It’s the big one, as the baddest man on the planet is decided in the main event of UFC 260 when Stipe Miocic defends his heavyweight championship against Francis Ngannou.
The two met previously during Miocic’s first reign as champion, and he dominated to a victory but yet he is still the underdog coming into this fight. Overlooking Miocic seems crazy, but it’s happening again and not least because of the sheer power of his opponent.
In the co-main event, Tyron Woodley fights for his career in the UFC as he takes on Vicente Luque after the featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega was cancelled due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Last week at UFC Vegas 22, we went 6/10 with three perfect picks to move to 262/416 (62.98%) with 118 perfect picks (45.04%).
There are scheduled to be ten bouts on this card and having already predicted the prelims here, lets look to improve it with the main card also.
Jamie Mullarkey (12-4) vs Khama Worthy (16-7) – (Lightweight/155lbs)
A really fun lightweight fight between two guys looking to get back in the win column to open up this main card. Mullarkey has lost his last two bouts, dropping decisions to Brad Riddell and Faras Ziam most recently at UFC Fight Island 6. Worthy had a seven fight win streak snapped in a little over 90 seconds when he was put away but Ottman Azaitar at UFC Vegas 10 back in September.
Mullarkey is a wrestler who is capable of standing and striking, but he’s often a sitting target when it comes to the stand-up game. Worthy is a powerful striker with nine knockout wins in his career. If Mullarkey can’t get the fight to the ground, he is in big trouble. He’s got a granite chin but with the power that Worthy hits at, plus the fact that Worthy isn’t a sloppy wrestler himself, ‘The Death Star’ should be able to get himself a hard-fought victory.
PICK – Khama Worthy via Knockout, Round 3
Gillian Robertson (9-5) vs Miranda Maverick (10-2) – (Flyweight/125lbs)
Two very highly rated women’s flyweight prospects go head-to-head in this one.
Another chance for Robertson to make an impact on the division as she takes on Maverick in the flyweight division. Robertson was on a two-fight win streak prior to getting dominated by Taila Santos in December, while Maverick is on a four-fight win streak including a doctor’s stoppage between rounds last time out against Liana Jojua at UFC 254.
Robertson is a strong wrestler who’s main aim is always to get the fight to the ground, with her six submission wins standing out on her record. Maverick is a great, technical striker with good wrestling of her own. Robertson’s striking is iffy at best, while Maverick often leaves herself open for takedowns by coming forward. Both can attack the weaknesses of their opponent but Maverick is the better all round fighter and I think she can come away with a wide decision win.
PICK – Miranda Maverick via Decision
Sean O’Malley (12-1) vs Thomas Almeida (22-4) – (Bantamweight/135lbs)
My pick for fight of the night here in the bantamweight division as ‘Suga’ Sean O’Malley makes his return to the octagon following his first defeat to take on Thomas Almeida. O’Malley was en-route to superstardom, stopping Eddie Wineland at UFC 250 before being stopped by Marlon Vera at UFC 252, getting knocked out after a leg injury. Almeida has suffered all of his professional defeats inside his last five fights, including three in a row and most recently against Jonathan Martinez at UFC Fight Island 6.
O’Malley is a super-technical striker who can work off either stance and has legitimate one-punch knockout power. Almeida is a great technical striker himself, but his biggest issue is his durability. Almeida has been knocked out whenever he’s been hit clean and O’Malley is one of the most accurate strikers in the 135lbs division. This is certainly a favourable match up for O’Malley to get back on track towards a title shot with a height, reach, technique and power advantages and he should get an impressive win.
PICK – Sean O’Malley via Knockout, Round 1
Tyron Woodley (19-6-1) vs Vicente Luque (19-7-1) – (Welterweight/170lbs)
A very big fight in the welterweight division between the former champion Tyron Woodley and the ‘Silent Assassin’ Vicente Luque. Woodley has lost three in a row, including most recently when he verbally submitted to Colby Covington at UFC Vegas 11 following a rib injury. Luque on the other hand is on a two-fight win streak, knocking out Niko Price before a stoppage win over Randy Brown at UFC Vegas 5.
Woodley is known for his fantastic wrestling defence and impressive knockout power, but in his last three fights he’s been gun shy when it comes to striking and has been taken down with ease. Luque is a boxer who pressures his opponents and walks them down, happy to take a shot to give one in the belief he will knock them out. Luque hits harder than any of Woodley’s last three opponents and is a long-time training partner of both Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns. If Woodley comes back in this fight and shows his old self where he throws heavy punches and threatens with his wrestling, he could very well get the win. But it’s hard to expect that from a guy who’s lost his last 14 rounds in a row and was finished in the 15th. Luque has youth on his side, is confident and has great pressure, work-rate and power, so I think he is able to get a win in this fight.
PICK – Vicente Luque via Decision
Stipe Miocic (20-3) vs Francis Ngannou (15-3) – (Heavyweight/220-265lbs)
The baddest man on the planet will be decided as the greatest heavyweight of all-time makes the second defence of his second reign as champion against ‘The Predator’ Francis Ngannou. Miocic beat Ngannou back in 2018, before going 2-1 in a trilogy with Daniel Cormier which came to an end at UFC 252. Ngannou lost his next fight after that loss to Derrick Lewis, but has since won four-in-a-row against Curtis Blaydes, Junior Dos Santos, Cain Velasquez and Jairzinho Rozenstruik all via first round knockout.
Miocic is one of the most well-rounded heavyweights ever, with fantastic wrestling skills but also legitimate knockout power himself. Ngannou is a banger, who comes in with explosive power and one-punch knockouts. The first fight was incredibly one-sided, with Miocic wrestling his way to a dominant win. Since then, Ngannou has become “obsessed” with grappling but it’s not something we’ve been able to see in the cage yet. Miocic is quicker, the better wrestler and in the first fight he was able to eat Ngannou’s punches that landed. He’s taken a lot of damage since then, being KO’d by Cormier so whether he can take the punches this time is questionable but he is so much better than that first fight too.
Ngannou’s skillset is limited despite his success, but his power is absolutely unreal. The issue is that he’s so big his cardio just can’t go for 25 minutes. Miocic can and has several times. It only takes one punch from Ngannou, but it’s hard to see this fight going much differently to the first one – except this time I think Miocic gets the stoppage on an exhausted, grounded Ngannou.
PICK – Stipe Miocic via Knockout, Round 4