The UFC rolls into Chicago on July 23rd for UFC on Fox 20, and today, the UFC have announced that rising heavyweight star Francis Ngannou will fight for the third time inside the octagon against Bojan Mihaljovic.
Ngannou (7 – 1), fighting out of the MMA Factory in Paris, France, has certainly made waves in his two fights for the UFC so far. In his promotional debut in late 2015, the heavy-handed Frenchman scored a vicious, one-uppercut knockout win over Luis Henrique. Following that win, fans were eager to see Ngannou fight again and they got their wish at UFC Zagreb in April of this year. Ngannou faced another young, upcoming fighter in Curtis Blaydes on that occasion – a fight many believed to be bad news stylistically for the striker against a strong wrestler in Blaydes. As it turned out, Ngannou would display his improving all-round MMA ability by stuffing many of his opponent’s takedowns and scrambling to his feet each time Blaydes managed to complete one. Ngannou made the most of the stand-up exchanges, showcasing his fluid striking to take complete control of the fight. At the end of the second round, the damage Ngannou caused to Blaydes face was such that, due to the fact he could no longer see out of one of his eyes, the doctor was forced to call an end to the fight, with Ngannou improving his UFC record to 2 – 0.
If the name Bojan Mihaljovic (10 – 3) sounds familiar, then it is because the 36-year-old was previously scheduled to fight in the UFC. In fact, his intended opponent was Ngannou himself at UFC Zagreb and his withdrawal led to Blaydes stepping in. The Croatian lost the first 3 bouts of his professional career before embarking on a 10-fight winning streak that included 4 knockout and 2 submission victories. After a false start to his UFC career, there is no doubt that Mihaljovic will be raring to finally get into the Octagon on July 23rd and show the MMA world what he is capable of by knocking off arguably the brightest prospect in the UFC heavyweight division in Ngannou.
UFC on Fox 20 will take place on July 23rd from the United Centre in Chicago, Illinois. The main event will feature former women’s bantamweight champion, Holly Holm, as she looks to get back to winning ways against talented striker, Valentina Shevchenko. With the addition of Ngannou vs Mihaljovic, the card now looks as follows:
UFC on Fox 20 Fight Card (Bout Order TBC):
- Holly Holm vs Valentina Shevchenko
- Anthony Johnson vs Glover Teixeira
- Edson Barboza vs Gilbert Melendez
- Alex Oliveira vs James Moontasri
- George Sullivan vs Hector Urbina
- Ryan LaFlare vs Alexander Yakovlev
- Luis Henrique vs Dmitry Smolyakov
- Felice Herrig vs Kailin Curran
- Eddie Wineland vs Frankie Saenz
- Tony Martin vs Michael Prazeres
- Francis Ngannou vs Bojan Mihaljovic
Darren Till vs Stephen Thompson set for February 24th in England
Wow! Nobody could have expected this news this morning. Dana White has stated he is moving the UFC Fight Night card in Orlando, Florida to the UK so rising star Darren Till (16-0-1) can face Stephen ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson (14-2-1) in his backyard.
According to Lance Pugmire of the LA Times, Dana White revealed the news during a Q&A in Santa Monica, California.
Dana White says he’s moving his UFC card from Orlando, moving it to England so popular Darren Till can fight @WonderboyMMA
— Lance Pugmire (@latimespugmire) November 8, 2017
Logistically this fight has its problems. White didn’t state that the fight was scheduled to take place in Liverpool, I assume that is plan A for the UFC though. However, on the 24th the Echo Arena in Liverpool is booked by the UK MMA promotion, Cage Warriors.
Although White may be able to throw some money at the promotion, it is unlikely they’ll budge. Another possibility is to co-promote an event with Cage Warriors, but that’s even more unlikely, even though the concept is a great one.
The fight would not make sense in another UK city like Glasgow, Birmingham or Newcastle. Making the fight is strange if it’s unable to be in Liverpool, or at the top of the UFC London card.
The event would be three weeks before UFC London, which is unheard of for events over in Europe. Normally England would be lucky to get two events in a year, let alone a month. Which makes you think it will either be one or the other. European cards are never typically stacked and having two in the space of three weeks in one country would eat into the quality on show in each card.
Could this be another case of Dana White talking too soon, or are we set for two mega UFC fights in the space of three weeks in the UK. We’ll find out soon enough.
Khabib vs Barboza UFC 219 breakdown
Khabib vs Barboza has been made official for UFC 219 and it promises to be an absolute cracker, so in this article, I’m going to give a full breakdown of this fantastic fight.
UFC 219 just got a whole lot better with the addition of Khabib vs Barboza to the main card, Khabib will be hungry to grab a victory in his first fight since his submission win over Michael Johnson at UFC 205.
However, UFC fans will be crossing their fingers and hoping that the fight does happen as Khabib has been scheduled to fight in the main event, back in April 2016, but his opponent Ferguson had to pull out of their scheduled main event because doctors had found fluid and blood in his lungs. Khabib also pulled out of there fight at UFC 209 because he was hospitalized trying to cut weight for there highly anticipated bout, which played down his chances at him getting a title shot against McGregor. This fight is a chance for him to once again prove himself to get that title shot. Hopefully, we do not see a repeat of these past scheduled fights for Khabib and hopefully, we can see him back in the octagon for UFC 219.
Now onto Barboza, who is an explosive and aggressive fighter, his last three fights have resulted in three wins for the Brazilian who won his last fight by TKO/KO with his latest loss coming from Ferguson by way of submission at the Ultimate Fighter Finale, back in 2015.
This Brazilian fighter prefers to stand and trade with his opponents and usually outclasses his opponents on the feet, however, most of Barboza’s losses have come by submission, one of those opponents being Michael Johnson (who Khabib beat by submission) so Barboza may want to work on his submission defence and ground game altogether because Khabib is a very dominant fighter who can control the fight and has a strong ground game so he will be looking to take Barboza to the ground.
Barboza needs to try to take control of the fight away from Khabib and keep it stood up to try and outclass Khabib, which will make for a very Interesting bout on December the 30th and many will be tuning in to see how it turns out.
I believe Khabib will walk with the victory over Barboza at UFC 219 in a fight which promises to be exciting and aggressive throughout.
Dan Hooker vs. Marc Diakiese set for UFC 219
Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker will make his 8th UFC appearance when he squares off against Englishman Marc ‘Bonecrusher’ Diakiese at UFC 219 in December. The lightweight bout will take place at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on a card where the main event has yet to be announced.
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) October 24, 2017
New Zealand born Hooker has alternated between wins and losses thus far in his UFC career. However, he is coming off a notable TKO victory over Ross Pearson on home soil, earlier this year in Auckland. The fight was Hooker’s first in the lightweight division as all his previous bouts in the UFC had been at featherweight. Hooker looked flawless in his performance against the seasoned veteran Pearson, where he landed a vicious knee to win by KO in round two. It’s no surprise to see the Kiwi stick around 155 pounds and as he goes for back-to-back wins for the first time in the Octagon.
While Hooker looks for a second consecutive victory, Marc Diakiese aims to avoid two straight losses. The 24-year-old had his momentum derailed on his last visit to ‘Sin City’ in July, losing a split decision to Drakkar Klose. He started in the UFC with three consecutive wins that included a 30 second 1st round KO, and a TKO win on his debut in his hometown of Manchester, this time last year. Diakiese tends not to waste too much time in the cage with six career wins coming within the first round.
Both fighters are notable up-and-coming prospects in their respective countries and the contest has the potential to be stand-out on the card. Dan Hooker has great versatility and has a proven record of finishing fights by submission or knock-out. While arguably not as well rounded as Hooker, Diakiese will be the more powerful and aggressive of the two and will likely attempt to dictate the pace of the fight.
A win for either man will mean a significant step towards the elite top 15 at lightweight, especially on a big stage – that being the UFC’s marquee final pay-per-view of the year.
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