THE first UFC card of 2018 visits the TD Garden on Saturday night in what could be a historic bout. The mouthwatering clash between Miocic and Ngannou is the must-watch event in one of the highest anticipated fights in recent memory. The rest of the card is far from an afterthought though, with the other four bouts giving us a perfect way to kick off an entertaining year in the octagon.
UFC Predictions: 30-20
IF you like what you read be sure to check out more SportsbyFry articles by hitting this link. Make sure you keep up to date with the latest Other Sport and MMA/UFC articles and follow our fan pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to never miss a minute of the action!
#10 Thomas ‘Thominhas’ Almeida (22-2) vs. #14 Rob Font (14-3)
KICKING off the main card is a bout between two fighters aiming to vault up the bantamweight ladder. Thomas Almeida was 21-0 at one point in his career, but losing two out of three bouts his ranking has taken a tumble. It’s worth noting that both those losses came to the division’s elite and should provide a building block for him to return to the top.
FONT has the chance to knock off a ranked opponent for the first time in his career after a previous 0-3 record against such foes. The challenge that Almeida presents is a tough one, but not one that he can’t overcome. With similar, furious and fast striking styles, it may come down to which fighter lands a significant blow first. After finishing 17 of his 22 wins via knockout I expect that significant blow to come from ‘Thominhas’.
VERDICT: ALMEIDA W
Gian Villante (15-9) vs. Francimar ‘Bodao’ Barroso (19-5-0, 1-NC)
IT puzzles me as to why this fight is on the main card, with neither fighter having managed to win more than two UFC bouts in a row. However, if I have learnt anything about MMA it’s to expect the unexpected and these two heavyweight men could provide us with an entertaining appetiser before the division’s title fight.
A fight featuring two inconsistent fighters makes it difficult to predict exactly how it will play out. Villante probably has the striking advantage and will look to land punches while the crafty Barroso will aim to tire out his opponent and remove the striking power of his opponent from the equation. You can be forgiven for taking a toilet/snacks/drinks break for this one and return just in time for Barroso to earn a decision win.
VERDICT: BARROSO W
Image from mmafighting.com
Calvin ‘The Boston Finisher’ Kattar (17-2) vs. Shane ‘Hurricane’ Burgos (10-0)
BOTH Kattar and Burgos find themselves on the verge of being inside the top 15, making this fight incredibly important for their careers. The local Bostonian Katter hasn’t tasted defeat since 2010 and will be looking to build on his UFC debut at 214 six months ago. ‘Hurricane’ as the name suggests is one of the divisions most promising prospect’s, boasting an unbeaten record so far in his MMA career.
FOR the loser it doesn’t spell the end of the line, but it will be a massive opportunity missed, while the winner will demand a shot at a ranked opponent. Burgos’ intimidating counter-strike ability will put Kattar’s fundamentals to the test, but it won’t enough for the local to lose on home soil.
VERDICT: KATTAR W
Image from bloodyelbow.com
Light Heavyweight Title Fight
C Daniel ‘DC’ Cormier (19-1-0, 1NC) vs. #2 Volkan ‘No Time’ Oezdemir (15-1)
THE rapid rise of Oezdemir to title contender has come completely from left field. With just three UFC fights under his belt, he enters the octagon against Cormier as one of the most dangerous fighters in the division. His recent wins over Cirkunov and Manuwa lasted a grand total of 70 seconds as his quick striking ability has raised eyebrows in the mixed martial arts community.
IT begs the question are these victories ‘fluke-ish’ or does Oezdemir provide ‘DC’ with a serious challenge? Cormier finds himself in a unique position, once again defending his belt after it was stripped from Jon Jones. ‘No Time’ hasn’t faced a wrestler as skilled as Cormier before, and the ground game looms as the deciding factor in the fight.
OEZDEMIR finds himself as a heavy underdog for a reason and Cormier should bounce back with a win. However, after the physical and mental beating, he took at the hands of Jones for the second time in his career, it will be interesting to see how he bounces back.
VERDICT: CORMIER W
Heavyweight Title Fight
C Stipe Miocic (17-2) vs. #1 Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou (11-1)
FRANCIS Ngannou is terrifying. Powerful is an understatement when it comes to describing this 6ft 4in, 262-pound physical specimen and he is fast capturing the attention of not only UFC fans, but sporting fans across the globe. Standing in his way is another brute in the form of Stipe Miocic, who is 3-0 in heavyweight title fights, yet enters this fight as an underdog.
THIS is the matchup that the heavyweight division has long been craving and choosing a winner is incredibly tough given both men’s resumes. The power that Ngannou has at his disposal is freakish and we could well and truly be witnessing a champion of the sport rise before our eyes. Miocic isn’t just going to hand him the belt though and with five straight knockouts to his name, he also seems to be at the peak of his powers.
IN what will be an incredible bout, no matter how it finishes, it’s hard to ignore the air of destiny surrounding the Cameroon native and I’m predicting a new king to be crowned when this is all said and done.
VERDICT: NGANNOU W
Banner from bloodyelbow.com