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UFC heavyweight champ Francis Ngannou puts some respect on Jake Paul's name

jake paul, francis ngannou

Credit: Showtime/Amanda Westcott

Add Francis Ngannou to the growing list of fighters and fans that were impressed by Jake Paul's shocking knockout win over Tyron Woodley this past weekend.

Although Paul's win on Saturday inside the Amalie Arena was not the first KO victory of his young career, it was without a doubt the most momentous. His destructive victories over former NBA point guard Nate Robinson and Bellator champion Ben Askren pale in comparison to putting a former UFC welterweight champion to sleep.

"The Problem Child's" fifth victory overall and second straight over "The Chosen One" sent shockwaves across the combat sports world, and the entire industry took notice. Including UFC heavyweight king Ngannou. A man who is well versed in smashing foes with the hammers he calls hands.

Francis Ngannou was impressed by Jake Paul's win over Tyron Woodley

The current "baddest man on the planet" has lamped MMA legends while earning 12 KOs in 16 victories, and he gained legitimate respect for what Paul was able to do in beating an Octagon great. Something Ngannou did not expect to happen in the pair's rematch.

"Honestly, I was impressed by Jake Paul. I didn't see that coming. I was sure that Tyron Woodley was gonna win this fight," Ngannou told ">TMZ Sports on Wednesday. "But you've got to give it to Jake Paul. He made a huge statement."

Although he scoffed at the idea of actually fighting Paul himself -- since he would outweigh the Ohio native by nearly 100 pounds -- he made it clear that future opponents better not sleep on Paul, or they could end up getting put to sleep if they don't take his abilities seriously.

"You better take him seriously, because he proved it," says Ngannou.

"The Predator" will return to the Octagon in January at UFC 270 to defend his heavyweight crown for the first time, in a highly anticipated unification bout against interim champion Ciryl Gane. He is in the midst of a five-fight win streak. All but one of those victories came by first-round knockout.