Francis Ngannou is set to challenge UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic for the second time at UFC 260 on March 27th.
The two fought the first time at UFC 220, where Miocic weathered the early storm and dominated Ngannou in a five-round battle to win the fight by unanimous decision. Before the fight, ‘The Predator’ was riding a six-fight win streak, with as many finishes, and went into the fight as the favourite.
First Fight With Miocic
However, Miocic used his experience to neutralise his opponent’s one-punch KO threat. Ngannou has grown a lot since then, and has made visible adjustments to his game. Speaking on ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ podcast (as transcribed by MMA Fighting), the 34 year old shared what went wrong the first time they met inside the Octagon.
“I had two different feelings from that fight,” Ngannou said. “First, obviously I was very upset and disappointed that I didn’t win the fight. As everyone who is fighting for the title, you want to go out there victorious. But to be honest, I always look in that fight since the fight day, just after the fight, I look at it and now I’m like, ‘This is good.’ I learned too much in that fight because even though I was on the level, fighting for the world title, I still have some missing parts in my game and in my experience.
“I remember I was asking myself, questioning myself like, ‘Okay, how does it look like to go into three rounds?’ Basically I was going into a potential five rounds and I’ve never been in three rounds. How did it look like, how is it to prepare for this kind of fight? I had a fight like six weeks earlier so I was having a lot of questions. Then after that fight I was like, ‘Okay, I get it.’”
When he fought Miocic the first time, it came only four years after Ngannou had made his MMA debut, and he acknowledges that a lack of knowledge and experience resulted in the defeat.
“Yes, a very quick rise,” Ngannou said. “I didn’t spend enough time in the Octagon to have that experience. Even though it was almost four years since I’d been doing the sport but I didn’t spend enough time in the Octagon to have that experience. I think in one night I covered more than what I’d been spending in the Octagon for the rest of my career.
“Some people get here when they’ve been having athlete lives for a long time. Maybe wrestling, maybe doing some different sport at school, at college, but I never got into that stuff. Growing up I was just finding my way to survive and then I end up finding myself in somewhere that I never been there so the experience was just crazy.”
Ngannou also admits that in their first meeting, he was in too much of a hurry to find the knockout and quickly ran out of gas, as Miocic resorted to wrestling and swarmed him with pressure throughout the five rounds.
“For the Stipe fight, I think I rush for the first round,” Ngannou revealed. “Now I’m like, ‘Damn, I had five rounds. Why should I rush and run out of gas?’ Looking at that fight, I watch that fight, I see the guy look like me, but I don’t recognise myself because it’s not the way that I fight. I look back at other fights and it looks like two different persons. The way that I used to fight I was kind of calm, I’d push the fight and let myself get into fight and if there’s an opportunity – most of the time my opponent will be the first to attack. But this one I just rushed in there. So I’m like, I should have calmed down.”
Waiting For The Title Shot
After losing to Miocic, Ngannou lost to Derrick Lewis, but has won all four fights since. All coming by way of first round finishes. His last coming against Jairzinho Rozenstruik last May at UFC 249. Despite feeling frustrated that the rematch with the champion took so long to be booked, the Cameroonian-Frenchman says he knew his time would eventually come.
“I knew it was going to happen,” Ngannou said. “It was frustrating, the waiting time, all those things uncertain, but I knew it was going to happen. Guess what, there’s only one thing that’s going to make it happen. Get your ass in the gym, work, get out there and win the fight, get a title shot. At some point, it’s going to happen.”
Do you think Francis Ngannou gets the job done the second time around against Stipe Miocic at UFC 260?