UFC 270 predictions — Francis Ngannou vs. Ciryl Gane: Fight card, odds, preview, expert picks, prelims

    The first PPV event of 2022 is upon us as UFC returns to California with a pair of titles up for grabs. UFC 270 goes down from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, on Saturday night and features title bouts in the heaviest and lightest divisions within the promotion. Heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou looks to turn away interim titleholder Ciryl Gane in the main event atop the marquee.

    Ngannou has been nothing short of destructive en route to claiming the heavyweight belt. The 35-year-old has scored five straight wins — all by knockout — following hiccups against Stipe Miocic and Derrick Lewis in 2018. His latest win exorcised some demons as well when he viciously stopped Moicic to claim the title. Now, he faces a tough test in Gane, who may be the modern version of heavyweight with speed and defense.

    Aside from the battle of power and technique in the main event, the co-main event features the two best flyweights in the sport as champion Brandon Moreno and former-champion Deiveson Figueiredo do battle for a third time. Moreno climbed the ranks at 125 pounds after being cut by the promotion in 2018. He returned in 2019 after scoring a TKO win for the LFA title and has ripped off a 4-0-2 record in UFC since, including fighting Figueiredo to a draw in December 2019 on just three weeks’ notice. He then submitted Figueiredo in their rematch last June to earn the championship. A win by Figueiredo could set up an unprecedented fourth meeting between to the two combatants.

    Those two title fights will draw plenty of attention, but the UFC has done their usual job of trying to load up the card with compelling and interesting battles across a number of divisions.

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    With so much happening on Saturday night, let’s take a closer look at the full fight card with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook before we get to our staff predictions and picks for the PPV portion of the festivities.

    UFC 270 fight card, odds

    • Ciryl Gane -155 vs. Francis Ngannou (c) +130, heavyweight championship
    • Brandon Moreno -175 vs. Deiveson Figueiredo +150, flyweight championship
    • Michel Pereira -280 vs. Andre Fialho +230, welterweight
    • Said Nurmagomedov -190 vs. Cody Stamann +160, bantamweight
    • Raoni Barcelos -500 vs. Victory Henry +380, bantamweight
    • Tony Gravely -240 vs. Saimon Oliveira +200, bantamweight
    • Michael Morales -115 vs. Trevin Giles -105, welterweight
    • Jack Della -360 vs. Pete Rodriguez +280, welterweight
    • Matt Frevola -195 vs. Genaro Valdez +165, lightweight
    • Kay Hansen -195 vs. Jasmine Jasudavicius +165, women’s flyweight
    • Vanessa Demopoulos -140 vs. Silvana Gomez Juarez +120, women’s strawweight

    With such a massive main event on tap, the crew at CBS Sports went ahead with predictions and picks for the main card. Here are your pick makers: Brent Brookhouse (Combat sports writer), Brian Campbell (Combat sports writer, co-host of “Morning Kombat”), Shakiel Mahjouri (writer), Michael Mormile (producer) and Brandon Wise (senior editor).

    UFC 270 picks, predictions

    Ngannou (c) vs. Gane (ic) Ngannou Gane Gane Ngannou Ngannou
    Moreno (c) vs. Figueiredo Moreno Moreno Moreno Moreno Figueiredo
    Pereira vs. Fialho Pereira Pereira Pereira Pereira Pereira
    Nurmagomedov vs. Stamann Stamann Nurmagomedov Stamann Nurmagomedov Nurmagomedov
    Morales vs. Giles Giles Giles Giles Giles Giles
    Records to date (2022) 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0

    Campbell on why Ngannou will win: The reality for Saturday’s heavyweight title unification is that unbeaten Gane just might be everything we think he is (and more) and it still might not matter should Ngannou land even a single clean finishing strike. But add in the fact that Ngannou has seemingly used the long layoffs caused by his frustration with UFC matchmaking to sure up the larger holes in his game and there’s potential for this fight to even be one-way traffic for “The Predator.” It’s a big if, of course, given how uniquely skilled Gane is in potentially disarming his foe. It’s just hard to shake the memories of how effortlessly Ngannou secured the title from Stipe Miocic in their rematch while adding in elements of takedown defense, top position with heavy strikes and even an evolved kicking game. Ngannou is a level of scary the division has never seen before and he’ll have enough motivation given the ex-teammate storyline and his ongoing contract disputes with UFC brass to deliver his most profound statement yet. 

    Brookhouse on why Gane will win: I hate picking this fight as much as I love that this fight is happening. The question really comes down to if Ngannou can land a single one of his fight-ending bombs, something he seemingly always manages to pull off. That’s the danger of ever picking against Ngannou: you’re picking against him landing one clean shot. Gane is an experienced striker, however, with an elusive style that has befuddled opponent after opponent. It’s Gane’s discipline that is likely the difference-maker. He is not likely to recklessly run into a shot and if he can keep Ngannou from figuring out the timing of his entrances and exits, it’s going to be a long, tiring night for the champion. Gane has survived two other “one-shot killers” in Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Derrick Lewis, dominating both with ease. It’s going to be a white-knuckle ride, but expect Gane to slowly pick apart and wear down Ngannou before completely dominating the action starting around the third round.

    Mahjouri on why Gane will win: Oddsmakers nailed it when opening this fight as a pick’em. Ngannou has supplemented his monstrous power with a thinking man’s game plan. Gane has heavyweight strength and serious accuracy to accommodate his brilliant fight IQ. The argument can be made that Gane and Ngannou are presently the best heavyweights alive. The impulse leans ever so slightly towards Gane. He reminds fans of a heavyweight Georges St-Pierre; from superficial elements like his French accent, shaven head and nice-guy attitude, to his well-roundness and sublime technical ability. Pick Gane, but do so hesitantly.

    Campbell on why Moreno will win: Timing is everything in this sport and given the ease at which Moreno stopped Figueiredo in their rematch last year, there’s good reason to believe he can do the same in their trilogy. Not only is Moreno, Mexico’s first UFC champion, the hotter and fresher fighter at this moment in the matchup, the 34-year-old Figueiredo has long had a difficult weight cut to 125 pounds that isn’t getting any easier. Expect, as always, for Figueiredo to be a threat to score a stoppage for the duration of the opening round. But the longer this fight goes, the more potential there is for the iron-chinned Moreno to outlast his veteran opponent and deliver the finish. Figueiredo’s new relationship with Henry Cejudo and head coach Eric Albarracin could be something to watch out for stylistically as a threat to Moreno, but it feels clear which direction both fighters appear to be going at this point after nearly eight full rounds contested between them.

    Brookhouse on why Moreno will win: There is a real risk that what we saw in the rematch between the two was a combination of one brilliant night from Moreno coming on the same night Figueiredo had a uniquely bad performance. Still, Moreno looked like a fighter who finally put everything together in that fight and Figueiredo looked lost against a fighter who had confidence to do any and everything that crossed his mind. It felt like a real changing of the guard. There’s also a bit of a desire to see Moreno win and move on to the next phase of his career, rather than being forced into a fourth fight with Figueiredo. This is likely a closer fight than the rematch, but one in which Moreno can take over as Figueiredo fades a bit as the rounds tick by.

    Wise on why Pereira will win: The undercard to these pair of title fights feel very unstable given how much turnover there has been in the last two weeks due to injuries, illness and COVID-19. Pereira was a part of that as the Brazilian was expected to face Muslim Salikhov on Jan. 15, but Salikhov withdrew for undisclosed reasons. So Pereira lands a matchup with Fialho, who has fought for Bellator, PFL and a couple of regional promotions. While the Portuguese native has plenty of TKO victories on his resume, it’s tough to find a path to victory here against Pereira, who is incredibly difficult to hit clean or figure out based on his movement. The power and flash should be on display for both men, but Pereira should be able to handle his business against a late replacement.

    Who wins Ngannou vs. Gane? And what other picks do you need to see for a parlay with a payout of better than 16-1? Visit SportsLine now to get detailed top picks on UFC 270, all from the insider who’s up more than $10,000 on MMA picks the past two years, and find out. 

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