There was a time when a man could step onto a square mat bordered by ropes and 4 turn buckles, never have his blood tested, and fight the purest version of another man in front of him. These were different times, dangerous times, perhaps the golden era of MMA, and most likely a time we’ll never return to. I pause when saying “purest” because in most competitions, performance enhancing drugs pollute the outcome. However, in MMA, even during the golden era (PRIDE FC 1997-2007) PEDs never truly served as enhancement. They more so allowed a fighter to recover quicker. They didn’t permit a fighter more skill. In some cases, with Mark Coleman as an example, the PEDs never measured out to victory. And in other cases, with Kevin Randleman, the PEDs never measured out to a life past 45. Alas, let’s go with “heightened”.
The golden era of MMA gave way to the most heightened versions of fighters to clash amongst each other than we’ve ever seen… until now. On Saturday, January 20th, 2018 the year of our lord, we will witness a heavyweight match carrying the velocity and voraciousness of the past golden era of MMA.
Francis Ngannou is most likely one of the smartest fighters to step into the octagon since Georges St. Pierre. His fighting IQ has adapted so quickly, that he almost looks 2 steps ahead of competition before they’ve even lost their adrenaline dump. With exception to Curtiss Blaydes, Ngannou’s competition has not held up long in the octagon with him. I wrote earlier that “Francis Will Fall”, and I mean that. However, I don’t believe it will come at UFC 220 against UFC Heavyweight Champion, Stipe Miocic. My fear is that Francis will humble Miocic in such a fashion that the belt may go to his head and produce a complacency down the line of his career. That being speculation on speculation, I write to you with conviction that Francis will lay down a KO upon Miocic that will devastate the MMA game, and the city of Cleveland.
Miocic, already on a record tying run of defending the elusive UFC Heavyweight Title only twice, needs one more win to solidify himself as the greatest UFC Heavyweight of all time. I believe Miocic may be the only man who can defeat Ngannou… and that time will be in their rematch. Right now, Ngannou has never been to deep waters of the 4th or 5th rounds or had to fight from his back on the ground. Miocic will take him there in the rematch.
There are robots that cannot be defeated in chess by any human mastermind alone. They see all moves and possibilities before them. Francis Ngannou is in this mindset at the moment, whereas Miocic is simply looking to defend the belt. His UFC embeddeds display him as already celebratory, slights anxious, and a subtlety of fear almost. His mind is not right for this fight. Miocic goes down in 2.
On the other hand his Daniel Cormier defending a belt thrice handed to him by the UFC, against Volkan Oezdemir. This fight hangs more in the balance of chance and unknown than the headliner. Volkan has won his last two fights in less than 70 seconds combined. Although stunning, history shows us that less time in the octagon can produce a complacency amongst fighters that could lead to their ultimate downfall (i.e. Ronda Rousey, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Anderson Silva). With that said, Oezdemir still has the blinders on and will bull run Cormier with no apprehensions or respect.
Cormier, having experienced damn near every body type and style of fighter one could fathom, is backing into this fight. His terrifying fall to Jon Jones wields a different fighter. Yes, he may sound and move the same, however his reaction to another hard hit to the temple will not yield the DC of old. Oezdemir’s power is outrageously unexpected to all fighters that have lost their consciousness to his hands.
Jimi Manuwa pressed his head firmly to Volkan’s chest to protect his chin from potential danger, and when Volkan struck Jimi with a tight hook from a disadvantaged position, the result was still that of if Volkan had swung at Manuwa from a perfect striking distance. Volkan has young, unbridled power in his hands that will fade over time, however not soon enough for DC to not be put onto Dream St. once again. I see DC going down in the 1st.
UFC 220 will be an exchange of belts, and send a reverberation down the line of ranked competitors. In will walk Ngannou and Oezdemir, as somewhat of a throwback to the days of old, where fighters at their most heightened states will defend the titles, and reset the game cartridge on the heavier weight classes for the next 2 years.