What’s Next for Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou? Predictions & Odds

heavyweight-francis-ngannou

  • Heavyweight king Francis Ngannou has only been the champion since March 27 but already the UFC has held an interim contest and crowned a new interim champion despite Ngannou being healthy and ready to compete
  • France native Cyril Gane defeated Derrick Lewis two weeks ago in the main event of UFC 265 – making him the next likely challenger for the undisputed throne
  • There are others in the mix to look at as a potential next opponent for Ngannou and what their odds are off taking down the hardest hitter in the sports’ history

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Ngannou’s rise

Who is Francis Ngannou?

Born in Cameroon, “The Predator” Ngannou debuted for the UFC in 2015 – knocking out Luis Henrique in the second round.

He would follow that win with back-to-back TKO victories over Curtis Blaydes and Bojan Mihajlovic, respectively.

Ngannou would then earn back-to-back post-fight performance bonuses as he submitted Anthony Hamilton in the first round of their 2016 contest and followed it up with a first-round TKO win over former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski.

His next fight would be his biggest up to that point as he took on kickboxing and MMA legend Alistair Overeem in 2017 at UFC 218. Once again, Ngannou’s opponent would not see the second round as Overeem was brutally knocked out with an uppercut that seemed to lift the heavyweight off the ground.

This huge win led Ngannou to his first title shot against champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 220.

Ngannou’s first shot at UFC didn’t go as planned as Miocic exposed what many fans and pundits were curious about: Ngannou’s lack of ground and grappling skills.

Miocic weathered an early barrage of punches only to take Ngannou down and control him for all five rounds. At times Ngannou looked so exhausted that it seemed he may just keel over.

Admittedly suffering from psychological issues revolving around the loss to Miocic, Ngannou lost his second fight in a row against Derrick Lewis. It was clear that Ngannou was hesitant to pull the trigger on his boxing for fear of being taken down. He lost via unanimous decision at UFC 226.

But you can’t rise to the top before hitting bottom.

Ngannou bounced back in a MASSIVE way. In November 2018, following his losses, Ngannou would TKO Curtis Blaydes (again) in the first round. He followed that with a first-round knockout of another former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez.

He would then earn a first-round TKO win over former champion Junior dos Santos before defeating Jairzinho Rozenstuik by knockout in the first round at UFC 249.

The combined octagon time of these four fights for Ngannou totaled to only two minutes and forty-two seconds.

It was now time for another crack at Stipe Miocic.

Earning his third performance bonus in a row, Ngannou knocked out the most successful heavyweight champion in UFC history in the second round of the UFC 260 bout earlier this year.

Francis Ngannou was now UFC heavyweight champion and, quite frankly, the baddest man on the planet.

But what comes next?

Enter Cyril Gane

The odds for this match are provided by DraftKings sportsbook. Click on the odds below to head to DraftKings and place a bet.

Fighter Odds
(C) Francis Ngannou -170
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(IC) Cyril Gane -105
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Let’s begin with the newly crowned interim heavyweight champion and former training partner of Francis Ngannou: Cyril Gane.

How do these two stack up physically? Take a look:

Francis Ngannou TALE OF THE TAPE Cyril Gane
34 AGE 31
6 ft. 4 in. HEIGHT 6 ft. 4 in.
83 in. REACH 81 in.
16-3 RECORD 10-0

Born in France, Cyril “Bon Gamin” Gane is a former undefeated kickboxer and muay thai artist turned mixed martial artist.

He signed with the UFC as an undefeated fighter in 2019 and has since kept his record unblemished.

Gane secured back-to-back submission wins to start his UFC career. After a unanimous decision win over Tanner Boser, Gane saw a step up in competition.

In December of 2020, Gane earned a second-round TKO win over former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos. He followed that victory with back-to-back unanimous decision victories over top heavyweights Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Alexander Volkov.

The stage was now set for him to get his first taste of UFC gold.

With Francis Ngannou on the sidelines for thus far unconfirmed “business” related issues, the UFC set up an interim title bout between Gane and former title challenger Derrick Lewis. The two fought just two weeks ago as the headline attraction of UFC 265.

Gane impressed everyone as he put on a clinic against Lewis, taking essentially no damage while showcasing his speed and technique of which the likes have never been seen in the heavyweight division.

Gane would TKO Lewis in the third round, earning the interim title and a performance bonus for his effort.

So how does Cyril Gane stack up against the undisputed champion?

The two used to train together in the past. Although that makes for a fun narrative, it was so long ago that neither of these fighters are the same as when they used to spar each other.

With that said, many fighters don’t match Ngannou for size – Gane does. They stand at an equal 6 ft. 4 in. and there is only a two-inch discrepancy when it comes to reach. And Gane’s style and technique is so well polished compared to Ngannou that the two-inch disadvantage will hardly be noticeable.

Gane has also proven that he can go the distance, having fought and won via decision three times over the course of his UFC career. The two times that Ngannour fought to the distance, he lost – and looked horrible doing it.

Cyril Gane is also evasive, proving so in his fight against Derrick Lewis. A knockout artist in his own right, Lewis couldn’t land anything against the French fighter in the three rounds that they had with the final punch stats listed as 112-16 in favor of Gane.

Despite the popularity of our next pick as a potential opponent, this is the real fight to make and hopefully Gane’s status as interim champion is enough to secure him his chance at undisputed gold.

Our pick: Cyril Gane (-105)

Jon “Bones” Jones heavyweight debut

The odds for this match are provided by DraftKings sportsbook. Click on the odds below to head to DraftKings and place a bet.

Fighter Odds
(C) Francis Ngannou -170
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Jon Jones +150
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Love him or hate him, Jon Jones has accomplished a lot in the sport of mixed martial arts. He has made it no secret that he is currently training for a move up to the heavyweight division to fight for a title – but, again, “business” seems to be getting in the way.

However, UFC President Dana White has essentially guaranteed Jones an immediate shot at the heavyweight title should he choose to sit out until 2022 – which would allow Ngannou/Gane to take place first.

This seems to be the likely case as it has been speculated that Jones turned down a 2021 fight with former champion Stipe Miocic in favor of an immediate title shot.

How do these two stack up physically? Take a look:

Francis Ngannou TALE OF THE TAPE Jon Jones
34 AGE 34
6 ft. 4 in. HEIGHT 6 ft. 4 in.
83 in. REACH 84.5 in.
16-3 RECORD 26-1, 1 no-contest

It would be relatively safe to say that anyone reading this already has a pretty good idea of who Jon Jones is in the MMA world, but we’ll break his career down quick (and try to leave out most of the controversy).

Jones joined the UFC roster in 2008 as an undefeated 7-0 prospect and won his first three bouts in a row before suffering his first (and only) career loss – although many don’t consider it a loss as Jones was disqualified for the use of an illegal elbow against Matt Hamill. Jones was dominating in the fight prior to the stoppage.

He followed the DQ with three stoppages in a row, earning him a shot at light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128 in 2011. Jones would TKO Rua in the third-round and become the youngest UFC champion in history.

From there Jones defended his belt eight times over the likes of Lyoto Machida, Alexander Gustafsson, and Daniel Cormier, before encountering some personal troubles and being stripped of the title in 2015.

Jones returned in 2016 to win an interim light heavyweight title in a fight against Ovince St. Preux but was, again, ultimately stripped of the title – this time due to a failed drug test.

He returned once again to fight Daniel Cormier for the undisputed championship at UFC 214 in 2017. Jones would TKO Cormier and win the title back only to be – you guessed it – stripped of the title due to a failed drug test.

In 2018 at UFC 232, Jones returned to the octagon to take on Alexander Gustafsson for the light heavyweight title that was vacated by Daniel Cormier when he made the move to the heavyweight division.

Jones won the title via third-round TKO and went on to defend it three more times over Anthony Smith, Thiago Santos, and Dominick Reyes – although the latter judges’ decision victory wasn’t without it’s controversy.

The Reyes fight took place in February 2020 at UFC 247 and Jones hasn’t fought since. He vacated the title on August 17, 2020 citing “business” reasons and has since been training and showing off his new physique in preparation for an expected move up to the heavyweight division.

But how does a former light heavyweight champion stack up against a current heavyweight monster? Well, better than you might think.

Jon Jones would cut weight to make the 205-pound LHW limit and would usually walk around naturally between 230-240-pounds. For reference, that’s the usual fighting weight for former champion Stipe Miocic.

Add on the work in the gym and the size Jones has built-in muscle mass and he could hold his own against Ngannou – especially in grappling and clinch situations.

Some may also not realize that Jones and Ngannou are the same height yet Jones possesses the longest reach in the UFC, regardless of weight class. He will actually enter this potential superfight with a 1.5-inch reach advantage over the champion.

Although there are two major factors to look at that sway our pick in the champion’s favor.

First of all, if Jones waits until 2022 to return, that will make it two-year (at least) since his last fight. Not only that, but he’ll be returning at a heavier weight in which he is not used to fighting at. It could cause a severe lack of speed, cardio, or both in the octagon.

Secondly, Jones’ last two performances were controversial and Jones didn’t look like the fighter he once was.

Despite Thiago Santos damaging both knees in their UFC 239 bout, he became the first man to defeat Jones on one judges scorecard. The following fight against Dominick Reyes was a barnburner that, to this day, many feel Jones lost.

However…

Our pick: Jon Jones (+150)

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Could Stipe get his trilogy?

The odds for this match are provided by DraftKings sportsbook. Click on the odds below to head to DraftKings and place a bet.

Fighter Odds
(C) Francis Ngannou N/A
Stipe Miocic N/A

A bit of a dark horse here with all the media surrounding Cyril Gane and Jon Jones – but what about Stipe Miocic? He is the most decorated UFC heavyweight of all time and was the first man to defeat Francis Ngannou in a UFC octagon.

Miocic also gave former champion Daniel Cormier an immediate rematch despite knocking him out in their second fight.

The former champion thinks that not only does a rubber match with Ngannou make sense – it’s deserved. And we can’t disagree.

Here’s the tale of the tape between these rivals:

Francis Ngannou TALE OF THE TAPE Stipe Miocic
34 AGE 39
6 ft. 4 in. HEIGHT 6 ft. 4 in.
83 in. REACH 80 in.
16-3 RECORD 20-4

Despite how it looks, being exactly 6 ft. 4 in. tall and holding a win over junior dos Santos are not requirements to compete in the UFC heavyweight division.

Let’s keep this short and sweet and look at the accolades that make Stipe Miocic arguably the number-one contender for Ngannou’s heavyweight strap.

Miocic won the heavyweight title from Fabricio Werdum in the main event of UFC 198 in 2016. From there he did what no man before him had ever done: he defended the UFC title three times. That may not seem too impressive on paper but when 260-pound beasts are throwing haymakers at you, it’s hard to stay conscious.

Stipe defended the belt with a KO win over Alistair Overeem at UFC 203 and followed that with a TKO win over former champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 211. He then wore out Francis Ngannou to a five-round unanimous decision victory in the main event of UFC 220.

Miocic would then face light heavyweight champion, Daniel Cormier, in a champion-versus-champion super fight and would be stunningly knocked out in the first round.

An immediate rematch was set and Miocic would take back his title with a fourth-round TKO victory of Cormier.

This is where Miocic’s current argument for a third fight with Ngannou comes into play as the UFC offered Cormier a third fight with Miocic despite his loss. The two fought for a third time at UFC 252 and Miocic ended the rivalry once and for all with a unanimous decision win.

We all know the story after that – Miocic would face off against Francis Ngannou in the main event of UFC 260 and get knocked out in the second round. He has not competed since.

The arguments to make in favor of Miocic are clear. First of all, he already holds a win over Ngannour and the two are now 1-1 against one another. We need the rubber match!

Secondly, if the UFC could grant Daniel Cormier his third fight, why not Miocic: the statistical greatest heavyweight in UFC history?

At almost 40-years-old it is likely that Miocic has only one or two fights left. He’s proven to be a patient man and it’s likely he would hold out for a title fight before taking on any other opponents.

However there are only so many bombs one man can withstand from the heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.

Our pick: Francis Ngannou

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Ryan Bristlon

Expert on UFC

Ryan Bristlon is a Canadian writer currently residing in Hamilton, Ontario. He studied print and broadcast journalism at Humber College and has been a lifelong fan of the sport of hockey and the NHL.



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