UFC 220 tips: Best bets for Miocic v Ngannou
We make our pick for the heavyweight title fight at the TD Garden in Boston, plus the rest of the bouts on the main card, including Cormier v Volkan.
Stipe Miocic v Francis Ngannou
No UFC heavyweight champion in history has ever successfully defended the title three times, and Miocic has a massive task on his hands if he’s going to be the first.
In Ngannou, the American faces by far his most dangerous opponent to date, and maybe the most explosive fighter in the entire UFC.
The challenger landed a stunning left uppercut to knock out Alistair Overeem less than two minutes into his last fight, and he’s now won 10 successive bouts – seven by KO and four by submission.
Ngannou’s a massive puncher, and if he connects with Miocic’s chin the fight will be over.
But the champion is one of the best UFC heavyweights ever, and, while he’s never afraid to brawl, he also has the experience to know when to box on the outside and look for clinches and takedowns.
The 35-year-old has ended each of his last four fights inside five minutes, but also has experience of going the distance. He will try to test Ngannou’s gas tank, given that the Cameroonian has never been taken past the second round.
Miocic is the busier fighter, and he should be able to blunt Ngannou’s attack early on and secure a stoppage when the 31-year-old is fatigued.
Daniel Cormier v Volkan Oezdemir
Cormier is worth backing to win on Saturday night simply because he’s not fighting Jon Jones.
Jones is still the only fighter to have ever beaten the current light heavyweight champion, who only holds the belt at the moment because his rival was stripped following a failed drug test.
Assuming Cormier has bounced back from a horrible knockout at UFC 214 in July, he should manage to beat Oezdemir – a talented but inexperienced contender.
The Swiss 28-year-old has a professional record of 15 wins and one defeat and has won five consecutive bouts, but he’s only fought in the UFC three times.
He took out Jimi Manuwa with a 42-second KO in his last fight, but won’t get a chance to engage in a similar brawl against an elite wrestler like Cormier.
The champion should be able to stifle Oezdemir early on, take him to the ground and pick up the seventh submission win of his career.
Calvin Kattar v Shane Burgos
This should be a close fight between two featherweight prospects.
Boston native Kattar is on a nine-fight winning streak, but could struggle against Burgos, who is undefeated in 10 professional bouts.
The 26-year-old from New York is an exciting all-round fighter and is more skilful than Kattar, and should come away with the victory providing he stays busy.
Kattar is known as ‘the Boston Finisher’, but his last seven fights have all gone the distance, while Burgos has only knocked out four of his 10 opponents to date.
A decision win for the latter, then, is the likeliest outcome.
Gian Villante v Francimar Barroso
Having lost two fights in a row and four of his last six, Villante needs a win.
He should get it against light-heavyweight veteran Barroso, who has won one out of his last four with one no contest and is past his best at 37.
The younger man is the more talented fighter, and should be the busier of the two, even though he often frustrates by not making the most of his obvious ability.
Villante has only won one of his five UFC bouts that have gone the distance, so the 32-year-old will likely push for the early win and is worth backing to get the stoppage.
Thomas Almeida v Rob Font
This could be the fight of the night.
Almeida has won 21 of his 23 professional bouts to date – losing only to top bantamweight contenders Cody Garbrandt and Jimmie Rivera – and he’s picked up Performance of the Night bonuses in each of his last four wins.
Font, meanwhile, has won 13 of his last 15 fights, has never been knocked out and is 4-2 in the UFC, with three Kos and a submission.
These guys are almost certainly going to brawl, and there’s only one winner if they do decide to stand and trade shots.
Almeida is a devastating finisher with 17 career knockouts, and he should add another to his tally.