Stipe Miocic solidified his claim as the GOAT of the UFC’s heavyweight division when he defeated Daniel Cormier via unanimous decision at UFC 252 last weekend. The win was Miocic’s fourth successful title defense overall ( he had three straight during his first title reign), the most by any champion in his division.
After the fight, UFC President Dana White said that Francis Ngannou will be “definitely” the next fight for Miocic. Ngannou has won four straight bouts after suffering back to back losses to Miocic and Derrick Lewis. The Predator has been dying to get his hands on Miocic in a rematch after the Ohio native beat him convincingly in their first encounter in 2018.
Let’s take a look at how these two heavyweights stack up against each other:
Stipe Miocic is the reigning UFC heavyweight champion and a two-time heavyweight ruler at that. The 38-year old fireman from Euclid, Ohio is a former Golden Gloves boxing champion and an NCAA Division I collegiate wrestler from Cleveland State University. He is considered by many as the greatest heavyweight of all-time, as he has defended the belt more times than any champion in the history of the promotion. Miocic also owns the most post-fight bonuses in the history of the UFC heavyweight division.
Miocic lands an average of 4.9 significant strikes per minute with a 52% striking accuracy. He gets hit by an average of 3.75 significant strikes per minute and has a 55% striking defense. Miocic completes an average of 1.92 takedowns per 15 minutes with an accuracy of 34% and a takedown defense of 70%.
Francis Ngannou is the #1 ranked contender in the UFC heavyweight division. The 33-year old French-Cameroonian fighter started his career in France and joined the UFC in 2015. The Predator won his first six UFC bouts via stoppage and earned a title shot against Miocic at UFC 220. He lost via decision and then dropped another unanimous decision contest to Derrick Lewis in his next bout. But he’s won four in a row since then, all via the first-round knockout with no fight lasting more than 71 seconds.
Ngannou connects on an average of 2.73 significant strikes per minute at a 37% accuracy. He gets hit by an average of 2.03 significant strikes per minute and has a striking defense of 47%. His ground game is nonexistent as he has not landed a single takedown in the UFC. However, Ngannou has good takedown defense at 71%.
The Predator has been favored in nine out of his last 10 bouts. The only time he was the underdog during this period was when he fought former champion, Cain Velasquez, at UFC on ESPN 1 in 2019 where Ngannou was pegged at 150 while Velasquez was prized at -225.
For this rematch wit Miocic, Ngannou has opened as a sizeable favorite. The Predator was pegged at -225 favorite when the betting lines were first drawn. On the other hand, the champion Miocic came back as a +190 favorite which doesn’t come as a surprise. Miocic also opened as a +130 dog to Ngannou’s -160 during their first meeting in 2018. Miocic dominated Ngannou in a five-round affair, winning by a score of 50-44 across all judges’ scorecards.
Miocic was also closed as the underdog during last weekend’s UFC 252 main event against Daniel Cormier. The current UFC heavyweight champion closed at even money (+100) against DC who came at -110 prior to their five-round bout last Saturday. Miocic edged out Cormier via unanimous decision and won via scores of 49-46, 49-46, and 48-47.
Smart Fighter vs Freakish Power
Miocic is a very smart fighter. Despite having massive punching power, he doesn’t get lured into a brawl and is a very tactical striker. Miocic is a former Golden Gloves champion so his boxing is top-notch. He is also a former collegiate wrestler so his grappling isn’t ordinary as well.
You can argue that Ngannou is much better since suffering those twin losses. But when you look at his last four bouts, he’s basically the same fighter. He likes to go for the knockout as early as possible and he’s willing to eat some shots in order to land one.
How Will This Fight Unfold?
I expect Ngannou to push the pace here and try to make Miocic engage. Unfortunately, Miocic has seen him before and while Ngannou may have more punching power, Miocic has the ability to put him to sleep as well. If either fighter lands with a clean shot, the other is going to sleep.
Miocic can get careless like what happened in his first bout with DC. But that was more of getting hit with the perfect punch rather than Stipe lowering his guard. Cormier hit Miocic with several clean shots during their second fight and during last weekend’s bout. But Miocic’s chin held up and he ended up dishing off more damage and thus ended up winning the last two meetings.
The champ has seen what Ngannou can do. It’s up to Ngannou to make the adjustments here. I think that Ngannou is a very dangerous guy but he is a one-trick pony. Unless he can take Miocic down or defend well if Miocic takes him down, Stipe would be content to engage him in a boring fight on the mat, if that’s what it will take to beat him again. The better overall fighter wins this.
Early Betting Prediction: Stipe Miocic