Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou
Stipe Miocic is the heavyweight champion and he has beaten basically everyone and beat them all impressively yet he was somehow the underdog in this fight. Miocic is 6ft 4, 245lb, quick, strong and hits hard and is a very good wrestler. He has knocked out Arlovski, Werdum, Overeem and Dos Santos in his last four fights and all of them in the first round and yet until very recently he was the underdog in this fight.
The reason he is the underdog is down to how awesome Francis Ngannou has looked so far. Ngannou is a real rags to riches story from being homeless on the streets of France 5 years ago to a heavyweight title shot and $500’000 purse. You get the feeling that the UFC want his story to continue to the fairy tale conclusion. That’s not to say he doesn’t deserve it but let’s face it he got the shot because Stipe cleaned out everyone else plus Francis sent Overeems chin into orbit and here we are. I almost forgot to mention that Stipe also has history against him, no one has ever defended the UFC heavyweight title 3 times and this is Stipe’s 3rd defense.
Interesting fight in that they are both great strikers but we have to say Ngannou hits harder but Stipe has great movement, has good power as he moves backwards and is excellent at moving off to the side. Stipe also has a huge wrestling advantage of he chooses or gets the chance to use it. I said about six months ago, if you’re going to have to fight Francis you might as well do it now. I think the only thing the guy may be lacking is experiencing. I picked Stipe to win this one as soon as it was announced and I’m sticking with that but I’ll say this, either Ngannou wins in the first three minute or Miocic wins.
Prediction – Miocic by TKO (Miocic by decision)
Daniel Cormier vs Volkan Oezdemir
Daniel Cormier is a hell of a fighter, wrestled in the Olympics, won the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix as a total underdog, two time UFC light heavyweight champion. Has beaten Gustafsson, Rumble, Bigfoot, Anderson Silva, Dan Henderson and just about everyone else. 19 wins and 1 loss. The only person to beat him is Jon Jones. If it wasn’t for Jon Jones we would be talking about DC as the best light heavyweight ever. It’s tragic given the Jones situation but all Cormier can do is beat whoever they put in from of him and Oezdemir is up next.
Volkan Oezdemir is a big guy who has some kind of crazy power. He knocks people out with shots that look like nothing at all. He kickboxed for a short while along side the MMA. So basically dude has 15 wins with 11 knockouts and only one loss but it’s his last two wins over Cirkunov and then Jimi Manuwa in under a minute each that got everyone’s attention and got him this title shot. There was something about a felony assault charge not long ago so let’s hope it hasn’t distracted him.
So for each of these fighters to be successful they have different objectives, obviously Cormier needs to get close and get his hands on Oezdemir and throw him around and dominate him on the ground. Volkan wants the opposite, he wants distance and to land those hands. Volkan ain’t really a technically great striker, he likes to throw a lead left hook and big right hand, if he gets into exchanges he tries to hold his ground and he trusts his power to get him out of it. Except I don’t think he’s fought anyone like DC before, yes Volkan is a rangy guy with a reach advantage but Daniel has beat someone with a bigger reach advantage. Yes Volkan hits hard but Daniel has beat someone who hits harder. DC has a decent chin and good striking himself, good enough to get in range I think he will get the takedown and break Volkan like he breaks most people. On the ground I don’t think it will be that competitive. Volkan has a punchers chance of course but just that.
Prediction – Cormier by TKO (Cormier by TKO)
Calvin Kattar vs Shane Burgos
Calvin Kattar was fighting in the minor leagues a long time and he was on an 8 fight winning streak when he got the short notice call to face Andre Fili and he made it count. He had a good strategy by pushing the action at the end of each round he took close rounds and made them his rounds. Obviously the guy has skills but it what he does from now on that matters. He’s not spectacular anywhere but he’s solid.
Shane Burgos is undefeated 10-0 including 3 in the UFC. He has 8 finishes to those 10 wins. That’s a hell of a good start to a career.
I like the way Burgos fights. He moves forward into striking range and when people punch, rather than move back he stays in the pocket and defends and counters. He also has good head movement. Really puts people under pressure and doesn’t give them breathing space and also looks good on the ‘octagon control’ section of the judging. I think against someone like Kattar he will have success with this and I think he wins a decision.
Prediction – Burgos by decision (Kattar by KO)
Gian Villante vs Francimar Barroso
Gian Villante is a big boy, 6ft 3 and cuts a lot of weight to make light heavyweight. He trains in New York with Weidman and Serra and those guys. He’s an accomplishment wrestler but likes to throw punches. He not really a great puncher though it’s more like clubbing blows but they are very effective because of his size. He has 10 stoppages in 15 wins so it’s not bad. Right now he is on a two fight losing streak and kinda needs the win in this one.
Barroso is a big boy as well not as big as Villante but well built. He’s a BJJ black belt and a very good striker. His record since coming to the UFC hasn’t been great, win some lose and he’s coming off a loss.
I get the feeling this is mainly going to be a kickboxing match. Villante has excellent take down defense and I think he’d prefer not to be on the ground. On the feet Barroso is quicker and a much more fluid striker and he mixes in kicks better. Of course he might get caught with a big punch on the temple but that aside I think Barroso wins the decision.
Prediction – Barroso by decision (Villante by decision)
Thomas Almeida vs Rob Font
I always thought Thomas Almeida was a special athlete, I class above most other up and comers. Last two fights have been tough though, knocked out by Garbrandt then decisioned by Jimmie Rivera, this is his chance to bounce back. He has that Chute Boxe Muay Thai style which means aggression. He has two good hands although his right is his money shot, decent kicks and great knees and also some decent takedown defence. And 22 win and 2 loss with 17 by knockout in still very impressive.
Font has a decent record himself, 14 wins and 3 losses. Last time out he got caught in a submission in a fight he was probably winning but hey shit happens. Technically he’s good and pretty well rounded.
What makes this fight interesting is that Almeida is dangerous going forward and Font is good defensively and going backwards. Font has a decent jab and good use of low kicks to stop his opponents momentum. Although he did struggle with Lineker. And although he obviously has a decent chin, Almeida is hittable especially on his way in. What Almeida is though, is a good finisher. When he has someone hurt rather than just swinging, he is pretty measured and makes sure his strikes count. I think in this fight you have to give the advantage to Almeida, he is a much better striker and a good enough wrestler to make sure most of the fight takes place in the striking range. I think although Rob Font is tough, Almeida has the tools to take him out, and I’m saying in the second round.
Prediction – Almeida by TKO (Font by TKO)
Rest of the Card
Kyle Bochniak vs Brandon Davis – Bochniak (Bochniak)
Sabah Homasi vs Abdul Razak Alhassan – Alhassan (Alhassan)
Dustin Ortiz vs Alexandre Pantoja – Pantoja (Ortiz)
Dan Ige vs Julio Arce – Arce (Arce)
Matt Bessette vs Enrique Barzola – Barzola (Barzola)
Islam Makhachev vs Gleison Tibau – Makhachev (Makhachev)
Total picks 7/11