Brutal UFC behemoth at his terrifying best
Francis Ngannou rediscovered his terrifying potential as he bounced back from consecutive losses to pulverise Curtis Blaydes in just 44 seconds at UFC Beijing on Sunday morning (AEDT).
The giant from Cameroon gave the world an indication of his awesome power with wins over Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem in 2017 but before this morning had failed to fire in 2018. He went down to Stipe Miocic in January then lost to Derrick Lewis at UFC 226 in July in a heavyweight fight slammed as one of the worst ever.
But it took less than a minute for Blaydes to feel first hand just what sort of pain Ngannou can inflict when he's in the mood. "Razor" tried to get to his feet and fight back when he was dropped by a heavy right hand after 30 seconds, but Ngannou was all over him.
He landed a dozen more punches in a furious barrage Blaydes couldn't escape from and the referee jumped in to end the contest.
The man who was being talked about as a genuine heavyweight contender after his win against Overeem last December put his finger to his lips as he swaggered around the Octagon.
"It's been a hard time, but listen man, I'm back," Ngannou said in his post-fight interview.
"2018 was a hard year for me. I found myself. I had to settle what wasn't settled yet. I had to grow as a fighter and by the end of the year … I have learned more in this year than I have in my whole career."
The Predator said he wants revenge against Miocic and is also eyeing off a possible future fight with Alexander Volkov.
"I came back tonight to have fun," Ngannou said. "My last fight wasn't that good just because I was too concerned about what's gonna happen. I put a lot of stuff in my mind.
"Then after that, I took the time and think about why I started this sport. Because at the beginning my dream was to become a world class boxer and then I step into MMA. Why did I step into MMA? It was to have fun.
"I came here tonight having fun, so it happened really great, it was fun, which is good."
The co-main event also failed to get into a second round when Overeem took care of Russian Sergey Pavlovich.
Much like Ngannou, the English-born heavyweight who fights out of the Netherlands had lost his past two bouts. But Overeem delivered in Beijing after taking the fight to the ground, leaving his previously undefeated in a hopeless predicament.
Having secured top position, Overeem unloaded with head shot after head shot and left the referee with no option but to save Pavlovich from the savage assault.
Overeem said he's keen for a rematch against Ngannou.
"Tonight was a short night," Overeem said. "I have a lot of respect for Francis Ngannou, but, yes, I'm very ready for a second fight with him.
"I can promise you the second fight will be different from the first fight. I made changes to my camp, I feel very energised, very motivated. The second fight will be different from the first fight, I guarantee that."
MAIN CARD RESULTS
Francis Ngannou defeated Curtis Blaydes via TKO (R1, 0:44)
Alistair Overeem defeated Sergey Pavlovich via TKO (R1, 4:21)
Yadong Song defeated Vince Morales via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)
Li Jingliang defeated David Zawada via TKO (R3, 4:07)
Alex Morono defeated Kenan Song via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)
Wu Yanan defeated Lauren Mueller via submission (armbar, R1, 4:00)
Rashad Coulter defeated Hu Yaozong via unanimous decision (29-28 x 2, 30-27)
Weili Zhang defeated Jessica Aguilar via submission (armbar, R1, 3:41)
Pingyuan Liu defeated Martin Day via split decision (29-28 x 2, 28-29)
Yan Xiaonan defeated Syuri Kondo via unanimous decision (30-27 x 3)
Kevin Holland defeated John Phillips via submission (rear naked choke, R3, 4:05)
Louis Smolka defeated Su Mudaerji via submission (armbar, R2, 2:07)