Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou 2: A Head-to-Toe Breakdown

Tom Taylor@@TomTayMMAContributor IMarch 16, 2021

Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou 2: A Head-to-Toe Breakdown

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    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    UFC 260, the promotion's second blockbuster pay-per-view of the month, goes down March 27 in Las Vegas.

    The card features a number of compelling matchups, but none hold a candle to the main event: a heavyweight title fight between dominating champion Stipe Miocic and ferocious challenger Francis Ngannou.

    Miocic and Ngannou have met once before, in early 2018. Miocic came out on top in that first encounter, dashing Ngannou's title dreams with a lopsided decision triumph—but both men have been through a lot since then.

    Miocic has spent the last two years locked up in a trilogy with Daniel Cormier, losing the first fight by knockout, evening the score with a TKO win in their immediate rematch and winning the tiebreaker with a decision. 

    Ngannou, meanwhile, rebounded from his losses to Miocic and then Derrick Lewis in his next fight with a string of first-round knockouts over top-flight foes in Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik—all in less than three minutes combined. 

    Can Miocic, who is widely viewed as the best heavyweight in UFC history, pick up a second win over his powerful rival? Or will Ngannou reduce the champion to rubble and usurp the throne?

    As ever, there's no way to answer these questions until Fight Night, but in the meantime, we've got you covered with a head-to-toe breakdown of the matchup, as well as a prediction as to how it will end.


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    Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    Francis Ngannou is widely considered the scariest fighter in mixed martial arts at present, and it's easy to understand why: the Cameroonian Frenchman seemingly possesses enough power in his hands to knock planets out of their orbits.  

    That being said, Ngannou will be the inferior striker in the Octagon at UFC 260.

    While Stipe Miocic can't match Ngannou in terms of power, he's more polished in terms of striking technique. A former Golden Gloves boxing champion, he boasts a 52 percent striking accuracy rate, whereas Ngannou only lands at a 37 percent clip.

    Miocic also favors a more varied striking attack than Ngannou, targeting his opponent's legs, body and head, while Ngannou is typically more of a head-hunter.

    Lastly, Miocic has also proved he's capable of maintaining a high-volume striking attack over multiple rounds, while Ngannou has yet to show he has the gas tank for a sustained attack when he's unable to score a quick knockout.

    Edge: Miocic


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    Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

    This one is a no-brainer.

    Stipe Miocic is a former NCAA Division 1 wrestler at Cleveland State University, and he spent plenty of time on the mats before that in high school. He effectively grew up in the wrestling room, while Ngannou has only been studying that component of mixed martial arts for a few years.

    The pair's differing backgrounds alone should be more than enough to prove that Miocic is the superior wrestler, but let's look at the stats just for the sake of it.

    Miocic has a respectable takedown success rate of 34 percent and averages just shy of two takedowns per 15 minutes. He also has an impressive 70 percent takedown defense rate—not that he's likely to need his defensive wrestling skill at UFC 260.

    Ngannou, on the other hand, has never attempted—and therefore never completed—a takedown in the UFC. Granted, that's because he has a habit of punching his opponent's heads into Earth's exosphere, but he's simply not a wrestler.

    Edge: Miocic


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    Jeff Bottari/Getty Images

    Neither Miocic nor Ngannou is known for his submissions.

    In terms of the numbers, Miocic has never attempted a submission in the UFC, while Ngannou has done so just once, when he nearly tore Anthony Hamilton's arm off with a Kimura in 2016—a move he allegedly learned backstage just before the fight. 

    The fact that Ngannou has Miocic beaten in terms of submission wins suggests that he is the superior submission grappler. However, it's unlikely that's actually the case.

    While wrestling and jiu-jitsu are very different in many ways, there is extensive overlap between the two arts. That overlap is significant enough that Miocic's wrestling background, when paired with the years he's spent learning submissions, suggests that any time this fight hits the mat, he's far more likely to set up a choke or lock up a limb than his challenger is.

    Edge: Miocic 


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    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    Miocic: Making History Repeat Itself

    Miocic fought the perfect fight the first time he met Ngannou. He avoided his challenger's heavy artillery in the early going and gradually took control of the fight with his takedowns and more accurate striking.

    It admittedly feels like a bit of an oversimplification, but if Miocic wants to beat Ngannou a second time, he only needs to do what he did the first time around.

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it.


    Ngannou: Landing the Big One 

    As we've covered in the previous slides, Miocic possesses every technical advantage in this matchup, but it almost doesn't matter. 

    Ngannou is so absurdly powerful that he'll be favored in just about every matchup he's a part of—even in this rematch with Miocic, who beat him decisively the first time they met, DraftKings has Ngannou at -130.

    The reality is that all Ngannou needs to do to reduce Miocic from a seemingly unbeatable champion to a deflated mass of flesh is to land one big punch. It's worked on top-flight foes like Alistair Overeem, Curtis Blaydes, Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik, and it could work again at UFC 260.

    It won't be easy, but he'll have 25 minutes to try to make it happen.


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    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

    It's very difficult to confidently make predictions for heavyweight fights—particularly those involving knockout artists like Ngannou. All it takes is one well-placed punch to completely alter the course of a contest. 

    That said, all signs point to another Miocic win at UFC 260.

    Look for the champion to recycle his game plan from his first fight with Ngannou. He'll stay mobile and defensive early—when the challenger is most dangerous—and gradually crank up the striking volume and takedowns to earn another impressive win.

    There will be no heavyweight regicide in Las Vegas. And still.

    Prediction: Miocic via unanimous decision


    Unless otherwise noted, all stats in this article are per UFC Stats.


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