Francis Ngannou’s Pursuit of HW GOAT Status (2019)

    Since the following editorial was published in 2019, Francis Ngannou has added two more notable KOs to his résumé: first over experienced kickboxer Jairzinho Rozenstruik in May 2020 and then of course over Stipe Miocic to win the UFC championship in 2021. Tonight, he will have an opportunity to add yet another name to his impressive résumé: the undefeated technician Ciryl Gane.

    The following editorial is brought to you in its original, unaltered format, courtesy of The MMA News Archives.

    [ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JUNE 30, 2019, 11:00 AM]

    OK, it’s time to have a talk about Francis Ngannou.

    Last night in the main event of UFC Minneapolis, Francis Ngannou did it again. He knocked out an elite heavyweight in the very first round without breaking a sweat. In the aftermath, fans, commentators, and media members sang the same refrains: rhetorically asking how scary Ngannou is or directly proclaiming him as one of the scariest people on the planet. The latter is particularly some heavy praise, yet somehow it is still selling Ngannou and his accomplishments short.

    I encountered a “scary” statistic following the close of UFC Minneapolis: four minutes and four seconds. That’s the total fight time for Ngannou’s victories over Cain Velasquez, Curtis Blaydes (rematch), Junior dos Santos, and Alistair Overeem. Francis Ngannou has only been dropped one time in his UFC career, and that was by a leg kick last night. He also has 10 knockouts and counting in his career 17-fight career. That’s beyond scary. It’s greatness. Let’s call it what it is.

    The term “scary” needs
    to be replaced with “great” or, better yet, a perfect hybrid between
    the two: “dominant.” Because we’re at a point where we can’t go on
    billing this guy as this special attraction. We need to consider him one of the
    greatest heavyweights of all time.

    I get it. That’s going to make a
    lot of people cringe. He’s not the most beloved nor is he well-rounded, but the
    facts don’t lie. The man’s overall UFC résumé, including caliber of opponents,
    methods of victories, and fight time is arguably already better than anyone
    else’s, but I understand that a world title is needed to be in the conversation
    of GOATs in your division.

    Well, I’ve got news for you. If
    Francis Ngannou defeats either Stipe Miocic (Getting his loss back against a
    man many consider the HW GOAT) or Daniel Cormier (A man whom many have in their
    overall GOAT conversations), then based strictly on résumé,
    which is generally how the public judges GOAT talks, then he would be the
    greatest UFC heavyweight of all time based on those metrics.

    If you just look at the data
    objectively, it wouldn’t even really be close. Some will point to the Derrick
    Lewis performance/loss. But in no way does that overshadow all that Ngannou has
    done as is, let alone if he defeats Miocic or Cormier. Just Wiki this man’s résumé
    of opponents, methods of victory, and fight time, then replace “Francis
    Ngannou” with the name “Cain Velasquez” or “Stipe Miocic,”
    and there would be virtually no push back on where this guy stands.

    Lastly, even if we are to fuse
    “greatest fighter” and “best fighter” and just look at his
    skill set, if I pick up a controller and start playing Mortal Kombat, and I
    keep doing the same exact maneuver over and over, consistently beating the best
    players around the world in seconds and with a full energy bar remaining each
    time, then sorry, I’m an elite player of that game, whether or not I have a
    wide arsenal of moves. And if I were to make it to #1 in the world after doing
    that, then I’d challenge you to name a better player than me who ever lived.

    Well, if Francis Ngannou defeats either Stipe Miocic or Daniel Cormier to become #1, that’s the exact challenge I will make to people on his behalf when running down the list of heavyweight GOATs. Francis Ngannou is indeed scary. This narrative attached to him is true. But it’s also limiting. His defensive footwork is beyond scary. His distance control is beyond scary. His counterstriking timing is beyond scary. His accuracy is beyond scary. The man isn’t just power. He’s a lethal striker, an athlete, and a man who deserves the respect based on objective facts and merit as a man who is a championship win away from being the greatest UFC heavyweight of all time.

    And the truth is, that scares a
    lot of people.

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