MMA Preview – Francis Ngannou vs Cain Velasquez at UFC on ESPN 1

AT A GLANCE

When is UFC on ESPN 1? Monday 18th February, 2019 – 00:00 (UK)

Where is UFC on ESPN 1? Talking Stick Resort, Phoenix, Arizona

What channel is UFC on ESPN 1? BT Sport 2

Where can I stream UFC on ESPN 1? BT Sport subscribers can stream the fight online via the BT website

Are tickets still available for UFC on ESPN 1? http://uk.ufc.com/event-ticket-info?utm_source=ufc&utm_medium=tab&utm_campaign=tickets

THE STATISTICS

THE LOWDOWN

The first UFC on ESPN card takes place in Phoenix, Arizona – a historic event for the UFC and ESPN but also for Cain Velasquez who makes his return to the octagon after more than 2.5 years out. The former heavyweight champion’s career has been decimated by injuries which have not just robbed him but robbed the fans from seeing what could have been the greatest heavyweight off all time.

He is back looking to make up for lost time but on his return he has been handed Francis Ngannou which could turn out to be a great match-up or a terrible one for Velasquez. Ngannou’s power is terrifying and until he met Stipe Miocic, he was disposing fellow heavyweights at will. Miocic dismantled Ngannou by exposing his grappling weakness so Velasquez, who is one of the best grapplers in all of MMA, will be licking his lips despite the knockout threat.

This will be a fascinating contest between the most feared striker and most feared grappler in the division and considering Ngannou looked back to his best with a TKO over Curtis Blaydes in his last fight and Velasquez hasn’t performed for so long, the outcome will be incredibly tough to call.

THE PREDICTION

The game plan is clear for both of these monsters and that is for Velasquez to avoid the hands of Ngannou and for Ngannou to avoid the takedowns of Velasquez. You have to back Velasquez to get Ngannou to the ground and that was before seeing Miocic out-grapple him and if he does, expect nothing other than a brutal beating on the floor.

Velasquez edges the striking stats but that is because the majority of his strikes are landed while pinning his opponents to the ground. Ngannou on the other hand relies on single strikes on the feet and this is his only route for victory. He needs to land early as one-punch knockout power is never more necessary against someone like Velasquez as he will drain every ounce of energy and belief with dominant wrestling and relentless ground-and-pound.

If Velasquez avoids the hands of Ngannou for the first round or two, the ref will be called upon to put an end to the punishment.

Winner: Velasquez via KO/TKO

Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric