On the night of March 28, the UFC 260 tournament was held in Las Vegas. In the main duel of the evening, Francis Ngannu knocked out Stipe Miocic and won the heavyweight title. At the same time, in the preliminary card, Abubakar Nurmagomedov fought the first fight in 16 months and took over Jared Gooden. The show was also remembered for the early victory of Sean O’Malley, the fourth consecutive defeat of former welterweight title holder Tyrone Woodley, and the performance of Alonzo Menfield, who won with a rare choke.
The first and to this day the only fight of Khabib’s cousin in the UFC took place in November 2019. Nurmagomedov was considered the clear favorite in the duel with the little-known German David Zavada, but sensationally lost by a choke hold in the first round. Abubakar repeatedly intended to close the defeat, but his health problems prevented it. Partial rupture of ligaments and a hygroma forced him to agree to have surgery on his left hand, and then the coronavirus intervened. As the fighter himself admitted, he had a hard time suffering from the disease, and the recovery took six to seven months.
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Active rumors about his return to the cage began to appear only at the end of 2020. It was assumed that Abubakar will be able to speak at the same tournament with Khabib in October, later it was said about a meeting with an unnamed Brazilian in February, but in both cases the rumors were not confirmed. As a result, the fight with the participation of the Russian was scheduled for the end of March, and the opponent was the former contender for the temporary Titan FC belt, Jared Gooden. During his career, he spent 22 fights at that time, winning 17 of them. At the same time, under the auspices of the largest promotion in the world, only the last one was held. The debut turned out to be unsuccessful – the American lost to Alan Juban by unanimous decision.
Unlike his brother, Abubakar did not immediately try to transfer the opponent to the ground and the first two rounds exchanged with him in a standing position. In the opening, Gooden looked quite impressive: he kept his hands low, but at the same time he moved well and repeatedly hit with jabs. But over time, Nurmagomedov’s pressure began to bear fruit. Already in the middle of the five-minute, he took advantage of Jared’s self-confidence and almost sent him to the floor with a series of punches.
During the break, Khabib and American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendes urged Abubakar to relax and work quietly in the cage. The fighter followed the advice of his mentors and continued to control the course of the battle. Gooden was noticeably inferior and was repeatedly on the verge of defeat. Nurmagomedov was noticeably superior to him in striking technique, at times literally driving around the cage.
Having made sure that the American could not compete with him in the stance, the Russian decided to test his own skills in wrestling and grappling. Considering his defeat by submission to Zawada, as well as the brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Gooden, this was very risky. Nevertheless, Abubakar not only easily dragged his opponent onto the flooring, but also kept him there until the end of the round without any problems. After that, the judges had no questions about the triumphant. Nurmagomedov proved to be stronger in each of the segments and won his first victory in the UFC.
Also, the preliminary card was remembered for two early successes. Marc-André Bario and Abu Azaytar staged an uncompromising duel in a cage, in which the representative of Canada achieved success. In the course of the final, third round, he performed several powerful hits, after which the cap flew out of the German. Instead of defending himself, he tried to put her back in place, but missed a few more times. For a couple of minutes, the North American finished off his counterpart, and four seconds before the gong he forced the referee to intervene.
In contrast, it took Alonzo Menfield just 1 minute and 11 seconds to break down Fabio Ceranta’s resistance and break a streak of two consecutive failures. He immediately transferred the opponent to the ground, where he performed an extremely rare technique – strangling Von Flu. Finding himself half a guard, the American pressed his shoulder on his compatriot’s neck and forced him to surrender.
It is noteworthy that this technique became popular not thanks to its inventor Jason Vaughn Flu, but to another UFC light heavyweight fighter. Ovins Saint-Preu first won a fight with his help in 2014, and subsequently forced his opponents to surrender three more times. It is worth noting that it was he who inflicted his last career defeat on Menfield at the moment. True, then the outcome of the confrontation was decided by a crushing left hook.
At the beginning of the main card, Jamie Mallarkey and Miranda Maverick won. And if the American had to spend all 15 minutes in the cage, then the Australian had 46 seconds. Kama Vorsi could not impose a fight on his counterpart and lost for the second consecutive fight in the UFC. After that, the fans were in for an extremely interesting bantamweight fight, in which Sean O’Malley and Thomas Almeida met. Some time ago, the American was considered a rising star of the division and one of the most talented fighters in the world, but the defeat at Marlon Vera forced many to reconsider their attitude towards him. A leg injury put the Helena native out of action for more than six months, and his prospects no longer seemed so cloudless.
At first, one might have gotten the impression that O’Malley was being overly cautious. Although he worked as the first number, he was clearly not completely confident in himself and tried to protect himself as much as possible from possible low-kicks. But by the middle of the round, Sean began to look noticeably more confident, as evidenced by the spectacular “turntable” on the body. The American perfectly enjoyed the colossal advantage in height (10 centimeters) and worked confidently from a distance, while being much faster than his opponent. Often he just played with him, effectively dodging the Brazilian’s blows and instantly attacking himself.
As a result, the battle lasted almost three rounds, although O’Malley could have completed it already in the first. After a left high kick, Almeida found himself in a groggy state, and a left swing sent him to the canvas. Sean, in his favorite manner, decided to play in public and defiantly did not finish off his opponent, for which he paid. The referee did not stop the fight, and Thomas took advantage of this and managed to get up. It cost the American more than ten extra minutes in the octagon, but in the end he still issued the eighth knockout of his career, throwing himself on the Brazilian who fell on his back and securing the success.
Another star fighter from the promotion was unable to succeed in the anniversary tournament. Tyrone Woodley suffered a crushing defeat for Vicente Luca, which was his fourth in a row. At first, the former welterweight champion looked very good and even had an advantage, but a missed right hook turned everything upside down. For the next 30 seconds, the American was in a standing knockdown and with great difficulty kept his feet, taking all the blows of the enemy. However, this could not last long. The Brazilian transferred his counterpart to the ground and strangled D’Ars.
As for the title fight, the main intrigue was how much its result would differ from the duel three years ago. In January 2018, Stipe Miocic left no chances for Francis Ngann and confidently held his record, third title defense in heavyweight. The American transferred the Cameroonian to the floor six times, and surpassed in significant strikes almost three and a half times (70:21).
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Much time has passed since that moment, however, and Ngannu has made tremendous progress. Subsequently, he spent five fights, in four of which he won, and only in the first round. It took him a total of 2 minutes 42 seconds to defeat former UFC champions Kane Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos, as well as division stars Jairzinho Rosenstrike and Curtis Blades. Therefore, it is not surprising that this time Francis was considered the favorite.
Ngannu did not disappoint expectations and took revenge from Miocic. In the first round, the champion delivered almost four times fewer punches (8:23), and most of them did not pose any danger to the challenger. The Cameroonian dominated: he occupied the center of the octagon, worked as the first number, and in the end of the round he also successfully blocked the takedown. The wrestler of the first division of the NCAA not only could not transfer the opponent to the flooring, but found himself in an extremely difficult position and missed a series of weighty blows to the head.
The second round Miocic started well: he easily moved around the cage, hit the body powerfully and showed with all his sight that the missed punches did not have a serious effect on him. But Ngannu’s next hit was decisive. Miocic flew back into the net, and a few seconds later missed another left to meet. The champion fell, and the referee announced the end of the fight.
Ngannu became the 17th UFC Heavyweight Champion and the first promotion title holder from Cameroon. In addition, he won the tenth victory by knockout and caught up in this indicator with the aforementioned Dos Santos and Velazquez. Only Derrick Lewis has more (12).
Source site russian.rt.com