If things had gone according to plan, surging French-Congolese heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou would be battling Junior Dos Santos on the main card of UFC 215 this weekend. Regrettably, this bout – which would have been the biggest of Ngannou’s career so far– was scrapped when Dos Santos was notified of a potential United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) violation.
On today’s special Tuesday edition of The MMA Hour, Ngannou weighed in on where Dos Santos’ withdrawal leaves him, and what might come next. Initially, as we know, he was hoping for a replacement opponent. Yet with most of the heavyweight division booked, and the only available opponent nursing an injury, he’s decided it’s time for a title shot. From there, he can take on the rest division as title challengers.
“AFTER JDS WAS PULLED FROM THE CARD, ALL THE TOP-10, ALMOST ALL OF THE TOP-15 WAS BOOKED,” NGANNOU TOLD HOST ARIEL HELWANI. “THE ONLY ONE AVAILABLE WAS OVEREEM. HE SAID HE’S INJURED […] AND HE TOOK A LITTLE TIME FOR FAMILY.”
“I DON’T KNOW,” HE CONTINUED, BEFORE CONFIDENTLY ASSERTING THAT IT’S TIME FOR A TITLE SHOT. “THEY CAN GIVE ME [HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION] STIPE [MIOCIC] RIGHT NOW. I WANT STIPE. I WANT TO GO FOR THE BELT. THEN AFTER THAT I CAN [TAKE ON] ALL THESE GUYS WHO BECOME THE CONTENDERS, THE POTENTIAL CHALLENGERS, YES, BUT [I WANT] STIPE FIRST. SINCE JANUARY, I HAVEN’T HAD A FIGHT, SO NOW WE NEED TO GO FORWARD.”
This is not the first time Francis Ngannou has called for a title fight with Stipe Miocic – though is probably his most assertive call for one. He also called for a scrap with the champ back in August.
Do you think Francis Ngannou deserves a heavyweight title shot? How do you think he’d do against the division’s apex predator Stipe Miocic?
This article first appeared onBJPenn.comon 9/5/2017.