After dominating Ngannou (15-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) to a lopsided unanimous decision at UFC 220 in January 2018, Miocic (20-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) will put his title up for grabs again in the main event of the March 27 card, which is likely to take place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas and air on pay-per-view following prelims expected on ESPN and ESPN+.
Since losing the initial meeting, Ngannou has put together a 4-1 record. All four of those victories have come in consecutive fashion, with “The Predator” putting away all his opponents by first-round knockout in a combined 2:42 of cage time.
Miocic, for his part, has spent the last three-plus years engaging in a trilogy with Daniel Cormier. He won the deciding bout at UFC 252 in August, and now he turns his focus back to Ngannou, who he doesn’t think he come far enough to beat him.
“Francis is a super tough guy,” Miocic said on the “Oral Sessions” podcast with Renee Paquette. “He’s been knocking everyone out again and he’s on a tear, and unfortunately he’s going to have to fight me again. That’s the bad part. He’s definitely gotten better, but so have I.
“I know I’m getting old, but I’ve gotten wiser and I’ve got a few new tricks up my sleeve. (They say) you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, which is a lie. I’ve learned a lot since the last couple years ago. It’s the same outcome. I’m going to walk out with the belt around my waist: and still.”
After storming up the heavyweight ranks to get his first title shot, Ngannou found someone who could hold up to his power when he challenged Miocic at UFC 220. The African contender connected with some big shots in the opening round, but Miocic survived and as the rounds wore on, he used clinch work, takedowns and ground control to dominate to unanimous 50-44 scorecards.
Miocic is even more aware of what to look out for in the rematch, he said, and sees a key advantage in his favor.
“Timing and speed,” Miocic said. “Really just speed. It’s all about speed. Speed kills, and that’s something we’ve really worked on the last couple camps fighting ‘DC.’”
If Miocic does get past Ngannou again at UFC 260, all signs point to the most significant fight of his career waiting in the wings. Former longtime UFC light heavyweight Jon Jones has committed to a move up to the heavyweight division, and it appears likely he’s going to get an immediate title shot.
Miocic said he’s gathered the same information that Jones is on deck, but knows it would be foolish to shift any focus off his rematch with Ngannou.
“I heard that too, (about Jones),” Miocic said. “I’ll fight anyone. For now, though, the task at hand, the only thing I’m thinking about, is Francis.”