Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is set to stage its latest pay-per-view (PP) offering with UFC 260, which will feature a heavyweight championship rematch between division hub Stipe Miocic and the 265-pound demolition machine, Francis Ngannou. In the revamped co-main event, former welterweight champion Tyron Woodley looks to bounce back when he takes on Vicente Luque.
Miocic has already established himself as the greatest heavyweight champion in UFC history, but the big man is looking for more. He already has a victory over Ngannou, sidelining him three years ago to hold his belt. But, after storming his way through the division, “The Predator” earned another title fight against Miocic. But what has changed since their last fight? Nothing good, really. Ngannou is still the toughest hitter in the sport, so it’s not like he’s looking to demolish Miocic to show off his enhanced jiu-jitsu. As for the champion, there will be no secrets in his approach. He will always seek to avoid the first barrage of bombs that will surely come from “The Predator”, and will stay true and move away from potential danger.
This time around, I just don’t think he’ll be able to dodge Ngannou’s heavy punches for the entire five rounds. I believe Ngannou will be quick and precise enough this time around to land a clean shot and clean Miocic’s clock. And that’s his only chance, really, because if it goes in the later rounds Miocic will have the advantage and “The Predator” will tire and his strikes will be less lethal. Ngannou has never been knocked out and I don’t think Stipe will be the first to do this to him. “The Predator” should be able to take what he’s learned from the first loss and turn it into a two-round knockout victory. That said, the champion is the champion for a reason, so Ngannou will need to have laser-like accuracy if he is to succeed.
What is not:
The main card could have used a little more boost. Granted, UFC 260 has lost a lot of its luster after losing its second title fight, but Miranda Maverick vs. Gillian Robertson and Jamie Mullarky vs. Khama Worthy doesn’t exactly cry out for the PPV blockbuster.
Original card Vs. Real card:
The co-main event was to feature a much-anticipated featherweight title fight between division champion Alexander Volkanovski taking on main contender Brian Ortega. But after Volkanovski was removed from the event due to COVID-19 protocols, the fight was postponed. As a result, the welterweight bout between Tyron Woodley and Vicente Luque was promoted to co-headliner. Additionally, after Randa Markos tested positive for COVID-19, his fight against Luana Pinheiro was postponed for a few weeks.
That’s not all.
Hannah Goldy has tested positive for COVID-19 and her fight with Jessica Penne has also been scratched. And UFC newcomer Fabio Cherant stepped in to take on Alonzo Menifield after William Knight was forced out of the fight following coronavirus.
Johnny Walker was in line to take on Jimmy Crute in Light Heavyweight action, but the fight was cut short after the Brazilian injured his chest. Crute will now fight Anthony Smith at UFC 261 while Walker heals. Blagoy Ivanov was expected to collide with Marcin Tybura on this map, but was sent off with an undisclosed injury.
The only newcomer to the UFC is the aforementioned Cherant, who takes the fight on just three days’ notice. With a 7-1 record, he has some experience under his belt. His only loss came on “Contender Series”, losing to Aleksa Camur via technical knockout. He has an extremely difficult task on his Octagon debut against Menifield, who is desperate for a win after suffering back-to-back losses to Ovince Saint Preux and Devin Clark.
What the “foreplay” look like:
The “Prelims” have been hit hard by COVID-19, so there will only be five fights left on the under-map. Abubakar Nurmagomedov is hoping to return to the winning column against Jared Gooden. Nurmagomedov is just 1-2-1 in his last four fights, so he has to go if he wants to avoid falling further down the ladder. Gooden also needs an important win after failing on his UFC debut against Alan Jouban in November 2020.
Michal Oleksiejczuk will try to end his two-game losing streak against Modestas Bukauskas, who just suffered a knockout loss to Jimmy Crute. Prior to that, Bukauskas was on a seven-game winning streak, so he knows a thing or two about winning.
Shane Young hasn’t been able to stay consistent so far inside the Octagon, going only 2-2. He’s going to have to do better than that because he doesn’t exactly have the name’s worth to avoid getting chopped off in the blink of an eye. He will have a tough challenge against Omar Morales, who is hungrier than ever after his undefeated record goes up in smoke thanks to Giga Chikadze. These two featherweights have a long way to go before they can start sniffing the Top 15.
Marc-André Barriault is in desperate need of a victory inside the Octagon as his short stint so far is not what he hoped for. After losing his first three fights under the UFC banner, his fourth fight against Oskar Piechota ended in a “No Contest”. Getting his first victory over Abu Azaitar won’t be a walk in the park as “Gladiator” has won nine of his last 10 fights. The 35-year-old has competed around the world in various organizations but hopes to become a mainstay of the UFC.
For a more detailed overview of all “Preliminary” actions, click here and here.
Who really needs a win:
There was a time when Woodley claimed to be the greatest welterweight of all time. Now “The Chosen One” is just looking for a win. Of course, Woodley looked great at the start of his championship run, defending his belt three times. But after spitting out the title at Kamaru Usman, “T-Wood” was anything but stellar. He has since continued to give up two more fights, giving him his longest losing streak of his career with three consecutive losses. His last victory was over 2.5 years ago, so he should win in the worst possible way. He will have a tough challenge in Luque, who has won nine of his last 10 fights. Luque demonstrated great durability and a well balanced attack. And since his back is not against the wall, he will come back a little more relaxed. Woodley, meanwhile, will put enormous pressure on his shoulders to avoid his fourth straight loss. Because despite his past success, that could open him up for a release from the promotion… just ask Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos.
Interest level: 7/10
We’ve discussed the main and co-main events already, so let’s dissect the other featured fight, which will see Sean O’Malley attempting to return to the win column after losing to Marlon Vera in his last outing. He will face Thomas Almeida, a once booming candidate many hoped for at the start of his career. Since 2016, however, Almeida has only competed five times in 1-4, including dropping back-to-back fights in his last three outings. It was really day and night that his career began at its present point. But, he can right his ship if he can take out O’Malley.
As for “Sugar,” it’s clear the promotion is still high on his promotion as a potential star despite his latest loss to Vera. O’Malley does this thing where he claims to be undefeated despite losing to “Chito”, it has become his schtick. Having said that, the loss is real and no one is buying it… not even a tiny bit. Although he says he’s mentally clear ahead of his clash against Almeida, it seems to be the opposite as he still lingers on the loss and Vera. If he’s not careful, he could end up being winless (0-2) in his last two fights after tonight.
UFC 260 may not be super-stacked, but there is a lot at stake for multiple fighters. O’Malley is looking to avoid slipping further into a hole, and Woodley – a former champion – is looking to find some sort of rhythm after suffering three straight losses. A fourth will be catastrophic for his career, as his legacy as one of the greatest 170-pound champions has suffered a heavy blow that will be difficult to recover from.
But, the main course is the reason everyone will be listening. Miocic has shown he can face and defeat the best of the best and has the chance to become the only man to hold two wins against Daniel Cormier and Francis Ngannou. As for “The Predator”, its time has come. If he doesn’t win the title this weekend, who knows how much longer it will take before he returns to the big dance. And let’s remember, not only will the winner leave “Sin City” with the belt, he’ll come home with a secure championship fight against Jon Jones down the line.
UFC 260 Complete Fight Card:
UFC 260 Main PPV event:
265 lbs: UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou
UFC 260 PPV main card on ESPN + (22 h HE):
145 pounds: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega– CANCELED (full story here)
170 lbs: Tyron Woodley v Vicente Luque
135 lb: Sean O’Malley contracts Thomas Almeida
125 lbs: Miranda Maverick vs. Gillian Robertson
155 lbs: Jamie Mullarkey vs. Khama Worthy
UFC 260 “Prélims” card on ESPN /ESPN + (20 h HE):
205 pounds: Alonzo Menifield vs. Fabio Cherant
170 pounds: Jared Gooden vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov
205 livres: Modestas Bukauskas c. Michal Oleksiejczuk
145 lbs: Omar Morales vs. Shane Young
UFC 260 preliminary card on ESPN /ESPN + (19 h 30 HE):
185 books: Abu Azaitar v. Marc-André Barriault
MMAmania.com will provide live, turn-based, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 260 fight card HERE, starting with the first ESPNs /ESPN + ‘Preliminary’ matches, which are scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining subcard balance on ESPN /ESPN + 8 p.m. ET, prior to the main PPV card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN + PPV.
* Battle map, order of battles, and number of battles remain subject to change due to COVID-19.
For more upcoming UFC events, click here.