BJPenn.com). “You want me to tell you the gameplay? No. I think we are going to have the same Cain. He still has the experience. He stopped the fight his last fight, he ended up with a win, so he’s still got his confidence.”
N’Gannou vs. Velasquez is the ultimate striker vs. grappler match-up, although Velasquez boasts impressive striking of his own. N’Gannou, a knockout artist from Batié, Cameroon, is one of the most feared strikers in the heavyweight division. The 32-year-old has finished almost all his fights via TKO/KO and holds impressive stoppage victories over the likes of Andrei Arlovski, Alistair Overeem and Curtis Blaydes.
Velasquez, on the other hand, is arguably the most dominant wrestler in the division. The American Kickboxing Academy protege and former two-time UFC heavyweight champion has ferocious ground-and-pound and typically overwhelms his opponents en route to a TKO victory. Velasquez last fought in 2016, when he mauled former top contender Travis Browne at UFC 200.
UFC on ESPN 1: N’Gannou vs. Velasquez takes place this Sunday, Feb. 17 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.