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UFC 260: MIOCIC vs. NGANNOU 2

#UFC260 MMA Betting Preview

Expect a lot of chatter in the sports world over the weekend, and some heavy focus on the main event of this event, as UFC 260 takes place live on Pay Per View from Las Vegas. Although the card has been shaved down to ten fights compared to the usual 12 plus, the main event is the highly anticipated rematch between heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (20-3) and #1 Francis Ngannou (15-3). Ngannou is the rightful challenger in this spot after brutally finishing his last four opponents, including two former champions along the way. Ngannou holds the world record for the most powerful punch, comparable to getting hit by a Ford Escort going at top speed if that tells you anything. The defending champion, Stipe Miocic, is a general in the octagon. His ability to weather the storm is unlike anything we've seen before in the division. It's a testament to him being touted as the greatest heavyweight champion of all time. I don’t know about you, but Saturday night, we find out who truly is the baddest man on the planet.

MORE FROM SI: Stipe Miocic Ready to Cement His Legacy

UFC 260 DETAILS

  • DATE: SATURDAY 03/27/21
  • BROADCAST: Pay Per View – Prelims: ESPN
  • VENUE: UFC APEX
  • LOCATION: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • # of MATCHES: 11

MAIN CARD

  • HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE BOUT 265LBS / (C) STIPE MIOCIC 20-3 VS #1 FRANCIS NGANNOU 15-3
  • WELTERWEIGHT BOUT 170LBS / #7 TYRON WOODLEY 19-6-1 VS #10 VICENTE LUQUE 19-7-1
  • BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT 135LBS / SEAN O’MALLEY 12-1 VS THOMAS ALMEIDA 22-4
  • WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT BOUT 125LBS / #15 GILLIAN ROBERTSON 9-5 VS MIRANDA MAVERICK 8-2
  • LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT 155LBS / JAMIE MULLARKEY 12-4 VS KHAMA WORTHY 16-7

PRELIMS

  • LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 205LBS / FABIO CHERANT 7-1 VS ALONZO MENEFIELD 9-2
  • WELTERWEIGHT BOUT 170LBS / JARED GOODEN 17-5 VS ABUBAKAR NURMAGOMEDOV 15-3-1
  • LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 205LBS / MODESTAS BUKAUSKAS 11-3 VS MICHAL OLEKSIEJCZUK 14-4
  • FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS / SHANE YOUNG 13-5 VS OMAR MORALES 10-1
  • MIDDLEWEIGHT BOUT 185LBS / MARC-ANDRE BARRIAULT 11-4 VS ABU AZAITAR 14-2-1

MAIN CARD NOTES, PREDICTIONS & WAGERS

HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE BOUT 265LBS: (C) STIPE MIOCIC 20-3 VS #1 FRANCIS NGANNOU 15-3

Quick Take

The much-anticipated rematch is finally here. Miocic is getting disrespected by oddsmakers as they have him positioned as the dog in the rematch after winning their first fight 50-44 across all three scorecards in 2018. Since that fight, Ngannou lost one of the weirdest fights you'll ever see against Derrick Lewis, where both just danced around for fifteen minutes, hesitant to swing. After a ton of backlash, Ngannou hit the reset button and has looked phenomenal, finishing his last four opponents all in the very first round (Rozenstruik 0:20, JDS 1:11, Velasquez 0:26, Blaydes 0:45).

On the other side, Miocic only fought one opponent since their first fight, with Daniel Cormier's opponent three times. After cruising against Ngannou, Miocic got caught in the phone booth against Cormier, where Cormier won via KO late in the first round. In an obvious rematch, Miocic regrouped and returned the favor, finishing Cormier in the fourth round. The rubber match saw Miocic defending the belt he won back in a five-round war where he won via a clear decision. In all three fights, Miocic took a lot of damage, though weathering the storm and eventually taking over in the last two fights. Although oddsmakers are siding with Ngannou, the sharps and fellow fighters are siding with the champ by a large margin. Ngannou is an evolved fighter since their first match. In that first fight, Ngannou did what worked for him so many times. He came out guns blazing, looking to land with intent, and had some success, though Miocic stayed composed and avoided taking a nap. 

From there, Ngannou's gas tank dumped, and although he was able to last all five rounds, he got outworked as Miocic landed six takedowns and controlled from the top more and more as the rounds went on. Now, although Ngannou will look to land the big shot again early, you’d have to expect a much improved grappling game plan from him, but more importantly, some composure in this big spot. While Ngannou has never really been in danger in his UFC career, Miocic has. I've lost a few bucks going against the champ a few times, I'll admittingly say. I don't trust his chin, especially against Francis Ngannou. Miocic has lost via KO twice in his career, those coming against a much smaller Daniel Cormier and Stefan Struve, who has only won via KO in 28% of his victories. Take those away. There have been multiple times where Miocic has been stunned, where he pauses after a big shot, and also dropped and almost finished by Alistair Overeem. Even if Miocic gets the fight down again, Ngannou's amazing strength the work he's put in to neutralize these attacks should be apparent. I have to say, every round starts on the feet, right? I don't even think Ngannou has to land clean to spark the champ. We haven't seen much cage time from Ngannou due to the quick finishes has most concerned about his ability to work volume and into fights late. I don’t see his limited time as an issue myself, and only more to support siding the challenger in this rematch. 

In comparison to their first fight, I just feel like it's Ngannou's time. He’s fixed some holes and done what is needed impressively to earn his way back to this spot. Ngannou is hungry to get this one back from a mental standpoint but can stay composed and trust the game plan well prepared coming into this one. It's crazy to think Miocic worked his day job as a firefighter Friday before fight week. Additionally, he has a huge life event on the horizon. Though it will be his second child, his first son is on the way, and he has been vocal about the excitement around that over the last few weeks. Will that add extra motivation to stay active as the champ, or has it taken some focus off the task at hand against a finisher like Ngannou? We will find out soon enough.

Prediction: What a story Francis Ngannou has. He’s never given up in life and his journey to becoming champion. From the sand mines of Cameroon to become the UFC champion Saturday night. I like his chances.

Bet: Ngannou via TKO/KO -105 (Confidence: B)

WELTERWEIGHT BOUT 170LBS: #7 TYRON WOODLEY 19-6-1 VS #10 VICENTE LUQUE 19-7-1

Quick Take

Big spot for Luque here against the former champ; for Woodley too. As with a loss, that makes it four straight losses and many questions about what's next for the former champ. Luque has been on a little run, winning eight of his last nine and 12 of his last 14. His last two losses were against Stephen Thompson and Leon Edwards, where he dropped unanimous decision losses against two top-tier strikers. I favor Luque in this spot against Woodley, as his low output style will not fare well against a guy with amazing distance control and forward pressure. Luque will pepper Woodley with kicks from a distance, and combos will eventually frustrate Woodley, where some clinch/takedown attempts will come Luque’s way, though unsuccessful for the most part.

Prediction: Luque and his volume against the 38-year-old who has landed just one takedown since 2017.

Bet: Although Luque has won 17 of his 19 wins via finish, small play for me on Luque via DEC +150 (Confidence: C)

BANTAMWEIGHT BOUT 135LBS: SEAN O’MALLEY 12-1 VS THOMAS ALMEIDA 22-4

Quick Take

The Suga Show is back after coming off the first loss of his career against Chito Vera last August, in a fight where O’Malley still won’t admit defeat, though he was finished. Saturday night, he takes on Thomas Almeida in a fight that has all the making for a stand-up war, where both guys will look for the finish via flashy striking, probably as long as it goes. Neither guy prefers the grappling, backed by the fact that Almeida has never landed one in the UFC, and O'Malley hasn't since 2017. Almeida was once considered a potential title contender, having dropped three straight and four of his last five. He looked decent in his last fight against Jonathan Martinez, though he dropped the decision. O'Malley will have the accuracy edge with the striking, and if he continues to pepper Almeida, I wouldn't be surprised if Almeida does go to the grappling, as he's teased during the build-up of this fight. Not once, but twice, O'Malley has been stretchered to the back after his fights, and he's very susceptible to injury, especially via leg kicks. This, along with O'Malley's power on the feet, has me looking at the under.

Prediction: O’Malley, if this stays standing. Almeida if it goes to the mat. I’ll predict O’Malley with his volume while avoiding the power from Almeida. Almeida is very predictable in comparison to O'Malley's creativity.

Bet: O’Malley/Almeida U2.5 rounds -150 (Confidence B-)

WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT BOUT 125LBS: #15 GILLIAN ROBERTSON 9-5 VS MIRANDA MAVERICK 8-2

Quick Take

Rebooked flight from UFC 258, where Robertson fell ill. Maverick won her debut last October against Liana Jojua when she damaged her nose with some nasty elbows. The doctors wouldn't let it continue and called the fight just before the second round began. More than likely, the same game plan here for Maverick against Robertson, and as expected, Robertson will look to get it to the mat early and often, and if it gets there, it can pose some problems for Maverick. Maverick hasn't looked great on the mat, and although she is probably stronger, I believe the technique will be the difference-maker for Robertson. Robertson was finished by a similar striker in Maycee Barber in 2019, but I’m not sure Maverick can match the power Barber had in that fight.

Prediction: Robertson avoids the striking and edges this one out.

Bet: Pass

LIGHTWEIGHT BOUT 155LBS: JAMIE MULLARKEY 12-4 VS KHAMA WORTHY 16-7

Quick Take

Mullarkey is one tough dude, but not the best striker I’ve seen. His accuracy hangs around 33%, while defense is below average, resulting in a massive -2.73 strike differential. (landed/absorbed). Worthy had some momentum behind him after putting seven straight wins together, including two finishes since entering the UFC. Ottman Azaitar pumped the brakes on that in September, where he finished Worthy in less than two minutes. If Worthy loses, it is typically quick. He has four losses in the first round, including his last three, and all seven of his losses have been inside the distance. He's a kill or be killed type of fighter. Mullarky, as mentioned though, is tough to put away, and the majority of his victories via finish come against questionable opponents. With a loss, Mullarky could get sent packing.

Prediction: I like Worthy.

Bet: Khama Worthy -125 (B+)

PRELIMS NOTES, PREDICTIONS & WAGERS

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 205LBS: FABIO CHERANT 7-1 VS ALONZO MENEFIELD 9-2

Quick Take

The “Water Buffalo” Fabio Cherant gets the call on just a day’s notice to step in to face Alonzo Menifield. Cherant fought in 2019 on DWCS, where he lost via TKO to Aleksa Camera early in the second round. Since that loss, he's rattled off three straight wins, including about a month ago, where he won the vacant light heavyweight belt over in LFA. Big step up for Cherant against Minefield here, where Minefield should have the strength advantage in the clinch, along with power on the feet. Although Cherant only has finishes via submission, I see him more as a striker, and although he may have his moments, Minefield will close and land.

Prediction: Minefield and potentially by TKO/KO.

Bet: Pass

WELTERWEIGHT BOUT 170LBS: JARED GOODEN 17-5 VS ABUBAKAR NURMAGOMEDOV 15-3-1

Quick Take

Gooden had a decent debut against Alan Jouban last November, though he took some damage across three rounds. Ultimately Gooden showed his toughness and ability to hang. He is a very athletic and well-rounded fighter. He tends to take some shots more than most, as we saw against Jouban, who landed 168 strikes across three rounds. Nurmagomedov, on the other side, looks to get back on track after somewhat of an absence from the sport since losing via a quick submission to David Zawada back in 2019. Nurmagomedov doesn't pack much power but has a style where he throws combos, then grinds away with some grappling. Oddsmakers have Nurmagomedov a moderate favorite, though I wouldn't be surprised if Gooden hangs around and makes this one closer than expected. Time will tell.

Prediction: Nurmagomedov grapples his way to a decision.

Bet: Pass

LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT BOUT 205LBS: MODESTAS BUKAUSKAS 11-3 VS MICHAL OLEKSIEJCZUK 14-4

Quick Take

Two former promising prospects are looking to bounce back after some losses here in this one. Both guys are known for their stand-up, but Oleksiejczuk has some sneaky grappling to boot. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it utilized as well, as Bukauskas has an unproven grappling skillset. Oleksiejczuk won't have a foe coming at him with takedowns here which gives him an edge, even against a much bigger opponent. Keep in mind that Bukauskas just got flatlined by Jimmy Crute, who has the same reach as Oleksiejczuk.

Prediction: I think this will be one to watch, and I give Oleksiejczuk the edge here, but regardless of the outcome, I don't see this fight making the final bell.

Bet: Bukauskas/Oleksiejczuk U2.5 rounds -150 (A-)

FEATHERWEIGHT BOUT 145LBS: SHANE YOUNG 13-5 VS OMAR MORALES 10-1

Quick Take

The fight was canceled; now it's back on. The fight is probably still 50/50, though, as Young will need to clear all the regular fight week testing for the match to stay intact. Young was in close contact with both Brad Riddell and Alex Volkanovski, which as you know, both were removed from their fights related to COVID protocol. Let's say none of this happened, though. I'd probably still side with the bigger guy here in Omar Morales. Morales is fresh off the first defeat of his career after dropping a decision to Giga Chikadze last October. Expect a stand-up war in this one, and Morales should have more success at range, mixing kicks and combos along the way. Young likes to move forward and get inside with volume, but I sense some struggles against the more athletic fighter with the height and reach advantage. Young is coming off a KO loss against a guy with a similar fighting style as Morales, plus he has the lingering COVID issues. Just tough to back a guy against a fight that stylistically favors his opponent already.

Prediction: I'm not too invested here with the risk of cancellation, but I give the edge to Omar Morales regardless of what may occur.

Bet: Pass

MIDDLEWEIGHT BOUT 185LBS: MARC-ANDRE BARRIAULT 11-4 VS ABU AZAITAR 14-2-1

Quick Take

I’m intrigued by the opener on this card. Abu Azaitar, the older brother of Ottman Azaitar, who you might remember from the Fight Island drama, makes his return after two and a half years away. He’ll be facing Barriault, who got back on track after dropping three straight but had his win overturned due to a failed drug test. The suspension was reduced as it was found Barriault did not take the substance intentionally. Barriault will be heavily motivated after his first UFC win was taken away, coupled with the fact that it's probably a pink slip fight for him with a loss. Now Azaitar has been away for similar reasons, as he also had a USADA suspension but also had some lingering knee and elbow injuries to address. When you look at his record, it's respectable, and his two losses come from a cut (doctor stoppage) and a DQ due to an eye gouge. All but two of his 14 wins come against opponents with winning records, including his last win against UFC Victor Miranda, when Azaitar made his debut. Azaitar is powerful and fast on the feet, and his biggest downfall would be his inconsistent grappling. No doubt Barriault will look to get this one down, but I’m going to give Azaitar the benefit of the doubt as he has spent some considerable time improving his game at the PI with his brother and a guy named Khabib.

Prediction: Azaitar comes in with an improved ground game, keeps this one standing, and outworks Barriault.

Bet: Abu Azaitar +100 (C+)

Parlay considerations

  • Luque/Menifield -113

THE GUPPY SPECIAL

Now, this is no "whale play," and actually, it's completely the opposite. This one is for pure entertainment purposes only. Many of you know that I've run the board a handful of times as I've thrown out predictions, and one of these week's we will hit one of these "guppies."

Use this play to round your balance off at your book, nothing serious, just entertainment purposes only.

This week's Guppy Special (odds from DraftKings):

  • Ngannou
  • Luque
  • Worthy
  • Menifield
  • Morales
  • Oleksiejczuk

Parlay pays +1362

FULL CARD PREDICTIONS

  • FRANCIS NGANNOU defeats STIPE MIOCIC
  • VICENTE LUQUE defeats TYRON WOODLEY
  • SEAN O’MALLEY defeats THOMAS ALMEIDA
  • GILLIAN ROBERTSON defeats MIRANDA MAVERICK
  • KHAMA WORTHY defeats JAMIE MULLARKEY
  • ALONZO MINEFIELD defeats FABIO CHERANT
  • ABUBAKAR NURMAGOMEDOV defeats JARED GOODEN
  • MICHAL OLEKSIEJCZUK defeats MODESTAS BUKAUSKAS
  • OMAR MORALES defeats SHANE YOUNG
  • ABU AZAITAR defeats MARC-ANDRE BARRIAULT

UFC PREDICTION BET SUMMARY

  • 2021 Fight card predictions overall: 65-48-3 (58%)
  • 2021 Targeted matchups (wagers): 39-37-1 (51%)

Be sure to check out DraftKings Sportsbook options as well, on top of the daily fantasy tournaments available for Saturday. The sportsbook has lines up and available for fight lines, method of victory, and round betting!

UFC 260 DFS PLAYS & STRATEGIES

  • Choose active fighters. Coupling an active fighter on his/her way to a unanimous decision will give you key points for your team. Just like any other DFS traditional sport, you want the active, offensive player that scores. Key metrics here are SLpM and TD AVG/15min.
  • Play the heavyweights. The approximate overall finish rate in the UFC is 54%. Most weight divisions range from 40%-60%, while the heavyweights push a 75% finish rate. You will receive bonus points for finishes inside the distance.
  • Try always to include the main event or title fights. Five-round fights mean more time to rack up points if you pick the right fighter. In some cases, even if you have the loser, the points can be more than a three-round winner.
  • Don't get excited and rush a pick based on stats; consider sample size. Some fighters have limited fights compared to their opponents when looking at metrics. Stats could be exaggerated. Do your research. Watch for spots with debuting fighters as well. Always check the records of the opponents they faced on their way to the UFC. Always pull fight tape as well. You’d be surprised at what you will find.
  • Review methods of victory. I supply the finish rates within this article, and as you dive in, you can compare method of victory to method of loss for the matchups. For example, you can find matchups where Fighter A has a high % of submission victories matched up with Fighter B, with a high % of submission losses.

As mentioned in the tip sheet above, here’s my MMA DFS Heat Chart for UFC 260. As you can see, the chart is ranked based on fight finish odds. Fight finishes are where the points are in MMA DFS. Take a glance at the stack, and we will break down the individual matchups below.

Screenshot

Two key offensive metrics are strikes and takedowns. They get off on their opponents; watch your points rack up quickly. Here's my Offensive Output Meter for the card. With this chart, you can compare historical fighter averages in these two key metrics as I rank all fighters participating Saturday.

Screenshot (1)
Screenshot (2)

UFC 260 DFS RECOMMENDATIONS

  • Fighters that typically press the action, land takedowns, and/or high finish rates matched up against those that get finished, roster. (see my charts above)
  • Fights projected to NOT go to a decision
    • Miocic/Ngannou -435
    • O’Malley/Almeida -195
    • Mullarkey/Worthy -165
    • Oleksiejczuk/Bukauskas -185
    • Menifield/Cherant -245
  • The main event is in play here. We see Miocic do something similar to their first fight where he scored 141 points, or Ngannou finished the champ. He's averaged 119.5 per fight in his last four. New scoring would be even more with the fast finishes. Do not stack here. Take shares of both with the multi-entries.
  • Top-tier fighters to build around include: Luque, O’Malley
  • Mid-tier fighter considerations are: Ngannou, Worthy, Oleksiejczuk
  • Live dogs that could score: Menifield (price error) Miocic (if you side with him), Robertson

Good luck, everyone. I hope to see some of you cashing after Saturday night! Follow me on Twitter @Y2CASEY