Well, that was quick. Yesterday evening, MMA Junkie reported that Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou for the UFC heavyweight championship was signed for UFC 220. The fact that this fight was booked at all is significant. What makes the news extra intriguing is that it was booked for a card that already had a viable main event in Daniel Cormier vs. Volkan Oezdemir. Plus, UFC 220 is just six weeks away. With this move, the UFC is obviously trying to strike while the iron is hot with Francis Ngannou. Adding this fight to UFC 220 turns the event into a can’t miss card and is a great way to kick off 2018.
Francis Ngannou is 6-0 in the UFC with five knockouts. Ngannou defeated Alistair Overeem at UFC 218 with a vicious, highlight reel left hook. Stipe Miocic is the reigning UFC heavyweight champion and is 11-2 in the UFC. With a victory over Ngannou at UFC 220, Miocic will own the record for the most title defenses in the heavyweight division of all time.
Heydorn’s Take: This is a huge announcement for the UFC. After Saturday’s star-making knockout by Ngannou, the time is now to strike while the iron is hot and book this fight. Ngannou could be on the verge of being a special star for UFC and it would have made no sense to risk waiting on this. I don’t believe Stipe will win this fight and after Ngannou wins I’m predicting he’ll be one of the biggest stars in UFC.
THURSDAY NEWS NOTEBOOK
-Instead of retirement, Lyoto Machida is looking for the championship. In an interview with MMA Fighting, the former light heavyweight champion in the UFC expelled rumors that he was considering retirement and instead stated his quest to become champion once again. In the interview, Machida said, “I don’t think about retirement yet.” “I want to continue fighting. I want to be champion in this division. I dedicate most of my time to this goal. I believe that I will think about stopping when I don’t feel challenged anymore.
Heydorn’s Take: I like Machida’s confidence but nothing in his last batch of fights has shown me he can win a title in the UFC again. The proof just isn’t in the pudding with him right now. I like Machida’s attempt at positioning, but at this point just winning a fight of any kind should be first on his priority list.
-Khonry Gracie will face Devon Brock at Bellator 192. The son of UFC Hall Of Famer, Royce Gracie, finally has an opponent. At Bellator 192 on January 20th, Khonry Gracie will face Devon Brock. This will be Gracie’s second fight.
-Sabah Homasi says UFC referee Herb Dean should be punished. At UFC 218, Dean halted the fight in which Homasi and his opponent Abdul Razak Alhassan were trading damaging blows. Thinking Homasi was hit with something serious, Dean stopped the fight. In a rant to TMZ sports, Homasi said, “He knows he f***ed up.” “His facial expression was like, ‘Oh, sh*t.”
Heydorn’s Analysis: UFC referees have one of the hardest jobs in all of sports. At times lives are literally in their hands. I don’t fault any referee that makes a decision to protect a fighter.
IN OTHER NEWS
-Fight Network is set to live broadcast TKO 41, ONE Championship, GLORY 49 Doubleheader & UFC FIGHT NIGHT®: Swanson vs. Ortega Prelims