Heading into UFC 270, the MMA world was on edge to see how one of the most stylistically intriguing and suspenseful heavyweight bouts of all time would play out.
In one corner, we had the undisputed champion, Francis Ngannou, looking to carve his name in the history books as the UFC’s one and only heavyweight king in 2022. In the blue corner stood Ciryl “Bon Gamin” Gane, a post-modern heavyweight maestro who moved with a tempo and pace like arguably no heavyweight before him.
The narrative surrounding this bout was that it was the ultimate clash of styles between the powerhouse KO artist and the technician who is the embodiment of heavyweight poetry in motion. While this perception was a major part of the story leading into UFC 270, it is far from the only time Francis Ngannou has been typecast and limited to being a glorified one-trick pony.
Like a horror flick barred from being considered for Best Film due to its niche appeal, no matter how well produced it is, Ngannou’s name hasn’t been mentioned much in regards to his candidacy as the best heavyweight of all time.
In this way, Ngannou’s uncanny ability to be a nightmare for slept opponents like Freddy Kreuger has worked against him. In some ways, he’s been cast aside as a freak show circus act, one whose most common adjective attached to him has been “scary.”
But as mentioned in a 2019 editorial, what Ngannou has accomplished is far beyond “scary.” It’s downright legendary. During his UFC run, he has defeated the following names: Stipe Miocic, Cain Velasquez, Curtis Blaydes (2), Andrei Arlovski, Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and Ciryl Gane, nearly all of those wins coming by way of declarative, non-competitive knockout.
If you look at those list names and especially considering the manner in which he won, you can already put that résumé up against any heavyweight of all time in terms of top-heavy quality and at the very least open up a legitimate conversation about where Ngannou stands among the heavyweight greats.
As is, he may be lacking the title defenses to be the “GOAT,” but 2021/2022 Francis Ngannou may already have the top claim to being the BOAT at heavyweight given his list of elite victims who were treated like jobbers on archived episodes of WWF Primetime Wrestling in glorified squash matches.
But it was these last two wins for Ngannou that may have done the most for The Predator’s legacy.
The scouting report heading into the Miocic rematch was that, as usual, Ngannou had a puncher’s chance and needed to get the early KO to win with that “one big shot.” The thing is, although Ngannou got that one shot in the second round, he also landed several, well-paced shots before then. In fact, Nganno flat-out“outskilled” Miocic for the entirety of the fight, including in the grappling department, which captured the surprise and awe of the viewing audience.
And last weekend, after having wounded the narrative that he is merely a KO artist with his title win at UFC 260, Francis Ngannou landed the picture-perfect knockout blow to it at UFC 270 when he used wrestling to hand Ciryl Gane his first loss as a professional. And not only did Ngannou use his wrestling, but he apparently did so with an MCL tear and being down two rounds, thus showing endurance, heart, championship mettle, and yes, versatility.
Following UFC 270, now, more than ever before, the MMA world has no choice but to free Ngannou from being typecast as a one-trick KO pony and finally acknowledge what he has been all along and what can no longer be overlooked: one of the best winners the heavyweight division has ever seen.
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