UFC 260: Miocic vs. Ngannou 2 Odds, Predictions and Pre-Weigh-in Hype

Alex Ballentine@Ballentine_AlexFeatured ColumnistMarch 25, 2021

UFC 260: Miocic vs. Ngannou 2 Odds, Predictions and Pre-Weigh-in Hype

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou are set to run it back with Miocic's heavyweight championship on the line in main event of UFC 260 from the UFC's Apex Facility in Las Vegas. 

    Outside of Jon Jones' debut in the division, this is the biggest fight the organization can make in the biggest weight class. Miocic's legacy is already set as one of the best champions of all time. Ngannou is the scariest contender available, and it will provide the backdrop for him to show his improvement since losing to Miocic in 2018. 

    Unfortunately, the card's plans for a championship doubleheader were nixed. The co-main event was supposed to be a featherweight championship fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega. A positive COVID-19 test for the champion has forced the bout to be pushed back

    Instead, the penultimate fight pits former welterweight titleholder Tyron Woodley against Vicente Luque in a bout that could generate a new contender in the 170-pound division. 

    Here's a complete look at the card along with the latest buzz surrounding the biggest fights on the card. 

Fight Card, Schedule and Odds—March 27

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Main Card (ESPN+ PPV at 10 p.m. ET)

    • Stipe Miocic (c) +110 (bet $100 to win $110) vs. Francis Ngannou -130 —heavyweight championship fight
    • Tyron Woodley +210 vs. Vicente Luque -265
    • Sean O'Malley -335 vs. Thomas Almeida +250
    • Gillian Robertson +138 vs. Miranda Maverick -175
    • Jamie Mullarkey +110 vs. Khama Worthy -137

    Prelims (ESPN/ESPN+ at  8 p.m. ET)

    • Alonzo Menifield  vs. Fabio Cherant
    • Jared Gooden +185  vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov -235
    • Modestas Bukauskas +125 vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk -155
    • Shane Young +145 vs. Omar Morales -182

    Early Prelims (UFC Fight Pass at 7:30 p.m. ET)

    • Marc-Andre Barriault -120 vs. Abu Azaitar -104

    Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook.

Ngannou Believes His Improvements Are Enough This Time

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    The first time Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou met in the cage, Ngannou entered the bout with an aura of invincibility. He was undefeated in the UFC with six straight wins all coming by way of either knockout or submission. 

    His punching power made him the UFC's version of young Mike Tyson. However, Miocic didn't just beat him. He humanized him. 

    It turned out that Ngannou's unbelievable power masked many things his game lacked, including takedown defense. The champion took him down six times in the lopsided decision win. 

    A loss in his next fight against Derrick Lewis was a bit scary. It looked as though he had lost all confidence, but he has since reeled off another four wins and again they've come in less time than it takes to get up and go to the bathroom. 

    So the question is: Do we know any more about Ngannou as a fighter? Has he made the adjustments he needs to make to beat Miocic? He believes the answer is yes. 

    "I push hard to get better every day," he told Tom Taylor of Bleacher Report. "That's my goal. How much better have I gotten? I don't know. But I do believe this fight's going to be different because I've improved and I've had a different preparation for this fight. I've done everything right."

    The odds certainly seem to think that's true. But Miocic still possesses the best blend of wrestling and striking that he's seen to this point. Knocking out Curtis Blaydes shows he can beat a wrestler, but that fight lasted 45 seconds. 

    That's not enough to prove he's gotten over the Miocic hump. 

    Prediction: Miocic via decision

Luque Taking Woodley Seriously Despite Recent Losing Streak

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    John Raoux/Associated Press

    Vicente Luque has been in this spot before. He's put together a winning streak against names in the division on the fringe of relevancy and now faces a ranked opponent with some name recognition. 

    It happened when he fought Stephen Thompson coming off a six-fight win streak. He ended up losing that fight via unanimous decision. Since then, he's had back-to-back TKO wins over Niko Price and Randy Brown. 

    Now, he'll get to face Woodley, a former champion who has lost each of his last three fights. Those three opponents include Gilbert Burns (the current champion), Kamaru Usman (the former champion) and Colby Covington (an interim champion). 

    "This is a great fight," Luque said, per Farah Hannoun and Christian Stein of MMAjunkie. "It makes sense for this bout to happen now. Woodley is an ex-champion. He's not in a good spot right now, but he remains highly dangerous. He has several great wins in his career, and I'm on a new winning streak. I'm hungry to get a title shot."

    Based on the odds and the timing of the fight, it would appear the UFC is trying to use Woodley to put Luque up as a title contender. That could be a trap, though. 

    Comparing streaks is pointless in the case of Woodley and Luque. T-Wood's three losses have come against the best the welterweight division has to offer in Kamaru Usman, Gilbert Burns and Colby Covington. All three utilized their wrestling to neutralize him. 

    Luque is a voluminous striker but isn't a traditional wrestler. This feels like a spot where Woodley turns back the clock a little bit and pulls off the upset. 

    Prediction: Woodley via decision

O'Malley Not Bothered by First Career Loss

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    UFC 260 also features Sean O'Malley's first fight back since losing to Marlon "Chito" Vera.

    The Dana White's Contender Series alum with star potential saw a major setback with a first-round TKO loss to the Brazilian in which he suffered a foot injury. 

    Watching a prospect come back from their first loss is always interesting. So much of fighting is tied into confidence. Francis Ngannou's return fight against Derrick Lewis is a great example. There's a chance that we see a more cautious O'Malley in the cage after suffering an injury and loss in his last fight. 

    He's certainly not giving any indication that will be the case, though. 

    "He didn't take me down," he told media, per Damon Martin of MMA Fighting. "My leg completely gave out, and I landed on my back. It happened like that, it is what it is, but it doesn't affect me at all going into this fight. In my mind, [I'm] 12-0 coming off the Eddie [Wineland] fight, and I'm in a good spot. I'm mentally in a really good spot. I feel good."

    That might be a total denial of the role Vera played in O'Malley's loss, but that's actually a good sign for a young fighter. Delusion or not, O'Malley has to continue to be confident in the cage. It's what makes his exciting style possible. 

    He draws a dangerous striker in Thomas Almeida, albeit one with a  suspect chin. A perfect matchup to boost that confidence with an early knockout. 

    Prediction: O'Malley via first-round TKO

         

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