Back on January 20, 2018, Cleveland’s own Stipe Miocic (the man who brought home the first championship to Cleveland in 2016) was attempting to defend his UFC Heavyweight title against the up-and-coming Francis Ngannou in the main event of UFC 220. There was a lot of hype surrounding Ngannou going into the fight due to the string of success he was having going into the fight against Miocic. However, Stipe was able to handle the power of Ngannou and come away with a five-round decision to retain his title. The win by Stipe set the record for the most consecutive title defenses in UFC Heavyweight history at three.
Since then, Stipe got tied up in a three-year rivalry with Daniel Cormier where they would have three fights against each other. Ultimately, Miocic won the hard-fought slugfest 2-1. Meanwhile, Ngannou has won his last four fights by KO/TKO in the first round.
If you mix all of that together, it adds up to the rematch that’s going down from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada at UFC 260 on Saturday, March 27.
It’s going to be very interesting to see if Stipe takes the same type of approach against Ngannou that he utilized back at UFC 220. In the first fight, Stipe utilized the takedown quite often so that Ngannou couldn’t unleash his power. Additionally, Stipe would pin Francis up against the fence to smother him. The technique of pinning an opponent up against the fence is something that Miocic in the trilogy fight against Cormier at UFC 252.
If Stipe does utilize the technique of taking Ngannou down and putting him up against the fence, it’s going to be very interesting to see what kind of adjustments Francis makes to be better prepared for those types of situations. In the first fight between these two combatants, Ngannou was not at all prepared for those situations.
The president of the UFC, Dana White, has come out and said that whoever wins this fight on Saturday will be facing Jon “Bones” Jones next. Will that factor into the fight at all? We’ll just have to wait and see because that could very well be a factor because it could mess with the mindset of either fighter.
My prediction is that it will be a very competitive fight, but Stipe will retain his title by unanimous decision. The judges’ scorecards will read as follows: 50-45, 49-47, 49-46.