UFC 260 Slobber Knocker
UFC 260 was a slobber knocker! Ngannou vs. Miocic 2 lived up to the hype. The number one contender against the Champion, what more can be said? The UFC fans wanted to watch this rematch and for good reason. The first meeting between these two, showcased an inexperienced Ngannou and a wily Miocic, who won by decision. Not exactly a clear-cut knockout victory, but a win is a win. Anybody who knows a thing or two about the UFC, knew that these two would meet again. One more meeting to decide who is the Champion.
I have been of the school of thought that anything you could do once, you should be able to repeat. I was wrong. After Ngannou’s first meeting with Miocic, he took the long way back to the top of the mountain. His first fight after Miocic was a three round decision loss to Derrick Lewis. Not exactly a recipe for success, and a fighter's mental resiliency could take a turn for the worst. Instead of this fate, Ngannou shook that dirt off his shoulders, and compiled a list of victims who fell to his power in the very first round. A proverbial who's who in the world of the UFC. Names like Curtis Blaydes, ex-champions Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos, and finally, Jairzinho Rozenstruik. This is what seasoning on the meat of a fighter looks like. Add this to his already impressive physique and you have a main event for the ages.
Stipe Miocic after his first meeting with Ngannou, lost his title to Daniel Cormier. He would then go on to face Cormier two more times. He not only regained his heavyweight crown but became the greatest heavyweight Champion of all time (insert my best Muhammed Ali impersonation.) He won more title fights in the heavyweight division with six victories. He received the most fight-of-the-night bonuses in the heavyweight division with nine. Miocic did this all while being a member of the Oakwood and Valley View fire department. That is correct, if you live in this area in Ohio, Stipe Miocic may be coming to save your life. This is such a hard notion to process, a superstar athlete, having a regular nine to five. This is what makes Miocic is so special. He is a consummate professional and an amazing role model.
Even so, as great as Miocic is, it was to be Ngannou’s night. He won the title via a second-round knockout. Ngannou however, never had a chance to celebrate his victory. The UFC already had plans for whomever the victor would be. They would have the glorious task of facing Jon Jones. The ever-opportunistic Jones began tweeting about his chance at a title fight right around the time that Ngannou’s arm was raised. A title fight that frankly, is being given to him because of his name. Jon Jones has never fought as a heavyweight; he does not know what it is like to fight someone like a Derrick Lewis. To feel the raw power from a brawler and his fists of fury. To be hit by 265lbs of muscle, bone, and flesh. Jones gets the first crack at the Champ, and Miocic, despite all he has done for the organization, must wait. The UFC has done this before to other talent. Randy Couture comes to mind. Randy Couture was not the ideal ‘face’ of the UFC, not having the look or personality to naturally sell seats. They had Tito Ortiz and Chuck Lidell, their chosen ones - with flashy personalities and exciting personal lives to head their promotions. They had the cool haircuts, off-the-wall personalities, and one had a well-known porn star wife to bring some extra spice. Randy however, had other ideas. He built his legacy winning fight after fight, becoming a champion, and a household name. It is my humble opinion that the UFC is treating Stipe Miocic in a similar fashion. Yes, the UFC is a business. Yes, Jon Jones does put butts in seats. But, Stipe Miocic deserves a chance to get his title back. Jon Jones should take a fight with a top contender in the heavyweight division to earn his shot at the title, like everyone else. Your popularity shouldn’t matter, but rather, what you have done to earn your ranking. Stipe Miocic deserves a rematch with the current champ and Francis Ngannou should be given a little time to enjoy his win without Jon Jones coming after him on twitter, and not having to worry about the promotional burden that comes with fighting a Jon Jones figure. There I've said it. I know it won't matter much to Dana White and the powers that be in the UFC, they will do whatever makes sense to them financially.
Having said this, will I buy a UFC event with Jon Jones vs. Francis Ngannou as the main event? Of course, I would! I am only human, and I would be cheering, with a bias, for Francis to score a very memorable knockout. Before I end this piece, I want to thank Stipe for the great fights we the UFC fans have had the honor of watching. Thank you, Francis, for the path you made to secure your victory to become the Champion. You truly are a deserving Champion. Finally, I want to thank Jon Jones for giving us something to talk about until this main event happens. Don’t get caught in the trap of assuming that because Jon Jones is getting a title fight he will become champion. He is a fearsome competitor and a gifted athlete, but as my friend and mentor Stan Peterec loves to say, “your opponent has a say in a fight as well.” Just something to think about. Let’s all be real here, getting to watch all of these great fighters makes us fans the real winners.