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28th Jan 2017

Dana White identifies the man capable of becoming the next big thing at heavyweight

Make way for UFC's latest world superstar

Darragh Murphy

Francis Ngannou is a terrifying human being.

One need look no further than his kimura finish against Anthony Hamilton in his last outing as proof of how blindingly bright the Frenchman’s future is.

Ngannou readily admits that he is still a novice when it comes to mixed martial arts but his showings en route to compiling his 9-1 professional record, coupled with his freak athleticism and sponge-like ability to absorb information, will have plenty of heavyweights hesitating to sign on the dotted line when bout agreements come in with an offer to meet one of the most imposing figures who’s ever set foot in the Octagon.

The 30-year-old has the explosive power of a Brock Lesnar, the intimidating physique of a Cheick Kongo and the desire to improve of a Georges St-Pierre.

And UFC president Dana White is a huge fan.

Ahead of Ngannou’s next bout, which comes this weekend on the main card of UFC on Fox 23, White couldn’t possibly have spoken more glowingly of the man who many feel has the ability to breathe some much-needed life into a heavyweight division that has lacked that for some time.

In Ngannou’s way stands a divisional gatekeeper in the form of former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski but White believes that Ngannou has all the ability in the world to tear through the weight class, become the baddest man on the planet and hold the UFC heavyweight title for years to come.

“‘The Pitbull’ has been around a long time,” White said during an interview with FS1’s Megan Olivi. “Obviously, Arlovski is a legend in this sport, a legend in the heavyweight division. Francis Ngannou will be. I believe that this guy has the potential to become the heavyweight champion of the world. I also believe he has the potential to hold that title for a very long time.”

Ngannou is being nurtured as all prospects should and is steadily being handed more intriguing opponents en route to the summit of the most unpredictable weight division in combat sports.

Arlovski will act as a stiff test and a significant jump-up in competition for Ngannou but there’s no doubting that the sky is the limit for the menacing 30-year-old.

“I don’t know if in the history of the UFC we’ve ever had a heavyweight champion like Ngannou who actually looks like [that],” White continued. “If you put this guy Ngannou next to — put him side to side with NFL players. Put him side by side with the heavyweight boxing champions throughout history. This is a massive, massive guy.”