Francis Ngannou is 15-3 in his professional career. He has yet to have a chance to avenge one of his three losses. The first chance will come on Saturday at the UFC Apex when he takes on UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic. The rematch of the UFC 220 main event is the headline bout for UFC 260.
Ten fights are confirmed for the March 27 card, though matchmakers are trying to find a new opponent for Shane Young, so we could wind up with 11 matches when all is said and done. All eyes are on the main event, though.
We’ll change things up a bit for this fight card and look at the odds from BetMGM Sportsbook. You can get up to a $600 Deposit Bonus from BetMGM if you sign up through us at ATS.io, so you may want to consider that with UFC, Sweet 16, and a whole lot more going on this weekend.
Ngannou Favored To Get Revenge
Per the odds team at BetMGM Sportsbook, Francis Ngannou is a -120 favorite to win the rematch and take the heavyweight championship belt from Stipe Miocic. He would be the first full-fledged heavyweight to have it since Stipe took it from Fabricio Werdum back at UFC 198. Daniel Cormier had it for 13 months and 10 days before Stipe won it back at UFC 241.
Miocic is now 38 years old. He was 35 at UFC 220 when he fought arguably the perfect fight against Ngannou. Per the ESPN box score on the fight, Stipe landed 200 strikes to just 33 for Ngannou. The champion had six takedowns. He simply controlled the fight every way imaginable and swept the cards with a 50-44 decision.
Is there any chance that Stipe can fight that well again? No. Can he still beat Ngannou with a lesser performance? Sure. With the over/under on rounds at 1.5 and -140 on the over, it does seem like a challenge for Stipe to take this fight the full 25. That would mean avoiding Ngannou’s power for a long time. It would mean relying heavily on the wrestling and grappling backgrounds that have made him a champion.
Ngannou has a run of four straight first-round knockouts going right now.
Being a Cleveland guy, I love Stipe Miocic. He was the first champion for this city since 1964 prior to the Cavs winning the title. It was a huge deal. He’s widely regarded as the most decorated heavyweight champ ever. I just don’t see it for him here.
I’d have to take Ngannou -120. The Cormier fights for Stipe didn’t leave me with a lot of confidence in terms of what he has left in the tank.
Easiest Bet on the Board?
We’ll circle back to Tyron Woodley vs. Vicente Luque in a minute, but is Sean O’Malley the easiest bet on the board? I guess placing a bet on a -300 favorite isn’t that easy, but O’Malley was injured in the first round of his fight against Marlon Vera, otherwise we’d be talking about a much bigger line or an altogether different opponent. The previously unbeaten O’Malley fell to 12-1 when his ankle slid out from under him and he was basically fighting on one leg.
Thomas Almeida has lost four of his last five fights and hasn’t beaten anybody of consequence. O’Malley also has four inches on Almeida, which should allow him to hit those leg kicks from distance.
Sure, -300 is a big number, but it doesn’t seem big enough here as long as O’Malley is fully healed.
Is Woodley Done?
Tyron Woodley is 38 years old now and has dropped three in a row. In fairness to him, Kamaru Usman, Gilbert Burns, and Colby Covington are all better than his opponent for this fight, Vicente Luque. The question is whether or not Woodley just lost to superior fighters or if the years are starting to really show for the former champion.
Luque’s price of -250 would suggest that this fight has a predictable outcome. The total is 2.5 with the over at -165, which does give Woodley a chance. His ring IQ is off the charts and he’s gone more than 20 minutes in four of his last five fights. This one will only be three rounds, so the older fighter won’t have to last as long.
Luque’s striking power is very impressive and he won both of his 2020 fights by KO. He has 11 to his name now to go along with six submissions. Woodley has only been knocked out twice, once by Covington in his last fight and then by Nate Marquardt back in Strikeforce in 2012.
With a return of better than 2/1, I’d say Woodley presents more value than Luque, but it is a hard bet to make.
In terms of other fights on the card, Gillian Robertson vs. Miranda Maverick is a good one. Maverick is -160, but Robertson has been in UFC a lot longer and has fought much stronger competition. I’ve got a lean towards the +135 underdog in that one.
The lead-in to the main card with Alonzo Menifield and William Knight is quite an interesting scrap. These two were supposed to fight a few weeks back, but COVID-19 got in the way. Menifield went 0-2 in 2020 with losses to Devin Clark and Ovince Saint Preux. Knight made his contract debut just 25 days after an impressive Dana White Contender Series appearance.
Knight also hasn’t fought since that September match. Menifield has the size advantage here. He’s also fought better competition. He’s -115 in this scrap and I think that’s a decent look as well.