The allure of a UFC heavyweight championship bout is something to behold.
Anticipation has been amplified in the lead up to this weekend’s long-awaited rematch between Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou for all of the glory inside of UFC’s Apex. Miocic looks to further cement his legacy as UFC’s greatest heavyweight champion of all time, while Ngannou is out to prove that he can shut anyone’s lights off in the main event at UFC 260. What we have here is the epitome of risky business.
We’d be remiss not to begin by painting a picture of how the first fight played out at TD Garden in 2018. Miocic played the role of matador in the early rounds, making Ngannou miss and gas out in the process while mixing in his own wrestling and well-timed strikes. It was extremely dangerous in the early going, as Miocic was forced to evade a number of Ngannou’s potentially fight-ending bombs with surgical precision. Ngannou’s two glaring weaknesses, takedown defense and cardio, ended up being completely exposed under the bright lights.
That is how long Francis Ngannou’s last four opponents have managed to survive inside of the Octagon since November of 2018. Two of those four opponents also happened to be former UFC champions. The power we’ve seen from Francis Ngannou is, by most accounts other-worldly. “The Predator” renders most opponents into a prolonged state of unconsciousness with a single vicious blow. Born in Cameroon, Ngannou, 15-3, 34yo, has spent a great deal of time training out of Las Vegas since his unanimous decision loss to Miocic in 2018. Besides a gun-shy performance in decision loss to Derrick Lewis after the Miocic loss, he’s been on what can be simply described as a rampage. Though, has Ngannou improved, and shored up any of his holes over the past two years? That is the question, as we haven’t seen him tested. One thing is for sure though. Ngannou has gone to great lengths attempting to secure this rematch versus the heavyweight GOAT, and finally got his wish.
Stipe Miocic, 20-3, 38 years old, has beaten the who’s who in the heavyweight division. He’s already arguably the best heavyweight the sport has ever seen, yet continues to have something to prove every time out. The champ has fought with a chip on his shoulder for years, and risen to the occasion time and again to shut people up. Most recently, we saw Miocic put on back to back spectacular performances vs Daniel Cormier. The only blips on his stellar resume are the losses to Daniel Cormier, Junior Dos Santos, and Stefan Struve. Miocic has looked the best he’s ever been in recent bouts, and is extremely focused in the lead up to this fight vs a heavy hitter in Francis Ngannou.
Someone is leaving Las Vegas, Nevada as UFC’s undisputed heavyweight champion. Who is it going to be? Will Miocic be able to evade the hellacious power of Francis Ngannou, or will he pay with his consciousness? Will Stipe Miocic execute a similar game plan to the first bout where he drained the big man, exposing Ngannou’s previous weaknesses en route to victory? Questions will be answered in the main event at UFC 260.