Curtis Blaydes vs. Francis Ngannou II slated for UFC Beijing

The UFC’s first trip to Beijing could be showcasing a big heavyweight fight to celebrate.

As per ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, a rematch between rising heavyweight Curtis Blaydes and former title challenger Francis Ngannou is in the works.

Concurrent heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier has not yet had his next fight booked, possibly awaiting the return of ex-UFC champ and current WWE Superstar Brock Lesnar. Meanwhile, Stipe Miocic, who lost his crown to Cormier, seems unwilling to take any fight which isn’t a rematch for his belt.

Blaydes is coming off a stunning stoppage win over Alistair Overeem in June, but his sole lost has come against Ngannou in April 2016 when he made his UFC debut.

Fortunes have changed for the pair since.

While Blaydes was quietly building his resume, Ngannou was stealing all the headlines. Cameroonian-French slugger Ngannou scored a series of devastating knockout wins to set up a title fight with the aforementioned Miocic at UFC 220. Ngannou tired quickly and lost a unanimous decision after five rounds of hell.

Ngannou returned to the Octagon at UFC 226, facing Derrick Lewis. However, his hesitant performance – which produced among the lowest strike numbers recorded in UFC history – drew plenty of criticism from fans and even UFC President Dana White.

This fight makes the most sense given how both competitors’ statures are now at a par and signals how the UFC heavyweight division is now in its healthiest state for years.

Jake Hughes

Jake Hughes

Jake Hughes is an MMA writer who has covered the sport since 2013 for publications such as Vice Sports, Fightland, Sherdog and now Fighters Only, where he serves as freelance digital editor.