We are now living in a new era in the UFC Heavyweight division. The Francis Ngannou era. The era of the Predator.
What we saw on Saturday was a drastically new and improved Francis Ngannou. One who learned from his mistakes in the first fight and made major changes to his game plan to get the job done. Those mistakes were well-known to any serious UFC fan. He was too anxious and rushed him, he couldn’t defend the takedowns, etc. Francis adjusted fantastically to make sure none of those things were problems the second time around. After Francis stuffed the first takedown and even transitioned into his offensive wrestling game, it was immediately clear that everyone was in for something special.
Now let’s not take away any credit from his opponent. Stipe Miocic is the greatest UFC Heavyweight champion to ever be apart of this organization. He deserves a trilogy with Francis Ngannou even after getting knocked out and making the mental mistake to put himself in a position to get knocked out after he chose to rush him after getting stunned. Conor McGregor will likely get his in July against Dustin Poirier. However, the situation gets much more complicated when you factor in Jon Jones and Derrick Lewis.
Ngannou fighting Jon Jones is the biggest fight the UFC can make at this very moment. Jon Jones hasn’t fought since February 2020 and has since vacated his belt to move up a weight class. And since that fight, Jones has been very adamant that he wants his money. Whether Dana chooses to cater to his request is unknown, but that can only delay the works of his fight since the UFC failed to get this done before 260 when they had already said that Jones will face the winner. And with Miocic already announcing he would like to spend time with his family before making a return, it may very likely be Derrick Lewis fighting in the first title defense for Ngannou.
Lewis is coming off of a brutal knockout win against Curtis Blaydes back in February that asserted himself into the title picture. But with Jon Jones assumed to be the first challenger after the winner of 260, Lewis was put into a bad spot of “what’s next?” Well with this Jones drama and neither Lewis nor Ngannou wanting to wait, the UFC might as well move forward with Jones until they can resolve their issues.
Breaking down the rest of the card, it is unfortunate that we likely saw the last of former UFC Welterweight champion, Tyron Woodley, after losing his fourth straight fight to Vincente Luque. Luque is now a top Welterweight contender and should fight either Stephen Thompson or Michael Chiesa. Both of those matchups would be perfect for all parties involved. Suga Sean O’Malley made his return after a seven-month layoff in dramatic fashion. He laid an absolutely devastating right hand against Thomas Almedia, who had his back on the canvas. Almeida may be on the chopping block after also losing his fourth straight fight. Maybe Mark Smith should have ended the fight before allowing O’Malley to land that punch? That’s just me. Nonetheless, a fight between O’Malley and Dominick Cruz would be incredible and both parties seem very interested in making that happening. Possibly as the co-main for Poirier vs. McGregor III?