Do you guys remember the movie Alien vs. Predator? If you don’t, you shouldn’t feel bad. The film was pretty dreadful.
However, it was based on the popular game and featured the two titans of science-fiction film, the Predator and the xenomorphs from the Alien series, duking it out in a pyramid in Antarctica with a bunch of humans stuck in the middle. Why were the Aliens and Predator fighting in a pyramid in Antarctica? I have no idea, but it was cool to see two popular film characters fight to the death.
That’s what’s missing in the UFC right now. Despite the current era of “money fights” and “superfights,” where any fight that involves Conor McGregor is guaranteed to generate a huge box-office number and pay-per-view rating, there haven’t been many fights lately that seem to capture the imagination like what we sometimes see in the movies. We need a fight that rivals seeing Aliens and Predators from other planets destroy one another.
Luckily, the UFC has the ability to make such a fight right now, and it should not waste any more time in doing so. This fight also has the bonus of giving a much-needed shot in the arm to one of the UFC’s divisions that is long on names but short on compelling match-ups.
Of course, I’m talking about a fight between Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis and Francis “The Predator” Ngannou. These two heavyweights are probably the scariest guys in all of mixed martial arts right now. They have both ran roughshod over the UFC’s heavyweight division, and their list of victims include Travis Browne, Roy Nelson, Gabriel Gonzaga, Andrei Arlovski and Anthony Hamilton. By the way, all those fighters, except for one, were either knocked out or submitted by either Lewis or Ngannou.
The heavyweight division still has marquee names, but they’re either injured (Cain Velasquez), on the downside of their career (Alistair Overeem) or in a bit of a no man’s land for a variety of factors (Fabricio Werdum, Mark Hunt). Lewis and Ngannou are fresh, exciting and entertaining to watch. Both men have the credentials to back up the hyp, too.
Lewis has won six in a row in the UFC and 18 of his 22 overall pro fights. With the exception of his victory over the aforementioned Nelson last year, all of his UFC wins came by knockout. He’s about as dangerous a striker as there is in the UFC, and anyone who stands and trades with him is likely to have their lights put out. This is not hyperbole, either.
Lewis is also one of the more entertaining personalities in the UFC that many fans don’t know about. His Twitter feed is basically a must-follow, and if you need further proof that his entertainment value extends beyond his performance in the Octagon, just watch the comments he made moments after he knocked out the aforementioned Browne last month.
Ngannou is undefeated in his UFC career and has an overall record of 10-1. Every one of his five UFC fights have ended in the first or second round and by knockout, submission or a doctor’s stoppage. The fact that a 6-foot-4, 255-pound fighter like Ngannou possesses the skill to finish his opponent with a kimura or just knock him out in the first round speaks to the way heavyweight fighters have evolved from the days of Tank Abbott and Wesley “Cabbage” Correira.
Although Lewis said after his victory against Browne that he was looking to take some time off, he has also expressed a desire to fight the aforementioned Hunt next and has also embraced this idea of taking on Ngannou — in his usual expressive, creative fashion. The UFC should follow this mindset and book a fight between Lewis and Ngannou as soon as possible.
Right now, the biggest heavyweight fight on the UFC’s calendar is tentatively planned to happen at UFC 211 in May, when UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is expected to face Junior dos Santos. Since we’re officially in the month of March, we have March Madness right around the corner in college basketball. So just picture a Final Four, of sorts, in the UFC consisting of Miocic, dos Santos, Lewis and Ngannou.
A fight composed of any combination of these four fighters would be an MMA fan’s wet dream. These four men represent some of the most talented strikers and overall fighters in the entire sport. The promotion for a fight involving any of them almost plans itself, and the UFC has plenty of video footage of each man landing devastating knockouts to use to build the anticipation to record levels.
Before the UFC can create a title fight involving any of these four men, it must first book the fight that absolutely has to happen. It must make “The Black Beast” face “The Predator.”