UFC 259 was an absolute blast of a UFC event, putting names casual MMA fans love (Nunes, Adensaya) right up there with names that hardcore fans love (Islam Makhachev, Petr Yan). The fights were almost all dynamite (with the glaring exceptions), and things look to be even better at UFC 260.
We are breaking down the main card of UFC 260 and making our picks for each of those five fights, although for this event, we have predictions from both Byron Smith and Shade Piper!
Jamie Mallarkey vs. Khama Worthy – Lightweight Bout
Jamie Mallarkey is 0-2 in the UFC and looking to finally put a win on his record, while Khama Worthy is looking to build some momentum in the biggest MMA promotion on the planet. This seems like a buzzsaw matchup, set up to help give Worthy a good win while Mallarkey is given the boot. Mallarkey absorbs about 5 significant strikes every minute, while only dishing out about 2 a minute, which is appealing to a fighter like Worthy, who has won 9 of his 16 wins via knockout. However, Mallarkey is not completely out of this fight before it begins, with a takedown offense that could give him a chance at a submission victory.
Shade Piper: Mullarkey: Ever heard the saying “a hungry dog hunts best”? That’s Mullarkey in this fight. After two tough decision losses (one fight of the night) to start his career, Mullarkey might be fighting for his job in this one and we witnessed Worthy get KO’d in his last bout. I expect a finish and I think Mullarkey is the one who gets it.
Byron Smith: Worthy: Mullarkey loves absorbing blows, and sure, through that, he has shown toughness and an unwillingness to lose, which does not look great on the judge’s scorecards. Worthy has knockout potential, and I expect to see that in a KO finish. Worthy by KO.
Gillian Robertson vs. Miranda Maverick – Women’s Flyweight Bout
In a fight for the right to put a number next to your name, Miranda Maverick is looking to get into the upper echelons of the women’s flyweight division. Meanwhile, Gillian Robertson is looking to show Maverick just how bad that elite club of women is. This is likely to become a wrestling match, with both Robertson and Maverick having most of their past success on the mat. Maverick is the taller, longer fighter, but on the ground, that barely matters.
Shade Piper: This is a homer pick because Maverick is from my hometown, but she’s clearly the better fighter and I will be putting money down on this one. Robertson will likely try to work on the mat and Maverick is better there but stout enough to keep it on the feet if she wants. Clearly the better striker as well, I think Maverick ends this one early either on the feet or with some vicious ground and pound.
Byron Smith: Maverick is by far the better fighter here, with the ability to win on the ground or the feet. Robertson has a chance, but she is going to have to be faster than Maverick, which I do not see happening. Maverick is going to end this fight on the ground with some ground and pound, probably following up a knockdown. Maverick by TKO.
Sean O’Malley vs. Thomas Almeida – Bantamweight Bout
In case the first two matches are disappointing or are not quite the style the casual fans are looking for, how about some fireworks? Seam O’Malley is a striker with scary knockout power, while Almeida is a puncher who will throw until his lights go out. Almeida is going to come out hungry, having suffered three losses back to back to back, while O’Malley is going to be angry after losing his perfect record in August. O’Malley is coming off a serious foot injury very quickly, which is concerning, but obviously not too bad, or else he would not be fighting.
Shade Piper: Now, I’m still scared to death over the foot thing but in hopes of it not being a permanent concern I’m taking Sugar Sean to get back on track with a KO, stomps out the foot concerns, and shoots back up into the top 15.
Byron Smith: O’Malley should be 13-0 but that foot injury was disgusting and Vera and his corner were way too smart not to immediately jump on it. O’Malley has knockout power, and Almeida has a knack for getting knocked out. Sure, if that foot is still injured, Almedia may be able to punch his way into a decision victory, but I bet O’Malley can knock his lights out one-footed if he has to. O’Malley via KO.
Tyron Woodley vs. Vicente Luque – Bantamweight Bout
Fun Fact: despite being ten years younger, Vicente Luque has actually fought one more professional fight than Tyron Woodley. Tyron Woodley comes into this fight at 38 years old, which is fairly high for any combat sports promotion, let alone the UFC. He is also coming into this fight off of three back to back to back losses, although the fighter he took L’s from are no slouches (the champion, Kamaru Usman, Robert Covington, and Gilbert Burns). Vicente Luque is coming into 2021 after 2020 that saw him go 2-0 with only knockout victories.
Shade Piper: Woodley looks well past done and I don’t expect that to change. Luque may not ever be as good as T Wood in his prime but at this point, Woodley would be very “Luque” to make it out of this fight with a W.
Byron Smith: I hate when the UFC lets these legends continue to fight well past their obvious finish line because it feels wrong watching them get mauled. It happened with Aldo last year, and it is going to happen with Woodley now. Luque by KO.
Stipe Miocic (C) vs. Francis Ngannou – Heavyweight Title Bout
Many hardcore UFC fans will tell you that they hate the “One punch is all it takes” storyline and promo package that UFC seems to do for every heavyweight main event. However, for this matchup, it can not be more true.
Francis Ngannou has more power behind his punches than maybe anyone has ever had in UFC history. One clean blow from Ngannou can end any fight, at any time. He looks fitter than any human should be allowed to be, and this new physique has been the driving force behind getting his career back on track.
Meanwhile, Stipe Miocic is the second most dominant champion in the UFC right now (Amanda Nunes would be number one) and has already earned a spot among the top heavyweight legends in UFC history. He is resilient, smart, and one of the wrestlers in UFC history.
Shade Piper: Ngannou could KO Stipe at any time and that scares the heck out of me… but I have zero faith in Ngannou if unable to get an R1 finish. Miocic is a grinder and I think he plays it smart in the first couple of rounds and likely tries to wrestle a little and if he’s able to do that I think he easily wins a decision same as last time.
Byron Smith: If this fight goes to championship rounds, you can bet the house on Miocic, but that requires Miocic to survive three rounds of Ngannou’s strikes. Ngannou is going to be hunting for Miocic early, putting all of his energy into those first few rounds, and there just is not a way for Miocic to avoid him that long without sacrificing rounds on the scorecards. Ngannou is going to catch Miocic, and I think it is early. Ngannou by KO.