Francis Ngannou has waited more than three years to exact revenge on Stipe Miocic. ‘The Predator’ gets his chance – and another shot at the UFC Heavyweight Championship – in this weekend’s UFC 260 headliner. The Cameroonian brute will be aiming to get the job done early.
Four more days!
— UFC (@ufc) March 23, 2021
Can Miocic deny ‘Predator Power’ twice?
One of the all-time great UFC heavyweights, Stipe Miocic found himself in the unusual position of underdog as defending champion when he faced Francis Ngannou at UFC 220 in early-2018.
Miocic was coming off five straight knockout wins, including four in the first round. But it was a reflection of Ngannou’s brutal march through the heavyweight division, carving out four consecutive first-round victories himself leading into UFC 220.
Miocic survived some early bombs from Ngannou and was ultimately able to get the fight back in the clinch. He slowed down the pace and earned a unanimous decision victory over his exhausted opponent – the American’s record third successful defence of the UFC Heavyweight Championship.
But three years on, Ngannou is the $1.74 favourite to lift the belt from Miocic at UFC 260.
‘The Predator’s’ unrivalled punching power has not subsided in the interim. Meanwhile, his improved work ethic and takedown defence gives Ngannou an even better chance of retribution.
The 34-year-old has stopped his past four opponents in the first round. His Knockout Value ahead of Sunday’s mouth-watering bout is irresistible – punters can get $3.20 for a Predator KO/TKO victory in Round 1 or 2.
Fresh is best
The heavyweight rivals have tread significantly different paths to their second showdown.
Ngannou lost his next fight to Derrick Lewis by unanimous decision in a three-round affair at UFC 226. But he has won his four fights since by first-round KO/TKO, stopping Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik.
The Predator has been subjected to just one minute and 42 seconds in the octagon in the past two and a half years. His brutal knockout of Rozenstruik at UFC 249 last May took a mere 20 seconds.
:20 – 1:11 – :26 – :45 ⏱
— UFC (@ufc) March 22, 2021
Miocic’s fight record since UFC 220 consists entirely of a epic trilogy against Daniel Cormier. He lost the title by first-round knockout at UFC 226, regained it via a Round 4 TKO at UFC 241 and retained the belt with a five-round unanimous decision at UFC 252 in August.
If Miocic can again withstand the early barrage from Ngannou, the value in his $2.10 underdog price for the win increases dramatically. But it remains to be seen how much of impact the 38-year-old’s heavy workload has – particularly against an opponent who has not had to overextend himself.
Wars take a toll
While Ngannou has made short work of all comers in the past couple of years, the effect of Miocic’s three-part war of attrition against Cormier cannot be understated.
Miocic was knocked out for just the second time in his career at UFC 226. He also absorbed plenty of punishment in his subsequent wins over Cormier. Combining that factor with his advanced age, there is a school of thought that Miocic’s chin has inevitably deteriorated – making his ripe for the picking against an opponent better suited than any to take advantage.
Ngannou has never been knocked out in his 15-3 career. The only three times the Predator has gone the distance, he has lost. His win tally consists of 11 by KO/TKO and four by submission. All of his victories came inside two rounds.
Miocic is one of the UFC’s great champions and a titan of the heavyweight division. But all signs are pointing to the Predator’s Knockout Value at UFC 260.
"I didn't want the sun to rise!"
"When I went back to Cameroon, that's the moment I stopped fighting for me, and started fighting for us!"
— UFC on BT Sport (@btsportufc) March 23, 2021