Francis Ngannou felt like his fight Saturday on the main card of UFC 249 against Jairzinho Rozenstruik at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida, should have been for the interim heavyweight championship.
The UFC disagreed, though UFC president Dana White said the winner would get the first crack at the winner of the rubber match between Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier that will be held later this year.
Ngannou proved his point in the most emphatic way on Saturday.
In a battle of arguably the biggest punchers in the UFC, it was no contest on Saturday. Ngannou walked through a pair of Rozenstruik kicks, landing a crushing left hook that put him out and then finished it with a couple of shots on the ground.
He needed just 20 seconds to end one of the most hotly anticipated bouts on a stacked card Saturday.
Well, this was quick ahah knockout in 20 seconds.— Jose Andrade (@JoseAndrade5818) May 10, 2020
Francis Ngannou def. Jairzinho Rozenstruik by knockout (punches) at :20 of Round 1.
Jairzinho's invincibility is over, 10 victories later, Ngannou continues the good series,4 victories in a row.pic.twitter.com/aQulLqjCpA#UFC249
Rozenstruik knocked out Alistair Overeem in a dramatic last-second finish in December and called Ngannou out after the fight.
Ngannou said when he heard it, he had to do an internet search to learn who Rozenstruik was.
No doubt, Rozenstruik regretted that choice on Saturday.
“When I heard he called me out, I knew that he didn’t know what he was doing,” Ngannou said in the cage following the bout. “I think he has a lot of potential, but he has to take a step back and get ready before fighting me.”
UFC fans go berserk over 20-second Francis Ngannou ‘murder’
They were supposed to fight in Columbus, Ohio, at the end of March, but that card was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. It was put in a prime position on Saturday’s card, which took on added significance since it was the first sporting event in the U.S. since the coronavirus began forcing the shutdown in March.
Ngannou, who lost a previous title shot to Miocic, looks primed now.
But he said he worked hard on his striking during a nearly four-month camp, when he wasn’t sure what was going to happen.
He said he doesn’t know where he fits in, but few would doubt it’s going to take a massive effort to defeat him again.
Meanwhile, fans took to social media, clearly stunned by the sheer brutal efficiency of Ngannou’s knockout.
Oh my god Francis ngannou 😳😳😳— Lowkey🥀🌎 (@lowkeylos215) May 10, 2020
Francis Ngannou is such an incredible athlete. His power and speed is absolutely frightening. It's been a pleasure watching him grow to become one of the best heavyweights in the league.— minecraftist-lovecraftian (@NoCap_italism) May 10, 2020
We're just watching Francis Ngannou be calm and normal like he didn't just nearly murder a man. #UFC249— FanSided MMA (@FanSidedMMA) May 10, 2020
Biggest takeaway from #UFC249 : Ngannou is a future and potentially dominant champion.— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) May 10, 2020
Ngannou just murdering dudes and then doing ASMR in the post fight interview.— Vince Mancini (@VinceMancini) May 10, 2020
Francis Ngannou has now beaten in a row Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, and Jairzinho Rozenstruik in a combined 162 seconds.— Shaheen Al-Shatti (@shaunalshatti) May 10, 2020
162 SECONDS. #UFC249
With Yahoo Sport US/Kevin Iole