Francis Ngannou is understandably calling for a title shot, after quickly putting away Junior dos Santos at UFC Minneapolis. But, following last night’s win, Dana White stopped short of guaranteeing the heavyweight slugger another crack at the belt.
Ngannou floored dos Santos not long into their headlining fight Saturday, and then finished the deal with follow-up punches. The fight lasted just 71 seconds, but it was longer than Ngannou’s 26 second, stoppage win over Cain Velasquez in February, and his 45 second, finish of Curtis Blaydes in November.
Well, due to this awe-inspiring run, Ngannou called for another title shot following his win. But, when White was asked about Ngannou’s title shot aspirations after the card, the UFC President said this (quotes via MMA Junkie):
“This fight has to play out first,” White said, while referring to the upcoming, August 17th bout between champion Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic. “Stipe and Cormier has to play out. … Who wins, how they come out of that fight, what does Cormier want to do next if he wins.”
“There’s a lot of things that play into what’s next. It’s not as easy as, ‘Oh, I won tonight, and I’m next for the fight.’ And we know this. I go through this every single time there’s a fight.”
Ngannou and his supporters probably won’t care for these comments, as “The Predator” certainly has put together a very strong case for a title shot. But, when you consider the various circumstances here, it shouldn’t be surprising White didn’t make a commitment.
For example, if Miocic wins at UFC 241, might the UFC explore having a rubber match? If it’s a thrilling, competitive bout, maybe. Or, what if Cormier wins and the UFC can in fact, convince/entice Jon Jones to face him at heavyweight? Then the UFC might call on Ngannou to fight in the interim. Then, there’s also the possibility of injuries, whereby, the champ can’t fight for some time after UFC 241. In that scenario, the UFC could also call on Ngannou to fight in the meantime. In this age of the UFC, where they hold so many events, they need big name fighters to headline cards.
At the end of the day, however, the odds that Ngannou will get his wish seems pretty solid. If you look at the top five rankings for the heavyweight division, no one has a stronger case right for a title shot than Ngannou. Cormier – Ngannou would sell, very, very, well, and while Miocic – Ngannou II wouldn’t have as much buzz, it wouldn’t flop either.