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Weston DeWitt's UFC 220 Preview: Big hitters ready for big stage in Boston

By - Jan 20, 2018

By Weston DeWitt



UFC 220 on Saturday is the company’s first PPV event of 2018 and it promises to bring a healthy dose of fireworks.


Two of the most coveted prizes in MMA will be up for grabs on Saturday night in Boston, with the heavyweight and light heavyweight straps being put on the line.


But before that, three fights will start off the main card, including the No. 14 ranked bantamweight contender Rob Font. He will square off with Thomas Almeida, a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.


Gian Villante and Francimar Barroso will square off next in the light heavyweight division after the first bout, followed by a featherweight scrap between Calvin Katter and Shane Burgos.


But the obvious buzz and hype for this card is surrounded by the co-main and main event of the evening.


Daniel Cormier lost his last match against his most fierce rival, Jon “Bones” Jones at UFC 214 in July. The man they call “DC” was visibly shaken after getting knocked out in the third round and vacating his light heavyweight belt to his rival.


But on July 28, one day before the fight, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) tested Jones for anabolic steroids. Nearly two weeks later, they confirmed that he had tested positive for Turinabol. He then vacated his belt back to Cormier and the bout was scored as a “no contest”.


“My goal is always go out and dominate and that’s what I’ve done for the vast majority of my career,” said Cormier to reporters last week. “Nothing’s really changed, the only pressure comes from what I put on myself because of the way the last fight (with Jones) ended.”


Cormier fights for the first time since the fiasco and he takes on supreme knockout artist, Volkan Oezdemir, who is as hungry as they come. He is undefeated in the UFC and the last time he was seen in the octagon, he put Jimi Manuwa to sleep with a 42-second knockout at UFC 214.


The 28-year old native of Switzerland has only been in the UFC since February of last year. He is 3-0 with two first-round knockouts.


He is on pace to become one of the fastest UFC champions in history and the man they call “No Time” is well aware of what Saturday brings to the table.


“It is a process and that was my number one goal since I signed with the UFC,” he said. “It’s just about grabbing it and accomplishing that goal. There is only one step left and it is to knockout Daniel Cormier.”

Cormier, the former Olympic wrestler, possesses one of the most lethal ground games the sport has ever seen. Oezdemir’s knockout power earned him the title shot. But Cormier has been in the sport since 2013 and has seen the highs and lows in every capacity and looks to put the painful memory of UFC 214 behind him with a strong performance.


“I think people fall in love with power punchers and I believe it’s just because they are fighting and they finish the fights in no time,” said Cormier. “You can be the fighting, then all of the sudden it’s over. People fall in love with them, but it’s not just about punching hard. This game is about much more. It’s about much more up top mentally, all around mixed martial arts game and experience.”


After Cormier and Oezdemir settle the score for the light heavyweight title, two of the most dangerous men on God’s green earth will take center stage in the main event.


Stipe Miocic has reigned the heavyweight division since he went down to Brazil and silenced nearly 45,000 people when he knocked out Fabricio Werdum. Since then, he successfully defended his belt twice (UFC 203 vs Alistair Overeem and UFC 211 vs Junior dos Santos). And he did it by first round knockouts.


But standing in his way is a specimen like no one in the UFC has ever seen.


No. 1 heavyweight contender Francis Ngannou has taken the UFC by storm and looks to claim what he believes is rightfully his on Saturday night.


Ngannou, the 31-year old budding superstar from Cameroon, is coming off a performance at UFC 218 in Detroit on December 2 that left fans flabbergasted and foaming at the mouth for a matchup with Miocic. The man they call “The Predator” hit then No. 1 contender Allstair Overeem with an upper-cut shot that knocked Overeem out cold, and it took him just a minute and 42 seconds to do it.


After the fight, he proclaimed that Miocic was the “interim” champion.


“I said he was interim champ because I am the real champion for this division,” said Ngannou. “I am the guy that is going to change the heavyweight division.”


Miocic has always had a reputation for being calm and is not much of a trash-talker before fights. For the champ, he assures that can get the fight to the ground and that it’s going be just another day at the office.


“I’ve got a good game plan,” said Miocic. “I’m going to execute that gameplan and walk out as the champ.”



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