Ngannou’s breakthrough

Photo: Sky Sports

 

UFC 260 may have appeared thin on paper, but there was nothing lackluster about what it delivered. The top three fights on the main card produced downright chaotic finishes, the exact type of entertainment we are all here to see.

Perhaps none more chaotic than the main event which saw a rematch of a 2018 Heavyweight title fight between Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou, but this time with a very different outcome. Ngannou had the performance of his life, demonstrating composure and patience as we’ve yet to see out of the newly crowned champion. It wasn’t just the control over his emotions that was so impressive, but the display of new skills that emerged. It seems as though he not only has power in his hands but in his kicks as well, Ngannou mixed up striking techniques and was extremely effective in the process.

But it was probably the take-down defense and ability to scramble and control position using sheer strength coupled with technique in the grappling realm that was the most impressive to see. It was a small sample size, but the one grappling exchange between Miocic and Ngannou was controlled by the new champion. Which led to things ending back up on the feet, which led to a patent Ngannou horrific knock-out finish.

We’ve seen Ngannou hurt people so bad it’s difficult to watch, but he upped the ante this time. Showing off the new array of striking techniques he’s been developing, after landing an incredibly hard low leg kick to start the second round, it was just moments later that he picked his spot. Lunging forward with a left hook that sent Miocic crashing to the canvass. Although Miocic was able to get back to his feet for a moment and land a heavy shot of his own, the timing was perfect with Ngganou cracking Miocic with another left hook, this time separating the champion from his consciousness. Dropping a heavy hammer fist for good measure and claiming the title in the process.

Based on the momentum Ngannou was riding coming into this fight, with 4 first-round KO’s in a row, and given the stage, he was at in his career, it was hard to imagine anyone overcoming him at this juncture. The fanduel betting odds reflected that, and for good reason. As for what’s next for the new Heavyweight champion? The division has never been more loaded with more elite-level talent, there are plenty of dance partners to be had whether it be someone like Derrick Lewis or the division’s newcomer, Jon Jones.

In other action, as highly skilled as Vicente Luque and Tyron Woodley are, this booking wasn’t thought to be a candidate for a fight of the night coming into UFC 260. Large in part because of the uninspired performances Woodley has put on as of late. You won’t find anyone questioning Woodley’s skillsets or ability, but his desire to compete is a different story. The fanduel betting odds reflecting this, and rightfully so.

But there is no question he came to fight on Saturday night. This contest was the epitome of chaos, a back and forth war that saw both fighters rocked, and thought to be on their last legs. A true knockdown, drag ’em out war that was capped off with as dramatic of a submission win as you’re going to see. Luque capitalized on an opening and rendered Woodley unconscious as a result.

There was a lot of speculation coming to this fight that if Woodley didn’t show up, that he could end up on the chopping block. There’s been good reason to think this based on the former welterweight champion’s performances as of late. But even though he was handed his fourth loss in a row, he at least showed up this time and made a good account of himself. There’s no telling what the future holds for Woodley, but if this does end up being his last dance in the Octagon, he should have his head held high as he most certainly left it all in the cage.

But it’s the ushering-in of the new Heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou that’s the story of UFC 260. The incredibly dangerous power puncher is exactly what the UFC was looking for in a Heavyweight champion. Now that they’ve got it, there’s no telling the heights the Cameroonian will reach.

Are you ready to make your fight picks? Head over to fanduel and enter the fight night contest for this weekend!

 

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