UFC 260’s preliminary card started slowly but picked up pace once the main card started and didn’t slow down until the titanic knockout in the main event.
Without further ado, here are the five most explosive moments from UFC 260: Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou.
#1 Francis Ngannou ascends to the top of the UFC’s mountain
After Stipe Miocic systematically broke him down in their first meeting at UFC 220 in 2018, there were a lot of questions around Francis Ngannou going into last night.
Sure, he’d had four first-round knockouts in a row in recent years, but had he really closed up the holes in his game, particularly his grappling?
The answer turned out to be yes.
The Predator had Miocic hurt in the opening round with a salvo of punches, and when the UFC Heavyweight champion shot for a takedown, Ngannou sprawled deftly to avoid.
That moment basically signified the end for Miocic. The champion – usually recognized as the greatest Heavyweight in UFC history – simply couldn’t catch the faster Ngannou.
And in the second round, Ngannou caught him with a left hand that sent him tumbling backwards towards the fence.
Miocic rose from the dead and actually wobbled Ngannou’s legs with a heavy right hand. But when he moved forward to attack, The Predator countered – and basically knocked him silly with another left hand.
This was one of the scariest knockouts we’ve seen in the UFC in some time, with Miocic’s left leg bending backward at an awkward angle as he hit the deck before he ate a huge hammer fist from Ngannou.
Everyone knew that if Ngannou was going to win this fight, it would be by brutal knockout. But this wasn’t his usual wild rush in the opening seconds, and that’s what made it so impressive.
And it’s now hard to see anyone in the UFC Heavyweight division capable of unseating the new champion.
#2 Vicente Luque enters the elite at Welterweight with his submission of Woodley
And despite some early clinching, the fight turned out to be a genuinely fantastic one.
Woodley – looking more aggressive than usual – hit Luque with a hard right hand that stunned him. However, the Brazilian absorbed the blow and returned fire with a right hand that instantly stiffened Woodley’s legs up.
Quite how Woodley remained conscious under such heavy fire was anyone’s guess, as he took some serious punishment from Luque’s punches before wilting under the pressure.
And from there, Luque lived up to his reputation as one of the UFC’s most ruthless finishers by securing a brabo choke and becoming the first man to submit Woodley in his career.
This was comfortably Luque’s biggest win in the UFC to date, as he stepped up to a much bigger challenge than usual and thoroughly delivered. And in turn, this win should move him into instant title contention.
#3 Jamie Mullarkey opens the main card with a bang
Lightweights Jamie Mullarkey and Khama Worthy opened UFC 260’s main card, and a striking battle always seemed likely.
However, given his previous form, if anyone was expected to deliver a knockout, it was Worthy, who’d shown dangerous finishing skills previously.
Incredibly though, that idea turned out to be badly wrong.
Before the first minute was up, Mullarkey cracked him with a perfectly-placed left hand to the jaw. Worthy took a step back, but he was clearly done, and he tumbled face-first, allowing the Aussie to seal the deal with some follow-up shots.
Post-fight, it looked like Worthy had been hit so hard that he didn’t really know quite what’d gone on.
This was one of the best knockouts of 2021 thus far, and in the process, Mullarkey – who’d lost in his previous two visits to the Octagon – probably saved his spot on the UFC roster.
#4 After a major error, Sean O’Malley delivers with a flourish
He hit the Brazilian with a beautiful head kick, wobbling him, and then dropped him with a hard right hand.
It looked for all intents and purposes like Almeida was done, and so O’Malley stepped away – only for referee Mark Smith to decide to let things continue.
And so Almeida lurched to his feet and survived the round, and then survived the second too.
For a while, at least, it looked like O’Malley was going to have to settle for a decision. And while a win is a win, for The Sugar Show to miss out on a KO would’ve been disastrous.
However, when O’Malley dropped Almeida in the third round, he refused to make the same error. This time when Thominhas hit the deck, O’Malley followed in with a huge right hand that instantly turned out his lights.
Was it as impressive as a first-round KO would’ve been? It’s debatable, as, with this win, we saw more of O’Malley’s skills as well as his nasty finishing ability.
In the packed UFC Bantamweight division, it’s probably fair to call him a contender now.
#5 Alonzo Menifield channels Ovince St. Preux for his first UFC submission
The final preliminary fight of UFC 260 saw Alonzo Menifield face newcomer Fabio Cherant in a Light Heavyweight bout.
And after losing his last two fights, Menifield had his back to the wall somewhat. Once considered a top prospect, had he lost here, his UFC career would likely have been over.
However, he looked excellent here and took out Cherant impressively in the first round.
The most impressive thing was the fact that he finished Cherant – a grappler by reputation – on the ground, showing skills we’d never seen from him before.
A double leg takedown planted Cherant on the mat. And when the newcomer went for a guillotine choke, Menifield channeled his last opponent – Ovince St. Preux – by slapping on a Von Flue choke to force The Water Buffalo to submit.
Whether Menifield can regain the traction he lost in 2020 is a question mark. But overall, this was an excellent win for him that showed off some new skills.