At UFC 220, both Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic and challenger Francis Ngannou enter the Octagon with something to prove.
Miocic, (17-2) that he is undeniably the baddest man on the planet. He has won the title and defended it in devastating fashion. In fact, a win would set the record for consecutive title defences in the UFC Heavyweight division, with three.
Ngannou, (11-1) on the other hand, looks to show that there is more to him than just hype. After starching his last four opponents in the first round, the UFC PR machine attached itself to the Cameroonian-born fighter, in a time when the sport is dealing with the absence of superstars like Conor McGregor and Ronda Rousey.
Ultimately, when the two big men enter the Octagon on Saturday night, fans have more questions than answers when it comes to Ngannou…
That’s part of what makes the anticipation so exciting.
We know he can hit pretty hard, right? Look no further than his world record for proof of that. But, if that still isn’t enough to get you onboard, his absolute destruction of Allistair Overeem, perhaps the most decorated heavyweight striker in the history of MMA, certainly will.
We have not seen much of his wrestling and grappling ability, other than a brief exchange with Overeem, in which Ngannou displayed his incredible strength. His lone loss, a two-round unanimous decision in December of 2013, came after he was out-grappled on the ground. It’s worth noting that this was just his second career fight.
Maybe the most interesting question mark surrounding the knockout artist is his cardio. In his twelve professional fights, he has never gone past the second round. How does he do in the later rounds, with a fighter like Miocic putting on the pressure?
Miocic has a wrestling background, and no doubt wants to take it to the mat as quickly as possible. Can Ngannou match the champion’s endurance?
Obviously, pressuring the challenger will be easier said than done for Miocic. Ngannou is by no means what you would call a small man. In terms of strength, he made Overeem look average at best. But, we have seen the champion’s ability to push the pace over five-rounds, in his beatdown of Mark Hunt.
With a dominant champion looking to make history and stake his claim as one of, if not the greatest heavyweight of all-time, and a monsterous heavyweight superstar contender nipping at his heels, one thing is certain:
We’re in for fireworks at UFC 220.