Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic can break the record for successful title defences when he puts his belt on the line against Francis Ngannou at UFC 220. No heavyweight has ever defended the title three consecutive times in the history of UFC as the division is so competitive. Miocic has already seen off the challenges of Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos and stands on the brink of going into the record books. But he faces a ferocious opponent in Ngannou and is actually the underdog going into the fight, so he will need to be at his brilliant best if he is to stand a chance.
UFC 220 Could Set Record
Ngannou has roared into title contention by annihilating all six opponents in the Octagon thus far. Each win came via a stoppage and his sheer power is terrifying. He holds the record for highest punching power ever measured by the UFC, at 129,161 units, which puts him more than 15,000 ahead of previous holder Tyrone Spong. UFC President Dana White declared that Ngannou’s punch has been tested to be the equivalent of 96 horsepower, “more powerful than a 12-pound sledgehammer being swung from full force overhead,” and like getting “hit by a Ford Escort going as fast as it can.”
Nicknamed The Predator, this 6ft 5ins Cameroonian-French fighter is a slab of muscle and sinew, and he has superb technique, leading him to blaze a trail of destruction through the heavyweight division. He swatted aside Luis Henrique, Curtis Blades, Bojan Mihajlovic, Anthony Hamilton and Andrei Arlovski in devastating fashion, setting up a huge bout with Overeem at UFC 218. His knockout of The Reem was utterly brutal. He landed a monstrous left hook in the first round to send the 247-pound Strikeforce champ flying through the air, whereupon he hit the canvas, out cold.
UFC 220 could set record
Ngannou is the clear favorite to win this title fight against Miocic. Bovada will have the odds for the incoming fights at UFC 220 – which is held at Boston’s TD Garden and also includes Daniel Cormier v Volkan Oezdemir and Gian Vilante v Francimar Barosso, among others – and if you check them out you will see that Ngannou is -190 and Miocic is +155.
However, Miocic is no stranger to knocking out heavyweights himself, having won his last five fights by KO. He is ranked seventh in the UFC pound-for-pound rankings, and is the top-ranked heavyweight by some distance. He also has strong wrestling skills, as he displayed by taking Overeem down before beating him senseless. Asked whether Miocic would trade blows with him or wrestle, Ngannou said: “First of all, this is the first word for his game plan: survive. And then whatever he’s going to try, I’m going catch it, and then I’m going to connect it, and you know what happens when I connect.” Miocic claims he is not intimidated by Ngannou’s impressive record, but the challenger said: “Of course, he’s really intimidated. He knows what’s going to happen. He knows that it’s going to be a fight that he’s never had in his career.”
It promises to be a thrilling contest by two titans at the top of their game. Ngannou has undeniable power, physicality and raw talent, but Miocic has the experience and the nous to seize victory and make history. Both have been involved in Performance of the Night clashes, and Ngannou won Knockout of the Year awards for his murderous uppercut from hell against Overeem, so we should be in for a pulsating match full of drama and intrigue. In many ways it is a dream match up for UFC, as they are the two most athletic heavyweights around and can finally bring real interest to this troublesome division. Miocic has been a stabilising figure in this chaotic weight class, but he has yet to put his belt on the line against such a violent and talented opponent. Many believe his reign at the top may will draw to a close at UFC 220, but he is the more complete fighter, polished and season. He can use his experience to evade and counter Ngannou, and the value lies with the champion at plus money on the sportsbook lines.