Francis Ngannou has a message for everyone: “I’m back.”
Ngannou, who suffered back-to-back losses to Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis at UFC 220 and UFC 226, respectively, now has strung together two consecutive wins after defeating MMA legend Cain Velasquez in just 26 seconds Sunday night in ESPN’s “UFC Fight Night” main event.
Ngannou floored Velasquez when the latter’s knee buckled early in the first round. Velasquez, widely considered one of the greatest heavyweights of all-time, couldn’t recover as The Predator started dropping haymakers on the grounded former champion.
For Velasquez, this obviously was a disappointing showing. The 36-year-old hadn’t fought since defeating Travis Browne at UFC 200 in July 2016, but this marked a huge opportunity on ESPN’s first live UFC event for Velasquez to prove he’s still a force. It didn’t go according to plan.
Instead, it was Ngannou who thrust himself back into title contention. The chiseled 32-year-old was criticized following his lackluster losses to Miocic and Lewis last year, but a first-round knockout of Curtis Blaydes in November and Sunday’s dominance of Velasquez have offered serious reminders of his potential in UFC’s heavyweight division.