On Saturday night, UFC 260 will kick off at the APEX Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. The abbreviated card has been hit hard with COVID cancellations, but still manages to keep some of the more intriguing matchups. The main event features a heavyweight battle of the highest order—the one for the belt—and Francis Ngannou is hoping the second time will be the charm. The first time these two met back in 2018, it ended up being a lopsided blowout for Miocic, but in the three years since, Ngannou has gone 4-1, tripping up against Derrick Lewis in one of the worst fights of recent memory, then rattling off four straight wins.
The co-main event would have been another title bout, but featherweight kingpin Alexander Volkanovski tested positive for COVID-19, so his fight with Brian Ortega was scrapped. Now, we get the welterweight pairing of Vicente Luque and Tyron Woodley filling that space. Sean O’Malley will face tough veteran Thomas Almeida, and in perhaps the most under-the-radar fight on the card, we get Marc-Andre Barriault and Abu Azaitar in what is bound to be action-packed, bonkers entertainment.
We’ve put together a handy guide of facts and figures to help you when selecting your DraftKings fantasy lineups. Each category will feature the standout fighter for his/her achievements in said category. Let’s get started!
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Sean O’Malley, $9,200
Sean O’Malley is your classic pressure fighter who also happens to be gifted with speed and power. He’s still young and raw, and seems to be struggling with durability issues, but there’s no denying his talent. Bold and aggressive, Sean averages 6.35 strikes per minute and does a reasonably good job protecting himself, absorbing 3.75 strikes in that same span of time. He’s adapted the switch stance, frequently changing to throw off his opponents.
His opponent, Thomas Almeida, is a veteran striker with a very respectable output of his own, to the tune of 5.39 strikes per minute. Almeida is willing to take punishment in order to dole it out, and it shows in his strike absorption, which stands at 4.69 strikes per minute. A Southpaw with heavy hands and 17 knockouts to his credit, Almeida will almost certainly look to take “Suga’s” legs out from under him, so O’Malley will want to get this one over quickly.
Francis Ngannou, $8,400
There are other fighters on this card with more knockouts than Big Francis, but none are an almost guaranteed outcome the way he is. With 11 knockout wins and just two minutes of actual fight time in the last three years, you can almost set your watch by Ngannou scoring a first-round knockout. An orthodox striker, Francis will be facing the also orthodox heavy-hitter, Stipe Miocic. Ngannou’s big punching style didn’t work out for him the first time against Miocic and ended with him losing a lopsided decision.
Since that January night three-plus years ago, he’s beaten four opponents and lost a dismal decision to Derrick Lewis in a fight that many would like to forget even happened. All that aside, the one thing you can count on with Ngannou is his propensity to rush in throwing heat, right from Jump Street. He did this in the first fight, and Stipe weathered the storm, then punished him for the rest of the fight. Mauled him, even. I don’t know that much will change from that first fight to now, but I do know that if there’s a knockout to be had, Ngannou is likely the one to be doling it out.
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Stipe Miocic, $7,800
Stipe Miocic is a big puncher and has scored 15 of his 20 wins by way of knockout. Fighting out of the orthodox stance, he is also quite active, landing 4.90 strikes per minute. He does absorb a significant amount as well, trusting his chin to weather the storm of any barrages and random haymakers. What many forget or overlook is that this firefighting Croatian is also a really talented wrestler. That wrestling ability is what won him the first fight with Ngannou, and unless Big Francis turned into Karl Gotch, the same outcome could absolutely happen in this contest, too.
Stipe averages at least 1.92 takedowns per 15 minutes, and in the first fight with Ngannou, he completed six takedowns from 14 attempts, but what was most remarkable was how he kept “The Predator” down, ending up with a whopping 15:05 of control time. That severely hindered Ngannou’s ability to get those big haymakers off. It’s difficult to know what three years has meant to both men, but Stipe is a more proven commodity and fights smarter. It’s hard to pick against a guy that has more than one route to victory.
Tyron Woodley, $7,100
Tyron Woodley has shown on more than one occasion that his gas tank has a leak in it. With advancing age and three consecutive crushing defeats, it’s hard to imagine that leak not widening to a degree that is no longer manageable. His opponent, Vicente Luque, is the type of high-volume pressure fighter that can put Tyron on his back foot, traditionally a position he doesn’t relish nor fight well from. Woodley also embraces a low-output style heavily reliant on landing that big right, but we’ve not seen him able to get that rocket launched since the Darren Till fight. Luque isn’t a big wrestler, but he’s no slouch on the ground, demonstrating his grappling chops with six submission wins. Who knows, maybe Tyron found a magic spell to fix his stamina issues…I’m not holding my breath, though, and neither should he.
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