If Francis Ngannou is to be believed, Stipe Miocic should be worried less about his third title defense and more about escaping the Octagon in one piece.
Ngannou challenges Miocic for the heavyweight championship at UFC 220, and the two took part in a press conference for the event Friday in Las Vegas, Nev.. Both fighters were asked if Ngannou’s highly-vaunted knockout power and status as the current betting favorite were affecting their mindsets leading up to the clash.
“I think he will try to survive,” Ngannou said, in regards to whether he expected Miocic to stand and trade with him. “First of all, this is the first word for his gameplan: survive. And then whatever he’s gonna try, I’m gonna catch it, and then I’m gonna connect it, and you know what happens when I connect.”
None of Ngannou’s six UFC opponents have made it to the final bell against the 31-year-old native of Cameroon and the last four were knocked out or submitted within two minutes. Miocic is no stranger to finishes himself, having recorded four straight KOs, including title fight wins over Fabricio Werdum, Alistair Overeem, and Junior dos Santos.
Still, early odds have Miocic placed as the underdog, and despite the champion repeatedly shrugging off the notion that he is in anyway scared, Ngannou thinks that Miocic’s cool demeanor is just an act.
“Of course, he’s really intimidated. He knows what’s going to happen,” Ngannou said. “I know he’s just (acting proud) here like, ‘Yes, I’m the champ. I’m this, I’m that.’ But he knows the guy that he’s gonna fight. He knows that it’s gonna be the fight that he’s never had in his career.”
Miocic was flippant when asked if he agreed with Ngannou’s assessment.
“I guess so,” Miocic said. “Whatever he says. Sure, I’m intimidated. Awesome.”
UFC 220 takes place on Jan. 20 at the TD Garden arena in Boston, Mass.