UFC 260 Preview

On Saturday night, March 27th, two of the best heavyweight will slug it out in a rematch for the 265-pound world title. The co-main event will be a welterweight encounter between Tyron Woodley and Vicente Luque. All the action can be seen on BT Sports and streamed over on ESPN+.

It’s funny, I would consider Stipe Miocic to be one of the best heavyweight fighters of all time. But each of the last four times he’s fought, I’ve picked him to lose. The heavyweight champion proves me wrong time and time again.

It feels like Stipe has been the underdog all of his career when in real life he is a hero. When he’s not taking on the most fearsome heavyweights on the planet the champ works as firefighter in Independence, Ohio. The champ has put up a phenomenal resume in his career, taking out the biggest names the division has to offer.

When Miocic and Ngannou last locked horns it was a pretty one sided affair. Stipe fought the perfect fight by setting a heavy pace and initiating the takedown when Ngannou posed a treat with his striking. When I say striking, I mean boxing because that is all Big Francis brought to the table in their first encounter.

We have not seen enough of Ngannou in the cage to see if there has been many improvements in his grappling skills. The former Cameroonian sandminer is used to adversity, he tried and failed as a younger man to escape Africa in order to gain a better life in Europe. Once he landed on European soil he found MMA soon after, and years later Francis Ngannou has a second crack at UFC gold. It is quite the story.

What Ngannou needs to bring into this rematch in order to be crowned champion is much better defensive grappling and better cardio. He was useless off his back and he gassed out towards the end of the first round. Stipe’s fight IQ is on a much higher level than his opponent and that shone through in the first fight.

If “Big Francis” can sprawl and brawl throughout this fight and not tire out I can see him finishing the champ. Miocic on the other hand has to go out there and repeat what he did at UFC 220. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The fixing needs to come from the Ngannou camp.

How much has the challenger Ngannou progressed as a fighter since he last stood across from Miocic? That fight was three years ago. Stipe has been in three gruelling wars with Daniel Cormier. The challenger has been out in the UFC PI in Las Vegas and has moved to the Xtreme Couture gym under head coach Eric Nicksick. We know Ngannou has grown as a fighter but has he grown enough to be crowned the new heavyweight champion of the world?

I feel that Francis has one, max two rounds to land clean on Miocic. If he land clean it is all over. “The Predator” is always going to gas out early and it will be Stipe’s job once more to weather the early storm and out cardio this giant. If Stipe Miocic can get out on this fight with a win he will be undeniable in being the greatest heavyweight of all time.

Tyron Woodley will have his shot at redemption in the co-main event. The former 170-pound champion has lost all three of his last bouts. He will step in to take on the ever violent Vicente Luque. Since losing to Stephen Thompson the Brazilian has picked up two solid wins over Niko Price and Randy Brown. He will have another chance to prove himself against an upper echelon fighter in Woodley in what is a very interesting stylistic matchup.

“Sugar” Sean O’Malley will look to put his loss against Marlon Vera firmly in the rear view mirror when he goes toe-to-toe with UFC vet Thomas Almeida. Almeida will have it all to do in this fight, he has lost 3 out of his last four fights. I would expect this to be stand-up battle between the two bantamweights.

A rescheduled women’s flyweight contest between Gillian Robertson and rising star Miranda Maverick will get a main card slot on Saturday night. Australian fighter, Jamie Mullarkey will square off against knockout artist Khama Worthy in the opening bout of the PPV card.

Alonzo Menifield was set to go to battle on the main card, William Knight had to withdraw from the bout due to Covid protocols. In steps Fabio Cherant at short notice and the light heavyweight scrap will feature as the prelims headliner.

Abubakar Nurmagomedov, a cousin to the recently retired Khabib will face off against Jared Gooden in the 170-pound division. Both guys lost their respective UFC debuts and will be eager to get back into the win column.

Former Cage Warriors light heavyweight champion Modestas Bukauskas will get his first taste of action of the year when he goes up against Michał Oleksiejczuk. Both of these 205er’s pack some heat and have the ability to end a fight in an instant. I would expect this to be an all action fight and i can see it mainly playing out on the feet. I would highly recommend tuning in early for this one!

Shane Young and Omar Morales will look to stake a claim in what is already a stacked featherweight division. Abu Azaitar is the brother of Ottman who famously got suspended for bringing a bag of “potatoes” into his fight island hotel. Azaitar will trade blows with Canadian Marc-André Barriault in the cards opening bout. This card has taken a lot of hits this week with fights falling out but still is a very good card overall.

OFFICIAL FIGHT CARD

Main Card (BT Sports/ESPN+, 8pm ET)

Heavyweight Title: (C) Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou

Welterweight: Tyron Woodley vs. Vicente Luque

Bantamweight: Thomas Almeida vs. Sean O’Malley

Women’s Flyweight: Gillian Robertson vs. Miranda Maverick

Lightweight: Jamie Mullarkey vs. Khama Worthy

Prelims Card (BT Sports/ESPN+, 5:30pm ET)


Light Heavyweight: Alonzo Menifield vs. Fabio Cherant

Welterweight: Jared Gooden vs. A. Nurmagomedov

Light Heavyweight: M. Bukauskas vs. M. Oleksiejczuk

Featherweight: Shane Young vs. Omar Morales

Middleweight: Abu Azaitar vs. M. Barriault

Ian O'Neill is a Kilkenny man living in Canada. You can catch him on Twitter most of the time talking all things MMA. Follow me on Twitter and on Instagram @ioneillmma.