The UFC is back in action, with a Heavyweight title led PPV. Live from the APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic will yet again look to defend his throne against the fearsome ‘Predator’ Francis Ngannou. While Miocic got the better of Ngannou in the first contest, the Cameroonian is on a mission. With four knockout victories in a row, coming in a combined two minutes and forty two seconds, Ngannou is as fearsome on the feet as ever. However, Miocic ate all his punches in the first contest, and is coming off back-to-back wins over a legend in Daniel Cormier. The Champion is underrated, especially considering he fights in a division in which one punch ends the night more than any other division. Can Miocic outlast Ngannou one more time? We’ll see!
UFC 260 PPV Main Card on ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou 2 – The Heavyweight title doesn’t often get defended more than once or twice a year, but when it does – it creates a buzz like no other. Stipe Miocic is a bad man, and has more or less, wiped out the older Heavyweights in and out of the UFC. He has also beaten Francis Ngannou, whom is given a second crack at redemption. While I believe Miocic is the full package and if this fight were to go past two rounds, he undoubtedly would be the favorite to win – I am going with Ngannou here. The once overly confident and showman Ngannou learnt a very big lesson from Miocic the first time they fought. One, to take this sport more seriously and two, that winging punches at a Champion like Miocic and emptying the tank in one round is a very silly thing to do. With all that in hand, the very dangerous Cameroonian striker isn’t going to make the same mistake twice. I expect flurries from Ngannou, but calculated and paced ones. I also don’t believe Ngannou empties the gas tank again early, being more technical and timely with his power shots. In the end, I have it And New – as Ngannou knocks Miocic out.
170 lbs.: Tyron Woodley vs. Vicente Luque – I feel like a broken record when defending Tyron Woodley, often saying that his athleticism, wrestling and knockout power make him a threat to beat anyone. However, all that goes out the window when you decide to not use any of your skills. I mean, the man has literally lost fifteen rounds in a row. The lack of activity and willingness to get pressured to where your back is against the cage, is seemingly where we are at with Woodley. I hope I’m wrong here and Woodley pulls off a ‘Yall Musta Forgot’ – cause I don’t like to be this critical of a fighter. However, given Woodley’s state and Luque offering striking volume, power and an iron chin – it’s going to be all Luque for three rounds.
135 lbs.: Sean O’Malley vs. Thomas Almeida – This fight ends inside the distance. Whether Sean O’Malley’s ankle gives out and renders him unable to fight or Thomas Almeida’s chin fails him yet again. I’ll go with the latter – O’Malley wins via knockout.
125 lbs.: Miranda Maverick vs. Gillian Robertson – I like Gillian Robertson. She’s feisty, always looking to get the fight to the ground and submit her foes. However, when Robertson is matched up with a wrestler or superior grappler, she struggles. Robertson’s striking isn’t quite there to give her another avenue to victory. So without that window, her game can get sloppy if neutralized. Against Miranda Maverick, who is a strong wrestler and grappler, I’m not seeing Robertson getting over this hump yet. So with that, give me Maverick to win via decision.
155 lbs.: Jamie Mullarkey vs. Khama Worthy – This fight comes down to two things in my opinion. One, can Khama Worthy avoid being taken down and two, does Jamie Mullarkey have anything on the feet to crack the rather chinny Worthy. While the last point is concerning and we’ve seen Luis Pena succeed in taking Worthy down, I do believe that Worthy’s sneaky submission could aid him back to his feet. A place where he will dominate and eventually land the knock out blow on Mullarkey.
UFC 260 ‘Prelims’ Card on ESPN/ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Alonzo Menifield vs. Fabio Cherant – I credit Fabio Cherant for stepping in on short notice, but this fight is a tall task. To avoid the storm that is the first round and a half from Alonzo Menifield, seems unlikely. I expect this fight to play out early on, with Menifield winning via knockout.
170 lbs.: Jared Gooden vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov – Obviously, Abubakar Nurmagomedov doesn’t have the skills of his cousin Khabib Nurmagomedov. However, he does have a wrestling game that can stifle Jared Gooden. If for whatever reason Nurmagomedov can’t take Gooden down or decides to stand with Gooden, he most likely will get dominated on the feet – maybe even get knocked out. Despite that though, I can’t see this going any other way than Nurmagomedov taking Gooden down and controlling him for three rounds.
205 lbs.: Modestas Bukauskas vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk – This fight ain’t going to the judges. Both men live by the sword and die by it too. Modestas Bukauskas enters this contest with eleven wins, ten of them coming via stoppage. He has been finished in all three of his losses. Meanwhile, Michal Oleksiejczuk has fourteen wins, eleven of which come via stoppage. He has suffered four defeats, being finished in all of them. So, who’s going to land the finishing blow? My guess is Oleksiejczuk, but who knows…
145 lbs.: Omar Morales vs. Shane Young – I still don’t like the decision of Omar Morales to drop down to Featherweight. At Lightweight he looked good, winning his first two UFC fights rather convincingly. Throw in a knockout victory in Dana White’s Contender Series, and Morales is 3-0 inside the Octagon at Lightweight. A drop to Featherweight showed a poor version of Morales, who nearly got knocked out. That leads me to Shane Young, who isn’t at the striking level of Morales’s last opponent Giga Chikadze. Yet, Young offers enough pressure and striking volume to give a good account for himself on the feet. Young is especially at his best when the fight solely takes place, which will be in this fight. While I’m curious to see Morales in his second fight at Featherweight, if it’s anything like the first fight – Young could have a field day. With all that said, I do expect a close fight, but give me Shane Young to win via decision.
UFC 260 Early ‘Prelims’ Card on ESPN/ESPN+ (7:30 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Abu Azaitar vs. Marc-Andre Barriault – Despite being out for over two years, I’m siding with Abu Azaitar. If Marc-Andre Barriault had a wrestling background of some sort, I’d be all over him. But because I believe this fight will take place solely on the feet, I favor Azaitar. He has the power edge and a two inch reach advantage – which will aid him in overcoming the height disadvantage. My only fear is that Azaitar gasses out or looks out of sorts due to being out of action. However, I’ll stand by siding with ‘Captain Morocco’ to win via decision.