The greatest light heavyweight and heavyweight of all time doing battle is intriguing, but a meeting between Jon Jones and Francis Ngannou after UFC 260 – if ‘The Predator’ beats Miocic – would provide a more thrilling prospect.
No matter the result at UFC 260 tonight, Stipe Miocic has already secured his legacy as the GOAT in the most brutal and unpredictable division of MMA’s toughest championship.
His standing was sealed in August last year, when the Croatian equaled Randy Couture’s record in heavyweight title fight wins (six) and won a trilogy against Daniel Cormier 2-1 through a unanimous decision at UFC 252.
At UFC 226 in July 2018, the 38-year-old was knocked out by the ‘champ champ’ at light heavyweight and heavyweight, but then avenged that loss with a TKO of DC and the mentioned victory on the scorecards that forced the now-commentator into retirement.
— Stipe Miocic (@stipemiocic) September 13, 2018
Miocic has dedicated most of his time to raising his young daughter since then, but new challenges lay ahead even though his next opponent in Las Vegas, Francis Ngannou, is an old foe.
Taking the early KO-artist Cameroonian into unknown waters before the Cormier defeat in early 2018, all the way to final buzzer, Stipe’s experience and superior cardio proved decisive in a lopsided victory as he entered the history books for the most consecutive defenses of the heavyweight strap (three).
Suffering another full-distance loss to Derrick Lewis after his schooling by Miocic, it has been said that Ngannou’s conditioning is now much-improved despite there being no solid proof of such claims. Four first-round finishes have earned him another shot at the crown, yet add up to just an astonishing 162 seconds’ worth of octagon time.
Thriving off a siege mentality that has been a constant in his glittering career, Miocic stated that he has loved “shutting people up” for “my whole life” on UFC’s Countdown show hyping this evening’s spectacle.
He felt he wasn’t being paid the deserved amount of respect before their first showdown, while the UFC did all they could to further advance Ngannou’s hype train as it ripped through stations at a savage rate.
Derailing it a second time, then, would not just see Miocic overtake Couture in heavyweight title fight victories, but would also silence doubters yet again and set up a potential superfight with Jon Jones.
Even though that potential scrap is an easy sell, a meeting between Jones and Ngannou is a far more mouthwatering respect.
With Miocic’s legacy as the GOAT already confirmed regardless of the result at UFC 260, it seems doubtful that Jones – a natural light heavyweight – would stick around too long in the division above should he win.
For ‘Bones’, his personal mission is to match former rival Cormier’s accomplishments as a two-weight ruler. This may entail little more than one title fight before retirement, as was the case for Georges St. Pierre when he came out of hiding to defeat Michael Bisping and become middleweight champion in 2017.
As some fans and pundits have pointed out, Miocic is a smaller heavyweight, of similar build to Jones, and is the type of wrestler and boxer that Jones has dominated in the past.
When it comes to Ngannou, though, who has comparable reach, Jones has never fought anyone close to possessing the devastating power of ‘The Predator’.
Knowing that it could all end with one strike is something that would thrill both Jones admirers and haters alike.
By Tom Sanderson