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Francis Ngannou: Title shot makes sense with UFC 239 win vs. Junior Dos Santos

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ATLANTA – Francis Ngannou believes he is only one win away from earning a second opportunity to challenge for the UFC heavyweight title.

After faltering in his first crack at the belt against then-champ Stipe Miocic at UFC 220 in January 2018, Ngannou (13-3 MMA, 8-2 UFC) has rebuilt himself into one of the top contenders in the weight class.

Back-to-back knockouts of ex-champ Cain Velasquez and reputable contender Curtis Blaydes – in less than one minute combined – have put a fearsome aura around “The Predator” again, and now he’s teed up for another big fight that could put him over the hump.

Ngannou will meet former champion Junior Dos Santos (21-5 MMA, 15-4 UFC) at UFC 239 in July, and he knows what beating the Brazilian would mean.

“After the last fight I thought I would get the title fight back, but it didn’t happen, I don’t know why” Ngannou told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at a UFC seasonal press conference during UFC 236 fight week in Atlanta. “I’m so happy to have the fight against Junior. He don’t have the belt, but we all know he’s a champion. We have seen him since he comes back, he looks like a champ.”

UFC 239 takes place July 6 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and UFC Fight Pass.

Ngannou, No. 6 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie MMA heavyweight rankings, was supposed to fight No. 3-ranked Dos Santos at UFC 215 in September 2016, but unfortunately the matchup did not come to fruition.

It was an important fight for the heavyweight division, but it’s perhaps even more meaningful now. Dos Santos is riding a three-fight winning streak of his own, having taken out Derrick Lewis, Tai Tuivasa and Blagoy Ivanov along the way. He is looking to regain the title, and said he couldn’t turn down a “great opportunity” to fight Ngannou.

Ngannou said he’s pleased the fight will finally materialize this summer, and whether the next title matchup sees champ Daniel Cormier defend against Brock Lesnar or Miocic – Ngannou is positive he’ll be on deck after.

“I think after this there will be no issues with the belt,” Ngannou said. “It’s the only thing that makes sense.”

For more on UFC 239, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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