Francis Ngannou wanted to enjoy the fruits of his labor after violently knocking out Stipe Miocic to become the UFC heavyweight champion at UFC 260 at the end of March.
However, the UFC had other plans in mind and didn't want to wait around for Ngannou. So they booked an interim title match at UFC 265 in August between Ciryl Gane and Derrick Lewis. Gane took care of business, stopping Lewis to win the interim strap. Now, the former training partners will meet in a title unification bout in Saturday's UFC 270 headliner from the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
As always, with a big-time UFC fight, there are certainly plenty of bets to be made. Let's take a look at some of them.
UFC 270 odds
Francis Ngannou: +125
Ciryl Gane: -150
BetMGM (as of Wednesday, Jan. 19) has Gane shockingly installed as the favorite — coming in at -150, meaning you'd need to bet $150 to win $100. Meanwhile, Ngannou is a +125, meaning if you pluck down $100, you will win $125 if he successfully makes his first title defense.
All of Ngannou's (16-3) 11 career wins inside the Octagon have come via stoppage. For Gane (10-0), he's 7-0 during his UFC run, with four of those victories coming inside the distance.
UFC 270 prediction
Pleasantly surprised the odds are in favor of Gane. The only reason I say that is due to Ngannou's knocking out the greatest MMA heavyweight of all time in Miocic. His power has been compared to Mike Tyson in knocking out four former UFC heavyweight champions in Andrei Arlovski, Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Santos, and Miocic. Add in former Strikeforce heavyweight and K-1 champion Alistair Overeem, and it's a world-class resume for Ngannou.
Looking at Gane, he finished Lewis, which Ngannou could not do at UFC 226.
It's pure striking power versus finesse striking. Gane mixes up his arsenal while Ngannou relies on his left and right hands. Gane has two career submissions, so you have to watch out for a possible takedown. To Ngannou's credit, his takedown defense was much better against Miocic in their rematch than the first fight at UFC 220, where Miocic took him down at will as at UFC 260, Ngannou stuffed every attempt.
Gane went five hard rounds while Ngannou labored through the first Miocic affair, tiring after the second round. Can Ngannou's cardio hold up if it goes into the championship rounds?
I can't see this one ending any other way than a knockout. Both guys are heavy-handed, but Ngannou does have the advantage in that department.
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In a striking battle, it's extremely difficult to go against Ngannou. He possesses once-in-a-generation power, and he's going to be hard to beat, especially now that he is becoming a complete mixed martial artist.
Muehlhausen's pick: Francis Ngannou
Best odds: Francis Ngannou +125