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UFC Hall of Famer Michael Bisping believes heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic could have a couple of victories from claiming his legacy as the greatest ever.
Already widely acclaimed as the greatest heavyweight of all time, Miocic (20-3 MMA, 14-3 UFC) will try to add to his already impressive resume by defeating Francis Ngannou again in a doubles rematch in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 260 at UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
During their first release in January 2018, Ngannou lost his temper and was exhausted in just a couple of minutes. Miocic was able to weather the early storm and then used his superior grip to control Ngannou for 25 minutes.
Since then, Ngannou (15: 3 MMA, 10: 2 UFC) has won four of the last five, knocking out four opponents in a row in the first round. While Michael Bisping believes Francis Ngannou will come in more confident and experienced, he wonders if his recent quick results will allow him to make the necessary adjustments.
“I think it’s gonna be a very confident one because when he fought Stipe the first time, he was still a baby in mixed martial arts,” Bisping told MMA Junkie this week. “Ngannou was a victim of his own success because he would go out there, just touch anybody and they fall asleep, and that’s great. That’s gonna make you very famous. You’re gonna get a lot of fans, you’re gonna earn a lot of money, but you’re not learning anything. As a fighter, you learn the most when you’ve got to fight through adversity, when you find yourself in these positions, maybe even take a couple of losses.
“Now, of course, in the Stipe one he did, and I’m sure he did learn a lot from that, but since that fight I think it’s been four fights that he’s just absolutely blitzed everybody again, and that’s awesome for the confidence. It’s awesome for the momentum, it got him the title shot, but is he going to fall back into the same mistakes? Is he still gonna go in a little underprepared? Because I know for a fact when I was training, I’d always be in the best shape I could be. I was running down the streets, going crazy, pushing myself to the limit in the gym. But if I had a history of just touching people and them falling asleep, I’m not sure I would have pushed myself quite the same. I don’t know.”
Francis Ngannou is again the favorite in betting, albeit only slightly. But given the success of Stipe Miocic in the first fight, Bisping sees the rematch going to be the same.
“For Stipe, he’s coming into this as an underdog, as the best champion we’ve ever seen and already beating Ngannou, so I’m sure there’s a little chip on his shoulder about that. He’s probably a little annoyed, but … it’s crazy to go against the champ, isn’t it? He’s already beaten him, and he’s the best heavyweight on paper in history that the UFC’s ever seen. So I’m leaning towards that, but Ngannou has probably learned a bit more, and he’s training at Xtreme Couture now in Las Vegas, he’s been doing the wrestling and all that kind of thing. I think it comes down to the first round. If Ngannou is gonna win, he’s gonna do it in the first round.
“I think the longer it goes on – because if you look at Ngannou, the man is gigantic. He’s absolutely jacked and all those muscles look awesome, and he’s gonna be a massive movie star in action movies if he wants after the UFC, but they do tire you out. Stipe is a big dude. He’s got a bigger frame, but Ngannou’s got bigger muscles, so Stipe is more adept at going the distance, and I think he’ll drag him out into the later rounds and do the same thing. Or Ngannou just flatlines him with the first punch.”
If Miocic overtakes Ngannou, the next match is likely against former light heavyweight champion and one of the greatest fighters of all time, Jon Jones. And if Miocic continues to beat Jones, Bisping thinks he has good reason to be the greatest of all time.
“I think now that Khabib is retired, Jones is pound-for-pound No. 1,” Bisping said. “OK, you got all the asterisks and things like that, and that’s unfortunate for him, but it’s the situation. However, if Jones can come up to heavyweight and become the champion there, then I think that solidifies him. But if Stipe can beat Ngannou and then beat Jon Jones, yeah there’s a very good argument for Stipe being the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.”