On Sunday June 30th rising UFC star Francis Ngannou will take on veteran Junior Dos Santos in a fight with massive consequences for the heavyweight division. This battle of the 2nd and 3rd ranked contenders will surely decide who is next in line for a crack at the title… and current champion Daniel Cormier.
In 2017 Francis Ngannou exploded into the consciousness of UFC fans with two stunning victories against Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem. It seemed that finally the heavyweight division had a new prospect, a terrifyingly strong knockout artist who would come to dominate the division. His personal story was also compelling. Growing up in poverty in Cameroon, Ngannou worked in a sand quarry as a child before taking up boxing at the relatively late age of 22. He then emigrated to Paris, where he was forced to live on the streets, before finally finding MMA.
No Wrestling, No Cardio… But That Punch…
Though no one has ever disputed Ngannou’s power – he holds the record for the strongest punch ever recorded by the UFC – his lack of experience, particularly in wrestling, has always been a question mark over his potential. Two fights in 2018 showed he still had some way to go.
First Ngannou was dominated by Stipe Miocic, the champion at the time. Then he lost against Derrick Lewis in a fight so disappointing it was widely panned as the worst fight ever to take place in the heavyweight division.
Luckily, Ngannou has since put things back on track, winning his next two fights convincingly. Particularly impressive was his destruction of former champion Cain Velasquez in less than 30 seconds, a performance which clearly put him back in contention for a title shot.
Next up is Junior Dos Santos, a considerably more experienced and well-rounded fighter who is coming off a three fight win streak. However, where Ngannou is concerned, a quick knockout is always a possibility. According to Skybet, Ngannou is a 2/5 favourite, with Dos Santos at 2/1.