Ahead of the Game: UFC 260 Betting Predictions for Francis Ngannou vs Stipe Miocic 2

It is hard to believe that we are less than two weeks away from UFC 260 and the UFC Heavyweight World Champion, Stipe Miocic, will be defending his belt against the freakish Francis Ngannou.

It was quite the one-sided beatdown and wrestle fest the first time these two monsters met. Stipe Miocic absolutely put it on Francis Ngannou for five rounds on his way to a unanimous decision victory and title defense.

Stipe has since lost the belt to Daniel Cormier, got it back, and successfully defended it one more time retiring DC to the commentary desk ringside. That’s another challenging job right there. I know I have been giving Cormier, in particular, a hard time lately for just focusing his calls on one fighter but that doesn’t mean he is biased.

A lot of the time, it’s who the producers or directors tell them to push. That’s what I think. So, we aren’t hearing things if you will but it’s just coming from a higher level and that makes sense. Regardless, what a difficult job!

First of all, how do you not curse? These guys are former cage fighters. You see how emotional they can get now that they have cameras on them so I would imagine there would be a slip but it goes to show how disciplined they are.

Enough about DC, though. We are going to be hearing his voice for quite some time. I believe he will become the Charles Barkley of MMA commentary with a little sprinkle of Dicky V in there. I’m still cracking up over him loving “Essoooo” and repeating it in euphoria multiple times. The words translate to “That’s it” in Spanish as the corner was just congratulating/encouraging their fighter.

Stipe Miocic did beat Daniel Cormier twice in a row and a few years ago, he dominated Francis Ngannou. How much do those things mean in the rematch, though? I can’t count them for much, to be honest with you.

Stipe beat DC but Cormier was the older man. When the Cleveland, Ohio native smoked Francis Ngannou, he was, of course, some all important years younger and Franky was just a baby in the MMA game.

All the African-born star has to do is shore up his takedown defense and I don’t really see anybody beating him. His training partner Cyril Gane might do pretty well because he is a very intelligent fighter and knows Ngannou’s game better than most.

Francis has had over three years now since that fight to improve his defensive wrestling. Stipe, conversely, has aged from 35-38. That isn’t as bad as 38-41 but us ‘82 babies are getting up there. My back is feeling it right now. The deadlifts are supposed to help…

Stipe Miocic is a heavyweight, of course, and they do age better than the lightweights but you have to understand what is behind this.

Please Note:

It’s not like smaller people age faster than bigger people in life. In fact, it’s the opposite. One of the first things to go with age is reaction time and heavyweights don’t need it to be quite as fast as fighters who are literally half their size.

The little guys do, though, and that’s why you see them start to have a hard time at 35. Anderson Silva was a fighter who had many strengths but his best thing was his reaction time. He relied on it quite heavily and when it increased, so did the amount of times we saw him getting caught.

He would see it coming but still get hit. What drove everybody insane was when he continued to fight with the same style of beating people to the punch, trying to half a reflex and speed war with fighters 10 years younger.

I’m just glad it’s over. Or is it?

This introduction is. BetOnline has the betting odds for the entire UFC fight card including the main event featuring Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou 2 for the UFC Heavyweight title of the world.

Let’s break the fight down round by round and make a prediction on a winner according to the value we find in the betting odds.

Francis Ngannou (-129) vs Stipe Miocic (+109)

The sportsbooks don’t seem to be very confident either way. I have to admit that I understand but we do have an entire 5 rounds to go off of and we know almost exactly what we are getting from each guy.

Round 1

We have seen Stipe Miocic get caught cold before. Alistair Overeem almost beat him! It was in the first round too. The Reem was literally turning to run away from the champ and doing so successfully.

Miocic must have been frustrated because he ran head on into a right hand from the Dutchman that dropped him but he quickly recovered and ended up finishing Overeem early in the fight.

The longer the fight goes, the more I favor the champion in this fight against Ngannou. Francis has shown some very powerful hands and knockouts in his short career with the UFC and they look really clean on the pads but he is pretty wild with them inside of the Octagon.

I mean, it has worked out for him most of the time he has let them go. His only two losses have come against Stipe where he got taken down 6 times and against Derrick Lewis when he certainly did not let anything go other than potentially the easiest win of his life.

I think Francis will come out measured in this fight with Stipe, though, at least early in the fight so I like his chances to win the first round. He should have quite the speed advantage and 3 inches of reach.

There is also the reaction time thing so it will likely take Stipe Miocic longer to find his range and timing than it will Le Frank. This doesn’t mean that Miocic can’t or won’t get the takedown. That is our only unknown going into this contest and you can see how important Ngannou’s takedown defense is by looking at the betting line.

We don’t know and the books don’t either so the line is quite close. First round, though, goes to Ngannou as I think he will be able to keep Miocic off of him. My reasoning is the 3 years of aging from 35-38 significantly slows down your explosion and ability to change levels and shoot a powerful well timed double leg.

Miocic is going to have to use the cage most likely to get Ngannou down and I think at least for the first round, Francis will be able to keep the fight in the center of the Octagon.

Round 2

Now this is getting a little harder to call. The round total for this fight is quite surprising. We know the first meeting went the full 25 minutes but BetOnline has the over 1.5 rounds set at (-125).

That is kinda crazy, right? I really don’t think Francis is going to charge at Stipe Miocic in the first minute the way he did Jairzinho Rozenstruik who he knew had next to zero grappling game and was a very patient fighter who would likely be caught off guard.

Stipe has floored fighters before who dare to charge him, ehem Fabricio Werdum, and I have no doubt he won’t be afraid to let a counter punch go against Ngannou.

Francis fought Derrick Lewis like he was scared. There, I said it. Mr. Ngannou, if you want to come and decapitate me now, please understand that it’s my job to call it as I see it and what would you say about that performance had it been someone else?

Derrick Lewis has proven to us many times that he may actually hit harder than Francis Ngannou and neither man ever engaged. It was the ultimate show of respect. Derrick Lewis used his “bad back” as an excuse so he is clear.

How does Ngannou explain that? He didn’t say much but it was clear that both men had never really fought their match in punching power and neither man wanted to get knocked out so they just stared at each other and the guy who literally landed one punch per round won the fight.

Stipe Miocic isn’t going to let Ngannou fight like that but my point is that you can get into Francis’s head or at least you could with the “old Francis”. Whether or not that person is different from the Ngannou of today, we don’t know but this fight should help us get a pretty good idea.

If it is anything that frightens a knockout artist and pure striker in an MMA fight, outside of Derrick Lewis and Derrick Lewis only, it is wrestling. That is the enemy. It is the hump I never got over in MMA.

I would have competitive Muay Thai fights winning some and losing some but I struggled in MMA even though I was usually comfortably better on the feet than my opponent. Every time I would begin to feel myself, let strikes go, and start to see the fight playing out in my favor, the guy was in on my legs and hips, and down we went.

Playing guard is a lot of fun in BJJ. I love it but in mixed martial arts, unless you’re very high level, you need to get back to your feet as soon as possible. Knowing someone is going to try to take you down completely alters your approach on the feet.

It has to. Unless you have a world class sprawl which Francis has yet to show us, you’re going to have to adjust your stance by lowering your level and getting your hips back.

What does that mean?
Well, if you’re the taller fighter, you are taking away those inches of length you have between their limbs and your chin and with your hips always back, it’s hard to press forward and even more difficult to land hard shots.

The wrestler, your opponent, conversely, is free to throw the kicks you can’t, sit down hard on his punches, and press forward without worry of you changing levels and shooting in on his legs. It is many times a losing battle even if you’re the better striker on paper and/or in the gym or a Muay Thai fight.

The wrestling threat changes everything and most of you guys are well aware of this in MMA betting but it is highly applicable to this fight and the better wrestler who was highly successful with that game plan in the first meeting of the two fighters is now the betting underdog.

The books won’t give us plus money but (-105) is pretty solid for a fighter who completely dominated the first meeting. Stipe Miocic out struck Francis Ngannou 200+ to 33 in total strikes in that fight.

It only takes one, though, from Frank the Tank. Once it hits the lips…

I am going to say Stipe Miocic wins round two and after threatening the takedown and slowing the output of the challenger, the champion finds his range and his jab. Ngannou starts to get reckless and desperate with his punches winging long shots over the top.

Miocic is wise to this and shows world class patience.

Round 3

This is Ngannou’s last stand. I think he is going to need to get Stipe out of there by the 4th round or at least hurt him bad enough to turn the tide of the fight.

More Miocic in round three as his jabs turn to feints and his right hand follows without hesitation They stun Ngannou and force him back to the cage where Stipe continues to grind on the challenger and eventually get him down to the mat before the bell.

2-1 now for the champ.

Round 4

More of what we saw in round 3!

Stipe presses Francis and again gets him down to the mat where he starts to land a couple of clean elbows which cut the challenger and that’s when you see the expression on the face of Francis Ngannou change.

He begins to look for a way out and Stipe obliges with the rear naked choke. This submission line is a must play! (+1525) for a Miocic submission here. I don’t think it is likely but it surely isn’t out of the question.

Ngannou hasn’t been TKO’d so maybe his chin holds up to shots from the back mount and maybe he doesn’t fight the big bad German blitzkrieg and raises his chin like a bleached white French flag.

Definitely put .25 units on that if not a half.

Stipe Miocic to win straight up, though, is the play to make. We could very well see a decision again. Miocic had a bigger edge in grappling over Ngannou than he does now in all likelihood and he didn’t put him away 3 years ago.

Stipe by decision is (+535)! I think that is a nice line too. We can’t spend our entire weekly alloted bankroll on method of victory props but a little sprinkle here isn’t a bad idea either.

Ngannou has only lost decisions and that’s how the first fight played out!

Take Stipe to win straight up. I understand all the hype behind Francis Ngannou. He might come out here and starch the champion but he was utterly dominated by the same guy just a few years ago.

I am sure the Cameroonian has brought along his ground game to new levels but what can you learn from 32-35 that Miocic didn’t learn from age 8-11 as far as wrestling goes? If you’re on the Ngannou train here, I get it but the first fight wasn’t THAT long ago and it was all one way traffic for the champ.

The Bets
Stipe Miocic

In Conclusion

The first fight between these two heavyweights was such a blowout that we can’t ignore it. It was 3 years ago which isn’t that long of a time and as much as we look at Stipe Miocic as old news and Francis Ngannou as the hot new thing, they are both north of 35 years old.

I don’t care who you are. You have started your trip down the mountain at that point. Ngannou is a bit of a unicorn, though, because we are seeing his skills increase at a rapid rate due to his late start in the sport.

Are we, though? Outside of his two wins over Curtis Blaydes, Francis has only defeated aging stars. Yes, Stipe is 38.5 years old and had plenty of fights at the highest level in the highest weight class but he hasn’t began to show signs of his chin fading like Overeem, Cain, JDS, and Arlovski did before Francis fought them.

Ngannou is a bad man but he has shown that his mind is weak. Outside of his bumrush of Rozenstruik, he doesn’t have a win over a top five opponent not named Curtis Blaydes.

We can’t count out Miocic just yet. 38 is the new 28!

I really like a punt on the submission method of victory prop for the champ as well as the decision odds of better than 5 to 1. Those are just small plays, though, so take Stipe to win straight up on the moneyline at nearly even dough.

Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.