(Courtesy of MMAFightingonSBN)
Francis Ngannou stormed into the Octagon, wrecking everyone in his way as he tore a path to the UFC heavyweight championship. It seemed almost a foregone conclusion that he would take the belt and become the mixed martial arts version of Mike Tyson.
Ngannou knocked out five of his first six opponents in the Octagon en route to a shot at the belt wrapped around Stipe Miocic’s waist at UFC 220.
That’s when Ngannou’s ascending was met head on by a boulder that sent him reeling.
Miocic routed Ngannou to a unanimous decision that was nowhere near close. His confidence rattled, Ngannou then succumbed to Derrick Lewis in his next bout.
Back to the drawing board, Ngannou refocused and ended one of the roughest years of his career with a return to his blistering knockout performances of the past with a 45-second finish of Curtis Blaydes in November 2018.
He’ll try to build on that success by proving it was no fluke when he welcomes former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez back to the Octagon at Sunday’s UFC Fight Night on ESPN 1 in Phoenix.
Ahead of Sunday’s showdown, Ngannou spoke with the media at his UFC Phoenix open workout on Thursday, relaying how much that difficult year taught him, and how it will help as he moves forward against one of the toughest hurdles he’s ever faced.