A heavyweight rematch with potentially massive implications for the division’s title picture has been confirmed as the UFC Beijing headliner.
It’s crazy how much can change over the course of a rough few months.
If you think back to the buildup to January’s UFC 220, there was a genuine fear in the heart of every Stipe Miocic fan that the young, powerful heavyweight force of nature that was Francis Ngannou was going to put a brutal end to the then-champ’s reign atop the division.
And it was a fully warranted fear to have. Ngannou had looked nothing short of astonishing during his run at the title up until that point. In a division where fresh blood was needed, he seemed like the perfect man to give things the shake-up they so desperately craved.
Jump forward to the present day, of course, and we find the former title-challenger in a very different place.
You could see that the UFC were well and truly (but secretly) hoping for the marketable young powerhouse that is ‘The Predator’ to get the job done at UFC 220, but alas, the experience and well-roundedness of the champion prevailed and now Francis has lost some serious credibility as a threat.
He has officially been paired up with an old foe for a matchup that will no doubt single out one as the divisional top-contender.
In Curtis Blaydes, you have another member of the next generation of rising heavyweight talents – with his only blemish in the UFC coming against Ngannou back in 2016.
Francis won by second-round doctor’s stoppage that time around but make no mistake, Curtis is definitely a much-improved fighter, having taken out the likes of Mark Hunt and the aforementioned Overeem in the time since.
— UFC_Asia (@UFC_Asia) August 27, 2018
So much will rest on the mental strength of ‘The Predator’ because in the man he will share the octagon with on November 24, we’re looking at someone who many have pegged as a future champion.
Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena