Francis Ngannou entered the Octagon on Saturday following a meteoric rise and growing reputation as the scariest fighter in the UFC. But when all was said and done at UFC 220 in Boston, heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic was more than happy to settle for being "the baddest man on the planet."
Miocic, who was the betting underdog coming into the fight, weathered a dangerous storm of power punches in the opening frame to score a dominant unanimous decision (50-44 on all three scorecards) after sweeping the final four rounds against his exhausted opponent.
"I'm not the scariest but I'm the baddest," Miocic said. "He was hard as s---. He caught me in the first round, it was my own fault but I took control."
Miocic (18-2) set a UFC record with his third heavyweight title defense and did so by exposing the one-dimensional Ngannou (11-2) for his inexperience, particularly on the ground.
Even though Miocic, 35, could barely form words during his post-fight interview due to how tired he was, it didn't match the exhaustion he forced Ngannou into beginning with the close of Round 1.
Ngannou, 31, a native of Cameroon, saw his fast-track to a title shot (just 46 days after his knockout of the year against Alistair Overeem in December) come to a disappointing end. But it certainly wasn't without fireworks due to just how savage the one dimension Ngannou holds.
By using his reach advantage and power in both hands, Ngannou landed stiff jabs and right uppercuts to leave Miocic's left eye swollen, but the champion showed tremendous grit to stand his ground.
Over the second half of the opening round, Miocic righted the ship by digging in with accurate counter right hands, one which staggered the challenger. Miocic closed the round with a big takedown at the horn.
"There was danger, look at how big he is," Miocic said. "Look at how big he is. He's a tough dude."
Ngannou was a different fighter to open Round 2 and had almost nothing on his punches. Save for a right hand he loaded up on in Round 3 that briefly staggered Miocic, the final four rounds were completely one-sided.
After absorbing the right hand, Miocic instantly secured a takedown to allow him time to recover. It was the champion's wrestling that proved to be the difference late as he leaned on Ngannou, who showed almost remedial abilities to work off his back, and wore him down with hammer shots.
"Nothing [surprised me], everything that was supposed to happen [happened] except for me getting hit by those meat hooks a couple of times," Miocic said. "It definitely didn't feel good, but I was alright. I'll get back to the drawing board and get better."
When it comes to Miocic's future, the only remaining glamour fight in the thin heavyweight division is a showdown with former champion Cain Velasquez, who continues to recover from injury. There is also the possibility of 205-pound champion Daniel Cormier, whoin the co-main event, moving back up in weight.
Miocic wasn't willing to entertain any names after 25 minutes of fighting against Ngannou and had much more personal matters to attend to.
"This don't mean s---. I'm going to be a dad and that's all that matters right now," Miocic said. "I'm going to have a baby! Hell yeah!"
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