In early 2018, Francis Ngannou stepped into the Octagon to battle Stipe Miocic for the UFC heavyweight title. The widespread expectation — supported by the bout’s betting odds — was that Ngannou would come out on top in this fight. In the end, however, he was soundly outfought by the amply more experienced champion, losing a lopsided unanimous decision.
Today, when Stipe Miocic is once again the heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou has repositioned himself as the division’s top contender. A rematch between the two heavyweight stars seems like a foregone conclusion, it’s just a question of when.
Whenever it happens, Francis Ngannou assures he’ll be well-prepared, and that he won’t make the mistakes he made in his first fight with Miocic.
He explained how he’ll approach the fight different in a recent interview with MMA Fighting:
“The biggest difference now is that I have increased my experience and I understand more about the fighting game,” Ngannou said. “My biggest change would be not to underestimate Stipe as I did before. The difference would be how to prepare to fight and then how to [condition] my body in training camp as a challenger. How to set up everything compared to the first time.
“Once again, the first time was a mess. I didn’t know what I was doing there. It helped me to understand a lot of things. It helped me to learn. It helped to understand a lot of things. To know how things work.”
While Francis Ngannou believes he’s earned a rematch with Miocic, it’s possible a rematch between Miocic and the former champion Daniel Cormier could take priority over this booking.
Ngannou commented on that possibility:
“My concern is not about Daniel Cormier having a trilogy,” Ngannou said. “They can have a trilogy or a four-ogy or a five-ogy, whatever they want to. My concern is just about my turn, about my title fight. I can fight Stipe and then the fight after [can be the trilogy] I don’t have no problem with that. My only problem is me fighting for the title. I deserve it.
“I deserve it based on my last three performances. I’m just expecting the title shot. Then whatever happens between DC and Stipe, if they decide to solve it, I don’t have a problem with that. I will be excited to see that trilogy but right now I have to fight for the title, which makes sense.”
Do you think Francis Ngannou can defeat Stipe Miocic on his second attempt?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 8/27/2019.