The first pay-per-view of 2022 brings us to Anaheim, California for UFC 270: Ngannou vs Gane. Here are the most significant matchups.
(All stats according to UFC’s Record Book and FightMetric as of January 20, 2022 and only include active athletes in their respective division unless noted otherwise)
Main Event: Francis Ngannou vs Ciryl Gane
Key Stats: 10 KO/TKO wins (tied 2nd all-time among HW), 1.64 knockdowns per 15 minutes (5th all-time among HW), 5:38 average fight time (7th shortest all-time among HW)
What It Means: Ngannou is one of the most intimidating fighters to step into the Octagon, and it’s because of his combination of power, explosiveness and controlled aggression he brings with him in each fight. “The Predator” is well aware of his own aura and the respect his opponents hold for his power, and he is able to dictate the terms of the fight because of it. His footwork and technique have tightened up immensely while in the UFC, and he doesn’t need to connect with a major shot to drop his foe. He implements a good low kick to destabilize his opponents, and when he leaps in with punches, they come in flurries. His defensive grappling has improved, and he now shows prowess in turning those moments into offensive opportunities for himself.
Key Stats: 15:06 average fight time (3rd longest all-time among HW), +2.97 striking differential (4th all-time among HW), 62.8% significant strike defense (4th all-time among HW)
What It Means: “Bon Gamin” is one of the most technically proficient heavyweights the sport has seen. His combination of fluid movement and diverse striking often leaves opponents lost in a flurry of danger. Gane picks his entries smartly, either working off feints or waiting to counter, and he adapts quickly in the middle of rounds. He likes to pick opponents apart with low kicks, body kicks and quick punches. When he stays in the phone booth, he has a nice diversity in the elbows and knees he throws before evading danger. He also has some grappling abilities and skillful submissions as well.
What to Look For in the Fight: Essentially, the fight comes down to Gane’s speed and movement versus Ngannou’s power. That’s not to say Ngannou can’t walk Gane down himself, but the Frenchman has shown great defensive movement in his fights so far. How he deals with Ngannou leaping into range is key. If Ngannou is the composed version of himself we saw in his title-winning performance over Stipe Miocic, he should hold the center of the Octagon. However, Gane’s style can frustrate power punchers like Ngannou, and if the champion gets restless, it could leave him open for a bevy of counter shots. Whether Gane mixes in any grappling is up in the air, but it is an element Gane can bring to change the complexion of the fight ever so slightly.
MORE UFC 270: Fight By Fight Preview | Fighters On The Rise | Francis Ngannou | Ciryl Gane | Brandon Moreno | Ilia Topuria | Victor Henry | Said Nurmagomedov | Eddie Cha Is Playing Chess At The Highest Level
Co-Main Event: Brandon Moreno vs Deiveson Figueiredo
Key Stats: 3.44 strikes landed per minute (8th), 58.6% significant strike defense (4th), 47.7% takedown accuracy (3rd)
What It Means: “The Assassin Baby” has grown immensely from the submission wizard we met on The Ultimate Fighter. Although his wrestling and submissions are still very much his bread-and-butter, Moreno’s increased confidence and ability on the feet has made him a difficult puzzle to handle. His boxing is incredibly fluid, and he has slick defensive movement that he’ll utilize to counter with flurries to the head and body. His kicks come with setups and without much telegraphing, and if the fight does hit the ground, his limbs have great dexterity, and he can snatch a submission rather quickly.
Key Stats: 4 KO/TKO wins (tied 2nd all-time among FLW), 0.95 knockdowns per 15 minutes (4th all-time among FLW), 56.9% significant strike accuracy (2nd all-time among FLW)
What It Means: Figueiredo, when on his game, is a domineering presence in the Octagon with sniper-like precision on the feet. He is best when he is walking his opponent down and keeping them against the cage. From there, he is an efficient striker. His right hand is particularly powerful, and he’s good at feinting a straight shot to lead his opponent into an uppercut. His one-shot power is legitimate, but he also possesses a great squeeze on his chokes.
What to Look For in the Fight: After the first two fights, adjustments are paramount. Moreno succeeded greatly in the second fight because he overwhelmed Figueiredo with his diverse attack and well-timed grappling. In the first fight, however, Figueiredo dominated much of the real estate inside the Octagon and had more success. Much has been made of Figueriedo’s team linking up with Eddie Cha, Henry Cejudo and company at Fight Ready in Arizona to round out the Brazilian’s game. Generally, Moreno pushes a higher pace with volume while Figueiredo likes to stalk his prey before pouncing with efficient power shots. Moreno has shown he can take Figueiredo’s best punches, though.
Another Fight to Watch (Cody Stamann vs Said Nurmagomedov)
Key Stats: 13:47 average fight time (5th longest), 64.8% significant strike defense (6th), 78.3% takedown defense (7th)
What It Means: Stamann is a classic grinder with a wrestling base. He’s stout and strong, and he doesn’t quit after a failed shot. He’ll lean and use his leverage well against the fence, but he pressures smartly. He’s aware on the feet with decent striking to avoid the big shots for the most part, and he’ll time his takedowns well.
Key Stats: 4.65 strikes landed per minute, 71% takedown defense, 8:20 average fight time
What It Means: Nurmagomedov is an extremely fluid striker who is light on his feet and has shown solid defensive grappling as well. When striking, Nurmagomedov enjoys looking for opportunities to throw spinning attacks, and he’ll also counter with rear kicks. He’s confident in his wrestling, which informs his striking decisions. When he’s in space and comfortable, Nurmagomedov will switch up his footwork to create some crafty entries and set up a smooth combination of strikes.
What to Look For in the Fight: This is pretty much a striker-versus-grappler matchup, but as is the case in any competitive bantamweight bout, there are layers to the fight. Nurmagomedov is confident in his grappling, but Stamann is by far his toughest fight yet. For Stamann, he’ll need to intelligently close the distance so as to prevent Nurmagomedov from showing off his full arsenal of attacks. We’ve seen Stamann keep the same pace for 15 minutes, so he could opt to wear Nurmagomedov down, especially considering it’s Nurmagomedov’s first fight in more than a year.
UFC 270: Ngannou vs Gane took place on Saturday, January 22, 2022, live from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses — and relive all of the action on UFC Fight Pass.