FRANCIS NGANNOU scored a stunning 26 second knockout of ex-UFC champion Cain Velasquez in Phoenix.
Former heavyweight champion Velasquez was returning to the octagon for the first time since he beat Travis Browne at UFC 200 in July 2016, following a torrid spell out with injuries.
While Ngannou was looking to build on his win against Curtis Blaydes in November – having been beaten by Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis before that.
The fight was over before it really began, as Ngannou pushed forward and looked to land the right hand, only for Velasquez to initiate a clinch up against the cage.
Ngannou was able to stuff the grappling attempt and landed a short uppercut that signalled the end of the fight.
Although Velasquez ate an uppercut, the American’s knee also gave way, leaving Ngannou to reign down with some devastating ground and pound forcing the finish.
The win puts Ngannou back in line to chase down a title shot – but for Velasquez, another injury leaves the 36-year-old’s future in doubt.
After the win, Ngannou said: “I promise you guys, I’m back. As I’ve said before, I’m back and you are going to see me around again. I told you I had some surprise for you and I hope you like it.
“[The finish] was very fast so I didn’t even realise what happened. It was very fast. I felt good and I’m just here to have fun and relax and enjoy my fight.
“I’ve been waiting for this fight since two years ago because I know I needed a challenge of the likes of Cain to prove myself.”
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Velasquez tasted defeat for just the third time, but the former titleist vowed to come back stronger, despite another injury.
He said: “Give it up to Francis. He came in here and did his job. I stayed a little too close, too early.
“[My knee] just kind of buckled there on the shots. I stayed a little too close and it was dangerous. What are you going to do?
“[I’ll return] as soon as I’m all good, I felt super ready for this fight; even came in here super calm and relaxed and ready to go.
“This is why this sport is so great, you never know what will happen at any time. I can give you guys more and you know I can give you guys more. I’m truly sorry for this.”
Also on the card lightweight Paul Felder scored a big points win over James Vick, while Cynthia Calvillo also outpointed Cortney Casey.
Kron Gracie, son of Rickson Gracie and grandson of Helio Gracie, both MMA and Jiu Jitsu legends, defeated Alex Caceres by rear-naked choke in the first round.
Vicente Luque scored a third round stoppage win over Bryan Barberena, Andre Fili outpointed Myles Jury and Aljamain Sterling scored a big points win against Jimmie Rivera.