With every UFC card that passes, there is always the question of what happens next and with the dust settling on pay-per-view (PPV) number 252, fans are looking for answers that will hopefully emerge from the heavyweight division.
Answers that revolve around reigning champion Stipe Miocic. With his Daniel Cormier trilogy recently concluding, the Ohio-born kingpin will now be eyeing up the next challenge that will soon be put in front of him.
His second successive victory over “DC” has solidified Miocic’s standing as the best the heavyweight bracket has to offer and although he failed to deliver a knockout blow, another victory over his perennial rival still tasted incredibly sweet.
A win that has not only settled any previous scores between the two, but has also led Cormier to announce his immediate retirement straight after this most recent loss. With a void in this weight class ready to be filled, rumors have begun regarding the next championship challenge.
Those rumors are circulating around Francis Ngannou and with the 33-year-old slugger already tasting defeat at the hands of Miocic, the last thing he will want is to suffer the same fate two years down the line.
UFC 220 was the scene when these two titans first went to war and although the battle lines were drawn beforehand, the result was nothing more than a highly one-sided skirmish and one that saw Ngannou well beaten on points.
A trio of 50-44 scorecards was handed back by the judges and some critics will argue that it was as one-sided a title fight as you could get and although there will be a modicum of truth behind that, the Cameroon-born fighter can at least point to the fact he went the distance.
That fact offers a lot of bargaining power in terms of any return fight, as the challenger can say “Yes you may have beaten me, but you did not knock me out,” and with the job not being finished the first time around, “The Predator” will not be as easy to deal with in any meeting that follows.
Such is the clamor for the rematch, that even though it has not been officially signed off by Dana White and Co. you get the feeling this will be an eventual formality, one the bookmakers are already pricing up the potential winner of the fight.
The odds for Miocic vs. Ngannou 2 have caused consternation within the MMA community, if only because the challenger is viewed as the overwhelming favorite and if this follows the current form guide, a changing of the guard heavyweight awaits.
The initial odds place Ngannou, who himself is now based in Las Vegas, as the favorite at odds of -225, with the champion playing the role of outsider and a somewhat unexpected role at the same time, as his moneyline odds are +190 by comparison.
Whether these odds turn out to be misplaced confidence remains to be seen, but to see a champion not priced as a favorite is almost unheard of and with the market being as it is, one wonders if there is value in sticking with the status quo.
The logic behind investing the house in Miocic is simple: this market will fluctuate (eventually) and any early value that is being offered will soon dissipate. If anything, we may see a recalibration of the odds and tilted back to normality.
This means when balancing up risk over reward, to have Miocic at plus odds almost feels like this potential fight has been priced incorrectly and if you get on the case now, you might make the bookmakers pay further down the line.
One only has to look at the recent performance at UFC 252 to know that the current champion is no shrinking violet in the Octagon and after making light work of Ngannou once before, there is no reason to suggest the same will not happen a second time.
Of course, when it comes to the discipline of MMA, everyone has a puncher’s chance and after being afforded a two-year period of reflection, it may just make Ngannou even hungrier to achieve his personal ultimate dream. Now fight fans will hope this rumored duel is soon made official.