Main Card (PPV)
Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier
Headlining UFC 226 is a legitimate superfight between the current heavyweight champion colliding with the current light-heavyweight kingpin, and it’s a match-up in which both fighters appear to have a real chance of emerging victorious from.
It’s been a while, but this is far from Cormier’s first rodeo at heavyweight as he went 13-0 in the weight class earlier in his career, defeating the likes of Frank Mir, Josh Barnett and Roy Nelson along the way.
So size isn’t an immediate issue here, particularly thanks to Cormier’s Olympic level wrestling, which enables him to be bullishly strong in the clinch and technical with his takedowns.
Miocic is also a very good wrestler in his own right though and will be tough to take down, so he won’t be afraid to mix it up with DC in that regard, but doing so for prolonged periods against someone of the 205lb champ’s level could be risky.
Both champions are very good strikers too. Miocic’s stand-up foundation is in his boxing and has excellent footwork and athleticism to go with the power in his fists, and can keep a solid pace for the full five rounds.
Even though Cormier will have put on considerable bulk on his already squat frame for this fight he’ll still be agile on his feet too, puts together his punches and kicks well and though he doesn’t wield quite the same power as his opponent, he hits hard enough to ensure he’ll gain Miocic’s respect toe-to-toe.
Cormier’s not afraid to grind his way to victory, particularly at heavyweight, so he certainly has a good chance to win this fight, but Miocic is a well-rounded fighter with good conditioning who has a style which should enable him to make good use of his size advantage in the striking exchanges to emerge with a competitive decision victory.
Prediction: Stipe Miocic wins by decision – BET NOW
Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega
Unfortunately due to Max Holloway suffering from concussion-like symptoms during fight week his featherweight title defense against Brian Ortega has now been cancelled.
Derrick Lewis vs. Francis Ngannou
Arguably the two hardest hitters in the heavyweight division collide here in a fight that surely has a high chance of not going the full 15 minutes.
Ngannou has more solid boxing fundamentals than Lewis here, though he’s certainly not the finished article. However, he leaves himself less exposed to being caught by big punches than the more reckless ‘Black Beast’ and I believe Ngannou also has the stronger, fresher chin too, which could be crucial.
Lewis could look for takedowns as Ngannou is vulnerable in that regard but I think we’ll see some improvements in ‘The Predator’s’ defense this time out after learning some valuable lessons against the champion Miocic last time out.
Both fighters have highly questionable cardio, though Lewis has shown more of a tendance to fight through it, albeit at the cost of technique. Nevertheless, after a somewhat cautious start I think it’s Ngannou who is going to be finding a home for his bombs in this match-up, leading to a second round stoppage.
Prediction: Francis Ngannou to win by KO in Rd2 – BET NOW
Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis
Anthony Pettis remains a fighter that’s still struggling to replicate his past successes in the cage and this isn’t the kind of fight that’s going to give him an easy chance to get back in the win column.
Pettis is still a gifted technical striker, though he lacks the confidence and flair he showed in the past these days. Nevertheless, if he’s allowed to simply strike for three rounds he has a good chance to pick apart the competent, lanky but not especially dangerous Chiesa on the feet.
However, Chiesa is a tough customer, pushes a hard pace, doesn’t tire, and most importantly has a strong grappling game, so his best bet will be to stifle Pettis, not giving him the room he needs to operate and take him to the mat.
Chiesa is hard to deal with on top and is adept at taking his opponent’s backs and finding the submission. I think Pettis will show he can defend in situations like that, but will ultimately find himself losing too many minute of the fight on the mat and being put in tough spots repeatedly, leading to a decision win for Chiesa.
Prediction: Michael Chiesa to win by decision – BET NOW
Gokhan Saki vs. Khalil Rountree
We could be in for fireworks here as kickboxing star Saki makes his second appearance in the Octagon against a powerful, athletic up-and-comer in Rountree.
Rountree has some nice KO wins on his resume, but he’s not the most skilled striker, relying more on his athleticism, and that’s going to be a problem here as he’s going up against a very high level stand-up technician in Saki.
Saki’s non-kickboxing skills are limited, but I don’t think that should be too much of a problem here as Rountree is likely to engage him on the feet, leading to some hard-hitting exchanges that Saki will more often than not be getting the better of, leading to a second round TKO stoppage.
Prediction: Gokhan Saki to win by TKO in Rd2 – BET NOW
(Predicted winners in bold)
Uriah Hall vs. Paulo Henrique Costa
Paul Felder vs. Mike Perry
Raphael Assuncao vs. Rob Font
Max Griffin vs. Curtis Millender
Fight Pass Prelims
Daniel Hooker vs. Gilbert Burns
Drakkar Klose vs. Lando Vannata
Jamie Moyle vs. Emily Whitmire