THE greatest UFC card of the yr approaches on Sunday (AEST) and battle followers will probably be handled to a veritable buffet of prime shelf MMA motion.
Even with the cancellation of Max Holloway’s bout with Brian Ortega there’s nonetheless a number of different glorious bouts and greater than sufficient to sink your tooth into.
Here’s all of the ins and outs of UFC 226 and what’s at stake for all of the fighters who will probably be throwing leather-based in Las Vegas from eight:30am on Sunday.
1) Stipe Miocic can turn out to be the best
Strangely, heavyweight has by no means been a marquee division for the UFC. Since weight courses had been launched the title has modified arms 19 instances with no person defending it greater than 3 times.
When it involves huge fellas, the whole lot simply turns into so unreliable.
The vagaries of the division imply that with three title defences, Stipe Miocic shouldn’t be solely probably the most dominant heavyweight in UFC historical past he’s additionally, in all probability, the best.
Randy Couture was a light-heavyweight with a bit of additional timber, Bas Rutten and Mark Coleman had been caught within the sport’s pioneer days, Frank Mir’s prime was taken away by a bike crash, Antonio Rodrgio Nogueria’s greatest days had been in PRIDE and Cain Velasquez should still maintain the crown however given his harm troubles his case is unlikely to be superior.
If Miocic downs light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier his title reign will probably be twice so long as every other heavyweight and his case to be the very best UFC heavyweight ever will probably be near unassailable.
The UFC are eager to model their heavyweight champion as “The Baddest Man On The Planet”, however that’s not the vibe that Miocic exudes.
He is low key, approachable and humorous in a gruff, garrulous kind of means. Physically he’s not a promoters dream however the way in which he fights certain is — earlier than his final win over Francis Ngannou he’d wracked up 5 straight KO/TKO wins.
He won’t be the whole lot a promoter desires of after they assemble their heavyweight champion however his robust all-round sport has taken him to heights the fellas constructed like motion figures can’t contact.
2) Can Cormier shake off the ghosts of Jones?
Like Miocic, historical past is on the road for Daniel Cormier. He’s already top-of-the-line fighters ever in any weight class — solely Jon Jones has bested him within the cage and Jones’s steroid use makes the entire thing moderately murky. Cormier has run by way of each different opponent he’s confronted and can transfer as much as heavyweight to problem Miocic in an try and turn out to be a two-division champion.
Four males have held titles in two totally different weight courses — Georges St-Pierre, BJ Penn, Randy Couture and Conor McGregor. McGregor is the one one to take action concurrently, however that was one thing of a synthetic building.
The Irishman held the light-weight and featherweight belts for a couple of weeks regardless of taking two fights outdoors the featherweight division previous to taking the light-weight title from Eddie Alvarez.
With Jones sidelined indefinitely, Cormier can turn out to be a authentic two-division champion with victory over Miocic and add one thing to his historic resume that no different UFC fighter can match.
Cormier could by no means have the ability to topple Jones as the best light-heavyweight fighter of all time even with the various controversies which have destroyed Jones’ profession. But he can go fairly rattling shut.
His two losses to Jones means someone will at all times have a dissenting opinion concerning Cormier’s candidacy as top-of-the-line ever, but when he retains stacking up the these voices will develop quieter by the day.
Miocic-Cormier is the principle occasion of the night and may start at round 2:00pm
three) Big fellas swing heavy
People wish to complicate MMA and it’s a extra advanced sport than many will give it credit score for, however generally you simply must see two huge fellas having a go at one another.
As far as fellas go, you’ll do higher to search out two larger ones than Francis Ngannou and Derrick Lewis. With a mixed weight of 231 kilograms, punters will little question really feel short-changed ought to the battle go previous the primary spherical.
Ngannou is after a rebuild following his defeat to Miocic in January. The Cameroonian was one of many UFC’s breakout stars of 2017, incomes a title shot with a vicious knockout of Alistair Overeem in December that truthful dinkum took the Dutchman’s head clear off.
‘The Predator’ was outclassed by Miocic, who used his superior hanging data, cardio and wrestling to grind the large man down, however he’s solely a win or two away from returning to the title image and could have realized a lot from the defeat.
Lewis is one thing of a contradiction. He gasses usually throughout fights and he’s not as sharp a striker as he needs to be to be preventing at this degree.
But generally once you’re freakish huge and freakish robust like ‘The Black Beast’, all the opposite stuff falls into place. He’s gained seven of his final eight fights however that sole defeat, in opposition to New Zealand’s Mark Hunt, was additionally his solely conflict with elite competitors.
A win over Ngannou could be sufficient for H-town’s best to earn a shot on the winner of the principle occasion and given the facility he possesses such a factor is eminently attainable.
Four) Hook ‘em Dan
It is a mark of this card’s energy that Kiwi Dan Hooker is buried on the battle go prelims. After alternating wins and losses by way of the primary six fights of his UFC profession, Hooker has moved up from featherweight to light-weight and ripped off three wins, all by stoppage and all in spectacular trend.
Cracking the rankings at light-weight, lengthy thought-about the game’s deepest division, will take greater than three straight wins however Hooker’s enchancment has been extraordinarily spectacular. Against extra fancied opposition, Hooker has turn out to be a methodical and medical finisher and whereas will probably be his greatest win but if he can down submission specialist Gilbert Burns it’ll be one other notch on his belt and place him for a shot on the rankings later within the yr.
5) The first Stylebender
Nigerian-born Kiwi Israel Adesanya isn’t on UFC 226, he’ll as a substitute battle in the principle occasion of The Ultimate Fighter finale the day earlier than however the adorned kickboxer is on the point of stardom.
A gifted striker with a nice kickboxing pedigree, Adesanya has gained his first two UFC bouts and has proven a swagger and charisma to match his abilities contained in the cage.
Gritty Hawaiian Brad Tavares stands in his means.
A win can propel ‘The Last Sylebender’ into the highest 10 of the middleweight division and set up him as one of many sport’s hottest prospects. Adesanya wears stardom as if he had been born to it and will turn out to be an absolute celebrity if his present profitable run continues.
Tavares isn’t any walkover — he’s made a residing out of guarding the door to the cream of the middleweight crop — and he’ll be the hardest opponent of Adesanya’s profession. But ‘The Last Stylebender’ is prepared for his shut up.
Israel Adesanya’s battle with Brad Tavares will happen at round noon on Saturday.
6) So who’s gonna win?
FIGHT PASS PRELIMS
Jamie Moyle def Emily Whitmire by unanimous determination.
The Four-2 Moyle takes on the 2-2 Whitmire. This is the only real battle on the cardboard that doesn’t seize the creativeness.
Lando Vannata def Drakkar Klose by break up determination.
Judging by the way in which he’s fought to date, ‘Groovy’ Lando is right here for a very good time and never for an extended one. His spectacular UFC profession has yielded one knockout of the yr candidate and three fights of the night time, which makes his 1-2-1 document considerably deceiving. We’re tipping one other barnburner in opposition to the underrated Klose.
Dan Hooker def Gilbert Burns by KO, Round three
This shapes because the sleeper candidate for battle of the night time. We’ll take Hooker by KO however with out a lot confidence, Burns is a cagey and harmful buyer.
Curtis Millender def Max Griffin by unanimous determination
Millender made a spectacular UFC debut with a head kick KO of veteran Thiago Alves whereas Griffin has alternated wins and losses since 2016 however is coming off a very good win over Mike Perry. We’ll go Griffin on the playing cards.
Raphael Assuncao def Rob Font by unanimous determination
Font is an all-action bantamweight coming off a very good win over Thomas Almeida however Assuncao has 10 wins from 11 UFC bouts with the only real loss coming by the hands of present champ TJ Dillashaw. We’ll go the Brazilian right here.
Mike Perry def Paul Felder by KO, Round 2
Poor outdated Felder misplaced his battle with James Vick when Vick was referred to as as much as battle Justin Gaethje later this month. ‘The Irish Dragon’ will go up a weight class to tackle Perry, a meatheaded brawler who hits onerous as buggery and has a chin of iron. Size will make the distinction right here.
Paulo Costa def Uriah Hall by KO, Round 1
Costa is an up and coming middleweight who’s undefeated and has muscle mass on his muscle mass whereas Uriah Hall is a Tekken character who got here to life, glitches included. Hall has struggled with aggression by way of his UFC profession and if Costa will get on the entrance foot he might have some pleasure early.
Gokhan Saki def Khalil Rountree by KO, Round 2
Saki, a adorned kickboxer, continues to be studying the craft of MMA however ought to have the products for Rountree, who probably gained’t have the ability to take the battle to the bottom.
Anthony Pettis def Michael Chiesa by unanimous determination
The days of belts and Showtime kicks appear so far-off for Pettis however he’s nonetheless received a couple of methods up his sleeve and is a bit more harmful than Chiesa.
Francis Ngannou def Derrick Lewis by KO, Round 1
Flip a coin and hope for the very best with these two.
Stipe Miocic def Daniel Cormier by KO, Round Four
Another very tough battle to choose. If Miocic can cease Cormier from touchdown the take-downs on which he’s constructed his title reign he may have the ability to get an edge on the toes however this one is the definition of too near name.