The UFC 220 headliner was marketed as the battle for the title of "The Baddest Man on the Planet." If that was the case, there's no argument that Stipe Miocic proved he's the rightful owner of that moniker.
Francis Ngannou was the up-and-comer ready to take the division by storm. He might do that one day, but Miocic was there to prove the day hasn't come yet. Instead, the champ avoided the challenger's early storm and imposed his will Saturday in a unanimous-decision win (50-44, 50-44, 50-44) at Boston's TD Garden.
Miocic came out wrestling from the start. While Ngannou was flailing at air, Miocic ducked under and looked for single-leg takedowns. They weren't all successful, but they got the job done. Eventually, he got the challenger down and started his war of attrition.
It only took about one round for Miocic's plan to take form. The champion started tagging an exhausted Ngannou. The UFC passed along an example:
From there, Miocic put on a clinic. He swarmed Ngannou with pressure and forced him to fight into the third round for the first time.
Miocic also tired toward the end of the bout, but it was as one-sided as a five-round championship clash can be. The win officially makes Miocic the most dominant champion in UFC heavyweight history. He's the first to successfully defend the belt three times consecutively.
In typical Miocic fashion, he spent the post-fight interview expressing his excitement over becoming a father:
He might not be the greatest showman in the business, but at UFC 220 he showed he has an argument that he's the greatest heavyweight in the organization's history.
Miocic's defining moment wasn't the only thing that went down Saturday, though. Here's a look at the rest of the card:
- Stipe Miocic def. Francis Ngannou via unanimous decision (50-44, 50-44, 50-44)
- Daniel Cormier def. Volkan Oezdemir via second-round TKO (2:00)
- Calvin Kattar def. Shane Burgos via third-round TKO (0:32)
- Gian Villante def. Francimar Barroso via split decision
- Rob Font def. Thomas Almeida via second-round KO (2:24)
- Kyle Bochniak def. Brandon Davis via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27)
- Abdul Razak Alhassan def. Sabah Homasi via first-round KO (3:47)
- Dustin Ortiz def. Alexandre Pantoja via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
- Julio Arce def. Dan Ige via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)
- Enrique Barzola def. Matt Bessette via unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)
- Islam Makhachev def. Gleison Tibau via first-round KO (0:57)
Daniel Cormier vs. Volkan Oezdemir
Daniel Cormier is still the UFC light heavyweight champion. DC successfully defended his belt to remind everyone he's the best fighter in the division not named Jon Jones.
Challenger Volkan Oezdemir made things interesting in the opening moments. He came out swinging and landed a few shots but nothing that put Cormier in any danger.
Once DC timed up the Swiss challenger, it was the beginning of the end. Cormier connected with looping hooks that found a home on Oezdemir's chin. The UFC showed off some of his best work:
By the end of the round, Cormier was sinking in a rear-naked choke that would have ended the fight if it weren't for the bell.
It didn't take long for him to pick up where he left off, though. He latched on a single-leg takedown to start the second frame and worked his way into side control where he landed enough uncontested shots to halt the fight.
After the bout, Cormier spent time talking about longtime rival and former light heavyweight champion Jones but quickly changed the topic to his gym and the opportunity they have to rack up the titles in the coming year:
Calvin Kattar vs. Shane Burgos
Calvin Kattar is a name to watch after his impressive third-round TKO victory over Shane Burgos.
The featherweights engaged in a fast-paced striking matchup through the first two rounds. Burgos put the pressure on Kattar, but The Boston Finisher countered his aggression with a slick jab that he used in a variety of ways to set up combinations.
The UFC passed along an example of the kind of exchanges that characterized the fight:
Everything flipped on a straight right in the third and final frame. Kattar followed up a missed jab with a stiff straight right that rocked Burgos and precipitated a combination that would floor him and draw the finish.
Kattar may have just two fights in his UFC career, but with those wins coming over Andre Fili and Burgos on big stages, he's an up-and-comer in the division.
Gian Villante vs. Francimar Barroso
The light heavyweight matchup of Gian Villante and Francimar Barroso wasn't one of the most anticipated fights on the card, and it lived up to that billing. Villante took an uneventful decision win.
The former Hofstra University football player applied pressure by staying in the pocket, but that didn't mean much as Barroso did little to move him from that spot. The UFC passed along one of the few highlights:
It was a solid win for Villante even if it was forgettable. He did what he had to do to get his hand raised, which was keep Barroso's back to the fence and keep the pressure on him.
FightMetric's Michael Carroll noted the poor showing from Barroso:
It was bounce-back win for Villante after back-to-back losses to Patrick Cummins and Shogun Rua, although it's hard to say this does anything spectacular for his stock.
Rob Font vs. Thomas Almeida
Thomas Almeida's slide from up-and-coming phenom to also-ran bantamweight continued when Rob Font landed a vicious knockout in the second round.
Almeida took the early lead in the first frame, landing more efficiently in a tactical striking matchup. Font's volume paid off in the second round, though. The 30-year-old kept attacking, and it paid off when he landed a hard combination that floored Almeida.
Luke Thomas of MMA Fighting gave props to Font for the finish:
Unbelievable performance by Font. Massive rebound win and did it on the outside with the 1-2, against the fence with pressure and then calm, but relentless attacking in the clinch.— Luke Thomas (@lthomasnews) January 21, 2018
Font's triumph was a rebound from a loss to Pedro Munhoz his last time out. The improvements were easy to see from that loss, and he should see a bump up in the rankings.
For Almeida, his once skyrocketing stock came crashing down. After starting his career 20-0, he's 1-3 in his last four fights. Winning his next bout will be pivotal to continuing to get opportunities in the organization.