The UFC is back in Las Vegas for UFC 226 on July 7 with an epic evening of mixed martial arts. Legends Stipe Miocic and Daniel Cormier will pound it out for the heavyweight title, and the rest of the card holds insane match-ups between fan favorites and legendary fighters.

Not only does UFC 226 have a title event, but we have showdowns between top-ranked veteran fighters, Michael Chiesa vs. Anthony Pettis and Francis Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis. The top half of the card is fantastic, and so Saturday should be wildly entertaining.

Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier

Let’s start with the main event. First things first, when we check one of the top-rated online sportsbooks, Bovada, we see that Miocic is a moderate favorite ranging from 2.25-to-1 and 2.75-to-1.

Miocic has shown lately that he is a legitimate martial artist. He can handle anything that comes at him and adjusts his game plan as necessary. Cormier is technically sound, and on top of being a sledgehammer swinging beast, he is a fantastic grappler. And when I say fantastic, I mean world-class.

Cormier’s tenacity and overwhelming wrestling skills make me want to lean his way in this fight. But Stipe has knocked out Junior dos Santos, beaten Ngannou and knocked out Alistair Overeem. Nobody else has defended the title successfully at heavyweight four consecutive times. And this is why I think he’ll probably get a successful defense, even if just barely.

Miocic is better at grappling than most, as I said, he is a true mixed martial artist. And though he isn’t world-class at it like Cormier, he should be able to fend off much of DC’s wrestling attack. Plus he’s slightly bigger, faster and has about nine inches of reach on DC. The latter could make all the difference in the world when it comes down to a slug-fest.

The fight could go either way but as much as I would like to see Cormier shake this division up, even more, I still lean towards Miocic.

Francis Ngannou vs. Derrick Lewis

There is no title up for grabs, but that doesn’t make this showdown any less exciting. This is a heavyweight grudge-match and fans of the Cameroonian, Francis Ngannou, have been less boisterous since the Black Beast crushed the record on the punching machine. Sorry, DC, Derrick Lewis is the new king of smash.

Despite the power coming in behind Lewis’s fists, the Predator is still listed as a heavy favorite in the fight. They say that this is one of those ‘huck and duck’ fights where whoever lands the first real shot wins. Ngannou has the reach advantage, and his hand speed is a little better than Lewis, so he has an advantage. But I think the Black Beast is eager to prove himself at this level, and his killer instinct will be even higher than normal.

So for me, this line should be closer to even. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Black Beast follow a missed punch that puts him inside of Ngannou’s reach into a take-down. He would love to do what Miocic couldn’t, which is ground and pound Ngannou out of the fight. And make no mistake, if Lewis does get the Predator on his back, it will get ugly really quick.

Undercard

Our top two undercards worth our attention were Paul Felder vs. Mike Perry and Uriah Hall vs. Paulo Costa. But the Felder-Perry fight has now been moved to the main card after the cancellation of the Max Holloway-Brian Ortega title clash. Now there is just one undercard bout that has my eye, and Costa is coming into this fight as a fairly heavy favorite over Hall.

Costa against Hall is an amazing match-up. Costa is 11-0 and has finished all of his fights (10 by knockout). But this might be his biggest test to date.

Hall has been under the shadow of his lackluster performance against Kelvin Gastelum. But you can’t count him out. He has too tough of a chin (despite what seems to be a lack of killer instinct). This should be a great fight, but I have to go with Costa who has momentum and of course, killer instinct in excess.

All in all, this may be the best pay-per-view event of the year. So get ready. Saturday evening’s event in the T-Mobile Arena is going to be epic.

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