UFC 218: Francis Ngannou could be MMA's Mike Tyson — and the superstar UFC needs

With the thunderous knockout of Alistair Overeem last night, Ngannou has entered the picture as the next potential great that the UFC needs.

DETROIT — The UFC has had some major superstars: Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, Brock Lesnar, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor led the standard bearers for them and help get the company into the mainstream.

Now, the leading MMA organization is in search of a new flag-waver.

Look no further than heavyweight Francis Ngannou, who knocked Alistair Overeem back to the Netherlands with one vicious left uppercut in the co-main event of UFC 218 and will fight Stipe Miocic for the heavyweight championship of the world in the beginning of 2018.

"When you look at him, he looks like the heavyweight champion of the world," White said at the presser. "He looks like the heavyweight champion of something. The guy is a monster. He continues to get better. Wow, just wow. I've always believed in this guy since I met him that he could be the man, but he looked like the man tonight."

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Ortiz, Liddell and Lesnar are retired; Jones is suspended for failing another drug test; Rousey seems to be retired even though she hasn't officially said it; If you go by the word of Dana White at Saturday's UFC 218 post-fight press conference, the careers of McGregor and St-Pierre are uncertain.

As White always says, the show goes on, and Ngannou is the next person to continue push the UFC into the conscience of the casual and sports fans.

The 31-year-old from Cameroon is 11-1, undefeated in six UFC fights, seven of those wins by knockout with five of those inside the Octagon. Ngannou has an amazing story: he bounced from home to home when he was younger after his parents to becoming homeless when he moved to Paris to begin his MMA journey.

He does what people want a heavyweight to do — knock people out. He's the MMA version of Mike Tyson and we seen what he did for the sport of boxing. Watching him walk to the Octagon, the way he stared at Overeem was like watching Tyson in his heyday when he knew he already had the fight won.

To make that comparison more scary, Ngannou looked up to Tyson, the youngest heavyweight champion of the world of the "sweet science."

"That thing at the (UFC) Performance Institute that gauges strength and how hard you hit, he broke the world record," White told Sporting News. "That's some Ivan Drago s—."

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Ngannou is exactly what the UFC needs at this point. He's the total opposite of McGregor, as he doesn't talk much trash to his opponents, doesn't show the bravado like Rousey and has stayed out of the trouble that's plagued the once-promising career of Jones.

"Francis Ngannou is special," White said.

That is extremely high praise coming from White on someone whose only been in the sport for a little more than four years and hasn't yet been a world champion. The world is about to see how special he really is.

Welcome to the era of "The Predator".

Steven Muehlhausen is an MMA and boxing writer and contributor for Sporting News. You can listen to his podcast, "The Fight Junkies" here . You can email him at stevemuehlhausen@yahoo.com and can find him on Twitter @SMuehlhausenMMA .

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