This fight card originally was McGregor vs Dos Anjos for the lightweight title at 155 LBS. The fight was going to be incredible and significant. Then Dos Anjos broke his foot and will be out for a little while and the McGregor-sweepstakes was on. They first asked Aldo if he wanted to take the fight at 155, and Aldo said he wasn’t in shape or prepared for a fight. They then asked Frankie Edgar to take the fight but sadly he is injured recovering from a torn groin and he sent them the MRI’s and I know that if Frankie could fight he would fight he wants McGregor more than anyone in the UFC. So then the offers to take the fight at 155 piled up, they got offers from Anthony Pettis, Eddie Alvarez, Diego Sanchez, and Donald Cerrone, being the major one for this one. Then Nate Diaz tweeted he is going to have to get on his knees and beg. For some reason fans jumped on board with Nate and so did Dana White and it makes absolutely no sense in the end. Here is why Nate is now getting the fight at 170 instead of 155 when McGregor was already coming up from 145. Then Nate got more money to take the fight like it was inconvenient to him to take the fight and get on the biggest fight of his career. Cerrone was training for this fight immediately 2 days after winning a fight at 170 and was willing to meet Connor at 155 where this fight should have been. Now Connor has to find a way to fit into the class at 170 he isn’t able to truly build the stockiness in his body up and fill out properly it will be rushed and he won’t be in as good as shape if he took his time getting to 170. It is disappointing but this fight will be worth watching just think Cerrone and Sanchez would have been the better options. This being such a big fight night expect my analysis to be more in depth for each fight.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims (6:30 PM/ET):
Julian Erosa (15-3) vs. Teruto Ishihara (8-2-2): The opening fight of the night here on the online prelims is a fight in the featherweight division between two younger fighters. Both of these guys will be entering their second fights of their career. Teruto is a 24 year old fighter, with some possible upside and could prove it this Saturday night. He has KO’d 6 of his 8 finishes showing that he has some flashy KO power. Julian Erosa is a good fighter who has stopped 13 of his 15 wins, 5 were by KO and the other 8 by submission. It annoys me because he is known as a standup fighter but this guy can get to the mat and end a fight. This fight could be really entertaining if they stay standing up and go toe to toe. I am going to take Erosa though to win this fight because he is a more complete fighter. I think he gets the win in a 2nd round submission after getting the knockdown and taking advantage on the mat.
Jason Saggo (10-2) vs. Justin Salas (12-6): This fight in the lightweight division could be a brawl or
wind up on the mat. This fight truly could go either way. Saggo has never let a fight go to decision in a fight that he has won. Justin Salas is a good fighter though and his record should be overlooked. He is a better fighter than 12-6 seems to say. I am still convinced by Saggo’s skills and think he will get this fight to the mat and dominate the fight. Saggo wins via submission in the 1st round.
Diego Sanchez (27-8) vs. Jim Miller (25-6, 1NC): This is the main event of the UFCfight Pass prelims. This fight should be televised prelim main even it is way too good to be this low on the card. This fight is also in the lightweight division and is a true brawl, possibly. I like Jim Miller, he is a good fighter with good cardio who can dominate a fight on the mat. His last fight though was a loss to uprising Michael Chiesa via a submission which leaves the question of his ground game. But Jim is a great wrestler who can bounce back and will look to here because he has struggled of late going 4-3 in his last 7 fights. He has actually lost 3 of his last 4 with his lone win being a split decision win so not showing to much of an edge even in that one. Just don’t count Jim out especially if he gets this fight to the ground as he has had 3 submission of the night bonuses in his time in the UFC and could pick up his 4th if he gets his way. Now standing across from Jim is the most savage man I have ever seen in my life Diego Sanchez. This man is an absolute monster and if I was any fighter in the UFC he would be the man I would fear the most simply because you CAN NOT knock him out. Diego Sanchez can take more of a beating then anyone in the UFC except for maybe “the Korean Zombie.” Diego has lost 3 of his last 4 as well with a split decision win in the middle of it just like Jim and will be looking to bounce back here. I think his last fight in his test down at 145 was a little too much of a loss for him in weight and he just looked a bit off against Lamas. Sanchez back at 155 is a good move except I wouldn’t mind seeing him at 170 where he could really knock off some heads. He was the winner of TUF season 1 in the middleweight division. Diego is a really skilled fighter who gets overlooked when it comes to his skills on the ground because he is actually a pretty good fighter when the fight goes to the mat. Now of course Diego will love to keep this fight standing because we know that he can take more of a beating than anyone and will be able to stop the fight if it stays standing. I really hope that this fight does stay standing because Diego Sanchez is the most exciting fight you can have when it comes to a stand up brawl and would be the best thing for UFC fight pass since Joanna’s last title defense. Diego has fought some of the best in the UFC like Martin Kampmann and BJ Penn, his fight with Penn will live forever in my memories. Now if the fight goes to the ground I truly think it will be a coin flip between who is having a better day and also who has a little more gas at the time and less damage done to them. If this fight stays standing however I truly think Sanchez is the big favorite. I am going to take Diego to stop the fight in the 2nd round to a TKO just because he has displayed some good take down defense lately and could get what he wants with it.
Fox Sports 1 Prelims (8 PM/ET):
Darren Elkins (20-5) Vs. Chas Skelly (15-1): The first fight on the televised prelims will be a scrap that we will most likely see on the mat and will take place in the featherweight division. Chas Skelly is an all-American wrestler who is 15-1 in his professional MMA career. His lone professional loss came in his first fight in the UFC where he seemed to me to have first night jitters which is common. He is 30 years old but is on track to get himself ranked soon if he can pick up one or two more wins. He has won 4 in a row since his lone loss and has stopped 3 of those 4, 11 of his 15 wins have been stoppages. He has grabbed 8 submission victories and the other 3 by KO/TKO. He isn’t just a wrestler though as Skelly is a ground specialist in general being well versed in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as well. Chas is a great competitor with a lot of heart has in his career as both before and inside the UFC he has fought 2 fights in 2 weeks stepping in for an injury both times on less than 12 days notice. Skelly is a great fighter to watch for those new to MMA and think fights that go to the mat can get boring should watch Chas because he is always active looking for his gap to pick up a submission victory. Now his opponent is a great fighter all around and especially on the mat as well. Elkins has phenomenal wrestling skills to match up with Skelly and could make this fight a dead even draw when it goes to the ground. Now when you look at his stoppages you might say well they don’t speak to a guy who fights on the mat because he has stopped 8 fights by KO and only 3 by submission but that is a loaded stat. He is very well known for his ability to get in full mount on the mat and end the fight via some vicious ground and pound picking up TKO’s and KO’s this way. His takedown game is incredible as in his last fight alone he grabbed 7 takedowns against his opponent and will be looking to push the fight the whole time. His conditioning in the past has been great and if in his normal shape should be completely capable of going full speed for all 3 rounds without much of a change in his pace. I really like this fight because it has the ability to become a great wrestling match or you could see Elkins use some vicious elbows and hammer-fists from top position and end this fight brutally. I am really split here on who I am favoring but I think I will go with Chas Skelly to pick up a win via split decision.
Vitor Miranda (12-4) vs. Marcelo Guimaraes (9-1-1): This fight in the middleweight division is the one I am not so excited about honestly. Marcelo is a decision type fighter who fights a very slow paced fight with his Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt. His only two UFC wins are by split decision and his lone loss was a KO. He has stopped only 33% of his wins and as I just said none of those stoppages are here in the UFC. His last UFC fight was almost 2 years ago as it was June 28th, 2014. I am really hoping he comes out here in a different pace and puts on a real show for not just the fans but for himself. He has skills he just needs to be a little less conservative and come get a win. His opponent though won’t be an easy one to do that against has he takes on Vitor Miranda. Miranda is the opposite of Guimaraes. He used to fight at middleweight and is now 2-0 in middleweight and looks good down at middleweight. Miranda is a very skilled striker who loves to finish a fight as you can tell by the fact that he has finished 11 of his 12 professional victories. Both of his wins in the UFC are by KO/TKO one of them in August last year being against Clint Hester was just an absolute domination of Clint where Miranda really showed he has what it takes to make it in the stacked UFC middleweight division. Miranda has a decent skill set on the mat but he could look to improve it if he wants to make a real climb into the rankings soon. I think this fight could actually be over quickly though and I am taking Miranda to win this one via 1st round KO/TKO.
Erick Silva (18-6, 1NC) vs. Nordine Taleb (10-3): This fight in the welterweight should prove to be a good one here as it always is when you get these two guys in the octagon. Nordine is coming off a loss to a monster of a man in Warrlley Alves via a submission loss. Taleb is otherwise unbeaten in his UFC career with a 3-1 UFC record. He has stopped 5 fights by KO and 2 of those in the very first round. Now I am having a hard time with his professional KO victories because his 3 wins in the UFC are all by decision which is disappointing because he has the skill set to finish fights. Taleb is really going to need his striking skills here and come out looking to stop this fight he doesn’t want to rely on the judges score card for two reasons. First because you don’t ever want to rely on the most inconsistent thing ever aka the judges scorecard because these guys seriously must watch different fights than the rest of us and secondly Erick Silva is a great fighter and will be able to outscore him with ease. Erick Silva is a great fighter and I think if he can grab a win here will get himself re-ranked or at least to me he will and find himself ready to show everyone he is extremely skilled. Silva is known for his ability to land some pretty awesome kicks and score some pretty good takedowns and I don’t see that changing here in this fight. Silva can change the level of this fight at will and is a much better fighter than Taleb on the mat and might even have a slight edge standing. Silva has stopped 15 of his 18 professional wins 11 via submission really showing that he can dominate when the fight goes to ground and the other 4 are by KO/TKO. Silva is coming off a loss as well against Neil Magny via a unanimous decision in which Silva looked outclassed but it wasn’t that bad a loss especially since it was against someone as good as Magny. I really like this fight though and think Taleb if he really gained some of his confidence back and come out looking to press the fight can make this fight a real brawl and make this a great showing for both of them. That being said there has to be a winner and I think it will be Erick Silva via a 3rd round submission victory.
Brandon Thatch (11-3) vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (21-6-1): The main event of the televised prelims is going to be a complete brawl between two good fighters who will put on a show for the fans. Siyar is an exciting fighter with a ton of heart and determination. You either have to legit knock this guy’s lights out or grind away a decision win otherwise he will not stop coming. He has grabbed 17 stoppage wins professionally, 12 of which are KO’s and the other 5 via submission wins. He hasn’t fought in the UFC since 2013 though and I hope his octagon jitters don’t return because he could make a huge statement win with his return to the UFC. He did struggle before leaving as he has a 1-2 record in the UFC. Thatch will need to be careful against Siyar because Siyar has one punch KO power and will be looking for the stoppage victory. Now his opponent Brandon Thatch has been in the UFC consistently and will be a dangerous one for Siyar. Thatch is a good fighter who against Gunnar Nelson I think was just in a fight against someone who was a superior fighter and his fight against Benson Henderson was a replacement fill-in and still managed to go 4 rounds against the former champ. Thatch is a finisher along with the best of them has he has stopped 6 of his opponents in less than a minute one being in 15 seconds. He is a calculated striker and what I mean by that is he reads his opponent and takes the holes when he sees them. He has stopped all 11 of his wins 8 by KO and the other 3 by submission and the most impressive fact of his 11 wins is that he has stopped all 11 opponents in the very first round. I really like both fighters and I am happy to see Siyar back I hope he is here for the long haul honestly. That being said I think Thatch wins this fight via 1st round KO but if this fight makes it out of the first round Siyar could get Thatch as he hasn’t won a fight that has lasted longer than 5 minutes. Still Thatch via 1st round KO.
Main Card PPV (10 PM/ET):
#4 (3) Amanda Nunez (11-4) vs. #10 (8) Valentina Shevchenko (12-1): We start the PPV with two rising stars in the Women’s Bantamweight division. Alright this fight is a good one I will say that and people should be ready for something special here. Valentina came in as an unknown to most UFC fans and was considered a major underdog when she fought Sarah Kaufman. I actually picked Valentina to win that fight based off of what I caught of her on the internet videos. She is a very skilled fighter who will continue to climb through the rankings regardless of her result against Nunez. I truly believe we will see her having a title fight before the end of 2017. Her last fight was an impressive split decision win though over Sarah Kaufman and she stepped up and showed her skill set is both on the feet and on the ground including her ability to land takedowns, posting 4 in her UFC debut against Kaufman. Her lone professional loss was to a current UFC contender in Liz Carmouche to a TKO but that was way back in September 2010, in other words it has been nearly 6 years since her last loss professionally. This girl has some impressive skills though and I want to go into that a little. She is a Muay Tai fighter with the phenomenal ability to finish the fight no matter where it goes. Most women in the UFC get decision wins with the exception of Rousey, Nunez, Joanna, and Valentina and a few others. She has stopped 7 of her 12 wins, 5 by submission victories showing how well versed she is on the mat. Now her other 2 KO’s are a good sign that she can deliver some nasty shots with her Muay Tai. She loves to use the spinning back kick and I think that she hides the set up for it pretty well and could be a deadly thing if she can land it with Nunez’s guard down. Valentina has managed to end 6 fights in the very first round meaning if she stops a fight it has been in the first round 85.7% of the time.Now I think in this fight we will see Valentina go for the takedowns though and try and get this thing on the mat because Nunez is the most lethal fighter in the Women’s bantamweight division on her feet, yes I believe more deadly than Holly. Now let’s to get Amanda Nunez who will be her toughest opponent so far in Valentina’s career. Nunez is in my opinion the only person in this division who can out strike Holly Holm or anyone else in this entire division. I think she is bound for title glory by the end of this year if Dana doesn’t wait for a Rousey vs Holm rematch if Tate doesn’t win. Nunez is a monster in the cage. She is seen as a KO finisher but her last fight she DOMINATED Sarah McMann in the first round and submitted her. Nunez is the most exciting fighter to watch and the facts back it up as well. She has stopped all 11 of her wins, 9 of those have been in the very first round. Here is something I find really interesting about Amanda Nunez, since joining the UFC she has a 5-2 record, all 5 wins in the UFC are 1st round wins, both losses are out of the first round. I really have to wonder if this fight lasts longer than 5 minutes if we will see Nunez get tired and lose again or if she can pass the post 5 min hurdle and still come out with a win in this one. Nunez though has the endurance to last I just think she starts to get a little over aggressive after the first round and leaves herself open. Nunez’ two UFC loses have been TKO loses which means in her 7 UFC fights she has never been to the judges scorecard. Now Nunez is seen as this aggressive striker and that is it but she has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and a brown belt in judo showing she is not just a boxer. This girl is one of the more diverse fighters in the Women’s’ divisions in general and she is younger then the champ and former champ which makes this even more exciting for the UFC. I really am thrilled for this fight I have been dying to see more of Nunez and I would love to see more of Valentina now so this is perfect for me as a fan. I am going to take Amanda Nunez to win this one though and I think she does it with a 1st round TKO again.
#12 (11) Corey Anderson (8-1) vs. Tom Lawlor (9-5, 1NC): This is the first of 2 fights in the light heavyweight division, they are back to back. This fight is one that I think is a bit of a trap for Corey Anderson and a huge opportunity for Tom Lawlor. I think Lawlor has shown some good positives and could really prove to be worthy of a ranking if he can pick up a win here. His last victory was an impressive one of Gian Villante who we will see in the next fight. It was a win that really shocked me because I personally didn’t think Lawlor belonged in that fight and if he can pull of a win here he could really throw his name in the top 15 of the LHW division. He is a very skilled stand up fighter with great skills when it comes to fighting on the mat as well. He has grabbed 8 stoppage victories, split evenly 4 and 4. 4 KO/TKO wins and 4 through submission while only one decision in his career when victorious. He has stopped 6 of those fights in the very first round and will most likely be looking to do so against Corey Anderson who is a very technical fighter. Tom was a 3 time world champion collegiate wrestler and is now a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu under Tim Burill. Lawlor’s last win as I said was against Villante in which we saw him get a TKO win in the 2nd round against Gian who is currently ranked 13th in the LHW division. Now his opponent Corey Anderson is 8-1 with his lone loss coming to Gian which makes this fight even a little more exciting. Corey is a very sound technical fighter with a slower pace to him who likes to use his reach to kep his distant and make the fights stay in his favor. Corey has picked up only 3 professional stoppages in his career and all 3 are by KO and in the very first round. Corey is the youngest fighter ranked in the LHW division I believe and is arguably one of the best prospects in this division full of older guys currently. Anderson has a great striking skill set with some serious power but he seems to slow down after the first round and grind out most of his wins. I would like to see him use his wrestling back round to keep his opponents honest and just look to win these fights by stoppage a little bit more often. He has great skills and the ability to stop fights he just needs to keep his pace and push the fights more often. We will see how this fight goes because both guys can stop a fight with one punch but both guys can also wrestle very well and look to win the fight on the mat. I am not sure where this find will wind up but I think Corey Anderson grinds out another unanimous decision win.
#13 (13) Gian Villante (14-6) vs. (14) Ilir Latifi (12-4, 1NC): This fight in the Light heavyweight division will be between two guys who have snuck back into the rankings in the division and belong there honestly. I am really excited to see which one of these two can prove they are top 10 worthy in a division that has seen its best days slip away and has become a show of 4 guys at the top. Ilir is a very well rounded mixed martial artist. He has the ability to end a fight in one punch but he can also take the fight to the mat and submit you. Latifi is a wrestler by nature and can grind out his opponents on the mat and really wear out their energy. He has stopped 10 of his 12 professional bouts and done so through 4 submission victories and 6 KO/TKO wins. His last one against Sean O’Connell in his last fight was quick and impressive. Ilir since being in the UFC is 4-2 in which all 4 of his wins and one of his loses came in the very first round. 3 of those wins were by KO/TKO so was his loss and his other win was through a submission. His only other loss in the UFC was to middleweight fighter Gegard Mousasi who got the win in a unanimous decision and it was also Ilir’s first fight in the UFC so it could have been something as simple as first night jitters. I really think with a win here he could move to the top 10 and draw a guy like Ryan Bader which would be a great fight. Now his opponent Gian Villante is no cake walk. Gian is a very explosive and dangerous opponent. I really was high on him until his loss to Tom Lawlor. That loss really set him back a bit and he will need to pick up a 2nd consecutive victory here to prove he is back on track. Something I have to give Villante credit for is that in his fight against Corey Anderson 3 fights ago he was being out struck and if it would have gone to decision he most likely would have lost. He came into the 3rd round and found his shot and landed the devastating TKO blow and picked up the win. I really like that Gian is a finisher as well and has stopped 11 of his 14 wins through, 9 KO’s and then 2 rear naked choked submissions. Gian is the training partner of Chris Weidman which means he does have top level talent to train and spar with which is great for his upside and his ability to bounce back from that Tom Lawlor fight. Now Gian obviously has great power in his hands and everyone knows him for the great striker that he is but the stat that people should keep an eye on is his ability to keep himself upright. He has posted an 89% takedown defense in his UFC career proving to be one of the more difficult fighters to take to the mat. This fight should actually be a standup brawl and something to watch as fist will fly and blood will cover the mat which will most likely already have Diego Sanchez and Jim Millers blood all over it. I think this fight will be slow at first as these two feel each other out but will pick up pace late in the first round. I see Latifi picking up a 2nd round TKO finish though after gaining some confidence and pushing the pressure.
(C) Holly Holm (10-0) vs. #2 (2) Miesha Tate (17-5): Welcome to the Co-main event of the evening, and yes the only title fight of the evening. Now the world was shocked when Holm beat Rousey and I would have been before the fight but when you watch Rousey try and stand with someone like Holm just to prove to herself she can beat these girls at their own game, it wasn’t going to work, poor game plan for Rousey in my opinion. Now that being said I am not taking anything away from Holly but let me get to Holly in a bit I would like to start with the challenger. The incredibly well rounded very talented Miesha Tate. Miesha has had her shot at the gold before but Rousey just proved to be too much but Miesha is also the first fighter to ever take Rousey out of the first round. Since her loss to Rousey, Miesha has won 4 in a row all of them have been by decision though and 2 were pretty close in my eyes. That being said Miesha can take a punch and can wrestle with the best of them in this division. She will not take a Holly Holm hit and back down and get dizzy, when you hit MIesha she just keeps smiling and coming at you and that is an intimidating thing to think about. Miesha has stopped just over half of her wins with 6 wins by submission and the other 3 by KO. She is an incredibly skilled fighter and she is tough for any opponent because she can fight whoever well on the feet or on the mat and it is tough to train for someone who has no care where the fight goes because they are good in both places. Miesha has the best conditioning in the division if you ask me and her proof would be that she has fought 2 fights in one night, 2 different times in her career! She has fought and gone to the 3rd round a lot and still looked to have her energy as well even in recent fights so Holm will most likely need to pick up the stoppage win to slow down Miesha because she will be there all 5 rounds if she has to be. Now her opponent the girl who climbed to fame with one dominating performance of someone they were calling a legend already, Holly Holm. Holly is a world champion by every means of the word. She was a champ in boxing, a legendary champ, and 3 fights in she comes in and becomes the UFC champ. Now I still stand by the fact that Rousey just was playing into Holm’s hands and didn’t try for the takedowns until she was already rocked and to me that made the difference. Holm has great conditioning as well as Tate and could make this fight really fun even in the later championship rounds due to the fact that neither of them will seem to slow down. Holm does have an interesting stat on her side that I think makes her a little more scary for Tate than I originally thought. Holm has still not been taken down in her UFC career, granted it is only a 3 fight career, and Rousey didn’t do her normal judo attempts to show how good Holm really is at stuffing the takedown. We will see that really tested in this fight though as Tate will definitely go for takedowns and try to change levels to keep Holm off her game. When this fight is standing I will give the edge to Holm because she has more devastating blows as seen by her 7 wins by KO including the Rousey destruction. But if this fight goes to ground Tate is the better fighter and wrestler and will most likely win this one if it stays on the mat for long. I know I need to pick a winner which is apparently not hard for most people in this one but I think Tate is so underrated because she had a hard time with Rousey. I just want to point out that since her last loss to Rousey Tate has won more fights than Holm has won in the UFC including Rousey and Tate should get the respect she deserves. I really am going to go with my gut here and take Tate to win in the 3rd round via submission and prove that she can be a UFC champion.
(FW C) Connor McGregor (19-2) vs. #5 LW(7LW) Nate Diaz (19-10): The Main event of the evening is a fight in the Welterweight division for no belt while the Co-main is for a belt. This fight was originally scheduled as I said earlier Dos Anjos vs. McGregor for the Lightweight title and McGregor as of last Sunday was prepared for a fight at 155 not 170. Nate Diaz is a ranked fighter in the lightweight division so if he wanted to step in I think he should have done so at 155 in his own weight class. Apparently that was too hard for him and they have McGregor coming up from 145 all the way to 170 on 11 days’ notice, he will be moving from what he thought was going to be 155 to 170. I think he will look a little fat for 170 instead of built up like he could have been if he trained for this fight to be at 170 the whole time. I am still excited for this fight but I believe McGregor took the easier opponent when he took Nate over Cerrone, Diego Sanchez, Eddie Alvarez, Anthony Pettis, or Michael Johnson. I believe they would have all fought him at 155 and really been hard for McGregor. I think honestly that Connor sees this fight as a chance to shut up someone who runs their mouth as much as him and is lesser of competitor than Connor is. Now to Nate is where I want to start so we know what we will at least see. In Nate against Connor we will see a middle finger at some point and him put his hands down and lean forward most likely. I will note that he did it against Michael Johnson and Johnson didn’t play into his game and I think the difference is Connor is so quick that if you do that you will get caught. Nate has fought at 170 two times before posting a 2-2 record there. Nate does one thing really well though and that is finish fights and land a lot of strikes. He has one of the highest strike rates I have seen. Nate has finished 16 of his 19 professional wins. He has picked up 11 of them by submission and the other 5 are by KO. Some of his submissions are from his incredible ability to get knockdowns from the flurry of punches he can throw and once on the mat he has a killer instinct to get the submission. I have my issues with Nate as a fighter but I can honestly say he has a lot of skill and should be considered a threat to McGregor still especially if he gets him to the mat. Now his opponent the biggest name in MMA in the world Connor McGregor. Man I could talk all day about him and most of it wouldn’t be his fighting. I am annoyed that he is holding up a whole division in featherweight with a real legitimate contender waiting for him to stop hiding. Now I would have loved to see McGregor and Dos Anjos go toe to toe for the belt because that fight was so unpredictable to me and would have been two of the best new champions in the UFC going at it. But this fight will be a good one especially the trash talking and show off stuff that I love to watch. Connor is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC and has the highest finishing rate in the UFC. He is as lethal as they come, when standing, both his professional loses come on the mat. He has finished 18 of his 19 wins in his professional career and they show his weakness on the mat as 17 of those 18 are by KO/TKO only picking up one submission win. Now Connor is a very gifted striker I actually will go as far as saying the most talented striker in the UFC. He knows how to read his opponent and find his holes to pick people apart and once he dizzy’s his opponent it is game over he will close down and burry them. I just want to see Connor go to the mat and become a lethal fighter from ground and I will be able to actually say he is possibly the best ever but the issue is Silva, Jon Jones, BJ Penn, Frankie Edgar, Royce Gracie, and Demetrious Johnson these guys all could or can fight standing and on the mat and that is what makes you a true MMA legend being good at more than one craft. Now this fight will most likely be on the feet the whole time as these two have now gotten into it at the press conference and probably will at weigh ins. I think the hate these men are building for each other will boil over and turn this into a complete brawl which is what McGregor wants. One thing Connor does that is overlooked is all the head games before the fights, he is the best ever at getting into his opponents head and really making them doubt themselves and hate him more. Once these guys build their hate for McGregor from all the games they want to stand and fight because they want to punch the guy who disrespected them in the face but that is exactly what he wants them to try and do. The approach needs to be come in and get the win in their own way the best way to shut up him is to beat him not punch him in the face. Mendes dominated round 1 against him by getting him to the mat and not playing into McGregor’s game. I really want this fight to last because all the trash talking and disrespect will make it fun but I see this one ending just like McGregor said inside the 1st round. Connor wins in 3 minutes via KO and goes for Lawler next at UFC 200 and continues to hold up the featherweight division as he hides from Frankie Edgar.
- Matt Koontz
Fight Pass Prelims
Julian Erosa (15-3) vs. Teruto Ishihara (8-2-2): The very first fight of the night kicks off in the featherweight division. The first fighter is Julian Erosa who has won five of his last six fights and is currently 1-0 in the UFC. He has eight wins by submission and five wins by knockout with two finishes in the first. His opponent is Teruto Ishihara who has six wins by knockout and they were all in the first round. On top of that, three of them were in the first minute. I predict that Ishihara will come out aggressive and moving forward. From the fights I’ve seen, Erosa will circle the cage using his length to keep his opponent just far enough away that only Erosa can land. I predict that this will work in his favor and he will be able to wear him down and then in the third he will get the takedown and secure a submission victory.
Jason Saggo (10-2) vs. Justin Salas (12-6): The next fight of the night will be one division up in the lightweight division. Jason Saggo has won five of his last six fights and his most recent was the loss. Saggo has eight wins by submission and two by knockout meaning all of his wins were finishes. On top of that half of them were in the first round. Saggo has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu so it’s safe to say he will probably try to stick to the ground. His opponent, Justin Salas, only has a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but leans more towards striking. Salas has won four fights by knockout and three fights by submission. I predict that Salas will think he is going to be comfortable in any situation and when the fight goes to the ground he won’t be able to keep up. I predict that Saggo will be able to put in his ground work and pull out a submission in the second round.
Diego Sanchez (27-8) vs. Jim Miller (25-6): Here comes the last Fight Pass Prelim and it’s going to be very different from the previous two fights. Both of these lightweights have their black belts in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and they are both going to put it to the test. Even though it sounds similar to the other fights it won’t be. If you don’t know, Diego Sanchez can take a hell of a beating and he loves giving one. In fact this man tries to make every fight a stand up fight regardless of who stands across the octagon. Jim Miller has 14 wins by submission as opposed to only three wins by knockout so he will definitely be working toward the ground and a tap out. This is where these men will have to use their jiu-jitsu skills because Miller will look for the takedown and Sanchez obviously does not want to be there. I am not going to predict that Miller will be unsuccessful in takedown attempts, but I will call right now that he won’t get a submission. I predict that this fight will go to decision because Diego Sanchez will force the fight to stay standing as much as possible. I predict that Sanchez will get the victory because of him forcing Miller to go out of his element.
Fox Sports 1 Prelims
(#11) Darren Elkins (20-5) vs. Chas Skelly (15-1): The first fight of the televised prelims will be in the featherweight division. The first fighter is the unranked Chas Skelly. Skelly has eight wins by submission and three by knockout. He is also on a four fight win streak so if he wins tonight it might push him into the rankings. Skelly is a decorated collegiate wrestler so he will be aggressive in finding his submission. His opponent is the number 11 ranked Darren Elkins. Elkins has won 11 of his last 15 fights and has the same finishing stats as his opponent except in the reverse order; eight wins by knockout and three by submission. I predict that Elkins will be able to fend off Skelly’s wrestling because Elkins has a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I then predict Elkins will be able to secure another knockout in the second after wearing down Skelly.
Vitor Miranda (12-4) vs. Marcelo Guimaraes (9-1-1): The next fight tonight will be the first middleweight matchup on this card. Both fighters are fairly new to the UFC with both fighters having only three previous fights. Guimaraes may not have an official rank or belt, but he has been wrestling and competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu most of his life with a long list of achievements and championship wins. Guimaraes has two wins by submission and one win by knockout. His opponent, Vitor Miranda, has nine wins by knockout and two by submission. Before MMA, Miranda racked up a 23-8-1 pro boxing record with 18 knockouts. This fight will be the age old matchup of striker vs. grappler. I believe that Miranda will be a tough striker to handle, but wrestling and jiu-jitsu are a lethal combination of taking someone down and keeping them there. Miranda has a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu so he will be able to fight off Guimaraes. I predict that this fight will make it to the second round and Guimaraes will be able to sink in the submission.
Erick Silva (18-6) vs. Nordine Taleb (10-3): This next fight will be the first fight in the welterweight division tonight. Nordine Taleb has won 10 of his last 12 fights and is 3-1 in the UFC. He has five wins by knockout and two of them were in the first round. On the other hand, his opponent Erick Silva has 11 wins by submission and four wins by knockout with 11 first round finishes. This will be another striker vs. grappler match and I am leaning in favor of the grappler. Silva has two black belts, one in judo and one in jiu-jitsu. I see this fight ending in the first round because Silva will push for the finish while Taleb is used to going to later rounds. I predict that Erick Silva will quickly attack and gain the first round submission.
Brandon Thatch (11-3) vs. Siyar Bahadurzada (21-6-1): We are at the main event for the prelims and this fight is in the welterweight division. Brandon Thatch has finished all of his wins in the first round with eight by knockout and three by submission. Not only that, but six of his wins were in less than a minute so it is safe to say Thatch will look for a quick finish. Siyar Bahadurzada is also a striker with 12 wins by knockout and five wins by submission and all but two wins were in the first round. I predict this fight will be very quick with both fighters looking for that performance of the night bonus. Brandon Thatch has done very well against his past opponents, but I can see him struggling with this one who does what Thatch does but better. Thatch has a faster striking rate so I will call in his favor since this match is very close to me. I predict Brandon Thatch with a first round knockout.
(#4) Amanda Nunes (11-4) vs. (#10) Valentina Shevchenko (12-1): We kick off the main card with a women’s bantamweight matchup. This will be Shevchenko’s second fight in the UFC. She has five wins by knockout and two by submission with only one win not in the first round. Shevchenko is currently on a five fight win streak. Her opponent is the number 4 ranked Amanda Nunes. Nunes has finished all of her wins with nine coming from knockout and two by submission and only two of them escaped the first round. I see this fight ending up purely striking with maybe some clinch. Both fighters are very used to first round finishes so I also see this fight going quick. I predict that Shevchenko will come out strong and aggressive, but will be met with heavy resistance. This fight will make it to the second round with both fighters staying very cautious of what the other can do and then in the second someone is going down. I predict that Nunes will take this one and hopefully start fighting people of her caliber.
(#12) Corey Anderson (8-1) vs. Tom Lawlor (10-5): This next fight is the first fight in the light heavyweight division. Tom Lawlor has eight finishes on his record with it evenly divided between knockouts and submissions and six of them were in the first round. Lawlor is an excellent grappler with three collegiate wrestling championships and a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. His opponent is also an experienced grappler with an impressive college wrestling career. However Corey Anderson will be looking to stand and strike. Anderson has only three finishes, but they are all knockouts and in the first round. Anderson gets almost six significant strikes per minute and he will be putting them to good use in this fight. Anderson will have to use his wrestling to fend off Lawlor’s attempts to take this to the ground. I predict that this will be another first round knockout because Anderson has heavy shots and he is very accurate.
(#13) Gian Villante (14-6) vs. Ilir Latifi (12-4): Next up we have another light heavyweight matchup. Ilir Latifi has six wins by knockout and for by submission with eight wins in the first round. Latifi is the shorter fighter and he is a slow striker, but his fists hit like trains. His opponent, Gian Villante, has five inches on him and Villante has five significant strikes per minute as opposed to Latifi’s one. Villante has nine wins by knockout and two wins by submission. I think Villante will take this fight because he is able to keep Latifi at a distance and he strikes more than Latifi. I think Latifi will be able to put up a good fight and I predict that it will take Villante until the second round before he gets the TKO.
(C) Holly Holm (10-0) vs. (#2) Meisha Tate (17-5): We are at the co-main event for the night and it’s a match for the women’s bantamweight title. The competitor, Meisha Tate, is on a four fight win streak since her loss to Ronda Rousey. Tate has six wins by submission and four wins by knockout and is the only person to take Rousey to the third round because of her grappling. Her opponent is the undefeated Holly Holm who is best known for dethroning Ronda Rousey. Holm was a pro boxer with a record of 33-2-3 with nine knockouts and she has seven more knockouts in the UFC. Meisha is a good striker, but she will have to use her grappling against Holm or this fight is going to be over quick. Holm will be an aggressive striker and can even stop takedowns to keep her standing game going. I think that Tate will be smart enough and level-headed to know to keep away from the fists and constantly hunt the takedown until she gets it to the mat. From there, Holm has never been on the ground in her pro career so I think Tate will quickly take advantage once it goes to the ground. I am going to say that this fight will last into the third or fourth round and then Meisha Tate will score the submission victory.
(C) Conor McGregor (19-2) vs. (#5) Nate Diaz (19-10): Finally we are at the main event of the evening. After a long tedious process, we currently have a main event that makes no sense. First we have featherweight champion, Conor McGregor. This fight was initially going to be a fight for the lightweight title, giving McGregor the first-ever opportunity to become a champion in two divisions. Well about two weeks ago, Rafael Dos Anjos got hurt and backed out. You would think the most logical thing to do would be to give it to a high ranking lightweight OR finally give Frankie Edgar the fight he had been promised back in July. Well not only Frankie, but the entire top 5 ranked lightweights offered to take the spot to fight McGregor and guess what happens. The UFC gives the fight to the lowest ranked of all the fighters that offered and on top of that, he was the only fighter overweight! Nate Diaz was so overweight that the UFC had to move the fight up another weight class. So now we have the champion of the 145 pound weight class and a ranked 155 pound fighter fighting at 170! Well both McGregor and Diaz are excellent trash talkers and that may be the only redeeming quality of this fight. Diaz is a submission artist with a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and 11 wins by submission. Although there is no doubt in my mind that this fight will start standing because McGregor has 17 wins by knockout and if you don’t already know this, Diaz is a show off. Diaz is back and forth with his wins and losses while McGregor is on a 15 fight win streak so I think that McGregor will be more successful in implementing his game plan. Although in the fight against Chad Mendes, McGregor showed struggle so I think this may be a longer fight. I am going to call that McGregor will get the knockout win in the third.