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UFC on ESPN: Ngannou vs Velasquez preview

Cain and Francis square off ahead of UFC on ESPN
Credit: @MMAFighting via Twitter

The UFC makes it’s long awaited debut live on ESPN. You might be thinking, didn’t Cejudo and Dillashaw do this weeks ago? Technically they did not as that card aired on ESPN’s new streaming service. UFC on ESPN 1 will air on the network’s prime time TV spot.

This is arguably the biggest event for the promotion in some time, with many sports fans perhaps seeing MMA for the very first time. With this comes the big guns. A heavyweight showdown between the returning legend Cain Velasquez and the younger upcoming Francis Ngannou.

Why is Cain Velasquez so special?

A strong case could be made to say that Cain is the best heavyweight of all time. This consensus comes for a fighter whose only fought 16 times professionally. That’s how good Cain is. For a giant of a man, he had cardio for days and moved around the octagon like he was a lightweight. He had speed that defied logic in the heavyweight division.

Cain is the best heavyweight wrestler to have ever graced the Octagon. He’s an NCAA Division I All-American (2005, 2006) and he uses this skill to it’s upmost effectiveness when he fights. He smothers his opponents with wrestling until they tire. From there, he beats them to a pulp. 10 of Cain’s 14 victories have come by way of first round knockout! That’s why he’s special.

What does Ngannou bring to the table?

Francis Ngannou was a feared wrecking machine in the UFC. He held six finishes in the build up to his first title shot against Stipe Miocic in January 2018. It was against Stipe that Francis got found out.

Stipe out wrestled Francis from pillar to post. Ngannou is a muscular specimen and with this comes a price. Those big muscles needs a lot of energy and Francis just simply didn’t have the gas tank to keep up with Stipe’s pace.

To key to victory for Ngannou in this one is simple. He needs to use the lightning knockout power that he has been blessed with. He has great boxing skills and coupled with good footwork, it could just be enough to secure the victory.

Fight prediction

The answer to this question is all down to what kind of Cain turns up. Cain has been in a similar position to this before, when the UFC debuted on Fox. Velasquez masked an injury, which didn’t allow him to move very well and lead to Cain getting knocked out.

If Cain comes into tonight’s main event with an injury, Francis could make short work of his opponent. However, if a fit and healthy Cain shows up then Ngannou is in big trouble. Cain will take him into deeper water than Stipe did, as Cain holds a much higher wrestling pedigree.

Cain hasn’t fought in just under 3 years. So if he was injured, why would he risk it against a danger man like Ngannou. For this reason, we go for Cain on this one.

Prediction: Velasquez by TKO

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