When the UFC makes it’s return to Detroit, Michigan, we could see an event that may provide us with two men, who could earn the next title shots in their respective divisions. At UFC 218, scheduled for December 2nd, all eyes will be on heavyweight Francis Ngannou and flyweight Sergio Pettis.
Ngannou, a heavyweight sensation that has grabbed the admiration of many MMA fans, is scheduled to take on Alistair Overeem, a fellow powerhouse who has won six of his last seven fights. The only blemish during this current streak, was to current heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.
With the champ still sidelined (er, in contract renegotiations), many have been waiting for a new contender to emerge from the heavyweight mix. For most, that man has been Ngannou but the sentiment was that he is one win away, vs a top contender, before he should be allowed the right to fight for UFC gold.
He was granted that opportunity earlier this month, at UFC 215, but his bout vs. former champion Junior dos Santos fell through. The Brazilian was pulled from the contest after being notified of a potential violation with USADA. The promotion was unable to find a replacement in time, so that golden chance for Ngannou was postponed until yesterday’s announcement of his matchup with ‘The Reem’.
With a victory over the Dutchman, Francis will likely be a lock for the next title shot vs Miocic, but first, answers to the obvious questions must be answered. His Ngannou ready to take on the baddest man on the planet? The only way to truly find out is to pit him vs fighters above him on the rankings. One step on the ladder at a time. But with a victory, especially a convincing one vs Overeem would leave no doubt in anyone’s mind that he is worthy to step inside the octagon with the champ.
Can the same be said for Overeem? Perhaps, but we all know how often the UFC feels about granting fighters championship rematches. Most times it’s ‘no’ or ‘not yet’, but should he defeat Ngannou, he would be on a three fight win streak, with previous victories coming over Fabricio Werdum and Mark Hunt.
When it comes to flyweight Sergio Pettis, the only obstacle standing in his way with a date with championship destiny, is fellow top contender Henry Cejudo.
The former Olympian is coming off a masterful performance vs. Wilson Reis at UFC 215, where he earned a second round knockout. But that was his first victory in three fights and thus, the UFC may not be ready to grant him a title shot. He did fight for the belt in April of 2016, but was humbled by “Mighty Mouse” in 2:49.
So the matchmaker’s eyes will be on Pettis, and how he performs vs. Cejudo. Can he finish Henry? Likely not. But if he can, it will most likely be with strikes. In analyzing this tilt, it screams 25 mins for Pettis, who would need to win a minimum of three rounds to two.
My initial prognostication is that the bookies will make Cejudo a significant favourite in this fight, so the odds will be against Sergio; all the more reason he would get the title shot with a victory.
While we are still over two months away, UFC 219 already promises to be a stellar event with major title implications in two divisions. And as it stands, there is still no main event announced to headline this card. Stay tuned to Fightful MMA for much more leading up to this pay per view event.