The UFC is back in a big way with its second PPV of the month as UFC 260 - Miocic vs. N'Gannou 2 takes place at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, this Saturday night. The Heavyweight Championship belt will be on the line, as current champion and UFC heavyweight Stipe Miocic takes on the most dangerous man in the division and the surging Francis Ngannou. This highly-anticipated rematch headlines what should be an entertaining night of fights, but before we take a look at some key betting opportunities on this card, let's take a quick look back at last week’s card, UFC Fight Night - Brunson v. Holland. If you have any questions or want to chat, make sure to follow me on Twitter @MeanGene0022, where I'll often post last-minute bets and prop wagers. After the betting recap and fight previews below you'll also find my full list of UFC 260 straight fight picks for both the main card and the preliminary card. Now let's get to it!
Last week's recap - UFC Fight Night: Brunson v. Holland Betting Record:
All Fight Picks: 4-6
Official Plays: 0-1
This was one of the more frustrating UFC wagering nights for me. Hours before the card kicked off, the Gregor Gillespie (-235) v. Brad Riddell (+195) fight was scrapped due to COVID-19 protocols, negating one of my best bets. My second best bet of the night lost in Kevin Holland, but that wasn’t what was particularly frustrating - it was the manner in which it transpired. Holland is a goofy, free-spirited individual who has never allowed that to overshadow his performances in the octagon. But Saturday night was different. Throughout the fight, primarily when he was in compromising positions, Holland would literally joke around with his opponent, Derek Brunson, and the people outside of the cage, rather than trying to find a way to get to a more advantageous position. Several times in between rounds he mentioned to his coaches that he was ok losing the fight, so long as he was having fun doing it.
This was all after he was just seconds away from stopping Brunson with punches in the second round of the fight. As a bettor who backed him and has seen him get out of numerous compromising positions in spectacular fashion in the past, it was hard to watch his nonchalant attitude towards the mounting deficit that he was racking up on the judge’s scorecards. He essentially quit in there. But thankfully the UFC is back with a bigger and better card this Saturday night, presenting an opportunity to right the ship.
Stipe Miocic (+110) vs. Francis Ngannou (-130)
Stipe Miocic enters this bout as the undisputed UFC Heavyweight Champion and arguably, the greatest MMA heavyweight fighter of all time - h resume and accomplishments speak for themselves. On the other side of the octagon we enter Francis Ngannou, who is looking to prove that he's a completely different fighter from the one that lost an unanimous decision to the champion back in 2018. N'Gannou is out to prove that loss was a fluke, and that he is in fact the best heavyweight MMA fighter in the world.
Ngannou is a striker with ungodly power. When he lands on his opponent’s chin, more than likely, they are going to sleep. His last four wins against the division’s upper echelon have lasted 20 seconds, 71 seconds, 26 seconds, and 45 seconds, respectively. He truly only needs one punch to end a fight. Besides the power in his hands, he also throws heavy kicks and will occasionally throw a flying knee in range. Defensively, he has decent takedown defense as well, and if he is taken down, he doesn’t accept the position and instead tries to get back to his feet quickly. Ngannou is powerful enough to get out of a lot of bad positions by simply overpowering his opponents. However, it’s not just all physical for him. Ngannou is a smart fighter in his own right and he is calculated when it comes to his striking, picking his moments to capitalize while remaining defensively sound. This has been especially true since that first fight with Stipe Miocic.
Miocic, on the other hand, is a well-rounded fighter who primarily likes box and show off his Golden Gloves acumen. Miocic has a real nice one-two combination that can hurt anyone, and he does a good job of attacking the body with punches and mixing in leg kicks when there are openings. As much as he likes to strike on the feet, he also does a good job in the wrestling and grappling departments. He's good at landing timely takedowns, and his top control and pressure can wear on opponents. An underrated aspect of Miocic's game is his ability to make in-fight adjustments as well. He did just that in the first fight against Ngannou, when he was rocked a couple of times early on, and he did it even more recently in his rematch with Daniel Cormier to regain the UFC heavyweight title. It's tough to find any weaknesses here.
The first fight between these guys took place over three years ago in January of 2018, and both of these fighters have evolved since their last fight - in particular, Francis Ngannou. Ngannou had a lot of distractions going into that first fight, in addition to a lot of hype and praise that he naively ate up to go along with a team that could not provide him with the proper training required for a UFC heavyweight champion contender. Ngannou was also splitting his time between two countries with no real place to call home. He has detailed a lot of these things in recent years, and since his loss to Miocic he has grown, matured, settled in the U.S., and has a new team with a coach that is highly regarded in MMA circles.
I believe that this new Ngannou - the same one that has been absolutely destroying his opponents, the one who is calm and calculated now, and the one who has a real team and coach behind him - will be victorious on Saturday night. The key for him will be to remain calm and calculated with his striking. He overextended himself in their first fight and chased the knockout so hard that he gassed out in the first two rounds. Even after being completely gassed, he still hurt Miocic in the fourth round and forced him to shoot for a takedown. Simply put, I believe Ngannou will be calm, composed, and calculated this time around. Ultimately, he will be able to stifle Miocic’s wrestling and grappling attacks, and land a couple of vicious punches to become the UFC’s new heavyweight champion. Two units on Ngannou (-130) for me.
Miranda Maverick (-160) vs. Gillian Robertson (+140)
This flyweight fight between Miranda Maverick and Gillian Robertson is an interesting clash of fight styles here. Robertson is a grappler and pressure wrestler. She is not a good striker, but any resemblance of striking is to distract her opponent and allow her to get in on them in the clinch. If she does get her opponent to the ground, that's where she does a good job of transitioning and threatening submissions.
Maverick is actually a pretty solid grappler herself, and what she lacks in skills, given her age and experience in MMA, she more than makes up for with her strength. She’s “country strong" and is good at fighting off takedowns and working her way back up to her feet if she ends up taken down. Maverick is a good striker who continues to get better each time out, and she varies her strikes and throws with bad intentions each time. She also has vicious step-in elbows that helped lead to a victory in her last bout. I really like her feints and fakes, and in particular, her jumping knee fake, followed by a flurry of punches.
Maverick is a young fighter that continues to get better each time she enters a cage. She’s smart and well-rounded, and I believe she'll be able to handle Robertson’s grappling attacks. Maverick is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu as well, so she's not a fish out of water on the ground. At the end of the day, Robertson’s only real path to victory is trying to get the fight to the ground and lock up a submission on an ever-improving brown belt fighter. I do not believe she does, so I'll take two units on Maverick (-160).
Omar Morales (-185) vs. Shane Young (+160)
This featherweight clash is my dark horse pick for 'fight of the night,' and it's one where we get two strikers who have no problem taking a punch in order to land one. Young is a talented, technical striker who pushes a solid pace on the feet and likes to touch his opponentS from the outside with a flurry of “half powered” shots to wear them down. I don’t anticipate this fight hitting the ground for extended periods of time, but if it does, Young also has solid takedown defense and can scramble back to his feet quickly.
Morales wants to strike too, but he can actually get the fight to the ground if he wants to here. He's the stronger grappler of the two (not saying he needs to do in this matchup though), and he’s also powerful striker who has a good one-two combination. Morales' straight punches down he middle are crisp and hard, and he throws heavy kicks to the legs, body, and head. One interesting thing I noticed is when a hard strike is landed on him, Morales will get mad and immediately fire back with a similar type of attack.
Listen, Morales is the better and stronger fighter in all aspects of this matchup. He’s the more powerful striker with legit knockout power and is more durable. Young’s path to victory is to keep his range and pick Morales apart from the outside, but I don’t believe Morales allows him to do that for the entirety of three rounds without landing a big shot himself. Because of that, I'll wager two units on Morales (-185).
“Live Dog of the Night” - Abu Azaitar (+105)
Yes, Abu Azaitar has not fought in almost three years. And yes, he’s the least talented of the two Azaitar brothers in the UFC. But Azaitar still has knockout power, an unbreakable will, and he will fight for your money. His opponent, Marc-Andre Barriault, is nothing to write home about with decent power in his hands, but he’s also hittable and is just too inconsistent to trust here as a favorite, even if it’s a small favorite. Should he be the favorite though? I'd say yes, considering Azaitar’s long layoff. But this is essentially a pick’em at these odds, and because of that I like the guy with the power and the will to get a victory here. That makes Azaitar this week’s “Live Dog of the Night” pick at +105 over Barriault.
All Picks for UFC 260: Miocic v. N’Gannou 2
Stipe Miocic (C) (+110) vs. Francis Ngannou (-130)
Vicente Luque (-255) vs. Tyron Woodley (+215)
Thomas Almeida (+260) vs. Sean O’Malley (-320)
Miranda Maverick (-160) vs. Gillian Robertson (+140)
Jamie Mullarkey (+110) vs. Khama Worthy (-130)
Fabio Cherant (+235) vs. Alonzo Menifield (-275)
Jared Gooden (+200) vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov (-240)
Modestas Bukauskas (+140) vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk (-160)
Omar Morales (-185) vs. Shane Young (+160)
Abu Azaitar (+105) vs. Marc-Andre Barriault (-125)