It was never going to last five rounds.
Whatever about their first meeting, once the door closed on Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou, it was clear the fight would not be going 25 minutes.
When the pair first met in January 2018, Miocic claimed a unanimous decision that went the distance.
At the second time of asking, we saw a much more measured, calm, controlled and patient Francis Ngannou – traits that make him all the more terrifying and traits that have crowned him UFC heavyweight champion on his 13th appearance for the promotion.
The Predator cut a different demeanour in the opening exchanges, finding room to drop Miocic mid-round and unload heavy shots with the seeding champion turtled up.
Stuffing a single leg early on from Miocic, concerns over Ngannou’s wrestling preparation soon faded.
Once the second round opened, the end was in sight.
If it was Miocic’s plan to use his slighter frame as an advantage and tire Ngannou, forcing later rounds, it backfired.
A stiff jab from the challenger put Stipe up against the fence, the flurry that followed seeing Miocic touch Ngannou’s chin – a false hope as his advances forward were met with a devastating short left hook that took the legs away from Cleveland’s finest, and spell the end of his run as heavyweight champion.
What next for Ngannou?
From here, there are three options.
There’s the trilogy fight, which may or may not be contracted.
Derek Lewis is waiting in the wings having notched up a serious run of wins of late. Granted, when the pair last met, it would go down in the records as once of the worst performances at heavyweight from any athlete – for both men – with barely a handful of strikes thrown from either.
The money-fight would be Jon Jones. Still awaiting a heavyweight debut, the man arguably the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, was quite vocal on Twitter across the fight.
If he were to stop Ngannou in his tracks after his performance at UFC 260, there may be no arguing left to do.e
Elsewhere at UFC 260
The night’s co-main event would become one to forget for former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.
Starting significantly better than he has any his last three fights, Woodley showed signs of the champion of old, alas the 38-year-old may be having a different kind of conversation with the UFC this week.
With both men exploding mid-round one, Woodley would come out the worse of the exchanges, Luque dropping the former champ and finishing with a D’arce choke, leaving Woodley no option but to tap with his back curled against the fence.
The only consolation is the 50k Fight of the Night bonus that comes with defeat.
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Elsewhere, Sean O’Malley left a golden opportunity to finish Thomas Almeida in the first round on the table but claimed a highlight third-round finish to move to 13-1.
Check out the full results below.
UFC 260 Results
- Francis Ngannou def. Stipe Miocic via KO (0:52 R2)
- Vincente Luque def. Tyron Woodley via submission (3:56, R1)
- Sean O’Malley def. Thomas Almeida via KO (3:52 R3)
- Miranda Maverick def. Gillian Robertson via UD (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Jamie Mullarkey def. Khama Worthy via KO (0:46 R1)
- Alonzo Menifield def. Fabio Cherant via submission (1:11 R1)
- Abubakar Nurmagomedov def. Jared Gooden via UD (30-27 x3)
- Michael Oleksiejczuk def. Modestas Bukauskus via SD (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
- Omar Morales def. Shane Young via UD (30-27 x3)
- Marc-Andre Barriault def. Abu Azaitar via TKO (4:56 R3)
Watch: UFC 260 Post-fight Press Conference