UFC 220 on Saturday in Boston featured one of the most highly anticipated heavyweight title fights in Ultimate Fighting Championship history. Intrigue surrounded reigning champion Stipe Miocic and the menacing Francis Ngannou. The challenger entered the cage as the favorite, and Miocic undoubtedly wanted to prove he was being sold short. Over five rounds, he picked apart Ngannou and showed why he belongs in the discussion for greatest heavyweight of all-time.
Ngannou tried to overwhelm the champion with fast, heavy shots early in the fight. He was the aggressor from the start but could not crack Miocic’s defenses and had grown visibly tired by the end of the first round. As they squared off in the second, Miocic seemed to be facing a completely different fighter. Sensing the shift in momentum, he began mixing his strikes with takedowns -- a tactic for which Ngannou had no answer. Miocic moved to dominant positions with less and less resistance as the fight drifted into the latter rounds.
As the two men came out for Round 5, Ngannou was on wobbly legs, his mouth open, sporting a defeated look. Nevertheless, he marched forward in search of a Hail Mary shot, to no avail. Miocic remained steadfast with his clinch and takedowns, as he secured top position against the Cameroon-born Frenchman against the fence and teed off with more ground-and-pound. The win gave Miocic his third consecutive successful title defense, a new record for the UFC heavyweight division.
Turning the Page
When light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier was asked how he felt about his co-main event with hard-hitting contender Volkan Oezdemir, he had a difficult time referring to it as a title fight. Although he had been reunited with his belt when his UFC 214 knockout loss to Jon Jones was changed to a no-contest, “DC” still acknowledged the encounter as a setback. In Cormier’s mind, he was fighting for a vacant title against Oezdemir. Anxious to turn the page from the latest chapter in his rivalry with Jones, the American Kickboxing Academy captain looked to turn away a new contender in the 205-pound weight class.
Oezdemir came out strong with power punches in a bid to get the champion off his mark in the first round. Cormier tried several takedowns in the opening minutes, only to have the Swiss upstart elude him. Midway through Round 1, the champion connected with a right hand that had Oezdemir backpedaling before two uppercuts and a left hook had “No Time” pawing at his swollen right eye. Cormier executed a single-leg takedown with less than a minute to go in the round, advanced to the challenger’s back and locked in a rear-naked choke. Only the bell saved Oezdemir.
Cormier only built on his success, and he had the Henri Hooft protégé on his back in the middle of the cage within the first 20 seconds of the second round. He settled in side control and then transitioned to a mounted crucifix, a position of dominance from which he dropped short punches and elbows on the defenseless Oezdemir’s face until referee Kevin MacDonald was forced to wave off the bout.
As UFC President Dana White wrapped the undisputed light heavyweight championship around Cormier’s waist, the Lafayette, Louisiana, native fell to his knees and took in the moment as best he could.
Calvin Kattar and Shane Burgos earned “Fight of the Night” honors in their featherweight feature. The two men climbed into the cage with the same goal in mind: to emerge as a new contender at 145 pounds. It was evenly contested after two rounds, but as Round 3 started, Burgos moved forward with his hands low and looked to trade inside the pocket. Kattar met him with a jarring overhand right that had him stumbling backward. He then followed up with a hellacious uppercut that sent Burgos crashing to the canvas. Kattar followed the Team Tiger Schulmann rep to the ground, blasted him with punches and forced the stoppage to improve to 2-0 in the UFC … Rob Font and Thomas Almeida squared off on the main card in a showdown between two of the sport’s most promising young bantamweights. They looked to establish range and pick each other apart in the standup exchanges. Almeida enjoyed early success with leg kicks and jabs, popping back the Team Sityodtong rep’s head while preventing him from returning fire. Font in response attempted to bully the Brazilian against the cage but could not hold him there for long, instead settling for a standing elbow on the break. Thirty seconds into the second round, Font floored his counterpart with an overhand right. Almeida rose to his feet and clinched, even as Font pressed forward in pursuit of a finish. The Mark DellaGrotte understudy ducked under a left hand from Almeida and landed a crushing head kick along the fence that had him out on his feet. Font then drove him to the mat with a series of quick uppercuts and forced referee Herb Dean to step in with a few more punches on the ground … UFC 220 “Miocic vs. Ngannou” drew 16,015 fans to the TD Garden for a reported gate of $2.45 million.
More Coverage »
• UFC 220 Main Card Report
• UFC 220 Prelims Report
• Matches to Make After UFC 220