I will be covering 7 of the fights on this UFC Fight pass only fight card. I will be doing all 4 main card fights and 3 prelims of the 8. Some of the fights just aren’t really leaving me enough to talk about but I might still take a pick in the other ones without an analysis. Numbers in parentheses next to a rank is our ranking on the site.
Prelims (6:45 on Fight Pass):
Kailin Curran (3-1) vs. Emily Kagan (3-2): Women’s Strawweight division. Kailin Curran will win by unanimous decision.
Zubaira Tukhugov (17-3) vs. Phillipe Nover (12-5-1): Featherweight battle. I am going to take Zubaira Tukhugov by a 1st round KO.
Danny “Hot Chocolate” Roberts (11-1) vs. Nathan Coy (14-5): This fight in the Welterweight division excites me just because I really like both of these guys. Nathan Coy if you watched TUF 21 ATT vs Black-zilians was on team ATT. He had his moments of up and down. I think Nathan is a bit of a passive fighter and it could cause him problems here and in the UFC. Nathan needs to learn how to become more of an aggressive and stronger fighter. The issue being he is already 37 years of age and making his UFC debut at that age means he might not have a long career nor much of an upside honestly. Danny Roberts is making his UFC debut at 28 years of age and is entering on a 5 fight win streak. He hasn’t fought in over a year dating back to May 3rd, 2014 which is really a worry for me entering this fight. He is a finisher though stopping 9 of his 11 fights. He has stopped 5 of them by KO and the other 4 are by submission. The thing to watch out for with Danny is his knees, as he has started 4 of his 5 KO’s with brutal knees. Roberts is a brutal fighter with an aggressive nature and here we will see an aggressive vs passive fight style. I am going to take Roberts to win his UFC debut here by a 3rd round KO over Coy.
Santiago Ponzinibbio (21-3) vs Andreas Stahl (9-1): A welterweight battle here in which I see Ponzinibbio winning this fight by a split decision.
#5 (5) Aljamain Sterling (11-0) vs. #10 (10) Johnny Eduardo (27-9): This is a battle in the Bantamweight division that I believe should be in the Main card because this one is going to be awesome. Johnny Eduardo has rolled off two in a row and won 13 of his last 14 fights entering this one. His lone loss in his last 14 is against a beast Raphael Assuncao in a decision in his UFC debut. Eduardo has stopped 14 of his 27 wins in the very first round. He has stopped 20 of his 27 professional wins, 11 by submission and 9 more by KO/TKO. He is one incredible striker with a really smooth transition game when on the ground. My advice would be to avoid the ground against Eduardo because he is known for one lethal ability to lock in the RNC. Now standing opposite of Eduardo is the undefeated Aljamain Sterling. Aljamain is a beast at 26 years of age and still has the chance to learn and grow. This guy has finished 7 of his 11 fights, like his opponent showing his lethality on the mat with 5 wins by submission and two more by KO/TKO. Aljamain is a brutal dude who just he can handle a pounding and deliver one heck of one two if the fight stayed standing. He is a very creative fighter with a very unorthodox ability to deal damage from anywhere. I think if this fight goes to the mat we could see two guys scramble a lot and try and find ways to stop the other with little success. I honestly think this fight standing is close to even as well but a slight advantage to Sterling. I am torn here but will go with personally who I think just is slightly the better fighter. Aljamain Sterling picks up a 2nd round RNC to end this fight.
Antonio Carlos Junior (6-1) vs. Kevin Casey (10-3): This middleweight battle here could be good but I see it being a tad bit boring. I think the edge goes to Antonio Carlos Junior in a unanimous decision.
Omari Akhmedov (15-2) vs. Sergio Moraes (9-3): I think Omari Akhmedov wins this one by 1st round KO in a pretty quick battle here in the welterweight battle.
Tim Means (24-7-1) vs. John Howard (23-11): This battle here as the main event of the prelims is a good one in the welterweight division. I think John Howard is a decent fighter but has a lot of weaknesses. I think boxing skills he stands out and he has some pretty decent power with those hands. Now John comes into the fight with a ton of heart and could seriously take a beating if it came down to it because this guy just doesn’t know the definition of the word quit. Now the issues I have with John is that he might be able to finish on the ground but he isn’t a fighter that should look for the mat. John is coming into this fight with a 1-3 record in his last 4 and should really be a bit of a concern that he is starting to decline but this will be the telling tale for me if John Howard should still be around or not. Now his opponent is a good fighter in Tim Means. Tim is coming off a loss to Matt Brown but has won 4 of his last 5 so he is on a bit of a roll still here. This guy is a KO artist having stopped 16 of his 24 wins by KO and 4 more by submission meaning only 4 of his fights have gone to the judges score card. Means is 4-2 in the welterweight division and I think personally this is the weight class that best suits him. Now when it comes to his performance and what you should expect to see it will be a guy with good technique especially standing who loves the flying knee so he could bring some serious excitement. I personally think this fight will be fun though because both of these guys have a ton of heart and don’t know the definition of the word quit. I am going to take the better all-around fighter though and go with Tim Means via a 2nd round KO.
Main Card (10PM on UFC FIGHT Pass):
Elias Theodorou (11-0) vs. Thiago Santos (11-3): Ladies and Gentleman we are LIVE!!!! The start to the main card has begun with a middleweight battle. Thiago Santos is a machine who if you stay standing with you will get the lights turned off in your head. This guy can kick the crap out of you and do so with high kicks like they are going out of style. Santos has finished 8 of his 11 wins and yes 7 of those 8 are by brutal KO finishes. This kid is on the verge of getting himself ranked in a very tough division and he could be pushing through if he can find a way to win this thing tonight. He will have to use his aggressive back you down fight style and just win with those hands and especially the legs. Now his opponent though is the undefeated Elias Theodorou. Elias has stopped 7 of his 11 wins, 6 by KO and the other by a submission. He was the winner of TUF Nations: Bisping vs. Kennedy. There is one thing about this kid that I absolutely love and I can say nobody else can match him in the ENTIRE UFC with. This guy’s cardio, I mean he could probably fight for an hour and still be coming at his opponent. I was impressed during TUF and I get more impressed each time this guy fights. I think this fight is going to come down to who controls the octagon more and if Elias can make Thiago tired it could change the whole element to this fight. I am torn here but I am going to go with the kid on the rise and keep him undefeated Elias Theodorou by unanimous decision.
(12) Sage Northcutt (6-0) vs. Cody Pfister (12-4-1): This battle in the lightweight division is a fight I have been waiting for since it got announced. Cody has finished 7 of his fights, 4 by KO and 3 by submission, all 7 stoppages I might add are in the very first round. Meaning it seems like if you escape the first round you have a slower paced maybe more tired Cody and can beat him before it goes to the scorecard. He has gone 1-1 since joining the UFC and looks to get his second win here. Cody is a very strong fighter with a lot of aggression to his fight style and will look to use that aggression to back Sage down. In his MMA career he has been known to have a lot of heart and drive never seeming to quit or give up no matter how bad the hand has been dealt to him. Unfortunately for him he will be facing possibly the best fighter the UFC has ever seen “Super” Sage Northcutt. Sage has finished all 6 of his professional wins and 5 of those stoppages in the very first round including his UFC debut against Trevino who was overweight and apparently doping. Sage is a karate expert who is learning Jiu-jitsu more and more each and every single day. He is a gym rat and is the definition of perfectly fit. I honestly would be shocked if he had more than 1% body fat on him. Sage is a freak and I personally think when his career is over, barring any terrible injuries, he will be known as the best of all time. Sage is a hard working kid and he never quits, he is always learning more and never settles with being “good enough”. His conditioning is unreal and his fight style is untouchable. He has incredible power, one punch power, and when you match that with this kid’s incredible speed in his hands and his feet, he just isn’t beatable. He is continuously working to improve his ground game and once that is polished off, where can you beat him? I obviously am going to take Sage here I personally don’t think this will be even close. Sage Northcutt by 1st round KO.
#14 Jim Miller (25-6, 1 NC) vs. Michael Chiesa (12-2): Here is another fight in the lightweight division between a ranked fighter and a fighter looking to get himself ranked with a win here. Michael Chiesa is coming in winning 3 of his last 4 fights and looks to keep momentum going hoping to find a way to the rankings here with a win. He has stopped 8 of his 12 wins, all 8 by submission. This guy is not someone anyone wants to take to the mat. The scary thing is 5 of those 8 are in the first round and all 5 are in under three minutes. He is good at getting his opponents to the mat and off their game because he is a scrambler and likes to just make things messy and capitalize which is an interesting fight style but it is one we see in Paige VanZant and a few others and seems to be working well. Now his standup game is good enough that his opponents have to respect it and not just think they will dominate him standing or anything of the sorts. Now his opponent is Jim Miller who is a veteran of the Octagon. He has finished 17 of his 25 fights, 14 by way of submission and the other 3 are by way of KO. He is a good standup fighter with great wrestling skills and would love to take most fights to the mat. I personally think though if he takes this one to the ground he will be outmatched by Michael and Jim is a smart guy and will most likely look to keep this thing standing. If he does that I think he has the slight edge on his feet and can post a KO finish. But that being said that is not how I see this fight going at all. I think Michael will control the pace make it a wild scramble in the second round and catch Jim with a RNC to pick up a 2nd round submission victory.
#3 (2) Rose Namajunas (4-2) vs. #7 (4) Paige VanZant (6-1): The main event is in the women’s strawweight division between two ladies who would love a shot at the winner of Jedrzejczyk and Gadelha for the title. Paige got popular really fast out of nowhere and she deserves it, she is a good fighter with a scramble fight style. She trains at Alpha Male which makes me less excited about her skills because I don’t think Alpha Male produces the best fighters, especially with Dillashaw gone the only one who consistently impresses me is Mendes. She is a well-rounded fighter with the ability to finish standing or on the mat. I have a feeling we might see her look for score more and more though and grind out wins by scorecard as it seems to be the trend of her gym buddies. Now if Paige can keep herself away from the slow paced, passive, hug and hold, fight style she could become one of the more dominant women in this division. She has a good skill set she just needs to learn that some of her scrambles against a better fighter she could leave herself exposed for a clean shot or a submission. Now following that I want to about her opponent who is a great fighter in Rose Namajunas. Rose has submitted all 4 of her professional wins. She is a beast on the mat and her only loss in the UFC came in a disappointing one where I thought she was the better fighter when battling for the title against Carla Esparza. She has finished 3 out of her 4 wins in the very first round and again they are all by submission. She has incredible jiu-jitsu skills and is honestly maybe the best fighter on the mat in this division. She is improving her standup game and her striking has actually developed into a real weapon that her opponents going forward will need to look out for. I know the Vegas odds have VanZant as the favorite so I will be going with the “underdog” and take the more disciplined fighter, Rose Namajunas with a 1st round submission, catches Paige in one of her scrambles with a RNC.
- Matt Koontz.