- Date & Location: Saturday March 27 @ UFC Apex in Las Vegas
- Odds: Stipe Miocic (+125) vs. Francis Ngannou (-145) via BetOnline
- Prediction: Miocic by decision
On Saturday, March 27, UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic attempts to defend his UFC heavyweight title against the No. 1 ranked challenger, Francis Ngannou. The bout is a rematch of a January 2018 contest that Miocic won via decision.
Miocic is in his second stint as champion. He defended the title three times — a UFC heavyweight record — before Daniel Cormier defeated him via first-round knockout in July 2018. Miocic reclaimed the title in August 2019 with a fourth-round knockout win over Cormier. The two met in a trilogy fight in August 2020. Miocic defeated Cormier via decision in that outing. The champ has not fought since then.
Ngannou followed his loss to Miocic with a lackluster decision setback to Derrick Lewis in July 2018. Since then, Ngannou has found his footing. He has four straight first-round knockout wins to his name since Lewis defeated him. Three of those bouts ended in less than a minute. Ngannou’s longest fight of that stretch was his 71-second knockout win over former champion Junior dos Santos. Ngannou has been waiting for this rematch since he knocked out Jairzinho Rozenstruik in May 2020.
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|1st Fighter||2nd Fighter|
|Stipe Miocic||+125||-145||Francis Ngannou|
MIOCIC vs. NGANNOU PREDICTION & PICK
The first time these two met, things could not have gone worse for Ngannou, who was and is one of the most feared and powerful strikers in MMA. Miocic, who has a background in boxing and wrestling, used those two skills to mute the power of his opponent. He limited Ngannou to 21 landed significant strikes throughout the 25-minute fight, holding Ngannou to an 18 percent landing percentage. Meanwhile. Miocic scored six takedowns and landed 70 of 95 significant strikes and 200 of 244 overall strikes.
There’s no doubt that Ngannou will have a different game plan for this rematch. There’s also little doubt that Miocic will have a different approach.
The thing about this fight is that we don’t know if or how much Ngannou has improved. Yes, he has one-punch knockout power, but he had that in the first meeting between these two as well. Without knowing about Ngannou’s takedown defense or his ability to avoid the clinch of Miocic, I’m hard-pressed to pick against the champion in the rematch.
Prediction: Miocic +128 via Bovada
BETTING VALUE WITH MIOCIC
In his 18 pro fights, Ngannou has 11 knockouts, four submissions, and three decision defeats. As for his UFC run, Ngannou has nine knockout wins, one submission win, and two decision setbacks. What that tells me is that picking against Ngannou is risky just because of his power. I know I have mentioned that power several times and I cannot overstate the fact that Ngannou has the potential to stop any fighter with a single punch. If the first fight between these two had not taken place I would advise putting money on the challenger, but that fight happened and that’s why I believe Miocic has the skills to defeat Ngannou again.
Now, if you think Ngannou has advanced enough to counter the technique’s Miocic used in the first meeting between these two, a knockout win for Ngannou is not out of line.
WHO HAS THE EDGE?
Miocic is, without a doubt, the better mixed martial artist in this matchup. He has all the skills it takes to win and hold onto the UFC heavyweight title, something he has established during his 8-1 run since 2015. However — and I bet you know what’s coming next — Ngannou has the power to end this fight with ease.
FIGHT STATS: MIOCIC vs. NGANNOU
|Stipe Miocic||Category||Francis Ngannou|
|4.90||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||2.23|
|3.75||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||2.03|
|1.92||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||0.00|
|0.00||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||0.5|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
The UFC is not shy about labeling its heavyweight champion as “the baddest man on the planet.” That title and the literal UFC heavyweight crown are on the line in this fight. Also up for grabs, if the UFC is to be believed, is a lucrative matchup against one of the biggest draws in the UFC. The UFC has said the winner of this bout will face former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones in their next outing. Jones vacated the light heavyweight title and he is currently adding weight to his frame to make the move to heavyweight. Outside of Conor McGregor, a fight against Jones is the biggest opportunity a UFC athlete could land.
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