Francis Ngannou claimed the UFC heavyweight championship on Saturday night, stopping Stipe Miocic with fierce punches early in the second round at UFC 260.
Ngannou (11-2) took revenge for his crushing loss to Miocic in 2018 by showing all he has learned over the next three years during a dominant victory. Africa’s first UFC heavyweight champion crushed Miocic (21-3) twice early in the second, ending the fight 52 seconds into the round.
The fight ended quickly after Ngannou won the first round. Miocic recovered from his first knockdown in the second round and even landed a right hand that hurt Ngannou, but the challenger responded with a perfect left hook, depositing Miocic sharply on the mat again for the end.
Ngannou, 34, is a former aspiring boxer who discovered mixed martial arts after he left Cameroon for France. He rose rapidly through his new sport with his fearsome power and growing skill, but Miocic interrupted his rise by winning every round of his first bout in Boston.
The long-awaited changing of the guard at the top of the UFC’s heavyweight division finally happened in their rematch. In the Las Vegas cage, Ngannou was too much for Miocic, the Cleveland firefighter who is the most successful heavyweight champion in UFC history.
In the co-main event of this pay-per-view program at the UFC Apex gym on the promotion’s corporate campus, former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley lost his fourth fight in a row when Vicente Luque submitted him with a D ‘choke. Maple at the end of the first. round.
UFC 260 became a showcase for Ngannou, who was up to the challenge this time.
Ngannou’s loss to Miocic in 2018 astonished the confidence of a once dynamic fighter. He barely threw a punch in his next fight, an embarrassing loss to Derrick Lewis.
But Ngannou impressively regained his confidence later in 2018 and launched a four-game knockout win streak against veteran heavyweights, putting him back in the cage with Miocic.
Miocic’s heavyweight reign has been the best in the history of a notoriously tumultuous UFC division. He reigned as champion for four of the past five years, winning eight of his last nine fights overall and emphatically avenging his only loss to Daniel Cormier.
Miocic won the last two fights of his trilogy with Cormier to cement his heavyweight supremacy over the only opponent he had fought since the first fight with Ngannou.
Woodley (19-7-1), who reigned in the 170-pound division for nearly three years until Kamaru Usman took his belt in March 2019, looked strong early on and landed some strong shots before Luque staggered him and He will top it off (20-7-1), who has won 13 of his last 15 fights.
Earlier, bantamweight Sugar Sean O’Malley overcame a huge mental error early for a fierce third-round finish by Thomas Almeida.
O’Malley, the exciting fighter with the rainbow-dyed hair, dropped Almeida in the first round with a kick to the head and a big punch, but instead of finishing his opponent on the ground, O’Malley anticipated a stoppage and he walked away before realizing the fight. he had not been arrested.
When he dropped Almeida again in the third, O’Malley briefly tried to pull away again before pouncing and landing a finishing blow that bounced Almeida’s head off the canvas.
The UFC is heading to Jacksonville for its next pay-per-view program next month because Florida officials will allow Dana White to sell all seats in one arena, but the promotion still welcomed a few dozen fans to the Apex.
The crowd included Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, Megan Fox, Kourtney Kardashian, Travis Barker and former UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta, who had not publicly attended a fight since the company was sold in 2016.