Shortly after his victory over Cyril Gane two months ago, Francis Ngannou announced to the public that he is facing knee surgery and lengthy recovery that could take about 9 months. So, it was clear that we will not see the heavyweight champion in the new belt defense for a while, and the Cameroonian postponed everything further by performing the operation only two months later.
Ngannou underwent surgery last week, and via Instagram, he informed his fans about the current situation and the rehabilitation that awaits him in the coming period. "Knee surgery went very well today. It is about the reconstruction of the anterior cruciate ligaments and repair of the middle ones.
Also, there is no damage to the meniscus. Rehabilitation time follows to return to normal and then I am back in action," the 35-year-old wrote, thanking the doctors who performed the procedure. If the recovery really takes nine months, the "Predator" belt will no longer defend itself this calendar year.
All this brings us to the question of the outcome at the top of the difficult category. The UFC had a temporary champion in the form of Gane until the first month, but he lost to Ngannou in the fight to unite the belts. Tom Aspinall and Tai Tuivasa are getting closer to the very top, and Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis are always present.
Still, Stipe Miocic somehow stands out as the best candidate when it comes to the belt fight, and Jon Jones also looks like the perfect opponent for such a match. Jones' heavyweight debut is still pending. Assuming Jones will make his belt fight debut, a match between Ngannou and Jones would probably be the best MMA has to offer at the moment.
However, as Ngannou will not be here for long, Jones could jump into the match for the interim champion. This would give Jon a sense of the heavyweight division, find out how he copes with the loaded weight and whether he can match the best in the heavyweight division.
With the victory in the fight for the temporary belt, the match between him and Ngannou would become even bigger. All of that would come in handy for the UFC as well, as Ngannou would get extra interest in staying in the promotion.
White on interim champion
Dana White at a press conference after the London UFC event was asked about organizing a match for the interim heavyweight champion. The UFC president responded with the words: "It is very possible that we will crown the interim champion.
This week we’ll find out how much Ngannou will pause. If it’s nine months before he starts training, it would create almost a year of space since the last match. In that case, yes, we will organize a match for the interim champion, '' White said.
Stipe Miočić, as the second-ranked challenger in the heavyweight category and the greatest fighter in the history of that category, exclusively wants a big match to fight for the belt. The title of interim champion would satisfy his appetites, especially if Jon Jones stood on the other side of the cage.
Miočić would have the opportunity to further cement himself as one of the greatest fighters in history, his earnings would be excellent, and with the victory, he would win the trilogy against Ngannou. The match for the interim champion will almost certainly happen, but it remains to be seen who will be the two selected for that fight.