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UFC 220 Staff Predictions

In the first pay-per-view of 2018 for MMA’s top promotion, UFC 220 is top heavy with two championship fights. Heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic will defend his strap against knockout artist Francis Ngannou in the main event. While light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier is set to defend his title against Volkan Oezdemir in the co-main event of the night. The rest of the card is lacking big names but has fighters who are prone to throw down. In a featherweight bout, Shane Burgos will fight Calvin Kattar. Light heavyweight Gian Villante is set to go toe-to-toe with Francimar Barroso. To kickoff the pay-per-view, Bantamweights Thomas Almeida will take on Rob Font.

The MMA Today staff will look into their crystal balls and attempt to pick the winners of the UFC 220 main card. Once the fights are over, feel free to call us out on our fails!

Heavyweight Championship – Champion Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou 

Max Freedman: Miocic’s knockout streak has been incredible. He is the true champion and can probably knockout every other heavyweight on the roster. But Ngannou is a different species. His focus on his footwork and technique has allowed him to open up and land cleaner shots sooner. He’ll find the target on the (sorta) hittable Miocic early in the second.

Prediction – Ngannou, KO Round 2

Stephen King: Since Ngannou nearly beheaded Alistair Overeem, the hype has been real. I’m not about the flavor of the month. When all is said and done, Stipe Miocic will go down as one of the best heavyweights ever. He derails the Ngannou hype train in classic Miocic fashion.

Prediction – Miocic, KO Round 2

Drake Riggs: So…I’m going to kind of cheat on this one. I honestly think that Francis will win, but I’m going to pick Stipe. He just seems to thrive in these kinds of underdog, counted out type situations, and boy is this one of those situations… I thought Werdum, Reem and Hunt all could take him just fine and look how that worked out. Francis is just such a freak, though, and it’s so hard to imagine Stipe winning, but if anyone will overcome the odds it’s obviously him.

Prediction – Miocic, KO Round 1

Shawn Bitter: Miocic has it all for an heavyweight, he has the clean boxing with a lot of power, durability, wrestling, and ground and pound, but Ngannou is the most feared puncher in the UFC today. The power he can generate in one punch is remarkable. Miocic is great but it’s hard to think he can take a punch from Ngannou and not go out. 

Prediction: Ngannou, KO Round 1

Philip Fortuna: Not to cheap out on this prediction but if you read my piece on Francis Ngannou https://mma-today.com/francis-ngannou-unstoppable-force

you will see I’m going with Ngannou. All respect to Stipe Miocic.
Prediction: Ngannou, TKO Round 1
Dan Lodato: It’s hard for me to not pick Ngannou even though I love Stipe.
Prediction – NGannou, KO Round 1

Ben Smith: A lot of people writing off Stipe, which is rather absurd in my opinion given his dominance in recent years. However I do see a new champion being crowned, though not in the fashion people expect.

Prediction – Ngannou, Submission Round 1

 

Light Heavyweight Championship – Champion Daniel Cormier vs. Volkan Oezdemir 

Freedman: Can’t take anything away from what Oezdemir has done, but he has a massive hill to climb in this one. DC will put him on his back and not let him up.  The UFC 214 loss has a fire lit under him. 

Prediction – Cormier, TKO Round 3

King: That superb wrestling will be the way for Daniel Cormier to beat Volkan Oezdemir. If Oezdemir connects early it’s a wrap but if Cormier grinds, he will have the opportunity for a late round submission.

Prediction – Cormier, TKO Round 4

Riggs:  I think DC said it best really. Volkan is kind of just a Rumble downgrade. Not that he hasn’t been impressive…because he absolutely has. I just think that you aren’t going to best DC with a style like Rumble’s or Volkan’s. DC still has an otherwordly chin as well…assuming that it will still be in tact after getting throttled on by that juiced up guy from Jackson’s.

Prediction – Cormier, Submission Round 2

Bitter: Oezdemir has been knocking guys out cold in the first round showing his great finish ability, but you take him out of round one he loses steam as shown in his fight with OSP, and Cormier has only been finished once in his long career. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t win this easy. 

Prediction – Cormier, Submission Round 2

Fortuna: I’ve been going back and forth on this. Oezdemir is looking like the future of the division and after his last two wins, it’s clear he has the knockout power to run the division. Cormier is coming off of that vicious knockout from Jon Jones plus he’s up there in age. Yet we forget that before Jones he submitted Anthony Johnson into retirement.

Prediction – Cormier, Submission Round 3 *Please be advised, Philip Fortuna is NOT confident in this pick

Lodato: Volkan can’t find a big shot early as DC grinds this win out.

Prediction – Cormier, Unanimous Decision

Smith: The wonderful wizard of Oez against the man who’s never lost in his pro career to anyone not named John. I see Cormier taking this rather easily, Rumble couldn’t trouble DC, neither will Volkan.

Prediction – Cormier, TKO (Ground and Pound) Round 2

 

Shane Burgos vs. Calvin Kattar 

Freedman: Both guys are underrated and exciting. Kattar has a habit of employing a slower pace but turning it on late to steal rounds. Meanwhile, Burgos stays light on his feet and uses precise striking and footwork. This will be a back-and-forth battle but Burgos and Team Tiger Schulmann continue their tear with another win.

Prediction – Burgos, Split Decision

King: Shane Burgos is a prospect to watch in the featherweight division. Calvin Kattar is coming off of an impressive UFC debut win over Andre Fili. Burgos will try to stay undefeated while Kattar will keep the momentum off of the Fili win going.

Prediction – Burgos, KO Round 3

Riggs: Awesome fight between featherweight prospects right here. Kattar really impressed everyone with his short notice win over Fili but Burgos is just a gamer. This will be a great, close fight between two guys who will be hanging around the top for a good while.

Prediction – Burgos, Split Decision

Bitter: Kattar has shown in the past he doesn’t like pressure and turtles up in a close fight, I think Burgos is the more durable and tougher fighter.

Prediction – Burgos, Unanimous Decision

Fortuna: Burgos is the emerging prospect that everyone seems to be talking about along with his impressive 10-0 record. Calvin Kattar coming off of his victory over Andre Fili will look to stop the hype.

Prediction – Kattar, Unanimous Decision

Lodato: FOTN candidate as this back and forth battle leaves Shane Burgos leaving the Octagon still undefeated.

Prediction – Burgos, Split Decision

Smith: The most difficult pick by far, both unknown quantities and neither have lost in the last 7 years. Kattar shocked a lot of people last time out against Fili and for that performance alone, I’m leaning towards Kattar.

Prediction – Kattar, Decision

Gian Villante vs. Francimar Barroso 

Freedman: This fight has major potential to be a “snoozer” and is a shame that it’s taking a main-card slot away from a more-deserving fight. Both fighters have shown really low fight IQ as of late.  Barroso needs to get his opponents down to win and just doesn’t appear to have enough tools to steal this one.

Prediction – Villante, Unanimous Decision

King:  This fight has no business being on a pay-per-view, nonetheless it is. Both Villante and Barroso are coming off of losses that quite frankly haven’t been UFC caliber fights.

Prediction – Villante, Unanimous Decision

Riggs: Not really much to say about this one. Villante needs the win very badly so I think that he will do everything he can to make sure he wins this fight. Whether that means he’ll fight smart or reckless…it’s hard to tell. Either way, he can get it done.

Prediction – Villante, Unanimous Decision

Bitter: Villante is incredibly flawed with an awful chin, gas tank and defense all around, while Barroso is just incredibly boring and isn’t a fighter at all. I don’t think Barroso creates enough offense to do anything damaging to Villante, and at least Gian has good offense on a stationary target.

Prediction – Villante, Split Decision

Fortuna: Classic striker versus submission specialist matchup. Both guys have been very cold recently. I see both fighters being careful in their respective approach.

Prediction – Villante, Unanimous Decision

Lodato: Gian Villante gets back in the win column as Barroso can’t grind this one out.

Prediction – Villante, TKO Round 2

Smith: To be frank, I only see Villante winning this one. He’s faced the better names and looked more impressive in my opinion.

Prediction – Villante, KO/TKO Round 1

Thomas Almeida vs. Rob Font

Freedman: In Font’s two UFC losses, he’s been on his heels of the far more aggressive fighters coming at him. While his striking may be a tad more technical, Almeida is going to come out aggressive and have Font moving backwards. This will be exciting, but the young Brazilian will ultimately walk away with the W.

Prediction – Almeida, Unanimous Decision

King: Thomas Almeida’s two losses are to Cody Garbrandt and Jimmie Rivera – guys who grind and beat their opponents in devastating fashion. Almeida is prone to tough battles in the cage, while Font is coming off of a tough loss to Pedro Munhoz. This fight has the makings for a performance bonus.

Prediction – Almeida, KO Round 2

Riggs: It’s never a boring time when Thomas Almeida is in the cage. Font is slightly underrated but I don’t think he has the killer instinct and versatility to be able to put Almeida away, which is what he will need to do.

Prediction – Almeida, KO Round 2

Bitter: This is a close fight but I think Font can be the more technical striker and mix in takedowns

Prediction – Font, Unanimous Decision

Fortuna: Almeida prior to his defeat to Cody Garbrandt has an undefeated record of 20-0. He rebounded against Albert Morales before losing a decision to Jimmie Rivera. Almeida is just itching to get his streak going again but I think Font and his striking will have something to say about that.

Prediction – Font, KO Round 2

Lodato: Almeida’s striking is too much for Font.

Prediction – Almeida, TKO Round 1

Smith:  I quite simply see Almeida ‘destroying’ Font. Font is tough, has never been stopped in either the pro or amateur ranks but I believe this will be a devastating first.

Prediction – Almeida, KO Round 1

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