STIPE MIOCIC and Daniel Cormier are still the UFC’s heavyweight and light-heavyweight champions respectively after they picked up dominant wins at the TD Garden in Boston to retain their titles in the two headline fights from UFC 220.
Miocic became the first man in UFC history to defend the heavyweight belt more than twice, as he grounded and exposed Francis Ngannou, who many were predicting would take Miocic in brutal fashion after a string of devastating knockout wins.
However, Ngannou and most of the MMA fanbase and media were once again reminded to write Miocic off at their peril. Ngannou came out swinging and clocked Stipe with some big right hands and as the anticipation grew for another highlight reel stoppage, Miocic wobbled him with his own right hand and took him down to take the first round.
We didn’t know what Ngannou, who was still largely untested coming into the biggest fight of his career, would do off his back and he was taken down again in the second and kept down, exposing his weakness as Miocic went to work on the ground and controlled the action.
Ngannou looked to be out on his feet at the end of the second round, whilst Miocic’s engine is known to be in good order, so the fight continued in the same vein, especially in the fourth where Ngannou failed to land with a single strike. Miocic eventually took the decision 50-44 on all three scorecards.
Miocic now adds names to his ledger and left us questioning who will actually beat him. The only name left for him to take on to truly cement his legacy is Cain Velasquez, who has only fought twice since 2013 and seems to be permanently injured.
However, a future opponent for Miocic could be Cormier, who stopped Volkan Oezdemir in the second round and at 39, with retirement surely not too far away, could well decide to step up and add his name to the list of two-weight world champions in the UFC.
Oezdemir entered the fight after knocking out both of his previous victims inside a minute and he came out intent on flattening Cormier in similar fashion. But Cormier saw it coming and bided his time until later in the round, taking down Oezdemir down and almost getting him out of there with a rear-naked choke.
The Swiss challenger was saved by the horn, however the signs were there for him and he had no answer. Cormier worked his way in and took him down, before transitioning to a crucifix position and unloading a battery of strikes onto his trapped foe.
Oezdemir had nowhere to go and nothing to stop the barrage that was detonating on his chin and after two minutes of the round, Cormier retained his belt, that he was handed back after his bitter rival Jon Jones failed another drug test in the wake of their huge rematch last July, where he got the better of DC for a second time.
Cormier previously had some good success up at heavyweight before moving down in weight, as his training partner Velasquez held the title at the time. Perhaps after another defence against Alexander Gustafsson, Cormier may decide to take a shot at heavyweight gold before he rides off into the sunset and into the commentary booth full time.
On the undercard, the Boston-New York rivalry was in full flow, as Boston’s Calvin Kattar picked up a big win over New Yorker and unbeaten Shane Burgos, stopping his featherweight rival in the third round of an enjoyable scrap.
Gian Villante didn’t exactly thrill the crowd but he got the win over Francimar Barroso in their light-heavyweight encounter. He won by scores of 30-27, whilst the third judge strangely scored it 29-28 in favour of Barroso, as Villante snapped a two fight losing streak.
Rob Font got the better of Thomas Almeida in a battle of ranked bantamweight’s, stopping the Brazilian in superb fashion in the second round of their scheduled three round fight. Almeida got the better of the first, however he was dropped by a right hand early in the second and Font closed the show after 2:24 of the round.
On the preliminary card, Kyle Bochniak picked up a big win in his hometown over Brandon Davis, winning by unanimous decision, 30-27 and 29-28 twice on the cards. Abdul Razak Alhassan left no doubt this time around against Sabah Homasi, flattening him with a huge uppercut in the first round of their welterweight rematch, after a controversial ending back at UFC 218 last December.
Dustin Ortiz overcame a difficult first round to win the next two and a deserved unanimous decision over fellow ranked flyweight Alexandre Pantoja, 29-28 on all three cards, whilst Julio Arce was too sharp for Dan Ige in their featherweight clash, leaving Boston with a unanimous decision win.
Opening the card on Fight Pass was Islam Makhachev who didn’t hang around, destroying veteran Gleison Tibau in 57 seconds of their lightweight encounter, whilst Enrique Barzola was another winner by unanimous decision, at the expense of Matt Bessette.