It’s been some time since a debuting heavyweight has made the type of impression that Francis Ngannou has made in the little over a year that the Frenchman has been a member of the UFC roster.
Ngannou has earned five UFC victories since first appearing with the organisation in December 2015. His most recent of which, a first round knockout of Andrei Arlovski in January, was by far his most impressive and has led to calls for a step up in competition — a move that Ngannou himself seems to agree with.
When cornered recently by TMZ, the Frenchman said that he has one opponent in mind for his next bout.
“My next opponent that I want right now is Cain Velasquez”, Ngannou said. “My last fight was one month ago, so now I need to make this fight. I want Cain. To have success you need to fight someone who has been successful.”
While this is certainly a match that many UFC fans would be clamouring for, Velasquez’s coach Javier Mendez has poured cold water on the idea. Speaking to Submission Radio, the American Kickboxing Academy coach said that Velasquez won’t be rushed into a fight.
“He’s been more enjoying time with his wife and he did an AirBnb, those rentals that you rent. He’s got one in Arizona that he’s fixing up to rent, so he’s been doing that and spending time with his wife and his child. He’s been doing more family stuff. He comes in the gym on a rare occasion, but he’s slowly coming back into it. He’s not jumping on board to do anything, he’s just taking his time.
“I know that May 11 is something they’re looking at, but realistically Cain is not gonna fight on short notice. He’s not gonna fight without an eight-week training camp. So I look at it like if he’s hardly ever coming into the gym now because he has other business things he has to take care of, I don’t see him fighting (soon). I see him fighting two times this year, but I don’t see him fighting in May because of the timeframe.”
Ngannou isn’t alone in attempting to set up a bout with the former UFC heavyweight champion as Fabricio Werdum, who was slated to face Velasquez last December before a back injury mandated his removal from the UFC 207 card, has also begun campaigning on social media to have their fight rebooked.
Per Fabricio Werdum's manager @AliAbdelaziz00, Werdum told UFC he's willing to face Cain Velasquez at UFC 211 or 212. Thinks it makes sense.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) March 9, 2017