Cameroonian-French MMA fighter Francis Ngannou defeated American Stipe Miocic on Saturday to claim the UFC heavyweight championship in Las Vegas.
The fight came three years after both men first faced each other.
In the main event of UFC 260, Ngannou left no doubt that he had become the best heavyweight on the planet, knocking out Miocic with a brutal sequence of strikes in the second round to claim heavyweight gold.
Ngannou cracked Miocic several times in the first round, landing massive punches that Miocic absorbed while seeming unaffected.
Rather than panic, Ngannou rode forward to the second round, landing a big jab that sent Miocic stumbling to the cage. Moments later, a crushing left hook sent Miocic to the canvas and a follow-up hammerfist on the ground left Miocic out cold at the 52 second mark of Round 2.
The finishing sequence almost seemed as though it was taking a sudden turn. As Ngannou attempted to follow up on the jab that rocked Miocic, Miocic was able to land a heavy counter punch that seemed to stumble Ngannou. As Miocic attempted to charge forward, that was when Ngannou unleashed the brutal hook that sent Miocic crashing backward with his leg bent at an awkward angle to set up the finish.
“He did a mistake of following me, maybe he thought I was hurt or something,” Ngannou said of the finishing sequence. “That’s when I caught him. We’ve been putting in a lot of work, we’ve been working on everything. Every day, we’ve been working on those things. I worked every day and learned to relax and get the best out of myself instead of going out and rushing.”
With a five-fight winning streak all by knockout, the Cameroonian could be set to face former longtime light heavyweight king Jon Jones in Jones’ debut in the heavyweight division.
Addressing the potential challenge of Jones immediately after his win, he said: “For my opinion, Jon Jones is the greatest of all time for mixed martial arts. Him moving up is going to be a good thing. He’s a challenge I will take and will be very good on my resume. But this time he will be the challenger, I’m the champ. He’s coming up looking for me. I will be here ready to fight in July or August.”
Ngannou’s victory means Africa now has three UFC champions — Israel Adesanya being middleweight champion and Kamaru Usman the welterweight champion.