The “Baddest Man on the Planet” moniker is once again up for grabs, as UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic locks horns with seemingly unstoppable challenger Francis Ngannou. Miocic, has a chance at history, as no other Heavyweight has successfully defended their title more than two times. Miocic comes into this bout on a five fight win streak, all via finish and four of those coming in the very first round. As for the challenger, Ngannou’s UFC career has been nothing but pure destruction. He’s won all six fights inside the octagon via finish, with none of them reaching the third round.
In the co-main event, UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier looks to put the Jon Jones saga behind him, as he takes on the meteoric rising challenger Volkan Oezdemir. Cormier, before the Jones fight had stringed together four straight victories. Two of those victories came against arguably one of the most dangerous power punchers within the division, Anthony Johnson. However, now it’s Johnson’s teammate Oezdemir who will look to exact revenge. Since debuting in the UFC in 2017, Oezdemir has done nothing but win. The first fight, he squeaked out a decision victory over Ovince St. Preux. The next two, took a combined 70 seconds, as he knocked out Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa with relative ease.
Anyways, enough talk! To the Predictions!
UFC 220 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou – Is there even a point to break this fight down? It’s more than likely to end in knockout, as both men feature the heaviest hands in the UFC. However, with history on the line and the fact that Ngannou has destroyed his recent foes, Miocic could try to pin Ngannou against the cage and take him down. We’ve never seen Ngannou on the ground and we all know that Miocic has some of the most brutal ground-and-pound. Just ask Alistair Overeem or Mark Hunt who was beaten to a pulp.
As for a prediction, I’m going to with Ngannou. In Miocic’s last fight against Junior Dos Santos, he was very aggressive. He pressured Dos Santos and ran at him often. If he tries to do the same, he’s going to pay. If Ngannou has worked on his wrestling defense like I think he does, keeps this one on the feet, I believe it’s him who lands the first power shot. Miocic has been rocked before several times, but recovered. I’m convinced though, a Ngannou power shot there’s no recovering from, as you’re most likely asleep. So with that, I have Ngannou via knockout.
205 lbs.: UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier vs. Volkan Oezdemir – I can’t recall the last time someone debuted in the UFC, won three fights and earned a title shot all in the same year (Title bout obviously is happening in 2018). It’s truly impressive how quickly Oezdemir rose, but this is where his run ends. Cormier has only lost to one man, the one many considered the greatest of all-time in Jon Jones. Of course that moniker was before Jones was flagged by USADA for a second time.
Anyways, Cormier has dealt with perhaps the most fierce power puncher in the division in Anthony Johnson, TWICE! Oezdemir of course can land that patented power shot, but I doubt it. Cormier is durable and will withstand the short amount of punches Oezdemir gets off before Cormier takes him down. From there, it’s a beatdown. So with that, I have Cormier submitting Oezdemir in the second round.
145 lbs.: Shane Burgos vs. Calvin Kattar – I’ve got Burgos here. While Kattar impressed in his short notice debut against Andre Fili, that was against an extremely hittable opponent. Burgos is more defensively sound and has tremendous counter-striking. His boxing is sharp, he’s got good pop on his punches and he attacks the body often. In what will presumably be a striking contest, it’s Burgos who will outpoint Kattar en route to a decision victory.
205 lbs.: Francimar Barroso vs. Gian Villante – Why is this fight on the PPV? This is an abysmal Light Heavyweight bout. As for a prediction, I’m going with Villante. He’s on the precipice of becoming a bottom feeder in the Light Heavyweight. So with that, I have Villante via decision
135 lbs.: Thomas Almeida vs. Rob Font – This is a great fight, but I’ve got Almeida. Font is an excellent striker, who usually his length and reach to keep distance and pick apart foes. However, when he faces a striker with power, he becomes a hesitant striker who averts to avoid danger than winning the fight. Almeida is a power puncher and an aggressive one at that. I expect him to close the distance on Font and make him pay. So with that, I have Almeida winning this via knockout.
UFC 220 ‘Prelims’ on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Kyle Bochniak vs. Brandon Davis – Bochniak is really not that great. Maybe he’ll show something fighting at home in Boston, but I can’t side with him based off that. Davis literally throws punches in bunches and I expect him to engulf Bochniak with volume en route to a decision victory.
170 lbs.: Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Sabah Homasi II – This is an immediate rematch and I believe the way the first one ended is exactly how this one ends. Except sooner. So with that, I have Alhassan closing this stylistically fun rivalry via a first round knockout.
125 lbs.: Dustin Ortiz vs. Alexandre Pantoja – This a tough fight to predict. Ortiz is a solid wrestler, who’s grappling allows for a smothering top game. In his last fight however, it was his hands that delivered a unexpected 15 second knockout over Hector Sandoval. As for Pantoja, his kicking game highlights his striker, but his bread and butter is his grappling. Able to scramble from any position, the Brazilian often is able to take advantage while on the mat. However, Ortiz is a powerful wrestler who I believe has the capabilities of staying on top and grinding out rounds. So with that, I have Ortiz via decision.
145 lbs.: Julio Arce vs. Dan Ige – Honestly a coin flip here – Arce via decision.
UFC 220 ‘Prelims’ on Fight Pass (7:00 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Matt Bessette vs. Enrique Barzola – Bessette has been around the regional scene for a long time and while he’s definitely UFC caliber, his strengths won’t trouble Barzola. So with that, I have Barzola rolling here via decision.
155 lbs.: Islam Makhachev vs. Gleison Tibau – Did you know that Tibau is tied for 9th all-time in UFC wins and is tied for 8th all-time in UFC bouts? The potential to been higher among the ranks was halted by a two year suspension. However, Tibua is back and the UFC isn’t giving him an easy return fight. Makhachev is a young wrestler who models his fighting style off training partner Khabib Nurmagomedov. He’s already beaten some tough guys like Chris Wade and Nik Lentz.
As for a prediction, I’m going to side with Tibau. Despite some inevitable rust, Tibau has some of the very best takedown defense in the UFC. Notably he stuffed the unstuffable Nurmagomedov all thirteen takedown attempts in their 2012 fight. He’s also a serviceable striker, who has shown flashes of power. Perhaps Tibau’s biggest weakness is his gas tank, which is good for two rounds. Despite that, I got Tibau winning those early rounds and taking a close decision victory.