UFC 220: Miocic-Ngannou, Cormier-Oezdimer headline star-studded card
In the history of fight sports, people have always loved to watch the big men fight. At UFC 220 in Boston they will get to see both the heavyweight and light heavyweight titles contested. In both instances, you get a grizzled veteran champion taking on a young and powerful challenger who has taken the division by storm.
The headliner features the Heavyweight Champion of the World, Stipe Miocic (17-2) taking on Francis “The Predator” Ngannou. Miocic has the chance to set the all-time record (albeit at only three) for title defenses at heavyweight, but Ngannou is perhaps his most dangerous opponent to date. He has blitzed through the division, finishing his last four opponents each in under 2 minutes, including a cringe-worthy knockout of Alistair Overeem back in December. He has cartoonish power in both hands, he hits hard in close and at range, and pushes forward with a pressure that no one is comfortable with. Miocic is a striker by nature, but is also a very gifted offensive grappler, though he hasn’t shown that side of his game in this title run. To handle Ngannou he may need to revert to those roots. Either way, I envision a quick and explosive finish to this fight.
The co-main event features the man many believe would run the heavyweight division should he choose to return to it, 205-lb. champ Daniel Cormier (19-1), taking on the hot new prospect in the division, Volkan Oezdimer (15-1). Cormier has proven to be one of the best fighters in the world, despite his inability to beat Jon Jones. With the exception of a hard-fought decision over Alex Gustaffson and the aforementioned Jones, Cormier has made everyone at 205 and heavyweight look like they didn’t belong in the cage with him. His wrestling and top-control are world class, and his striking has improved to the point where he isn’t afraid to trade leather before taking the fight to the ground. Oezdimer has the kind of power that can end a fight quickly, proven by his sub-minute KO’s of Misha Circunov and Jimi Manuwa, both top 10 fighters. Cormier has seen that before with Anthony Johnson, and he was able to weather the storm and get a decisive victory.
Francimir Barroso (19-6) taking on Gian Villante (15-9) may not be appealing on paper and it may not have any remotely immediate title impact, but these two guys will be throwing leather. Barroso is a power puncher who dives for takedowns behind them, but has very little in the cardio department. Villante is a strong wrestler who has a strong chin, and needs it, as he is arguably the worst defensive fighter in the division. If Barroso can’t get an early finish, I expect him to have a long night underneath Villante. If his cardio outlasts Villante’s chin, we could be in for a spectacular knockout.
Thomas Almeida (21-2) takes on Rob Font (14-3) in a bantamweight fight that should push the winner back into contender consideration. Almeida was once 20-0 and fought Cody Garbrandt for a number one contender’s spot. Garbrandt obviously got the win, and went on to win the title. Almeida bounced back with a decisive win over Albert Morales, but lost a decision to Jimmie Rivera where he was greatly out-grappled after that. Font is a strong all-around fighter whose game is based on counter-flurries. It has been effective for Font, but this may be a bad matchup for it, as Almeida excels once he can get opponents into clinch range.
The undercard features Brandon Davis, Abdul Razak Alhassan and a lightweight bout between Islam Makhachev and Gleison Tibau.
Ngannou by TKO
Cormier by TKO
Burgos by DEC
Barroso by KO
Almeida by TKO
Davis by DEC
Alhassan by SUB
Pantoja by SUB
Are by DEC
Barzola by DEC
Makhachev by DEC