After a fun UFC St. Louis show headlined by a solid Jeremy Stephens 2nd round TKO over DooHo Choi, we launch into a weekend with not only one show but TWO SHOWS GOING HEAD-TO-HEAD. If that’s not worthy of ALL CAPS, I don’t know what is.
Let’s get to a look at what matters and what doesn’t this weekend. Your guides as always: Paul Fontaine, Ryan Frederick, and your friendly neighborhood podcast host.
First, The Cards
UFC 220 (whole card)
Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou
Light heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier vs. Volkan Oezdemir
Shane Burgos vs. Calvin Kattar
Francimar Barroso vs. Gian Villante
Thomas Almeida vs. Rob Font
Kyle Bochniak vs. Brandon Davis
Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Sabah Homasi
Dustin Ortiz vs. Alexandre Pantoja
Julio Arce vs. Dan Ige
Matt Bessette vs. Enrique Barzola
Islam Makhachev vs. Gleison Tibau
Bellator 192 (main card)
Heavyweight Grand Prix Round 1: Chael Sonnen vs. Rampage Jackson
Welterweight champion Douglas Lima vs. Rory MacDonald
Michael Chandler vs. Goiti Yamauchi
Aaron Pico vs. Shane Kruchten
Henry Corrales vs. Georgi Karakhanyan
What fight(s) are you most looking forward to this weekend?
Ryan: There are a lot of good to great fights this weekend, but the big one for me is Miocic vs. Ngannou. It has all the makings of fireworks. Miocic is on his way to being the best UFC heavyweight of all time as he has finished five of the best heavyweights ever in a row, most of them in the first round. Ngannou has finished a few of the same opponents, but in more violent form. Both have knockout power, but the big question is if Miocic can avoid the punches of Ngannou and drag the fight out. The only time Ngannou has been past the second round was his lone loss in his career. I expect a violent finish in this one — one that will have the Boston fans going crazy.
Paul: The heavyweight title fight is the biggest one for sure. Either Miocic stakes his claim as perhaps the greatest heavyweight of all time or UFC potentially gets a new mega-star in Francis Ngannou. It’s a no-lose situation for UFC and especially the fans. On the Bellator side of things, Michael Chandler will be on a mission to steal the show and earn a shot at the lightweight title he doesn’t feel he should’ve lost.
Josh: I mean, it’s got to be Miocic vs. Ngannou for all the reasons Paul and Ryan listed above. Big dudes, big stakes, and a real path toward being what the combat sports world wants: a heavyweight champion to rally behind. I’m bummed that Bellator is running at the same time as I really want to see that MacDonald-Lima fight. For those at home, enjoy using that clicker.
Any dark horse great fights?
Paul: The Chandler-Yamauchi fight is the one that has the potential to steal the show. Both are finishers and both have a great history of exciting fights. The bantamweight fight between Thomas Almeida and Rob Font is also one to watch for from UFC.
Ryan: I’m also going with Chandler vs. Yamauchi. Both are two of the most exciting fighters on the Bellator roster. Chandler is a former two-time champion, but Yamauchi is on the rise and is a dangerous opponent. Yamauchi has dangerous submissions and Chandler has excellent power on his feet. It’s going to be a wild one.
Josh: The Almeida-Font PPV opener should be a lot of fun. Both guys are coming off a loss, but are both young enough to make a run at any time. Font is a local guy and will get a great pop with a big win. This is a good litmus test for where both guys are at at this point in their young career.
What isn’t doing it for you this weekend?
Paul: The entire UFC undercard after the two top fights. Using my scoring system that I employ at MMADraws.com, it’s the weakest FS1 prelims show ever for a PPV. The names on this card are people even hardcore fight fans have a hard time caring about.
Josh: I completely agree. I love going to these shows, but this card is hard to get excited about outside the top two fights and personal interest fights like New Hampshire’s Calvin Kattar.
Ryan: It’s the Bellator “main event” between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson. It shouldn’t be the main event over Lima-MacDonald and has the potential to be very boring. Sonnen hasn’t been the same since he had to get off the performance enhancers, and Jackson hasn’t looked like a good fighter in six years, hanging around just to make money. Jackson has been in some boring fights the last few years, and this will likely be another one.
Why do both shows matter?
Josh: UFC 220 matters for two reasons and that’s the two title fights. It’s been a while since we saw Miocic last do this thing and unless this is a dud of a fight, the promotion is going to come out ahead no matter who wins. This sets up at least one more heavyweight title fight this year and possible two more depending on the damage done. Secondly, we either get the beginning of the latest Daniel Cormier light heavyweight redemption story or a new champion that we’re not necessarily ready for. The division is thin as it is and a Cormier win sets up a fun rematch with Alexander Gustafsson. Now if Oezdemir wins, that adds another promotional challenge but we’ll cross that bridge when he crosses it.
Paul: Both title fights on the UFC show have tremendous stakes both for the short and long-term. Ngannou is the most impressive title challenger to come along since Brock Lesnar and, in fact, Miocic is the first UFC heavyweight champion to go into a title defence as an underdog since Randy Couture (against Lesnar). And in the co-main, Cormier has to prove that he is the best light heavyweight on the planet, and maybe ever, who is not named Jon Jones. If he gets tagged by Oezdemir and goes down, it could wipe away everything he’s done in the division, especially to the segment of UFC fans who already seem to not like him very much.
Ryan: There is a potential for two new champions on the UFC card, and that would shake up both divisions a great deal. Ngannou has the chance to become the next breakout star in the UFC while Miocic can further cement his legacy, so that matters. Cormier has the chance to further his career as the best light heavyweight not named Jon Jones, but has a tough test. Bellator could see a new champion at 170 pounds, and the Heavyweight Grand Prix gets off to a start. It may not be the most-stacked shows, at least on one side, but both have future company plans on the line.
Miocic vs. Ngannou
Ngannou: Paul, Josh
Cormier vs. Oezdemir
Cormier, Ryan, Josh
Font vs. Almeida
Font, Josh, Paul
Bellator Welterweight Champion Douglas Lima vs. Rory MacDonald
MacDonald: Josh, Paul, Ryan
Grand Prix 1st Round: Chael Sonnen vs. Rampage
Sonnen: Ryan, Josh