Ngannou v Rozenstruik: 'The Predator' Ready for his Next Title Shot - UFC 249

Ngannou
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Ngannou's incredible rise

Francis Ngannou has quickly became one of the best strikers and power punchers the UFC has sever seen, with a UFC record of 9-2-0. In total, the Cameroonian has 14 wins on his MMA record, with all of them coming inside the distance, 10 of which by KO/TKO.

With UFC 249 just around the corner, fans will be eager for ‘The Predator’s’ return to the octagon after almost a year since his last bout, when he beat Junior dos Santos with a first round stoppage by TKO. Ngannou is set to face Jairzinho Rozenstruik on May 9, a fighter with an undefeated professional record in MMA, with a total of 10 wins.

Rozenstruik will prove to be one of the toughest opponents Ngannou has had to face as the 32-year-old is also looking to make a name for himself in the heavyweight division, just as Ngannou was doing a few years back.

However, Ngannou is still considered to be the biggest threat to Stipe Miocic's title and the heavyweight title, although he will need to beat 'Bigi Boy' in order to get a second chance at Miocic in a title fight.

Here, we look at how things may turn out in this fight and what implications that would have for the heavyweight title.

Is UFC 249 where Ngannou Proves Himself?

There are a host of reasons why UFC 249’s outcome will be so important to Ngannou and his career trajectory. Firstly, this bout will be his fourth consecutive win should he emerge victorious by the end of it, with a win streak that includes an impressive three first round finishes thus far. Cain Velasquez was the last man to be knocked out by Ngannou’s power, in just 26 seconds.

Beating Rozenstruik would also be a massive statement in terms of letting the UFC and Dana White know he is ready for another title shot, as the Surinamese’s impressive record thus far has proved extremely difficult to hinder, making Rozenstruik one of the toughest opponents Ngannou will have to face.

Another reason why the 33-year-old looks ready for a shot at the title once more, is the fashion in which he is ending big fights. Since his last defeat to Derrick Lewis back in 2018, Ngannou has managed to bounce back to winning form and is finishing fights with relative ease, finishing all three of his last fights in less than 90 seconds.

The Cameroonian’s current form and record has allowed for UFC 249 to be a stepping stone to another chance in the octagon with Miocic and a heavyweight title, especially if he can stop the monster that is Rozenstruik in the same fashion as his previous three fights.

Its seems his bouts against top MMA fighters like Lewis and Miocic were merely a stepping stone and a learning curve for a man who had his first professional fight at 27. Now, it seems he is becoming the real product that could make it to the top and stay there.

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The Likelihood of a rematch with Miocic

Miocic and Ngannou have indeed fought before in a title fight that lasted the whole five rounds back in January 2018, with the American winning by unanimous decision and remaining the UFC heavyweight champion at UFC 220.

Back then, 'The Predator' was on an undefeated streak, in the UFC, that lasted a total of six consecutive early stoppages, and subsequently made Ngannou the biggest threat to this division.

Unfortunately for the challenger, Miocic was able to take Ngannou to the final bell – a position he had not been previously - and was lost the bout by unanimous decision quite convincingly. His next fight would again see a loss by unanimous decision to the experienced Lewis, giving the Predator only his third ever loss of his career and his second in his eighth bout within the UFC

Although, the dynamic of the lead up to the possibility of Miocic vs Ngannou II is different from their previous matchup at UFC 220. The heavyweight champion had fought a total of five fights in two years before their last bout and was significantly more active than he is currently, with his last fight coming in August 2019 when he won the title back from Daniel Cormier.

Now, Ngannou will return to the octagon after almost a year and will most likely be the first name to be mentioned for a chance at a title shot, should he leave victorious at UFC 249. A victory for the Predator will once ago force us to look at him as Miocic’s biggest threat and he will most likely surpass Cormier in the rankings to move to the number one contender.

Miocic v Ngannou II - can 'The Predator' do it this time?

Miocic has had an incredible UFC and MMA career so far, with a record of 19 wins and just three losses and is rightfully so regarded by so many as the best heavyweight of all-time. The fighter of Croatian descent has been battling in the UFC since 2011, amassing a total of 13 wins in this time and claiming the title twice.

The American’s previous six fights have all been title bouts, first taking the title from Fabricio Werdum in 2016, and then going on to successfully defend the belt in his next three bouts, which included Ngannou.

However, Miocic eventually lost his title to Cormier in a bout that saw him knocked out towards the end of the first round at UFC 226, making it his first defeat in just under four years. Of course, the Ohio native won the title back just under a year ago, but hasn't defended it since, nor has he looked like doing so anytime soon.

At 37-years old Miocic is edging closer to the end of his career, with Ngannou being the only fighter to take him all the way since 2014. A second bout between the two could see the American make way for 'The Predator' who will undoubtedly be eyeing up another title shot, should he beat Rozenstruik.

Ngannou is still the man to watch and a win over 'Bigi Boy' and no doubt the next fight to make is Miocic v Ngannou II. This time, things will be very different, as Ngannou is more experienced, whilst Miocic is now closer to 40.

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