Adam Martin’s GPP Plays and Cash Game advice for UFC 260: Miocic vs. Ngannou 2
It’s that time again, as the UFC is back with another big pay-per-view event this weekend in Las Vegas. UFC 260 goes down on Saturday night, with the card being headlined by UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou in a rematch between elite athletes. You can read my breakdown for that fight and the 10 total bouts scheduled to take place on Saturday night in my complete UFC 260 fantasy and betting preview below. Let’s dive in.
UFC 260 Card
Francis Ngannou ($8400) vs. Stipe Miocic ($7800)
The main event of UFC 260 is a rematch between UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou. In the first fight back at UFC 220 in January 2018, Miocic won a unanimous decision as an underdog. Once again, the champion is the underdog here, though the odds are shorter than last time. Despite the fact Miocic dominated Ngannou the first time these two met, it’s Ngannou who is the favorite to win the belt. That’s going to seem strange to a lot of people, but it’s far from the first time the defending champion was the underdog. Ngannou being labeled the favorite is a mix of hype on him and the fact that he has the tools to win this time around.
Ngannou is the hardest puncher in the sport, by far, and he’s defeated his last four opponents — Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Junior dos Santos, Cain Velasquez, and Curtis Blaydes — in less than five minutes combined. He just has massive fists, and if he connects on anyone’s chin in the UFC heavyweight division, they can be knocked out just like that. It’s truly amazing how much power he has. He’s definitely not the most technical fighter, but he doesn’t need to be. Ngannou can wing a bomb from his waist and land on anyone and finish them. He’s done it time and time again in the UFC, and he’ll have to land that big blow if he wants to beat Miocic in this rematch.
In the first fight, Ngannou wasn’t able to land that big punch early on, and after that, it was all downhill from there. Miocic was able to outstrike Ngannou on the feet, take him down at will, and control him on the mat for 25 minutes. It was very impressive what he did, but it was three years ago, and both men are different now. Miocic is 38 years old, and since the first Ngannou fight, he has been in three wars with Daniel Cormier. Although Miocic won the trilogy 2-1, he took a ton of damage in those three fights and got knocked out in the first meeting. It’s not the first time Miocic has been knocked out in his UFC career, either. And considering he’s getting up there in age, he really needs to watch out from being hit by a big Ngannou punch.
If Miocic can survive the first round, he’ll have the advantage in the cardio the rest of the fight. But I don’t think he makes it out of the first round. Ngannou has been far more aggressive lately, and mentally he’s in a much better spot than he was the first time these two met. It’s a heavyweight fight, meaning higher variance, but I have to go with Ngannou. The first time I saw him step foot into the Octagon, I said this was going to be a future UFC champion, and I think we will finally see it this weekend. My pick is Ngannou to score a first-round KO and become the new UFC heavyweight champion. That being said, heavyweight has more variance, so don’t put all your eggs in one basket here. But I think Ngannou wins, and he has big DFS upside, as well.
Pick: Francis Ngannou
Vicente Luque ($9100) vs. Tyron Woodley ($7100)
The co-main event is a welterweight bout between Vicente Luque and Tyron Woodley. This is a must-win fight for Woodley, who has lost his last three in a row, while Luque enters this fight having won eight of his last nine fights. At first, I thought this line was a bit high on Luque, but after digging into this matchup more, I really don’t see how you can bet on Woodley. He’s just not the same fighter he once was. He refuses to throw, he gets taken down at will now, and he backs up against the fence in almost every fight. Woodley’s best weapon over the years has been his big right hand, but we haven’t seen it land in a long time now. Even though Woodley has more experience, he’s 38 years old and appears to be on a huge decline in his career.
It’s the opposite for Luque, who is emerging as one of the sport’s top welterweights. He’s an absolute savage who takes pleasure in systematically picking apart his opponents. Almost all of his UFC wins have come by stoppage, and he’s able to finish his opponents both on the feet and the mat. He throws a high volume of strikes and keeps a pace that’s hard for his opponents to keep up with. He’s also really worked on his takedown defense, so even if Woodley goes to his wrestling he will be hard to take down to the ground. In this matchup, Luque holds a two-inch height advantage, a one-inch reach advantage, and he’s nine years younger. It’s the biggest test of Luque’s career to date, but it’s a test that he can pass.
I really wanted to like Woodley here, but there wasn’t much that I saw that would lead me to believe he has much of a chance to win this fight. Outside of landing a big right hand, I can’t see Woodley getting the victory. I think Luque uses his varied striking attack to pick apart Woodley from the outside and win on points. Woodley is very durable, and I believe he can make it the full 15 minutes, but I expect Luque to get his hand raised. The price is high on Luque at $9100, but I do think he wins this fight. If he can finish Woodley, he’ll be worth his price tag and then some.
Pick: Vicente Luque
Sean O’Malley ($9200) vs. Thomas Almeida ($7000)
The bantamweights are in action as Sean O’Malley fights Thomas Almeida in what is sure to be a crowd-pleasing fight between two strikers. Starting with O’Malley, it’s worth noting that he is coming off of his first career loss, a TKO defeat to Marlon Vera. He suffered an injury in that fight right before the finish, but anytime you see a young fighter coming off of such a brutal loss, you have to have question marks. That being said, before the fight with Vera, O’Malley was very much looking like a future contender at 135lbs. He has absolutely insane punching technique and power, and we’ve seen it on display in the Octagon against the likes of Eddie Wineland.
That being said, he keeps his hand very low, and I don’t like that. I also think O’Malley can be controlled by a superior grappler. But with his movement, length, and reach, he’s a problem for everyone in the standup. Against Almeida, O’Malley sports a three-inch height and two-inch reach advantage. He is also the younger fighter by three years in this matchup with Almeida.
Getting to Almeida, at one point in time about five years ago, I really thought this guy was going to be a champion in the UFC. He was knocking out pretty much everyone in his path until he met Cody Garbrandt in 2016, and ever since then, his career has gone downhill. Almeida rides into this match having lost four of his last five fights. His last outing against Jonathan Martinez last fall was his first fight in three years, and he was pretty much outgunned the entire time. I still think Almeida has the skills on the feet, but his chin is leaving him gunshy to take more risks.
I have to go with O’Malley in this one. Ultimately, I don’t think he’s as good as some say he is, but this is a good matchup for him. O’Malley should be the more defensively-sound fighter, and he should be able to catch Almeida at some point and knock him out. At $9200, you are hoping for a finish because a decision just won’t muster it. I have some question marks about O’Malley’s durability, but he should still be able to go out there and beat this version of Almeida.
Pick: Sean O’Malley
Miranda Maverick ($8800) vs. Gillian Robertson ($7400)
Women’s flyweights fight when Miranda Maverick takes on Gillian Robertson. This fight was originally slated for the prelims but was elevated to the pay-per-view when several other fights were scratched, and I’m excited to see what these ladies do with this big opportunity. Starting with Maverick, I like everything about her. Only 23 years old, Maverick is rapidly improving as an MMA fighter every time we see her. She won a one-night tournament in Invicta FC and parlayed it into a UFC contract. We saw in her Octagon debut her striking on display when she defeated Liana Jojua via TKO (doctor stoppage). She was accurate and powerful in that fight and was able to force the stoppage. But in addition to her striking, I also like her grappling. Watching her career unfold, it’s been super impressive to watch Maverick improve that aspect of her game.
Maverick will need her grappling to be on point because she is taking on one of the best grapplers in the division here in Robertson, who is an absolute wizard when she’s in the top position on the ground. That’s the key to Robertson’s game: being on top. Because when she’s on top, she dominates her opponents, as we saw against Cortney Casey and Politana Botelho. The problem with Robertson is if she can’t implement her game, she breaks and crumbles. She is not good on the bottom, as we saw against Taila Santos, as she has almost no striking to speak of whatsoever. For her to beat Maverick, she’ll have to take her down to the ground. But after seeing the improvements in Maverick’s defensive grappling, that is going to be hard to do.
I like Maverick here. She’s by far the more well-rounded MMA fighter. I still give Robertson an edge in the grappling, but it’s not a huge gap. The biggest gap in this fight is on the feet in the striking, where I think Maverick’s pace will just allow her to piece apart Robertson and take the decision. $8800 is a high price to pay on Maverick, but we have seen Robertson get finished before. Perhaps we could see Maverick score the KO just as Maycee Barber did.
Pick: Miranda Maverick
Khama Worthy ($8600) vs. Jamie Mullarkey ($7600)
In lightweight action, Khama Worthy faces Jamie Mullarkey. This is essentially a striker vs. grappler fight. Worthy primarily likes to fight on the feet, while Mullarkey does his best work on the mat. Starting with Worthy, he’s performed well in UFC thus far, going 2-1 with two upset wins over Devonte Smith and Luis Pena before losing to Ottman Azaitar. Worthy has a ton of power on the feet, and he stays busy. In a striking battle, he’ll be able to beat a lot of fighters in UFC with his punching power. I also think he has an underrated submission game, though his takedown defense isn’t great. Additionally, he has a very questionable chin, and he’s suffered seven TKO losses in his career, including his last fight against Azaitar. That chin is a huge worry for him. It’s unfortunate because he’s a talented fighter who unfortunately has a durability issue.
Meanwhile, Mullarkey has a great chin, as we saw in his war with Brad Riddell a few years ago. He’s the grappler in this fight, and by averaging over four takedowns per 15 minutes, you can look for him to attempt to get this fight with Worthy to the mat right away.
Watching Mullarkey fight, he’s very aggressive in hunting the takedowns, and he’s often successful with them. I’m not really sure what the judges saw in his last fight, but most people thought he beat Fares Ziam. If he won that fight, my hunch is that he would actually be entering this fight with Worthy as the favorite. I think, as an underdog, Mullarkey is being undervalued in this particular spot. Not only is his grappling very good, but I have also seen improvements in his striking. He’s also 26, so he’s eight years younger than Worthy here, and Mullarkey also has a one-inch reach advantage.
Worthy certainly has the KO power to make this fight interesting, but outside of landing a big shot, I think he’s going to struggle in this fight. Mullarkey is just so persistent with his takedowns that I think he’s going to be able to take Worthy down to the mat and grind him out there. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he got a finish here with ground and pound given Worthy’s chin issues. Given that Mullarkey is an underdog with upset potential and the ability to control a fight on the ground with his top control, I think he’s got substantial DK value here as a $7600 dog.
Pick: Jamie Mullarkey
Alonzo Menifield ($8100) vs. Fabio Cherant ($7000)
The light heavyweights face off when Alonzo Menifield meets Fabio Cherant. Menifield was originally supposed to fight William Knight, but he was removed from the card on three days’ notice due to COVID-19 issues and replaced by Cherant, who is making his UFC debut. This is a very similar situation to last week when Tai Tuivasa ended up fighting Harry Hunsucker on short notice and knocked him out in the first round. Like Tuivasa, Menifield is a knockout artist who needs to get a win. And like Tuivasa, he’s fighting a UFC newcomer on short notice.
I wanted to like Cherant because he’s a big underdog here, but I wasn’t impressed with his tape. As far as his striking goes, it’s almost non-existent. He just doesn’t throw much, and he doesn’t have much power. We saw against Aleksa Camur on Dana White’s Contender Series that he can be knocked out. He does have good cardio; I’ll give him that. But since this fight is on short notice, I don’t know how much gas he’s going to have compared to having a full camp. The biggest edge that Cherant will have in this fight is his ground game. He does have very good submissions for a big man. But Menifield is hard to take down, and I think Cherant will struggle.
I was leaning towards Knight to beat Menifield, but this is a completely different matchup, and I lean towards Menifield quite heavily to defeat Cherant. Menifield’s striking is at a completely different level than Cherant, and I believe he will probably score a KO win in this fight. At $8100, you are getting a fighter who can get you a finish, making Menifield an intriguing DFS target.
Pick: Alonzo Menifield
Abubakar Nurmagomedov ($9000) vs. Jared Gooden ($7200)
The welterweights go at it when Abubakar Nurmagomedov takes on Jared Gooden. Let’s be clear here: Abubakar is not as good as his cousin Khabib. He’s not in the same ballpark, at all. But he’s still a decent fighter in his own right, and that’s because of his wrestling-heavy style. In most of Nurmagomedov’s fights, he can get the takedown and get his opponents to the floor. When he’s on top, he’s pretty effective at controlling his opponents. However, we have seen a few times now Nurmagomedov getting submitted and losing as a big favorite. His submission defense is very questionable, and it makes backing him in this spot difficult.
When I watched Gooden’s fights, I made sure to pay close attention to his takedown defense because we all know that Nurmagomedov is going to want to take him to the ground. Unfortunately, what I found was Gooden’s takedown defense isn’t great. He was taken down by many fighters through his pre-UFC career, including a decision loss to Michael Graves in Titan FC in 2019, which concerns me going against Nurmagomedov. If Graves — who normally fights at lightweight — can get Gooden down that often, I suspect that Nurmagomedov will, too.
That being said, I still think Gooden is a live dog here because if he can keep the fight on the feet, he’s the far superior striker in terms of both volume and power. He also has a big reach advantage of five inches, he’s four years younger, and he’s an inch taller, too. However, I think Gooden is going to have a serious problem stuffing the takedowns, and I think Nurmagomedov grinds out a decision. I just don’t know if you can trust him at this price tag considering his flaws.
Pick: Abubakar Nurmagomedov
Michal Oleksiejczuk ($8500) vs. Modestas Bukauskas ($7700)
Two light heavyweights square off as Michal Oleksiejczuk fights Modestas Bukauskas. This should be a fun fight for as long as it lasts because I don’t see it going the distance. Starting with Oleksiejczuk, there’s a lot to like about his game. He has great hands, and he has big power in his hands, as we’ve seen throughout his UFC fights, such as when he knocked out Gian Villante and Gadzhimurad Antigulov. As much as I like his striking, I don’t like his ground game. Other than his UFC debut against another striker in Khalil Rountree, where he used his wrestling to grind out a decision, we’ve seen a lot of flaws from Oleksiejczuk on the ground. He is coming off of back-to-back submission losses to Ovince Saint Preux and Jimmy Crute, looking lost on the floor. He also gassed out bad against OSP, and that really concerns me.
Looking at Bukauskas, his UFC run has been a mixed bag so far. He did look good against Andreas Michailidis in his UFC debut, but he struggled in a KO loss to the aforementioned Crute. Despite that loss, there’s still a lot to like about Bukauskas. He’s the bigger man in this matchup, standing three inches taller and having four more inches in reach, and he has power in his punches, too. He has great takedown defense, as well, so this fight will likely take place on the feet. Or if it does go to the ground, I see Bukauskas being on top as he’s the bigger man.
I don’t like how Bukauskas keeps his chin up in the air, and that’s a real concern going up against an accurate and powerful puncher in Oleksiejczuk. That being said, Bukauskas is a legitimate light heavyweight, while I think Oleksiejczuk is fighting outside of his weight class. I can see Oleksiejczuk having success in the first round, but after that, it goes downhill. I think Bukauskas survives a tough first round and then comes back in the second and gets the win.
Pick: Modestas Bukauskas
Omar Morales ($8700) vs. Shane Young ($7500)
In featherweight action, Omar Morales takes on Shane Young. Starting with Morales, he’s an impressive fighter. I would characterize him as more of a sniper. He waits until the right time to uncork his power, and then he unleashes it in brutal fashion as we saw against Harvey Park on Dana White’s Contender Series and in his flying knee win in Bellator.
Though Morales is 35, he is a bit of a late bloomer to the sport and is still very much in the prime of his career. Despite dropping a decision to Giga Chikadze his last time out, I’m not ready to write off Morales just yet. In this fight, he has a three-inch height advantage and a one-inch reach advantage, both of which should help him in a striking battle. My biggest concern with Morales is his output, as he usually waits to unleash a power shot. Overall, though, I liked what I saw from Morales.
As for Young, he’s definitely an exciting fighter, but he has a lot of flaws in his game. I think he’s extremely hittable and not very aware defensively, and he paid for that his last time out when Ludovit Klein knocked him out in the first round. He keeps his hands way too low. In his two UFC wins over Austin Arnett and Ronaldo Dy, he fought two guys who just stood in front of him and let him tee off. That won’t happen with Morales, and Young doesn’t have the wrestling skills to get the fight down to the mat. I also don’t think Young has much power in his punches.
I’m expecting an exciting fight here, but I have to lean towards Morales. I think he’s the more complete MMA fighter, and he has more power. That being said, Young has the volume, so if he can stay busy and keep from getting caught on the chin, he could win a decision. I feel like it’s far more likely, however, that Morales either edges out a decision or gets the knockout. I don’t feel great about him at this price of $8700, but overall I do believe Morales will win this fight.
Pick: Omar Morales
Marc-Andre Barriault ($8200) vs. Abu Azaitar ($8000)
The middleweights kick off the night as Canadian Marc-Andre Barriault takes on Morocco’s Abu Azaitar. Starting with Barriault, the first thing I want to point out is that this fighter is much better than his UFC record indicates. The 31-year-old Canadian is 0-3, 1 NC in the UFC, but all three of the losses were narrow decision defeats, and the NC was originally a knockout win over Oskar Piechota. Despite the poor UFC record, there’s a lot to like here. “Powerbar” is a big, strong middleweight at 6’1”. He has excellent takedown defense, power in his hands, and good cardio. I also like the fact he’s training at Sanford MMA alongside Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.
Azaitar, meanwhile, has only fought once in the UFC, defeating Vitor Miranda three years ago in Germany. After that, he was suspended by USADA for banned substances, so he’ll be coming into this fight off of a long layoff. Barriault is also coming off of a USADA suspension, but it was only a six-month sanction. Getting to Azaitar’s fighting style, he’s a big, strong middleweight with power in his hands. He is also riding a 10-fight win streak heading into this fight. That being said, I wasn’t super impressed with the tape. Outside of a big right hand, he doesn’t bring much to the table. I question his defensive wrestling and his cardio, especially going against Barriault.
I like Barriault in this fight. From what I saw, he’s the more well-rounded mixed martial artist. As long as he’s careful not to get caught by a big punch in the first round, this fight should be his. Many of Barriault’s fights take place up against the fence, where he grinds and wears on his opponents. I can see the same thing happening here, with him occasionally getting Azaitar to the mat and controlling him. I see Barriault winning this fight by decision. However, he could very well finish Azaitar if he gets tired, making Barriault an intriguing DFS option at $8200.
Pick: Marc-Andre Barriault
MVPs: Vicente Luque ($9100), Alonzo Menifield ($8100)
Live Dogs: Modestas Bukauskas ($7700), Shane Young ($7500)
Avoid: Abubakar Nurmagomedov ($9000), Khama Worthy ($8600)
Francis Ngannou 1.25 to win 1
Marc-Andre Barriault 1.2 to win 1
Miranda Maverick 1.6 to win 1
Jamie Mullarkey 1 to win 1
Modestas Bukauskas 1 to win 1.4
Prop: Bukauskas/Oleksiejczuk doesn’t go the distance 1.75 to win 1
Parlay: Vicente Luque/Alonzo Menifield 2.2 to win 2
For more on UFC 260, check out Duke’s MMA Breakdown!