UFC Fighter Francis Ngannou Cast in Fast & Furious 9

The Fast & Furious franchise is no stranger to UFC veterans popping up from time to time. For the still-untitled Fast & Furious 9, Francis Ngannou has just signed on to mix it up alongside Vin Diesel and company. Ngannou's role hasn't been released yet, but there's no secret that he was brought into the production to throw those hands.

UFC's second-ranked fighter in the heavyweight division joins a growing list of mixed martial artists to make the jump to Hollywood. Gina Carano made her debut in Fast & Furious 6, and Ronda Rousey burst onto the scene in Furious 7. Performers from the UFC are absolutely qualified to dole out punishment that audiences seem to love, and the film series' continued dominance keeps adding more expectations for each entry.

Deadline reports that Ngannou had agreed to the role earlier and Justin Lin has quite the roster assembled for the next film. The man they call “The Predator” most recently destroyed Junior dos Santos with a 71-second knockout. Ngannou now also has the most UFC finishes in the heavyweight division. This newest commitment will be a much longer engagement for the competitor.

On the other side of the sports entertainment landscape, Dave Bautista has eschewed roles like other WWE Superstars like The Rock and Roman Reigns have taken on lately. He sees his work in the film industry as more than just "action stardom," the former World Champion wants to be remembered for the roles he played instead.

“Rock was, in a way, a movie star before he was even a movie star. There is something about him that’s really special. I’d never take that away from him,” Bautista told the Tampa Bay Times. "Would I consider him a great actor? F--- no. I want good roles. I don’t care about Fast and Furious or Bumblebee. ... That’s not the kind of stardom I want. ... I want to be in Dune. I want to work with Denis Villeneuve. I want to work with Sam Mendes and Jodie Foster. I want to work with Academy Award winners. I’m proud to be a character actor. I want that respect and credibility and education.”

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Bautista has become a beloved part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, bringing his own special brand of charm to Drax's portrayal in several Marvel films, including the most recent Avengers: Endgame. Bautista's latest project is the talent-packed Dune. Even though he's striving for credibility, that doesn't mean he'll be missing from the next Guardians movie.

Who knows, maybe Ngannou will do battle with Bautista in some project down the line. For now, fans will have to settle for him locking fists with another WWE Superstar in the next installment of the Fast franchise.