At UFC 218, Francis Ngannou’s MMA skills were put to the test. Ngannou not only passed, but he did so with flying colours, putting the world on notice with his unworldly power. Now, on Saturday at UFC 220, Ngannou will not only be facing a challenge inside the Octagon but also outside of it.
Much like Brock Lesnar, Francis Ngannou has been promoted as a once in a lifetime athlete by the UFC. At six-foot four, two-hundred and sixty-two pounds of pure muscle, he most certainly qualifies as an athletic freak. However, it does not stop there. Ngannou also has the world record for punching power, which was on full display in his last fight when he viciously knocked out the heavyweight legend, Alistair Overeem.
All the momentum and all the attributes possessed by Francis Ngannou suggest he is going to be a huge superstar for the UFC. It is very reminiscent of the aura Brock possessed during his rise to becoming heavyweight champion. And just like Brock, UFC will be hoping Ngannou can become their new meal ticket, drawing big pay-per-view numbers anytime, anywhere.
In Ngannou’s last fight, he was the co-main event of the pay-per-view. However, this Saturday, he will be the main event. Also, aside from the heavyweight title fight, there is no other big fight taking place at UFC 220. For the first time in his career, Ngannou is now being tasked with bringing in PPV buys. He is being touted as the next big thing, and as the next big thing, he not only has to win but he has to move the ‘needle’.
A Wrench in The Works: Bellator 192
While it is unclear if Ngannou’s appeal has crossed over to the mainstream audience, Bellator has now come along to try and spoil the coming out party of the UFC’s new golden boy. The same night UFC’s heavyweight title is on the line, Bellator has a stacked card taking place.
Now if this were a battle of PPV’s, it would be no contest. UFC is known the world over; however, Bellator 192 is being shown on free television. Not only that, but the main event is between two proven draws, Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson. Also, in the co-main, it features former top UFC welterweight Rory Macdonald.
While Rampage and Chael may not be the same fighters we saw in the UFC, they are still capable of competing at a fairly high-level. They have also proven that when it comes to television ratings, they are still big draws. Chael’s fight with Tito Ortiz drew almost two million viewers, while Jackson’s last fight did well over a million.
Without spending a penny, fans can tune into some big fights featuring plenty of big names on Saturday night. This is not only concerning for the UFC but also for Ngannou.
Ngannou is not only tasked with dethroning a man on the verge of becoming the most successful UFC heavyweight champion in history, Stipe Miocic. But now the question is being asked, “Is Francis Ngannou the draw UFC wants him to be?”
It’s clear, UFC does not just want one big PPV number from Ngannou – they will be hoping this is the start of something special. But a loss to Stipe, and also a star-studded Bellator event may stop the Ngannou train before it even has a chance to start.