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UFC 220 predictions: ‘Miocic vs Ngannou’ FOX Sports 1 ‘Prelims’ undercard preview

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Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., Jan. 20, 2018) when UFC 220: “Miocic vs. Ngannou” storms TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg continues the UFC 220 “Prelims” party with the second (and final) installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

MMA: UFC 218-Olivera vs Felder Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Eight months after getting his revenge on Junior dos Santos, Stipe Miocic takes on his most terrifying challenger yet this Saturday evening (Jan. 20, 2018) in UFC 220’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event: Cameroonian knockout artist Francis Ngannou.

In addition, Light heavyweight champ Daniel Cormier will have his hands full as well inside TD Garden in Boston, Mass., when he tangles with Volkan Oezdemir, while Featherweight knockout artists Calvin Kattar and Shane Burgos set the stage one fight prior.

UFC 220’s PPV main card isn’t everything, of course, and we’ve still got four “Prelims” undercard matches to preview and predict (check out the first batch here) before we get there.

145 lbs.: Kyle Bochniak vs. Brandon Davis

Kyle Bochniak (7-2) made his Octagon debut just nine days after his previous fight and, though he ultimately came up short, gave the favored Charles Rosa a run for his money in Boston. He got back on track with a controversial decision over Enrique Barzola, but had no answers against Jeremy Kennedy’s wrestling.

“Crash” stands three inches shorter than Brandon Davis (8-2) at 5’7.”

Davis put a 1-2 start to his professional career behind him with six consecutive victories (or a 6-1 run, depending on whether you ask Sherdog or Tapology) to earn a spot on Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Contender Series.” He made the most of the opportunity with a terrific slugfest against Austin Arnett, whom he overwhelmed with volume on his way to a decision victory.

Three of his eight professional wins have come by form of knockout.

By all rights, Bochniak should be winless (0-3) in UFC. Not a single member of the media had the Barzola decision going his way — they were divided only by whether Bochniak won even a single round. He’s just not all that good, average-to-decent in most areas, but lacking any standout skills.

Davis, on the other hand, does have standout skills, namely insane durability and quality combination striking. With his height and length, he should be able to come out ahead in most exchanges, out-landing Bochniak and using his inconsistent-but-effective head movement to steer clear of return fire. He’ll probably look like a mess afterward, but I fully expect a triumphant debut for Davis.

Prediction: Davis via unanimous decision

170 lbs. Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Sabah Homasi

Abdul Alhassan’s (8-1) streak of first-round destructions came to an end early last year when Omari Akhmedov survived the early onslaught to take a split decision. He was then booked to face Sabah Homasi (11-7), who slugged it out with him until an awkward stoppage halted things near the end of the first.

Prior to the Akhmedov fight, none of Alhassan’s bouts had lasted more than 83 seconds.

Homasi joined his American Top Team squad on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 21, where he lost his sole bout to Carrington Banks. He eventually made his UFC debut on a 15-day turnaround against Tim Means, who steadily broke him down for a second-round stoppage, and then came the Alhassan fight.

His 10 stoppage wins are split 8-2 between knockouts and submissions.

The first fight was basically exactly what we expected before Herb Dean stepped in. Considering that Alhassan’s loss to Akhmedov wasn’t enough to halt his free-swinging ways and Homasi has continued to trade leather despite four (technical) knockout losses, I don’t picture the rematch going terribly different. Once again, it will come down to whether Homasi’s chin can hold up long enough for Alhassan to wear himself out.

Methinks no.

While Alhassan was beginning to flag, Homasi is still far, far too fragile and willing to throw down to survive Alhassan’s bombs. Another wild scrap ends midway through the first courtesy of a booming right from “Judo Thunder.”

Prediction: Alhassan via first-round knockout

125 lbs.: Dustin Ortiz vs. Alexandre Pantoja

Dustin Ortiz (17-7) defeated prospects Jose Maria Tome, Ray Borg and Justin Scoggins in his first four UFC appearances, losing only to John Moraga by split decision in that span. A 2-4 crash followed, but he earned the most stunning win of his UFC career in Aug. 2017 with a 15-second knockout of rising Team Alpha Male product Hector Sandoval.

He owns seven wins by knockout and two by submission to strikes.

In 2015, Alexandre Pantoja (18-2) choked out Damacio Page to unify the RFA and Legacy Flyweight titles and earn the No. 1 seed on TUF 24. He reached the semifinals before falling to Hiromasa Ogikubo, then picked up consecutive UFC victories over Eric Shelton and Neil Seery.

He will have two inches of reach on Ortiz.

I genuinely believe Ortiz is better than his recent struggles would indicate. He’s a powerful, dangerous scrambler with a bottomless gas tank and serious physicality for the weight class. Pantoja is a skilled striker and extremely adept at taking the back, but his loss on TUF showed he could be ground down and he had issues with Shelton, who is a similar breed of high-speed grappler.

I expect this to be close and full of arguments on either side, but Ortiz’s strength should put him either on the right side of the fence or in top position for just long enough to eke it out.

Prediction: Ortiz via split decision

145 lbs.: Dan Ige vs. Julio Arce

Dan Ige (8-1) — the latest product of Hawaii to step into the Octagon — slugged his way onto the “Tuesday Night Contender Series” with wins in promotions like Legacy and Titan FC. There, “Dynamite” picked up his sixth consecutive win with a submission over Cuba’s Luis Gomez.

Half of his professional wins have come by submission.

Julio Arce (12-2) racked up a perfect (8-0) amateur record and a flawless (7-0) professional record before falling to Brian Kelleher in consecutive Ring of Combat title bouts. He has since won five straight, stopping Lloyd Irvin acolyte Peter Petties on the fifth episode of “Tuesday Night Contender Series.”

He steps in for the injured Charles Rosa on around three weeks notice.

Ige is cut from a similar cloth as Kelleher, being a come-forward bruiser who leans heavily on his wrestling ... and I was initially leaning his way. Re-watching Arce’s DWTNC fight, though, I find myself favoring him. After a rough first round, he made excellent adjustments to shut down Petties’ grappling and tear him apart at range. Arce has definitely improved since the Kelleher losses and looks to be by far the sharper striker.

Ige’s relentlessness and the fact that Arce took this on short notice make it a bit dicey, but I say Arce controls the stand up and — after an adjustment period — fights off Ige’s takedowns to score the win.

Prediction: Arce via unanimous decision

The Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight titles on the line on the same night? Sign me up. See you Saturday, Maniacs!

Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 220 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2018: 8-0