While he may not currently be active, Francis Ngannou is still one of the most talked-about fighters in mixed martial arts today. ‘The Predator’ holds incredible power over the heavyweight division and as champion, he serves as the final boss for the litany of challengers that are set to emerge in the next few months.
Unfortunately, the 35-year-old was forced to undergo surgery back in March after aggravating a knee injury during his UFC 270 triumph over Ciryl Gane. He seems to be recovering well, though, and even announced that he could make his return to the Octagon before the end of 2022.
Eric Nicksick, on the other hand, has a slightly different point of view.
“I think each individual, especially with that kind of injury, they have to come back when they know that they feel right. I look at it like this – when we get cleared to come back to full time training, I would love another three months of actually getting back to work. Then when you get a camp, or an opponent, then everything is gonna narrow into your game plan. So, you almost want three months of easing into a camp, then getting into your specifics.
“If I had my choice, I wouldn’t mind fighting in 2023, but it’s really gonna be up to him and how far along his rehab process is.”
Who could Ngannou face?
Tom Aspinall, Curtis Blaydes, Ciryl Gane and Tai Tuivasa are all involved in incredibly important main events in the next couple of months, and yet we don’t think any of them are in line to get the next crack at the champ.
That’s because the rumour mill suggests we’re going to see Jon Jones vs Stipe Miocic, and we may even see it before we hit winter.
An interim championship would almost certainly be up for grabs with the victor going on to unify the belts in a showdown with Ngannou, perhaps in early 2023 – especially if Nicksick gets his wish.
Either way, the division is looking as strong as ever.