Francis Ngannou is being hailed as one of the greatest prospects in the history of the UFC and there are plenty of people just waiting to anoint him as heavyweight champion once he finally gets his title shot on Jan. 20 in Boston.
Of course, Stipe Miocic has something to say about that.
Miocic not only faces Ngannou at UFC 220 but he has a chance to make history that night as well as he attempts to make his third consecutive title defense, which would be a new record for the UFC heavyweight division.
Like everyone else who has seen Ngannou’s fights, Miocic has been impressed by his power and finishing ability but that doesn’t mean he’s going to just hand over the heavyweight title because his opponent is supposedly the next big thing.
“I think he’s a great fighter. Definitely, he brings it, he hits hard but unfortunately nothing’s going to change,” Miocic said when addressing Ngannou on “The Joe Rogan Podcast” on Wednesday. “I’m still walking out with the belt still wrapped around my waist.”
One of the attributes that has defined Ngannou recently is his staggering knockout power as the entire world witnessed with his stunning first round finish against former heavyweight title challenger Alistair Overeem at UFC 218.
Ngannou’s legendary power was also touted when he broke the record for the hardest punch on a machine at the UFC’s Performance Institute, which only furthered the growing hype around the heavyweight fighter.
Hitting hard is great, but Miocic has faced plenty of those kinds of fighters during his career and he knows the key is not getting clubbed by anyone’s best punch whether that’s Ngannou or anybody else in the heavyweight division.
“His power, but I think everyone hits hard in the heavyweight division,” Miocic commented when asked what impresses him most about Ngannou. “I mean 260-pound men, 250-pound men, you’re not supposed to be hit by something like that.
“I fought JDS (Junior dos Santos), I fought Roy Nelson, I fought Mark Hunt. I got guys that threw hard and he’s a little wild, too, which is tough sometimes you can’t prepare for that. Cause there’s punches you can’t see.”
As far as Ngannou’s last fight, Miocic takes nothing away from the victory but also notes that there were some mistakes that Overeem made definitely left him open for the knockout.
Miocic knows Overeem very well because he fought him last year and he saw some very big differences in his approach to facing Ngannou versus what he saw when they faced off in 2016.
“I think that was a little bit on both ends. Overeem was just kind of being a little sloppy and then just put his face right in the lane,” Miocic said.
“I didn’t watch the whole fight with Ngannou but what I saw was he was throwing all these wild punches. When he fought me, he was throwing straights.”
Make no mistake, Miocic knows that it only takes one wrong move to get caught by anyone in the heavyweight division, wake up with a loss on your record and the heavyweight title going home with somebody else.
That’s why Miocic is putting everything possible into his training to ensure that Ngannou’s hype train will come to a dramatic halt at UFC 220 in Boston.
“I’m excited for him,” Miocic said. “He’s getting his shot but as long as I’m here, no one’s going to be champ.”