There is a new face of the UFC heavyweight division.
Francis Ngannou dominated Stipe Miocic in every facet, crowning himself the new UFC Heavyweight Champion with a second round knockout in the main event of UFC 260.
This was a rematch from 2018, and Ngannou (16-3) executed a far more effective game plan than he did three years ago. Miocic (20-4) needed to absorb early punishment and extend the fight, which he did in the first round. But the tide turned in the second, as Ngannou drilled Miocic with a power jab up the middle, then effectively ended the fight with a vicious short left hook.
Ngannou showed patience and versatility, and he even successfully defended a Miocic takedown attempt in the opening round. Had Miocic extended the fight into the fourth or fifth round, it would have been very telling to see if Ngannou showed that same skill and poise on the mat. To Ngannou’s credit, he finished the fight well before that ever became a question.
UFC 260 was a night full of change. In addition to Ngannou winning the heavyweight title, the card also likely signaled the end of Tyron Woodley’s UFC career. Woodley (19-7-1) came out aggressively in his welterweight bout against Vicente Luque, but a counter shot from Luque (20-7-1) staggered Woodley. That led to a submission victory for Luque, who called out Nate Diaz in his post-fight interview. That bout is extremely unlikely to occur, and while you can’t blame Luque for calling out Diaz, he really needs to defeat someone in the top five to earn an opponent like that. More realistically, Luque would have been better served to call out Colby Covington, which would be a statement win, with the caveat being it is a bad matchup for Luque.
Sean O’Malley returned to the win column at 260, knocking out Thomas Almeida in the third round with a thoroughly impressive performance. O’Malley (13-1) entered this fight coming off his first loss. He bounced back in dominating fashion against Almeida (22-5), who took an outrageous amount of punishment throughout the fight. There will also be a change in the women’s flyweight rankings. Miranda Maverick put on an impressive showing against Gillian Robertson, overcoming a one-sided second round to earn a unanimous decision victory. Maverick (9-2) will now jump Robertson (9-6) in the top-15 rankings, and she is a new threat in the division. The opening fight of the night was also the shortest, as Jamie Mullarkey (13-4) knocked out Khama Worthy (16-8) in under a minute.
All focus in the heavyweight division now centers around a fight pitting Ngannou against Jon Jones, which would be a massive box office bout for the UFC. That leaves Miocic on the outside looking in, a tough spot to be for the greatest heavyweight champ in UFC history. Without an immediate rematch clause, Miocic is going to have to wait for his rematch.
UFC 260 will be remembered as Ngannou’s night, and he has limitless potential with the belt. Ngannou also finds redemption from his 2018 loss to Miocic, and with this victory, turns the future of the heavyweight division into the present.
HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP FIGHT: STIPE MIOCIC VS. FRANCIS NGANNOU -- 12:08 AM ET
There is a new undisputed champion in the heavyweight division.
Just under a minute into the second round, Francis Ngannou knocked out Stipe Miocic, starting his first-ever run with the Heavyweight Championship.
Ngannou (16-3) dominated the first round, landing a clean shot to the head 90 seconds into the bout. Miocic (20-4) survived the first five minutes, but could not extend the bout far enough. A power jab up the middle, followed by a short left hook, drew a curtain on Miocic’s reign as champ.
One of the more impressive moments occurred when Ngannou defended Miocic’s takedown attempt in the opening round. It would have been interesting to see how a similar exchange would have played out in the fourth or fifth round, but Ngannou ended the fight well before that.
In addition to winning the belt, the victory is redemption in the Octagon for Ngannou, who lost to Miocic in January of 2018. Clearly, Ngannou learned from that defeat, and he was extremely efficient in the rematch, showing patience that was never part of his game plan three years ago.
Miocic has been an outstanding champion, but now all the focus turns to the potential of a bout pitting Ngannou against Jon Jones. If that happens, Miocic may have to wait for his title rematch.
WELTERWEIGHT FIGHT: VICENTE LUQUE VS. TYRON WOODLEY -- 11:41 PM ET
If this was Tyron Woodley’s UFC farewell, it was certainly memorable.
Woodley (19-7-1) tapped with just over a minute remaining in the first round to Vicente Luque. The brief bout was nonstop action, and the win establishes Luque (20-7-1) as a genuine contender in the welterweight division.
Woodley started with a different approach, wrestling right away. The two fighters then started trading shots, with Woodley landing some big shots. The turning point occurred when Luque countered, stunning Woodley with an overhead shot to the chin. From that point forward, Woodley’s reaction time was significantly stunted, and it was only a matter of time before Luque finished the fight, which he did with a D’arce choke.
This marked the perfect opportunity for the 29-year-old Luque to stand out in the division, showcasing himself against Woodley, a former UFC Welterweight Champion. But that title reign feels like ancient history for the 38-year-old Woodley, who has now dropped four straight fights. Woodley entered the bout ranked seventh, and it was an odd sight to see him that low after being a permanent fixture for so long in the top-five. For Luque, who entered ranked tenth, this is the single biggest victory of his career, and he used the moment to call out Nate Diaz.
BANTAMWEIGHT FIGHT: THOMAS ALMEIDA VS. SEAN O’MALLEY -- 11:08 PM ET
Sean O’Malley made a decisive statement in his knockout victory against Thomas Almeida.
After dropping his first bout last August, O’Malley (13-1) responded with a convincing victory against Almeida (22-5). O’Malley delivered punishment the entire night, yet Almeida continued to find ways to extend the fight.
The bout went five seconds too long. After O’Malley dropped Almeida in the third round with a left hook, the ref never called the fight, so O’Malley then delivered a knockout right to Almeida, whose back was on the mat and did not even attempt to block the shot. This stood in contrast to the opening round, when Almeida took a clean high kick right to his shin, sending him to the mat. O’Malley never went for the kill and, remarkably, Almeida jumped back to his feet and continued the fight.
O’Malley punished Almeida the entire bout, and rarely was he in any real trouble. His front kick was invaluable, and he had Almeida hurt on multiple occasions. For Almeida, who won his first 21 fights, which included four in the UFC, he has now dropped five of his past six.
While still unranked, the win reinserts O’Malley into top-15 discussion. This was a fight he needed, and he responded extremely well in a pressure-filled situation.
WOMEN’S FLYWEIGHT FIGHT: GILLIAN ROBERTSON VS. MIRANDA MAVERICK -- 10:36 PM ET
Miranda Maverick earned the biggest win of her career with a unanimous decision victory against Gillian Robertson.
The win should put Maverick (9-2) in UFC’s flyweight rankings by this Monday, and her performance was impressive. Stylistically, Robertson (9-6) posed a myriad of issues for Maverick on the ground. Maverick dealt with all kinds of adversity in the second round, so it was a surprise to learn that the judges ruled the round in Maverick’s favor. But Maverick found a way to overcome Robertson’s grappling in round three, dominating the final five minutes of the fight.
For the first time in her career, the 23-year-old Maverick will now be ranked among the top-15. While a considerable gap still exists between her and Flyweight Champion Valentina Shevchenko, that can be said for every fighter in the division. Her progression will be worth watching, and there is a shot for her to enter the title picture by 2022.
LIGHTWEIGHT FIGHT: KHAMA WORTHY VS. JAMIE MULLARKEY -- 10:21 PM ET
Jamie Mullarkey has his first win in the UFC.
Mullarkey (13-4) knocked out Khama Worthy just 46 seconds into the opening right. He set up Worthy (16-8) with a right hand, then dropped him with a vicious left.
Following two decision losses, this knockout win marks the biggest moment in Mullarkey’s career.
A battle of heavyweights is the prize fight at UFC 260, as Stipe Miocic defends the Heavyweight Championship against top-ranked contender Francis Ngannou.
This is a rematch from UFC 220 in January of 2018, when Miocic (20-3) wore Ngannou (15-3) down in a thoroughly impressive showing. Ngannou was less effective as the fight extended and exhausted by the fifth round, all while Miocic executed a strong game plan en route to a unanimous decision victory. Tonight marks Ngannou’s shot at redemption, a chance to show he has evolved as a fighter and finally claim the heavyweight title.
Due to Alexander Volkanovski testing positive for COVID-19, his Featherweight Championship title defense against Brian Ortega is no longer part of the 260 card. That places a higher emphasis on the bout pitting Tyron Woodley against Vicente Luque. Once one of the UFC’s premier talents, Woodley (19-6-1) has dropped his last three bouts, and all signs point to this being his farewell fight in UFC. In order to leave with a win, he will have to overcome a dangerous opponent in Luque (19-7-1), who has won his past two fights.
Another must-win situation presents itself on the card, as “Sugar” Sean O’Malley looks to keep himself relevant in the bantamweight division. After losing his undefeated streak last August, O’Malley (12-1) needs a victory against Thomas Almeida to stay relevant in the division. Almeida (22-4) has dropped three in a row and four of his last five, so this is a bout that O’Malley cannot afford to drop.
Also on the card is Gillian Robertson in a flyweight bout against Miranda Maverick. Both women possess the skill to become stars in the division, further raising the stakes in this encounter. It is a true clash of styles, as Robertson (9-5) will use her jiu-jitsu against Maverick (8-2), who is an elite striker. And the card opener is Khama Worthy against Jamie Mullarkey in a lightweight bout. Worthy (16-7) is coming off a loss, but he had won his prior seven fights. Mullarkey (12-4) is coming off back-to-back defeats and desperately needs this win.
UFC 260 is a solid-but-not-spectacular card, with all eyes on the heavyweights.