In this weekend’s main event, we will see the highly anticipated rematch between Francis N’Gannou and the UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic.
This rematch has been the talk of the MMA world for long time now and we will finally get to see it on Saturday. In the first meeting, Stipe thoroughly handled Francis’ barrage of strikes and was able to take the fight to the ground where he truly exploited Francis’ lack of a ground game. Since that first encounter, both fighters have faced ups and downs. Stipe lost and regained his Heavyweight title in his trilogy against Daniel Cormier. Francis lost his next fight following the defeat to Stipe, but hasn’t lost since and has had an average fight time under two minutes in that stretch. With so much time between these two fights, let’s look at what could be the same, and what could be different in the main event this weekend.
Starting first with the challenger, Francis N’Gannou will undoubtedly look to strike with Stipe. Francis has other-worldly power and can end the fight at a moments notice. The real problems for N’Gannou will be if or when the fight goes to the ground, or gets out of the first round. Francis will have trained for the potential five full rounds, but he has never proven that he can last that long at an effective level. Francis unleashes an unbelievable blitz of strikes so early in his fights, that it’s truly hard to know if he will be able to handle the full five round fight should it get to those later rounds. Also, if he is taken down, has he worked on his ground game enough to get the fight standing again? Another question that has not been answered. Francis looked solid avoiding the takedown in his fight against the wrestle-heavy Curtis Blaydes, but Stipe’s wrestling is elite compared to so many other fighters. Francis will ideally want the fight to be standing until he can end it with the knockout. The most likely scenario for Francis to win will be a knockout early in the fight. The longer the fight goes, the more likely it will be that Francis fades and is unable to win.
The champion Stipe Miocic will try to implement the exact opposite game plan of Francis. Although Stipe had proven how solid his boxing is against Daniel Cormier, he will not want to stand and trade with N’Gannou. Stipe will need to take the fight to the ground and control Francis so that he cannot load up on those heavy strikes. Stipe’s most likely method of victory will be by decision if he can take Francis the full 25 minutes. Stipe thrives in those later rounds which will absolutely prove fruitful if he can get the fight to go longer. The true theme of the fight will be that the longer Stipe hangs around, the worse it will be for Francis. If Stipe can survive the onslaught of strikes in the opening round, then the writing could potentially be on the wall for Francis.
This is going to be an incredible main event. We will either see the “uncrowned champion” in Francis N’Gannou assume the throne, most likely by way of spectacular knockout, or Stipe Miocic will prove to us yet again that he is the “baddest man on the planet.”
Photo: via UFC