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Like many cards, this isn't the card that was originally released. Light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier was due for a rematch with Anthony Johnson, but the champion was injured and Johnson preferred to wait until he was fully ready.
Instead, featherweights Max Holloway and former lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will meet for the interim pound belt with the winner moving on to face champion Jose Aldo. Holloway has now won nine straight after a unanimous decision over Ricardo Lamas in June.
He is an excellent kickboxer with a decent reach to keep his opponent at range. Pettis , also a former WEC champion at lightweight, lost three straight including the UFC belt to Rafael dos Anjos and then dropped to pounds, where he submitted Charles Oliveira in his debut. Pettis is an incredibly versatile striker who can also grapple well.
He'll have a three-inch reach advantage over Holloway, so that is something to keep an eye on. Holloway is a favorite for this bout. Donald Cerrone , 1 NC is with three stoppages since moving up to welterweight, and he faces a tough customer in Matt Brown Stipe Miocic defends his heavyweight belt against Francis Ngannou, the hottest name in MMA at the moment, while Daniel Cormier, once again the light heavyweight champ, steps back into the cage to defend his title against breakout fighter Volkan Oezdemir.
With two titles on the line, the UFC is going big with their first pay-per-view event of the year. Odds below provided by Bet on January 18, [ go to Bet review ]. This is the most exciting heavyweight fight in a very, very long time. Stipe Miocic seeks a record-breaking third successful title defense against Francis Ngannou , a rising star with unbelievable power.
The division has stagnated in recent years, cycling through a handful of aging champs long past their prime. This could be the fight to thrust the heavyweight class back into the limelight.
What we do know is that the man can hit like none other. The UFC claims he holds the record for the strongest recorded punch , and you only have to watch his most recent fight against Alistair Overeem to see how devastating his fists can be. He stopped Andrei Arlovski in similar fashion and overwhelmed Anthony Hamilton before that. So how will he handle a five-round fight against an experienced wrestler?
All he needs is a single opening and he can end the fight in a flash. This leaves Miocic with two glaring advantages. Ngannou is an unknown quantity with enormous potential but limited experience; Miocic has done it all and has proven himself to be an elite heavyweight.
I believe Ngannou has an extremely bright future ahead of him, but the heavyweight title is still just out of reach. Cormier is, by far, the better and more well-rounded fighter, while Oezdemir is a limited fighter with a single gift: