UFC 220 Results: The Real Winners and Losers
If it wasn't the best heavyweight matchup in UFC history, it was pretty darn close.
If Stipe Miocic retained his championship, he would set a UFC record for consecutive heavyweight title defenses with three (yeah, there's some churn in this division). If Francis Ngannou—a slight betting favorite despite his challenger status, per OddsShark—were to gain the victory, it would cement the hard-hitting French-Cameroonian as the company's newest bona fide star.
That was the main event at UFC 220, which went down Saturday from the chilly streets of Boston. But it was far from the only intriguing bout. It wasn't even the only title match. The co-main event saw Daniel Cormier put his light heavyweight belt on the line against upstart Volkan Oezdemir.
As always, the final stat lines only reveal so much. These are the real winners and losers from UFC 220.
And for the literal-minded among us, full card results appear at the end.
Winner: Stipe Miocic
Stipe Miocic battered, drained and dominated his favored challenger to defend his heavyweight title for a record third time. He won a 50-44 decision on all three judges' scorecards.
"Hell yeah there was danger," Miocic told broadcaster Joe Rogan in the cage after the fight. "Look how big he is. He hit me a couple times, and that didn't feel good. I was all right, though. I'll get back in the gym, and I'll get better."
The Miocic plan was fairly clear from the beginning. Avoiding most of those lethal Ngannou punches, Miocic laced one-two combinations through Ngannou's defense. More than that, though, Miocic aimed to tire the challenger.
Ngannou had never gone past the second round in his entire MMA career. That changed Saturday.
Miocic, a D-I college wrestler, used single- and double-leg takedowns to get Ngannou to the mat. He leaned on him against the fence. On the ground, Ngannou had difficulty defending himself, taking poundings and holding Miocic's weight, which added to his fatigue.
After the second round, much less the others, it seemed Ngannou was walking on jelly legs. Even so, his hands remained dangerous, with a right hand sending the champ reeling in the third.
The longer the fight went on, the more Miocic relied on takedowns and ground-and-pound and the less Ngannou seemed able and willing to stop it. In the final rounds, Ngannou swayed from exhaustion, drained and perhaps demoralized.
It was the definition of deep waters.
Miocic chopped down the giant, one takedown, one second of riding time, one elbow to the ribs at a time. It was a master class in MMA. Miocic is the champion for a reason, and he should be celebrated for that.
In the meantime, this is far from the end of Ngannou's story. Although he suffered his first defeat in the UFC, there was no shame in the defeat. He was beaten by a better fighter.
Amid all the hype, it became easy to forget the 31-year-old was only 12 fights into his pro career going into UFC 220. This was only his seventh fight in the UFC. His experience deficit was on full display Saturday against a veteran champion. He gained experience, he will gain more in his next fight and he will be back.
"I think I underestimated him a little bit," Ngannou told Rogan after the fight.
But this night was Miocic's, who set a UFC record for heavyweight title defenses with three. What's next for the champ? It's hard to say. Cain Velasquez could be on the comeback trail. If he can return later this year, that would be a matchup for the ages. Until then, hats off to Miocic, the best heavyweight in UFC history.
Winner: Daniel Cormier
Welp. That was a good, old-fashioned butt kicking.
Light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier was confident ahead of his fight with Volkan Oezdemir, and that confidence proved well-founded. Oezdemir stormed forward with punch combinations, but they appeared to glance off the champion. Cormier returned fire with shots that just seemed so much more powerful than his opponent's.
And when Cormier got his patented single-leg takedown in the center of the cage, the real dominance started.
Cormier nearly finished the fight in the first round, but Oezdemir was saved by the bell—the round ended, so the champ had to relinquish his rear-naked choke. But in the second, he picked up where he left off, again going to the single-leg, taking the challenger's back, getting a crucifix position and pounding Oezdemir out.
The light heavyweight champion seems serially underrated, with his affable demeanor, endomorphic physique, dad-like behavior (and style choices) and previous losses to Jon Jones, someone he admitted after the fight remains an unconquered rival. But he is highly skilled, extremely strong and a legitimate finisher.
In a thin division, it's hard to know who might be next. Alexander Gustafsson is recovering from surgery. That is a fight most people would like to see.
Loser: Gian Villante
Gian Villante and Francimar Barroso went the distance, with Villante outlanding Barroso and keeping up the pressure to take a split decision.
So why is he a loser?
This was the worst fight on the card, and it wasn't particularly close. Villante would walk Barroso down, inch into range and throw a looping haymaker. Barroso would try to counter. Lather, rinse, repeat.
There was low output throughout, and there was no abundance of anything you would call sparkling technique. Both men threw with power, when they did throw, but no signature blow landed.
The light heavyweight division is not great. This fight helped illustrate how badly the UFC needs a talent infusion in what has historically been a glamor division.
Three Massachusetts residents competed Saturday at Boston's TD Garden. Three Massachusetts residents went home with a victory.
On the featured preliminary bout, Kyle Bochniak dispatched Brandon Davis by decision. One fight later, Rob Font finished Thomas Almeida. More on that in a second.
Perhaps the most emphatic of the three wins came from Calvin Kattar, who knocked out New Yorker Shane Burgos in the final round. The featherweight prospects waged an entertaining, back-and-forth battle, and it looked like the pendulum was swinging toward Burgos. Then Kattar floored his opponent with an uppercut. Burgos sprang back up and was tough, but a few more bombs from Kattar forced the ref's intervention.
Good for Boston, right? Great to see those guys get some sports success for a change.
Loser: Thomas Almeida
If it wasn't official before, it's official now. The bloom is off the rose for Thomas Almeida.
Once considered one of the top prospects in the world, at any weight, the Brazilian has lost three of four fights after a TKO loss to the hard-hitting Font on the pay-per-view opener.
Almeida was hittable throughout and couldn't seem to get his pressure game going, with Font stinging the Brazilian every time he came inside. In the second round, a one-two combination from Font started the end, and a head kick was the punctuation mark. As the referee stepped in, the Boston crowd went wild for the hometown Font.
Almeida is still 21-3 overall and just 26. This is far from the end of the line. But he's a good way down the ladder and needs to start clawing his way back up.
Winner: Abdul Razak Alhassan
There was no doubt this time.
When Abdul Razak Alhassan and Sabah Homasi squared off in December, Alhassan won via a first-round TKO. There was just one problem: referee Herb Dean appeared to stop the action before Homasi was finished.
Alhassan did the right thing and agreed to an immediate rematch. That came Saturday, and this time, the end came unequivocally. A short and devastating uppercut did the trick, and Homasi appeared to be unconscious before he hit the mat.
The heavy-handed judo player from Ghana is 3-1 in the UFC and 9-1 overall. He may be one to watch at welterweight.
Winner: Dustin Ortiz
It wasn't the most glamorous fight, but Dustin Ortiz survived early trouble to grind down Alexandre Pantoja and take a big step up the flyweight ladder.
Pantoja locked in an early body lock and controlled most of the first round, threatening more than once with a rear-naked choke and, at one point, going for a kind of neck lock—basically just cranking his neck to one side as hard as he could. It looked excruciating.
But Ortiz played defense, and as the fight wore on, he kept winning scrambles and landing opportunistic shots. It was Ortiz's third win in four tries, and it likely earned him a shot against a true contender in his next contest. How about John Moraga?
UFC 220 Full Card Results
Stipe Miocic def. Francis Ngannou by unanimous decision.
Daniel Cormier def. Volkan Oezdemir by TKO, 2:00, Rd. 2.
Calvin Kattar def. Shane Burgos by TKO, 0:32, Rd. 3.
Gian Villante def. Francimar Barroso by split decision.
Rob Font def. Thomas Almeida by TKO, 2:24, Rd. 2.
Brandon Davis def. Kyle Bochniak by unanimous decision.
Abdul Razak Alhassan def. Sabah Homasi by KO, 3:47, Rd. 1.
Dustin Ortiz def. Alexandre Pantoja by unanimous decision.
Julio Arce def. Dan Ige by unanimous decision.
Enrique Barzola def. Matt Bessette by unanimous decision.
Islam Makhachev def. Gleison Tibau by KO, 0:57, Rd. 1.