UFC president Dana White thinks Francis Ngannou is the next big thing at heavyweight. With the possibility to be even more than that.
White showered praise on Ngannou Friday during an interview with FS1 backstage reporter Megan Olivi at UFC on FOX 23 weigh-ins in Denver. The UFC boss sees the heavyweight from France being a future titleholder. Ngannou fights Andrei Arlovski on Saturday night.
“‘The Pitbull’ has been around a long time,” White told Olivi. “Obviously, Arlovski is a legend in this sport, a legend in the heavyweight division. Francis Ngannou will be. I believe that this guy has the potential to become the heavyweight champion of the world. I also believe he has the potential to hold that title for a very long time.”
Ngannou, 30, is a perfect 4-0 in the UFC with all four victories coming via finish. In his last fight, Ngannou (9-1) beat Anthony Hamilton by first-round submission with a surprising kimura, showing he is multi-dimensional. The 6-foot-4 son of immigrants from Cameroon has massive power in both hands and solid boxing technique, to boot.
Arlovski, 37, is a significant underdog in the bout despite his vaunted history in MMA. The Belarus native is a former UFC heavyweight champion with wins over the likes of Fabricio Werdum, Tim Sylvia and Frank Mir on his record. Arlovski (25-13) comes in on a three-fight losing skid, though.
Based on sheer size and looks alone, White is very intrigued by Ngannou and where he is heading in the future. White seems to have big plans for him.
“I don’t know if in the history of the UFC we’ve ever had a heavyweight champion like Ngannou who actually looks like [that],” White said. “If you put this guy Ngannou next to — put him side to side with NFL players. Put him side by side with the heavyweight boxing champions throughout history. This is a massive, massive guy.”