Last Updated: 2018-01-17
The UFC Heavyweight Championship will be on the line at UFC 220 in Boston, Massachusetts when Stipe Miocic looks to defend his belt against Francis Ngannou. This is the most anticipated fight in the heavyweight division in quite some time and headlines a terrific card with 12 matches, including a Light Heavyweight Championship scrap between Daniel Cormier and Volkan Oezdemir.
The first huge event of 2018 for UFC will have three matches on the UFC Fight Pass digital network, four on Fox Sports 1, and the final five on the main card can be seen on pay-per-view. Per usual, we’ll go in-depth on the main card and check out the odds and matchups for the prelims with the lines posted at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
Islam Makhachev should start off the card with a win over Gleison Tibau in light heavyweight action. Makhachev is -235, with +195 on the takeback for Tibai. Makhachev only has two fights under his belt since October 2015, so cage rust may be a factor, but he’s 14-1 in his career and 3-1 in UFC fights. Tibau has dropped two straight and hasn’t fought since November 7, 2015, so cage rust is more of a worry for him.
Jamie Moyle is +115 underdog in the women’s strawweight division against Maryna Moroz. Moroz is the -135 favorite to get back on track after a loss to Carla Esparza last June. Moyle lost her most recent fight to Viviane Pereira at UFC 212 after a win in her UFC debut over Kailin Curran. Moroz has a huge size advantage in this fight, as she stands six inches taller than Moyle.
Enrique Barzola is -235 for the “main event” of the UFC Fight Pass card. UFC officials generally try to put a bigger draw in the last fight of the Fight Pass portion of the show in order to encourage more buys. Barzola was the TUF: Latin America 2 winner back in 2015. He’s picked up two straight wins to improve to 13-3 in his career. His opponent, Matt Bessette, is making his UFC debut after being a titleholder in CES at 145 pounds. Bessette caught Dana White’s eye and was part of White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series. He lost the fight, but draws this one as a replacement for Arnold Allen, who is having visa issues.
To Fox Sports 1 we go, as Julio Arce is a -155 favorite over Dan Ige in featherweight action. Arce and Ige are both making their UFC debuts in this one and we’ve seen some notable steam hit the board on Arce. He was a champion in the ROC promotion and his only two losses came in back-to-back fights against Brian Kelleher in 2015 and 2016. Ige is 8-1 in his career and has bounced around different promotions. These two fighters are also products of the Dana White Contender Series.
A couple of UFC veterans square off in the flyweight division, as Dustin Ortiz looks to pull the upset over Alexandre Pantoja. Pantoja is a -160 favorite over Ortiz, who has been in UFC since 2013. Pantoja, a champion in RFA with a win over Matt Manazanares, has wins over Eric Shelton and Neil Seery in his UFC fights. This could be a sneaky-good fight, as Ortiz has the veteran knowhow to keep the fight upright, which he prefers, but Pantoja has an exceptional ground and submission game.
Sabah Homasi and Abdul Razak Alhassan will fight at the welterweight limit, with Alhassan as a -230 favorite. These two just fought back at UFC 218 and Alhassan rolled with a first-round knockout. This is a really quick turnaround for both fighters, but a controversial TKO ending set the stage for the rematch. Originally, the two wanted to fight right away at UFC 219, but they were given a little bit of extra prep time. The two guys came out swinging in the first fight and we should see some excitement here.
Kyle Bochniak and Brandon Davis should have what is the most even fight of the prelims with Davis a slight -115 favorite. We’ll see if the odds hold true and we get a back and forth affair. With the total at -220 on the over 2.5 rounds, it looks like the judges will be involved. Bochniak has lost two of his three career UFC fights. Davis is another product of the Dana White Contender Series and hasn’t fought at this level yet. He fought in much smaller promotions before catching White’s attention, so we’ll find out quickly if he’s ready for the brightest of lights.
Rob Font (+100) vs. Thomas Almeida (-120); Total: 1.5 (-170/150)
This is an important bounce back fight for both Rob Font and Thomas Almeida. Font suffered his third career loss last time out against Pedro Munhoz and got finished inside the distance for the first time in his career. He tapped out in the first round from a guillotine choke. The 30-year-old should be in better shape from a schematic standpoint against Almeida, who wants to stand upright and strike. Font may be better equipped for those types of guys, especially on the mental side, since his first stoppage setback came on the ground. Font has lost to Munhoz and John Lineker, who are probably the two best opponents he has faced and Almeida is no picnic.
Thomas Almeida also needs to get some positive momentum going. The 26-year-old has seen and done a lot in his MMA career, including a LFC championship and a 4-0 start to his UFC career. He has lost two of his last three fights. He was knocked out by Cody Garbrandt in May 2016 and lost via decision to Jimmie Rivera in his only 2017 fight. Those are the only two blemishes on his 21-2 record. Font is a step down from both Rivera and Garbrandt, but a very motivated fighter as well.
Pick: Thomas Almeida
Given that Rob Font was just finished for the first time in his career, you have to wonder what his mental and emotional states are. It can be tough to find out that you are not invincible. Almeida has won 20 of his 21 victories by stoppage, including 17 knockouts. He’s the quicker, stronger fighter and that means something in this one.
Francimar Barroso (+150) vs. Gian Villante (-170); Total: 1.5 (-200/170)
Speaking of fighters that need a bounce back effort, Francimar Barroso and Gian Villante are both coming into UFC 220 off of losses. Barroso dropped his most recent fight on September 2 to Aleksandar Rakic by unanimous decision. The 27-year-old has gone 15 minutes in each of his last two fights and can’t seem to get inside enough to inflict damage. Barroso’s last four fights have not inspired a ton of confidence. He lost to Nikita Krylov by submission on May 8, 2016. His fight against Darren Stewart was overturned because of an inadvertent headbutt that rattled his cage. He won that rematch a few months later, but then lost to a promotional newcomer in Rakic. Most of his fights have gone the distance in UFC, so he just isn’t getting enough clean strikes or doing enough with top control.
Gian Villante’s recent performances come with a little more leeway. His fight with Patrick Cummins last July was truly a back-and-forth affair that ended in a split decision. He lost to Mauricio Rua in Brazil via TKO, but knocked out Saparbek Safarov in his previous fight. He lost via decision at UFC 196 to Ilir Latifi, who has a tremendous wrestling background and a very tough fighter in this weight class. Villante has more upside, and the line reflects that, but will he show it?
Pick: Gian Villante
He should. Barroso’s trending in the wrong direction after his dominance in Shooto and the elevated level of competition has been a problem for him. He’s simply not getting enough clean strikes in and Villante should be able to control the fight. He’s a little bit chalky, so maybe he’s a money line parlay piece for those that want to limit risk.
Calvin Kattar (+150) vs. Shane Burgos (-170); Total: 2.5 (-200/170)
A couple of rising prospects in the featherweight division square off here, as Calvin Kattar and Shane Burgos each put winning streaks on the line. Kattar has only fought three times since the start of 2016 and didn’t fight from June 14, 2013 to April 1, 2016, but he technically hasn’t lost in nearly eight years. This is his second career UFC fight after besting Andre Fili at UFC 214. Each of the last seven fights for Kattar have gone the distance, so laying the price on over 2.5 rounds makes a lot of sense here.
Shane Burgos is 10-0 in his MMA career, including wins last year over Godofredo Pepey and Charles Rosa. His UFC debut came on December 9, 2016 and he topped Tiago Trator by unanimous decision. The lanky 26-year-old from the Bronx has eight career stoppage victories, four by knockout and four by submission. Burgos is fighting outside of New York for the first time in UFC and is fighting in Boston, which is certainly ironic for a kid from the Bronx.
Pick: Shane Burgos
Burgos’s momentum in UFC should continue with this fight. Kattar is a talented fighter, but it’s not like he has a big resume of opponents. Burgos fared very well in his first three UFC fights and Kattar only has one data point at the highest level. With a reasonable price on the favorite, he’s the pick here.
Volkan Oedezmir (+260) vs. Daniel Cormier (-320); Total: 1.5 (-185/160)
Volkan Oedezmir brings a 15-1 career record into his first UFC title opportunity against current champion Daniel Cormier. Oedezmir beat Ovince Saint Preux and knocked out both Misha Cirkunov and Jimi Manuwa in the first round to get this title shot. The Switzerland native fought as a heavyweight from 2014-16, but returned to light heavyweight in 2017 and rolled his way to being the number one contender. The light heavyweight division is a little bit weak right now, but Oedezmir’s two knockouts speak for themselves when it comes to his potential. He knocked out Cirkunov in 28 seconds and Manuwa in 42 seconds.
Daniel Cormier has never been knocked out or forced to tap out in his 20 professional fights.* You’ll notice that there’s an asterisk. That’s because Jon Jones technically did knock out Cormier the last time the two fought back in July. The result, however, was overturned because Jones tested positive for banned substances. The belt went back to Cormier and now he’ll have a shot at retribution. It will be interesting to see how Cormier comes back from taking a lot of punishment in that fight. Given Oedezmir’s power, this could be real interesting.
Pick: Volkan Oedezmir
Daniel Cormier should win this fight and probably will win this fight, but it’s hard to look away from a +260 price tag with a dude that hits like a truck. Volkan Oedezmir doesn’t have the technical skills of Cormier and will need to land some big shots to make this happen, but he’s live because of his striking power.
Stipe Miocic (+160) vs. Francis Ngannou (-185); Total: 1.5 (135/-155)
The world of Cleveland sports is not a happy place right now. The Browns are a perennial laughing stock. The Cavs seem to be running on fumes. The Indians haven’t done much this offseason after an early playoff exit. Are those all bad omens for Clevelander Stipe Miocic? Miocic is a big underdog in what will be his third heavyweight title defense. Miocic beat Fabricio Werdum at UFC 198 and has two first-round knockout defenses since over Alistair Overeem and Junior dos Santos. Francis Ngannou, however, is a fighter unlike anything we’ve seen in this division recently and that’s why there is so much respect in the line.
Francis Ngannou’s fights are violent. He’s won four straight fights by stoppage in less than two minutes, throwing in a submission against Anthony Hamilton for good measure. The 31-year-old Cameroon native holds the highest recorded punch in UFC history and he’s shown it on multiple occasions. This, however, is the best opponent Ngannou has seen. His wins over Overeem and Andrei Arlovski came against guys clearly at the ends of their careers. The same can be said about Anthony Hamilton, who has four straight losses on his fight history. Miocic is the most athletic of Ngannou’s opponents and also the hardest hitter. This thing could be over in the blink of an eye with two dudes that can really swing.
Pick: Stipe Miocic
Maybe this is a bit of a homer pick, but we also need to see Ngannou prove his mettle against a top-tier fighter. The guys he has fought in his last four fights are well past their prime and Miocic is still in the middle of his, albeit barely at 35. We’ll see how this fight turns out, but it is a great one for UFC. Miocic is a firefighter and paramedic in a small suburb called Valley View and trains out of a modest facility just up the road. Ngannou has an incredible backstory that includes being homeless and being part of the workforce at the age of 12 to help his family. These are two very marketable men for UFC and hopefully the fight lives up to everything that it can be.
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