Cameroon’s Francis Ngannou showcased his devastating punch power as he knocked out Stipe Miocic in the second round to capture the undisputed UFC heavyweight title in Las Vegas at UFC 260.
The bout was a rematch of their 2018 meeting at UFC 220, where American Miocic dominated Ngannou over five rounds for a landslide unanimous decision victory in Boston.
On Saturday, Ngannou, 34, showed the improvements made since their first meeting as he exhibited composure and patience before eventually knocking out Miocic, 38, with a short left hook 52 seconds into round two to defeat the man widely considered to be the greatest heavyweight champion in UFC history.
The win also marked the completion of a lifelong quest for Ngannou, who left Cameroon as a refugee and lived on the streets of Paris before eventually finding a gym with hopes of becoming a champion boxer.
He was convinced by former coach Fernand Lopez to switch focus to mixed martial arts and eventually earned his chance in the UFC, where his thunderous punch-power marked him out as a dangerous contender.
After six straight stoppage victories, his first title shot against Miocic in 2018 fell short as his relative lack of MMA experience counted against him. But, in the rematch, Ngannou came of age as he flattened Miocic to become only the third Africa-born champion in UFC history, joining welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, who was in Ngannou’s corner on fight night, and middleweight champion Israel Adesanya.
After his victory, Ngannou said he was willing to face the man considered by many to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport, Jon Jones, who is expected to move up to heavyweight to challenge for the title later this year.
“For my opinion, Jon Jones is the greatest of all time in mixed martial arts. Him moving up is going to be a good thing,” he said.
“He’s a challenge I will take and it will be a very good thing on the resume. But this time he is the challenger. I am the champ. He’s coming up, looking for me.
“So I’m ready any time soon. Even summer, I will be here, ready to fight in July or August. Whenever they are ready, I’m ready. He said something, ‘Show me the money’. Show the money and we’ll go, baby. I’m here.”
Following the defeat by Miocic in their first fight, Ngannou split from his long-time coach Lopez and focused his training exclusively at Las Vegas gym Xtreme Couture under Eric Nicksick.
After a drab decision loss to Derrick Lewis at UFC 226, Ngannou regained his form and reeled off four straight knockout victories with wins over former heavyweight champions Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos, plus top contenders Curtis Blaydes and Jairzinho Rozenstruik, in a combined time of just two minutes and 42 seconds to position himself for a championship rematch with Miocic.
Culled from BBC.