UFC 220: Heavyweight Champion Miocic Underdog vs. Ngannou

ufc 220

Andreas Hale

Thursday, January 18, 2018 2:58 PM UTC

Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 2:58 PM UTC

The UFC’s first major event of 2018 is a doozy as both the heavyweight and light-heavyweight titles will be defended in Boston on Saturday night at UFC 220.

UFC 220Free UFC Pick: Miocic-Ngannou Over 1.5 RoundsBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3383391, "sportsbooksIds":[19,169,626,238,999996], "LineTypeId":3, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

At Saturday's UFC 220 event in Boston, Stipe Miocic will look to defend his heavyweight title against the devastating power of Francis Ngannou, while Daniel Cormier will attempt to turn back the challenge of Volkan Oezdemir in a light-heavyweight title bout. From a betting perspective, both of these fights aren’t the easiest to gauge, but we’ll do our best to find the best value on fight night.

Starting with the heavyweight clash, it is important to note that no heavyweight champion has been able to successfully defend the title three times. If successful, Miocic will be the first to do so and that would put him among the elite. But he comes into this fight as a +165 underdog because Ngannou (-175) has been a wrecking machine that has left a trail of unconscious bodies courtesy of his devastating power. There’s little to no chance that this fight goes the full 25 minutes considering that Ngannou is on a streak of 10 victories that have all come by knockout or submission. As for the champion, he’s won five fights in a row by knockout since losing to Junior dos Santos by decision in 2014 (a loss he would avenge by first-round knockout).

This fight comes down to whether or not Miocic can withstand -- or, more importantly, avoid -- the power of Ngannou. And that boils down to his ability to strike and put his Division I wrestling experience to work. For the duration of his MMA career, Ngannou has never fought into the third round, so there may be a game plan deployed where Miocic tests the cardio of The Predator. How he goes about that is the difficult thing to figure out. Like a young Mike Tyson, Ngannou’s explosive power has found no peer. However, Miocic has proven to be as tough as they come, but he has been stopped by Stefan Struve. Oddsmakers see this ending quickly with the line currently sitting at -152 to go under 1.5 rounds.

The best way to go about this is to pair the best value. If you think the champion is getting disrespected, it would be wise to take Miocic at +165 and the 'over' at +137. With the way that Ngannou is fighting, if he is to claim victory it will be quick. But Miocic will likely play the long game if he’s going to win and use distance and wrestling to drag Ngannou into deep water. Overeem was the best striker Ngannou faced, but his glass jaw betrayed him. Miocic has a strong chin, technique and just about everything in one package that his opponent has yet to face. For the value, go this route.

The light heavyweight title fight between Cormier and Oezdemir finds the champion as a significant favorite at -315 to the challenger’s +285. Considering Cormier’s pedigree, this makes a lot of sense. Although Oezdemir has scored scintillating first-round finishes of both Jimi Manuwa and Misha Cirkunov, he’s dealing with a totally different beast in Cormier. It’s highly likely that Cormier ragdolls Oezdemir and eventually submits him. He did this against a much bigger striker in Anthony Johnson on two occasions where he weathered the initial storm, got his hands around his opponent and drowned him with his high-level wrestling. Cormier isn’t one to work quickly so despite a +165 for the fight to go 'under' 1.5 rounds, stay far away from it.

The 'over' at -180 sounds steep, but it’s very likely considering Cormier’s ability to absorb punishment. His knockout loss to Jon Jones (which was overturned after Jones’ failed drug test) was against a far more creative striker who is arguably one of the greatest fighters the world has ever seen. Oezdemir is far from Jones in the striking department. The only thing he can hope for is that the Jones knockout combined with Cormier’s advanced age have eroded the champion’s ability to take a punch. Still, the only safe bet worth betting here is the over.

The other fight that deserves some recognition from the betting community is Thomas Almeida’s showdown with Rob Font. It’s an even fight with Font at -105 and Almeida at -115, but I really like Almeida’s chances here. Once regarded as a top prospect, the air was let out of Almeida’s balloon after a knockout loss to former champion Cody Garbrandt and a three-round drowning by the surging Jimmie Rivera. Aside from that, Almeida has been a whirlwind of devastation with his wicked striking game. Font is a tough customer, but he’s not quite the striker that Almeida is and doesn’t possess the wrestling to ground his opponent.

Ultimately, this is a fight that will be all about who can dictate the pace. Neither like to get hit, but Font tends to lose his composure once the strikes are landing. Almeida will surely come after Font and test his chin, which will probably lead to Font taking a step back. If that happens, it will lead to a TKO or a decision loss. Although +160 for the fight to go 'under' 1.5 rounds is tempting, Font has a pretty tough chin and should hang around longer. Almeida should be a bigger favorite so taking him at -115 is beyond reasonable and should be a line you can put a healthy amount down on to get a solid return.

comment here