- Francis Ngannou always dreamed about winning the UFC heavyweight championship.
- The fighter endured child labor in Cameroon and homelessness in France.
- But on Saturday he realized his dream when he knocked out Stipe Miocic in style.
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Francis Ngannou knocked Stipe Miocic out during a high-stakes UFC heavyweight championship fight Saturday at the Apex in Las Vegas.
The bout was a rematch from a 2018 bout in which Miocic soundly defeated Ngnannou by rendering the feared puncher’s best shots null and void with head movement and footwork.
It was Miocic’s third defense of the UFC title, which he lost in his next bout. He then immediately reclaimed it against Daniel Cormier before defending it in their trilogy.
The do-over with Ngannou, though, looked like a completely different fight than the one three years prior as this was a story of the heavy-hitting Cameroonian doing what he does best – separating opponents from their senses.
It marked the 12th knockout of Ngannou’s pro MMA career, and his fifth in succession and tops a run that includes finishes over Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
Scalping Miocic is the finest of the lot, though, as Ngannou scored a career-defining victory against an opponent considered by many to be the greatest MMA heavyweight of all time.
Ngannou ushers in a heavyweight era of pure violence
Ngannou is primarily known for one thing – smacking an opponent so hard that they fall awkwardly to the canvas.
He has done that so effectively throughout his career that the UFC Performance Institute tested the force behind his shots and claimed nobody in the promotion’s history punched harder.
Ngannou told Insider in 2019 that his power was the product of child labor as he worked the sand mines in Cameroon.
In his early 20s, he left the country for France with little money in his back pocket, and endured homelessness in Paris.
But as a young man who idolized Mike Tyson, Ngannou went to boxing gyms, began training MMA, and developed a dream to become a UFC champion.
This weekend, he did just that.
Ngannou was relentlessly accurate with his striking, showed good anti-wrestling skills, and dropped Miocic to the floor with a thud in the second round.
The finishing sequence may have even been a combination he fine-tuned on his very first day in a Parisian boxing club as it was a textbook one-two – a crisp jab that preceded a bow-and-arrow straight, both landing with aplomb.
The force sent Miocic scrambling back until he was halfway down to the floor and ricocheting off of the fence.
Though he got back up to his feet, Miocic was getting clipped with a volley of fists from all angles as Ngannou tried to close the show.
And close the show he did, as a huge punch left Miocic unconscious, falling back to the canvas. This time for good, as Ngannou hit him with one more whack which was a hammer fist from up top.
Ngannou had done it.
From the poverty-stricken town of Batie in Cameroon to tough living conditions in France, the 1.83m-4 powerhouse never wavered from dreaming big.
“It’s amazing,” Ngannou said in a statement sent to Insider. “The feeling of it … it’s just great.
“Imagine something that you’ve been wanting your entire life and struggling to have it. Sometimes I felt like I was drowning and I had to struggle back, but now, here we are. We are here, we got it done. It’s just amazing.
“I think I have to really take the time back to collect my emotion and to really feel it. Right now it is just all over the place. I assume this is going to be the biggest thing.”
Ngannou is the new UFC heavyweight champion
Miocic landed 12 of his 13 strikes in total during the fight and his activity paled in comparison to Ngannou, who hit the former champ 38 times with his 58 strike attempts.
Watch some of the action here:
-UFC (@ufc) March 28, 2021
“It’s not just about the belt, it’s about what it represents,” Ngannou said.
“It’s the principle, it’s the ethic, the dream, the life. It’s about the people that are behind me, the people that have joined me in the dream and my journey, who believed me and put their hands on the dirt to get this done.
“It’s all about it. This is something way beyond me. Even if it wasn’t for the title shot, I would have liked to have a rematch against Stipe.
“I always wanted my title fight to be against him since I lost to him in January 2018. I wanted that revenge and as his resume speaks for itself, he is the greatest of all time, and it is good to make a statement out of that.”
He continued: “Today, this is not just for me. This is for all of us. For people that put their hand on the dirt and believed in this, people from around the world, for my fans, for everyone who believed it, because that’s very important.
“Those people give you the strength when you need it, extra motivation when you’re tired and maybe just want to skip on training or something. You think about that and that gives you motivation to keep going forward.
“I just called my mom, I couldn’t talk to her. I can’t talk to anybody in Cameroon right now. It’s going crazy. It’s amazing.
“It’s a good craziness, it’s for a good reason. Last time it was a bad one, a lot of tears, but now it’s just tears of happiness.”
Victory advanced Ngannou’s pro MMA record to 16 wins (12 knockouts and four submissions) against three losses.