There aren’t many more intimidating fighters on the planet than Ngannou. As well as owning the record for the hardest recorded punch in history, “The Predator” has left the bodies of Alistair Overeem, Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and Stipe Miocic unconscious on the canvas.
The Cameroonian’s most recent KO, a second-round finish of consensus heavyweight GOAT Miocic, saw him crowned champion for the first time. He defended the belt in January of this year against then-interim titleholder Ciryl Gane, seemingly further establishing himself as the world’s best in the division.
While many will follow that sentiment, one influential figure in the sport of MMA sees things differently.
Sityodtong: Ngannou Is Not A Complete Fighter
Chatri Sityodtong founded Singapore-based promotion ONE Championship in 2011. Since then, the Asian organization has grown into one of the world’s top-10 biggest sports media properties in terms of viewership and engagement, and attracted top names like Demetrious Johnson, Eddie Alvarez, Brandon Vera, and John Lineker.
But while the roster is still developing and the first heavyweight champion was only crowned in 2014, Sityodtong believes the division has already caught up with the UFC‘s heavyweight elite.
When asked about the possibility of Ngannou crossing the world to join Asia’s largest MMA promotion if contract negotiations with the UFC fail, the 51-year-old Thai entrepreneur suggested the move wouldn’t end favorably for “The Predator.”
“I like Francis Ngannou, but I think our heavyweights would smoke him,” Sityodtong told media following ONE X this past Saturday. “He’s just not a complete fighter. For sure, if you ask any expert martial artist, you look at [ONE interim champion] Anatoly Malykhin — Russian national pedigree wrestler, dynamite in his hands. Much faster than Francis, much better ground game, black-belt level.
“He was also a submission champion in Europe. You look at [undisputed champion] Arjan Bhullar, wrestling, boxing. Francis is not very impressive on the ground. He’s got big, looping punches, he’s not as technical of a boxer as Anatoly or even Arjan.” (h/t South China Morning Post)
With ONE looking to continue strengthening its heavyweight roster in the coming months and years, Sityodtong believes there will no longer be a glaring gap in skill between the UFC and ONE’s heaviest group of athletes.
“We have a few other signings in the heavyweight division we haven’t announced yet that are just killers,” Sityodtong claimed. “So I think this year, the last several months especially, we have truly arrived in terms of our heavyweight division being neck and neck with the UFC’s.”
As with the UFC, ONE has recently been in a contractual dispute with its champion. Arjan Bhullar, who went 3-1 in the Dana White-led promotion before joining Sityodtong in Singapore and dethroning long-time king Vera, has been on the sidelines since his crowning last April.
With his absence from the Circle, ONE created an interim title to be fought for by Anatoly Malykhin and Kirill Grishenko. After a brutal KO win, the Russian is expected to meet Bhullar for a unification showdown later this year.
Do you agree with Chatri Sityodtong? Would ONE’s top heavyweights “smoke” Francis Ngannou?