Another UFC pay-per-view has passed us by. The usual faces on hand when a big fight is going down were in attendance. Jon Anik, Joe Rogan and Daniel Cormier reunited at the commentary tables and Bruce Buffer brought some electrifying introductions.
Once again held at the UFC Apex, fans were treated to 10 bouts, featuring prospects, contenders and the baddest man on the planet. Following on from a five-round main event at UFC Vegas 22 between Derek Brunson and Kevin Holland, UFC 260 brought the high possibility of a finish in the headlining fight.
This weekend represented a card with some of the top names. Alongside an Octagon-shaking rematch between Stipe Miocic and Francis Ngannou for the UFC heavyweight championship, the likes of Tyron Woodley and Sean O’Malley also featured. Despite losing a featherweight title fight between Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega last week, the card held strong.
With that said, here are the positives and negatives from UFC 260.
Positive - The era of Ngannou
It was an inevitability. Someone with the knockout power and explosiveness of Francis Ngannou was always going to become champion. No one can argue he is the "baddest man on the plant."
Against the greatest heavyweight of all time in Stipe Miocic, Ngannou fought the perfect fight. We didn't see the crazy swinging we had come to associate the Cameroonian with. Powerful leg kicks, a much improved takedown defense and patience set up the second round KO.
It was brutal. Having dropped Miocic with a jab, Ngannou smelt blood and went for the kill. The knockout blow came as Stipe launched a counter attack.
Africa has their first heavyweight champion. The era of Ngannou has begun.
Positive - The Sugar Show is back
Effortless violence. It’s almost surreal to watch someone beat another person up with such ease. Sean O’Malley’s hype train has been well and truly re-railed.
Against a tough Thomas Almeida, O’Malley displayed his speed, his power and his unique style. In hindsight, he could have finished the fight in the first round after dropping the Brazilian with a head kick and a powerful left straight. Ultimately, O’Malley wanted that highlight finish and his urge for a walk-off knockout allowed Almeida to recover.
It seemed he had done just that and would survive the three rounds. Not on O’Malley’s watch. “Sugar” got his highlight finish in brutal fashion. Having dropped Almeida again, the 26-year-old was forced to cancel his second attempt at a walk-off and re-engage. Dropping a bomb as he fell onto the stricken Brazilian, it was clear Almeida was as good as out.
Love him or hate him, the charisma and talent of O’Malley makes him a future star in the UFC. Seeing him back to winning ways is a positive.
Positive - Entertainment at light heavyweight
The status of the light heavyweight division as one of the stronger divisions in the UFC has been faltering for a while now. Jon Jones reached a point in his dominant reign where the division had been rinsed of competition.
Modestas Bukauskas and Michel Oleksiejczuk reminded us of what the light heavyweight division is capable of. For 15 minutes, the two prospects threw bombs, looking to get their names heard at 205 pounds.
The combination of Oleksiejczuk pressing forward in every round and the Lithuanian loading up with every shot made for an entertaining fight on the prelims.
After three rounds, the Pole took the narrow-split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) victory over Bukauskas. More of this in the light heavyweight division please…
Positive - There's another Nurmagomedov in town
At UFC 260, Abubakar Nurmagomedov arrived in the UFC win column at the second time of asking. The 31-year-old lost his promotional debut to David Zawada back in 2019. With Khabib in his corner, the Russian outclassed Jared Gooden.
Nurmagomedov [16-3-1] had amassed 10 stoppages across 15 wins heading into his prelim fight on Saturday night. Having fought under the banner of the Professional Fighters League, World Series of Fighting and multiple Russian promotions, the welterweight earned an opportunity to join his cousin in MMA’s leading promotion.
The Russian impressed on the feet throughout the three rounds. With a consistent jab and forward pressure, Nurmagomedov produced damage and comfortable control on the ground, taking the unanimous decision win.
Another Nurmagomedov collecting dominant wins and Khabib sticking around as a coach, that’s a positive on all accounts.
Positive - Alonzo Menifield bounces back
Last week, I highlighted Alonzo Menifield as a name to keep an eye on. This was a mightily important fight for the knockout artist. He broke onto the scene with an eight-second KO win on Dana White’s Contender Series. Unbeaten and highly touted, “Atomic” was expected to dominate his way to the light heavyweight top-10 in rapid time.
A brutal knockout loss to Ovince Saint Preux left Menifield needing a win to get his UFC career back on track. Judging by what happened at UFC 260, Saint Preux must have knocked the ability to execute the Von Flue choke into Menifield’s head.
After William Knight withdrew due to Covid-19 protocols, promotional newcomer Fabio Cherant stepped up on short notice. He made his way out of the cage with a second loss to his record just over a minute after the fight began.
Menifield's power was back on display, this time through a submission. Working fast to catch Cherant unaware, Menifield held him against the cage and became just the fourth fighter to submit an opponent with a Von Flue choke.
Alonzo Menifield having his hand raised again can only be a good thing for the division.
Positive - A knockout to start the main card
There’s not much better than a dose of knockout power to open a pay-per-view main card. At UFC 260, Jamie Mullarkey’s left hook provided us with the goods.
The Australian has had a horridly unlucky start to his UFC career, with two close decision losses to Fares Ziam and Brad Riddell. In his first appearance in 2021, Mullarkey had no intention of leaving it to the judges. The 26-year-old left Khama Worthy asking what happened. Incredibly, Mullarkey has now found a stoppage in his last 11 wins.
At such a young age and having training partners like Alexander Volkanovski over at City Kickboxing, Jamie Mullarkey has a bright future.
Negative - Just one woman's fight
UFC 260 was very male dominated. It felt like a night where a lot of divisions saw some advancement and some wins for promising names, whilst the woman’s divisions almost sat the week out bar one matchup.
The one women's fight we did get was a great watch, perhaps making the absence of more even worse. In a great showcase for the flyweights, 23-year-old Miranda Maverick was in action against veteran Gillian Robertson. The word prospect doesn’t even come close to describing the potential of Miranda Maverick.
On the feet she looked superior and in technical grappling exchanges with a talented wrestler, Maverick looked the part. Having picked up a unanimous decision win, the 23-year-old will look for a matchup with a high-ranked opponent when she next enters the Octagon.
Just one out of 10 fights featuring women has to be a negative. Maverick’s performance and potential has to be a positive.
Negative - Tyron Woodley's fall from grace
Tyron Woodley’s dominance at welterweight seems a distant memory. “The Chosen One” had dropped to seventh in the division’s rankings before UFC 260 after a cataclysmic fall from grace. His decline took a further hit on Saturday night.
After beating Robbie Lawler to win the belt, Woodley defended it against Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia and Darren Till. He sat at the top of the welterweight food chain with a 19-3-1 record.
Having been dominated by Kamaru Usman, Woodley lost the title. He wouldn't let his hands go against Gilbert Burns and he was beaten convincingly by Colby Covington. Last week I said he needed a win, or his UFC career could be over. He did not get that win.
In the opening exchanges against Vicente Luque, Woodley looked back to his best; strong in the clinch and throwing bombs. He hurt the Brazilian and many would have thought he was on his way to a much-needed win. A counter right from Luque was the beginning of the end.
Jason Herzog gave a stumbling, off-balance Woodley every chance to stay in the fight. In the end, Luque forced the tap with a tight D’arce choke. It will always be a negative to see a UFC legend like Woodley in the form he’s in.