Stipe Miocic down to fight Jon Jones or Francis Ngannou in UFC return

MMA, Stipe Miocic

In a couple of months, UFC 270 will play host to a massive heavyweight title fight. The heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (16-3) will be defending his title against the undefeated interim champion Ciryl Gane (10-0).

While there is a ton of attention on this title fight, there are a couple of huge heavyweight contenders lurking in the shadows. The biggest one being arguably the greatest fighter of all time in Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC). Jones has been bulking up for over a year anticipating a move to heavyweight.

Lately, the former light heavyweight champion is weighing just under the heavyweight limit at 260 pounds. Jones has been rumored to be the front-runner to face off against whoever wins at UFC 270. However, there’s another contender that’s flying under the radar.

That contender is the former heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic (20-3). Miocic is considered by many to be the greatest heavyweight in the promotion’s history. However, he has a history of being overlooked and essentially disrespected by the UFC.

Last March, Miocic lost his heavyweight title to Ngannou. Despite having gone 8-2 in his last ten which includes six wins in title fights, Miocic has been mostly out of the conversation in terms of the heavyweight title picture.

UFC Return

Back in August when the UFC booked Ciryl Gane against Derrick Lewis for the interim heavyweight title, Miocic wasn’t even considered for the fight. While this has certainly annoyed Miocic, the former champion is taking it in strides as he prepares for his return.

Miocic talked with Ariel Helwani today and the two discussed his UFC return. The former heavyweight champion made it clear that he would fight anyone, however, there are a couple of fights that really interest him.

“I’m down [to fight Jon Jones] … Obviously, I really want that trilogy fight [with Francis Ngannou],” transcribed by MMA Fighting. The UFC and Jon Jones can never seem to get on the same page these days. In my opinion, Jones would be the promotion’s first choice for the winner of Ngannou – Gane.

However, I think Miocic is likely to get the shot given the negotiation issues between Jones and the promotions. It’ll be interesting to watch this play out, but either way, I’m excited to see Stipe back in the octagon sometime next spring.

UFC booking potential title eliminator between Katlyn Chookagian and Jennifer Maia

The UFC has finalized a matchup for January that could prove to be a title eliminator in the women’s flyweight division. MMA.Idea was the first to report that the promotion has finalized a matchup between Katlyn Chookagian (16-4) and Jennifer Maia (19-7-1).

The matchup will take place at UFC 270 which is scheduled for January 15th. This is actually a rematch from UFC 244 in November of 2019. That night, Chookagian was able to get the best of Maia by winning a decision.

Since that defeat to Chookagian, Maia has gone 2-1 with her lone loss coming against the UFC champion, Valentina Shevchenko. Last August, Maia was presented a golden opportunity to fight Joanne Calderwood.

Calderwood was given a title shot, but due to an injury to Shevchenko, the fight was pushed back. Wanting to stay active, Calderwood asked the UFC for another fight. The promotion called Jennifer Maia and gave her the fight.

Maia was able to submit Calderwood in the first round to take away her UFC title shot. She would go on to lose to Shevchenko, but she bounced back against Jessica Eye back in July. Now, she’ll try to avenge her loss to Chookagian.

Second UFC title shot for Blonde Fighter?

Katlyn Chookagian is in a very tough spot in the flyweight division. I think most people would say that it’s clear that she’s the third best flyweight in the UFC. However, there’s a sizeable gap between her and the top two which makes her hard to push as a contender.

Since the start of 2019, Chookagian is 5-2 inside the octagon. She’s defeated Maia, Calderwood, Antonina Shevchenko, Cynthia Calvillo, and Viviane Araujo. However, sprinkled in between those wins are stoppage defeats at the hands of Valentina Shevchenko and Jessica Andrade.

Never the less, given the lack of challengers to Valentina Shevchenko’s brilliance, Chookagian is knocking on the door of another title shot. She’s won back-to-back fights since losing to Jessica Andrade on Fight Island last year.

If she’s able to defeat Jennifer Maia at UFC 270, her three consecutive wins might be enough to warrant another shot at the champion. Either way, this is a huge matchup for the landscape of 125 pounds.

UFC targeting Francis Ngannou – Ciryl Gane for January (Report)

Francis Ngannou

The UFC has kicked off the last couple of years with a bang having Conor McGregor in their featured PPV in January. Well, The Notorious one is on the shelf, but the UFC is planning on a massive PPV for their first event of 2022 without McGregor.

French news outlet La Sueur is reporting that the UFC is in advanced talks to book a heavyweight title fight for UFC 270 on January 22nd. The matchup would pair the heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou (16-3) against the interim champion Ciryl Gane (10-0).

It is also being reported that the rematch between Israel Adesanya and Robert Whittaker will take place in the co-main event. With a heavyweight unification bout in the main event and that rematch in the co-main, it’s clear that UFC 270 is going to be massive.

Ciryl Gane has taken the UFC by storm since he made his debut with the promotion back in 2019. He debuted and he was very green at 4-0. However, he’s continued to get better and better and he’s a perfect 6-0 inside the octagon.

In his last fight, he took on Derrick Lewis for the interim UFC heavyweight title. Gane completely outclassed Lewis on the feet and ended up stopping him in the third round.

UFC Heavyweight Unification

While Gane had a title wrapped around his waste at UFC 265, it was more of a guarantee than a title. That belt guarantees Gane a shot at the current heavyweight champion, Francis Ngannou.

Originally, the UFC wanted Ngannou and Lewis to face off back in August. However, when Ngannou said he wouldn’t be ready until September, the promotion scrapped the plans and gave Gane the shot while putting an interim title on the line.

Ngannou was incredibly frustrated by this decision justifiably so. The champion has won five consecutive fights with the longest one lasting 52 seconds into the second round.

The last time we saw Ngannou was at UFC 260 when he rematched with Stipe Miocic. Ngannou completely dominated the fight and knocked Stipe out cold to claim the heavyweight title. The Predator will look for his first successful title defense in January.

UFC books Greg Hardy – Aleksei Oleinik

The UFC has finalized a matchup between heavyweights for their January PPV. John Morgan of MMA Junkie was the first to report yesterday that the promotion has booked a matchup between Greg Hardy (7-4, 1 NC) and Aleksei Oleinik (59-16-1).

The matchup is expected to take place at UFC 270 on January 22nd. As you can tell by reading his record, Oleinik is going to be competing in his 77th professional fight. The Russian’s first fight came all the way back in 1996.

For context, Greg Hardy was just eight years old when Oleinik made his professional MMA debut. He’s fought all over the world but Oleinik made his way to the UFC back in 2014.

Oleinik has had a very solid run with the UFC going 9-7 during his sixteen fights with the promotion. He’s been in there with some of the very best in the world and has wins against the likes of Travis Browne, Mark Hunt, and former heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum.

The last time we saw Oleinik was back in June when he lost a decision to Sergey Spivak at a UFC Fight Night. At 44 years old and having lost three in a row, this could be a do-or-die fight for Oleinik.

UFC’s Prince of War

Greg Hardy has had a decent transition from being an all-pro NFL player to a UFC fighter. After starting his professional MMA career with three first round knockouts, the UFC brought him on and put him in a co-main event immediately.

However, Hardy ended up losing by throwing an illegal knee to his opponent. After that, he won three straight fights, however, the third was ultimately ruled a No Contest due to Hardy using an inhaler.

At the end of 2020, Hardy was on a two-fight win streak and was taking on Marcin Tybura. Had Hardy won, you would have likely seen his name in the UFC rankings. He started out the fight with Tybura very well.

However, he ultimately gassed and was stopped in the second round. Most recently, he was knocked out in the first round by Tai Tuivasa at UFC 264. This is the first time in Hardy’s MMA career where he’s lost back-to-back fights.

Both of these men have their backs against a wall here and they need a win. It will also be incredibly obvious what the strategies are at UFC 270. Hardy wants to stand and trade while Oleinik will be trying to take him down. A fun clash of styles in January.