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Spectacular KO of Overeem earns Ngannou a UFC heavyweight title shot

The Cameroon-born phenom is set to challenge champion Stipe Miocic for the belt in Boston in January.

Martial Arts 2017: UFC 211 UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic. Source: Jason Silva

THE UFC TITLES in the light-heavyweight and heavyweight divisions both look set to be up for grabs when the organisation returns to Boston’s TD Garden early in 2018.

After announcing last week that Daniel Cormier will defend his light-heavyweight title against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 220, Stipe Miocic’s third outing as heavyweight champion has also reportedly been added to the 20 January card.

Miocic (17-2) will bid to become the first fighter in UFC history to successfully defend the heavyweight title three times when he takes on Francis Ngannou (11-1), who has earned his shot after a spectacular performance on Saturday night at UFC 218.

A 31-year-old native of Cameroon who emigrated to France in 2012, Ngannou only made his mixed martial arts debut four years ago. After making swift progress, however, he made his bow in the UFC just over two years later.

Ngannou has won all six of his UFC bouts inside the distance, the latest victory coming last weekend when he needed less than two minutes to overcome former Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem with a spectacular uppercut knockout.

His shot at Miocic has yet to be officially confirmed by the UFC, but MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani confirmed the development overnight following an initial report by MMAjunkie, which stated that the fight is in the works.

Miocic’s last fight was a first-round TKO victory over Junior dos Santos back in May. The 35-year-old Cleveland native shocked Fabricio Werdum to win the title 18 months ago, before making a successful first defence against Alistair Overeem in September 2016.

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Paul Dollery

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