Few things in combat are more prestigious than UFC heavyweight champions. If Stipe Miocic wants to keep him, he will have to beat Francis Ngannou once again.
Miocic (20-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC), considered by many to be the most prominent heavyweight in the history of the sport, will try to add to his legacy when he avenges the terrifying force that Ngannou (15-3 MMA, 10-2 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC 260 headliner .
The title battle takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas and is available for live broadcast on ESPN +. Preliminary tournaments start at 18:15 Eastern Time, followed by a main ticket at 22:00 Eastern Time. UFC 260 is only available to ESPN + subscribers through pay-per-view.
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While much has changed since the duo’s first encounter, the narratives entering the rematch seem eerily reminiscent of stories before Miocic’s successful title defense against Ngannou at UFC 220 in January 2018.
Prior to the initial competition, Ngannou was seen as an unstoppable force that took the notion of “knockout power” to a whole new level. He easily went through every opponent placed in front of him until he got a chance to challenge for gold.
Miocic showed why he is a different animal, although he managed to avoid the destructive power of Ngannou early on. Once he overcame the storm, Miocic used his significant capture advantage to grab Ngannou by the mat, beat and bleed him during the fight, and win a unilateral unanimous decision on the referee’s results.
The fight revealed a major flaw in Ngannou’s game. If the opponent avoids adopting a clean shot from the Cameroonian striker early, the chances of winning increase dramatically. The problem, however, is that no one else has been able to put that plan into practice.
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Ngannou (34) climbed back to the rematch with Miocic thanks to an unprecedented series of four rounds of knockouts. He sent opponents in 20 seconds, 71 seconds, 26 seconds and 45 seconds, thus restoring the terrifying aura that surrounded him by entering his first hit for the UFC title.
Ngannou might be modest and to put it mildly outside the octagon, but when locked in that cage, he possesses a strange level of force that has caused many to disintegrate in a way to highlight the rings. He claims that the moment came to him last time and he was not ready for it. But now? He is ready to inherit the throne.
“I fought differently in that fight,” Ngannou says. “I have changed a lot. The time between my first fight with Stipe and now, is almost (as long as) how much I played sports. I am twice what I was skilled, experienced. I am a better fighter and I will just prove it. “
However, the problem for Ngannou is that Miocic represents his obstacle to the belt. Miocic, 38, who works as a firefighter in Cleveland when he’s not throwing his fists into a cage, has proven once again that he won’t easily part with his belt.
Miočić is constantly overlooked because he prefers to fly under the radar. It doesn’t do a lot of media and isn’t prone to scattering quotes that capture headlines. What he is doing is winning. He came out at the right end of six UFC title titles since arriving on the championship stage in May 2016, and one of them against Ngannou.
In theory, Miocic’s approach at UFC 260 should be to mimic what happened in the first fight. In the early minutes, he must avoid flushing strokes, and it is necessary to use clinch work, removals, peak control and other tactics that will physically tax Ngannou.
The longer the fight lasts, the better the chances of Miocic winning. It sounds relatively simple, but there is nothing simple in the power that Ngannou carries in his fists.
“He was in tears,” says Miocic. “(People say),” He is unstoppable; Knock it all out and he will knock [you] outside. It will be a different outcome. ‘No. It will be the same outcome, “Miocic said.” I win. “
Can Miocic repeat the feat and once again show why he is the most decorated heavyweight in UFC history? Or will Ngannou learn from the mistakes in his ways and finally realize the primary expectations that have been set for him for so long? Order UFC 260 to find out.