Matches to Make After UFC 220

By Brian Knapp Jan 20, 2018

Stipe Miocic stood on the tracks when the train came through and did not budge.

The Strong Style Fight Team standout retained the undisputed Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title with a five-round unanimous decision over No. 1 contender Francis Ngannou in the UFC 220 main event on Saturday at the TD Garden in Boston. Miocic was awarded all five rounds by all three judges, sweeping the scorecards with 50-44 marks across the board.

The 6-foot-4, 263-pound Ngannou’s body betrayed him. Miocic weathered his attacks in the first round, where he absorbed a few jarring punches while forcing the challenger to swing and miss wildly with others. Fatigue had overtaken Ngannou by the start of Round 2, and it showed in a precipitous drop in his output. The Cameroon-born Frenchman uncorked 65 strikes in the first round alone, according to FightMetric, and managed to attempt only 61 in the next four rounds combined. Worse yet, his increasing exhaustion left him more and more susceptible to the takedowns and clinches Miocic employed. By the time it was over, the champion had outlanded Ngannou by a staggering 200-33 margin, doing the vast majority of his damage in close quarters.

In the aftermath of UFC 220 “Miocic vs. Ngannou,” here are five matches that ought to be made:

Stipe Miocic vs. Cain Velasquez: Outside of a rematch with former champion Fabricio Werdum, Miocic has exhausted his viable options. The 35-year-old Euclid, Ohio, native has rattled off five consecutive victories during his move to the heavyweight penthouse, leaving Werdum, Ngannou, Junior dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, Andrei Arlovski and Mark Hunt in his wake. None of the five were remotely competitive. That leaves Velasquez, provided his health cooperates. The two-time champion last fought at UFC 200 in July 2016, when he put away Travis Browne with first-round punches.

Daniel Cormier vs. Alexander Gustafsson: Having come to the realization that he may never get to resolve his issues with archrival Jon Jones, Cormier continued to carve a path through the rest of the light heavyweight division and successfully defended his 205-pound championship with a second-round technical knockout against Volkan Oezdemir in the co-main event. After an initial burst of offense, Oezdemir was no match for the champion. On the mend from shoulder surgery, Gustafsson has not competed since he cut down Glover Teixeira with a volley of uppercuts at UFC Fight Night 109 on May 28.

Rob Font vs. Brett Johns: Font rebounded from his first-ever submission loss -- he tapped to a Pedro Munhoz guillotine choke in October -- to deliver a stirring second-round technical knockout against Thomas Almeida in their bantamweight showcase. The Team Sityodtong export took care of Almeida with a head kick and follow-up punches 2:24 into Round 2, improving to 5-2 inside the Octagon. A former Cage Warriors Fighting Championship and Titan Fighting Championship titleholder, the unbeaten Johns last appeared at “The Ultimate Fighter 26” Finale on Dec. 1, when he submitted Joe Soto with a calf slicer in a mere 30 seconds.

Calvin Kattar vs. Alexander Volkanovski-Jeremy Kennedy winner: Kattar ran his winning streak to 10 fights, as he wiped out undefeated Team Tiger Schulmann prospect Shane Burgos with punches in the third round of their featured featherweight clash. The 29-year-old Massachusetts native has not lost in nearly eight years. Kattar peppered his opponent with jabs in the first round, withstood considerable difficulty in the middle stanza and then closed it out in spectacular fashion in the third. Burgos entered the cage at a perfect 10-0 with eight finishes. Volkanovski and Kennedy will square off at UFC 221 on Feb. 10 in Australia.

Dustin Ortiz vs. Matheus Nicolau Pereira: Wading through significant adversity, Ortiz stayed relevant in the flyweight division and picked up his second straight win with a unanimous decision over onetime Resurrection Fighting Alliance titleholder Alexandre Pantoja on the undercard. The Nashville MMA representative surrendered his back on more than one occasion and survived a first-round neck crank from Pantoja to prevail across 15 competitive minutes. With that, Ortiz created further distance between himself and his technical submission loss to Brandon Moreno in April. Pereira last fought at UFC 219 on Dec. 30, when he took a unanimous verdict from Brandon Smolka.


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