A new revamped UFC heavyweight division where consistently impressive, and truly massive, machines of destruction meet, is on show as Stipe Miocic faces Francis Ngannou at UFC 220.
With Miocic dreaming of the unchartered waters of a third heavyweight title defence and Ngannou out to prove that if he is the future of UFC, the future’s now.
UFC odds expert Mark Sylvester straps himself in for a titanic encounter.
You just might find a smattering of scientists among the fight fans at Boston’s TD Garden for UFC 220, when the answer to the question ‘what happens when an immovable object meets an irresistible force?’ could finally be answered.
Heading towards each other with the power of tectonic plates colliding are serial KO-king and reigning heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic, and Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou, whose left hand could possibly melt a charging rhino.
After a series of short-lived supremos, in a division blighted by illness and injury, this is the sort of cataclysmic heavyweight clash that should have us all on the edge of our seats – and ready to run in case we get hit by a toppling Goliath.
In a fight where the stakes are stratospherically high, Miocic is the man with the strap, and a cosy date with the record books, to lose. Having equalled the heavyweight record of two title defences, the 6ft 4in, 240lbs Ohio native just needs to get past The Predator’s 6ft 4in 250lbs monstrous presence, to be hailed as an all-time great.
— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocicufc) January 3, 2018
And, if momentum is a measure we can trust, his recent runaway freight train of a record might be worth some serious chin-stroking consideration.
Miocic’s last five fights have all been carnage-laden KO victories.
The last four have ended before the first bell, beginning with the brace of brutal right hands that iced former champ Andrei Arlovski. That set up Miocic’s tilt at the title that saw defending champ Fabricio Werdum crumpling from a right check hook, delivered by a back-peddling Miocic.
Since then he has practically pounded Alistair Overeem into fine Dutch dust at UFC 203, before exacting bone-chilling revenge on the last man to beat him when he pulverised Junior dos Santos with 23 headshots in a little over two minutes at UFC 211.
Does Miocic have the artillery to send Ngannou and his senses in opposite directions? Oh yeah. A Miocic win by stoppage is a 9/4 shot, folks.
Of course, The Predator brings to the party a left hand that should probably be included in any international arms talks. It’s been measured by some clever UFC boffins as the hardest punch ever landed in the Octagon.
A machine did the measuring because those on the receiving end normally remember little beyond a flash of light and their skeletal infrastructure imploding.
You could try asking Alistair Overeem about the monumental hook that sparked a power cut in his central nervous system at UFC 218, or Andrei Arlovski about the left, right combo that sent him on a collision course with the canvas in January last year. But you’d just get gibberish.
Miocic is made of granite and titanium and the stuff they put on spacecraft to stop them burning up on re-entry, as he proved by eating the bombs Overeem landed on him before he turned the tables.
If Ngannou is going to ice him, it’ll have to be something from his top draw, where he keeps the cruise missile’s shaped like fists.
If one of those catches the champ, the belt’s definitely going home with Ngannou. It’s an easy 8/13.
Even though Miocic has college wrestling credentials to go with his Golden Glove boxing badges, he’s never finished a fight on the ground – unless it’s got a big helping of pound mixed in.
Rise of the Predator: Francis Ngannou, from pro debut to ‘KO of the Year’ https://t.co/jxpoVkZVl1
— MMAjunkie (@MMAjunkie) January 13, 2018
By contrast, rising star Ngannou has submitted four opponents, most recently when Anthony Hamilton very nearly lost an arm to a kimura lock. Miocic has squirmed out of some tight corners, but Ngannou has some very particular and sneaky skills to back up his howitzer-like strikes. The champ to tap out comes in at a cheeky 12/1.
Naturalised Frenchman Ngannou is quite simply terrifying.
Hailing from a street-fighting clan in Cameroon, he’s butchered five of his six UFC opponents with that lethal left and performed origami on the other’s arm.
He might be a relative rookie at the MMA top table, but he’s the real, object of terror, deal. In many ways, he’s the baddest threat Miocic has faced, and he has all the weapons to win. A win by any means for The Predator will see you at 11/20.
But, here’s the thing, experience in the MMA’s penthouse of pain counts.
In this clash of the Titans, I just feel Miocic still has the all-around game to take it over the line. He knows the nooks, crannies and terrifying corners of the octagon, he’s got a locker full of scalps from a murderous who’s who of UFC assassins, and the brightest of lights don’t dazzle his eyes.
If fortune really does favour the brave, here goes. I think these brutes will pound each other like a pair of angry wrecking balls, with Miocic’s bleeding-edge ring-craft just about claiming a battered and bruised photo-finish. My money, but not a lot of it, is going on a Miocic decision. That’s 8/1, and thank you.