From the sand mines of Cameroon to capturing UFC gold, Francis Ngannou’s lifelong goal of becoming a champion has finally became a reality. Batie, Cameroon’s Francis Ngannou defeated Stipe Miocic via second round knockout to even the score with him and dethrone him as UFC heavyweight champion in a two-round, one sided affair. We saw a new look Ngannou being able to keep the fight standing, already adding to his patented devastating punching power, making the most intimidating man on the UFC roster just that much scarier. Ngannou avoided an early first round single leg takedown attempt, and even added a takedown of his own en route to victory Saturday night. This raised many eyebrows because that was the driving factor that made him lose their first meeting back in January of 2018. Ngannou now has five straight knockouts and added to his 100 percent career finishing rate in the process, with Saturday’s bout being the lone time he saw the second-round in his previous five fights.
Now with a new “Baddest Man on the Planet” with Ngannou’s knockout of Stipe Miocic, there are a ton of different avenues in which the heavyweight division could advance going forward. It is fair to assume the promotion is not in favor of the trilogy with Miocic due to the dominating fashion way in which Francis won, which leaves the promotion with two options. There is always the possibility of Ngannou revenging his only other UFC loss against top contender Derrick Lewis, but no fight is bigger than Ngannou getting the opportunity to welcome former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones to the heavyweight division. Fans and even the UFC 260 broadcast clamored at the possibility of a Jones vs. Ngannou super fight, but the one person who didn’t share the same admiration for the fight was UFC President Dana White. In the post-fight presser, not only did White not fully buy into the idea of the Jones opportunity, but he also hinted that Ngannou vs. Lewis is more likely, and that Jon Jones should try and move down to 185 pounds to avoid fighting Ngannou. Despite Jones and White having their rifts publicized primarily around pay, the comments of White should come as a surprise because he stated leading up to Saturday’s bout that Jones was the best fighter of all-time. He also said that he and Jones were in a “good place” in their relationship. Jon Jones has been preparing his body for a move to heavyweight since his controversial February 2020 win over Dominick Reyes and is now going on 13 months of inactivity. The main takeaway from the press conference was the reluctance of Dana White to entertain the idea of the Ngannou vs. Jones fight. This was one of the countless times we’ve seen Dana allege that a fighter didn’t want to fight someone, but what many left scratching their heads that the UFC President tried to down sell arguably the biggest fight the promotion can make currently.
As all try to speculate what will be the first chapter in the title reign of Francis Ngannou, Stipe Miocic has a lot of questions to answer regarding his future. If this was the final time we saw Stipe enter the UFC octagon, he will reside as one of the best, if not the best heavyweight to ever compete in the division’s heavyweights. If Miocic calls it a career he will reside atop the UFC record book the most title defenses with four, which might not pop off the page, but it is a lot factoring in the power and unpredictability that comes with the division. If Miocic does want to keep on going, it will be very intriguing to see where the former champion goes from here. The 38-year-old is unlikely to get a crack at a finalizing another trilogy with contenders like Jones and Lewis at the top of the heat, and due to his age the odds will be certainty be stacked against him if he wants another crack at the belt he twice owned.
In the co-main event for UFC 260, we saw another former title holder, this time at welterweight as Tyron Woodley was submitted by Vicente Luque via first round d’arce choke. The 38-year-old Woodley has now lost his last four fights, not winning a single round on any judge’s scorecards in the process. In a losing effort, it was the best we’ve seen from the former champ in his recent slump, as he showed some newfound aggression and even landed his signature overhand right hook in the early moments of the opening round before falling to the choke by Luque. The future is looking grim for Tyron Woodley going forward after fighting his final fight in his deal, and when Dana White was asked about Woodley, he hinted that his time might be done.
As for his opponent, Vicente Luque is coming off his big performance and now has a signature name on his resume while doing it in a fan-friendly affair. Luque, we assume will take Tyron Woodley’s #7 spot in the UFC rankings and has the potential at another big name, and when given the mic he took the opportunity to call out Nate Diaz as his next opponent. Diaz, who currently isn’t ranked in the UFC top 15 at welterweight or lightweight, would be a match up that wouldn’t make a ton of sense meritocracy wise, or for the star power of Diaz to take on an upstart contender like Luque. Diaz hasn’t fought since losing to Jorge Masvidal in November of 2019 and has been hinting his return to his original weight of 155 pounds. Regardless of what happens next for Luque he definitely deserves the opportunity to fight another valuable name, and the although the appeal of the fight on paper seems quite interesting, one would think that Diaz is looking for a more recognizable name if he does eventually return to fight for the UFC.
Saturday night wasn’t just the changing of the guard in two separate divisions, but it was also the return of the ‘Suga Show’. The polarizing and rainbow haired Sean O’Malley bounced back from his first professional loss with a third round TKO victory over Thomas Almeida. Regardless of if you love or hate Sean O’Malley, one thing he does bring to the cage is a style that is must watch TV. O’Malley’s wide array of spinning attacks alongside his 5’11 frame and quick movements makes him a tough out against anyone in the UFC bantamweight division. This was another relatively one-sided affair for O’Malley, dropping Almeida twice before putting an exclamation point with a devastating right hook via ground and pound to close out this episode of the ‘Suga Show’. With O’Malley inching closer to the top 15 of the division it will be intriguing to see where the 26-year-old rising star goes from here. He is held in high regard from the promotion, getting high placement fights just six fights into his promotional run. It is up for debate if O’Malley should get another crack at a top 15 bantamweight but look for him to be booked against another opponent that will be willing to let him show off his world-class striking against.
(Cover Photo: Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)