UFC News: Latest on Petr Yan, Daniel Cormier and Francis Ngannou After UFC 249

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2020

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA - MAY 09: Francis Ngannou (R) of Cameroon misses a punch against Jair Rozenstruik of Suriname in their Heavyweight fight during UFC 249 at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on May 09, 2020 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

After watching what Francis Ngannou did to Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 249, there aren't many humans who would sign up to step into a cage with The Predator. 

However, Daniel Cormier has expressed his willingness to do just that if the situation presents itself. 

DC, 41, is nearing retirement but remains firmly in the title picture in the heavyweight division. He's expected to fight Stipe Miocic to complete their trilogy but that bout is still up in the air.

Miocic avenged a first-round TKO loss to Cormier in August 2019 with a knockout win of his own in the fourth round. The UFC reportedly wants to book the two in a rubber match taking place as early as August, but the champion has taken to social media to explain why his timeline is going to be longer amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

"I want to fight DC. It's going to happen period. I'm going to give my fans what they want to see," Miocic tweeted. "My management has been working on dates with UFC. Right now I'm doing what the Governor DeWine is advising and am working as a first responder. I can't control a global pandemic."

UFC President Dana White has publicly stated he's prepared to "move on" if the champion isn't willing to come to an agreement on a timeline, even going as far as saying it is the "right thing to do," per Mike Bohn and John Morgan of MMA Junkie. 

Cormier addressed the possibility of Miocic being stripped and is game to take on Ngannou for a vacant title if that's what the UFC wants. 

"I would rather fight the trilogy fight with Stipe Miocic, I think that for everything we have meant to each other with me winning one and him winning one," DC said, per Bohn. "That would be great for me. But if he doesn't want to fight I want to fight my last fight. I want to fight whoever. And if it's Francis Ngannou then I guess that's who it's going to be."

A bout between Cormier and Ngannou would certainly sell given the tear the latter has been on. Since losing to Miocic in a title fight and Derrick Lewis in 2018, he has reeled off four consecutive knockouts with the longest fight lasting just 71 seconds. 

Ngannou has been largely untested in terms of fighters who have been able to survive his power. Miocic almost neutralized the advantage completely with a grappling-heavy game plan that saw him earn a comprehensive decision win. 

Whether Cormier could follow the same blueprint and survive Ngannou's power is a compelling storyline. 

The heavyweight division isn't the only one with a complicated situation at the top. Henry Cejudo's surprising retirement has created a sudden vacancy atop the bantamweight division. 

While there's a case to be made that the 33-year-old's retirement is ultimately a negotiation tactic, White is moving forward as though the former Olympian's decision will stick. 

He already tabbed Petr Yan as half of the fight that will decide who takes over as champion of the 135-pound division. 

"It's Petr Yan and somebody," White told reporters, per Mike Heck of MMA Fighting. "We'll get that one figured out and we'll make a title fight next week for the vacant title, and probably do that fight as soon as possible." 

Who will be chosen to challenge Yan will be interesting. The 27-year-old was scheduled to face Marlon Moraes in a June event in Kazakhstan, but the schedule is in doubt now amid the coronavirus pandemic and White didn't mention the Brazilian by name. 

Moraes is coming off a tightly contested split-decision win over Jose Aldo but lost to Cejudo in a bout for the vacant championship before that. 

Aljamain Sterling took to social media to state his case and even got a supporting nod from Yan:

Petr “No Mercy” Yan @PetrYanUFC

You know I’m in! Let’s do it @danawhite @seanshelby https://t.co/IQQyysTwXD

The 30-year-old has won four consecutive fights since losing to Moraes in 2017. He joins Cory Sandhagen as potential opponents for Yan in a proposed title fight. Sandhagen, 28, has won all five of his UFC bouts and continues a rapid ascent up the rankings. 

With Cejudo moving on, the bantamweight landscape is all new but has some exciting options.