Francis Ngannou has claimed the UFC heavyweight championship after stopping Stipe Miocic with ferocious punches early in the second round at UFC 260.

Ngannou (11-2) avenged his blowout loss to Miocic in 2018 by demonstrating everything he has learned in the ensuing three years during a dominant victory.

The first UFC heavyweight champion from Africa flattened Miocic (21-3) twice early in the second, finishing the fight 52 seconds into the round.

The fight ended quickly after Ngannou won the first round.

Miocic recovered from his first knockdown in the second round and even landed a right hand that stung Ngannou, but the challenger replied with a picture-perfect left hook, depositing Miocic roughly on the canvas again for the finish.

“That’s as nasty as it ever gets,” Joe Rogan said in commentary.

UFC referee Herb Dean tried to stop Ngannou from delivering a final blow to Miocic on the canvas.

But the new champion fortunately slipped the American’s head on his way down, avoiding a more damaging strike.

“I have a great outcome from that fight,” Ngannou said.

“It was a great benefit from that fight and I believe that that benefit pushed me, rose me higher than this.”

The 34-year-old Ngannou is a former aspiring boxer who discovered mixed martial arts after he left Cameroon for France.

He rose rapidly through his new sport with his fearsome power and growing all-around skill, but Miocic interrupted his ascent by winning every round of their first bout in Boston.

The long-anticipated changing of the guard atop the UFC’s heavyweight division finally happened in their rematch.

In the Vegas cage, Ngannou was far too much for Miocic, the firefighter from Cleveland who is the most accomplished heavyweight champion in UFC history.

In the co-main event of this pay-per-view show at the UFC Apex gym on the promotion’s corporate campus, former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley lost his fourth consecutive fight when Vicente Luque submitted him with a D’Arce choke late in the first round.

UFC 260 turned into a showcase for Ngannou, who was up to the challenge this time.

Earlier, bantamweight Sugar Sean O’Malley overcame an enormous early mental mistake for a vicious third-round finish of Thomas Almeida.

O’Malley, the thrilling fighter with rainbow-dyed hair, floored Almeida in the first round with a head kick and a big punch – but instead of finishing his opponent on the ground, O’Malley anticipated a stoppage and walked away before realising the fight hadn’t been stopped.

When he floored Almeida again in the third, O’Malley briefly tried to walk away again before pouncing and throwing a final punch that bounced Almeida’s head off the canvas.

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