Francis Ngannou felt like his fight Saturday on the main card of UFC 249 against Jairzinho Rozenstruik at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, should have been for the interim heavyweight championship.
The UFC disagreed, though UFC president Dana White said the winner would get the first crack at the winner of the rubber match between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier that will be held later this year.
Ngannou proved his point in the most emphatic way on Saturday.
In a battle of arguably the biggest punchers in the UFC, it was no contest on Saturday. Ngannou walked through a pair of Rozenstruik kicks, landing a crushing left hook that put him out and then finished it with a couple of shots on the ground.
He needed just 20 seconds to end one of the most hotly anticipated bouts on a stacked card Saturday.
Rozenstruik knocked out Alistair Overeem in a dramatic last-second finish in December and called Ngannou out after the fight. Ngannou said when he heard it, he had to do an internet search to learn who Rozenstruik was.
No doubt, Rozenstruik regretted that choice on Saturday.
“When I heard he called me out, I knew that he didn’t know what he was doing,” Ngannou said in the cage following the bout. “I think he has a lot of potential, but he has to take a step back and get ready before fighting me.”
They were supposed to fight in Columbus, Ohio, at the end of March, but that card was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was put in a prime position on Saturday’s card, which took on added significance since it was the first sporting event in the U.S. since the coronavirus began forcing the shutdown in March.
Ngannou, who lost a previous title shot to Miocic, looks primed now.
But he said he worked hard on his striking during a nearly four-month camp, when he wasn’t sure what was going to happen.
He said he doesn’t know where he fits in, but few would doubt it’s going to take a massive effort to defeat him again.
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