At UFC 226, hulking Cameroonian-French heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou will step into the cage with titan of a similar stature: American behemoth Derrick Lewis.
This bout will mark Ngannou’s opportunity to rebound from a tough loss to UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic — an experience he assures he learned from.
“I collected a lot of experience and I learned a lot from that fight,” Ngannou told Helen Yee last week (transcribed by Jew Meshew for MMA Fighting). “This is something that would have happened anyway someday because my rise was very fast, so I jumped a lot of things. I didn’t discover somethings that would catch me later. At some point I can even say it’s the best thing that happened because if it didn’t happen in that fight, it might happen in the future. Now it happened this time. We take it, we learn it, we stand up, we move forward. That’s how life is.”
When it comes to this fight with Lewis, Ngannou feels he’ll have advantages everywhere.
“What advantages do you think I have over Derrick Lewis? All of them,” Ngannou said. “Of what you can imagine, I think I have all that over him. He said I knocked [Andrei] Arlovski out because he’s old — he was 37. Mark Hunt was 43 when he beat [Derrick Lewis]. Hunt made him quit. I think [Lewis] just doesn’t know what he’s saying.”
Prior to his failed title fight opposite Stipe Miocic, Francis Ngannou was a flawless 6-0 in the Octagon, having bested Luis Henrique, Curtis Blaydes, Bojan Mihajlović, Anthony Hamilton, Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem. He’s currently 11-2 overall.
Lewis, on the other hand, is 19-5 overall. In his last fight, he knocked out Marcin Tybura, which served to help him erase the memory of his June 2017 TKO loss to Mark Hunt.
UFC 226 goes down next Saturday in Las Vegas. It will air on PPV.
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 7/2/2018.