Francis Ngannou has said he is ready to take on "greatest of all time" Jon Jones after the Cameroonian was crowned heavyweight champion at UFC 260 with a brutal display against title holder Stipe Miocic.
Miocic had outwrestled Ngannou in their first fight at UFC 220, but there was to be no stopping 'The Predator' in the rematch. Ngannou (16-3) used big left hands to set up the finish as he knocked out the two-time champion at the 52-second mark of the second round to claim the title in the main event in Las Vegas.
Ngannou credited the lessons learned in his first fight with Miocic, which Miocic won via a one-sided unanimous decision, for helping him learn where he needed to improve.
"I have a great outcome from that fight," Ngannou, 34, said. "It was a great benefit from that fight and I believe that pushed me, rose me higher than this."
Ngannou followed his loss to Miocic by losing a decision to Derrick Lewis. Then he won four straight fights via knockout, with the longest lasting just 1:11, to earn his title rematch.
Now established as one of the biggest stars in the sport, talk has now moved on to Ngannou's next potential opponent, and there is one fighter UFC fans want to see the Cameroonian face more than any other.
Jones vacated his light-heavyweight title in August last year to make the move up to heavyweight, although the American is yet to make his debut in the division. Shortly after Ngannou's emphatic victory, Jones tweeted: "Show me the money", a clear reference to his eagerness to take on the champion.
"For me, Jon Jones is the greatest of all time in mixed martial arts," Ngannou said. "Him moving up (to heavyweight), that is a challenge I would take. Putting that on my record would be a very good thing for me.
"But for this time, he is going to be the challenger. I am the champ and he's coming up looking for me. I'm ready anytime. Even in the summer, in July or August, I'll be ready to fight whenever.
"He said something like, 'show me the money'. Show me the money and we'll go. I'm here."
The evening's co-feature bout was a breakthrough performance for Brazilian native Vicente Luque (20-7-1). The exciting welterweight slugger used heavy hands to batter former UFC champion Tyron Woodley (19-7-1) of Ferguson, Mo., then used a D'Arce choke to earn the submission victory at the 3:56 mark of the opening round.
Luque has won nine of his past 10 fights, while Woodley has lost four in a row.