UFC 270 takes place on Saturday, headlined by heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou making his first title defense. His opponent is undefeated interim champion Ciryl Gane, and this meeting will unify the two belts; however, the topic of discussion going into the fight has drifted away from the fight.
Ngannou wants a new contract. If he loses the title to Gane, he will also lose a lot of influence in their negotiations. But if he knocks out Gane and continues this dominant streak, a world of opportunity opens up for him and, no doubt, leads to an extremely interesting post-fight press conference.
The 270 card is based on two title fights. The second belt at stake is the flyweight title, as underdog Brandon Moreno takes him on against Deiveson Figueiredo. The rest of the card is slim, but the top of the card is more than enough to carry 270.
Here are the pressing questions as we approach fight night:
Is this Francis Ngannou’s last fight in the UFC?
There are times when the Ngannou-UFC feud feels manufactured, designed to create drama and boost 270 sales. Sure, that’s a smart move. Any pay-per-view that doesn’t feature Conor McGregor is a wild card in terms of buys, though Kamaru Usman-Colby Covington and Charles Oliveira-Dustin Poirier delivered on recent pay-per-view cards on ESPN+. UFC 270 represents a real opportunity for Ngannou to prove he can carry a card, and adding some drama should only get people more invested in his fight.
There is also a genuine dispute over Ngannou’s contract. It is true that Ngannou wants a new deal and has been really frustrated about his salary for a long time. Signing with CAA added fuel to that fire considering their rivalry with WME. While the last two weeks seem overproduced, there is legitimacy to this dispute.
Win or lose, I don’t see Ngannou leaving the UFC. The heavyweight division is thin at the top, and Ngannou is an elite heavyweight. He needs the UFC, and the UFC, especially if it’s the reigning champion, needs him too.
Will a new heavyweight champion be crowned?
Ciryl Gane may be the best mixed martial artist overall, but Francis Ngannou has more power and longer range.
Gane can fight, but he has never had the honor to do so with someone like Ngannou. While Gane’s rise over the past three years has been remarkable, what goes up must eventually come down.
A hungry Ngannou, fighting for his next contract, is the loser here. This is his chance to prove he is the best heavyweight in the world with another knockout victory, which is exactly how I see this fight ending.
Who takes the flyweight title and what happens next in that division?
Deiveson Figueiredo has his chance to redeem himself against Brandon Moreno in the flyweight title fight.
But can Figueiredo keep fighting in this weight class? Weight cuts continue to be a problem for him. There is an advantage to that, as he is bigger and stronger than his opponents on fight night. That allows, of course, that the weight cut has been successful. He had a good cut before his first fight against Moreno, which was a draw, but then endured an extremely tough weight cut before the title loss to Moreno last June.
If he comes into the fight healthy, Figueiredo is too strong in too many areas for Moreno. But there is more at stake here than just the title.
The future of the division will be in the sole possession of whoever comes out of 270 with the belt. This is an extremely thin division. There are potential opponents in Brandon Royval and Kai Kara France, but right now, there just isn’t much depth. The winner of this fight has the potential for a long reign as champion.
What else is there to expect at 270?
The 270 card isn’t too impressive, and it’s largely carried by the two title fights.
There could be some barns: Cody Stamann vs. Said Nurmagomedov should be a lot of fun to watch. Nurmagomedov is really dynamic and has a high enough profile that the UFC will prioritize him in the bantamweight division if he beats Stamann. Michel Pereira is an exciting fighter, so his welterweight fight against André Filho is worth watching. The fifth fight on the card pits Rodolfo Vieira against Wellington Turman, two middleweights who will be tasked with setting the crowd on fire in the opener.
There is certainly the potential for some excitement, but no one is moving into the top five at 270. This is a card built around the two extraordinary title fights, which should more than carry the night.
More MMA coverage:
• The Weekly Takedown: Francis Ngannou’s uncertain future fuels intrigue as he enters UFC 270
• Cyryl Gane is determined to dethrone heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou at UFC 270
• Brandon Moreno aims to avoid a title run at UFC 270
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.