Quantcast

 

mma / Columns

411’s MMA Roundtable Preview – UFC 220: Miocic vs. Ngannou

January 20, 2018 | Posted by Robert Winfree
UFC 220

WELCOME:
UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic is going for history as a third consecutive title defense would be the most in UFC heavyweight history but standing in his way a destructive force with umatched power, Francis Ngannou! In the co-main event UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier returns for the first time since being finished by Jon Jones, trying to defend the title against the surging first round finish artist Volkan Oezdemir. That’s basically it, the next best fight is Thomas Almeida vs. Rob Font as they battle for divisional position while Shane Burgos tries to remain perfect against Calvin Kattar and Gian Villante battles Francimar Barroso to remind everyone how bad the light heavyweight division is.

THE STAFF:

  • He’s 411’s Jack of all Trades, Jeffrey Harris!

  • He’s your normal host for this column, Dan Plunkett!

  • I’m your interim host and live coverage guy, Robert Winfree!

    Preliminary Card:

    The first two bouts on UFC Fight Pass, the rest of the prelims on Fox Sports 1.

    Lightweight Bout: Islam Makhachev vs. Gleison Tibau

    Dan Plunkett: Makhachev, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Makhachev, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Islam Makhachev, Decision
    The staff picks Islam Makhachev, 3-0.

    Featherweight Bout: Enrique Barzola vs. Matt Bessette

    Dan Plunkett: Barzola, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Barzola, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Enrique Barzola, Decision
    The staff picks Enrique Barzola, 3-0.

    Featherweight Bout: Dan Ige vs. Julio Arce

    Dan Plunkett: Ige, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Ige, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Dan Ige, Decision
    The staff picks Dan Ige, 3-0.

    Flyweight Bout: Dustin Ortiz vs. Alexandre Pantoja

    Dan Plunkett: Pantoja, Submission, Round 3
    Jeffrey Harris: Dustin Ortiz, TKO, Round 3
    Robert Winfree: Dustin Ortiz, Decision
    The staff picks Dustin Ortix, 2-1.

    Welterweight Bout: Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Sabah Homasi

    Dan Plunkett: Alhassan, TKO, Round 1
    Jeffrey Harris: Alhassan, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Sabah Homasi, TKO, Round 1
    The staff picks Abdul Razak Alhassan, 2-1.

    Featherweight Bout: Kyle Bochniak vs. Brandon Davis

    Dan Plunkett: Davis, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Davis, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Brandon Davis, Decision
    The staff picks Brandon Davis, 3-0.


    THE MAIN CARD:
    Bantamweight Bout: Thomas Almeida vs. Rob Font

    Bantamweight Bout: Thomas Almeida vs. Rob Font
    Dan Plunkett: This should be an exciting fight. Almeida and Font are two of the best finishers in the division, and this is an important fight for both of them. Almeida has lost two of his last three fights after a 21-0 start to his career. He’s an active and dynamic striker with defensive liabilities. Although he can take a punch, he gets hit too often, and it cost him against Cody Garbrandt and Jimmie Rivera. In Font’s six-fight UFC career, he’s recorded four impressive wins in which he showed real talent on the feet and the ground, and two losses against higher caliber opponents (John Lineker and Pedro Munhoz). It’s a tough fight to call, but I think Almeida will fall on the side of those higher caliber opponents.

    Winner: Almeida, TKO, Round 2

    Jeffrey Harris: The way I see this fight, it’s Thomas Almeida’s fight to win and move back up the rankings of the bantamweight division. You have him against Rob Font, a decent fighter, but not a world beater. Font has not faced or beaten the level of competition that Almeida has. Almeida is also a much more powerful and devastating striker. I see Almeida finishing this one and getting back to his winning ways early.

    Winner: Almeida, TKO, Round 1

    Robert Winfree: This is a pretty good fight, honestly the best on the main card behind the top two fights. Thomas Almeida is someone the UFC want to get behind, he’s young and an exciting fighter with a penchant for finishes. Unfortunately he’s also flawed defensively and his recent bouts with Cody Garbrandt and Jimmie Rivera highlighted the issues with his lack of head and upper body movement combined with his natural inclination towards standing and trading. It takes a really good fighter to consistently exploit those weaknesses, but even the more middle of the pack guys have found success against him because of them. I’m struggling to find a way to really justify Font as being in the former category, he’s good and will have moments of success but on balance I think this is designed to keep Almeida relevant without putting him in there against the cream of the crop.

    Winner: Thomas Almeida, TKO, Round 1
    The staff picks Thomas Almeida, 3-0.


    Light Heavyweight Bout: Gian Villante vs. Francimar Barroso

    Dan Plunkett: This fight being on the main card is a good indicator that underneath the top two fights, it’s a thin pay-per-view card.

    Villante has more or less settled into a journeyman role. He’s 5-6 since coming over to the UFC from Strikeforce, and following two consecutive losses, he could be fighting for his job in UFC’s extremely weak light heavyweight division. The New Yorker is a competent and sometimes good striker, but even in some fights where he started out looking sharp, he’d later leave openings that would cost him a win. However, he has notable size and pace advantages over his 37-year-old opponent.

    Winner: Villante, Decision

    Jeffrey Harris: I think the best that we can expect from this fight is a type of sloppy back and forth brawl, which might be exciting. Gian Villante is usually good for that type of fight. I don’t have high hopes for this one. This one even getting a spot on the main card is a little suspect. Villante is a mediocre light heavyweight, and I don’t think he has a great skill set to come through in a pinch. The guy lost to Tom Lawlor. Francimar Barroso wins.

    Winner: Francimar Barroso, Decision

    Robert Winfree: I hate this division so much, it’s almost painful. Both of these guys are plodding mediocre brawlers, Villante is ranked because this division is a dumpster fire, and both guys put on sloppy and utterly forgettable fights. The best we can hope for is a quick finish, but I tend to find that unlikely.

    Winner: Francimar Barroso, Decision
    The staff picks Francima Barroso, 2-1.


    Featherweight Bout: Calvin Kattar vs. Shane Burgos

    Dan Plunkett: Burgos is unbeaten in ten career fights and has looked very impressive in three UFC bouts. I expect him to beat Calvin Kattar, if only for Mr. Kattar’s lack of a Wikipedia page.

    Winner: Burgos, Decision

    Jeffrey Harris: This fight being on the main card is a little weird, but maybe Sean Shelby sees something I do not. Shane Burgos is undefeated and picked up three solid wins in the UFC, beating Tiago Trator, Charles Rosa, and Godofredo Pepey. Meanwhile, you have Calvin Kattar, a 17-2 fighter who bested Team Alpha Male fighter Andre Fili last July in his Octagon debut. I still would’ve had the Makhachev vs. Tibau fight on the main card over this one. I’m leaning toward Burgos here, but this one might be surprising and competitive.

    Winner: Burgos, Decision

    Robert Winfree: Yeah, this is a top heavy card. Shane Burgos is undefeated and fights a little like Justin Gaethje, with more focus on his punches and less cage cutting ability but good old fashioned pressure and punching power haven’t failed him yet. Calvin Kattar beat Andre Fili in his UFC debut but I tend to think this is designed to showcase Burgos.

    Winner: Shane Burgos, TKO, Round 3
    The staff picks Shane Burgos, 3-0.


    UFC Light Heavyweight Championship Bout: Daniel Cormier vs. Volkan Oezdemir

    Dan Plunkett: Daniel Cormier had no trouble rebounding from his 2015 loss to Jon Jones, but now we’re dealing with a fighter three years older that suffered a brutal knockout his last time out and has been tagged with vicious head shots in four of his last five fights.

    Prior to fighting Jones last year, Cormier had shown tremendous recuperative abilities, but did Jones’s shin and elbows break Cormier’s chin? Volkan Oezdemir better hope so, because if it didn’t, he has very little chance to win Saturday night.

    Cormier keeps a tremendous pace for a light heavyweight, always pressing forward or wearing on his opponent to tire him out. He will want to take Oezdemir to the ground, away from Oezdemir’s best weapons. Getting there puts Cormier in some danger. He’s not a wrestler with a lightning-fast double leg; his best takedowns are from the clinch, and Oezedmir has exhibited power in close quarters. However, Cormier should be able to take Oezdemir down without major issues.

    Due to Oezdemir’s limited cage time in the UFC, we haven’t seen any of his ground work of late. But, it’s not going out on a limb to say he probably won’t be able to do much to Cormier from his back, and he’ll have a hell of time getting back to his feet.

    There is the additional x-factor of Cormier’s age. He’ll turn 39 in March. Before he fought Jones, Cormier showed some signs of slowing down, but in the first two rounds against Jones last year, he looked as good as he’s ever looked. At some point, if he keeps fighting, Cormier will show his age in the cage, but it’s impossible to say if that day will come Saturday. Similarly, it’s possible Jon Jones broke Cormier’s chin; major knockouts have ruined fighters in the past. But until we see it, I can’t bet on it being the case.

    Winner: Cormier, Submission, Round 3

    Jeffrey Harris: I’m leaning towards Daniel Cormier. And the reason I’m leaning towards him is because he’s not fighting Jon Jones. Volkan Oezdemir is definitely a gifted fighter and a solid prospect. However, he’s only in this position because the light heavyweight division has been gutted. It’s been very chaotic for almost three years. A lot of contenders are gone or missing in action. Jon Jones is always screwing up. Volkan Oezdemir is a very powerful striker, but that’s nothing Cormier hasn’t dealt with before. In Cormier, Oezdemir is facing an exceptional grappler and a wrestler with Olympic credentials. I expect Cormier to dominate this fight.

    Winner: Cormier, Decision

    Robert Winfree: Daniel Cormier isn’t fighting Jon Jones, so he likely wins this. Unless that finish loss to Jones rattled his chin and his confidence badly he should probably take this. Oezdemir has power but he leans a lot when he punches and does his best work in close quarters, but Cormier is a much better overall clinch fighter and Oezdemir would have to manage distance in ways only the truly elite can. I wont be terribly shocked if Oezdemir is able to catch Cormier, but I’d be surprised if he finished him off of one of those blows.

    Winner: Daniel Cormier, Submission, Round 4
    The staff picks Daniel Cormier, 3-0.


    UFC Heavyweight Championship Bout: Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou

    Dan Plunkett: This has to end in the first round, right? Miocic has more tools than Ngannou. He’s a more technical puncher, he’s a better wrestler, and he can certainly knock Ngannou out. In Ngannou’s favor, he’s stronger and he packs a punch so hard that Miocic’s toughness may not matter. I think we’ll see Miocic wrestle with Ngannou in what will be the biggest test of Ngannou’s grappling competence to date. Perhaps only because he’s more of a known quantity, I’m leaning toward the champion.

    Winner: Miocic, TKO, Round 1

    Jeffrey Harris: A lot of people are excited about Francis Ngannou right now, and for good reason. The guy is a scary looking fighter. He’s athletic, and he hits like a truck. The way he knocked out Alistair Overeem was stunning. However, he’s never had to fight someone as good as Stipe Miocic. Ngannou clearly hits hard, and all he needs is one solid shot. However, he’s never had to face an opponent with Miocic’s level of wrestling either. Not to mention, Miocic is an experienced boxer with good footwork, and he knows how to stay away from power shots and stay out of Ngannou’s range. I think that will be to his advantage. He will avoid Ngannou’s power, use his wrestling, and then wear Ngannou out in the later rounds. I don’t think the legend of Ngannou is forged here. Stipe Miocic will remain champion.

    Winner: Stipe Miocic, TKO, Round 4

    Robert Winfree: You’re just as likely to be right flipping a coin for this one as looking into the analytics of it. Francis Ngannou has a lot of unknowns about him, we don’t know how he deals with taking damage, how his cardio holds up over a long grueling fight, or how he wrestles against someone who really knows how to wrestle. We know he’s worked hard on his footwork and movement, he puts together three and four punch combinations (a rarity at heavyweight where most of it is one or two and done), and we know he hits hard enough to knock out a charging moose. It’s been enough to get him to this point, and it could easily be enough to get him the title. On the other hand we have Stipe Miocic, a man severely under appreciated because his game is fundamentally strong and just modular enough to change based on his opponent. Miocic has fast hands and good feet, he’s a superb wrestler and can fight at a high pace into the fifth round. The big concern for Miocic here is that he can be hit, and while he was able to recover from big shots against Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem, a big shot from Ngannou will likely end his night. The longer this goes the more I lean towards Miocic, he can diversify his attack and he’s a more known quantity but no one should be remotely surprised if Ngannou winds up getting his hand raised.

    Winner: Stipe Miocic, TKO, Round 3
    The staff picks Stipe Miocic, 3-0.


    Remember to join 411’s coverage of UFC 220 Satuday night!