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UFC 220: Miocic vs Ngannou - First Face Off


It’s Monday on Fight Week and we’re just a few days away from UFC 220: Miocic vs Ngannou. Below is a new Pay Per View special feature where our writers go head-to-head for every main card bout set for this Saturday night.

Thomas Gerbasi, Damon Martin, E. Spencer Kyte, Matt Parrino and Steve Latrell face off below to offer the first preview of Fight Week.

UFC heavyweight title main event: Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou


How Miocic will win…

Stipe Miocic may be the underdog to Francis Ngannou going into UFC 220 but the way he wins this fight is rather simple — he just has more ways he CAN win this fight. For all the talk about Ngannou's ferocious punching power, Miocic has recorded five straight knockouts of his own against a tougher slate of competition. Miocic didn't just win by knockout because he hits hard but it's also thanks to his years of boxing training when the former Cleveland State wrestler gave up grappling and became a Golden Gloves champion instead. While his hands are definitely dangerous, Miocic also employs that Division I wrestling pedigree as he's shown in numerous fights in the past where he's taken the fight to the ground and absolutely mauled the competition. Add to that, Miocic has a gas tank that's unparalleled in the heavyweight division as a big man who can truly push the pace for 25 minutes. The longer this fight goes, the more it favors Miocic. If Miocic can avoid that one giant sledgehammer shot from Ngannou, he can virtually pick his poison to out box, out grapple or just out work his opponent to earn his third straight title defense, which would also be a UFC record in the heavyweight division. - Damon Martin

How Ngannou will win…

What has made Stipe Miocic so dominant as champion is his pressure and pursuit set up by the confidence he has in his striking. He hits hard and his chin has, for the most part, stood up to virtually every challenge. But in Francis Ngannou, Miocic will surely fall if he applies his usual pace aor employs his trademark aggressive pressure looking to use his elite-level MMA boxing. Ngannou proved with his destructive KO against Alistair Overeem it only takes one shot to end the fight and he doesn't even need to be in perfect position. He can unload from anywhere and his boxing acumen should create opening against the savvy Miocic. If Miocic decides his best way to victory will be by grappling, Ngannou's strength and size could deter the Ohio standout long enough to land the finishing blow. Look for Ngannou to continue his tear and end the historic reign of Miocic with a knockout in the first seven to eight minutes. - Matt Parrino

Light Heavyweight title fight: Daniel Cormier vs. Volkan Oezdemir


How Cormier will win…

Daniel Cormier is the New England Patriots of the UFC: never bet against him. If you want to argue that Jon Jones is his New York Giants, his Kryptonite, fine. But Jones is out of action now, and outside those aberrations, Cormier finds a way time and time again to remain on top. At 5-foot-11 he's clearly never flummoxed by bigger fighters, which is basically everyone in the division. He's obviously an expert in wrestling, and even after 19 wins is still wildly underrated as a striker. Trumping any tool he has in his toolbox this time out is his palpable desire to wipe that last Jones debacle from our collective memories. He's going to use Oezdemir as a voodoo doll to put all that behind him. I love Volkan's game, but I'm never betting against DC until he gives me a reason to. - Steve Latrell

How Oezdemir will win…

Daniel Cormier’s blueprint to beat Volkan Oezdemir is clear. It’s the same one used by Kelly Anundson in handing “No Time” his only pro loss in 2014: takedowns, takedowns and more takedowns until 25 minutes are up or Oezdemir leaves an opening for a submission. So what does Oezdemir need to do? It’s simple and it will have to happen sometime in the opening three minutes of the fight. He has to shock the system like he did against Jimi Manuwa and Misha Cirkunov. Giving DC the opportunity to get into a rhythm or take the fight out of the first round will be a recipe for disaster. Oezdemir, who was raised in the Golden Glory gym in the Netherlands and is currently working under the tutelage of Henri Hooft (a man who has studied Cormier extensively as the coach of Anthony Johnson), must make this a one-round kickboxing match. He won’t win a five-round decision or score a late knockout. It must be all or nothing as soon as the Octagon door shuts, and he has the stopping power to pull it off. If the horn sounds for the end of round one and Oezdemir isn’t raising his hands in victory, you may just call it a wrap there. - Thomas Gerbasi

Calvin Kattar vs. Shane Burgos


How Kattar will win...

The most impressive part of Calvin Kattar’s game is that he doesn’t get rattled by much, if anything. Unbeaten since 2010, Kattar was the typical guy running through the local scene but not getting attention from the big show. Last July, that changed when he got a late-notice call-up to face Andre Fili. This is where a lot of prospects falter, but Kattar shut Fili out and looked like he had been on the UFC roster for 10 years in doing it. Now he’s fighting at home against unbeaten Shane Burgos. Burgos is a rising star in his own right, and when he’s in the Octagon, no one looks to be having more fun that he is. But when emotions are brought into the equation, that can lead to mistakes. Kattar is still only 29, but he’s got a veteran’s demeanor to him. He won’t get rattled by Burgos or the home atmosphere. It’s just another fight for him, and that may be the biggest reason why he gets the W this weekend. - Thomas Gerbasi

How Burgos will win…

Right now people probably remember Shane Burgos most for his mid-fight haircut during his UFC debut against Tiago Trator, but the unbeaten New Yorker has quietly put together a three-fight winning streak heading into his matchup with fellow rising star Calvin Kattar on Saturday. While he isn’t afraid to showboat a little and let everyone know he’s having fun inside the Octagon, Burgos has excellent fundamentals and that’s what makes him dangerous. He sticks behind the jab, throws combinations and stays active from start to finish, turning up the pressure and output when he sees he’s got you hurt. There’s a little Max Holloway to “Hurricane Shane” and if he continues to fight the way he has thus far, his record will remain unblemished through this weekend. - E. Spencer Kyte

Gian Villante vs. Francimar Barroso


How Villante will win…

When I think of Gian Villante's career, I can't help but recall the famous Mike Tyson quote “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Villante can and often does pound it out with the best of them, and his fights are never boring. But his downfall seems to be launching into slug-mode and abandoning his game plan the moment he starts to take damage, and it has cost him three of his last four. But at this stage, I think Villante's biggest asset is self-awareness; he knows he does this. He studies his own fights. After dropping a close one with Patrick Cummins, I think he sticks to the script for this fight and gets a big time reset against Barroso. - Steve Latrell

How Barroso will win…

Francimar Barroso has shown over the course of his eight-fight UFC run that he’s most comfortable when fists and feet are flying. Against Gian Villante he’s going to get a game light heavyweight willing to fling big shots in the middle of the Octagon. Barroso makes the most of the chaotic exchanges that are expected in the fight with Villante. He mixes up his striking and wrestling nicely and will look to get the fight to the ground, where he has powerful top position ground and pound. Barroso picks up his fifth UFC win with taking Villante into deep water and depleting his gas tank. - Matt Parrino

Thomas Almeida vs. Rob Font


How Almeida will win…

John Lineker laid out the blueprint Almeida needs to follow Saturday at UFC 220 when he got the better of Font in Curitiba, Brazil a couple summers ago. Boasting an aggressive style and big power, Lineker marched forward, confident in his chin and his ability to land the more telling blows, forcing the Bostonian to fight off his back foot. While Almeida doesn’t have the adamantium chin that his countryman possesses, the 26-year-old brandishes a more diverse offensive arsenal. If he can press forward and put together stinging combinations without getting into too many protracted exchanges, Almeida should be able to get back into the win column in enemy territory this weekend. - E. Spencer Kyte

How Font will win…

Hometown kid Rob Font will get the chance to fight in front of a friendly crowd when he faces Thomas Almeida at UFC 220 in Boston and he'll surely use that energy to fuel him to victory in this bantamweight matchup. Font has faced a similar opponent in the past when he took on John Lineker back in 2016 and while he suffered a loss that night, he also learned a lot about himself and how to handle an aggressive opponent with brutal knockout power. Font needs to use that knowledge to stay composed in the face of a fire fight against Almeida, who lives and dies by the philosophy of go big or go home. Almeida is a tornado inside the Octagon but so long as Font can weather that storm and stay composed in the pocket, he has a great chance to stun the Brazilian with clean technique including a barrage of straight punches as well as feeding him a steady diet of leg kicks. It may not be flashy but it gets the job done. Font is a world class striker in his own right so he just needs to pick his shots to land with greater volume and accuracy over three rounds to earn the win. - Damon Martin