2017 has been a lackluster year for the UFC, and that could be attributed to a lack of legitimate stars.
Former women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey isn’t likely to fight again. Lightweight champion Conor McGregor is expected to enter the Octagon again, but he’s spent all of 2017 dealing with Floyd Mayweather, whom he boxed this past August in Las Vegas.
Former longtime welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, on the other hand, will make his long-awaited return at UFC 217 on Nov. 4, but after four years away from the sport, it’s unclear if he still resonates with fans the way he once did.
With that being said, it’s safe to say that the UFC is in search of new stars, and UFC President Dana White has an idea of just who could be the ‘next big thing’:
“I like Francis Ngannou,” White told The TSN MMA Show last week. “I think Francis Ngannou can be the next big thing, literally and figuratively.”
Through five UFC bouts, Ngannou has established himself as a force to be reckoned with, as he’s won all five fights by way of stoppage. Most recently, he bulldozed through former champion Andrei Arlovski, knocking out the “Pitbull” in the first round of their UFC on FOX 23 bout last January.
Now set to face top contender Alistair Overeem at UFC 218 in December, “The Predator” is likely only one win away from a title shot.
Some may argue that the only drawback to Ngannou is the fact that his English is still improving, but White doesn’t see that as an issue:
“When you’re a badass, language has nothing to do with it,” White said of Ngannou. “Look at Anderson Silva. Georges St-Pierre. The list goes on and on. It’s about your performances.
“We think about the talking because (UFC lightweight champion) Conor (McGregor)’s so good. Conor’s a great fighter, and every time he opens his mouth it’s hilarious. But you find those guys once in a blue moon.”
Do you agree with White’s comments?