UFC 220: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

Steven Rondina@srondinaFeatured ColumnistJanuary 19, 2018

UFC 220: Bleacher Report Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Francis Ngannou will get his crack at the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 220.
    Francis Ngannou will get his crack at the UFC heavyweight title at UFC 220.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    UFC 220 is almost upon us, and Saturday's event is worth being excited for with arguably the best heavyweight fight in UFC history set to headline the festivities and an interesting light heavyweight title contest right behind it.

    The full main card stands as follows:

    • Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou
    • Daniel Cormier vs. Volkan Oezdemir
    • Calvin Kattar vs. Shane Burgos
    • Gian Villante vs. Francimar Barroso
    • Thomas Almeida vs. Rob Font

    Naturally, the Bleacher Report predictions team is here to break down and deliver predictions for each fight. So jump right in and read who we are picking at UFC 220.

Thomas Almeida vs. Rob Font

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    Thomas Almeida is looking to get back on track after having his hype train derailed.
    Thomas Almeida is looking to get back on track after having his hype train derailed.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Craig Amos

    OK, so Thomas Almeida isn't the heir apparent at bantamweight. We know that now. But he's still an excellent fighter, making his tussle with Rob Font, an unheralded but talented scrapper, an interesting clash.

    Both men harbour knockout power and are willing to let their hands go, so there is a high probability of a knockout here. My guess is the Brazilian is the last man standing.

    Almeida, KO, Rd. 2

         

    Nathan McCarter

    I'm still a believer in Almeida, and Font is someone who will oblige him in the center of the Octagon. That's not good for Font. Almeida is going to win a quick, but violent, fight.

    UFC 220's main card will start with a bang.

    Almeida, TKO, Rd. 1

          

    Scott Harris

    This is the fight where Almeida finally gets back on track. Font will exchange but ultimately go down.

    Almeida, TKO, Rd. 2

           

    Steven Rondina

    I feel bad having Font not get picked here because this isn't a squash. He's certainly capable of winning this fight...but I don't feel bad enough to change my pick.

    Almeida, TKO, Rd. 2 

Gian Villante vs. Francimar Barroso

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    Gian Villante enters UFC 220 on a two-fight skid.
    Gian Villante enters UFC 220 on a two-fight skid.Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Amos

    Pay-per-view main cards don't usually house loser-leaves-town matchups, but this pairing could well be one.

    Gian Villante once looked promising, but he simply can't generate good results. Francimar Barroso meanwhile, has posted average results against middling competition at light heavyweight.

    I'll go with Villante, because he's at least shown a higher ceiling.

    Villante, knockout, Rd. 2

            

    McCarter

    This is not a great fight, nor is it a fight of great significance. Villante probably has enough in the tank to outlast Barroso. Durability wins the day as Villante puts Barroso away in the third.

    Villante, TKO, Rd. 3

          

    Harris

    Villante just hangs around, both in fights and generally in the UFC. He'll use his wrestling to add another line item to his resume.

    Villante, unanimous decision

         

    Rondina

    I'm somewhat surprised that everyone is expecting Villante to get back on track. I don't think his recent struggles are a coincidence, and while Barroso isn't exactly a world-beater, I think the odds are in his favor here.

    Barroso, unanimous decision   

Calvin Kattar vs. Shane Burgos

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    Calvin Kattar is one of the few Bostonians set to fight at UFC 220.
    Calvin Kattar is one of the few Bostonians set to fight at UFC 220.Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Amos

    Both fighters have been impressive in their short UFC careers, but Shane Burgos has had a little more time to make his mark.

    Still, I'm siding with Calvin Kattar, who has given us quality over quantity (in a relative sense, since both have been good). He'll outpoint his opponent on the feet and pull off the upset.

    Kattar, unanimous decision

          

    McCarter

    Is this the best fight no one is talking about? This is the best fight no one is talking about.

    I would have probably taken Burgos at another time, but after seeing Kattar defeat Andre Fili, I'm buying more of his stock. It'll be a closely contested battle, but one Kattar sneaks by on in the eyes of the judges.

    Kattar, unanimous decision

         

    Harris

    This is a nice fight, even if the featherweights are still a little anonymous. Burgos is a little more experienced and should take that to the bank to spoil Kattar's hometown appearance at TD Garden in Boston.

    Burgos, unanimous decision

         

    Rondina

    Judges in Massachusetts are historically easy to sway, and Kattar will be the hometown favorite. Look for him to do enough to get the decision. And if he doesn't, look for the judges to give him the win anyway.

    Kattar, unanimous decision

Daniel Cormier vs. Volkan Oezdemir

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    Daniel Cormier is once again the UFC light heavyweight champion.
    Daniel Cormier is once again the UFC light heavyweight champion.Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images

    Amos

    Volkan Oezdemir obviously has has some real power, but I just don't believe he's at the same level as Daniel Cormier. Maybe it's the lingering memory of his one UFC bout that wasn't finished in under a minute, but it just feels like his window is so small in this fight.

    Assuming he doesn't squeeze through it before it closes up, Cormier should employ his wrestling dominance and eventually earn a stoppage.

    Cormier, TKO, Rd. 3

         

    McCarter

    Oezdemir's rapid rise is going to come to a swift end. Cormier is a terrible matchup for him, and he is reduced to a puncher's chance.

    That wasn't good enough for his former teammate Anthony Johnson. Cormier will close the distance and grind on Oezdemir for a round or two before he puts him away with ground-and-pound on the mat. I'm not expecting a competitive fight.

    Cormier, TKO, Rd. 3

           

    Harris

    Oezdemir simply doesn't have the wrestling to contend with Cormier. Expect a clinchfest with a lot of great wrist control and not a whole lot of other memories.

    Cormier, unanimous decision

          

    Rondina

    Oezdemir can hit super hard, but is he a good fighter? Maybe. But maybe isn't enough to convince me to pick him over an elite like Daniel Cormier.

    Cormier, submission, Rd. 2

Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou

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    Stipe Miocic (right) has the chance to break the record for most consecutive UFC heavyweight title defenses.
    Stipe Miocic (right) has the chance to break the record for most consecutive UFC heavyweight title defenses.Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    Amos

    I've backed Stipe Miocic in his last five fights, but I've bought so much Francis Ngannou hype that I'm running out of places to keep it.

    Miocic has never been perfect defensively, and Ngannou just hits so hard.

    There's a plausible scenario in which the champ wears the up-and-comer down, tires him out and beats him to a pulp. But like I said, I'm an Ngannou believer.

    Ngannou, TKO, Rd. 1

          

    McCarter

    I was in Orlando when Ngannou joined the UFC in December 2015. And I was in Detroit at UFC 218 when he sent Alistair Overeem to the shadow realm.

    I have the utmost respect for Miocic, but there is no way I can go against Ngannou until proved otherwise. He has the "it factor" and unbelievable abilities that make him a compelling figure.

    Ngannou is going to hurt and finish Miocic in spectacular fashion. The UFC will get a star heavyweight who has a chance to revitalize the division and, as a Cameroon native who fought out of Paris, help the UFC's worldwide marketing.

    Ngannou, KO, Rd. 1

          

    Harris

    I get it. And I think Ngannou will be champion some day. Saturday is just not that day. Miocic uses footwork and fight IQ to cool down the Ngannou heat for just a little while.

    Miocic, TKO, Rd. 3

         

    Rondina

    Ngannou has been impressive, make no mistake...but have y'all seen his training footage? When it comes to grappling exchanges, he largely gets by on strength and explosiveness, and while he's certainly got plenty of that to go around, that spells doom against a technically sound big man like Miocic.

    The champ is going to slow this fight down, avoid any of Ngannou's massive punches and break the UFC record for heavyweight title defenses in convincing fashion.

    Miocic, unanimous decision