Francis Ngannou Realistic About Standing in Heavyweight Division After UFC Beijing Win


went from being “The Next Big Thing” in the UFC to
being labeled a bust in just a few short fights.

On Saturday at UFC
Fight Night 141
, “The Predator” took some steps to regain some
of the luster he lost in forgettable performances against Stipe
and Derrick
earlier this year. Ngannou returned to his previous
headhunting form at Cadillac Arena in Beijing, where he stopped the
surging Curtis
in just 45 seconds.

Ngannou’s mentality was questioned after back-to-back bouts in
which he looked nothing like the finishing machine he appeared to
be during a six-fight winning streak to begin his UFC tenure.
Ngannou’s performance against Lewis was especially troubling, as he
looked tentative to pull the trigger on the heels of his first
promotional defeat.

That was not an issue in Beijing.

“I came back tonight to have fun,” Ngannou said at Saturday’s
post-fight press conference. “My last fight wasn’t that good, just
because I was too concerned about what’s going to happen. I put a
lot of stuff in my mind. Then, after that, I took time and thought
about why I started this sport. Because, at the beginning, my dream
was to become a world-class boxer.

“And then I stepped into MMA. And why did I step into MMA, it was
to have fun. I had to kind of remind myself what was the purpose,
what was the goal – first of all, have fun. Then I came here
tonight about having fun. It happened really great, which is good.
I didn’t get any damage, so I’m ready to go.”

Ngannou has learned from past experience, and he claims that he
won’t become complacent following a dominant knockout victory. In
the past, he may have fallen into the trap of thinking victory
would always come so easily.

“I think the motivation came from many things. When you have a win
like this it’s good,” Ngannou said. “But it’s kind of tricky
sometimes. You think it’s very easy…but you realize you get this
opponent where you realize it’s not that easy.”

Ngannou realizes he still has work to do to erase the memory of his
past defeats. So when asked if he’d like a shot at the heavyweight
title next, the Cameroonian-born Frenchman offered a realistic
perspective. Instead, he’s aiming for a shot at the man he
previously held the belt.

“Right now, [Cormier] is the champ of the division,” Ngannou said.
“And then, for my last few fights, I didn’t do great. So I don’t
think I’m going to have a chance now. So, [between these] two
fighters, I’ll take the one that I can have – [it] would be

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