Getting prepared for UFC action this coming Saturday? Here is everything you need to know about the event with our Guide to UFC 260.
Date: March 27, 2021
Location: UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada
Start Time: 10:00 p.m. ET, 7:00 p.m. PT
Where To Watch: ESPN+ PPV
UFC Heavyweight Championship- Stipe Miocic(c) vs. Francis Ngannou
Overall Records: Miocic 20-3, Ngannou 15-3
UFC Records: Miocic 14-3, Ngannou 10-2
Last Fight: Miocic def. Cormier (title fight), UDec, UFC 252 (8/15/20), Ngannou def. Rozenstruik, R1 KO, UFC 249 (5/9/20)
Last Five Fights: Miocic 4-1, Ngannou 4-1
Rankings: Miocic C, Ngannou #1
Betting Odds: Miocic +105, Ngannou -135
Preview: The rematch for the UFC Heavyweight Championship and to determine who truly is The Baddest Man On The Planet is the fight everyone wants to see, and it really feels like the right time for both men to square off again. They fought at UFC 220 in January 2018, which Miocic won by unanimous decision after winning all three rounds. It was a dominant win by Miocic, and it kind of showed that Ngannou was likely rushed into that fight before he was ready. He only had six weeks to prepare for that fight, while he’s been preparing for this fight for what feels like six months. It was apparent after that day that it was likely the two were destined to fight again, but the path to getting there took some twists-and-turns. Both men suffered horrible defeats on the same night nearly six months later at UFC 226, as Miocic lost the heavyweight title to Daniel Cormier, while Ngannou dropped a decision to Derrick Lewis in one of the worst fights in UFC history.
Since that fateful night, Miocic has re-gained the heavyweight title from Cormier and beat him twice to send Cormier into retirement, while Ngannou has won four straight fights by knockout in the first round, all in 71 seconds or less. You could say that Ngannou is coming into this fight with more momentum, and he has clearly improved since that first fight. Something about the consecutive losses, especially the bad loss to Lewis, showed Ngannou he needed to take it back to his roots, and not only has his striking improved from the high level it already was, but he’s worked hard on his wrestling, especially for this fight, as he’ll have Kamaru Usman in his corner. Miocic has been knocked out since that first fight, and he did eat some hard punches from Cormier in all three fights, but he’s likely at least at the same level, maybe a little bit better, that he was at in the first fight. He’s also older and been in some wars, and it will catch up to him. Miocic does land more significant strikes per minute, but that is more due to when Ngannou actually lands, the fight is generally over.
Miocic will likely be looking to use his wrestling again in this fight, and the smaller Octagon at the UFC’s APEX in Las Vegas could be both beneficial or a detriment. It could give him less room to set up the takedowns, but it could also mean less move for Ngannou to find an opening for a knockout blow, which then opens it up for Miocic to work against the fence. Miocic is going to have to play to his strengths in this one, far more than Ngannou will have to. Ngannou is actually the slight betting favorite in this one, and I feel like the momentum is more in his favor coming into the rematch. This feels like I could go either way, but I like the challenger in this one, setting up a potential trilogy bout or an even bigger bout with Jon Jones before 2021 is up.
Welterweights- Tyron Woodley vs. Vicente Luque
Overall Records: Woodley 19-6-1, Luque 19-7-1
UFC Records: Woodley 9-5-1, Luque 12-3
Last Fight: Covington def. Woodley, R5 TKO, UFC On ESPN+ 36 (9/19/20), Luque def. Brown, R2 KO, UFC On ESPN+ 31 (8/1/20)
Last Five Fights: Woodley 2-3, Luque 4-1
Rankings: Woodley #7, Luque #10
Betting Odds: Woodley +200, Luque -260
Preview: It wasn’t supposed to be the co-main event, but with the loss of the featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega, this gets the bump up, and hopefully it doesn’t add to the pressure Woodley has to be feeling coming into this one. Former UFC Welterweight Champion Woodley is trying to shake off whatever it is that has become of him, as he enters the fight having lost three straight fights. Not only has he lost three straight, he hasn’t even won a single round since he beat Darren Till in his last welterweight title defense in September 2018. He knows his back is against the wall, but he doesn’t have an easy road in this one going against Luque. Luque is a dangerous fighter who just now finds himself ranked inside the top ten at 170 lbs.. Since losing his UFC debut in July 2015, Luque has gone 12–2, with the only two losses coming to Leon Edwards and Stephen Thompson, who are both in the title picture at the moment.
What may be even more impressive is in those twelve wins, eleven have been by a finish, with eight of those coming by knockout. As much as this is a make-or-break fight for Woodley, the same could be said for Luque. When you look at the wins, only one of them has come against a fighter who has ever been ranked inside the top-fifteen. He beats guys who he’s better than, but also falters against tougher competition. Now, the question is, which one of those does Woodley fall under now? What made Woodley great has disappeared in his last three fights. He hasn’t given the effort to out-strike opponents or try and knock them out, as in his last three fights, which span fifteen rounds, ten of those rounds have seen him land strikes in the single digits. He has also abandoned his wrestling, only going one-for-four in takedowns in the last three. You can say he went against strong wrestlers and grapplers, but he was always viewed as one of those.
He has to show up in this fight, and he should be expecting to receive a blitzing attack from Luque. Luque lands a lot of strikes in his fights, but he also tends to eat a lot as well. He also has an underrated grappling game. This is a tough fight for Woodley to take based on his last three performances, but it will determine his future. If he wins, he will show he has some fight left. If he loses, that could be the end for him. Luque is a big betting favorite in this one, which shows even more that Woodley has a lot to prove. We’ll see which Woodley shows up on Saturday night.
Bantamweights- Sean O’Malley vs. Thomas Almeida
Overall Records: O’Malley 12-1, Almeida 22-4
UFC Records: O’Malley 4-1, Almeida 5-4
Last Fight: Vera def. O’Malley, R1 TKO, UFC 252 (8/15/20), Martinez def. Almeida, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 38 (10/17/20)
Last Five Fights: O’Malley 4-1, Almeida 1-4
Betting Odds: O’Malley -315, Almeida +245
Preview: Two bantamweights who were thought of as future title challengers look to get back on track in this one. O’Malley is coming into this fight looking to rebound from his first career loss, though, if you were to tell him that, he’d tell you different, as he keeps up with his claims that he is undefeated because he only lost his last fight because he injured his ankle. Regardless of what he wants to believe, he lost no matter how you slice it, and the way he’s been acting has been rubbing a lot of people the wrong way, definitely hurting his popularity in the process. Almeida comes into this one having lost three straight fights, and four of his last five, after starting his career with a perfect 21-0 record. He last fought in October, which was his first fight in 33 months, as he was recovering from numerous injuries, including severe eye and vision issues. When he was at his peak, he was a proven finisher, as 21 of his 22 professional wins have been by stoppage, including 17 knockout wins. He’s back at bantamweight for this one, where his losses in the division have come to Cody Garbrandt, Jimmie Rivera and Rob Font, so he’s losing to top opponents.
O’Malley is going to have the height and reach advantage in this one, and he’s going to need to use it. He fights better when he is on the outside and can utilize his range, as he throws all kinds of kicks. Almeida is a heavy hitter inside the pocket, but has trouble with range fighters. O’Malley lands a lot of strikes and is very accurate, and his striking defense is very underrated. Almeida isn’t as accurate, and he eats more strikes, but his defense is just as good as O’Malley’s. O’Malley is the better grappler, as Almeida had never even attempted a takedown in his UFC career until his last fight, and still has zero career UFC takedowns. However, O’Malley will likely try to be more flash than substance, so he’ll probably be looking for a finish on the feet. Almeida has been on the wrong end of six knockdowns in his UFC career, and O’Malley does have some underrated power in his punches.
This is a really interesting fight, and I’m surprised that O’Malley is such a huge favorite. Again, this is a fight where it is going to come down to which fighter shows up. This is a real tough one to call, and while I favor O’Malley, a win by Almeida wouldn’t be a real shock or upset. This one could be a sneaky good fight.
Women’s Flyweights- Gillian Robertson vs. Miranda Maverick
Overall Records: Robertson 9-5, Maverick 8-2
UFC Records: Robertson 6-3, Maverick 1-0
Last Fight: Santos def. Robertson, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 41 (12/19/20), Maverick def. Jojua, R1 TKO, UFC 254 (10/24/20)
Last Five Fights: Robertson 3-2, Maverick 4-1
Rankings: Robertson #15
Betting Odds: Robertson +135, Maverick -165
Preview: Two young female flyweights get a main card spot due to numerous changes, and it is a great benefit for both of them as the potential is strong in both, especially Maverick. These two went from being scheduled to open the show at UFC 258 last month, which ended up getting cancelled on fight day due to an illness for Robertson, to now being on the main card here on a bigger show. Robertson continues to remain very active as she fights for the fourth time in the span of less than ten months. Maverick makes her second Octagon appearance, and is coming off a very impressive win over Liana Jojua in her debut in October in a fight that was stopped after the first round. Maverick has won four straight fights and at just 23, many are already touting her as someone who will be fighting for a title in the coming years.
Both of these women have been impressive in their young careers, with Robertson scoring seven of her nine wins by stoppage, and Maverick winning six of her eight fights by stoppage. Maverick hasn’t been stopped in her career, while Robertson has been both finished by punches and submitted by armbar in UFC. Striking is definitely not Robertson’s foray and she will be wanting to get this fight to the mat as quickly as possible. Maverick is excellent on her feet, showing raw power in her left hands, but she also has a good submission game if it needs to be called upon. Robertson has UFC experience, as nearly two-thirds of her career has come inside the Octagon. Maverick is the more impressive fighter overall, and Robertson’s need to stay active may catch up to her here (she’s also been doing grappling matches between fights). I like Maverick in this fight and her potential is very high.
Lightweights- Jamie Mullarkey vs. Khama Worthy
Overall Records: Mullarkey 12-4, Worthy 16-7
UFC Records: Mullarkey 0-2, Worthy 2-1
Last Fight: Ziam def. Mullarkey, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 38 (10/17/20), Azaitar def. Worthy, R1 TKO, UFC On ESPN+ 35 (9/12/20)
Last Five Fights: Mullarkey 3-2, Worthy 4-1
Betting Odds: Mullarkey +105, Worthy -135
Preview: The main card opener isn’t a flashy fight on paper and doesn’t scream potential best fight of 2021, but it is a solid match-up with two fighters trying to get back on track. Mullarkey comes into this fight having dropped both of his prior two UFC appearances, which came on the heels of four straight wins to get a UFC contract. In good news for him, both of the losses have come by decision, and many thought he beat Fares Ziam in his last bout, which was a very controversial decision that went against Mullarkey. Many people called that result a bunch of mullarkey. Okay, now that I got that out of the way, his third UFC fight is going to be tough as he fights a worthy opponent (okay, that’s enough) in Khama Worthy, who is looking to rebound from a loss. Worthy was impressive in his first two UFC bouts, finishing Devonte Smith and Luis Pena, but he saw himself finished in 93 seconds at the hands of Ottman Azaitar in September. Worthy has been competing in the sport for quite some time, and his third professional fight was actually a loss to Paul Felder, but along the way Worthy has picked up 16 wins, with nine coming by knockout.
He also has six knockout losses out of his seven overall losses, so he is someone that either finishes or gets finished, which could bold well for an exciting fight. Mullarkey is the younger fighter, but Worthy is the more explosive fighter. Mullarkey doesn’t tend to land a lot of strikes, opting for a takedown and grappling game. His striking accuracy isn’t great, and he tends to get hit a lot. Worthy is going to bring a lot of power and he lands some good punches, and Mullarkey is going to need to avoid being hit. Worthy’s takedown defense is so-so, but he hasn’t really been tested there. Mullarkey is an underrated finisher, as he has eleven of his twelve wins by stoppage, but also two knockout losses. It is close on the betting odds, but I favor Worthy in this one simply due to his power. It could end up being either violent, or a boring decision, but hopefully it leans towards the former.
Start Time: 8:00 p.m. ET, 5:00 p.m. PT
Where To Watch: ESPN & ESPN+
Light Heavyweights- Alonzo Menifield vs. Fabio Cherant
Overall Records: Menifield 9-2, Cherant 7-1
UFC Records: Menifield 2-2, Cherant 0-0
Last Fight: Saint Preux def. Menifield, R2 KO, UFC On ESPN+ 34 (9/5/20), Cherant def. Dennis, UDec, LFA 99 (2/12/21)
Last Five Fights: Menifield 3-2, Cherant 4-1
Betting Odds: Menifield -280, Cherant +220
Preview: A fight that came together Wednesday gets the featured prelim spot on a five-fight prelim card as Menifield welcomes Cherant to UFC. Menifield was preparing to fight William Knight, but Knight had to be pulled from the fight due to COVID-19 protocols, which was the second time that fight was called off. Instead of waiting to fight Knight, Menifield gets a short-notice replacement in Cherant. Menifield has been preparing for Knight for months now, and Cherant isn’t much different in terms of size, though not as powerful as Knight. Menifield is looking to get back on track after dropping his last two fights. Prior to that, he had put together a 9-0 record, with all nine fights being a finish, and only twice had he been past the first round, and those two times the fight ended inside the first 30 seconds of the second round. Something has been missing from his arsenal in his last two outings, and a short-notice opponent may be what he needs to get back on track.
That is not to slight Cherant in any way, who enters on a three-fight win streak. However, Cherant isn’t the finisher that Menifield is, as he’s gone the distance in his last two wins. There will be of equal size in there, and that should favor Menifield. Cherant tends to get hit quite a bit in his fights, and Menifield bringing a lot of power will be the difference. As we’ve seen lately, fighters taking a fight the week of the fight, especially for their UFC debut, hasn’t really worked out. Menifield is hungry and has seen teammates have success lately, and he plans on joining him. You have to give props to Cherant for stepping up, but this one has Menifield’s name written on it to get an impressive win.
Welterweights- Jared Gooden vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov
Overall Records: Gooden 17-5, Nurmagomedov 15-3-1
UFC Records: Gooden 0-1, Nurmagomedov 0-1
Last Fight: Jouban def. Gooden, UDec, UFC 255 (11/21/20), Zawada def. Nurmagomedov, R1 SUB, UFC On ESPN+ 21 (11/9/19)
Last Five Fights: Gooden 3-2, Nurmagomedov 2-2-1
Betting Odds: Gooden +185, Nurmagomedov -235
Preview: A welterweight clash between two fighters in their second UFC appearances goes down here as Gooden welcomes Nurmagomedov back to action for the first time in over a year. Gooden is looking to rebound from a decision loss to Alan Jouban in his debut in November. He has been impressive during his pre-UFC career, with 13 of his 17 professional wins coming by stoppage, seven by knockout and six by submission. He has also been finished only once in his career. Nurmagomedov might have more notoriety for something that happened in a fight he wasn’t in, as he’s most remembered as the man who was punched by Conor McGregor inside the cage in the post-fight melee at UFC 229. That ended up delaying Nurmagomedov’s UFC debut for a year, which ended up coming in November 2019, where he suffered an upset submission loss to David Zawada in the first round. It hasn’t been an easy going for Nurmagomedov, who has just one win in his past four fights, so he will be leaning on all of the coaching he gets from cousin Khabib and the rest of his team to get him out of his funk. He has a good styles match-up with Gooden.
Gooden is primarily a striker who lands a lot of strikes, but eats almost twice as many in the process. Nurmagomedov is not going to scare anyone on the feet, so Gooden’s best chance to win is to keep it on the feet, becasue he has trouble against takedown artists, and that is exactly what Nurmagomedov is. Nurmagomedov will take opponents down and try and dominate from the top, and though he has never been submitted, Gooden has trouble getting up from the ground. It may come down to cardio, which will be a question for Nurmagomedov given the layoff, but not many train harder than his crew does. Gooden is going to have a five-inch reach advantage, so he will need to utilize that to get his striking on point, otherwise it’s going to be a long night. Nurmagomedov is a big favorite, and I’m not sure he should be as big of one as he is, but I like him to pick up his first UFC win here.
Light Heavyweights- Modestas Bukauskas vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk
Overall Records: Bukauskas 11-3, Oleksiejczuk 14-4 1 NC
UFC Records: Bukauskas 1-1, Oleksiejczuk 2-2 1 NC
Last Fight: Crute def. Bukauskas, R1 KO, UFC On ESPN+ 38 (10/17/20), Crute def. Oleksiejczuk, R1 SUB, UFC On ESPN+ 26 (2/22/20)
Last Five Fights: Bukauskas 4-1, Oleksiejczuk 2-2 1 NC
Betting Odds: Bukauskas +130, Oleksiejczuk -160
Preview: Two light heavyweights who are both familiar with losing to Jimmy Crute square off in this one as Bukauskas and Oleksiejczuk look to get back into the win column. Both of them suffered defeats to Crute in their prior bouts, as Crute knocked out Bukauskas in the first round in October, while Crute submitted Oleksiejczuk in February of 2020. That was Bukauskas’ first loss in over four years, and he looks to get a new win streak started in this one. He has an impressive finishing rate, winning ten of his eleven fights by stoppage, with eight wins by knockout. Oleksiejczuk had an impressive start to his UFC career, going unbeaten in his first three UFC bouts, with two knockout wins coming in a combined 2:18. It hasn’t been a good time for him since then, dropping two fights since, with a submission loss to Ovince Saint Preux coming before the aforementioned loss to Crute. Oleksiejczuk has a good finishing record as well, with ten of his 14 wins coming by knockout, but all four of his losses have come by stoppage as well.
Oleksiejczuk is a slugger who likes to pressure his opponents, so Bukauskas is going to need to show some patience in this fight. Bukauskas has a great gas tank and can take the fight into deep waters if needed, and a fight going past the first round favors him more. Oleksiejczuk has trouble defending takedowns, so he will be looking to hit early and often in this one, putting Bukauskas at risk for some early trouble. Bukauskas is going to have an advantage of three inches in height and four inches in reach, but he also tends to get hit often and doesn’t have very good striking defense. Oleksiejczuk is a very accurate striker with a tremendous amount of power, and if the fight gets inside the pocket, it could be a short night for Bukauskas. This fight feels like we are going to get a brutal finish- it’s just a matter of which fighter scores it. I see Oleksiejczuk’s power making the difference in this one.
Featherweights- Shane Young vs. Omar Morales
Overall Records: Young 12-5, Morales 10-1
UFC Records: Young 2-2, Morales 2-1
Last Fight: Klein def. Young, R1 KO, UFC 253 (9/26/20), Chikadze def. Morales, UDec, UFC On ESPN+ 37 (10/10/20)
Last Five Fights: Young 3-2, Morales 4-1
Betting Odds: Young +155, Morales -190
Preview: A fight that looked like it wasn’t going to take place stays on the card as Young and Morales square off in a featherweight bout that could provide plenty of excitement. Both men are coming into this fight off a loss in Abu Dhabi last fall, as Young suffered a knockout loss to Ludovit Klein in September in just 76 seconds. It wasn’t much of a fair fight to Young, as Klein badly missed weight for that one, so he gets a chance for a reset in this one. Morales actually suffered his first career loss on Fight Island when he dropped a decision to Giga Chikadze in October. That ended Morales’ streak of ten straight wins to start his career. It was also Morales’ first fight at 145 lbs., and the second time should be a more clear picture of where he stands, as Chikadze looks to be a high-level fighter, while these two are more of on the same level at the moment.
Morales is going to have the height and reach advantage, and seven of his ten wins have come by stoppage, with five wins by submission. Young has six wins by knockout in his career, and he comes from a team that is well-rounded but very strong in the striking department. This will likely play out completely on the feet. Young is more of a combination striker, while Morales is a power striker. Young will be trying to get his high-volume offense going, but he will eat some power punches from Morales. Morales has finished lightweights in his career, and he throws bombs that look to end nights quickly. Young is tough for sure, but it is likely his volume won’t make up for the power that Morales posseses. I like Morales in this fight, and it has the chance to be a very good fight to get the card going early.
Early Preliminary Card
Start Time: 7:30 p.m. ET, 4:30 p.m. PT
Where To Watch: ESPN & ESPN+
Middleweights- Marc-Andre Barriault vs. Abu Azaitar
Overall Records: Barriault 11-4 1 NC, Azaitar 14-2-1
UFC Records: Barriault 0-3 1 NC, Azaitar 1-0
Last Fight: Barriault NC Piechota, UFC On ESPN 11 (6/20/20), Azaitar def. Miranda, UDec, UFC Fight Night 134 (7/22/18)
Last Five Fights: Barriault 1-3 1 NC, Azaitar 5-0
Betting Odds: Barriault -130, Azaitar -130
Preview: The opening bout of the card is a middleweight bout between two fighters on complete ends of the spectrum when it comes to their careers, and this is a crossroads fight for both in some ways. Barriault comes into the fifth fight of his UFC career, yet he does not have an official win on his UFC record. After signing with UFC on the heels of an 11-1 record, Barriault dropped his first three UFC fights, although all came by decision. In a must-win on the final fight of his deal, he came out and scored a second-round finish of Oskar Piechota in his last fight, only for the win to get stricken from his record due to failing a post-fight drug test for low levels of ostarine. He got cleared by USADA due to it being from a contaminated substance, but the NSAC still took the win away, but Barriault gets another chance in this one to get his first official win. Azaitar comes into this fight unbeaten in his last ten fights, and it’s been over eight years since his last loss.
It also has been almost three years since his last fight, as he hasn’t been in action since a decision win in July 2018. He had a pair of fights that he was forced out of last year, with the last one being a result of a USADA suspension, which ends two days before this fight takes place. While he comes from a family of fighters, he isn’t as talented as his brother, Ottman, and this is a tough assignment for him coming off of 30 months of inactivity. Azaitar is a brawler with underwhelming grappling, while Barriault is a power striker with great takedown defense. Barriault lands more per minute and is more accurate on the feet, and he gets stronger as the fight goes on. Azaitar is going to have to finish this early, but Barriault is also very tough to finish. I see Barriault weathering an early storm and breaking Azaitar down as minutes go by and finishing him late in the second or in the third. This could be a solid fight to open the show.