Actual or not: Stipe Miocic-Francis Ngannou at UFC 256? Brian Ortega’s title quest? Tony Ferguson to 170?

The UFC is not missing intriguing most important occasions for its remaining 2020 schedule. A type of, nevertheless, the Kamaru UsmanGilbert Burns welterweight title struggle, was recently postponed, and the UFC 256 card on Dec. 12 wants a brand new most important occasion.

Will the UFC flip to considered one of its most extremely anticipated matchups — Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou for the heavyweight crown — to headline its final pay-per-view occasion of the 12 months?

Miocic earned a convincing unanimous choice win over Ngannou in January 2018. However Ngannou, maybe the UFC’s most intimidating fighter, has been on a roll with 4 straight first-round finishes.

Talking of potential fireworks, Saturday’s UFC Battle Evening most important occasion mustn’t lack for pleasure, with high featherweight contenders Brian Ortega and Chan Sung Jung — higher generally known as “The Korean Zombie” — squaring off.

There’s bad blood with this matchup, however there’s additionally a possible title shot on the road for the winner. Jung has received two straight, each first-round stoppages. Ortega, in the meantime, hasn’t fought in almost two years since shedding a featherweight championship bout to Max Holloway. Would beating Jung be sufficient for Ortega to earn one other crack on the title?

Tony Ferguson would little doubt love a title shot. He almost had one, however his scheduled light-weight title struggle with Khabib Nurmagomedov fell via amid the coronavirus pandemic. Ferguson as a substitute took on Justin Gaethje for the interim light-weight championship and misplaced, snapping his 12-fight win streak.

Ferguson will flip 37 in February, though he seems removed from being over the hill. However would a move to welterweight assist him? He fought at 170 earlier in his profession and a weight minimize would not be so drastic.

ESPN MMA specialists Ariel Helwani, Phil Murphy, Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim check out what’s actual and what’s not.

Actual or not: With Kamaru Usman-Gilbert Burns off, the very best substitute headlining struggle for UFC 256 is Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou 2

Helwani: It will actually be a pleasant possibility, and it’s one which the UFC has thought of, although I am instructed that date would not work for the heavyweight champ, Miocic. An alternative choice they’ve explored is Jorge Masvidal vs. Colby Covington, however they’re far aside on that one.

This is what I might do: I might transfer the Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jennifer Maia ladies’s flyweight title struggle, which is scheduled for UFC 255 on Nov. 21, to UFC 256 on Dec. 12. It is just some weeks later. Not an enormous deal. As we all know, Amanda Nunes vs. Megan Anderson is already on the Dec. 12 card, and I actually like the concept of the 2 greatest feminine fighters within the UFC — and, dare I say, the world — Nunes and Shevchenko, combating on the identical card. I might then e book Conor McGregor vs. Dustin Poirier on the Nov. 21 card and maintain the Deiveson Figueiredo vs. Alex Perez flyweight title bout on the 255 card. Make McGregor vs. Poirier the five-round most important occasion, with the flyweights benefiting from being on the identical card within the co-main. Et voila! Everybody wins.

The UFC is in an awesome spot. It is had a very nice pay-per-view run because the pandemic and has a ton of big-time fights within the oven (remember about Israel Adesanya, who instructed me two weeks in the past he’d like to struggle in December), however I like this state of affairs greatest.

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1:14

Anderson Silva discusses his struggle vs. Uriah Corridor and says it may very well be the ultimate considered one of his storied profession.

Wagenheim: Silva was as soon as the best fighter on the earth and probably the most intoxicating to observe. However he is 45 years outdated now and has misplaced a step. He has additionally misplaced his previous two fights — and 6 of his final eight. He’s within the midst of a bleak, uninspiring run throughout which, since 2012, he has only one victory to indicate for his seven journeys contained in the Octagon.

And but, I am not able to declare that Corridor is an excessive amount of for even this humdrum model of Silva to deal with.

Silva already was over the hill and a step behind when he confronted Michael Bisping in 2016, and later that 12 months he did not belong within the cage with Daniel Cormier, who was mild heavyweight champion on the time. Silva should not have been fed to Israel Adesanya, who was 14 years youthful and in his prime, after they met final February. He was overmatched even in his most up-to-date struggle, a first-round TKO loss to Jared Cannonier in Might 2019.

However Corridor? He has received his previous two fights and at all times has been bursting with potential — and he would possibly very effectively notice that potential in a spectacularly violent manner on Oct. 31. However by no means is he a mismatch for Silva. The truth is, contemplating Corridor’s flashy standup type, this may very well be the proper pairing, one that may rekindle the outdated Silva sparkle yet another time.

Dana White has stated this would be the final time we see Silva within the Octagon, and as UFC president, he can have a say within the matter. However Silva deserves a swan-song showcase in opposition to a fellow legend of comparable classic. How about Mauricio Rua? “Shogun” is simply 38, however he is on the similar place in his vaunted profession as Silva is in his. As quickly because the pandemic eases, this is hoping the UFC treats its Brazilian followers to a conflict of all-time greats.

Actual or not: Brian Ortega is able to get one other crack on the title if he beats Chan Sung Jung

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Brian Ortega describes the timeline of when he began to need extra from his coaching camp and ulimately why he determined to make a change.

Okamoto: Actual, which is fairly loopy contemplating Ortega hasn’t received a struggle in over two years, and the final time we noticed him, he was completely outclassed by then-champion Max Holloway. And what makes it even crazier is the 145-pound division is nice. Actually good. There are a number of contenders right here. So, how would Ortega be worthy of a title shot? In my view, nearly as good as this division is, nobody has set himself aside within the final 12 months or in order a No. 1 contender. Zabit Magomedsharipov hasn’t been extraordinarily lively. Identical with Yair Rodriguez. Calvin Kattar has been nice, however he misplaced to Magomedsharipov final 12 months. Josh Emmett is coping with an harm. Ortega and Zombie are clearly the highest contenders proper now, exterior of Holloway (who’s in a bizarre spot coming off a controversial second loss to Alex Volkanovski), and so they’re combating in a five-round most important occasion. I am fairly assured the winner of this struggle will face Volkanovski subsequent, particularly since he is been fairly adamant he doesn’t intend to struggle Holloway once more immediately.

Actual or not: Tony Ferguson ought to severely contemplate shifting to welterweight

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Tony Ferguson speaks with Ariel Helwani about why he is not combating at UFC 254 in opposition to Dustin Poirier or Michael Chandler.

Raimondi: The thought is certainly value contemplating. One has to marvel how a lot the fixed chopping to light-weight has taken a toll on Ferguson’s physique through the years. He has by no means missed weight and absolutely he is a professional at chopping. However there are solely so a lot of these steep cuts you may make. Ferguson is 6 toes tall. He walks round effectively north of 155 kilos, in fact. Ferguson has stated at instances he has touched 200 kilos exterior of coaching camp. That is not a small man by any stretch.

I do not suppose it is controversial to say Ferguson did not appear to be himself in opposition to Justin Gaethje in that Might loss at UFC 249. It is unimaginable to know if the burden minimize performed an element, however Ferguson minimize the burden twice in a three-week stretch. He needed to indicate he may hit championship weight the day earlier than what was initially scheduled to be a light-weight title struggle with Khabib Nurmagomedov. That was ill-advised. Once more, wouldn’t it have mattered within the Gaethje struggle if Ferguson hadn’t accomplished that? It is unimaginable to know.

However welterweight may very well be a practical possibility. Think about Ferguson in opposition to any of the highest 170-pound fighters on the earth. Most of these fights would absolutely be aggressive. There are two guys who have been middle-of-the-pack lightweights after which made strikes as much as welterweight over the previous few years: Jorge Masvidal and Gilbert Burns. I might say they’ve accomplished OK for themselves on the heavier weight. Ferguson may carry out equally — he had a a lot better light-weight run than both of these two.

Additionally, one final concept: How about Ferguson vs. Nate Diaz? That might be extremely, extremely entertaining.

Actual or not: We are going to really get to see Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cutelaba this month

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As Ion Cutelaba is launched, he walks over to Magomed Ankalaev, and the 2 must be separated. For extra UFC, join ESPN+: http://plus.espn.com/ufc.

Murphy: A regulation attributed to a distant relative of mine says, “Something that may go fallacious will go fallacious.” Immediately addressing whether or not the Magomed Ankalaev vs. Ion Cuțelaba rematch will lastly occur looks like tempting the MMA gods. We’re formally 0-for-3 between UFC 249’s postponement and a pair of positive COVID-19 tests in August for Cuțelaba. There isn’t any purpose — aside from perception within the energy of optimistic considering — that UFC 254 will show the one to work. The feeling of impending catastrophe solely rises after final weekend’s card with the very best assortment of finishes I can keep in mind. We’re due for dangerous information.

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Tony Ferguson is the gold normal for cursed fights with 5 swing-and-misses. In 4 tried bookings of Ankalaev-Cuțelaba, by comparability, we have seen 38 extra seconds of motion, and that was interrupted by arguably the worst stoppage of the 12 months. Even the unique assembly touchdown on Leap Day for the primary time in UFC historical past makes it weirder. I will imagine Ankalaev and Cuțelaba will share the Octagon at UFC 254 for a correct uninterrupted struggle when the door shuts behind them and Bruce Buffer steps out of the way in which. Till then, they need to each keep away from black cats, open ladders and mirrors poorly secured. Keep in mind the MMA gods’ creativity in interrupting Khabib-Tony?

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