The UFC heads to Boston this weekend with their first Pay-Per-View (PPV) of 2018 with Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou headlining for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world.
Readers of these previews know I like to keep it 100% honest when I’m breaking down fight cards. I love MMA and the UFC, so when they put on amazing cards I’m happy to urge people to pay for and watch amazing fights. However, when the product or card is sub-par I have to keep that same honesty; and this card flat out stinks as a Pay-Per-View event. Coming off an already weak UFC 219, the UFC did not do much to make up for it with UFC 220. The main event is absolutely fantastic, Ngannou vs Miocic has absolute fireworks and possible ‘fight of the year’ written all over it but after the main event I have a hard time finding a fight I’d urge anyone to pay money for. There are a handful of fun fights on the card but they are not the type of fights that casual fans are willing to plunk down their dollars for and I cannot blame them. Bellator is running a pretty decent free cable show at the same time further making it a tough sell to fans on a Saturday night. I think you will see numbers in the sub-200k PPV buys which is a shame because the winner of the main event deserves a bigger set of eyeballs. All the disappointment aside, lets turn to the ‘Litzen’-Burger-A-Meter and breakdown the fights that are worth watching. I’ll breakdown the main card by relating it to its “burger form” and offer some fight predictions to hopefully help your bank accounts. Let’s get to the card:
(100% Imported Kobe Beef Burger): Ridiculously luxurious & best of the best
Stipe Miocic (Champ) vs Francis “The Predator” Ngannou (#1 contender) (Heavyweight)
Preview: They don’t get much better than this, an established undisputed champion vs an absolute monster challenger for biggest belt in the sport. Francis Ngannou has won all six of his fights by stoppage since joining the UFC. He is a physical menace who can brutalize his opponents with super hero like power and speed. After needing less than a single round to destroy Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem in 2 not even needing a full round of action to get rid of both men, he returns on a month’s notice to challenge for the belt. Ngannou is the real deal, many thought he was a little overhyped heading into the Overeem fight (including me) but he made such easy work of the heavyweight legend he can no longer be ignored. He will possess a power and reach advantage over the champion which is no small feat. Mioic hits like a Mack truck so for Ngannou to hit even harder than the champ his fists are like a Mack truck powered by a jet engine. Miocic is definitely more technically proficient in his striking then the challenger and he has a distinct advantage of having fought & beaten far better throughout his career. Ngannou has not seen much adversity inside the UFC octagon, which is a testament to how good he his but also raises questions about how he will respond if dropped or hurt at any time in this fight. I anticipate Miocic will not let Ngannou feel comfortable from the opening bell using his jab as both offense and defense. Ngannou can crack but he lacks some of the technical skills Miocic possesses. I think the goal of the champion is clear frustrate, hurt, and force the challenger to earn any big shot he wants to throw. For the challenger, his camp knows Miocic does not have great defensive movement and can get hit relatively easily. I expect a more patient Ngannou in the first half of the first round biding his time to deliver a knockout punch if the champ gives an opening as he’s apt to do. These are the types of fights that should headline pay-per-view cards: talent, stakes, and chances at a great performance. This fight as all of those elements.
Odds: Miocic (+200) vs Ngannou (-170)
Prediction: Vegas has Ngannou as a 2-1 favorite which surprised me but considering Miocic has not fought since last May, I think Vegas is playing a little by on the public’s “recency bias”. The UFC has promoted the up and comer significantly more than their current champion, which has left Miocic feeling slighted heading into this fight and its understandable. I honestly see this fight as a complete toss-up, it would not surprise me to see Ngannou knockout Miocic but there are plenty of hype trains & former champions who all thought they’d get the better of Miocic only to find themselves unconscious after fighting him. I want to see Ngannou against a man who hasn’t been stopped recently and can absolutely shut his lights off if he connects; Stipe is that man. I have some basic rules when it comes to picking fights and this one hits on two of them: Always take the odds in fights that appear as 50/50 fights, and never bet against a prime champion vs an unproven challenger. Give me the champ via stoppage.
(In & Out): Lives up to the Hype & always worth it
None which is a bummer for a PPV.
(Home Cooked Burger): Solid, reliable, and hits the spot
Daniel “DC” Cormier (Champion) vs Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir (2nd) (Light Heavyweight Title 205lbs)
Preview: I like Daniel Cormier, he’s a great fighter and ambassador for the sport; I just don’t particularly enjoy watching him fight. It’s not DC’s fault, he’s a tremendous wrestler and typically grinds any opponent not named Jon Jones into dust. I am just not a fan of the Ryan Bader & DC style of fighting, it’s just personal preference. Add in to the fact that most people do not view DC as the “real” champ due to him losing decisively twice to Jon Jones and this fight becomes very pedestrian for most fans of the sport. Volkan Oezdemir is actually very exciting, he’s got freakish one punch KO power and despite repeatedly being the underdog in his last two fights he’s gone on to destroy both Manuwa and Cirkunov. Cormier’s strategy is really simple, expose Oezdemir’s lack of wrestling pedigree, close the distance, take him to the mat and grind him out for five rounds. The only way I see DC losing this fight is if he chooses to fight Oezdemir like he fought Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. He tried to prove something by standing and banging with Johnson, and while he won that fight he took some brutal blows against a guy who was pretty set on retiring after that fight. Oezdemir has previously gone toe to toe with Johnson is training camps and reportedly done very well. I think if he is able to land a flush shot on DC it could dramatically change the course of this fight. Oezdemir has the reach advantage so it’s not inconceivable that he’s able to connect on DC before he gets taken down. I honestly think the first round is Oezdemir’s best chance to win this fight, so I expect him to come out guns blazing from the opening bell.
Odds: Cormier (-315) vs Oezdemir (+300)
Prediction: I think Cormier wins this fight 7 out of 10 times. He has the broader skill set and he’s beaten everyone not named Jon Jones. However, he’s nearly 40 years old and I worry how much does he have left in the tank. Let’s take a look at his last 3 years of fights: He won split decision over Gustafsson in 2015, a fight many people thought he lost. He beat Rumble Johnson twice which is impressive but Rumble always appeared to not to totally want to make a career as a fighter and DC seemed to matchup perfectly against him. He fought an ugly decision win against a way past his prime and bloated Anderson Silva, and he lost badly to Jon Jones where he got his brain seriously scrambled. He’s had a history of tough weight cuts and I just honestly wonder if he’s fully committed to fighting a relatively unknown Swiss fighter for a belt he was given because Jones popped hot for PED usage. At the highest levels of any sport, the winning is in the margins so a 100% DC likely beats Oezdemir, but Oezdemir has the fight changing power to make DC pay if he’s not entirely in the right place mentally or physically for this fight. I can’t see value in DC at -315 so I’ll take a big chance on Oezdemir at a big price to upset the “champ”. (Oezdemir by KO/TKO +500)
Thomas “Thominhas” Almeida (10th) vs Rob Font (14th) (Bantamweight 135lbs)
Preview: This is the only other fight on the card I’ll watch. A year ago this would likely be the undercard main event fight to get fans excited about the main card, and now it’s the third best fight on a lukewarm pay-per-view. Both men enter this fight coming off losses and both men are known for having frenetic styles that produce exciting fights. The problem is not that this isn’t a good or fun fight, it is. The problem is it lacks any real stakes, both men are top 15 fighters but that is pretty much where they’ll stay most of their careers. Almeida got destroyed vs former champ Cody Garbrandt and Font got beat by the good not great Pedro Munhoz. This fight should have a high strike output and entertain the fans as Almeida will look to hurt Font early and often. Font’s foot speed and cardio will force Almeida to use combinations if he hopes at landing a big blow as one or two pushes will likely not find their mark against Font. The key for Font is not getting sucked into a brawl or wild exchange. He needs to use his footwork to frustrate Almeida and let the big shot come over time or as Almeida gets sloppy. This has ‘fight of the night’ potential if the main event does not deliver
Odds: Almeida (-115) vs Font (-115)
Prediction: Total coin flip fight, I’ll take Font simply because I like guys who can change angles quickly and get themselves out of trouble if they find themselves in it. (Font -115)
(Waffle House Burger): It won’t kill you but high quality it is not
None this time
(Gas Station Burger): Hello darkness my old friend
Calvin Kattar vs Shane Burgos– Is this a UFC fight pass prelim or a main card PPV? It’s the 3rd fight on the main card and neither guy is ranked, has any name recognition, or any leg chance of being champion in a loaded 145lbs division. Why is this fight here?! Pass.
Gian Villante vs Francimar Barroso– Nope.
Prediction Record since 2016 to Date (63-48-1) (+$1008.50)
- UFC Record & predictions based on Win vs Loss predictions only. Unless specified otherwise I use increments of $100 (for + odds predictions) & $110 (for – odds bets) as hypothetical wagers for each prediction.
- UFC Predictions & Records are for entertainment value only
- Stats provided from http://UFC.COM & http://www.fightmetric.com/
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