Diego Brandao vs. Jimy Hettes: A fight in the Featherweight division. Diego is back in the octagon finally after his last fight was cancelled the day of the fight. His last fight was July 19th, 2014, where he lost to Connor McGregor. Diego is a phenomenal fighter who needs to pick up a win here and get himself back in the division talk. Diego carries a 22-10 professional fight record, and is a very well rounded fighter. He has KO/TKO possibility and it truly is his best weapon. That being said don’t forget about his ground game because if Jimy does then he will be quickly submitted. Brandao’s last two losses came against two true great fighters in Connor McGregor and Dustin Porrier, and for some reason those two loses send him to the online prelims. Now to the other good 27 year old fighter in the other corner, Jimy Hettes. Jimy is an impressive 11-2 entering this fight with his last fight being a loss to Dennis Bermudez. Jimy is almost entirely a ground game fighter considering 10 of his 11 wins come from Submission and his last one being decision. That being said his two loses are a decision and a KO/TKO meaning with all the time he has spent on the mat he has not been submitted, which is really impressive. This fight will be really interesting to me for an online prelim especially. I am going to call a win from a second round KO/TKO for Diego showing that he is back and should be ranked again in his division.
#6 Takeya Mizugaki vs. Aljamain Sterling: This is a true brawl in the bantamweight division. Takeya is 20-8-2 professionally and he was rolling with 5 straight victories until Dominick Cruz decided to come back and ended his 5 straight. Mizugaki though shouldn’t be taken lightly there is a reason he is ranked 6th and he will be in form this fight and ready to show that his last loss was just a mistake and right the ship. He is a pretty slow paced fighter with 14 of his professional wins coming from decision as well as 5 of his loses. He has KO power though with 5 of the remaining 6 wins coming from KO/TKO. He will be bringing a steady reliable pace and use his striking abilities to win this one although he can win off the mat if necessary. Now to the corner opposite of Mizugaki, Aljamain Sterling. This 25 year old kid is for real and will be a scary opponent for Mizugaki. This is only his third fight in the UFC but he brings a type of poise to him that would make you think he is a UFC veteran. Aljamain is 10-0 in his professional career with a bit of balance in his fight style. His ten wins are split 2 by KO/TKO, including his last fight, 4 by submission and 4 by decision. Sterling will need to be careful because he is actually fighting a UFC veteran who knows how to handle the best fighters that he has to face. This fight will be very intriguing and will show the maturity level of these two fighters and be a good opening fight to the prelims for all fans to enjoy. I am having a hard time with this one but I will take a unanimous decision win from Mizugaki.
Corey Anderson vs. Gian Villante: This is a good fight in the light heavyweight division. Corey Anderson enters this fight as 6-0 coming into his 3rd fight in the UFC. He is also the winner of the Ultimate fighter 19. Corey is fighting his first UFC veteran in this fight who will need to be careful of Corey’s knockout power and ability to drop anyone in one clean shot. He has a 100% takedown defense in the UFC that being said it is only after 2 fights so don’t look too much into it. Now to the corner opposite of upcoming Corey Anderson we have Gian Villante. Gian enters this fight at 12-5 with 5 wins in his last 7 fights. His two loses coming to two ranked light heavyweights in Fabio Maldonado and Ovince Saint Preux. He as well has KO power just like his opponent Corey Anderson. Giant has 7 of his wins by KO/TKO and he has the ability to win on the mat with 2 more wins coming by submission. His loses have come twice to knockout and the other 3 coming from decision. This fight has a lot of KO promise which is exciting for the fans. This fight is going to be a fun one hopefully and my call for this one is going to pick the undefeated 6-0 Corey Anderson with a first round KO when he catches Gian with a good open shot.
#7 Ovince Saint Preux vs. #12 Patrick Cummins: This fight in the light heavyweight division is going to be a throw down. I honestly am so excited for this fight I do not know where to start on this one. I guess I will start with Ovince Saint Preux who enters this fight at 17-6, winning 14 of his last 16 fights. He is so hot right now the surface of the sun might not be able to contain him. His wins are split 8 KO, 5 by submission, and 4 by decision. His loses come by 1 KO and the remaining 5 by decision, the judges score card seems to not be his friend honestly. Ovince has the ability to fight standing and on the mat and can finish any opponent either way. He is a great talent in the UFC and will I hope one day get a shot against Jon Jones because he has the talent to upset Jones if he has a great day. Anyway to the opposite corner is another great fighter, Patrick Cummins. Cummins is 7-1, his only loss you might ask was a KO by Daniel Cormier. Cummins wins though 5 have been finishes 3 by KO/TKO and the other 2 by submission. Cummins is a great opponent for Ovince Saint Preux because these two can knock the other one out or they can also both submit the other one. I don’t know which way to call this one because the rankings to me mean nothing because I honestly think this is a 7 vs 8 fight. Well since I have to pick one I will be taking Preux with a 3rd round TKO after an exciting fun fight showing both of these guys are contenders for a long time.
#12 Jim Miller vs. Beneil Dariush: This is a good fight in the lightweight division between two underrated UFC lightweights. Jim Miller enters this fight 24-5 with 1 no contest. He has won 11 of his last 15 fights. He has 24 wins, 16 wins were finished 13 by submission and 3 by KO/TKO. His 5 loses come one a piece for KO/TKO and Submission, the remaining 3 are by decision. Jim does love to fight on the ground being a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. That being said Jim can fight well on his feet and has the ability to technically outperform other fighters. He doesn’t pack a big KO/TKO force but he has it as a secret weapon in his arsenal. Now on the other side of Jim is Beneil Dariush who enters this fight 10-1. Beneils lone loss comes from a KO/TKO. He has an impressive 6 wins by submission with a few techniques in his arsenal, 1 arm triangle, 4 rear naked chokes, and 1 arm bar. His other 4 wins are 2 KO/TKO and 2 decisions. 5 of his 10 wins are first round finishes and 8 of his last 9 fights are victories for him. This 25 year old kid has the ability just like Jim Miller to be a technical fighter and win on his feet or on the mat. He is a great fighter and if he can pull off a victory here he should get ranked immediately and will start his climb through the UFC lightweight division. I am going to take Beneil to win this thing with a second round rear naked choke.
#8 Felice Herrig vs. #12 Paige VanZant: This fight has more hype around it then the main event. This fight in the women’s strawweight division is going to be great. Felice is coming into her second UFC fight winning her first one by submission. Felice is 10-5 entering this fight with all 5 loses coming from decision. Her 10 wins are split with 6 by decision, 3 by submission, and 1 by KO/TKO. She loves to fight on the mat but note that she was a professional kickboxer before her UFC career and she has the ability to stand and fight. She has won 5 of her last 6 fights and she is a great fighter that brings a lot of pace. She is a fast paced fighter who has stamina to outlast most fighters even while putting on the pressure most the fight. Now on the other side is the second biggest female fighting name right now behind Ronda Rousey, in Paige VanZant. Paige enters this fight 4-1 and is only 21 years of age the second youngest female fighter in the UFC, third youngest fighter in the UFC overall. Her 4 wins have 2 by decision and the other two are stoppages one to KO/TKO and the other by submission. Paige’s only loss comes from a decision so she has never been stopped. She is an incredibly well rounded fighter and can take the fight anywhere it goes. This fight is hard to call because a lot of people are taking Paige due to her big named as of late and they look at Felice’s record and just don’t see her winning this fight. I look at Felice’s kickboxing record and I am waiting for it to show in the octagon. That being said I am still picking Paige here with a 3rd round TKO.
#5 Cub Swanson vs #9 Max Holloway: Now here is an absolutely amazing fight in the featherweight division. Cub comes in with 6 wins in his last 7 fights his lone loss of those 7 coming to the legend Frankie Edgar in his most recent fight. Cub has 15 wins by stoppage 11 by KO/TKO and has 4 by submission, 2 by guillotine and 2 by rear naked choke. Cub is such a great fighter who could knock out anyone in his division with one punch. He has the ability to fight well on the mat as well and can take out anyone on the ground if he needs to with just pure knowledge of the sport. Opposite of Cub though is a monster as well in Max Holloway. Max is absolutely incredible just like Cub Swanson, difference is that Max is ranked 9th and is only 23 years of age. Max has a knockout punch with 5 of his 12 wins coming from KO. He is 12-3 and 6 of his other wins are by decision the last one by submission. Max is entering this fight on a five fight win streak with 4 of those 5 being stoppages. He is coming in scorching hot and at 23 years of age is actually a veteran of the octagon. As a true UFC fan and MMA fighter I have to say I love this fight and both of these guys’ abilities. I am taking the “upset” here as much as I hate picking against Cub I have to pick Max with a second round KO.
#1 Ronaldo Souza vs. Chris Camozzi: This fight in the middleweight division battle was supposed to be vs. #6 Yoel Romero but 8 days before the fight Yoel was injured and had to withdraw from the original co-main event. Chris was the only person in their right mind to be willing to fight #1 ranked middleweight fighter on a week notice. Ronaldo is coming into this fight with 11 wins in his last 12, 7 straight wins. Souza is coming into this fight with the largest favorite I have seen in a long time. He is honestly in my opinion the best fighter in the middleweight division. He enters this fight 21-3 with 1 no contest. His 21 wins are EXTREMELY impressive. 5 wins by KO/TKO and 12 by submission. The submission wins are by these techniques (2 by guillotine, 4 arm triangles, 3 rear naked chokes, 1 by kimura, and 2 arm bars). His 5 KO/TKO’s though show that you can’t sleep on him when it comes to a standup fight. Souza has KO power and he has a black belt in judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He is honestly the most well rounded fighter in his division and I believe a top 10 fighter in the UFC in general. Now in the opposite corner is Chris Camozzi who holds a 21-9 record. He comes in colder then ice itself. He is currently on a four fight losing streak and the fight that started that losing streak was a loss to none other than Ronaldo Souza his opposite number in his co-main event. Camozzi has 7 wins by TKO/KO and 6 by submission, those submission wins are by 2 rear naked chokes, 2 guillotines, an anaconda, and a triangle. He is going to need a miracle though to win this fight because he is fighting the best fighter in his division, yes better than the current champion Chris Weidman. Camozzi though is crazy and tough enough to endure this battle. That being said I have to pick Ronaldo Souza with a first round submission.
#2 Lyoto Machida vs. #4 Luke Rockhold: The Main event fight in the middleweight division. This fight is going to either be a slow paced technical fight like Lyoto likes to fight or Luke is going to bring the pace and force Machida to fight out of his element. Lyoto enters this fight 22-5. He has 11 wins by decision and the other 11 by finish. His 11 finishes are 9 by KO/TKO and 2 by submission. He is a good fighter but is very slow paced and technical, if you aren’t a true mixed martial arts fan you get bored with Machida’s fight style. Now regardless of how slow paced he can be once he sees an opening he unloads on it and unleashes a surprising fast pace out of nowhere which makes him exciting to watch. Now to his opponent another great fighter in the middleweight division, Luke Rockhold who holds a 13-2 record. Luke is so exciting to watch because he can submit anyone from anywhere. He enters this fight with a 3 fight win streak and won 12 of his last 13. Think about that for a second in his last 13 fights he has picked up 12 of his 13 wins. His 13 wins have been through 4 KO/TKO’s and 7 wins by submission (an inverted triangle kimura, 4 rear naked chokes, an armbar, a guillotine). I think that’s as impressive as they can come but then you throw this stat in, and he just looks like he could be the second best in his division right now behind Ronaldo Souza, he has 10 first round finishes in his 13 wins! Now I am having a hard time picking this fight but I can truly say that I am so excited for this fight just like I am the rest of the fight card. I am going to pick the man I think that is on the rise for a title shot, Luke Rockhold will finish Machida in the 4th round with a guillotine choke.
- Matt Koontz.