Main Event: (C)Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou (UFC Heavyweight Title)
Betting odds: Miocic +169 or 31/20, Ngannou -170 or 11/20
Nothing quite captures the imagination of the people like a heavyweight title fight between two highly respected fighters in the prime of their career.
This fight is the most significant one in the entire division’s history. On one hand, Miocic is a single defence away from holding the record for consecutive heavyweight title defences, on the other hand, it could be the championship-crowning moment for the scariest heavyweight in MMA history.
Francis Ngannou has climbed the heavyweight rankings almost overnight it seems, anyone who witnessed his UFC debut wouldn’t have forgotten about him because even amongst a UFC roster full of remarkable athletes he stands out as a unique breed of super athlete.
His story is a captivating one, coming from humble beginnings he worked in a sand mine shovelling in shin deep water for countless hours surrounded by the constant threat of heavy debris falling from the cliffs nearby.
Having made the trip from Cameroon to France in an attempt to escape poverty Ngannou was homeless until he found refuge at a boxing gym from which he planned to train and compete so he could earn a decent living, it was at that gym in Paris Ngannou was advised to train for mixed martial arts instead as the opportunities for success are easier to come by.
Ngannou’s first appearance in the UFC was in December of 2015, the short time between then and now he’s gone from talented prospect to the betting favourite in his first title fight, phenomenal considering 5 years ago he had no idea what MMA was.
The title shot has come about due to the recent knockout of Alistair Overeem who is the most experienced striker in the heavyweight division.
After easily dealing with lower ranked heavyweights Ngannou took a huge step up challenging Overeem to provide an accurate measure of his ability, in response, he delivered one of the most brutal knockouts in recent times.
Immediately after the knockout, Ngannou’s focus turned to Stipe Miocic and the belt.
Stipe Miocic is no stranger to adversity or mortal danger, tackling fires is his day job something he’s proudly done for a long time and even now as heavyweight champion he still finds time to continue working albeit not as frequently as he once would.
Miocic became champion around 5 months after Ngannou made his UFC debut, two successful defences of the title have followed, the first of which was against Alistair Overeem.
The fight was stopped towards the end of the first round, Miocic after surviving an early knockdown rallied to stop Overeem with ground strikes.
The second defence saw Miocic avenge a previous decision loss to Junior Dos Santos by defeating the Brazilian by TKO once again in the first round which extended Stipe’s run to 4 first round finishes on the bounce.
If you were to pick a man in the heavyweight division best suited to cope with the skills Ngannou brings to the Octagon outside of former champion Cain Velasquez I believe Stipe Miocic is the man for the job.
The stoic nature of Stipe Miocic has seen him through some seriously troublesome scenarios, there’s little margin for error for either guy with both men being fast starters and having a history of early stoppages. The fighter who holds his nerve and pulls the trigger at the right time will most likely be the victor in this matchup.
Alistair Overeem despite his vast experience looked overwhelmed by Ngannou’s presence, Miocic will no doubt remain composed for as long as he’s in the fight.
Co-Main: (C)Daniel Cormier vs Volkan Oezdemir (UFC Light Heavyweight Title)
Betting odds: Cormier -303 or 3/10, Oezdemir +275 or 5/2
The last memory we have of Daniel Cormier is being finished for the first time in his career against a returning Jon Jones, although an unpleasant memory Cormier still remains the champion at 205lbs due to Jones falling foul of the UFC wellness programme by testing positive for a prohibited substance once again.
The positive test resulted in the loss to Jones being changed to a no contest and with the no contest being written in the history books as a void fight the belt went back to the previous holder Daniel Cormier.
In the wake of that mess involving the belt, Cormier is sticking around to defend it against another dangerous fighter.
DC posted a poll on his Twitter account to give the fans an opportunity to choose his next opponent, Volkan Oezdemir lead the poll beating Alexander Gustafsson & Ovince Saint Preux by earning 52% of the votes.
Volkan “No Time” Oezdemir like Ngannou has added some new blood to an otherwise well-established weight division, after edging out Ovince Saint Preux via split decision Oezdemir then took out Misha Cirkunov,
and then Jimi Manuwa, both in little or “No Time”.
The result of this fight firmly depends on which fighter is catching the other at the right time in their career, at 38 has DC seen his best days already and will the damage Jon Jones dealt have any lasting effects?, or is Volkan Oezdemir unprepared for a fighter of Daniel Cormier’s calibre?.
Either way, Cormier has hinted 2018 may well be his last year of physical competition so depending on the outcome of the fight this may be the final time we see the underappreciated modern great Daniel Cormier in the octagon.
Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou (Ngannou KO/TKO)
Daniel Cormier vs Volkan Oezdemir (Cormier Submission)
Calvin Kattar vs Shane Burgos (Kattar Decision)
Gian Villante vs Francimar Barroso (Villante Decision)
Thomas Almeida vs Rob Font (Almeida Decision)