Francis Ngannou resurrects career, earns 1st round KO in UFC Beijing headliner (VIDEO)

Francis Ngannou resurrects career, earns 1st round KO in UFC Beijing headliner (VIDEO) Cameroonian giant Francis Ngannou consigned a disappointing 2018 to the past, needing just 44 seconds to gain a KO win against fellow heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes in the featured bout of the UFC’s first show in Beijing.

‘The Predator’ dropped Blaydes early in the fight with a clubbing overhand and while his opponent attempted to rally, Blaydes’ equilibrium was clearly shot and each attempt to return to his feet was met with a further strike which returned him to the canvas.

Referee Marc Goddard called a halt to the bout inside the first minute of the scheduled 25-minute contest, prompting protests from the defeated Blaydes but replays showed that the official was entirely correct in his call.

Ngannou earns a second win against Blaydes, following an April 2016 doctor’s stoppage victory, but it is his successful rebound from two disappointing performances this year which will please both the fighter and his team the most.

He was outclassed in a five-round decision defeat to then-champion Stipe Miocic last January but it was his gun-shy performance last July against Derrick Lewis in July, in which both fighters combined for a UFC record low 31 strikes in a decision win for Lewis.

Ngannou’s second win against Blaydes will go a long way to re-establishing his position towards the top of the UFC’s heavyweight rankings.

As for Blaydes, it will be back to the drawing board as he doubles down on defeats to the only man to ever beat him in mixed martial arts.

“It’s been a hard time man, but I’m back. I’m back,” Ngannou said to UFC commentator Dan Hardy immediately after the fight.

“2018 was a very hard year for me. I found myself, I [had] to settle what wasn’t settled yet. I had to grow as a fighter. By the end of the year, I think, I have learned more in this year than in my whole career. I apologise for [my last fight]. It wasn’t me, it wasn’t good.”

And as for what comes next, Ngannou has some ideas.

“Junior Dos Santos owes me one fight. I’m looking for Alexander Volkov, also revenge against Stipe Miocic. In that fight I didn’t do well and I really want to fix it.”

In the co-main event Russia’s Sergey Pavlovich tasted defeat for the first time in his career, as he was stopped by MMA veteran Alistair Overeem towards the end of the first round.

It was a tough outing for the former Fight Nights Global champion on his UFC debut, facing a fighter who has more than 40 professional victories on his record. Pavlovich seemed a step behind Overeem throughout and had no answer from his back once the Dutch kickboxer threw him to the mat. The end came moments later via strikes on the ground.

Elsewhere on the main card, two home country fighters emerged with victories. Song Yadong easily outpointed Vince Morales in a bantamweight contest and promising prospect Li Jingliang earned a late stoppage finish against David Zawada in an entertaining, back and forth fight.