FALL RIVER, MA –This Saturday the UFC heavyweight title is on the line as part time firefighter and full time heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic will make his five title defense tomorrow in a rematch with Francis Ngannou of Cameroon. The pair already met once back in January of 2018 in an excellent contest. Francis landed some big shots but Miocic was able to use his wrestling and endless cardio to smother the African KO artist to win a clean decision. Each man hit a stumbling block since then but quickly returned to form.
Miocic was forced to fight a trilogy with UFC commentator and former 205lb Champion Daniel Cormier who posted a major upset and a first round KO over Stipe. Miocic returned the favor to knock Cormier out in the second fight and won a clear decision in the 3rd in possibly the best heavyweight trilogies in MMA history. Francis didn’t look good against Derrick Louis dropping the dull decision, but since that loss Francis has posted four vicious KO’s to earn his way back to the number one contender spot.
Since he won the first time around it would seem he has little adjustment to make in terms of game plan. A cursory glance at Francis record reveals he’s never won a fight that went to the cards. For Francis this is little more than 25 more minutes to land the bomb that changes his role from contender to champion. The plan for Stipe is as simple as survive the early going and use his wrestling to snip the fuse on the dynamite in Francis hands once more.
Time might be the unspoken factor. In the two years since Stipe has slipped down the wrong side of 35. Now 38 years old with another trilogy of wear and tear on his body, you wonder how much longer he can keep up output. While Stipe is aging by the day Ngannou was learning. A late comer to MMA he only started training in 2013. Francis may have matured since their initial meeting and finally grown into a champion.
Francis is chasing a dream out of poverty, Stipe is chasing immortality. Only tenacity, toughness and five, five minute rounds can truly tell who wants it more.