LAS VEGAS — The storyline going into Saturday’s UFC 260 main event at the Apex is how much has Francis Ngannou improved since he lost in his first bid to dethrone heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic three years ago.
Miocic, though, wants to remind people that he hasn’t exactly rested on his laurels since winning that unanimous decision at UFC 220 on Jan. 20, 2018.
“He definitely deserves another shot at the title,” Miocic told ESPN. “He’s been on a tear. He’s evolved, he’s gotten better. Fortunately, so have I. I’m the champ and I’m not giving up my belt. There’s no way.”
Miocic (20-3) is the best heavyweight champion in UFC history. The Ohio native, who still works part-time as a firefighter and EMT, has the most successful UFC heavyweight title defenses at four, which is double the next men in that category. Miocic, 38, is coming off a unanimous decision victory over Daniel Cormier in a trilogy bout at UFC 242 last August. He owns wins over former UFC heavyweight champs Cormier (twice), Junior dos Santos, Fabricio Werdum and Andrei Arlovski. The only defeat he has not avenged in his career came against Stefan Struve in 2012.
Ngannou (11-3), meanwhile, is perhaps the most dangerous knockout artist in UFC history. The Cameroon native, who now lives and trains in Las Vegas, has won four in a row, all by first-round KO/TKO. In those past four bouts, the 34-year-old Ngannou has stopped his opponents in 72 seconds or less. He has eight first-round finishes in 10 UFC wins.
In the co-main event, former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley will attempt to stop a three-fight losing skid — and potentially keep his spot on the roster — against the surging Vicente Luque. Woodley (19-6-1) has lost three in a row to the top fighters in the division: champion Kamaru Usman and top contenders Colby Covington and Gilbert Burns. Luque (19-7-1) has been on a tear, winning eight of nine. ESPN has Woodley ranked No. 10 in the world at welterweight and Luque is trying to land a spot among the elite.
Also on the card, popular bantamweight prospect Sean O’Malley returns against Thomas Almeida, rising women’s flyweight fighters Gillian Robertson and Miranda Maverick will face off and Abubakar Nurmagomedov, the cousin of UFC legend Khabib, takes on Jared Gooden in welterweight action.
Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim recap the action as it happens. Purchase UFC 260 here.
Heavyweight: Stipe Miocic (c) (20-3, 14-3 UFC, +115) vs. Francis Ngannou (15-3, 10-2 UFC, -135)
Welterweight: Tyron Woodley (19-6-1, 9-5-1 UFC, +200) vs. Vicente Luque (19-7-1, 12-3 UFC, -240)
Men’s bantamweight: Sean O’Malley (12-1, 4-1 UFC, -330) vs. Thomas Almeida (22-4, 5-4 UFC, +260)
Women’s flyweight: Gillian Robertson (9-5, 6-3 UFC, +140) vs. Miranda Maverick (10-2, 1-0 UFC, -165)
Lightweight: Khama Worthy (17-2, 2-1 UFC, -130) vs. Jamie Mullarkey(12-4, 0-2 UFC, +110)
Light heavyweight: Alonzo Menifield (9-2, 2-2 UFC, -280) vs. Fabio Cherant (7-1, 0-0 UFC, +230)
Welterweight: Abubakar Nurmagomedov (15-3-1, 0-1 UFC, -240) vs. Jared Gooden (17-3, 0-1 UFC, +200)
Light heavyweight: Modestas Bukauskas (11-3, 1-1 UFC, +145) vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk (14-4 1 NC, 2-2 1 NC UFC, -170)
Men’s featherweight: Shane Young (13-5, 2-2 UFC, +165) vs. Omar Morales (10-1, 2-1 UFC, -195)
Middleweight: Marc-André Barriault (11-4 1 NC, 0-3 1 NC UFC, -125) vs. Abu Azaitar (14-2-1, 1-0 UFC, +105)