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UFC 260: Miocic vs. Ngannou 2 staff picks and predictions

Check out the Bloody Elbow staff’s picks and predictions for UFC 260: Miocic vs. Ngannou 2.

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The Bloody Elbow team has made its predictions for UFC 260, and we are split on the rematch between heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou. Even though Stipe won the first fight in one-sided fashion, Ngannou is the slight betting favorite entering Saturday night. As for the co-main event, Lewis McKeever has spared Vicente Luque from the Bloody Elbow curse by picking Tyron Woodley. Sean O’Malley asked everyone to not bet on his fights, so if that didn’t persuade you then all of us picking him to beat Thomas Almeida ought to do the trick.

Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou

Anton Tabuena: Ngannou has had four wins since their first match up, but they only lasted a TOTAL of 162 seconds, so it’s impossible to really know how much he has improved technically. A relatively easy adjustment that was hopefully addressed in the last three years though, is his patience, and how efficient he is with his cardio and power shots. Ngannou was dominated for most of the 25 minutes before, and that improvement alone would go a long way in upping his chances of landing that big bomb. But again, we haven’t really seen anything to suggest that he’s matured and developed there, so it’s all just speculation. The logical pick would still be Stipe. But this is heavyweight, so I’m just picking the fighter who is significantly stronger and by far the more potent finisher. Francis Ngannou by brutal KO.

Mookie Alexander: I mean how the hell can you analyze this fight? Stipe has fought the same guy three times for almost two years, and Francis Ngannou wiping out everyone in his path since the Derrick Lewis stinker tells us nothing new as far as his abilities. We know Ngannou doesn’t really like to lead yet a mistake against him and you’re cooked on the counter. So yeah, it’s still possible that Ngannou just whacks Stipe with a heavy shot and that’s a wrap. But we know nothing of his striking defense since the first Stipe fight or his defensive wrestling. Everything will be dependent on his training since actual in-fight implementation has not been needed. Also worth noting that Miocic took some bombs from Ngannou and absorbed them and landed some hefty blows in response before landing takedowns aplenty. There are so many unknowns here so after discounting Stipe the first time I’m inclined not to do so again. Stipe Miocic by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: I feel like I just kinda have to pick Miocic. He’s the more technical boxer, the better wrestler, the more defensively minded fighter, and has cleaner footwork and a style more built to win rounds. For all Ngannou’s success we still essentially don’t know if he’s really improved much at all from the guy that Miocic handily beat three years ago. Could Miocic still get melted at just about any time exiting the pocket? Yes. But until that happens, he’s most likely going to be winning just about every minute of this fight. So I gotta pick Stipe Miocic by decision.

David Castillo: There’s no technical reason to pick Ngannou here. Over the course of five rounds, Miocic wins. But heavyweight is so dumb, and chaotic, I find myself leaving analysis at the door. It’s entirely possible that Miocic KO’s Ngannou. Some of the shots he landed on Francis were blistering: the kind of shots mere mortals get iced from. But I also think Miocic was marginally (?) lucky to get out of the first round, similar to the Overeem bout. His lack of head movement remains a liability (moreso as he ages), and as long as Ngannou can work better timing, and a more sustained attack within the first two rounds, the killshot’s lurking. Francis Ngannou by KO, round 1.

Harry Davies: Despite his one-sided win in their first fight, I have trouble picking Miocic to win the rematch. His only opponent since that win has been Daniel Cormier, an under-sized heavyweight with a completely different style to Ngannou. Although Ngannou has not been tested in his last four fights, the fact he’s steamrolled his opponents means it’s entirely plausible he can do the same to Miocic. If Ngannou has been working on his wrestling every day like he says, I see it being another early night for “The Predator”. Francis Ngannou by KO, round 1.

Staff picking Miocic: Zane, Mookie, Stephie, Lewis
Staff picking Ngannou: David, Dayne, Harry, Anton

Tyron Woodley vs. Vicente Luque

Anton Tabuena: Woodley will likely be more aggressive again to start this contest. So I’m guessing it’s either Luque immediately walks into a bomb as he pressures forward, or he cracks Woodley, and the former champ defaults back to his bad habits. I think the latter is more likely, with Woodley riding the fence again for the most part, blocking a lot of shots, until some of the bigger shots eventually hurts him. Vicente Luque by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: Luque’s willingness to trade puts him at risk of getting wiped out by a Woodley right hand. Tyron may only throw like four of them per round these days but it only takes one to change a fight. With that said, Luque pressures and Woodley’s offense is so limited off the backfoot that he’ll likely just get outworked. His wrestling has noticeably eroded and if Luque can stick out an effective jab then Woodley will be lost at sea. I think Woodley is on his way out of the UFC. Vicente Luque by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Luque will almost certainly march straight in on Woodley. And Woodley absolutely has the power to make him pay for it. But, there’s no way I’d depend on that at this point in Woodley’s career. In his last couple bouts, Woodley looked like he entered the cage with every intention of being more aggressive and putting out a better pace than he had in recent years. Unfortunately, the moment he met with much resistance from his opponents all that intention drained away. Woodley just seems to be resigned to losing once the momentum of the bout starts going against him. And Luque has still been impossibly tough to put away and non-stop with his pressure offense. Seems like a terrible recipe for Woodley to find his way back into the winner’s circle. Vicente Luque via KO, round 3.

David Castillo: If Woodley were simply on a losing streak, I’d pick him to crush Luque with a Big Right Hand. But he’s not. He’s on a serious physical decline. Even his power looks like it was seriously waning against Burns and Covington. Combine that with Luque’s raw output, and I just don’t see a world where Woodley is able to muster an effective attack, or even an effective defensive posture. It may not have started with that god awful ‘in and out of love’ song, but it’s gonna end there. Plus I think this fight is gonna look real ugly. Vicente Luque by Decision.

Harry Davies: This is not the tune-up fight Woodley needs to get back in the mix at 170-pounds. Luque has only lost twice in the last six years, with both of those losses coming to welterweight’s elite in Stephen Thompson and Leon Edwards. Luque either gets a late TKO, or outstrikes Woodley for a decision win. I’m going with the latter. Vicente Luque by Decision.

Staff picking Woodley: Lewis
Staff picking Luque: Zane, Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, David, Harry, Anton

Sean O’Malley vs. Thomas Almeida

Anton Tabuena: This probably would’ve been more interesting if we still had the old Almeida. Now I just think he’ll (still) be open on defense, while not really offering much danger on offense anymore. If Almeida’s even a little hesitant, and tries to play his game, it’ll look like a match up that’s perfect for making O’Malley look good again. Sean O’Malley by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: For purely humorous reasons it’d be nice if Almeida won. And let it be with a bunch of calf kicks that take O’Malley’s legs out and once again he’s insisting he’s undefeated. But more likely is that Almeida will have some success in the stand-up before his leaky defense gets heavily compromised by O’Malley’s speed and power. Sean O’Malley by KO, round 1.

Zane Simon: Once again, this just feels like a fight where there’s one good pick to make. In the past, with Almeida’s reckless, relentless aggression, I might have given him a pretty good shot at putting O’Malley on the back foot and giving him real problems late in the fight. But the guy who fought Jonathan Martinez a few months ago looked not just hittable (as he’s always been) but gunshy about entering the pocket and creating extended exchanges. If Almeida is going to hesitate to pressure at all, then O’Malley is probably going to chew him up with creativity from range. Sean O’Malley via KO, round 1.

David Castillo: Even before Almeida lost his raw aggression (understandable given his eye injuries), I would have liked O’Malley here. Almeida is just too darn hittable. Part of his issue is that even when he’s trying to defend, he’s open: no head movement, limited footwork.I don’t think O’Malley is the second coming. His quality of competition has been seriously wanting. But he’s improving his strengths in all the best ways. Sean O’Malley by KO, round 1.

Harry Davies: It saddens me to not pick Almeida in this, as the way O’Malley has dealt with his loss to Chito Vera has been delusional. If this was the Almeida in 2015 I’d go with him, but his recent form has been poor. I see O’Malley getting what he wants in this fight, and that’s a first round KO by something spectacular. Don’t expect this one to last too long. Sean O’Malley by KO, round 1.

Staff picking O’Malley: Zane, Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, David, Lewis, Harry, Anton
Staff picking Almeida:

Gillian Robertson vs. Miranda Maverick

Mookie Alexander: Seems like Robertson just has little else to rely on when her grappling gets shut down. Maverick’s strengths should largely nullify what Robertson does best, so I think this is a fairly easy call to make. Miranda Maverick by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: Robertson is the more dangerous attacking grappler, and maybe even (at times) the more technical boxer of the two. So she’s gonna have real chances to steal this fight away if she can find the right openings. But, she’s pretty much always struggled with good athletes, and her confidence in her standup game seems terribly shakeable. Maverick has a solid offensive wrestling game, and a powerful, consistent striking game built off a pretty unshakable belief that she can just go and walk through her opposition. That seems like exactly the kind of thing that will give Robertson fits and force her into a wrestling only gameplan. I have seen Maverick get taken down before, but she rarely ever just gets held in place. I’ll bank on Maverick for the win, by decision.

Staff picking Robertson: Anton
Staff picking Maverick: Zane, Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, David, Harry

Jamie Mullarkey vs. Khama Worthy

Mookie Alexander: If Worthy wins, will the UFC cut the Mullarkey? Khama Worthy by KO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Feels like Worthy is a bit craftier everywhere if not more technical. Mullarkey has a solid nuts & bolts MMA game, but when his opponent doesn’t have a big glaring technical weakness in their game he tends to struggle hard. Worthy’s biggest challenge is his willingness to work on narrow margins early in fights looking to slip strikes and counter. He can get caught hard and KO’d doing it. But I don’t see Mullarkey carrying that kind of power. Khama Worthy by decision.

Staff picking Mullarkey: Dayne
Staff picking Worthy: Zane, Mookie, Stephie, David, Harry, Anton

Alonzo Menifield vs. Fabio Cherant

Mookie Alexander: There is only one Fabio I recognize in the UFC and he is Fabio Maldobabo! Alonzo Menifield by TKO, round 1.

Zane Simon: Definitely not taking the newcomer whose only finishes come by way of submission. Menifield is too big and powerful for me to trust Cherant will be able to get him down and control him. Alonzo Menifield via TKO, round 1.

Staff picking Menifield: Zane, Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, David, Harry, Anton
Staff picking Cherant:

Jared Gooden vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov

Zane Simon: Gooden is a somewhat plodding striker who does well to work in volume and impose his size on opponents. But I don’t think he’s deft enough defensively to avoid Nurmagomedov’s takedown game. I do worry about Nurmagomedov’s gas tank against a big welterweight like Gooden, but I think he can build a big enough lead early to survive late. Abubakar Nurmagomedov via decision.

Staff picking Gooden:
Staff picking Nurmagomedov: Zane, Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, David, Harry, Anton

Modestas Bukauskas vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk

Mookie Alexander: They’re gonna throw and someone is going to fall. Probably Bukauskas. Michael Oleksiejczuk by KO, round 1.

Zane Simon: I guess I’m picking Oleksiejczuk here, just for his aggression and activity, but I don’t feel great about it. His size, stature, and fighting style just all seem much more ideally suited for the middleweight division. Trying to be an aggressive pocket striker who breaks opponents through volume and pressure in a division like light heavyweight where nearly everyone can land bombs at any time feels like such a tightrope act. Still, Bukauskas’ struggles to strike in combination make me think Oleksiejczuk finds this win. Michal Oleksiejczuk via TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Bukauskas: Dayne, Harry
Staff picking Oleksiejczuk: Zane, Mookie, Stephie, David, Anton

Shane Young vs. Omar Morales

Zane Simon: Is Omar Morales technical enough and powerful enough to stifle Shane Young’s offense in the ways that Ludovit Klein and Alexander Volkanovski did? Maybe, probably? If he’s not, Young will make this fight a thriller behind his active jab and pocket combinations with some devastating speed changes. But, my guess is Young will get clipped a few times outside and decide that he’d rather not take his chances stepping in. Omar Morales by decision.

Staff picking Young: Harry, Anton
Staff picking Morales: Zane, Mookie, Stephie, Dayne, David

Abu Azaitar vs. Marc-Andre Barriault

Zane Simon: Will Abu Azaitar’s heavybag Tyson style spark out Barriault before he can clinch him up and land uppercuts like a hockey enforcer? I honestly don’t know. But I’ll bank on Azaitar. He’s a bit of a one-trick pony, but I like how accurate his punches seem and Barriault should give him plenty of chances to land. Abu Azaitar via KO, Round 1.

Staff picking Azaitar: Zane, Mookie, Stephie, David, Harry
Staff picking Barriault: Dayne, Anton

Poll

Who wins?

This poll is closed

  • 62%
    Stipe Miocic
    (680 votes)
  • 37%
    Francis Ngannou
    (404 votes)
1084 votes total Vote Now