There’s a constant discussion of late about which fighters will represent the UFC’s next crop of notable, crossover stars. Longtime commentator Joe Rogan views heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou as someone with that potential.
Ngannou (11-1 MMA, 6-0 UFC) picked up one of the most memorable knockouts of the year at UFC 218 this past weekend when he put former Strikeforce champ Alistair Overeem (46-15 MMA, 8-5 UFC) to sleep with a brutal one-punch finish. The performance kept “The Predator” unbeaten in the UFC and set him up for a title shot against champ Stipe Miocic (17-2 MMA, 11-2 UFC).
Fighters come and go in the sport, but Ngannou’s skill, attitude and harrowing backstory as an African immigrant make him a more compelling package than most. Whether that translates to mainstream attention with continued success remains to be seen, but Rogan said on today’s edition of his “JRE MMA Show” podcast that he views Ngannou as having all the potential.
“Now they’ve got a star,” Rogan said. “I think Ngannou, one or two more fights, you’re going to be looking at Mike Tyson days. That’s what I think. You’re going to watch fights just to see how long these mother(expletives) can survive against this guy. That’s what I think. That could be their big, breakout star.”
Currently the UFC is in a phase of uncertainty when it comes to its biggest names. Ronda Rousey is all but retired, Jon Jones can’t stay out of trouble and Georges St-Pierre is dealing with health complications. The promotions marquee draw, Conor McGregor, might never fight again, according to UFC President Dana White.
Add all that together, and Ngannou has a real opportunity on his hands.
“Conor, who knows if he’s ever going to fight again,” Rogan said. “We really don’t know. We haven’t heard Conor saying, ‘This is my plan. This is who I’m thinking of fighting. This is who I want to fight.’ He’s been talking (expletive) to Max Holloway, he’s been talking (expletive) to Tony Ferguson, but he’s not set it up.”
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Joe Rogan: Francis Ngannou can recreate 'Mike Tyson days' as UFC's next big star