UFC 270: Ngannou vs. Gane Predictions
Francis Ngannou vs Ciryl Gane
The first PPV main event of the year is a hugely intriguing clash of former teammates turned rivals as current champion Francis Ngannou wades into battle after five destructive stoppage wins in a row, while interim titleholder Ciryl Gane carries an undefeated career record of 10-0, seven of which have come inside the Octagon.
Despite their past together and the fact that at face value they are two physical specimens for the weight class, the reality is that these are two markedly different heavyweights.
Ngannou has identical height and reach to Gane here, but is the naturally more muscular, thickly built of the two and will carry more weight into the contest. A boxer first-and-foremost, Ngannou harnesses incredible power in his hands, even by historic heavyweight standards, and has never lost inside the distance.
That makes him an intimidating man to be locked into the Octagon with, though he often fights at a measured pace, not overexerting himself for the most part. That being said, he can be undisciplined at times, barrelling forward while throwing caution to the wind defensively, relying on the fact that any time he lands, even if it’s not clean, it can potentially mean lights out for his opponent.
By way of contrast, Gane thrives on being as disciplined and technical of a striker as you’ll see in the heavyweight division. He’s the more versatile of the two here as he’s a muay thai fighter who has excellent distance management skills, operating from range with accurate, piston-like straight punches backed up by kicks. Gane is far more of a volume-striker than Ngannou and is comfortable operating in that fashion rather than looking for a big knockout blow.
Gane is also a very capable wrestler and poses a submission threat too, which could be an avenue he may look to explore here to put Ngannou outside of his comfort zone, while he also has a cardio advantage too.
Ngannou’s thunderous power can be a game-changer regardless of who he’s fighting and against someone with a patient approach like Gane it’s likely he could have five rounds to land that killer blow. Beyond that though I just feel Gane holds a lot of aces here as he is the more technical, well-rounded fighter, has better cardio, a higher workrate and much better fight IQ. His kicking game and wrestling advantage offer more routes to success and in the end I think he outlands his rival from range and wears him out to emerge with a decision victory and be crowned the division’s new champion.
Prediction: Ciryl Gane to win by decision.
Brandon Moreno vs Deiveson Figueiredo
After two previous title fights ended in a majority draw (after Figueiredo was deducted a point for an illegal strike) followed by Moreno winning the rematch by submission to seize the flyweight title, the two men now clash yet again in this start-of-year trilogy clash to potentially settle the score once and for all.
Both fighters are very well-rounded, making this a competitive battle wherever the action goes, but in their previous encounters Figueiredo’s power advantage always felt like a major weapon for him that could swing the action in his favor.
That never proved to be the case though, with Moreno refusing to be intimidated by his power, perhaps encouraged by the fact that he’s never been stopped in his 26-fight career. Instead, Moreno has shown a willingness to bring the fight to the Brazilian with his own very good striking that focuses more on solid fundamentals and a good tempo than flashy techniques and power shots.
I would say that it does feel like we’ve seen the best of Moreno in these two fights so far, but not necessarily the best from Figueiredo and it’ll be interesting to see what adjustments he makes after switching to a new camp to gain the upperhand this time around.
That being said, Figueiredo is starting to edge past his prime at 34, while Moreno is right in the midst of his at 28, so it could well be that he’s getting these fights at just the right time to shine.
As such I’m going with Moreno this time to outwork Figueiredo on the feet and match him if they hit the mat on his way to a decision victory.
Prediction: Brandon Moreno to win by decision.
Michel Pereira vs. Andre Fialho
Earning four wins in a row last year via strikes on the regional circuit, Fialho steps in to make his UFC debut on a little over a weeks notice against Pereira, who has won his last three fights in the Octagon.
Pereira draws attention with his eye-catching, capoeira-inspired striking style that will see him unleash all kinds of acrobatic and athletic techniques. That makes him dangerous and unpredictable, though at times he has burned out his cardio trying too many high-intensity, low-percentage attacks that don’t pay off. In more recent times he seems to be balancing things out a bit more though and is riding some momentum heading into this fight.
Fialho is a heavy-handed boxer with solid technique and genuine knockout power, including having stopped ex-UFC fighters James Vick and Stefan Sekulic during his recent winning run, in addition to also having fought for the likes of Bellator and PFL in the past.
Given how unique and tricky a striker Pereira is, this is a challenging fight for Fialho to take on short notice, but he has a chance here, especially if Pereira gets too wild and reckless.
Nevertheless, I think Pereira’s ability to stay busy from range and keep his opponent guessing with what’s coming next will help him to get the upper-hand here and claim a decision victory.
Prediction: Michel Pereira to win by decision.
Cody Stamann vs Said Nurmagomedov
Stamann heads into this fight off of two losses, leaving his UFC record at 5-3-1, while Nurmagomedov KO’d Mark Striegl last time out and is now 3-1 in the promotion.
Both fighters gameplans should be pretty clear here, with Stamann in particular being very committed to his stifling wrestling game, which he’ll be looking to early and often as he attempts to control his opponent on the mat for the full 15 minutes.
Nurmagomedov will have other ideas though as he’s a much better striker than Stamann, with a versatile array of attacks at his disposal, including a penchant for spinning-based strikes.
Importantly for Nurmagomedov he can also scramble well on the mat so that will provide some comfort from the threat of being stuck under Stamann for extended periods, but for the most part I think he’ll endeavour to keep this one standing and comfortably get the better of that to win by decision.
Prediction: Said Nurmagomedov to win by decision.
Rodolfo Vieira vs Wellington Turman
Vieira picked up his third submission win in four fights with the UFC last time out and now goes up against Turman, who took a split decision win over Sam Alvey last time out after suffering two KO losses beforehand.
Turman is all too hittable on the feet, but he won’t have to worry too much about the possibility of being knocked out in this fight as Vieira has little to offer in the striking department and will be focusing all his energy on getting the fight on the mat, where his high-level Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ability has continually found him success in his career to date.
Turman is more an all-rounder with fairly solid if not spectacular striking, while he is a capable grappler in his own right, if not at the same elite status as Vieira in that department.
If Turman can keep this one standing then the fight is very much in his favor and his cardio advantage could also give him an edge in the second-half of the fight, but I’m not convinced he’ll be able to stop Vieira’s takedown attempts and from there it’s only a matter of time before Vieira secures the submission he needs.
Prediction: Rodolfo Vieira to win by submission in Rd1.
UFC 270 Prelims
(Predicted winners in bold)
Raoni Barcelos vs Victor Henry
Tony Gravely vs Saimon Oliveira
Trevin Giles vs Michael Morales
Silvana Gomez Juarez vs Vanessa Demopoulos
Matt Frevola vs Genaro Valdez
Kay Hansen vs Jasmine Jasudavicius
Ross Cole is one of the most prolific mixed martial arts writers in the world, having written more than 17,000 MMA news stories for MMA Insight, which he founded in 2009 as a way to channel his passion for the sport of mixed martial arts, and reaching millions of die-hard MMA fans in the process.
You can read more of Ross’s work at MMAInsight.com.