Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is gearing up for his return to mixed martial arts (MMA), which is expected to come in late December or perhaps early January, depending on what the promotion has in store.

Who Miocic (17-2) will be facing is unclear. The top two contenders — Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum — were already knocked out by the Clevelander in consecutive title defenses, while No. 3-ranked Cain Velasquez is still battling injuries.

So how about Francis Ngannou?

“Ngannou is a very tough guy,” Miocic told The MMA Hour. “He’s been running through people and he’s getting better in every fight. He’s definitely a great up and comer and he’s got a great future ahead of him. Listen, whoever the UFC wants me to fight, I’ll fight, Overeem, or whoever’s next. Cain (Velasquez), whoever they say I’m not going to back down.”

“The Predator” sits at No. 4, one spot ahead of Mark Hunt.

Ngannou (10-1) has been nothing short of terrifying since making his Octagon debut in late 2015, racking up five straight wins with five violent finishes, including last January’s destruction of Andrei Arlovski.

Good enough for a title shot?