Off the back of his championship-clinching effort against Stipe Miocic at UFC 260 in March, Francis Ngannou returned to his native Cameroon for the first time since his title coronation — greeted by a massive welcome from his hometown following.

Headlining the UFC Apex facility pay-per-view event from Las Vegas, Nevada — Ngannou rematched Miocic, taking the gold with a huge second round knockout, avenging a one-sided unanimous decision loss to the Ohio native at UFC 220 back in January of 2018. 

Travelling to the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida last weekend for UFC 261, Ngannou featured in the corner of reigning welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman — watching on as the Auchi native finished two-time opponent, Jorge Masvidal with a stunning second round knockout. 

Waving through the streets of Douala in Cameroon in the bed of a vehicle, Ngannou was greeted by thousands of fans who lined the streets, as well as his mother as part of the parade ceremony.

Whilst fans clamor for a first heavyweight title defence for Ngannou against former two-time light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, it appears Ngannou’s past opponent, Derrick Lewis is the frontrunner to re-run his battle with the defending champion instead.

UFC president, Dana White claimed prior to the UFC 261 last weekend that Jones has asked for a “guaranteed” purse of $30 million, which Jones has denied — asking if somebody had been speaking with the promotion on his behalf.

In an official statement released, First Round Management announced that they had “amicably parted ways” with Jones following an eleven-year partnership as his representatives, with Malki Kawa detailing that Jones had been handling negotiations for a matchup against Ngannou himself — and that if the long-awaited bout failed to materialise, he couldn’t be blamed. 

Riding a notable four-fight winning spree, Lewis scored the most knockout wins in promotional history with an August knockout win over Aleksei Oleinik, before earning his number-two rank in the division with a huge second round stoppage over the then-streaking, Curtis Blaydes. 

Aspiring mixed martial arts reporter based in Ireland. Follow along at @Ross_Markey on Twitter for all the latest news, fight announcements, opinion, and feature pieces.