When casual fans across the world said Ngannou is gonna decapitate Miocic, I was hopeful that Miocic is not the one to be ruled out. Though I didn’t predict Stipe’s victory in my previous write-up, somewhere in the back of my head, I had a feeling that Stipe has got this. With this decision victory over Francis Ngannou at UFC 220, Stipe Miocic has derailed one more hype train that the UFC has been creating for the last few months.
How it went down?
The moment I laid eyes on Ngannou, I had a feeling that he was a bit on the heavier side. Both men stood at an even 6 feet 4 inches, but Ngannou came in 17 pounds heavier than Miocic. Ngannou weighed 263 pounds for this fight, but Stipe came in very light at 246 pounds. In heavyweight bouts, a heavier frame does not always give you the advantage. When you carry extra weight for 5 full rounds during a fight, you could tire out pretty easily and that is exactly what happened to Ngannou.
— UFC (@ufc) January 21, 2018
Ngannou’s poor cardio was evident right after the first two rounds. I never really thought I would say this – I kinda felt sorry for Ngannou when he was limping back to his corner after every tiring round. What made it even worse was Miocic’s takedowns. Ngannou’s takedown defense couldn’t be worse. Almost every single round ended the same way – Ngannou defenselessly lying on the ground and Stipe with the good old fashioned ground and pound. Once Stipe edged past the first round, it was a complete landslide victory for him. Ngannou fought the last three rounds on full survival mode, and there isn’t much he could do to turnaround.
Exhausted and outgrappled, Ngannou just exposed the major weakness in his arsenal. The scorecard says it all – 50 – 44 by all three judges. The scorecard is a testimony to the utter domination by Stipe against who was once believed to be the scariest heavyweight of all time. It is not gonna be easy for Ngannou to get back to championship level contention unless he makes some drastic changes to his game. Heavyweight fighters are going to exploit his weakness in the future. All it is gonna take is to drag Ngannou to the deep waters and outstrike/outgrapple him when he is tired. Now that Stipe has emerged victorious, Ngannou is no longer the mystery that fighters couldn’t figure out.
What should Ngannou do?
I mentioned in my UFC 220 preview that Ngannou doesn’t have any experience when it comes to fighting past round 2. This fight just proved that fact. Rather than considering this to be a blemish on his record, Ngannou can learn a lot from this fight. I believe there is no shame in getting outclassed by one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. I don’t know what kind of work they did at the UFC performance institute, but they for sure missed out on his cardio.
Getting the cardio under control is well within Ngannou’s control in my opinion. While he holds the record for the hardest punch ever, his punching ability is only as useful as his ground game when he is too tired. Some of the all-time greats like Cain and Fedor are notorious for their exceptional cardio. If Ngannou can’t improve this in the upcoming bouts, I must say that there isn’t much hope for him. Not to body shame him or anything, but I think he can get trimmer by at least 10 to 15 pounds easily (just a thought). A leaner frame will help him move around quick and last longer inside the octagon.
What’s next for Miocic?
Stipe Miocic just became the most successful heavyweight champion of all time in the UFC. Before UFC 220, no heavyweight has ever defended his title thrice in a row. After this hard fought victory, Stipe has earned his rest for the next few months to see the birth of his child.
When he comes back, I would love to see him against another scary heavyweight of all time – Cain Velasquez. The fighting styles of Cain and Stipe are well matched. It is also safe to say that both have the track record of proving themselves in the championship rounds. If injuries don’t keep Cain away, we could very well witness this historic bout in 2018 itself.