Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is ready to stage its latest pay-per-view (PP) offering with UFC 260, which will feature a Heavyweight championship rematch between division kingpin, Stipe Miocic, and 265-pound wrecking 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 cemented himself as the greatest Heavyweight champion in UFC history, but the big man is looking for more. He already has a win over Ngannou, shutting him out three years ago to hold onto his belt. But, after storming his way through the division, “The Predator” has earned himself another title fight against Miocic. But what has changed since their last fight? Nothing much, really. Ngannou is still the hardest hitter in the sport, so it’s not like he will be looking to takedown Miocic to show off his improved jiu-jitsu. As for the champ, there will be no secrets to his approach. He will still look to avoid the early barrage of bombs that is sure to come from “The Predator,” and will stick and move his way out of potential danger.
This time around, I just don’t think he will be able to avoid Ngannou’s heavy punches for the entire five rounds. I believe Ngannou will be fast and accurate 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 to 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 it to him. “The Predator” should be able to take what he learned from the first loss and turn into a knockout win within two rounds. That said, the champion is the champion for a reason so Ngannou will have to have laser-like accuracy if he wants to pull it off.
The main card could have used a bit more of a boost. Granted, UFC 260 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 scream PPV blockbuster.
Original Card Vs. Actual Card:
The co-main event was set to feature a highly-anticipated Featherweight title fight between division champion, Alexander Volkanovski, taking on top contender, Brian Ortega. But after Volkanovski was removed from the event because of COVID-19 protocols, the bout was postponed. As a result, the Welterweight bout between Tyron Woodley and Vicente Luque was promoted to co-headliner. In addition, after Randa Markos tested positive for COVID-19, her fight against Luana Pinheiro was postponed a couple of weeks.
That’s not all.
Hannah Goldy tested positive for COVID-19 and her fight against Jessica Penne was also scratched. And UFC newcomer, Fabio Cherant, stepped in to face Alonzo Menifield after William Knight was forced out of the fight as a result of coronavirus.
Johnny Walker was in line to face Jimmy Crute in Light Heavyweight action, but the fight was pulled after the Brazilian suffered an injury to his chest. Crute will now fight Anthony Smith at UFC 261 while Walker heals. Blagoy Ivanov was set to collide with Marcin Tybura on this card, but was forced out with an undisclosed injury.
The lone UFC newcomer is the aforementioned Cherant, who is taking the fight on just three-days notice. With a record of 7-1, he does have some experience under his belt. His lone defeat came on “Contender Series,” losing to Aleksa Camur via technical knockout. He has an extremely tough task in his Octagon debut against Menifield, who is in desperate need of a win after suffering back-to-back losses to Ovince Saint Preux and Devin Clark.
How The ‘Prelims’ Look:
The “Prelims” were hit hard by COVID-19, so there will now only be five fights on the undercard. Abubakar Nurmagomedov hopes to get back in the win column against Jared Gooden. Nurmagomedov is just 1-2-1 in his last four fights, so he needs to get going if he wants to avoid falling further down the ladder. Gooden also needs a win in a big way after coming up short in his UFC debut against Alan Jouban in Nov. 2020.
Michal Oleksiejczuk will try to snap his two-fight losing streak against Modestas Bukauskas, who is coming off a knockout loss to Jimmy Crute. Prior to that, Bukauskas was on a seven-fight win streak, so he knows a thing or two about winning.
Shane Young has been unable to get consistent so far inside the Octagon, going just 2-2. He is going to have to do better than that because he doesn’t exactly have the name value to avoid getting cut at the drop of a hat. He will have a tough challenge against Omar Morales, who is hungrier than ever after his undefeated record went up in smoke thanks to Giga Chikadze. These two Featherweights have a lot of ground to cover before they can start sniffing the Top 15.
Marc-Andre Barriault is in desperate need of a win inside the Octagon because his short stint so far is not what he hoped for. After losing his first three fights under the UFC banner, his fourth bout against Oskar Piechota ended in a “No Contest.” Picking up his first win against Abu Azaitar will not be a walk in the park because “Gladiator” has won nine of his last 10 bouts. The 35-year-old has competed all over the world in various organizations, but hopes to become a mainstay with UFC.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
There was a time when Woodley was claiming to be the greatest Welterweight of all time. Now, “The Chosen One” is simply looking for a win. Sure, Woodley looked great early on in his championship run, defending his belt three times. But after coughing the title up to Kamaru Usman, “T-Wood” has been anything but stellar. He has since gone on to drop two more fights, giving him his longest losing streak of his career with three losses in a row. His last win came more than 2.5 years ago, so he is due for a win in the worst way. He will have a tough challenge in Luque, who has won nine of his last 10 bouts. Luque has shown to have great durability and a well-rounded attack. And since his back isn’t against the wall, he’ll be coming in a bit more relaxed. Woodley, meanwhile, will have tremendous pressure on his shoulders trying to avoid his fourth-straight loss. Because despite his past success, it could open him up for a release from the promotion ... just ask Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos.
Interest Level: 7/10
We’ve already discussed the main and co-main events, so let’s dissect the other featured bout, which will see Sean O’Malley attempt to get back in the win column after losing to Marlon Vera in his last outing. He will face Thomas Almeida, a once-surging contender who many had high hopes for early in his career. Since 2016, though, Almeida has only competed five times going 1-4, including dropping consecutive bouts in his last three outings. It really is night and day how his career started off to its current 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 promoting him as a potential star despite his most recent loss to Vera. O’Malley is doing this thing where he claims to be undefeated despite losing to “Chito,” it’s become his schtick. That said, the loss is very real and no one is buying it ... not even a little bit. Despite saying he is mentally clear ahead of his showdown against Almeida, it appears to be the opposite because he’s still dwelling on the loss and on Vera. If he’s not careful he could end up being winless (0-2) in his last couple of fights after tonight.
UFC 260 may not be super-stacked, but there is a lot riding on the line for several fighters. O’Malley looks to avoid slipping further down a hole, and Woodley — a former champion — is looking to find some kind of rhythm again after suffering three straight losses. A fourth will be catastrophic for his career, because his legacy as one of the greatest 170-pound champions has taken a hit that will be hard to recover from.
But, the main course is why everyone will be tuning in. Miocic has shown he can take on and defeat the best of the best and has the chance to become the only man to hold two wins over Daniel Cormier and Francis Ngannou. As for “The Predator,” his time is now. If he doesn’t win the title this weekend, who knows how much longer it will be before he gets back to the big dance. And let’s remember, not only will the winner be leaving “Sin City” with the belt, he will be going home with a secured big-money championship fight against Jon Jones down the line.
UFC 260 Full Fight Card:
UFC 260 PPV Main Event:
265 lbs.: UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou
UFC 260 PPV Main Card on ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Alexander Volkanovski vs. Brian Ortega— CANCELED (full story here)
170 lbs.: Tyron Woodley vs. Vicente Luque
135 lbs.: Sean O’Malley vs. Thomas Almeida
125 lbs.: Miranda Maverick vs. Gillian Robertson
155 lbs.: Jamie Mullarkey vs. Khama Worthy
UFC 260 ‘Prelims’ Card on ESPN/ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Alonzo Menifield vs. Fabio Cherant
170 lbs.: Jared Gooden vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov
205 lbs.: Modestas Bukauskas vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
145 lbs.: Omar Morales vs. Shane Young
UFC 260 Early ‘Prelims’ Card on ESPN/ESPN+ (7:30 p.m. ET):
185 lbs.: Abu Azaitar vs. Marc-Andre Barriault
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 260 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the early ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
*Fight card, bout order and number of fights remain subject to change due to COVID-19.*
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