UFC 226 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights for you below.
Main Card (Pay-Per-View)
Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier
A legimitate superfight headlines UFC 226 as two champions collide in a finely balanced heavyweight encounter that’s worthy of top-billing on one of the biggest cards of the year.
Despite his short, stocky frame, Cormier proved earlier in his career that he’s more than a match for top heavyweight fighters, with his world class wrestling being a big factor in abling him to deal with bigger men in the clinch, while always offering a threat from takedowns too.
Miocic is a good wrestler too though and won’t be easy to take down. On the feet he is a seasoned technical boxer and has the bigger power than DC, while he’s agile and has good footwork for his size to enable him to fully utilize his height and reach advantage, and also has solid cardio too.
Cormier is a good striker in his own right and does have power in his hands and will throw kicks too, while he should still move around well despite carrying extra weight at heavyweight.
Nevertheless, I do believe Miocic will have the striking advantage and if he can avoid being stifled against the cage for long periods of time I think this is a fight he can win, either by a late stoppage due to strikes or on the scorecards.
Stipe Miocic to win by decision.
Derrick Lewis vs. Francis Ngannou
Two hammer-fisted heavyweights on display here, which could well lead to some kind of highlight-reel worthy knockout finish.
Despite packing the biggest punches in the division, neither fighter is the finished article by any stretch of the imagination on the feet, but I do think Ngannou is a more technical boxer and leaves himself less open to being countered than Lewis, whose approach can be sloppy and reckless.
Both fighters have shown cardio issues in the past, so this could get messy if it goes beyond the half-way mark, while Lewis also has had back troubles that could affect his performance too.
Either fighter could knock the other out at any stage, but I do feel Ngannou’s chin is stronger and if Lewis doesn’t catch him by surprise by option for a takedown-based approach, I do favor a more cautious version of ‘The Predator’ to be the one who eventually lands the killer blow to end this one in the second round.
Francis Ngannou to win by decision.
Paul Felder vs. Mike Perry
This fight was moved up to the main card on short notice after the featherweight title fight between Max Holloway and Brian Ortega was unfortunately cancelled earlier in the week.
Perry is the bigger, harder hitting fighter here, but he’s not as technically sound as Felder and I think that will be a big issue for him here.
Look for Felder to be the more strategic fighter, avoiding a toe-to-toe war and instead adopting a more methodical approach, choosing his moments to engage, frustrating Perry and landing the cleaner strikes to emerge with a decision victory.
Paul Felder to win by decision.
Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis
There’s still a hope that one day Pettis might rediscover the kind of form that made him a star back in his WEC and early UFC days, but there’s a real chance that it might never happen.
Pettis remains a talented striker, but he’s missing the spark and creative spontaniety that he had bak then, while his wrestling deficiencies have been a real issue.
That may well be a problem against Chiesa, who is solid enough on the feet, but will have his best success applying pressure and then getting Pettis to the mat, where his grappling ability will likely present opportunities for submission attempts.
I think Chiesa will get Pettis’ back more than once in this fight and will be looking for a rear-naked choke finish, which he has been known to get frequently, and though ‘Showtime’ may be savvy enough to fight that off, he’ll have ended up in too many tough spots for too long to claim a victory after the 15 minutes is over.
Michael Chiesa to win by decision.
Gokhan Saki vs. Khalil Rountree
Kickboxing star Saki has his second fight in the UFC and it looks like it’s going to be another match-up that will favor his stand-up style against Rountree.
Rountree is a hard-hitter in his own right, but still leans a lot on his athleticism to get by and that’s unlikely to be enough against a striker of Saki’s caliber.
Unless Rountree tries to probe at Saki’s lack of a ground game – and I don’t think he will – then I see this being a fight where the kickboxer punishes his opponent on the feet, leading to a second round TKO stoppage.
Gokhan Saki to win by TKO in Rd2.
Prelims (FOX Sports 1)
Uriah Hall vs. Paulo Henrique Costa
Raphael Assuncao vs. Rob Font
Max Griffin vs. Curtis Millender
Prelims (Fight Pass)
Daniel Hooker vs. Gilbert Burns
Drakkar Klose vs. Lando Vannata
Jamie Moyle vs. Emily Whitmire