(#9) Aleksei Oleinik (52-10-1) vs. (#12) Curtis Blaydes (7-1): Before the fight even gets televised two ranked heavyweights will be going at it. Curtis Blaydes is still trying to get solid ground in the UFC despite what his record shows. He is 2-1 with one No Contest and his loss to the monstrous Francis Ngannou. Six of his seven wins are by knockout and two of them happened in the first. He lands an average of 4.5 significant strikes per minute and he likes to spend about half of his fight time in a controlling ground position. His opponent is a veteran Sambo fighter. Oleinik has won 13 of his last 14 fights and has finished all 14 of his last victories. He excels in grappling with 40 submission victories and another seven wins by knockout. His Sambo background will show him using a lot of standing and clinch to set neutralize his opponent to set up for his varied assault on the mat. Blaydes needs to stay on his feet here to stay in this fight. I think Oleinik will pick up the victory here because a large part of Blaydes' game is ground work and that will only make it easier for Oleinik to get that submission.
Fox Sports 1 Prelims
Randy Brown (9-2) vs. Mickey Gall (4-0): Kicking off the prelims is one you don't want to sleep on. Mickey Gall is reappearing almost a year after his upset over Sage Northcutt. Gall has won all four of his fights by submission and three of them were in the first. So far he has a perfect takedown offense and defense. There is a lot of potential coming out of this kid and we will eventually get to see it all play out because he is only 25. His opponent was undefeated before entering the UFC. Randy Brown has five wins by knockout and three by submission with two finishes in the first. Brown is a striker that can pick his opponents apart and utilizes his grappling to further beat on people. Gall is going to take this one because he has shown to be a developed striker and has outstruck his opponents so far, then taken over with his grappling. It will be stand up for the first, then in the second an opportunity will present itself for Gall to get a submission victory.
(#6) Ovince Saint Preux (21-10) vs. (#7) Corey Anderson (10-3): Next is the only ranked fight on the prelims and it's between two light heavyweights. Corey Anderson is looking to get back in the win column. He has won four of his last six, but lost two of his last three. Anderson is a good wrestler and is an aggressive boxer with four wins by knockout.On the other side of the cage, Ovince Saint Preux has won two in a row following a three fight rough patch. In his career, he has won ten fights by knockout and six fights by submission with 13 of those finishes in the first. OSP has become known for a not-so-well known submission called the Von Flue choke. Only five fights in UFC history have been won with that choke and OSP is the holder of three of those wins so that is a big threat that Corey Anderson has to watch out for. Anderson usually is a heavy-hitter with good grappling to rain blows on his opponent, but in the recent fights he lost he looked completely different and pretty inactive throughout his fights. On the other hand, OSP is only getting sharper. Saint Preux wears down his opponent, gets it to the ground, then gets the tap. If this Corey Anderson of late shows up tonight, OSP will get another win and I believe he will attempt another Von Flue choke in the second for the victory.
Walt Harris (10-6) vs. Mark Godbeer (12-3): This fight should have taken place on the last UFC pay-per-view, but with Derrick Lewis having to pull out they offered Harris the spot which he accepted and they compensated Godbeer since his fight fell through. Mark Godbeer has won four of his last five fights. He has won nine fights by knockout and two by submission with five finishes in the first round. Harris has had some troubles since coming into the UFC. All but one of his losses has come out of his eight UFC fights, making him 7-1 when he first debuted and he was 23-1 amateur competition. Harris is a knockout machine with multiple Golden Glove Championships, all 23 of his amateur wins by KO/TKO and all of his pro wins by knockout, with seven of the ten in the first. Godbeer lands an average of almost 6 significant strikes per minute so Harris will need to up his pace or really cut down on the amount that his opponent lands. Even if one of the losses was to Werdum, Harris has had an unfavorable record while in the UFC and Godbeer is on a roll. I predict Godbeer will take this with a first round knockout.
James Vick (11-1) vs. Joe Duffy (16-2): For the main event of the prelims we get an exciting lightweight matchup. Both of these men are good strikers that use it to set up their great ground game. Joe Duffy has won ten fights by submission and four by knockout with only one of the 14 fights not ended in the first. He only has one loss in his career in the UFC. His opponent, James Vick, has five wins by submission and two wins by knockout with six of his finishes in the first round. Vick tends to stick to his striking to tear his opponent down then takes it to the ground when an opportunity arises and sinks the submission in. I think this fight will stay standing in the first with Vick getting the lead from striking. I believe into the second Duffy will work his grappling and even though Vick is a tough opponent on the ground, Duffy's will prove superior and he will get a submission victory in the second.
Johny Hendricks (18-7) vs. Paulo Borrachinha (10-0): The biggest challenge in this fight will be whether or not Hendricks makes weight. As you might know, he has been horrible at making weight and it has only gotten worse as his career has progressed. He has recently said in an interview that he moved to Greg Jackson's and has hired an official nutritionist employed through the UFC. He claims that he is re-motivated and is fighting the way he used to when he was in title contention and that his nutritionist is working with him to slowly take weight off over weeks. He will need it because Borrachinha is a wrecking ball and this could be a turning point for Hendricks' career. Hendricks has only won two of his last seven while Paulo is undefeated. Borrachinha has nine wins by knockout and one by submission with nine first round finishes. Hendricks has eight wins by knockout and one by submission. Hendricks has an average of 3.5 significant strikes landed per minute, which is close to the roster average. While only accounting for his two UFC fights, Borrachinha's average is almost at 9 per minute. Unless Johny is really a massively different fighter, I believe Paulo will make this a rough night and get that TKO in the first.
(#2) Stephen Thompson (13-1-1) vs. (#4) Jorge Masvidal (32-12): This fight came together after many atop the welterweight division were calling for Interim title fight upon Woodley announcing some time off. This fight isn't officially for an Interim title, but with the #2 fighting the #4, the winner of this will be one step closer to that title shot when Tyron comes back. This should be an electrifying standup performance. Thompson is a great kickboxer and Masvidal is a savage with his in-your-face boxing. Masvidal has 13 wins by knockout and two by submission with seven first round finishes. Even before MMA Jorge was a fighter, engaging in street fights from a young age. Later he tried his hand at wrestling and even shortly became a pro boxer. This has helped shape him into a guy that loves to stand up and dish out punishment. When it comes to ranks and titles, Stephen Thompson is a freak. Starting at 15, he has a combined kickboxing record of 57-0 with 40 knockouts, 5 world kickboxing titles, 16 amateur kickboxing titles, a 5th degree black belt in karate, and a black and purple belt in two different types of jiu-jitsu. Thompson will want to keep Masvidal away in order to find success, which is Thompson's strong suit. However Jorge knows this will probably be Thompson's tactic so he said he has been working on effectively closing the distance. Masvidal is tenacious, but Thompson is a wildly decorated kickboxer and I believe he has more than enough experience of keeping his preferred distance. It may take a few rounds, but Thompson will secure this victory with a TKO.
(C) Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-0) vs (#4) Rose Namajunas (7-3): This is the first of three title fights tonight and Joanna is looking to tie Ronda Rousey for most title defenses by a female in the UFC and tied for 6th of longest title reign by any fighter in the UFC. Her opponent, Rose Namajunas is a well-rounded fighter with a black belt in both karate and taekwondo, as well as a blue belt in jiu-jitsu. Six of Rose's seven wins are by submission and three of them were in the first round. She is a brawler and an excellent grappler. She tends to push the pace with her fists and can sneak in some big kicks. She has a high fight IQ when it comes to finding her moment for takedowns then once she is down she almost always has complete control which could prove to be Jedrzejczyk's biggest weakness. However she will need to prevent herself from getting mauled by the champ to be able to implement this. Joanna lands an average of 7 significant strikes per minute, which is one of the top averages on the whole roster. The champ is absolutely brutal and has left many opponents looking a bloody mess. She may only have four wins by knockout, but even when she doesn't get the knockout she normally wins definitively. I believe Namajunas has good chances going into this, but I have trouble seeing Joanna get beat at this point. She gets in and terrorizes every opponent. No matter what they specialize in, no matter where they want to go, she makes them stand with her and she makes them pay for it. Since JJ doesn't have a wonderful finishing rate I'm going to say the champ will take this by decision.
(C) Cody Garbrandt (11-0) vs. (#2) TJ Dillashaw (15-3): The next title fight is a match that should have taken place at a previous event. Garbrandt however was unable to fight due to a back injury so it got pushed back to this card. These two ex-teammates became bitter rivals quickly after TJ left Team Alpha Male. It's hard to know what really happened with both sides being vastly different and all the name-calling that has emerged because of it. That feud will make this fight something to watch. These two will be fighting each other both physically and mentally because I'm sure at least one of them will gloat when they feel they have the upper-hand during the fight. Both men have unorthodox styles, but each know the other well because of their time as training partners in the past. The champ has nine wins by knockout with seven finishes in the first. He has also never been taken down. TJ has six wins by knockout and three by submission, but his wrestling and jiu-jitsu are excellent. Garbrandt gets into and out of all his situations with his fists and he probably has the advantage standing. Dillashaw will need to get in quick and survive a couple punches to successfully put him on the mat. I'm not sure how long it will take, but when TJ take this to the mat it's his fight. I can't call the round, but I believe that TJ will win this fight with a submission victory.
(C) Michael Bisping (31-7) vs. Georges St-Pierre (25-2): Finally at the main event we see a match that’s raising questions at the least. After a long process of finally getting signed back into the UFC, Georges St-Pierre is automatically getting a title shot for the Middleweight title, a division he has never fought in. They were supposed to fight back at UFC 206, but GSP had to pull out due to injury and a day or two later when they tried to put Bisping against the Interim Champ Robert Whittaker, Bisping pulled out saying he was injured too. So now this fight is upon us and the contracts state that no matter who wins, they have to defend their title against Whittaker next. We are going to see the current leader of wins in UFC history vs one of the best champs the UFC has ever seen. Bisping is a knockout artist with good wrestling. GSP is an almost perfect fighter that for a while looked unbeatable. Unfortunately that was four years ago and he hasn’t fought since. Even though, as a fan, I want GSP to win, I think Bisping has this one because no amount of time in the gym can replace a four year layoff. Almost 20 of Bisping's 30 wins have come from knockouts and he has done very well for himself in championship rounds. There is a chance that St-Pierre will have good endurance going into this fight because he used to be able to last all five rounds easily and he could've gotten that back in the gym. I believe this fight will be won by decision with GSP being able to stay in the fight. However, Bisping will take the decision because he has as much championship round experience and he has stayed an active fighter where his opponent hasn't.
- Mike W.
UFC 217: The fight card that we have all been waiting for is finally here. This is going to finally determine if Joanna is the true queen of all the 115 lb division. We will see Cody and TJ finally settle the score. As well as Bisping finally stop hiding from the division and take another fight against an older fighter who is returning from retirement vs his last win which was a guy headed to retirement which he honestly lost but the judges sucked. The sneaky good fight on this card is Gall vs Brown so look forward to that to start off the televised prelims. HERE WE GO.
FIGHT Pass Prelims (7 PM/ET):
Aiemann Zahabi (7-0) vs. Ricardo Ramos (10-1): This fight in the Bantamweight division should be a fun one to kick off a stacked card. Both of these gentleman have stopped 80% or more of their fights and will be looking to do so to put their name in recognition to the rest of the division here tonight. I think Zahabi is too good to pick against here in this one though and believe in round 2 he will find his way and land a TKO victory.
#9 (9) Aleksei Oleinik (52-10-1) vs. #12 (12) Curtis Blaydes (7-1, 1NC): Well this heavyweight throw down is a battle of complete opposites. Oleinik is 14 years the elder of his opponent at 40 years old and 63 professional fights under his name. Oleinik has finished over 75% of his fights just by way of submission while Blaydes has only won fights by way of KO so this will be very interesting to see who can keep the fight where they want it. If this fight goes to ground don’t expect it to last longer than a minute on the mat before Oleinik ends it. I believe that will actually happen in round 1 as he is the much more experienced fighter and will look for his opening to get it to the mat. Midway through round 1 Oleinik grabs a Kamura submission win.
FS1 Prelims: (8PM/ET):
Randy Brown (9-2) vs. Mickey Gall (4-0): This welterweight fight to start the televised prelims is the fight I am honestly most excited for just because I love watching Mickey Gall fight. They picked a phenomenal real rest for Gall though in Brown and I believe this will be his toughest test yet for sure. Brown will look to keep Gall at a distance using his 4 inch reach advantage and prevent him from forcing this fight to the mat. Gall will be looking for an opening to shoot and get this fight to the mat though and if he does it is game over. All 4 of Galls professional wins have been by way of submission. I believe this fight will go 2 rounds seeing Randy Brown do really well in round 1 possibly stun Gall once but once Gall figures him out somewhere in round two will secure the takedown and grab a submission win to move to 5-0 in round 2.
#6 (6) Ovince Saint Preux (21-10) vs. #7 (7) Corey Anderson (10-3): The fight between two guys in the LHW division trying to get back into the top 5 and prove they are title shot worthy soon. I believe this fight could be fairly slow paced and really make some fans get frustrated as it will be a technical show down between two guys who will respect each other’s strengths and be hesitant to push a pace. In the end I see Saint Preux grabbing a unanimous decision win.
Walt Harris (10-5) vs. Mark Godbeer (12-3): This fight was supposed to be on UFC 216 but Harris stepped up to replace Derrick Lewis on like 4 hour notice to face Fabricio Werdum. He got demolished but I mean you can’t step in against one of the best ever on 4 hour notice and expect much more but he did his best and saved a fight for the fans so we appreciate him. Anyway so here we go with this one again. I still like Walt in this one and I am going to take him to get a unanimous decision victory.
James Vick (11-1) vs. Joe Duffy (16-2): This freaking fight is going to be awesome in the lightweight division. This division is so stacked that if these two were in any other division they would be ranked and I believe the winner will find himself ranked. We will see an aggressive chess match for control in this fight as both fighters are dominant submission artist and I believe we will for sure see a submission stoppage to this fight. This one to me is a razor thin fight and I am struggling to pick a winner, but I believe we will see Joe Duffy pick up the win in round 3 by way of submission. I believe his ability to strike is better and he will use that to set up a takedown for the submission.
UFC 217 Main Card (10 PM/ET):
Johnny “need a burger now” Hendricks (18-7) vs. Paulo Costa (10-0): So Johnny already got a win, he made weight. Now to start off the main card in the middleweight division we will see what I believe will be a complete coming out for Costa and a domination of the former champ and a possible retirement as his struggles will seem to continue. I am sorry but I have no belief that he return to a great fighter until he takes his weight cuts more seriously and proves to do that consistently. Paulo wins 2nd round KO to move into the rankings and really make the division take notice of his talent.
#2 (2) Stephen Thompson (13-1-1) vs. #4 (4) Jorge Masvidal (32-12): The number one contender fight for Woodley’s belt is how I see this fight. Now we have two polar opposites when it comes to fighting on the feet. Masvidal is a head hunter who pushes the pace and really comes after his opponent for the wins. Thompson is a more clinical set up striker who uses his great reach and leg length to his advantage to pick up his wins. This fight will simply just come down to the one question me and Mike have been asking each other all week, can Masvidal close the distance because if not Thompson will dominate this fight. I expect this one to be back and forth for a while and I originally gave no chance to Masvidal I must admit but after a lot of thought I have changed my view on the result of this one. I believe Masvidal somewhere in round 2 will push the pace and make Thompson retreat and he will swarm him and land a 2nd round TKO to set up a Woodley vs Masvidal fight for the belt in 2018.
Champ Joanna Jedrezjczyk (14-0) vs. #4 (4) Rose Namajunas (7-3): The Queen herself doesn’t ever seem like she will lose her belt but this test right here is extremely interesting. Rose loves to bully fighters and be the aggressor which is normally Joanna’s role in a fight. The difference between Rose and every other fighter in this division is that she loves to push with her fists and then sneak in a takedown and submit them quickly. Joanna is going to have to watch the arm bar takedowns and the other sneaky takedown attempts Rose can land if she wants to win this one and keep her belt. Joanna is the best striker possibly in the UFC entirely not just women but in all of the UFC but when it comes to the mat she will be heavily out performed by Rose if it goes there. Now if Rose wins the news lines would be the world is shocked and stunned but I can say that I personally will not be stunned or shocked I have been saying Rose is a title holder one day in her career since day 1 and I stand by that but saying that I do not believe it is this day. Joanna wins in round 4 by TKO but both women leave bloody and put themselves into fight of the year category immediately.
Champ Cody Garbrandt (11-0) vs. #1 (2) TJ Dillashaw (15-3): The bad blood between these two will have to be checked at the gate because if either fighter enters this one recklessly because of a feud then they will be KO’d quickly. Both of these fighters are on a different level than the rest of this division with exception to Jimmie Rivera in my eyes. Cody keeps saying TJ is like Dominick Cruz and acting like that is a bad thing. If TJ is like Cruz was before all his injuries, then TJ might be the best bantamweight fighter we will ever see if he stays healthy. TJ is a bit more of a finisher though than Dominick and I believe his ground game is extremely under estimated and is what I believe he will try to use for the win in this one. Cody is a one trick pony to me still in the UFC as he lands a ton of knockdowns but never seems eager to go to the mat which is weird because his personal “god” Urijah Faber loves going to the mat. Garbrandt I believe has the most knockdowns in bantamweight history yet he has 0 submission finishes I guess if you put those stats together all you need to realize is take his ass to the mat. I think this one goes a long while and I have us seeing the real champ get his belt back around his waist as I still disagree with his loss originally. Dillashaw wins by 5th round submission.
Champ Michael Bisping (31-7) vs. Georges St-Pierre (25-2): The main event of the evening is between two future HOF fighters. GSP retired as one of the greatest champs we have ever seen when he fought at 170 and now he returns 4 years later at 185 for a title shot. Bisping kept dodging Jacare, Whittaker, and Romero claiming steroids for 2 of the 3 and personally just believe he is terrified of the current interim champ Whittaker. Now he will defend his belt for a 2nd time, the first being what I believe was a loss where he fought 44 year old Dan Henderson and now against a guy who hasn’t fought in 4 years. Picking what he believes to be easy fights I think is his strategy as champ. That being said this will be no easy fight because GSP looks to be in freak of nature type shape and ready to put on a show for the fans who have missed him terribly. This fight will be simply a guy looking to land his one hit or two hit KO’s vs a technician looking to land a TKO or submission finish. I am supposed to remain neutral as a sports writer but I really hope this fight comes out how I see it going because I want a real champ, someone who will fight whoever is next in line, GSP wins in the 3rd round with a submission victory.
- Matt Koontz.