UFC 260 Predictions: Bleacher Report Staff Main Card Picks

Tom Taylor@@TomTayMMAContributor IMarch 25, 2021

UFC 260 Predictions: Bleacher Report Staff Main Card Picks

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    Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

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

    The event will be topped by a heavyweight title fight between dominating champion Stipe Miocic and ferocious challenger Francis Ngannou. Miocic has beaten Ngannou once before—a decision triumph in 2018—but the latter was able to set up a rematch with a string of jaw-dropping first-round knockouts.

    UFC 260 was originally expected to be co-headlined by featherweight title fight between champ Alexander Volkanovski and challenger Brian Ortega. Regrettably, Volkanovski was forced off the card because of COVID-19 protocols. With that unfortunate development, a fight between former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and rising contender Vicente Luque was hoisted into the co-main event spot.

    Beyond the main and co-main events, the UFC 260 main card will be rounded out by a bantamweight bout between Sean O'Malley and Thomas Almeida, a flyweight fight between Gillian Robertson and Miranda Maverick and a lightweight scrap between Khama Worthy and Jamie Mullarkey.

    There's no way to know how these fights will go down until Saturday night, but the B/R combat sports team has you covered for predictions. Keep scrolling to see who we're picking on the UFC 260 main card.

Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou 2

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    Tom Taylor: Francis Ngannou's absurd knockout power gives him a chance in every fight he's part of, but all the information we need about his UFC 260 rematch with Stipe Miocic can be found in the pair's first meeting. 

    When they first collided at UFC 220 in 2018, Miocic picked up a decision win with a diet of takedowns, pressure and volume. I've seen nothing from either man since then that suggests Miocic can't replicate that performance Saturday. 

    Miocic via unanimous decision 

    Scott Harris: Head says the champ, heart says the challenger. Miocic may not turn heads, but he's solid everywhere, with no major weaknesses. He works the jab, he works the body, he can hit for power, he has a deep gas tank, good offensive and defensive wrestling and a great chin. Now here's where the other shoe, or rather fist, drops. Ngannou has been working on polishing his own game, especially around wrestling and cardio. And he can still punch through a cinderblock wall. Ngannou didn't get the big knockout last time; he will this time. New champ incoming.

    Ngannou via KO, Rd. 1

    Lyle Fitzsimmons: I get that Ngannou can stop nearly anything he hits cleanly. But I'm thinking Stipe has some of that toughness in him as well. And so long as he doesn't run full-on into one of the Cameroonian's hammers, he's got more tools in the toolbox that'll enable him to beat Ngannou again.

    Miocic via unanimous decision

Tyron Woodley vs. Vicente Luque

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    Tom Taylor: Vicente Luque has looked great against everybody he's fought, except for his truly high-level foes like Leon Edwards and Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson. While Tyron Woodley has lost his last three fights, he's still in the same class as guys like Wonderboy and Edwards and should be able to get it done against Luque. He'll make it happen with the skill that got him to the big stage: his wrestling. 

    Woodley via unanimous decision

    Scott Harris: Luque is a scintillating knockout artist who's moving up in the world. Woodley is a 38-year-old former champion with one foot in the broadcast booth and the other on the first tee box. I'll take the hungrier and (at this moment) more athletic fighter in Luque, even if he can't earn a stoppage against the last vestiges of Woodley's power-grinding style.

    Luque via unanimous decision

    Lyle Fitzsimmons: Among my weaknesses is a tendency to give both ring and cage veterans the benefit of the doubt for one more fight than it's warranted. That's where I find myself with Woodley here. I like Luque, but he's not as good as the guys who've beaten the ex-champ. Fool me once...well, you know the rest.

    Woodley via unanimous decision

Sean O'Malley vs. Thomas Almeida

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    Tom Taylor: This is a classic striker vs. striker fight, but not all strikers are the same. O'Malley will be looking to land at range, while Almeida, a Muay Thai specialist, will be looking to land crackling combos in close. Either guy's strategy could pay off, but Almeida's KO losses to Rob Font and Cody Garbrandt are hard to ignore. Even if he starts strong, he'll probably get caught eventually.

    O'Malley via KO, Rd. 2

    Scott Harris: Will I get hit with a lightning bolt if I call "Sugar" Sean O'Malley overrated? He's an outstanding striker and more than just a gimmick, but he's also not a complete fighter yet by top-level UFC standards. That said, Almeida isn't the guy to test O'Malley's ground skills. As Tom said, he'll want to initiate a brawl, and that's just how O'Malley likes it. If he can stave off weird leg injury issues, this is Suga Sean's fight to lose, even if he'll have tougher tests ahead.

    O'Malley via unanimous decision

    Lytle Fitzsimmons: I'd love to see Almeida add a little drama to the proceedings and give O'Malley some problems. But I have a hard time believing it'll happen. Sugar Sean is on a mission to rebuild the brand, and it seems as if the UFC has picked an ideal opponent to make it happen.

    O'Malley via KO, Rd. 2

Gillian Robertson vs. Miranda Maverick

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    Tom Taylor: This is a tough fight to pick. Both women are tremendous grapplers, and it's not clear who will be stronger in that phase of the game. My guess is that the former Invicta tournament winner Maverick will have a slight upper hand. If she can pair that edge with a superior striking output, she'll make the judges' job easy.

    Maverick via unanimous decision

    Scott Harris: Maverick hasn't made many waves yet in the UFC, but that's about to change. Her most recent loss came to grizzled veteran DeAnna Bennett in February 2019 at 21 years old, and she avenged it by chokeout not six months later. She'll announce her presence with authority over Robertson, a flyweight-division mainstay who has seen her share of ups and downs.

    Maverick via unanimous decision

    Lyle Fitzsimmons: Even if I was 50/50 on this fight, the fact that the esteemed Mr. Harris went with a classic Bull Durham quote to illustrate Maverick's intentions moves my needle to her side. And I won't lie, I was probably going to pick her anyway. She's got more upside at this point and will find a way to get it done.

    Maverick via unanimous decision

Khama Worthy vs. Jamie Mullarkey

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    Tom Taylor: Khama Worthy is a kill-or-be-killed kind of fighter. The majority of his 16 wins have come by knockout or submission, while he's been stopped in every one of his seven losses. This time around, he'll be the hammer, not the nail. Mullarkey has a ton of experience against high-level foes like Martin Nguyen and Alexander Volkanovski, but it won't matter. He's hitting the deck in this fight.

    Worthy via KO, Rd. 1

    Scott Harris: This is a close fight containing two of the most anonymous fighters you're likely to see on a UFC pay-per-view card. Here's guessing Worthy adrenaline dumps and hands a relatively easy decision to his opponent. Now that, my friends, is a bunch of Mullarkey.

    Mullarkey via unanimous decision

    Lyle Fitzsimmons: One of my cohorts suggests a quick Worthy victory. The other expects a Mullarkey distance win. And seeing how I've already leaned in Scott's direction for the aforementioned movie reference, I've got to share the wealth and go with Tom this time. Worthy lands early and often.

    Worthy via KO, Rd. 1