UFC 220: Can a rising superstar top a rising legend?

Jed Lanyon Roar Rookie

By Jed Lanyon, Jed Lanyon is a Roar Rookie New author!

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    UFC 220 will feature a clash of two heavyweight titans as Stipe Miocic looks to defend his UFC heavyweight championship against rising star Francis Ngannou on 21 January.

    The match-up will have great implications on the heavyweight division. Ngannou has burst onto the scene in the UFC and is well on track to become the organisation’s next superstar if he can conquer the champion.

    In the absence of Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey and Jon Jones the UFC is on the hunt to find the next athlete to break through to a mainstream audience, and they may have found it with Ngannou, whose fighting journey has taken him from being homeless to potentially becoming the next heavyweight champion.

    But with all the hype surrounding the challenger, across from him stands a man who could soon stake his claim to being the greatest UFC heavyweight of all time.

    A win on Sunday would be a third consecutive title defence for Miocic. It’s a figure unheard of in the UFC heavyweight division – no champion has been able to successfully defend their title on more than two occasions.

    Despite being one of the UFC’s oldest divisions, only Randy Couture, Tim Sylvia, Brock Lesnar and Cain Velasquez survived two title defences before succumbing on their third attempt to defend the belt.

    Is Miocic set to fall like every other heavyweight who attempted to defend their championship for a third time? Or will he clean out the division and make it his own for the long term?

    A win against Ngannou would catapult Miocic into the conversation as the greatest heavyweight of all time, with victories against four of the top five UFC heavyweight contenders.

    Velasquez, ranked fourth, would be his only worthy unconquered foe to date, setting up another superfight in a division that has been starved for genuine contenders for quite a while – Miocic’s last four fights have ended by way of knockout in the first round.

    Similarly, Ngannou wastes no time in finishing his opponents, ending his last four fights within the first two minutes of the very first round, creating an exciting and dangerous match-up for UFC 220.

    Despite competing in the octagon on six occasions, there is still a great deal of mystery surrounding Ngannou. The Cameroonian works quickly, using incredible striking power to crush his opponents.

    UFC President Dana White is hailing Ngannou as the hardest puncher on the planet.

    “Francis Ngannou has the world record for the most powerful punch. His punch in the equivalent to 96 horsepower… more powerful than a 12-pound sledgehammer being swung full force from overhead,” said White at the UFC 220 press conference.

    And it’s hard to argue with the UFC boss after Ngannou’s first-round knockout of MMA legend Alistair Overeem, which was awarded the UFC’s knockout of the year for 2017.

    It took Ngannou just a single uppercut to vault Overeem into the air for him to land unconscious in a sequence that can be difficult to watch.

    But it is yet to be discovered how Ngannou will cope if he can’t deal that knockout blow early. Can he survive the later rounds of a five-round fight? Miocic has proven to have the heart to go the distance, but Ngannou is yet to see a third round in a UFC bout.

    Miocic must mitigate the one-punch power of Ngannou by wearing him down and taking him to the mat

    Something that will prove difficult for Miocic, as Overeem found, is the potential to be overpowered in the clinch against the less experienced grappler in Ngannou, while Ngannou’s three-inch reach advantage over Miocic will allow him to land strikes at a distance.

    The last and only time Miocic suffered a knockout loss in the UFC was at the hands of Stefan Struve, who also held a large reach advantage over the current champ.

    UFC light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier shared his excitement to watching the heavyweight fight unfold.

    β€œSomebody’s going to sleep, and I’m just glad I get to be in the building to watch it,” he said.

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • Roar Guru

      January 14th 2018 @ 9:06am
      BigJ said | January 14th 2018 @ 9:06am | ! Report

      2018 couldn’t get off to a better start for the UFC. History will be made either way. A new champ or the rise of the most dominant Heavyweight champ in history
      Cant wait.

      Nice article as well enjoyed the read

    • January 14th 2018 @ 10:21am
      shirtpants said | January 14th 2018 @ 10:21am | ! Report

      I’d back Miocic because Ngannou is such a raw talent. He definitely has insane power that if he does connect, its lights out but Miocic is far more rounded and mobile.

      They’ve built Ngannou up so quickly as they’re desperate for another big name to reign supreme. He could be a big draw with his background but a loss here sends him back quite a bit

    • January 14th 2018 @ 10:56am
      Lroy said | January 14th 2018 @ 10:56am | ! Report

      Stipe also stopped Overeem so he is not without power himself.

      His tactic will be to get in close, get Nganou against the cage and just wear him down. If he can get it into the second round and beyond he will be in good shape.

      But getting hit by a sledgehammer…. hmm

      Nganou potentially looks like the greatest heavyweight of all time and the only guy who will bet him will be an older wiser John Jons.

      Exciting times!!!!!

    • Roar Guru

      January 14th 2018 @ 11:18am
      BigJ said | January 14th 2018 @ 11:18am | ! Report

      Sounds like the ufc has thier George Foreman, but we all remember what happened to him.

    • January 14th 2018 @ 9:33pm
      Bill larkin said | January 14th 2018 @ 9:33pm | ! Report

      Miocic for me. He’s the best counter punching heavyweight around. Ngannou misses, and he will, Stioe hits, as per Werdum.

    • January 16th 2018 @ 9:40am
      Kavvy said | January 16th 2018 @ 9:40am | ! Report

      Will be huge. Ngannou’s power is absolutely terryifying so obv if he lands clean it’s good night but a bit like the other commentors I think Miocic might be able to avoid the big hit and grind him down. Miocic short range punching is brilliant and accurate too.

      The template for this type of fight is obviously Rumble Johnson V Daniel Cormier 2 but Rumble had a gameplan that seemed like he wanted to prove he was more than just a scary punch that played in to DC’s hands and you can’t see Ngannou doing that.

      Gonna be fun.

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