UFC 260 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and you can check out our predictions for all the fights below.
Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou
Despite riding a big hype train at the time, Ngannou quickly seemed to lose his way in his first failed attempt to win the heavyweight title from Miocic in early 2018, and then delivered a remarkably timid, lackluster performance in a decision loss to Derrick Lewis in his next Octagon outing.
Thankfully, Ngannou has rediscovered the devastating form that made him an instant hit in the UFC in the first place and is now riding a four-fight winning streak in which he’s KO’d or TKO’d all of his opponents in a combined time of less than three minutes.
That kind of destructive power makes him a fearsome opponent for Miocic, but at the same time it doesn’t give much insight into whether Ngannou has gained the tools he needs over the course of the past three years to defeat the champion this time around, or whether he’s still just hoping to land a big blow early to switch out his lights.
It’s a tall order as Miocic is one of all-time elite heavyweights for a reason, and that’s primarily the fact that he’s so well-rounded, with crisp technical boxing, good wrestling, excellent cardio, a solid chin and smart fight IQ making him a hard man to beat.
In the little we’ve seen of Ngannou in the Octagon since their last encounter there’s been glimmers of improved takedown defense, but it’s hard to say how that will hold up against sustained pressure and what will happen if he is taken down or forced to work from strength-sapping clinch positions.
Meanwhile he claims that he’s learned his lesson and won’t be just chasing the early finish this time around, but again we just don’t know what that will look like and there’s always a risk that it may take away some of the ferocity that makes him so dangerous to begin with.
It’s going to be a tense fight for Miocic as Ngannou only needs one punch to land, particularly early on, and it doesn’t even neccessarily need to land clean to end his night. That being said, I think Miocic is savvy enough to ride out the early storm, make good use of his grappling advantage and both tire out Ngannou and erode his confidence on his way to another decision victory.
Pick: Stipe Miocic wins by decision.
Tyron Woodley vs. Vicente Luque
It’s a strange thing to say, but even during his title reign it felt at times like Woodley wasn’t living up to his full potential.
Instead he appeared overly concerned with not losing and was just trying to just do enough to eek out a victory from range on the feet without overexerting himself or bringing his full set of skills to bear.
Things have only deteriorated since then as he’s been overran by far more hard-working fighters like Kamaru Usman, Gilbert Burns and Colby Covington, who are hell-bent on dominating their fights and did just that against Woodley.
Luque is another fighter who likes to dominate the action, although he doesn’t excel at wrestling like the trio of stars we’ve just mentioned, and instead will look to swarm on Woodley with high-volume offense on the feet and proven knockout power.
Even at 38-years-old and with his best years behind him, Woodley remains an excellent athlete and has good speed to go along with his thunderous power, so he could absolutely meet fire with fire here and have a real chance of coming out on top if he wanted to, but I’ve not seen any signs of late that he is able to mentally shift into that gear anymore.
Similarly, despite being controlled by elite wrestlers, Woodley’s own wrestling is still a good weapon against most fighters and could be his key to victory against Luque who will want this one kept standing, but it’s just not an avenue the former champion has shown much interest in exploring.
As such I have to favor Luque here. There’s always a risk he’ll get caught by a single counter punch that changes the outcome of the fight as he presses the action, but he’s never been stopped by strikes in his career and I think his aggression, output and constant pushing of the pace should lead to him being a clear winner by the time the final bell sounds.
Pick: Vicente Luque wins by decision.
Sean O’Malley vs. Thomas Almeida
O’Malley’s undefeated record ended last time out when he was TKO’d by Marlon Vera late in the first round after he injured his leg and then had it essentially immobilized by more kicks, leaving him exposed to big blows that saw the fight being waved off.
O’Malley has brushed it aside as a freak anomoly that won’t happen again, but it does put pressure on his shoulders to get back to the form that made him one of the most hyped up-and-coming prospects in the promotion.
Almeida will know what O’Malley’s going through only too well as at one stage he was on a four-fight winning streak in the UFC and had a perfect 21-0 record, but has since lost four of his last five fights.
Despite that, Almeida remains a very dangerous muay thai striker with an excellent record of stopping opponents via strikes, but the problem is that his chin has become quite fragile.
That’s a troubling trait given that O’Malley is also a dangerous stand-up technician who has combined speed, timing and power clinically in his career to date to deliver a string of T(KO) victories.
It still feels like a fight that could potentially go either way, particularly if Almeida can get his leg kicks going early, but I think O’Malley’s ability to pick out the right strike and the right time combined with Almeida’s dubious punch resistance will result in a second round TKO finish here.
Pick: Sean O’Malley to win by TKO in Rd2.
Jamie Mullarkey vs. Khama Worthy
Not so long ago Worthy was on a seven-fight losing streak, including two wins in the UFC. However, a 93 second TKO loss last time ended that and brought back memories of a tough time between 2015-2017 when he suffered three KO losses and another by TKO.
Mullarkey will also be feeling pressure to get back to winning ways after losing both of his UFC fights to date, although he does have a respectable 12-4 career record overall.
Worthy is a potent stand-up operator and is also fast and explosive, which will be very advantageous qualities against Mullarkey, who is somewhat ponderous on the feet by comparison, although is still a competent striker.
While it might be tempting to test Worthy’s chin on the feet, Mullarkey would be better off trying to use his wrestling here to take his opponent out of his comfort zone, but I think ‘The Deathstar’ could punish him here when he tries to close the distance and will deliver a first round TKO stoppage.
Pick: Khama Worthy wins by TKO in Rd1.
Gillian Robertson vs. Miranda Maverick
Originally scheduled for the prelims, a space on the main card gives Robertson and Maverick a chance to showcase their skills on pay-per-view.
Despite only being 23-years-old, Maverick is a veteran of the Invicta FC promotion and entered into the UFC with a 7-2 record, and improved that record with a TKO stoppage win in her promotional debut last October.
Robertson is only two years older and also amassed a lot of experience for her age, including a 6-3 run in the UFC to date. While she’s defeated some solid opponents she’s also come unstuck at times against a certain level of opposition, and is coming off a decision loss to Taila Santos back in December.
Robertson’s striking game is a significant weakness and she eats a lot of strikes, so she’ll really just be throwing to set-up takedowns as she’s more comfortable utilizing her wrestling and hunting for submissions.
Maverick has more to offer on the feet via punches and leg kicks, and has a power advantage too. I feel she has a solid chance of snuffing out some of the early takedown attempts here and that will set her up to take over the fight on the feet and emerge with a decision win.
Pick: Miranda Maverick wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Fabio Cherant vs. Alonzo Menifield
Jared Gooden vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov
Modestas Bukauskas vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
Shane Young vs. Omar Morales
Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Abu Azaitar