UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, widely regarded as the greatest UFC heavyweight champion of all-time, is scheduled to take on Francis “The Predator” Ngannou in rematch on Saturday, March 27, 2021 in the main event at UFC 260. With few fighters in UFC history having enjoyed the same level of promotional backing as Ngannou prior to their original contest at UFC 220 where Francis fell to the UFC heavyweight champion by 5-round unanimous decision; the pressure is no doubt on Ngannou to perform and live up to the once lofty expectations the promotion had for him originally. After an impressive run back through the heavyweight division with four straight TKO/KOs in order to climb his way back into championship contention, Ngannou looks for a chance at redemption at UFC 260 in order to set the wrong things right.
“I read something as early as today and it just, it was just a red flag for me, right. Am I splitting hairs here?” asked ESPN MMA analyst Chael Sonnen in his March 18, 2021 YouTube video titled, “Ngannou vs Miocic, what changes this time around?”
“Yeah, for sure,” said Sonnen in replying to himself. “I fully admit that I’m making a little something out of very little information, but it came out that Francis is going to put Usman in his corner,” explained Sonnen. The current UFC 170-pound welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman shares a unique bond with Ngannou due to their shared African ancestry and heritage.
“Now, if that were a countryman or a brethren or a friend, I’m not even talking to you guys about it. But they went a little bit further and they said they’re going to put Usman in the corner to help with the wrestling,” explained Sonnen.
“Now, that was a red flag. If that is just talk, fine. But if that is a reality or one that they hope to make a reality I would have follow up questions such as, ‘When were you guys ever in the room training together?’” asked Sonnen.
“Because it’s been documented that Francis is in Las Vegas and it has been documented that Usman trained in Colorado. So, if you two weren’t in the room together to have a level of communication together in a fight that’s already happened once and wrestling was the key component, which would make Usman, if he’s the new wrestling guy a key cornerman,” reasoned Sonnen.
“I would also wonder if so little has been done in the wrestling department over the last three years," Sonnen continued. "If so little has been done and such a lack of understanding exists that you believe just having a good eye on the match could impact it, it’s a very big red flag for me.”
“That would show such a lack of understanding, respect and appreciation for the sport of wrestling. It just simply doesn’t work that way,” explained Sonnen.
“You could have the greatest mind that you wanted to, if he’s yelling instruction to you and you do not physically have the capability, the balance, the timing, the endurance, the lactic acid and most over the muscle memory to do it - it wouldn’t make any bit of difference,” warned Sonnen.
“And I don’t know if that is unique to wrestling, I think that would be true in any element of fight. I don’t know if you can just bring in a great kickboxing coach. ‘Okay, great. I got a deal with a kickboxer. Tyrone Spong. In fact, Tyrone Spong and Ray Sefo are going to be in my corner. Okay, great. I got that part solved,’ explained Sonnen in making a point for his viewership audience. “Now, I don’t think that it works that way in anything, but I can tell you for sure it most certainly does not in wrestling.”
“And then you have two guys together, I don’t think have worked together. I just don’t know when they would have done it,” Sonnen reflected. “And I talk to guys that see Francis in the room on a very regular basis, who by the way say fantastic things about him. Apparently, Francis is on all cylinders right now,” explained Sonnen in sharing a bit of inside information on the Ngannou camp that you're not likely to hear anywhere else.
“And apparently is extremely hard to takedown right now. I’m hearing very good things,” explained Sonnen, a former two-division UFC championship contender and former University of Oregon All-American wrestler.
Having trained at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ngannou will no doubt be very well prepared ahead of his UFC 260 rematch against perhaps the greatest UFC heavyweight champion of all-time in Stipe Miocic. The old stomping grounds of longtime Sonnen teammate Randy Couture, Xtreme Couture is an elite mixed martial arts academy where Ngannou's gameplan has likely been honed to a precision razors edge.
The curious addition of Usman, who was last reported to be training alongside UFC lightweight Justin Gaethje in Colorado is no doubt a head scratching piece of intelligence to make sense of that almost certainly lends one to suspect the Ngannou camp is practicing an “all war is based on deception” warrior ethos ahead of his showdown against Miocic for the UFC heavyweight championship of the world. Not particularly known for his grappling acumen, it’s no secret Ngannou’s best chance against Miocic is attempting to catch the defending champion on the feet. At stake, not only the UFC heavyweight strap but a chance to face former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones in a mixed martial arts fight for the ages to decide once and for all who is the greatest fighter of all-time inside the Octagon.