A UFC Heavyweight rematch is the Main Event for UFC 260, which takes place out of the UFC Apex Centre in Las Vegas, Nevada. Stipe Miocic will again look to slay the beast that is Francis Ngannou, in a fight that is sure to have all fans on the edge of their seats. Tyron Woodley will look to bounce back from a horror few years against Vicente Luque in the co-main and the Sugar show returns to the Octagon after suffering his first professional defeat. We look at all three of those fights in this week’s preview.
What a dynamite rematch we have here in the Heavyweight division. As a disclaimer before I dive into my pick, MMA math never makes sense and never will. While statistics should be taken seriously, in this sport it isn’t anywhere near as simple as comparing stats, we are in the fight game where it only takes one shot after all. Now onto the preview. I do not believe Francis Ngannou is technically better in any aspect of the fight game than Stipe Miocic but still believe that he will knock him out here. In their first encounter Miocic won a unanimous decision 50-44, on all three judges scorecards. While that was a Miocic masterclass, it was also down to Ngannou having zero cardio and a lack of respect for the champion, spending the lead up weeks partying in France. Francis Ngannou has the most astronomical power to grace the UFC, I do not know anyone who can compare to him. He can hit you in the middle of the forehead and shut your lights out. The big question is has he improved his wrestling and cardio since his first title fight? We simply do not know as since his fight with Derrick Lewis, where Ngannou was so gun shy, he has gone on a rampage finishing Curtis Blaydes, Cain Valasquez, Junior dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik all by first round knockout.
There simply is no evidence of an improved gas tank or any ground skills but that isn’t through any fault of his own, the fights just simply haven’t lasted long enough to know. I also do not think it will overly matter in this fight. In the first fight there was a few shots that went so close to ending the night, and many people forget some of the hairy moments in the opening exchanges. Ngannou also showed off his incredible strength discrepancy shrugging off a couple of clinches from Miocic with next to no technical understanding of the positions, just solely with brute force. Ngannou has since moved to the UFC performance institute and has made clear efforts to improve his conditioning and nutrition at Xtreme Couture.
It is also documented that he has trained with Kamaru Usman on multiple occasions, so even though he’s not going to become a wrestling threat overnight, Ngannou understands his deficiencies and is at the very least working to somewhat rectify them. While it is inconceivable Francis Ngannou wins a five-round decision, I also see it as unlikely that Miocic can weather the early storm against a more patient and methodical Ngannou. Ngannou will catch Miocic early on and we will have a new UFC Heavyweight Champion and organisation superstar. Lap it up and profit from it before Jon Jones comes knocking and shows why he is the best to ever do it when he comes up and claims the belt at Heavyweight, but that preview is for another day.
This is the second straight fight where stats do not justify my pick at all as begrudgingly, I am recommending a play on Tyron Woodley. On paper I have to admit this makes very little sense. Luque has finished his opponents in 11 of his last 12 victories and Woodley has suffered humiliating defeats in his last three and landed a measly 96 strikes in has last 71 minutes in the Octagon. His reluctance to let his hands go and the once renowned takedown defense looking long gone has left the former Welterweight king as a shadow of his former self. So why tip him? Firstly, the odds are just too good to look for someone who dominated the Welterweight division for years, especially when Vicente Luque is the weaker wrestler and personally, I do not see him as this fantastic striker that he is painted out as. Luque was picked to shreds by Wonderboy and marginally beat Mike Perry at the end of 2019, a fight in which he was out struck by 30 strikes by Mike Perry!
While his output could allow him to win the necessary rounds, I cannot see him finishing Woodley. Luque also is yet to beat anyone in the top 10 so the fact he is such a big favourite, despite Woodley’s recent struggles, is ridiculous. Woodley has lost his last three, but all are to who I see as the clear three best in the Welterweight division (sorry Leon Edwards). I may regret this as Woodley could again shell up, but he doesn’t have to worry about the takedown and has beaten far better strikers than Luque before on the feet. I also would not be surprised to see Woodley look for takedowns and get them. These odds may also get larger closer to fight time as a lot of pundits are leaning opposite to myself. I am on Woodley and backing him to bounce back with a win as I believe even a 50% peak Woodley beats the overhyped and overrated Vicente Luque.
I am still well and truly on the Sean O’Malley hype train despite his first professional loss in his last fight. While I do not like that he has failed to accept it as a loss, it was from a freakish injury. The fact that a kick directly hit a nerve that reaggravated a past injury is seriously unlucky and I do believe without that he would have won his last fight. Now he returns against Thomas Almeida who is an average UFC fighter at best, and I would be shocked if O’Malley doesn’t knock him out. Almeida has lost his past three and really is a fight to rebuild O’Malley’s stock as he is a potential cash cow for the UFC. O’Malley has some of the best striking IQ in the UFC and has some very underrated grappling to match. I have been high on ‘Sugar’ since I first saw him finish David Nuzzo in LFA with a spinning wheel kick and every time I have seen him step out since he has looked better and better. While the Main Event is sure to create headlines, expect a highlight reel finish all over your socials from something outrageous by O’Malley. The Sugar Show is back on and it isn’t to be missed.
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