Plain and simple, Francis Ngannou wants what he believes he’s earned: a UFC heavyweight title shot.
After Saturday night’s headlining performance at UFC on ESPN 3, it’s difficult to argue with him. Ngannou stopped former champion Junior dos Santos 1:11 into the first round.
Ngannou stumbled in his first shot at a UFC belt, losing a unanimous decision to Stipe Miocic at UFC 220. His confidence shaken, he then lost a decision to Derrick Lewis in his next fight.
Since then, Ngannou has settled in and regained the form that rocketed him toward the championship in the first place, winning his first six UFC bouts via stoppage, five of those by way of knockout. Since the loss to Lewis, Ngannou has won three consecutive fights, taking out Curtis Blaydes for a second time, defeating former champ Cain Velasquez, and now dos Santos, all via knockout.
What else does he have to prove to regain a spot in a title fight? Nothing, according to him.
“That’s the only thing that would make sense right now for me. He said we’re going to talk about it. I assume that means yes,” Ngannou said after the fight when asked what he was saying to UFC president Dana White as he stood victorious in the cage.
“Do I deserve the title shot or not? I think the answer is yes. Then what happens or somebody gets an injury, I don’t know, I just want that they give me the title contract and then we have time to prepare and put it all together. If (Daniel Cormier) wins and decides to retire, the division would not stay without a champion. They would have to figure out something and I would be the head of the line so I’m not concerned about that.”
Cormier is currently slated to put his belt on the line in a rematch with Miocic in the UFC 241 headliner on Aug. 17 in Anaheim, Calif. Though he hasn’t said so definitively, Cormier has hinted that it may be the last time that he steps into the Octagon.
Ngannou would like to face Cormier before he walks off into the sunset, but the goal is still the UFC heavyweight championship, and it doesn’t really matter from whom he takes it.
“I don’t really care because both of them is a good fight for me. Stipe is my rematch that I want to do and DC is the double champ and he’s almost about to retire, according to what he said. Either fight will be good for me.”
Currently ranked No. 2 in the UFC heavyweight division behind only Miocic and the champion, Ngannou believes him fighting for the belt next is the only thing that makes sense. There is no argument.
“I don’t think at this point I still have to claim the title shot. I think it’s obvious. I think I deserve it.”