Francis Ngannou

The Predator

Cameroon

Out
Injury Knee
Est. Return 11/1/2022
Facing nine-month recovery
HeavyweightUFC
Out
January 26, 2022
Ngannou's manager, Marquel Martin, said Wednesday that the 35-year-old will soon undergo surgery to address a torn MCL and damaged ACL of his right knee, Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com reports. Ngannou is expected to require 9-to-10 months of recovery time.
ANALYSIS
Ngannou suffered the knee injury leading up to his fight last Saturday with Ciryl Gane, but it didn't prevent him unifying the UFC heavyweight championship when he was able to score an unanimous-decision victory. According to Okamoto, Ngannou plans to briefly visit his home country of Cameroon before then returning to the United States to have his knee surgically repaired. His timeline for recovery likely rules Ngannou out from competing again until at least the final quarter of 2022.
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Details serious knee injury
HeavyweightUFC
Out
January 24, 2022
Ngannou told reporters during the UFC 270 press conference that he competed with a torn MCL and several other damaged ligaments in his victory over Ciryl Gane to retain the heavyweight title on Saturday, USA Today reports.
ANALYSIS
Ngannou came into this bout wearing knee braces, which is allowed in California but not something he previously had done in his UFC career. Now we know why, which makes his victory all the more impressive, especially considering he had to grind out a 25-minute decision at far less than 100 percent. Ngannou also confirmed with Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour that he will eventually need surgery, though a timeline has yet to be established. That's not the only obstacle Ngannou is facing with respect to his next fight, as the soon-to-be free agent remains in a contract dispute with Dana White and UFC brass. That feud seemed to continue into Saturday night, as it was mysteriously not White who placed the belt around Ngannou following his victory. Given Ngannou has openly talked about trying out boxing as well in the past, it's far from a guarantee that we see him in the UFC again, even if he is currently the undisputed heavyweight champion.
Uses grappling to retain title
HeavyweightUFC
Out
January 22, 2022
Ngannou successfully retained his UFC Heavyweight Championship on Saturday, taking a unanimous decision from Ciryl Gane (48-47, 48-47, 49-46) at UFC 270 in Anaheim.
ANALYSIS
To give you an idea of how unlikely this result was, Ngannou by decision was +1200 before the fight began. It's the first decision victory of Francis' pro career and it came on the strength of his grappling. Ngannou had very little success on the feet in the early going. His trademark power shots weren't finding their home, and Gane was using his footwork and elite athleticism to land with regularity. The tide turned in Rounds 3 and 4 when Ngannou connected on 4-of-5 takedown attempts, good for nearly five minutes worth of control time. Francis entered the evening having attempted three takedowns in his UFC career, landing just one. With the fight seemingly tied entering Round 5, Gane scored a takedown of his own before going for an ill-timed leg lock which allowed Francis to regain position and coast to the finish line. The performance was made all the more remarkable by Ngannou's comments in his post-fight interview in which he admitted to completely tearing his MCL and partially injuring his ACL in training leading up to the bout. It was suspicious when Francis entered the fight wearing knee pads -- which are allowed by the California State Athletic Commission -- and now we know why. Ngannou's contract status has been a big story of late. This was the last fight on his deal and he hinted at potentially heading to the world of boxing. Anything is possible, but that seems like a pipe dream. The most likely scenario is Francis re-signing a big money deal with the UFC and continuing his journey, potentially in a dream fight against former Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones.
Fight with Gane on tap for January
HeavyweightUFC
Out
October 6, 2021
Ngannou is being targeted for a heavyweight title fight with Ciryl Gane at UFC 270 on Jan. 22 in Anaheim, LaSueur.com reports.
ANALYSIS
Gane, who became the interim champion after defeating Derrick Lewis at UFC 265, looks like he'll get the chance to unify the belt early in 2022 when he faces off against Ngannou, who previously claimed the heavyweight title last March. Ngannou has been idle since that time while negotiating his next fight with the promotion, but he looks like he'll be ready to return to the Octagon after a 10-month layoff. The 35-year-old is riding a five-fight winning streak, with his last loss coming in July 2018 against Lewis.
Not part of next HW title fight
HeavyweightUFC
Out
June 29, 2021
Ngannou will be forced to watch from the sidelines as the UFC crowns an interim heavyweight champion in a fight between Derrick Lewis and Ciryl Gane scheduled for Aug. 7, Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com reports.
ANALYSIS
In an unprecedented move by the UFC, the promotion will elect to have an interim title fight just over four months after a true champion was crowned. Ngannou certainly has a right to be upset about this decision, but since he wasn't ready to defend his belt in June or August, the UFC moved forward with a different plan. According to MMA Journalist Ariel Helwani, this is a common negotiation tactic. It will ultimately strengthen a card that was previously scheduled to be headlined by Amanda Nunes, plus allows Lewis to fight in his home state. Ngannou remains the true heavyweight champion, of course, but he'll likely be forced to defend in a unification bout in late-2021. It's also another hurdle to climb before the rumored superfight between Ngannou and former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones can take place.
New UFC heavyweight king
HeavyweightUFC
Out
March 27, 2021
Ngannou became the new UFC Heavyweight Champion on Saturday, defeating Stipe Miocic via KO (punches) at 0:52 of Round 2 at UFC 260 in Las Vegas.
ANALYSIS
Ngannou's rise to the top of the heavyweight division is complete. From his multiple attempts to escape his native Cameroon, to being homeless on the streets of Paris, Ngannou has reached the pinnacle. He couldn't have done it in a more impressive fashion. His trademark power was there, as always, but he fought considerably smarter than in the first fight against Stipe, and he even displayed exceptional technical form in stuffing a takedown from Miocic. Ngannou was already the most terrifying man in the sport today, and this newly-found patience makes him all the more dominant. Good luck beating Francis if he picks his spots and remains upright like he did Saturday. An immediate rematch with Miocic is probably the smart play, but it seems highly unlikely that will be the route in which the UFC goes. A potential blockbuster between Ngannou and former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones has been brewing for a while now, and it's difficult to see the company going against that considering it would be one of the biggest, most lucrative fights in UFC history. Jones is arguably the greatest fighter in the history of the sport, but Francis is going to be favored if it does indeed come to pass. He merits a big pay day for that type of super fight, but in the meantime, Ngannou did walk away with an extra $50,000 after earning Performance of the Night honors.