When Francis Ngannou threw a left hook at the vulnerable skull of Alistair Overeem, what happened next was arguably one of the most devastating knock outs the planet had ever seen within the past 365 days. What also happened is Ngannou cashed a check to a high risk, high priced future he may not be able to sustain. A future littered with bad odds, lucky punches, and physical compromise. The heavyweight division, in any fighting league, is long known as the most unforgiving. I wanted Ngannou to lose this match with Overeem simply for this fact alone: A fighter has to learn how to lose before they sustain success.
The UFC Heavyweight division is as entertaining as a Canadian curling match. The roster is filled with deadweights, overweights, and half-injured bodies comprising some semblance of a top 10. Christ, I can’t even tell you with a straight face that the top 15 are even entirely employed by the UFC. Bellator, at this point, has a more attractive Heavyweight setup than the UFC. I digress. Francis Ngannou is now at the top, save for Stipe Miocic when they figure out his contract, and the road from there is only down.
Mixed martial arts has been a long-time love of mine, and the lesser known elements of the game are the realms I find most fascinating. The Heavyweight division of the UFC, although it’s turned into an unpopular freak show, has a potential resurgence to its golden era (circa 2006 Pride FC), with the current Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix, and the ushering out of the old school heavy era. The UFC seems to be behind the times with this, and could possibly become (as Brendan Schaub calls it) a roster of dinosaurs.
The axis of this entire argument that Francis Ngannou’s career will not last past 2018, is simply the record for the most Heavyweight title defenses in the UFC is 3. 3 fng fights. Middleweights can string that many W’s together in their sleep. Phil Davis strung together almost that many W’s in one goddamn night on a Bellator card. The fact that not a one Heavyweight fighter in the UFC can defend the belt more than 3 times, means that either the company has done a s*** job at sustaining the division (i.e. Having heavyweights fight in fng Mexico where they’re gasping for oxygen after going up an escalator), or that throwing limbs and bodies in the Heavyweight division holds the highest risk for an upset victory, or flash KO.
This also makes Fedor Emalianenko’s 2001-2009 run even more impressive, as it was improbable.
Although there is a boat load to takeaway from UFC 219, the most important be the ripple effect Ngannou has stirred with his public execution of Alistair Overeem. Ngannou’s power is undeniably something we haven’t seen since the juiced era of Pride FC, and will most likely become his own worst enemy when someone the likes of Fabricio Werdum takes him to the ground.
Keep an eye on him, for his career will undoubtedly hold the key to the UFC’s popularity in the grand scheme of the heavyweight division. Also, when 2019 hits, and Ngannou is potentially fighting on a UFC Fight Pass Prelim card, you can turn to iamkidfresh.com and say “damn, he was right”.
I, in no way, wish Ngannou to lose or fall to a certain negative circumstance in his career. Even in victory, for most fighters, there is no positive way out, and in a division of 250-pound-plus killers, Ngannou can most definitely serve as a cautionary tale for any heavy weight hoping to contend in mma.