A four-fight win streak in the past few years for Francis Ngannou has put him in the position of redemption against Stipe Miocic. Fighting the UFC Heavyweight Champion for the second time, Ngannou has the chance to avenge a 2018 loss in the main event of UFC 260.
The heavyweight title fight sits atop a pay-per-view card that will happen at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
Here is a full preview of the card.
Early Prelims (7:30PM EDT / 4:30PM PDT) (UFC Fight Pass)
Bout 1: Abu Azaitar (14-2-1) vs. Marc-Andre Barriault (11-4) (Middleweight)
Returning to the UFC for the fifth time, Marc-Andre Barriault will search for his first official win in the promotion when fighting Abu Azaitar.
Barriault, a former two-division champion in now-defunct regional promotion TKO, lost his first three fights when he joined the UFC. Barriault finally picked up a UFC win in June, defeating Oskar Piechota with strikes in the second round of their fight. However, that result was later overturned due to a USADA drug test that found ostarine in his system. The suspension concluded that there was “no evidence of intentional use” from Barriault, hence why he was given a six-month suspension and is already returning to the cage.
Similarly, Azaitar is fighting for the first time after getting a USADA suspension. His sole UFC fight dates all the way back to 2018, where he defeated Vitor Miranda via unanimous decision.
Preliminary Card (8:00PM / 5:00PM PDT) (ESPN / TSN 5)
Bout 2: Shane Young (13-5) vs. Omar Morales (10-1) (Featherweight)
Featherweights Shane Young and Omar Morales will attempt to return to the win column on the preliminary card.
Young was finished for the first time in his pro career in September, getting stopped by Ludovit Klein in the second minute of their fight at UFC 253.
Morales took his first UFC loss in October, losing on scorecards to Giga Chikadze. The fight was his first pro loss after 11 pro fights, including two previous bouts in the UFC.
Bout 3: Modestas Bukauskas (11-3) vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk (14-4) (Light Heavyweight)
Both returning to action after recent losses, light heavyweights Modestas Bukauskas and Michal Oleksiejczuk have been paired for the prelims.
Bukauskas, a former Cage Warriors Light Heavyweight Champion, was given his first UFC loss in October when stopped by Jimmy Crute. Before then, he won his UFC debut with a strong one-round performance over Andreas Michailidis that forced the bout to be stopped in-between rounds.
Oleksiejczuk has been submitted in his last two fights, getting stopped by Ovince St. Preux and Jimmy Crute.
Bout 4: Jared Gooden (17-5) vs. Abubakar Nurmagomedov (15-3-1) (Welterweight)
The UFC debuts of Jared Gooden and Abubakar Nurmagomedov didn’t go their way. However, they will compete for their first UFC win during Saturday’s prelims.
Gooden entered the UFC in November, losing a fight to Alan Jouban via unanimous decision at UFC 255. The UFC call-up was given to Gooden after he picked up three wins in the past two years.
Nurmagomedov, a former PFL and WSOF veteran, lost his UFC debut in 2019 to David Zawada, who stopped him within a round with a triangle choke.
Bout 5: Alonzo Menifield (9-2) vs. Fabio Cherant (7-1) (Light Heavyweight)
Former LFA Light Heavyweight Champion Fabio Cherant will take a short-notice UFC debut on Saturday night, fighting Alonzo Menifield in the final preliminary bout of the card.
Cherant is replacing William Knight, who withdrew from the fight earlier in the week. Cherant has had a strong run on the regional scene as of late, putting together three wins since 2020. His last win saw him defeat Myron Dennis via unanimous decision after a five-round battle to become the new LFA Light Heavyweight Champion.
Menifield will look to avoid falling into a three-fight skid on Saturday. Menifield had a quick and strong rookie year in the UFC, stopping two opponents in 2019. His success has not been the same since then, losing bouts last year to Devin Clark and Ovince St. Preux.
Cherant missed weight for the fight by just half-a-pound.
Main Card (10:00PM EDT / 7:00PM PDT) (PPV)
Bout 6: Jamie Mullarkey (12-4) vs. Khama Worthy (16-7) (Lightweight)
A lightweight bout between Jamie Mullarkey and Khama Worthy will kick off Saturday night’s pay-per-view portion of the card.
Worthy had the momentum of a seven-fight win streak that included two wins stopped in September, as undefeated fighter Ottman Azaitar finished him in the second minute of their fight with punches.
Mullarkey has yet to win a fight in the UFC thus far, dropping decisions to Brad Riddell and Fares Ziam.
Bout 7: Gillian Robertson (9-5) vs. Miranda Maverick (8-2) (Flyweight)
Riding the momentum of her UFC debut win last year, Miranda Maverick is scheduled to fight UFC veteran Gillian Robertson.
Maverick’s first UFC fight lasted just one round, as a doctor stoppage to Liana Jojua finished their fight after five minutes. The fight added to a win streak that Maverick built in Invicta FC, which included a one-night tournament she won in 2019.
Robertson was a busy fighter in 2020, competing three times in the year. After picking up wins over Cortney Casey and Poliana Botelho, Roberton’s year ended on an undesirable note, losing a bout to Taila Santos.
A bout between Robertson and Maveirkc was first set to happen at UFC 258 in February, although it was moved forward due to illness.
Bout 8: Thomas Almeida (22-4) vs. Sean O’Malley (12-1) (Bantamweight)
Last year, it was clear that Sean O’Malley was a fighter that the UFC wanted to push heavily. Undefeated through 12 pro fights, he was gaining momentum and earning victories that were highlight reel-worthy. However, O’Malley’s quickly rising stardom came to a quick halt in August, as Marlon Vera capitalized on a foot injury to stop O’Malley within a round with strikes.
Now attempting to bounce back from his first-ever pro loss, O’Malley will fight Thomas Almeida. Almeida made his return to action in October, losing a fight on scorecards against Jonathan Martinez. That fight along with bouts from 2018 and 2017 means Almeida is currently on a three-fight losing streak.
Bout 9: Tyron Woodley (19-6-1) vs. Vicente Luque (19-7-1) (Welterweight)
Former UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley has struggled since losing his belt to Kamaru Usman in 2019. Now in 2021, Woodley could potentially lose his fourth consecutive bout when fighting Vicente Luque in the co-main event.
Woodley headlined two “Fight Night” cards in 2020, losing fights to Gilbert Burns and Colby Covington. On Saturday night, Woodley will be fighting in a three-round fight for the first time since 2015.
Bout 10: Stipe Miocic (20-3) vs. Francis Ngannou (15-3) (UFC Heavyweight Championship)
Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou first met in 2018. In that meeting, Miocic defeated Ngannou via unanimous decision after a five-round fight. That doesn’t seem like too long ago, but quite a bit about the heavyweight division has changed since then.
That win for Miocic over Ngannou would be the third time he defended the heavyweight belt in his reign. The next fight would signal the end of the run, as Daniel Cormier stopped him with punches at UFC 226. A year later, a rematch between Cormier and Miocic proved to be vindicating for Miocic, who ground out Cormier for four rounds before stopping him with punches.
The heavyweights met one last time in August in a performance that allowed Miocic to defend his belt for the first time in his current reign. The trilogy fight also concluded the rivalry between the fighters, as it was Cormier’s send-off bout into retirement. Going to scorecards, Miocic was given his second win in the series with Cormier.
In that same stretch of time, Ngannou was climbing back up the UFC heavyweight division and solidifying himself as a challenger for the belt. After losing to Derrick Lewis in 2018, Ngannou went on a four-fight run of first-round finishes against reputable heavyweights. The quickest of the four wins was his last fight, where he stopped Jairzinho Rozenstruick in only 20 seconds, handing him his first pro loss.
Three years later since their first meeting, Miocic is back on top and Ngannou is back in the title-challenging spot. Now meeting for the second time, Miocic has the chance end another rivalry while Ngannou has the ability to show why he is back in the spot he is.