Francis Ngannou is on the right track to return, his coach Eric Nicksick revealed.
After Ngannou defeated Ciryl Gane by decision at UFC 270 to defend his heavyweight title, it was revealed he entered the fight with a knee injury. In March, he had surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL and four months later, Nicksick likes the progress Ngannou has made.
“I think he’s either ahead of schedule or on track, one or the other,” Nicksick told MMA Junkie Radio. “And from what I’ve gathered (from UFC Performance Institute staff), he’s making great strides. He’s back in the gym moving around, hitting pads and stuff.”
Although Eric Nicksick says Francis Ngannou is ahead of schedule, the heavyweight champ is still months away. However, Nicksick says he is enjoying working with Ngannou through his recovery and is looking forward to working with him in a fight camp to defend his titles.
“That’s the biggest thing for me as a coach,” Nicksick said. “What I miss out on is time of growing, areas that we can improve on. That’s where I get like, ‘Oh man, we’re not doing enough X, Y, Z.’ And I’m OK with that. We don’t have a fight lined up or anything right now. His main focus is getting his knee rehabbed to the point where we can get back in the lab and start doing these things again. Hopefully, and it sounds like for what he’s saying that if something were to happen, it would be the end of the year or early 2023.”
Ngannou, as mentioned, is coming off the win over Gane while prior to that, he knocked out Stipe Miocic in the rematch to become the new UFC heavyweight champion. He’s currently on a six-fight win streak with wins over Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Junior dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, and Curtis Blaydes, winning all by knockout in the first round.
Cole Shelton covers MMA for BJPenn.com, MMANews, and MyMMANews.com while also being the lead MMA odds writer for Sports Betting Dime