The destruction of the greatest heavyweight in history by Francis Ngannou has found resonance in the MMA world.
The KO win and incredibly controlled performance against Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 made for a remarkable journey to the top.
Ngannou has worked tirelessly to make his dream come true and now has the nickname every heavyweight wants, the ‘baddest man on the planet’.
So once he’s made it to Everest, where will the ‘Predator’ go?
Francis Ngannou has the world at his feet and has become the UFC heavyweight champion
STIPE MIOCIAN TRILOGY
If anyone owes an immediate rematch to reclaim their title, it’s Miocic.
In many ways, he’s not who the UFC wants as a poster boy for heavyweight stardom, but in terms of achievement, there’s no question that he’s the greatest in the division’s history.
It’s easy to forget that in the first fight between them, the American dominated from start to finish. He dodged the power punch for 25 minutes and showed Ngannou what elite wrestling looks like.
Of course the rematch went the other way in an emphatic way, but Miocic himself knows where he went wrong.
Stipe Miocic says he knows what went wrong and is unlikely to retire
He reflected: ‘Unfortunately, I deviated from the game plan. I felt great when I got into the second round, I saw things start to go as planned. He got very out of breath, and I came in zealous and unprotected.
‘I wasn’t in a good position to take the blow. He saw the opening and did what any great hunter would have done. That was my mistake I accept, it won’t happen again. ‘
Finally, I would like to congratulate Francis Ngannou and his team on a well-deserved victory.
‘Saturday night was your night, enjoy your win. For now, I’m going to enjoy the tranquility, spend some time with my family and welcome our son into the world this summer … stay tuned. God bless.’
Miocic has a two-month medical suspension, but he might want a trilogy fight
Some have alluded to retirement, but nothing in that statement suggests Miocic will be putting up the gloves anytime soon.
He defended the heavyweight title five times, came out of the top in a trilogy against future Hall of Famer Daniel Cormier, and if Miocic wants a third fight it would be incredibly hard to deny him.
He’s deserved a third showdown but in MMA money talks and there’s only one big money fight on the table now for Ngannou.
No one will have been a more interested spectator on Saturday night than ‘Bones’.
He is moving up to heavyweight to complete his legacy and remove all doubts that he is the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.
Miocic is the more versatile hunter and is said to have caused several problems.
Ngannou is a threat, but it is a substantial one. Jones has dealt with power punchers before and has the wrestling tribe to see his odds.
Jon Jones has publicly expressed his frustration with UFC president Dana White
And crucially, this is the fight fans want to see. Jones is the pantomime villain, Ngannou the inspirational champion who pulled himself out of poverty to riches and glory.
The story is one that the UFC hardly even has to market.
The main obstacle to this big match-up is that Jones is once again at odds with his paymasters.
He wants mega-money for a mega-fight and recently took to Twitter to be cut by the company if they didn’t want to meet his demands.
Jones wants the Ngannou fight, but he also wants to get paid what he thinks he deserves
Ngannou sympathizes, narrating ESPN: ‘I think he wants to take on a challenge, but I think he has come to a point in his career where he wants his big pay.
‘Logical, there is no arguing against that. He did it, he deserves it. He’s been the best man for a pound for so long, so you can’t deny Jon Jones in this sport. ‘
Ngannou wants to fight twice more this year, preferably in August and December, so if the disagreement between Jones and the UFC cannot be resolved, they will look for the next taxi in the rankings …
No one, I mean no one, wants to see a replay of Lewis’ first fight with Ngannou.
They smelled the place, both wary of each other’s KO strength, and eventually the Cameroonian fighter lost a decision.
The fight came after Ngannou’s defeat by Miocic and the realization that he is mortal after all.
But a lot has changed since then. Lewis is on the run with four wins on the spin to mirror Ngannou’s upward trajectory.
Derrick Lewis is hugely popular and could benefit if Jones and the UFC cannot agree on the terms
He is also one of the most popular fighters in the UFC with fans and has a huge online following.
There would be almost no chance of the fight going into the ground, but the 2018 snooze test could mean the UFC is in no rush to see a rerun.
However, Ngannou wants revenge and wants to fight Lewis after Jones.
So if Miocic wants to get away for some time and Jones stays at war with the UFC, Lewis might jump in the front line.
Ngannou told ESPN: ‘I think we’ll have this fight that never actually happened. I will have to give the fans what they deserve. ‘
Ones to watch
Emerging French star Ciryl Gane is now number 4 in the division and remains unbeaten.
He’s only had eight fights to his credit and is relatively untested, but it can win a few times at a chance.
Keep an eye on Tom Aspinall. The British heavyweight is number 13 after his win over Andrei Arlovski and will need at least two more wins to fight Ngannou, but many feel he has the all-round game to get to the top.
Tom Aspinall is one for the future and will not be next, but could meet Ngannou in the future