On June 29, in the main event of UFC Minneapolis, top heavyweight contenders Junior dos Santos and Francis Ngannou would collide in a fight that should earn the winner a title shot.
Ahead of this fight, it’s clear that both men possess impressive striking and fight-altering power. The grappling edge, meanwhile, would seem to rest firmly in the corner of dos Santos.
Yet Francis Ngannou isn’t so sure about that.
“First of all, I don’t believe that jiu-jitsu black belt,” Ngannou said during a recent media scrum at the UFC PI in Las Vegas (h/t MMA Junkie). “I don’t believe that Dos Santos jiu-jitsu black belt. I don’t know where he’s from, but I don’t believe that. And I don’t mind that at all.
“But you never know what some fighter is going to come out with. I always keep thinking maybe he’ll try some wrestling or a takedown, but it’s not his comfort zone. I don’t know. He might try everything. But the most important is I’m prepared for every little thing.”
Francis Ngannou also asserted he’s a better boxer than dos Santos.
“I think I am the best boxer in the heavyweight division, and [I’m] gonna prove it on the 29th, because, yes, he is a very good boxer, but I have to show that I’m better.”
Ngannou will enter this fight with two blitzkrieg knockout wins in the rear-view, one over Curtis Blaydes, and another over the former champion Cain Velasquez. These wins were preceded by a disappointing decision loss to Derrick Lewis in a fight that featured almost no action, and a lopsided decision loss to Stipe Miocic, who held the heavyweight title at the time.
Dos Santos, on the other hand, is on a three-fight streak composed of a decision win over former World Series of Fighting champ Blagoy Ivanov, and a pair of TKOs over Tai Tuivasa and former title challenger Derrick Lewis.
Who do you think will win when Francis Ngannou and Junior dos Santos step onto the canvas together?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 6/21/2019.