UFC 220: Preview and Predictions

Edward L'Orange Roar Guru

By Edward L'Orange, Edward L'Orange is a Roar Guru

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    The first UFC card of 2018 is underway this weekend, and we start the year with the most anticipated heavyweight match in some time: champion Stipe Miocic vss Francis Ngannou.

    Here are my predictions for the main card.

    Thomas Almeida vs Rob Font
    The first match of the main card sees an interesting bout between bantamweights Thomas Almeida (21 wins, two losses) and Rob Font (14 wins, three losses). Both coming off losses, these fighters will be looking to steady their careers going forward, making this match quite hard to call.

    Almeida is a known puncher and the more decorated of the two fighters despite being only 26. His only losses have come to well-known opponents – he lost this last match to Jimmie Rivera and previously lost to former champion Cody Garbrandt.

    Font is a well-rounded fighter, owning good standing and ground games due to solid Muay Thai and jujitsu. However, the Brazilian Almeida of course also has a background in jujitsu, and his Muay Thai is stronger.

    In what could be an entertaining fight, I anticipate the younger Almeida to win via knockout and get his career back on track.

    (AP Photo/John Locher)

    Gian Villante vs Francimar Barroso
    The light-heavyweight stocks are notoriously low at the UFC, and that shows with the second fight of the card which sees Gian Villante (15 wins, nine losses) face Francimar Barroso (19 wins, six losses). Both own salty professional records, and at 32 and 37 years old respectively this match could see the end of one career.

    Villante, a kickboxer with wresting experience, is a danger on his feet with ten of his 15 wins coming by knockout. Therefore it is likely that Barroso, a black belt in jujitsu, will attempt to take this fight to the ground, where he will have a significant advantage.

    However, Villante’s wresting experience will help him avoid the takedown from which point he will use his superior boxing to smother the older and slightly shorter Barroso. Villante by knockout in the second.

    Calvin Kattar vs Shane Burgos
    The featherweight match between Calvin Kattar (17 wins, two losses) and Shane Burgos (10 wins, no losses) is an exciting fight between two upcoming talents. Calvin Katter is the more experienced of the two, having had nearly twice the professional bouts.

    A fighter with excellent cardio, Katter is much more comfortable on his feet staying behind his jab. The majority of his wins come from frustrating opponents and gaining victory via decision.

    Shane Burgos is only 26 but undefeated in professional MMA. Coming from the reputable school of Tiger Schulmann’s Martial Arts, Burgos has a very good all-round game. He prefers to stand and employ solid low kicks to slow down opponents, but he also has four submissions in his ten wins.

    With both being relatively tall featherweights, this has the potential to be an interesting match and a tough one to call. I am going to go against the odds and predict that Calvin Katter will stay behind his jab and frustrate Burgos to claim a decision victory

    Daniel Cormier vs Volkan Oezdemir
    Daniel Cormier (19 wins, one loss) did not have too many options when it came to defending his newly returned light-heavyweight belt, but the heavy-hitting Swiss Volkan Oezdemir (15 wins, one loss) is a fan favourite after his brutal knockouts of Misha Cirkunoc and Jimi Manuwa and therefore gets his shot.

    In only his fourth UFC fight, Volkan ‘No Time’ Oezdemir – possibly the worst nickname in the UFC – is getting his shot at the championship earlier than anyone expected. Oezdemir is a heavy hitter known for moving in quickly to attack with a volume of punches. This is seen on his record, with 11 of his 15 wins coming via knockouts, and 12 of his matches have ended in the first round. Adhering to this tactic will be his best chance against DC – moving in fast with volume early.

    Even so, it is very hard to see DC, an Olympic wrestler and real pound-for-pound contender, falling to such a tactic. It should be well within the first minute that DC shoots a double-leg and takes the fight to the floor, from where it will be all but a forgone conclusion.

    The only question is DC’s desire. Getting on in age and with lucrative commentating jobs taking up his time, will Cormier give this fight as much energy as the hungry Oezdemir? If he does, then I have no doubt it will be an easy win for DC, probably via submission.

    (L.E. Baskow/Las Vegas Sun via AP, File)

    Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou
    The main event of the evening sees champion Stipe Miocic (17 wins, two losses) versus Francis Ngannou (11 wins, one loss), and this looks to be a great contest between two fascinating men.

    Francis Ngannou’s story could be out of a novel. Growing up in Cameroon as the son of a famous street fighter, Ngannou was forced to work in a sand mine from the age of 12.

    At 22 years old Ngannou decided to take his life into his own hands and pursue his dream of being a professional boxer. He moved to France with nothing in 2012 and lived on the Parisian streets as little as five years ago before he met his now head coach Fernand Lopez. Lopez convinced Ngannou to abandon boxing and pursue mixed martial arts, and he has since been a feared figure in the MMA scene.

    Ngannou is not the most technical fighter and relies heavily on his incredible strength and one-punch power – in fact Ngannou holds the world record for the hardest punch ever recorded, striking a machine at the UFC Performance Institute with over 129,000 newtons of pressure, smashing the previous record by over 15,000 units. This power will be the greatest concern for heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic, because if Ngannou lands a clean punch, the night will be over.

    Stipe has an interesting story of his own. Still an active professional firefighter in Ohio, Miocic is going for the UFC record of heavyweight title defences, which is only two.

    Despite 13 of his 17 wins coming via knockout, Miocic has a very strong background in wrestling, being an NCAA Division 1 wrestler in his college years. It is this skill that Stipe will have to rely on in order to beat Ngannou.

    From the start Stipe will have to have his head on Ngannou’s chest, forcing him against the cage to take away his power. If he can do this, Stipe may well be able to grind down the challenger Ngannou, whose huge mass may work against him in the later rounds.

    This will be an interesting fight, with tactics coming into it heavily for the champion Stipe. However, the power and desire of Ngannou will be tough to overcome, and I expect him to win via knockout and continue his fairytale story.

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    The Crowd Says (4)

    • Roar Guru

      January 19th 2018 @ 8:35am
      BigJ said | January 19th 2018 @ 8:35am | ! Report

      Hi Eddie, nice article mate. The two title fights i dont expect to go past the second round. Dc and Ngannou will prove too strong for thier opponents. Also i think i know the back story behind Oezdemir’s terrible nickname. He was asked on the spot just before a fight for one and had “no time” to come up with decent one. Ha ha

      • Roar Guru

        January 19th 2018 @ 9:18am
        Edward L'Orange said | January 19th 2018 @ 9:18am | ! Report

        Haha, I hope that’s true about “No time”. That’s brilliant.

        But yeah, I totally agree about the title fights. If the headline fight does going into the 3rd and 4th, Stepe will win. But, I doubt it will happen.

        Other than them, it’s a pretty average card to be honest. Still, I’ll watch with interest regardless.

    • Roar Guru

      January 19th 2018 @ 10:50am
      BigJ said | January 19th 2018 @ 10:50am | ! Report

      Thanks mate, Appreciate the laugh. Im actually surprised by how good my puns are this year, maybe i should give that comedy act another crack.

      It think that the UFC has rushed into adding the Heavyweight championship to the card instead of just letting the light-heavyweight headline the show. After the success of Ufc 217 i think the ufc is trying to better it. I think that they should just let it ride as is.

      But your right besides the title fights its just a glorified ufc fight night. Enjoy the fight. Do you know when Nunes or Cyborg figt next???

      • Roar Guru

        January 20th 2018 @ 8:40am
        Edward L'Orange said | January 20th 2018 @ 8:40am | ! Report

        There’s actually been rumours that Nunes and Cyborg will fight, but apparently Cyborg doesn’t want to because Nunes is too small and she wants someone in her weight class. Cyborg must hate money, because it’s now the biggest women’s match up. But even so, I don’t think it’ll be for a while. Middle of the year at the earliest

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