UFC heavyweight champion, Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou has brought in striking sensation, reigning GLORY Kickboxing heavyweight kingpin, Rico ‘King of Kickboxing’ Verhoeven into his camp for UFC 270 in January as he prepares for his title unification bout with interim titleholder, Ciryl ‘Bon Gamin’ Gane.
Ngannou, who clinched the undisputed heavyweight championship at the second time of trying back in March — stopped two-time foe and two-time heavyweight gold holder, Stipe Miocic with a brutal second round knockout and follow up ground strike.
The Batie native was then expected to return in August, however, scheduling conflicts prevented his return to the Octagon — with an interim title introduced to the division.
Ngannou’s brief previous training partner, MMA Factory standout, and Fernand Lopez product, Gane would eventually stop Derrick Lewis with third round ground strikes in a largely one-sided victory — subsequently setting up a unification title fight with Ngannou in January.
Yesterday, Ngannou’s head coach, Xtreme Couture mastermind, Eric Nicksick posted a picture of his student training alongside the aforenoted, Verhoeven — before confirming to MMA Junkie that the Dutch kickboxing talent would be training alongside Ngannou for the coming week at least, or could spend longer in his graces should schedules allow.
Verhoeven was slated to headline GLORY Collision 3 last month against would-be common-foe, former K-1 World Grand Prix victor, Alistair Overeem in the veteran’s return to kickboxing, until injury forced Overeem from proceedings.
As a result, Verhoeven remained on the card in his native Netherlands, stopping challenger Jamal Ben Saddik in the first round with strikes to successfully defend his GLORY heavyweight crown.
Ngannou’s decision to bring Verhoeven on board for his UFC 270 camp only points to the striking expertise on the other side of the January equation in the form of Gane.
The undefeated French native extended his undefeated career run to 10 straight fights against big puncher, Lewis in August, and has rarely been hit clean throughout his UFC tenure so far — taking notable wins against the likes of Tanner Boser, Junior dos Santos, Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and Alexander Volkov.
Throughout his four-year Muay Thai career from 2014 to 2018, Gane lodged another undefeated run of 13 consecutive victories — nine of which came by way of knockout.
While Gane has displayed his vast striking arsenal already to great success in the UFC, Ngannou is currently in the midst of a jaw-dropping five fight undefeated run which has seen him dispatch Miocic, and the quartet of Rozenstruik, dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, and Curtis Bladyes all within the opening round.
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