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UFC 218 fight card primer: Alistair Overeem vs. Francis Ngannou

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Bloody Elbow presents its fight primer coverage for UFC 218: Holloway vs. Aldo 2 in Detroit, Michigan. Here, we take a look at the co-main event between heavyweight contenders Alistair Overeem and Francis Ngannou.

The co-main event of UFC 218 sees heavyweight contenders collide, as Alistair Overeem (43-15-1 NC MMA; 8-4 UFC) takes on Francis Ngannou (10-1, 5-0 UFC) in what will most likely determine who gets the next title shot. Overeem is the #1-ranked contender, whereas Ngannou comes into this one at #4. UFC 218 airs live on PPV from the Little Caesar’s Arena in Detroit, Michigan on Saturday, December 2nd, with a main card start time of 10 PM ET/7 PM PT, preceded by four prelims on FS1 at 8 PM ET/5 PM PT, and four prelims on UFC Fight Pass at 6:15 PM ET/3:15 PM PT.

Ngannou is being hailed as the future of the heavyweight division, and so far he’s looked outstanding in his UFC career. Heavyweight has longed for some new faces populating the top-10, and Dana White has already suggested that Ngannou could be the next big thing. Meanwhile, Overeem will look to put a halt to the Ngannou’s hype train, and state his case for a second crack at Stipe Miocic’s belt.

How do these two stack up?

Overeem: 37 years old | 6’4″ | 80″ reach
Ngannou: 31 years old | 6’4″ | 84″ reach

What have these two done recently?

Overeem: W – Fabricio Werdum (MD) | W – Mark Hunt (KO) | L – Stipe Miocic (KO)
Ngannou: W – Andrei Arlovski (TKO) | W – Anthony Hamilton (SUB) | W – Bojan Mihajlovic (TKO)

How did these two get here?

Overeem somewhat resurrected his UFC career after a really disappointing 1-3 start, with each loss ending in a knockout. The Dutchman went on a torrid run, winning four straight fights, including a TKO of ex-champion Junior dos Santos in 2015, and capped off by a jumping kick TKO of Andrei Arlovski in front of his home fans in the Netherlands. His winning streak netted him his coveted title shot at UFC 203, but just when it appeared as if he’d stop Stipe Miocic very early on, Miocic turned things around and knocked him out in the opening round. Since then, Overeem has bounced back with a knee KO of Mark Hunt at UFC 209, followed by scraping past Fabricio Werdum by majority decision at UFC 213. His vaunted offensive striking will be a test Ngannou has never dealt with before, but the main concern for Overeem, as ever, is his shaky chin, given the numerous knockout losses he’s suffered over the course of his long and very successful career.

Ngannou debuted in the UFC back in December 2015, knocking out Luis Henrique in round two. He had himself a busy 2016, competing three times and finishing all of his opponents along the way. Curtis Blaydes gave him the most competitive fight, but a nasty cut led to the doctor waiving the bout off before the third and final round. Ngannou then quickly knocked out Bojan Mihajlovic, and ended last year by sensationally submitted Anthony Hamilton with a kimura. A quick turnaround saw Ngannou compete again this past January, when he knocked out Andrei Arlovski in just 92 seconds. The Frenchman by way of Cameroon was due to face Junior dos Santos at UFC 215, but JDS’ positive drug test meant that Ngannou’s return to the Octagon had to be delayed. Every outing for Ngannou provided excitement, and he’s steadily built up more of a following. Now with his first full US-based camp completed, Ngannou is mere hours away from the most important matchup of his career.

Why should you care?

This is almost destined to end in a knockout, and it’s a truly important matchup between a rising star and a longtime contender who’s looking to stay relevant at the top of the sport.

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