What should be next for Francis Ngannou after knocking out Curtis Blaydes last weekend?
Frank Hyden, Columnist – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Assuming that Brock Lesnar fights UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier next, I would have Ngannou fight Stipe Miocic, with the winner getting the next title shot. I don’t know what else you could really do because there’s no overwhelming contender out there who absolutely deserves the title shot. And Ngannou lost his last two fights before this win so it wouldn’t be right to give him another title shot. And Miocic just lost to Cormier in his last fight so an immediate rematch is a bit of a stretch. I think you pair Ngannou with Miocic with the winner getting the shot. That way, whoever wins is either on a two fight winning streak or the longest reigning heavyweight champ in company history who’s gotten back on track after a stumble.
Christian Moore, MMATorch Contributor
This is very interesting because now he went through Blaydes, and when you look at the rankings, it’s kind of a cluster. He’s fought Miocic, Lewis, and Overeem all in recent times, so a rematch isn’t necessary. That being said, with Volkov coming off of a loss, I gotta think he fights the winner of Dos Santos/Tuivasa as either fight would be a fun watch.
Cole Henry, Live Events Reporter
I really don’t know. He has the sort of allure that will keep him within arms reach of a title shot at all times but he will probably still need another win or two before getting another shot just because of the state of the division. I can’t see Daniel Cormier wanting to face Ngannou unless the Lesnar fight disappears, but even then, I don’t know if it would be the type of fight Cormier would want considering the fact that he intends to retire soon. So perhaps Ngannou could instead fight Cormier’s team mate? Cain Velasquez has been on the shelf for quite some time but rumors have been heating up lately that the former heavyweight king will return soon. A win over Velasquez would give Ngannou another shot at the title in my opinion, while a win for Velasquez could be the beginning of a run that could end up with him reclaiming the heavyweight title once Cormier retires.
Dylan Bowker, Canadian Events Reporter
The winner of Tuivasa-Dos Santos would make sense in terms of divisional hierarchy. Also, the timeline would likely work out should the winner emerge relatively unscathed. Ngannou is in an interesting position in relation to Lewis and Miocic. Those are the only guys above him in the UFC’s contendership rankings but neither of those seem like compelling rematches that fans would be clamouring for, at least at this particular juncture. Overeem was calling for a rematch with Ngannou however. Since Reem got a big W on the same card Ngannou secured his win, the timeline to set this up would be agreeable. In my estimation, the fight with Overeem is the rematch that makes the most sense in terms of competitive meritocracy and compelling prize fight matchmaking. Between Reem and the JDS-Tuivasa winner though, I think offering Ngannou a fresh new opponent is the best matchmaking methodology overall.
Sean Covington, Columnist – Covington’s Corner
Francis Ngannou has to fight Derrick Lewis again and knock him out, that way he gains enough momentum to be considered a title contender again. Derrick Lewis, then Alistair Overeem, then Cain Velasquez; in that order. Cain would be one hell of a challenge but if Ngannou got past Cain then he would certainly deserve a title shot.
Michael Hiscoe, MMATorch Managing Editor
Francis Ngannou’s a tough one to book because he’s been so hit or miss this year. When he’s on, he’s in destructible, and would be someone you’d want to attach a rocket to. But when he’s off, he’s just another slogging heavyweight in the mid-card. We had the former last weekend, so let’s move forward based on that performance. Should Tai Tuivasa beat Junior dos Santos this weekend, that’s a logical fight to make as the winner should theoretically be in line for a title shot. I do like Cole Henry’s idea of booking Ngannou against a returning Cain Velasquez. Velasquez is such a question mark due to his inactivity so that would be a fun fight and a win for either man would be good for their careers. All this to say, there are some options for Ngannou.