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Francis Ngannou stakes his claim to the next shot at UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Francis Ngannou is calling his shot.

The ferocious knockout artist, who has demolished his past three opponents in a row including a pair of former champions in Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos, believes he should be next in line to compete for the heavyweight title no matter what Daniel Cormier decides to do with his career.

At UFC 241, Stipe Miocic reclaimed the heavyweight title with a stunning fourth-round comeback victory to finish Cormier to become a two-time champion. Following the loss, Cormier was hesitant to address his future after hinting at retirement prior to the fight but not allowing an emotionally charged situation get the better of him that night.

UFC president Dana White has said if Cormier wants to fight again, he would be open to the idea of making a trilogy against Miocic after the two heavyweights split their first two fights.

Ngannou has no problem if Cormier wants to keep fighting, and he’s even on board for a trilogy with Miocic — as long as it comes after he gets his shot at the heavyweight title.

“My concern is not about Daniel Cormier having a trilogy,” Ngannou said when speaking to MMA Fighting. “They can have a trilogy or a four-ogy or a five-ogy, whatever they want to. My concern is just about my turn, about my title fight. I can fight Stipe and then the fight after [can be the trilogy] I don’t have no problem with that. My only problem is me fighting for the title. I deserve it.

“I deserve it based on my last three performances. I’m just expecting the title shot. Then whatever happens between DC and Stipe, if they decide to solve it, I don’t have a problem with that. I will be excited to see that trilogy but right now I have to fight for the title, which makes sense.”

For his part, Ngannou really enjoyed the rematch between Miocic and Cormier, which he believed showed the best of the heavyweight division.

“I was very impressed. I did not expect that fight to go that way,” Ngannou said. “That impressed me, both of them. That was a very, very good fight. It was very exciting to watch. As I said, it made me proud of my division because you feel like you are really challenging people. The challenge is high so it makes you more excited.

“I knew everything could happen at any moment. Even though they were pushing each other, this is heavyweight and anything can happen at any moment. Something like that we expect. Actually when [Stipe] started setting up the uppercut to the body, I felt like something was going to happen. DC was feeling it. He was hurt. It’s breaking him down.”

Obviously, Ngannou has past experience with Miocic after losing a five-round unanimous decision to him at the start of 2018. It was a lopsided performance in favor of the Ohio native, who employed a conditioning heavy strategy combined with a slew of takedowns that prevented the heavy-handed Ngannou from inflicting any blunt force trauma.

It was a huge lesson learned for Ngannou, who learned a valuable lesson that night, which only fires him up for a potential rematch against Miocic that much more.

“The biggest difference now is that I have increased my experience and I understand more about the fighting game. My biggest change would be not to underestimate Stipe as I did before,” Ngannou said. “The difference would be how to prepare to fight and then how to [condition] my body in training camp as a challenger. How to set up everything compared to the first time.

“Once again, the first time was a mess. I didn’t know what I was doing there. It helped me to understand a lot of things. It helped me to learn. It helped to understand a lot of things. To know how things work.”

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