June 30, 2019

UFC Minneapolis: Francis Ngannou Has Earned A Title Shot, But Dana White Might Not Give It To Him

By Adam Martin

On Saturday night in the main event of UFC on ESPN 3, Francis Ngannou needed just 71 seconds to brutally knock out Junior dos Santos. It's the third win in a row for Ngannou by first-round TKO, with previous victories over Curtis Blaydes and Cain Velasquez. Ngannou is 9-3 overall in the UFC, with all nine of his victories coming by way of stoppage.

Following his destructive KO of JDS, Ngannou spoke to the media in the post-fight press conference and called for a heavyweight title shot against the winner of UFC 241's Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic rematch. According to Ngannou, White was non-committal about giving the Cameroon-born behemoth his chance to fight for the title. White, apparently, wants to see how the rest of the division plays out, including the rematch between Miocic and DC, before he commits to Ngannou.

Although it's true that DC and Miocic need to fight next, there's no question Ngannou needs to be the next man to fight for the belt, and there's no argument against it. Since losing back-to-back fights to Miocic and Derrick Lewis in early 2018, Ngannou has once again become the destroyer of worlds we all thought he was when he opened his UFC career with six straight wins. As bad as he looked in the championship bout against Miocic and his bizarre performance against Lewis, his wins over Blaydes, Velasquez, and now JDS should make us forget about those fights. It really does appear that those losses made Ngannou a better fighter.

Anything less than a title shot would be a step backwards for Ngannou. The only two fighters ahead of him in the UFC heavyweight rankings are DC and Miocic, so it only makes sense for him to fight the winner. Sure, DC could retire if he wins, but if that's the case, Ngannou should fight for the vacant title. If Miocic beats DC, there could be an argument that DC would deserve a trilogy fight, but considering Cormier has made only one heavyweight title defense, Ngannou would be more deserving of the bout.

Then again, there's one other potential fight for Ngannou: a matchup against Jon Jones. Ngannou recently said he is interested in fighting Jones, and that's a huge fight. We still aren't sure if Jones even wants to move up to heavyweight, and he needs to get past Thiago Santos in the main event of UFC 239 before that thought is even considered. But if Jones wants to test himself, a move up to heavyweight makes sense. That opportunity to sweep DC in a third fight is definitely a big matchup, but a fight with Ngannou could possibly be bigger, the biggest fight the UFC could make now that Brock Lesnar is retired.

We should get more clarity about Francis Ngannou's next fight in the coming weeks, but regardless of what happens with Jones, DC, Miocic, Lesnar, or any other heavyweight in the UFC, Ngannou should be fighting for the title next. He has turned a corner in his career, and the current version of Ngannou is the best fighter he's ever been. There's a good chance Ngannou is the best heavyweight on the planet right now, and all he needs is the opportunity to prove it. He's earned the chance to get another title shot by laying waste to JDS, Velasquez, and Blaydes in less than three minutes combined, and now let's see if White will stop being stubborn and give the man the title shot he deserves.

UFC on ESPN 3
Francis Ngannou vs. Junior Dos Santos: Francis Ngannou def. Junior dos Santos via first-round TKO (punches) at of 1:11 of Round 1.

UFC on ESPN 3: Ngannou vs. Dos Santos (formerly UFC on ESPN 3: Woodley vs. Lawler 2) took place June 29, 2019 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Click HERE for more UFC on ESPN 3 Post-Fight Analysis


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