Coach Fernand Lopez believes Francis Ngannou would be able to defeat the winner of UFC 241’s main event — regardless of who comes out on top.
Daniel Cormier defends his heavyweight title against Stipe Miocic in the main event on Saturday night. Should Miocic win, it would set up an enticing rematch with Ngannou. “The Predator” was the betting favorite heading into his fight with Miocic last year. However, he was completely outclassed and would lose a lopsided decision.
Since then, Ngannou has improved dramatically and is on a current three-fight winning streak, including knockouts of Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos. And if they met now, it would be a very different fight according to Lopez:
“I think it will be different. Stipe is very good at wrestling and boxing, and I think if he’s focused the outcome could be different,” Lopez told MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast. “…I don’t need my fighters to get a loss, but I definitely think the fighters can become mature and to get good. If you look at a study of champions, the champions got good because they know [the feeling] of a loss.
“Having a loss is a lot of learning; you never learn like when you get loss. I think those losses have made Francis completely different.“
There is a potential roadblock to a title shot if Cormier were to retain, and that’s Jon Jones. However, taking him out of the equation, Lopez believes Ngannou is the next contender and would even beat Cormier:
“If we take out the Jon Jones situation, Francis should be fighting for the belt right away,” Lopez added. “And I think no matter [who wins the title fight], no matter if it’s Stipe or ‘DC’, Francis is going to win the fight anyway.”
Ngannou Has Always Been Dangerous
Ngannou’s stock was at an all-time low following his drab decision loss to Derrick Lewis which followed his loss to Miocic. But with his recent winning streak over some huge names, fans are back on the hype train.
For Lopez, he feels people forgot just how dangerous his pupil can be:
“People tend to forget what Francis has done,” he concluded. “He pulled off a huge submission against Anthony [Hamilton] in his second or third UFC fight. People were amazed by how he could do that.
“People tend to forget because a couple of fights later people were talking like he didn’t have a clue about what’s going on the ground. Francis has looked amazing. When you take out the two losses that he had—he wasn’t in here, he wasn’t in a good state of mind—he has always been dangerous.”
Do you think Ngannou beats either Cormier or Miocic?