Francis Ngannou may be only a fight away from another title shot after back-to-back finishes over Curtis Blaydes and Cain Velasquez. The former heavyweight title challenger now has his sights set on former champ Junior dos Santos, whom he’ll face on July 6 at UFC 239.
After Ngannou’s impressive 26-second stoppage over Velasquez, the 32-year-old was confident he would be next in line for a shot at Daniel Cormier’s heavyweight belt. However, with “DC” expected to fight WWE superstar Brock Lesnar for the title later this year, the UFC has decided to pair “The Predator” against the dos Santos with the winner very likely to fight for the title next.
At the UFC seasonal press conference held last week, Ngannou said he was surprised to learn that he wouldn’t be fighting for the title, although he’s more than happy to be sharing the Octagon with dos Santos (via MMA Junkie):
“After the last fight I thought I would get the title fight back, but it didn’t happen, I don’t know why” Ngannou said. “I’m so happy to have the fight against Junior. He don’t have the belt, but we all know he’s a champion. We have seen him since he comes back, he looks like a champ.”
Ngannou claimed a win over his Brazilian counterpart will guarantee him the next title fight even if it’s after a fight between “DC” and Lesnar. “I think after this there will be no issues with the belt,” he said. “It’s the only thing that makes sense.”
“Cigano” is on the comeback trail himself since losing his heavyweight belt to Stipe Miocic by TKO at UFC 211 in May 2017. Since then, the 35-year-old Brazilian has beaten the likes of Blagoy Ivanov, Tai Tuivasa and most recently Derrick Lewis to propel himself back into title contention.