LAS VEGAS — The Francis Ngannou Era has begun, and it’s no shock what got it underway.
Ngannou’s incredible punching power put an end to the reign of the greatest heavyweight in UFC history in emphatic fashion. He landed a massive left hand early in the second round that dropped Miocic.
Miocic was badly hurt, struggled to his feet and was wobbling around. Ngannou dropped him again and then finished the fight with a devastating, scary and unbelievable powerfist from the top.
Miocic was out and Ngannou became the new heavyweight champion at 52 seconds of the second round Saturday in the main event of UFC 260 at Apex.
It was a rematch of a one-sided Miocic win at UFC 220 in Boston in 2018, when Miocic effectively neutralized Ngannou’s power.
It was a different story this time around, though, as a more seasoned and in-shape Ngannou calmly stalked Miocic from the opening bell. Ngannou’s best strikes in the first round were a series of ground shots that got Miocic’s attention, but he didn’t land the kind of blow that’s caused many to believe he’s the hardest-hitter in MMA history.
That changed in the second. Miocic was trying to fight from a distance and keep Ngannou away. But Ngannou, who closed as a -145 favorite at BetMGM, would not be denied.
He showed the added dimension to his game by not rushing or overextending himself, thereby putting himself into position to be taken down. When he didn’t do that, Miocic suddenly had another, bigger problem to solve.
He couldn’t do it.
Ngannou hurts his opponents even when he doesn’t land cleanly; when he connects full-force, as he did on Saturday, it’s a massive problem for the other side.
The fight was essentially over when Ngannou landed the left, because it was clear there would be no time to recover with Ngannou all over him.
The final, emphatic punch from the top opened a new era in the UFC’s heavyweight division, providing it with the charismatic KO artist that has always proven so popular.
Miocic came back after losing the title to Daniel Cormier in 2018, beating Cormier twice to earn the moniker as the UFC’s heavyweight GOAT.
It might be a tougher time to come back if Ngannou fights as poised and as patiently as he did Saturday in winning the belt.
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