Just over three years after he fell short in his first bid to win the heavyweight title from Miocic, the 6-foot-4 human wrecking machine finally exacted revenge with a vicious second-round knockout Saturday at UFC APEX in Las Vegas. Ngannou showed drastic improvements from the initial meeting with better takedown defense and, just as importantly, the patience it took to set up his strikes before finding the opening to put Miocic away.
“The goal, the game plan was to be relaxed, not to rush at all, calm down,” Ngannou revealed when speaking at the UFC 260 post-fight press conference. “Because my team they know that’s the moment that I have the best of myself when I’m relaxed. I’m not rushing to cut [off] someone’s head.”
Considering the emphatic finish in his rematch with Miocic, Ngannou put the first UFC loss of his career behind him by evening the score with his knockout victory.
Ngannou and Miocic are tied now at one win apiece, although the new heavyweight king isn’t really sold that a third fight needs to happen — although he’s not opposed to the idea either.
“Personally, no, I don’t feel I need [to fight Stipe again],” Ngannou said. “He said I won’t be a champion until he’s retired so maybe he’ll retire but if not, I’ll still be down to fight him. I have a loss against him and his time as the greatest heavyweight of all time. He makes sense for me to fight if needed.”
Following the fight, Miocic was transported to a local Las Vegas hospital for precautionary reasons and given the violent nature of the finish, it’s likely he’ll need some time off to recover regardless of a potential trilogy.
As for Ngannou, he knew going into the fight with Miocic at UFC 260 that a win would likely put him on a path towards a showdown against former light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who was previously declared the No. 1 contender in the division.
Jones has been preparing for a move to heavyweight for several months and despite an ongoing war of words with UFC President Dana White over his financial demands to make the fight happen, Ngannou certainly hopes that is what awaits him next.
“Well, I think Jon Jones makes more sense for me but either way, I’m going to fight,” Ngannou said. “If Jon Jones doesn’t come to heavyweight, the division has to move. As the new heavyweight champion, I decided to move on, put more activity in the division than [Stipe] has been in the past two or three years.
“I might be the champ but I don’t make the call. I’m just a fighter. So the UFC decides what really happens. But for what I want or what I like, yes, I would like that [fight with Jon Jones].”
More than anything, Ngannou wants to be an active champion, which was one of his biggest complaints when Miocic held the title because he only fought twice in the past two years.
That kept Ngannou sidelined while trying to earn his way to a rematch and he hopes to change the course of the heavyweight division now that he’s on top.
“I never ask less, I always asked to be active,” Ngannou said. “I hope with the belt now, I’m going to be more active. I’m going to be able to do two or three fights per year so that’s my intention moving forward.”
There’s no timetable for his return just yet, but Ngannou already has an idea about when he’d like to fight again as he plans to become a defending UFC champion.
“I’m definitely going to take some time off,” Ngannou said. “Knowing that I’ve been in a very long training camp, I was very exhausted at some point. But I would like to fight as soon as possible. So I’ll be ready by summer, July or August, I think.”