UFC Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic will defend his belt against #1 contender Francis Ngannou at UFC 220 in Boston on January 20th, 2018.
The UFC made the bout official last week:
— UFC (@ufc) December 10, 2017
Winning The Belt Easier Than Keeping It
Since losing to Junior Dos Santos in 2014, Miocic has won five fights in a row – all by knockout. After his five round war with Mark Hunt at UFC Fight Night 65, Miocic has not let any opponent get past round one.
Miocic became the #1 contender by dusting Andrei Arlovski in just 54 seconds. Then he won the belt by knocking out Fabricio Werdum in 2:47. Miocic then successfully defended the belt twice, stopping Alistair Overeem in 4:27 and avenging the loss to Dos Santos in 2:22 during his last octagon appearance at UFC 211.
Winning the UFC heavyweight belt is easier than keeping it, though. No champion in the history of the UFC’s heavyweight division has ever defended the title more than twice. Should he go on to defeat Ngannou, the 35-year old Miocic will set the record for most consecutive title defenses. But, of course, that’s easier said than done.
A Fellow Knockout Artist
Like Miocic, fellow knockout artist Francis Ngannou has been on a tear. Since joining the UFC two years ago, the Cameroonian born striker has built a record of 6-0 with five victories coming by knockout and one by submission.
Of his five KO wins, four have come in the very first round. In his most recent Octagon appearance, Ngannou literally put Alistair Overeem to sleep at UFC 218 last December 2nd by knocking out the former Strikeforce and K-1 champion in just 1:47.
With that scintillating performance against Reem, the UFC’s backing (Dana White said he’s going to be champion someday) and otherworldly punching power, Ngannou has opened as a rather surprising favorite over the champion at -150. The reigning champion came back at +120 in what is going to go down as one of the most exciting heavyweight title bout in years.
Who Lands Big First
Ngannou appears to be the more powerful puncher but let’s not forget that Miocic may be the best technical striker in the UFC’s heavyweight division. The champion is excellent in controlling the distance of the fight, enabling him to dictate the pace and the terms of engagement.
Miocic is also a former D-1 wrestler so you’ve got to think that he’s got the edge in grappling over his challenger. But when you got two very powerful punchers squaring off against each other, that or any other technical aspect of the game will hardly matter. It’s going to go down to who lands his big bomb first.