UFC 220: Miocic vs. Ngannou
Sunday January 21st brings the first Pay-Per-View event of 2018 – UFC 220: Miocic vs. Ngannou held at TD Garden in Boston. Despite UFC President Dana White’s comments to the contrary, there’s no denying that 2017 was somewhat of a down year for the UFC with Conor McGregor not competing inside the octagon, Jon Jones being stripped of his light heavyweight title and Ronda Rousey’s return looking unlikely.
The coming year is a vitally important one for both White and the UFC for many reasons. Most importantly, they are renegotiating the U.S TV rights with FOX, or looking at a new broadcasting partner such as Facebook or Amazon to distribute UFC content so they need to show value and have a strong and marketable stable of fighters. So, with McGregor’s future uncertain, Jones suspended, and Rousey seemingly never returning, the UFC needs a new star.
Up steps Francis Ngannou
‘The Predator’ Francis Ngannou (11-1) has leapt to the forefront of the Heavyweight MMA scene in the past 12 months terrifying fighters, fans & journalists alike. Ngannou carries destructive power, and this has been clear throughout his career, with not a single one of his wins going the distance. However, it was when he claimed the world record for the hardest recorded punch in October where MMA followers around the world truly became aware of the weapon he carries in his left hook.
Alistair Overeem felt the Ngannou left hand detonate on his chin on December 2nd in one of the most shocking knockouts in UFC heavyweight history. That moment sealed the Franco-Nigerian Ngannou his shot at gold, and at belt holder Stipe Miocic.
— UFC (@ufc) December 3, 2017
Miocic (17-2) has been the most dominant heavyweight of recent years, and will break the record for the most consecutive heavyweight title defences if he beats Ngannou on Sunday. It’s a tall order, but Stipe is confident that despite all the hype surrounding Ngannou’s power, he’s beatable.
“[He’s] nothing just another normal dude, regular guy that I’m fighting like I usually am,” Miocic told The MMA Hour this past week.
It’s interesting to note that Ngannou seems to be getting a lot of attention for the destructive KOs of Overeem and Arlovski, two fighters that Miocic has also beaten convincingly in his ascension to the heavyweight throne. Miocic also boasts a 78% KO ratio, higher than Ngannou’s, so it’s clear he can also end a fight with one shot.
Whether the rise of Ngannou has been overhyped or not, there no doubt he’s the most dangerous fighter that Miocic has shared the octagon with, and he will be looking to avoid engaging on the feet. The champion will look to get hold of the clinch as early as possible and look to close the distance, wearing Ngannou down and testing his stamina. If Miocic can push Ngannou into deep waters, it will soon become clear whether there is more depth to the challenger than just an explosive left hand.
Whatever the outcome, the UFC can’t lose with this one. They either have the longest reigning heavyweight champion in history, or they usher in a new era with the scariest man on the Planet holding the most prized belt in Mixed Martial Arts. UFC 220 fight card can be found here.