UFC: Ranking all of Francis Ngannou’s knockouts ahead of Ciryl Gane fight

Francis Ngannou is a fighting phenomenon: the honorary ‘baddest man on the planet’ as UFC heavyweight champion, and the most ferocious power-puncher in the promotion’s history.

The French-Cameroonian’s professional mixed martial arts record stands at 16-3, while his UFC record is 11-2 since his debut in 2015 – with 10 of those wins coming via knockout or TKO.

Ngannou, 35, in fact went 6-0 in the company, with five of those victories achieved via KO/TKO and one coming via submission, before he suffered back-to-back decision losses.

The first of those two defeats was a humbling by then-champion Stipe Miocic, but Ngannou worked his way back to the American with four straight-first round KO/TKO wins, before knocking out Miocic in the second round last March to claim the gold at last.

Ngannou’s first title defence will come in the main event of UFC 272 this month, against interim champion and former teammateCiryl Gane. Ahead of that unification bout, here is a ranking of all off Ngannou’s UFC knockouts. All KOs except No2 can be seen in the video below, while TKOs are not included.

10. vs Curtis Blaydes – UFC Fight Night (April 2016) – 5:00 of Round 2

This is one to get out of the way in all honesty, as a TKO due to doctor stoppage between rounds. Ngannou puts enough of a beating on Blaydes over two rounds that the American’s eye swells shut and impairs his vision. As such, it is deemed that Blaydes cannot continue. A credible victory for Ngannou, but not as emphatic as most on this list.

9. vs Cain Velasquez – UFC Fight Night (February 2019) – 0:26 of Round 1

UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (Getty Images)
UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (Getty Images)

One of Ngannou’s four wins against a world or former world champion – all of which have been secured via KO/TKO. This is the second fastest stoppage win of Ngannou’s entire professional MMA career, but it is also the strangest. Velasquez, returning after nearly three years out, suffers a knee injury that sees the American collapse to the canvas and shell up as Ngannou beats down on him until the fight is stopped. It does seem that Ngannou might have caused Velasquez to stumble in the first place with a punch, though it is difficult to tell.

8. vs Bojan Mihajlovic – UFC Fight Night (July 2016) – 1:34 of Round 1

Ngannou lands two wide left hooks as a panicked Mihajlovic runs along the cage before dropping to the mat. Mihajlovic momentarily tries to keep Ngannou at bay by kicking out from below, but the “Predator” is undeterred and lands a series of clean hammer fists. He then pours on punches as Mihajlovic shells up and referee Herb Dean steps in.

7. vs Curtis Blaydes – UFC Fight Night (November 2018) – 0:45 of Round 1

Curtis Blaydes collapses after a right hook from Ngannou (AFP via Getty Images)
Curtis Blaydes collapses after a right hook from Ngannou (AFP via Getty Images)

In his second meeting with Ngannou, Blaydes fails to survive anywhere nearly as long as in the first. Ngannou throws a clubbing right hook around the outside of the American’s jab, landing behind the ear and collapsing Blaydes. The wrestling specialist looks to briefly be out already, but he gathers his senses just enough to try a single-leg takedown – to no avail. Blaydes tries to stand, all the while absorbing heavy punches off both sides, before referee Marc Goddard decides he has seen enough (much to Blaydes’ incredulity...).

6. vs Junior dos Santos – UFC Fight Night (June 2019) – 1:11 of Round 1

Dos Santos, for all his experience, makes a huge error just one minute into this bout. The former champion massively overcommits to an overhand right, and Ngannou leans back just enough to avoid it before catching JDS with a short right hook. Dos Santos turns and tries to run away but is held by Ngannou, who drops the Brazilian with another hook before pummelling him on the mat. Herb Dean quickly decides enough is enough.

5. vs Andrei Arlovski – UFC Fight Night (January 2017) – 1:32 of Round 1

Ngannou floors Andrei Arlovski (Getty Images)
Ngannou floors Andrei Arlovski (Getty Images)

Ngannou’s first win against a world or former world champion. The up-and-comer leans back to avoid a right overhand from Arlovski, before countering with a winging right hook that seems to take the Belarusian-American off his feet slightly. Arlovski then falls to the canvas and turtles up as Ngannou pounces at once, pouring on massive punches to force the stoppage.

4. vs Luis Henrique – UFC Fight Night (December 2015) – 2:53 of Round 2

A captivating start to Ngannou’s UFC career – start as you mean to go on. The debutant looks to find a way through or around Henrique’s guard with uppercuts and hooks, before one gets through. It’s a left uppercut that does it, sending Henrique sprawling dramatically to the ground. Ngannou’s instinct is to follow his opponent to the mat and slam down a hammer fist, and the job is done.

3. vs Jairzinho Rozenstruik – UFC 249 (May 2020) – 0:20 of Round 1

Ngannou knocks out Jairzinho Rozenstruik in vicious fashion (Getty Images)
Ngannou knocks out Jairzinho Rozenstruik in vicious fashion (Getty Images)

This is probably the least technical of Ngannou’s UFC knockouts, but it is one of the most emphatic. Rozenstruik enters the bout undefeated at 10-0, with nine of those wins coming via KO/TKO. As such, it feels like this fight won’t last long and that there’s a genuine risk Ngannou might get taken out, in what would be a fresh visual. Well, the first of those two ends up being true. There’s no real feeling-out process, with the heavyweights trading punches almost straight away.

Ngannou presses forward with wild, winging punches as Rozenstruik backs up while trying to return fire. He even seems to catch Ngannou with a left hook, but milliseconds later he crumples under the exact same shot from his opponent. With “Bigi Boy” slumped limply against the fence, Ngannou adds a couple more brutal punches and it’s all over. The sight of Ngannou bull-rushing his opponent like this is scary.

2. vs Stipe Miocic – UFC 260 (March 2021) – 0:52 of Round 2

Three years after a humbling decision defeat by Miocic, who outwrestled Ngannou over five rounds while surviving the occasional power punch in an absolute masterclass, the French-Cameroonian exacts his revenge. In an impressive first round, Ngannou shows much improved takedown defence and also hurts Miocic on the feet. In the second round, he drops the defending champion with a power jab on the back end of a kind of reverse one-two. Miocic gets back to his feet but eats an uppercut for his troubles, then manages to briefly disengage.

The American unwisely rushes back into the pocket, however, where he is met by a counter left hook. It folds Miocic, whose body sags to the mat in sickening fashion. Ngannou adds a hammer fist – just to make sure – before Herb Dean intervenes. Ngannou calmly walks away, as new UFC heavyweight champion.

1. vs Alistair Overeem – UFC 218 (December 2017) – 1:42 of Round 1

Ngannou prior to his knockout of Alistair Overeem (Getty Images)
Ngannou prior to his knockout of Alistair Overeem (Getty Images)

This is essentially Ngannou’s trademark KO, the most brutally picturesque of them all. In fact, it might just be the most viral knockout in UFC history. You’d swear Overeem’s head is certain to detach from his neck, the way his chin is propelled upwards from the force of Ngannou’s devastating uppercut. What makes the finish even more impressive is the way in which Ngannou first evades a hook from Overeem, before using that evasion as a kind of spring.

The “Predator” subsequently twists back towards his opponent, the torque aiding in a vicious punch that switches off Overeem’s lights at once. Still, Ngannou manages to get in a signature hammer fist on his unconscious, floored opponent before the referee’s intervention.