Freak accident or lethal punches. Either way it’s sliced, a 26-second technical knockout win over one of the greatest heavyweights in MMA history is massive for one’s career.
Francis Ngannou did just that to Cain Velasquez in the main event of UFC on ESPN 1 at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Ariz., Sunday night and now the Cameroonian-born Frenchman wants a crack at the promotion’s heavyweight title.
“I think what is next for me is a title shot,” Ngannou told the assembled media at the post-fight press conference. “After tonight I think I deserve a title shot.”
Before “The Predator” was able to speak more deeply about his looming chance at UFC gold, he was asked repeatedly about whether his win was legitimate or not because of how Velasquez injured his knee during the battle. Replays didn’t show anything clean or powerful landing from Ngannou before the former champion crumbled, but one thing is certain; Ngannou made sure Velasquez never got back to his feet.
“The knee buckled after I hit him on his chin,” he said. “That might be why his knee buckled.
“I couldn’t feel it [the uppercut] because I threw a bunch of punches and some didn’t touch him. But when he fell, I started hitting him before the referee stopped the fight. When that uppercut connected, he fell and I think that is when he hurt his knee.”
Either way, Velasquez was vanquished in just 26 seconds and all Ngannou can think about is an opportunity to achieve his dream of becoming the UFC’s heavyweight champion. After losing back-to-back fights to Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis, the France resident said he’s learned enough and is more than ready for the belt. Whether current titleholder Daniel Cormier fights someone else next is irrelevant and, according to Ngannou, he has no interest in fighting anybody else in the meantime.
“I’m now focused on the title shot,” he declared with a huge smile on his face. “I can’t answer if Daniel fights someone else. I only want a title shot. I want the title first. I always said I wanted a rematch with Stipe, but right now I only want the title shot.”
If Ngannou does sit on the sidelines until his next fight is for the title and if Cormier does defend his strap against rival Jon Jones or former UFC champ and current WWE king Brock Lesnar, “The Predator” may be idle for a lot longer than he would like. Only time will tell.