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The Great Debate: Stipe Miocic vs Francis Ngannou

It’s not everyday that we get a epic match up. Not each UFC Pay Per View has a fight that fans call a mega fight. UFC 220’s main event is one of them. We have Stipe Miocic going for his record setting 3rd title defense, while Francis Ngannou looks to become the new “Baddest Man on the Planet” and the newest start of the UFC. We also have a epic matchup in our Great Debate. Our champion, Keith Shillan will be looking to win his 7th debate in a row, while Jason Powers looks to end the streak. Keith will be arguing for the challenger, Francis Ngannou, while Jason counters with an argument for Stipe Miocic.

Why Stipe Miocic Will Win by Jason Powers

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The top two heavyweights in the world of MMA are set to collide at UFC 220. I am here to tell you why Stipe Miocic will defend his belt and get his hand raised. My counterpart, Keith Shillan, is taking the role of debating for Francis Ngannou. I know, shocker… Keith debating for the favorite. Keith is going to start this out with telling you how great he is. He’s probably going to throw in a couple of jabs at me. He’s going to mention, at least a half-dozen times probably, how he dominates Great Debates… <cough-cough… picking massive favorites>. He’ll probably mention his win-streak. He’s a salesman. Don’t fall for his game, readers. He’s Donald Trump without the money, fame, or position. Unfortunately for him, this isn’t about him and this is the matchup he’s going to wish he didn’t put his win streak on the line with. This isn’t a drawing or an election, Keith… you won’t be able to rig this in your favor.

I’m going to start this off a little differently. I’m going to give you the one way Ngannou wins this fight. That’s Miocic getting overly aggressive and being susceptible to the left-hand of Ngannou. But you don’t think Miocic is going to be cautious here? Everyone is aware of Ngannou’s ability to end the fight quickly. So, Miocic is going to come in with a smart game plan and stay away from the big shots. Miocic generally relies on pressure but I look for him to take a different route in this fight, utilizing his excellent footwork and looking to get inside the pocket with clinches and takedown attempts. Miocic isn’t just going to stand in front of him and bang… but even if he did, I wouldn’t count Miocic out. Miocic is a bad man himself, and ex-Golden Gloves boxer with a good right hand and KO power in his own right. For all the talk of Ngannou and his ability to end fights, and justly, let’s not forget who the baddest man on the planet is right now. That’s the guy with the belt.

I don’t like using MMA math, but both fighters have essentially dominated both of their common opponents in Andrei Arlovski and Alistair Overeem. Of the four fights (two each), none have left the first round. The reason for the similar results is simple. Both of these guys are very similar with their striking styles and both have serious KO power. They are two of the most athletic and agile heavyweights the MMA world has ever seen. Especially at their size. Both fighters land 50% of their strikes. Both guys defend 60% of strikes against them. Miocic actually lands more significant strikes per minute, but I admit that can be a little deceiving with both of their fights ending early most of the time. With all the talk of Ngannou and his improvement in all areas of MMA, Miocic is also getting better with every fight, showing vast improvements in his footwork and striking.

I really want to see Miocic dirty this fight up and get Ngannou in some real trouble. Look for Miocic to do just that. He will clinch and he will take Ngannou down. Miocic is great in small spaces and I look for him to connect with elbows and counters in limited space. Let’s not forget that Miocic has a wrestling base and is an ex- Div 1 wrestler. He has shied away from using it, seeing as he is an elite striker as well, but look for him to get back to his roots in this one. It will be important for him to setup his transitions carefully and once he gets Ngannou down to keep him there. Ngannou has shown a good ability to get up after being taken down. One thing we won’t have to worry about is the reverse happening. Ngannou hasn’t attempted a takedown in his UFC career. Against big strikers like Hunt and del Rosario, Miocic took down and utilized half-guard to avoid serious damage or threats from his opponents and to attack with short elbows to not allow enough space for his opponents to scramble. Look for him to do the same with Ngannou.

I have a legitimate question. What’s going to happen in the “championship rounds” if the fight gets there? How’s Ngannou’s gas tank? You can’t rely on a devastating finish early in every fight. Especially when someone matches up so well with Ngannou as Miocic does. Ngannou has never been in a fight that last longer than 2 rounds. This is where Miocic has a clear advantage. The longer this fight goes, the more I like Miocic’s chances of winning it.

Movement and takedowns are the key to victory here, I think. Miocic certainly could land a haymaker and end this fight as well. The only times we’ve ever seen Ngannou go to the second round in the UFC is when he was taken down in the first round. Clearly, that’s going to be one of the goals to winning this fight. I think Miocic wins it doing just that. I look for Miocic to start cautiously before attempting to get inside Ngannou’s range. He’s going to make it ugly with clinches, dirty boxing, and takedowns/attempts. We’ve never really seen Ngannou in trouble or frustrated. We’ve never seen him on his back for a significant amount of time. I think we see both in this fight. Ngannou is going to tire from his back and Miocic is going to take advantage with an onslaught of strikes and elbows from the guard.

The UFC has never seen a heavyweight champion successfully defend his belt more than twice in its history… until now. Experience over hype. “And Still”.

Miocic by TKO (elbows) in Round 3.


Why Francis Ngannou Will Win By Keith Shillan


Top 3. It’s top 3 for me. That is my answer to the question, I keep getting asked. “Is this the most excited you have ever gotten for a heavyweight fight?”To be honest, it might be the most excited I have gotten to see two behemoths go to battle. The other two times that I can remember being this excited is when Randy Couture rematched Pedro Rizzo at UFC 34, and when Fedor Emelianenko faced off against Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic at Pride Final Conflict 2006. It has been over 11 years since we had a heavyweight title fight of this magnitude. One of the reasons so many MMA fans are excited for this matchup is because of the questions that could be answered on Saturday. The biggest being can Stipe Miocic find a way to beat the genetic freak Francis Ngannou and became the first heavyweight to defend the title three straight times? The answer to that question is simply NO.

Stipe Miocic is a great fighter. He is an athletic wrestle-boxer, who has been on a role. Outside the cage, he is so likeable. The quick wit fighter is also a fire fighter, who refuses to give up the his day job even though he owns the title of “Baddest Man on the Planet”. I do not like to root against a fire responder, and I won’t. Even though my heart is pulling for Miocic, my head says he won’t be able to handle the explosiveness of Ngannou.

Before we get into the particulars of the fight, I want to bring you back to before I was an MMA journalist and just a hardcore fan. Let’s go back to August 8th, 2008. It was the day before UFC 87. Like always, I was listening to the Sherdog radio network. Hosts TJ DeSantis, Jeff Sherwood, Jordan Breen, and Greg Savage (four of the greatest minds in the history of MMA) was having their Roundtable for the event. They all predicted that Andre Gusmao would beat this virtually unknown fighter with little experience. I called the show (I was a regular). I called them all dumb and said that the fighter would go down as one of the greatest of all time. I said this because I saw this fighter fight a few times on the regional scene and so unmatched ability. Who was that fighter? His name is Jon Jones. Not since Jones, have I seen a fighter with this much raw potential. Ngannou isn’t just going to win the title, he is going to go down as one of the All-Time greats.

This fight is going to be fought in three ranges. Long range, mid range, and short range. Ngannou wins two of these for sure. Let’s talk about long range. Many are arguing that if Miocic sticks and moves from the outside that he could win a striking battle. To stick on the outside, Miocic would have to have a big speed advantage, and hope that Ngannou is unable to find his own range and land a big shot. I highly doubt Miocic wants to stay at that range. Even if he does, he is giving up 3 inches of reach in the arms, and 5 inches in the legs. It’s Ngannou that likely lands the better shots at range.

Then comes the second range, the mid-range. Let’s call this the apocalypse range. I say this, because if the fight ends up in this range, Miocic’s world is over. This is the range where Ngannou could land one of his power shots. If he lands them, no human is able to withstand one. Ngannou’s punch is the hardest recorded punch in history.  A punch that was recorded as 96 horse power or the equivalent of a Ford Escort at full speed (According to Dana White).

Lastly, is the range that critics believe Miocic can win, the close range. Many think if Miocic could get to the clinch or on Ngannou’s legs with a single or double leg takedown, he could beat the African fighter. Curtis Blaydes and Luis Henrique were both able to briefly take down Ngannou. The keyword was briefly. Neither were able to keep him down. Ngannou is so physically strong that Blaydes, a  NIJCAA wrestling champion that is twenty pounds bigger than Miocic, couldn’t keep Ngannou’s back on the mat. Miocic won’t be able too either. Alistair Overeem pushed Ngannou against the cage and Ngannou easily overpowered him and switched positions. Overeem is built like a Greek God too.

Many argue that if Miocic could weather Ngannou’s storm, which is less of a storm and more like a Tsunami, that Ngannou would gas out and Miocic would take him in the later rounds. This is an assumption. We have never seen him slow down. In fact, it was Miocic that slowed down in his first fight with Junior dos Santos and costed him a close decision. Don’t be so confident in the fight going deep that Miocic would have the advantage.

At the end of the day, all the “weaknesses” of Ngannou is all assumptions. We haven’t seen any of them yet. Being that he has only been in the sport for four years, he is making improvements in leaps and bounds in each fight. This one won’t be any different. Especially considering he has been training with legendary kickboxer Jerome LeBanner for this fight.

Miocic is the one with weakness. He is very hittable and has been hurt before. He got hit a lot by dos Santos in their first fight. Fabricio Werdum overextended himself when he got excited because he was landing on Miocic. Stefan Struve found the current champion’s chin and knocked him out. Lastly, Miocic was able to comeback on Overeem, but he was dropped and hurt badly by a looping left hook. Do you know who has a great looping left hook? Yeah, his name is Francis Ngannou. Ask Overeem about it (yes I know it was more of a shovel hook).

The reign begins on Saturday. Ngannou becomes MMA’s Mike Tyson. He wins by 1st round knockout and picks up his 6th knockout in his brief UFC run. The only question left on Saturday is who will I pick to argue for in the next Great Debate when I extend my winning streak to 7 (Jason was right, I was gonna brag).

I predict Francis Ngannou knocks out Stipe Miocic in the 1st round. 


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