Sunday, January 23, 2022

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Cameroon’s Ngannou KO’s Miocic to become first African UFC heavyweight champion

Cameroonian hard-hitter Francis Ngannou became the UFC heavyweight champion after he knocked out Stipe Miocic 52 seconds into the second round at UFC 260 on Saturday.

Both heavyweights first met at UFC 220 in January 2018. In that fight, Miocic beat Ngannou with a unanimous decision with 50-44 scores on all three judges’ cards. Ngannou struggled to stop takedowns in that fight. It was a different tale on Saturday.

Early in Round 1, Miocic (20-4 MMA, 14-4 UFC) shot for a takedown. Ngannou didn’t end up on his back, but instead reversed Miocic and landed some big punches. Miocic ate everything Ngannou threw and remained calm, but struggled to muster up much offense outside of a few low calf kicks.

Miocic opened Round 2 with more striking, and Ngannou made him pay. He dropped Miocic in the opening seconds. Miocic recovered and got to his feet, but was met by an Ngannou uppercut.

As Ngannou charged forward, Miocic countered and connected. The blow put Ngannou on his back foot. Miocic recognized it and moved in, but Ngannou returned with a fight-ending punch that folded Miocic with his left foot awkwardly twisted underneath him. As Miocic springboarded with his leg unfolded out from under him, he was met by a diving hammer-fist from Ngannou. Lights out!

Ngannou (16-3 MMA, 11-2 UFC) has now extended his winning streak to five after wins over Curtis Blaydes, former champs Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos, and Jairzinho Rozenstruik. Those first four came in the first round in an average of about 40 seconds each.

After folding Miococ like a deck chair, it’s safe to imagine the 34-year-old Cameroonian clinging on to that heavyweight strap for quite some time.

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