Francis Ngannou has been known almost exclusively as a knockout artist throughout his UFC career. In fact, he has been so dominant in the task of knocking people out that many people assume that he has not made any advancements in his game or patched up any holes that have revealed themselves in the past.
Stipe Miocic’s recipe for stopping The Predator at UFC 220 three years ago included one pronounced main ingredient: wrestling. Ngannou clearly had no answer for Miocic’s wrestling edge over him. After being outwrestled en route to a shutout loss to Miocic, it was clear that Ngannou had to address this issue before ever facing Miocic again in the future. Three years later and Ngannou’s head coach Eric Nicksick is confident that’s exactly what has happened and then some.
“We had to implement [wrestling] in every practice that we do,” Nicksick revealed to MMA Fighting this week. “So it’s not like one practice you’re sparring or hitting pads. It’s MMA. So every practice you have to focus on defending a takedown. Furthermore, you have to focus on taking guys down yourself. You have to have offensive wrestling just as important as your defensive wrestling.
“Those are some of the things, as scary as it sounds, this dude is blowing through guys on takedowns, putting guys on their backs and beating them up from the top. This guy is now enjoying the elements of wrestling offensively and defensively and understanding there is another path he can find a victory and not shy away from wrestling. You need to implement it one way or another.”
In addition to the wrestling issue, Ngannou’s coach also stated in this interview that cardio improvement has been another major focal point throughout this training camp. Overall, Ngannou is just a different fighter now than he was three years ago. But the question remains: will that be enough for him to uncrown Stipe Miocic at UFC 260?
Do you believe Francis Ngannou has made enough improvements behind the scenes to defeat Stipe Miocic in the rematch?