UFC 214: The best card in UFC history is finally here and we have the best card still regardless of losing a couple huge fights. This card had the young rising star Sage Northcutt against Makdessi and sadly that was removed due to injuries. We also lost Meghan Anderson in the women’s featherweight title fight and the Korean Zombie against Ricardo Lamas. Those loses would have destroyed any other card but Sean Shelby as always mastered putting together this card even with the losses. Now the Jones vs. Cormier 2 fight has been anticipated since the day the first fight ended but so many different issues have come up between then and now that it’s arrival is a warming feeling in the heart. This card is going to be amazing ended by a rivalry as bitter as they come with a third chapter either on the way or the book closed early we will find out soon enough. Here is my call for 214. Reminder our rankings are the ones not in parentheses and the UFC rankings are the ones we put in parentheses.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims (6:30 PM/ET):
Joshua Burkman (29-15, 1NC) vs. Drew Dober (17-8, 1NC): We kick off the biggest card in UFC history with a lightweight brawl between two complete warriors. Drew Dober loves to throw the high kicks and when he lands he does so with devastating power that could end Burkman’s night. He is a Muay Thai fighter in his stand-up as he was previously a two-time amateur muay-thai world champion. He isn’t someone who can only stand-up and bang though as he will take a fighter to the mat and could grind out a submission win. Dober is looking to rebound off a really tough loss against Olivier Aubin-Mercier in a overwhelmingly stacked lightweight division. One thing you can’t teach a fighter is his incredible heart and lack of quit no matter how bad of a beating he receives he just keeps coming. If he can get his momentum going early and keep this fight standing and just land his shots he will find himself back in the win column. His opponent though Joshua Burkman is a steel chinned dude with a passion you don’t see in everyone in the UFC. This dude can grind a fight no matter where the fight goes or stays. Burkman is coming in off 3 losses and really needs this win to keep himself safe in the UFC as a lot of guys with 4 fight losing streaks don’t tend to stick around and will be probably be coming in with that passion that he always has. I personally have loved watching Burkman fight in his entire career and I hope he win or lose sticks around because he always seems to bring a fire to fights that you don’t always see. Burkman is extremely well rounded and lethal if he catches Dober sleeping it is good night because Burkman will head hunt in this one for a win. These two men are going to stand opposite of each other and bang and put on a show for the fans in attendance and on fight pass. I am excited for this one but when it comes down to picking a winner I have Dober landing a devastating combination to score a KO early round 2.
Eric Shelton (10-3) vs. Jarred Brooks (12-0): The only fight in the flyweight division on this card is going to be an interesting one. Brooks is a new comer to the UFC and entering his first fight inside the UFC octagon he will show off his impressive skill set. Brooks has won 10 different amateur titles in his time inside the MMA world. Brooks started MMA through wrestling but now he works hard at jiu-jitsu, muay-thai and boxing completing a very well-rounded skill set that he can enter a fight with confidence no matter how the fight is going. He is a very confident fighter and his confidence brings that edge to him that helps him push for his pace and fight hard because he believes very strongly he is one of the best in the world and he will have a tough test proving so in this division because it is becoming a pretty loaded division. Now his opponent is only in his 2nd fight inside the octagon and Shelton is a great fighter and isn’t someone I would take lightly. Shelton’s first fight inside the cage was against a now ranked Alexandre Pantoja he suffered a tough loss at the hands of a very questionable judge’s scorecard as I believe he won that fight personally but the split decision loss didn’t give him that result. He is oddly viewed as a primarily a striker but has 5 submission stoppages and proves that he is a very well-rounded fighter regardless of what people believe. I really like this kid and believe he could make a name for himself in this division as both fighters will. I believe in this fight we will see a very balanced back and forth exchange and some incredible 15 minutes of fighting. I have no doubt these two men are going to one day find themselves in the thick of this division but for now they have to start here and I believe we will see Jarred Brooks pick up a unanimous decision win.
Kailin Curran (4-4) vs. #15 (NR) Alexandra Albu (6-0): This strawweight fight to main event the online prelims should be a bit lopsided if you ask me personally. I am a huge fan of Alexandra Albu’s skill set and I believe she is bound for a title shot one day in the next year or so. Albu doesn’t like to let the fight go the distance as she has stopped all 6 of her fights including her only fight so far inside the UFC which she did via an impressive 2nd round submission. She has a black belt in karate and brings an exciting factor to the UFC’s strawweight division if she plans on staying here once the new women’s flyweight division is officially part of the organization. She was a former body builder but now she is using that body as a weapon to pick up martial arts wins and possibly wrap a belt around her waist later in her promising career. She isn’t just a karate fighter though as she has a good judo game as well as an amazing ability to land some great strikes and end fights with a shot or two. Now her opponent entered the UFC with a big name and a lot of promise as she entered at 3-1 and a lot of people thought Kailin Curran would become something big one day. She has a great skill set she just has seemed to struggle so far in her UFC career as she has gone 1-3 inside the UFC Octagon. Curran has to just keep this fight standing and use her kickboxing skills and land her shots but avoid getting overwhelmed by an unorthodox fighter in Albu. Curran has the skill set to turn her career around and get back on track at any time and I believe she has been putting those pieces together in training and could look impressively improved in this fight. I think Albu is going to come into this fight and look to push the pace and if she does so she will back Curran down early and pick up an early round 1 TKO finish to show she is here to make a name for herself.
FXX Prelims (8 PM/ET):
Andre “Touchy” Fili (16-4) vs. Calvin Kattar (16-2): The televised prelims kick off with a BANG in the featherweight division. Calvin Kattar will be making his UFC debut. Kattar has a very well-rounded skill set and a complete ability to win and grind out wins. The biggest negative for him moving forward in the UFC is his lack of ability to finish a fight and how close he leaves fights for the judge’s scorecard. He will need to become a much more aggressive fighter in his UFC career for however long it lasts. If Kattar can become a more aggressive fighter and go for his finishes he could became a real threat in the featherweight division. This fight will be the perfect way to find out what he can possess inside the octagon as Andre Fili is the perfect test. Fili is a very good fighter on the verge of finding himself ranked. This kid can sure as hell put on a fight for the fans and I hope he does start to get more recognition as the original fight against Doo Hoo Choi would have gotten him. Fili has some of the best gym partners he could ask for in the MMA world as he trains in Alpha Male with Benavidez, Garbrandt, Faber, and Guida and I believe those training partners are filling out his skill set more and more between each fight. Fili has the ability and has shown his ability to end fights and he has done so well in the first round as well. I honestly believe he is the superior fighter but you have to give Kattar credit for filling in, in a months’ notice to take on such a great fighter in a debut. Fili will find his way in this one early and pick up a late 1st round TKO finish over Kattar and find himself at the bottom of the rankings finally in this division.
#10 (9) Renato Moicano (10-0-1) vs. #8 (8) Brian Ortega (11-0, 1NC): This fight could steal the show as this is two young unbeaten rising stars in a LOADED featherweight division. Brian Ortega who was last to weigh in had me scared he wouldn’t make it is one of the kids in the UFC I am most excited to watch rise through the ranks. His 3 wins in the UFC have all been stoppages and he has beaten three well-known names in Guida, Brandao, and Tavares. This kid keeps improving each and every single fight and his skill set is so deep as he can be a lethal finisher on the mat or in stand-up. His finishes in the UFC have been round 3 finishes and he has shown his ability to take shots and reverse position on the mat and overcome adversity during his fights. I believe he has a lot of heart and no quit and would be a great matchup for the current featherweight champion Max Holloway. Ortega has a 3 inch disadvantage when it comes to reach in this one and will need to use his good head movement and close the gap and land his shots because in this fight he might be a bit over whelmed on the mat. Now his opponent Renato could make a title run as well in his career as he is 3-0 in the UFC and has some impressive wins in that time. His last win was a split decision but it should have easily been a unanimous decision over big named Jeremy Stephens. Moicano is a BJJ great and would have a huge advantage if he takes this fight to the ground as he could use his incredibly superior skill set to his advantage in this one. Moicano needs to work some on his standup but he proved against Stephens that it has continued to improve and he can take some shots because he took heavy shots from a big hitter. So if he continues to improve the top of this division better take note as he would be a serious contender. This fight is going to be seriously fun because no matter who wins we are looking at a guy who is peering into the top 5 of this division. Now that being said I think that Ortega has a slight edge over Moicano and will pick up the win in round 2 via a KO and find himself in the top 6.
#8 BAN (8) Aljamain Sterling (13-2) vs. #15 FTW (14) Renan Barao (35-4, 1NC): This fight was supposed to take place in the Bantamweight division but some weird thing about Barao missing weight once made them say no to him dropping weight again so this fight will take place at a 140 LB catchweight. Barao is a legend of the sport as he went on a 22 fight win streak and since 2005 where he picked up his first career loss he went 36-3, 1NC. Barao for those who want to learn MMA is someone I would show them immediately because this guy is the definition of a complete MMA fighter. Ever since I can remember I have never picked against Barao because of how skilled he is at absolutely everything and when he wins no matter how he wins I am never surprised. The only fighters I have seen him struggle against in his UFC career have been the hard hitters like Stephens and Dillashaw and it might be because of the pure power he normally doesn’t have to face at his weight classes that is rare. Barao has only been taken down once in his entire UFC career and that should show you how good his take down defense is and I believe if Sterling tries to much he is going to gas himself and Barao will dominate any tired opponent. Barao has a gym full of complete beasts like , JDS, Claudia Gadelha, Junior Aldo, and Thales Leites just to name a few. This superior training helps keep him motivated when he has already done it all including winning the Bantamweight title. Now his opponent is a good test to see how he still stands as Aljamain Sterling is a monster. Sterling has lost only 2 fights in his career and they were both split decisions against Caraway and Assuncao and I personally believe they were bad decisions. I have him at what should be 15-0 but that is why they say you can’t leave fights in the hands of the judges. This dude is one tough man who can take a hit and just keep his head down and keep coming for his wins. He is a wrestler by nature and his ability to get into a good position through scrambles as he seems to just love when the fight becomes a mess and gets into a scramble. This guy loves to find new ways to land and get take downs as he is a creative fighter with a very unorthodox fight style. His youth and continuous adaptation and ability to learn during fights and adapt as they go on is something rare and could help him become a champion one day. This fight is so hard to call because these two dudes are savages and neither have quit in them and I believe they are both so well-rounded that they complete the profile of a fighter. I am going to take Sterling in this one via unanimous decision.
#3 (3) Ricardo Lamas (17-5) vs. #13 (15) Jason Knight (20-2): HERE WE GO!!! The main event of the FXX Prelims are going to square off in the featherweight division. THIS FIGHT IS GOING TO BE SO MUCH FUN!!! I am so excited as you can tell and if you haven’t seen Jason Knight fight yet you have missed out on the one of the best young studs who loves to fight and when he does he does with a fire and passion. He truly brings that edge to the cage every fight where he believes he is the best and won’t be beat and I truly believe that is why he is so successful. Jason has finished 15 of his 20 professional wins and did so in both of his last two fights. This kid is becoming a more complete fighter but his clear point of dominance is the mat with his Jiu-jitsu skills. Knight when he first got to the UFC had some issues with his stand-up but he has shown some incredible improvement and landed an impressive 3rd round TKO on Chas Skelly in his last fight. This dude wants to be the bad dude of the division but there is one problem, his opponent, Ricardo Lamas is the bad dude of this division. Lamas is one bad savage fighter with some dominating power. Lamas is so powerful that one quick shot could put Knight out or on his butt where he could be TKO’d quick. Lamas for some reason has become one of the most underrated names in the entire UFC and people seem to forget to mention him at the top of the title picture but he is there for a reason and he seems okay proving the doubters wrong. Lamas is sneaky too when you watch him because he can be reserving his shots and once he sees an opening or stuns his opponent he explodes like a 12lb ball out of a cannon. Lamas is going to be the toughest test by far of Knight’s and I believe he will have his hands full in this one but should impress us all regardless. I have Lamas winning this fight though by way of a 3rd round TKO but Knight will show us that he belongs as he will put on a fight of the night performance.
UFC 214 Main Card (10 PM/ET):
#3 (3) Jimi Manuwa (17-2) vs. #5 (5) Volkan Oezdemir (14-1): Well here are 2 of the top fighters in the LHW division that could both earn a shot at the title with a win if they overlook Gustaffson. Oezdemir is one of those guys that the moderate fan hasn’t really payed attention to but that should change because this guy is a legit threat to anyone in this division. Volkan has only fought twice inside the UFC but both wins were against a ranked opponent and his last one was a devastating KO. This guy has some great power but his ability to fight standing and on the mat is what separates him from a lot of the top LHW fighters as most of them are better known KO artists. This fight is going to be the toughest fight in Volkans entire MMA career as it should be considering it has title implications. Volkan has stopped 11 of his 14 wins and all 11 of those stoppages have been round one stoppages. He should excite the fans as he brings an aggressive push the pace fight style that backs down his opponent and puts them on their back foot. I really like what Volkan brings to this fight and the entire top of this division. Now the toughest opponent he has ever faced Jimi Manuwa is a KO MACHINE. Jimi has stopped 16 of his 17 wins and 15 of those 16 are KO finishes. Jimi has long arms and brings a 4 inch reach advantage into this fight and with his KO power in both hands it could be a huge advantage. I am nervous that if this fight goes to the ground that he will be overwhelmed though and make this fight look one sided but I also just wonder if he has more ground skills then we know and we just haven’t seen it because of his ability to stop fights standing. Now this fight for Manuwa was a fight he was debating if he was even going to have because he was keeping himself ready in case Jon Jones messed up or DC got hurt and proved he has no problem making championship weight. I really think this fight is the toughest fight of Manuwa’s career regardless of fighting Anthony Johnson before because Volkan is a different beast and coming up through the division. I have been thinking about this fight all week long trying to figure out who is going to pick up the win but I still haven’t figured it out. The betting line shows you how close this fight is going to be and I believe if I have to pick Jimi Manuwa will pick up the 2nd round KO but it could go either way. Don’t be surprised to see either fighter with their hand raised.
#3 (3) Robbie Lawler (27-11, 1NC) vs. #7 (7) Donald Cerrone (32-8, 1NC): Here comes a fight we have been waiting for since the first card in NYC. This battle in the welterweight is going to either be ugly and long or a finish in a flurry of shots from either fighter. Cerrone is the king of fighting multiple fights a year and is the king of exciting finishes. He is one win short of tying the record for the most wins inside the UFC octagon currently sitting at 19 one win behind Bisping. Donald is a phenomenal striker with a great flurry of hands and can land great combo’s with his incredibly sneaky lethal kicks. All that being said though if he wants to win this one he would be best to get Lawler to the mat in any means necessary. Cerrone is known by fans as a KO finisher that haven’t followed his whole career but I personally don’t know if there is anyone better at picking up RNC submission victories. I do believe we will see him stand and exchange early but after a few heavy shots from Lawler add up Cerrone will then go for the mat and could catch Lawler off guard because everyone is expecting these two to stay standing and bang. Now the opponent for Cerrone is the former champ Robbie Lawler who is looking to get this win and get his name right back into the title picture for a shot to reclaim his belt. Lawler is one of the best stand and bang fighters we have ever seen and has still one of the best fights of all time under his name when him and McDonald met. Now Lawler hopefully won’t have any cage rust because he hasn’t fought for a year Sunday. Lawler hits hard and we saw Masvidal’s power end Cerrone’s last fight and Lawler, with no disrespect to Masvidal, hits a bit harder and could end the fight with that. Now Lawler isn’t all about power because he has very quick hands that are deceiving when you watch him fight and his ability on the mat as a wrestler is almost forgotten. I think this fight is going to be a fight of the year candidate if they stay in this one because these two are the most exciting fighters in the UFC. My friend who is a huge Donald Cerrone fan has been asking me since this one was announced in NYC last year has been asking who wins this one? Well I have said I have no idea the whole time but here is my official answer because I think Donald Cerrone is the quicker fighter and will pick up a 3rd round TKO in a blood soaked fight of the decade style battle.
Chris Cyborg (16-1, 1NC) vs. Tonya Evinger (19-5): The battle for the women’s featherweight title is finally going to include Cyborg in the UFC. De Randamie said she wouldn’t fight Cyborg who they claimed was the only opponent so they stripped her and made this fight Cyborg vs. Meghan Anderson, sadly Anderson got hurt and Evinger was one of the few women on the planet to step up and be willing to fight Cyborg. This fight is going to be simple to digest. If they stay standing Cyborg will dominate this one and finally earn the UFC gold she has been waiting for but if this thing goes to the ground like Evinger is going to try and push for it is going to be very interesting. Cyborg is one of the best female strikers in the world with Joanna but if she goes to ground she could be overwhelmed. I am a huge fan of the underdog and would love to see Evinger win this one just to go against the norm and expected but I don’t see her surviving this one as Cyborg’s stand up is too overwhelming to expect anyone to be able to close the distance and land a takedown successfully. Cyborg grabs a round 2 KO as Evinger goes low for a takedown she gets caught and Cyborg finally gets the UFC gold until Meghan Anderson comes back at least.
Champ. Tyron Woodley (16-3-1) vs. #1 (1) Demian Maia (25-6): The Welterweight title is on the line between possibly one of the best Welterweight champions we could have and the greatest Jiu-jitsu artists of all time. This one is going to be good because Maia can stand and strike regardless of what his career has shown of being a ground game attacker he proved in his last fight against Masvidal that he can stand and strike and take shots as well. Now I am not saying Maia will look to stand and exchange because that would be ridiculous but he will have to some to get Woodley to stop defending takedowns as well because Woodley will be expecting takedowns and be defending them. Maia will be on the short end of the reach advantage and that will cause him fits against the hardest hitting man in the UFC if your talking P4P. Maia needs to ignore the fact that heavy striking wrestlers tend to do well against jiu-jitsu artist because his style and dominance of jiu-jitsu isn’t covered by statistics. This man if he gets this fight to the ground you can bet it will be like when Tate took Holm to the ground he won’t let go and will force his way into a submission because he is that damn good on the mat. If you teach a kid about jiu-jitsu and they want to get excited about it just show them film of this man in a fight because Maia can make a fan out of anyone and he is humble and a class act every single time we see him and if he wins the title should be someone the UFC makes the poster boy for this division because he would be a good one. Woodley will be coming in with his dominating takedown defense in his back pocket. Now Woodley has a very slight reach advantage and will come in with his god like power looking to show why he believes he is the best of all time. This man could truly cement his name in the record books if he can get by Maia because the people under Maia in this division are big time strikers who he can handle unless they get a clean shot and could see a very long title reign. Woodley isn’t saying this but he knows that this is the biggest test of his career because of the strength of his opponent being so high on the mat which is where he isn’t as dominant. I think we will see this fight go back and forth and start really slow as they try to feel each other out and figure out the pace of this one while Woodley won’t attack right out of the gate as he will force Maia to shoot and try and land while he does so early to discourage him from continuously looking for the takedown. This fight will be very close but I think in time he will show why Woodley is the champion and get the KO victory in round 4.
Champ Daniel Cormier (19-1) vs. #2 (1) Jon Jones (22-1): Do I need to even say anything about this one at least about the rivalry? Look for those who do not know these two DESPISE each other. They have threatened to kill each other before I mean it doesn’t get much worse. I think Jones this week has shown some maturity and some of his old self at the same time. I am intrigued to see what he is like back in the octagon and that is the unknown for me in this one because he is the best fighter in the world when he is on but will we see that again now that he is back. If we see good old Jon Jones we will see a lethal MMA fighter who has no real flaws in his game but if he has matured I mean I think he will become even more dominant than before if that is possible. DC is the champion though regardless of all the oh he never beat me talks and as much as I don’t love DC in commentary he is one of the best human beings I have ever seen in professional sports. He is the best wrestler in the UFC with exceptions to maybe Cejudo and this dude packs one hell of a punch. DC wants to revenge his one loss in his career especially against his heated rival. This fight is going to be very crazy and back and forth as I believe regardless of DC’s age he is still growing more and more. I am really torn I know everyone in the world is just saying oh Jon Jones but I do not believe it is that simple as I believe DC is a true legend as well and is being over looked. I really love how much DC has done for this division in Jones’ absence because he is a great champion and someone we can all thank for his absolutely amazing display of character and dominance for all future champions to look at as a model. I think this fight will go the expected way but it will be a WHOLE LOT closer than most are making it seem. I have Jon Jones winning this one by way of decision as he has become a decision fighter in his recent fights. If DC wins I expect him to do so by stoppage in round 4 by way of TKO. But I will make Jones my official call by way of decision.
UFC 214 Fight Pass
Josh Burkman (29-15) vs. Drew Dober (19-8): We kick off the night with two veteran unranked lightweights. Drew Dober has a rough winning percentage since moving over from strikeforce, but when he has his good days he is on fire. He has seven wins by knockout and five by submission with five in the first round. Josh Burkman has also had it rough in the UFC. He left the UFC in 2008 after losing three in a row. After leaving he added 9-2 to his professional record. Since he came back in 2015, he has only won one of his last seven fights. In his career he has won nine fights by knockout and seven by submission with only two finishes not in the first round. Both of these guys are in right about the same place in their career so this could still be a pretty entertaining fight. Dober is trained in Muay Thai so he will want to stay standing or clinched and Burkman is a big ground wrestler so he will hunt the big takedown and pound him out. I think Dober will keep his distance and work striking with Burkman swinging back and looking for a takedown. Dober will be able to keep it standing except for one or two takedowns that really level the playing field. I see Dober winning this thing by decision because of all the shots he will land.
Eric Shelton (10-3) vs. Jared Brooks (12-0): This next fight will see a flyweight debut against someone only one fight more experienced. Jared Brooks has won five fights by submission and two by knockout with five finishes in the first round. In amateur competition, he went 28-1 and held ten titles. His opponent won four in a row before losing his UFC debut. Eric Shelton has also won five by submission and two by knockout with five finishes in the first. I think Shelton's six inch reach advantage will play a factor here, but Brooks just gets after it too much. I think Brooks will swarm him and take him down and beat him up. Then get the TKO in the second.
Kailin Curran (4-4) vs. Alexandra Albu (6-0): On to the last fight of the fight pass we see two big players in the strawweight's unranked roster. This will be the second UFC fight for Alexandra and at strawweight. Albu has four wins by knockout and two by submission making all of her wins by stoppage. So far in the UFC, she lands an average of 5 significant strikes per minute and has a near 90% takdeown defense. Her opponent, Kailin Curran, is having trouble in the UFC with her four losses coming from her five UFC fights. Also meaning before that she was 3-0 so she just needs to get a win here so she can get some traction. Curran seems to do well when she can work the ground, but I don't see her being able to take Albu down. I believe Albu can keep this standing and get a TKO in the first.
Andre Fili (16-4) vs. Calvin Kattar (16-2): Kicking off the prelims we see a featherweight debut. Calvin Kattar is coming in on an eight fight win streak. He has won six fights by knockout and three by submission.Almost all of his decision victories have been his most recent fights so maybe there is a change of style. His opponent has won 12 of his last 15 fights. Andre Fili has won eight fights by knockout and three by submission with six in the first round. This is going to be a really interesting fight and I think who wins this is based upon how long the fight goes. Fili will probably end it early or Kattar will get the decision. He has shown he is good at stoppages, but it has been a while since he has done so. I think Fili will take this one with a first round TKO. He is on fire recently and I think whatever that's causing Kattar to go to so many decisions will hinder his performance.
(#9) Renato Moicano (10-0-1) vs. (#8) Brian Ortega (11-0): Already in this card we see just how many fighters are ranked tonight. #8 ranked Brian Ortega is coming in a three fight win streak. Ortega has won five fights by submission and his most recent victory was by knockout. For the most part he outstrikes his opponents during his submission wins so he really grinds the guy out as opposed to some who just try to catch their opponent as quick as possible. His opponent,Renato Moicano, is on a six fight win streak. Moicano also has five wins by submission and usually outstrikes his opponents before sinking the sub in for the finish. This is going to be a great stand up fight for most of it and I think Moicano will take the submission in the third. I believe he will beat Moicano because both stand and beat their opponent down until they get the finish or the bell and Moicano lands more, has a higher percentage of damage when he lands and has a better defense. He will use these tools to wear down Ortega and be able to stay defended enough to get a submission on his terms.
(#8) Aljamain Sterling (13-2) vs. (#14) Renan Barao (35-4): The next fight will move us into the featherweight rankings. Largely conisdered unbeatable for many years, Barao has lost three of his last five fights with two going to T.J. Dillashaw and the third to Jeremy Stephens. With a near perfect takedown defense, he loves to stand or clinch and just lay shots on his opponent. From there he has shown great success with 15 submissions and eight knockouts. His opponent, Aljamain Sterling, has been having trouble as of late due to two losses in a row, but both were questionable decisions. Other than that, this near perfect record has been highlighted by showy kicks and Sterling wrapping around his opponents like a squid. Barao is a tough guy to beat and someone you don't want on the ground, but Sterling brings a confidence into his matches that really show through in his striking and his mix of wrestling and jiu-jitsu. I think this will be a good two or three round fight with both guys trading off and trying to control each other. I think Barao will start to get worn down and in the third round Sterling will get a big knockdown and he will capitalize by finishing the fight with a submission victory.
(#3) Ricardo Lamas (20-2) vs. (#15) Jason Knight (17-5): The main event for the prelims probably would have been a main card fight originally because Lamas was set to face the "Korean Zombie." He had to back out and Jason Knight is filling in. Knight will have an uphill battle tonight because he is facing one of the toughest featherweights in the division. Knight is coming into this fight on a four win streak. In his career he has 13 wins by submission and two by knockout with eight in the first round. He is not a very accurate striker, but when he lands he tends to do damage. His opponent, has won 11 of his last 15 fights. Ricardo Lamas is an all-around badass being able to submit people like Charles Oliveira and knockout people like Diego Sanchez. Jason Knight is good and after a few more fights may be able to compete against the top ranked guys, but he just got into the rankings and going against this guy of all people is a giant stepping stone. I think Lamas will keep this standing at first, but Knight will take it to the mat to get in his element. From there Lamas will over-power him with his wrestling and secure a first round submission.
(#3) Jimi Manuwa (17-2) vs. (#5) Volkan Oezdemir (14-1): Kicking off the main card we have two top 5 light heavyweights. When news broke that Cormier would be facing Jones again at UFC 214, Jimi Manuwa asked to be on the card so if Jones gets into trouble again, he could step in. Well, thankfully that doesn't seem to be an issue and we can see this fight too. Oezdemir is on a four fight win streak and his only two fights in the UFC were against ranked light heavyweights. He has ten wins by knockout and one by submission with all of them being first round finishes. This fight isn't going to last long because his opponent is also a knockout machine. Jimi Manuwa has 15 wins by knockout and one by submission with 11 finishes in the first. I think Manuwa is going to put an end to the hot streak with both fighters banging and Oezdemir being dropped in the first.
(#3) Robbie Lawler (27-11) vs. (#7) Donald Cerrone (32-8): Even more ranked fighters are about to do battle in welterweight. Before I start, I will be both happy and sad regardless of who wins. Both guys are class acts and exciting as hell to watch. I wish them both luck. Cerrone has been almost unbeatable as of late only losing two of his last 14 fights. Cerrone has won 16 fights by submission and eight fights by knockout. He is a real get-in-your-face kind of guy and most of his recent wins are by knockout and when he does grapple its usually to capitalize on a big hit he just delivered. Now his opponent is former welterweight champ, Robbie Lawler. Finally coming back from his loss of the title almost exactly a year ago, he is ready to get back on the road to gold. Lawler has 20 wins by knockout and 12 of them were in the first round. I predict that Lawler will be too much of a force for Cerrone. Cerrone is normally the guy pushing the pace and that won't be the case here and I think Lawler is going to brute force his way into a second round TKO.
Chris Cyborg (16-1) vs. Tonya Evinger (19-5): This is the first of three title fights tonight and it will produce the second women's featherweight champ. This fight was originally supposed to be Cyborg vs. Megan Anderson after they stripped Germaine de Randamie of the title, but Anderson got injured and Evinger is her replacement. Not including a no contest, Evinger is on a 10 fight win streak and she is making her debut in the UFC. She is moving up to the featherweight division after successfully defending the bantamweight title in Invicta four times. She has won eight fights by knockout and seven by submission. Her opponent, Chris Cyborg, has been undefeated for a decade because her only loss was her first professional fight. Cyborg has 15 wins by knockout and nine of them were in the first round. Cyborg is a monster with an average of 8 significant strikes per minute. I think Evinger is a good matchup and she will provide a good fight, but Cyborg has unbelievable stopping power and I think she is going to land a deadly bomb in the second and get a knockout victory.
(C) Tyron Woodley (16-3-1) vs. (#1) Demian Maia (25-6): Here we are at the co-main event and we get title fight #2 for the welterweight title. This is going to be very entertaining to see how these opposing styles will collide. Demian Maia is arguably one of the best grapplers that the UFC has ever seen. With only just about half of his wins by submission (12) watching him fight is a much different story. Even if he doesn't get the submission he will still get on your back or take you to the ground and just work you the whole fight. To paraphrase The Longest Yard, He makes good grapplers look not good. And even more intriguing is that he has developed a standing game. He doesn't hit incredibly hard or go crazy, but he has developed an excellent way to round out his skillset which help lead him to this seven win streak. His opponent is Tyron Woodley who is looking to make his third title defense. Woodley has seven wins by knockout and four by submission with nine in the first round. He has a near perfect takedown defense which will help him in keeping Maia on his feet, but Maia is also good at gaining backpack position form the clinch. He made this very obvious in his last couple matches and showed he could stay up there for a while. This prompted Woodley to say that he was going through his whole training camp with a weighted vest on to prepare. Woodley isn't a particularly fast striker, but he times his shots well and really damages guys. Maia on the other hand has been capable of negating all fighting styles as of recently. This fight is really about whether Woodley can keep it standing or Maia getting it to the ground. This may sound crazy, but I'm going to call for Maia to win this one. I know I'm referring to Stephen Thompson, but Woodley has had trouble beating other strikers recently; he did, but barely both times. If he has trouble with that, I'm not sure he will do well against someone who specializes in forcing strikers and grapplers alike to show how well they can grapple. Maia can take any kind of fighter as of late and make them have to become a better grappler than him or face the consequences. It may be hard for him to get there, but I predict Maia will tire Woodley out in the first and grind him out in the second and third and get a unanimous decision.
(C) Dan Cormier (19-1) vs (#1) Jon Jones (22-1): Main event time and one of the most anticipated rematches of modern UFC. This fight has an insane amount of hype surrounding it and is long overdue. Animosity grew quickly before the first fight even started. There was a lot of trash-talking and even a couple physical altercations between the two. During the fight the lack of respect showed, leaving no dull moment. Jones of course had the size advantage, in this fight being a foot and a half longer than Cormier. Dan became the second fighter to ever take Jones down and held him there for some time before Jones countered. Over the course of the fight, they both missed a lot of takedowns, but Jones was able to take better control of the fight. At the end Cormier suffered his first and only loss of his career. Finally two and half years later, Cormier is the champion because of Jones' recklessness leading him to become stripped of the title. Jones faced both suspensions and legal action over the course of that time and Cormier asserted himself as top of the division, with one giant shadow. Jones is finally back to reclaim his title and continue his 13 fight win streak. For this match everything is in Jones' favor. Cormier has experience dealing with larger guys with him being small guy back when he was at heavyweight and he has fought Jones, Gustafsson and Rumble. The problem with that is, Jones is so long that he does anything he wants and nobody has been able to stop him. Cormier can throw hands with the best of them, but he will have a lot of trouble closing that distance like he showed in their first fight. You could argue that Cormier is a better wrestler since he has success at the national and Olympic level, where Jones does not, but Jones has used his size to just stretch out and make it impossible for people to do anything. I think this is going to be another long war that Jones will win by decision. I just hope he doesn't fuck up outside of the octagon and leave the title vacant again.
It's that time of year again where we get to see the Fight Week pay-per-view, the one they try to make the best one of the year. Even though there have been a few hiccups along the way, this is still going to be an entertaining card.
Jordan Mein (29-11) vs. Belal Muhammad (11-2): In the first fight of the night we are kicking things off with a welterweight fight. Belal will be marking his one year anniversary in the UFC when he fights for the fifth time tonight for the organization. Both of his only two losses were in the UFC and with his most recent fight a win, he is looking to get traction. He has four wins by knockout and one of them is in the first. He seems to do better in fights when he can get the takedown even though he doesn't have many strikes landed on the ground so maybe he is doing it for the judges. Its also worth noting that he hasn't had to defend against takedowns yet in the UFC. His opponent has won 11 of his last 15 fights, but has currently lost two in a row. Jordan Mein has 40 fights under his belt at 27 and is one hell of a finisher. He has 16 wins by knockout and seven more by submission with 19 finishes in the first round. Mein picks his takedowns carefully and has great success when he goes for it. I believe Mein will be able to get Muhammad to the ground and grind him out. Into the second I think Mein will work him more and get a submission victory.
Thiago Santos (14-5) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (26-8): This next fight will move up a weight class to the middleweights. Gerald Meerschaert has just as impressive a finishing rate as he does a nerve-racking rate of getting finished. He has 19 wins by submission and five by knockout with 14 in the first, but he has lost by submission seven out of his total eight. Gerald is on a seven fight win streak, but he needs to bring down the rate he gets finished or it could put a damper on his longevity. His opponent is Thiago Santos who is more of a UFC vet even though he hasn't had as many total fights. Santos is the complete opposite stylistically. He has nine wins by knockout and one by submission with seven finishes in the first round. This fight will go quick in my opinion. I want to say this is going to go in Santos' favor because he has a good striking rate and Gerald doesn't take shots. Meerschaert normally gets his victories from out-grappling his opponent once they are already down and Santos is going to stand and bang. I'm calling for a TKO in the first.
Chad Laprise (12-2) vs. Brian Camozzi (7-3): This next fight will go back to the welterweights. Brian Camozzi has won five of his last six fights and his loss came from his UFC debut. He has four wins by submission and three by knockout making only one of his wins by decision and only one finish wasn't in the first round. Unfortunately his stats are shit right now because his only fight in the UFC is a loss and they don't account for stats outside of the organization. His opponent has six wins by knockout and one by submission with only one finish not in the first. Laprise likes to take early control of the octagon and uses distance to keep his opponent backing up. Camozzi is a good defensive grappler, but he prefers to stay on his feet. I think Laprise will try to work his usual game plan and Camozzi is going to defend well due to his reach advantage. I predict that Camozzi will try to push the pace and Laprise will start to go wild on punches and it will set up for Camozzi to drop him into a submission during the second round.
(#9) Travis Browne (18-6-1) vs (#14) Aleksei Oleinik (51-10-1): The main event for the prelims will show two ranked heavyweights face off. Aleksei Oleinik has won 12 of his last 13 bouts. In his career he has won 39 fights by submission and seven by knockout. With one and a half significant strikes per minute it shows that he is a very ground-oriented fighter. His opponent was once a beast with 14 of his 18 wins by knockout. Browne has recently been slipping very far with win only half of his last ten fights and lost his last three. I have no idea how he is going to come out in this fight and I think that Oleinik is going to get him on the ground and dominate him. This fight is going to take a while and Oleinik will finally put Browne away with a submission in the third.
(#6) Anthony Pettis (19-6) vs. Jim Miller (28-9): The first fight on the card is kicked off with two veteran lightweights. Now Miller may not be ranked, but he is the kind of fighter that has seen all levels of talent throughout his career. Miller has 14 wins by submission and four by knockout. He is a tough competitor and always seems to get the upper-hand in a scramble. His opponent is what used to be the champ and one of the best lightweights we had seen for a while. Pettis has won ten of his last 15 and those losses took place in his most recent matches. He went down to featherweight after a three loss streak and went back up after going 1-1.He has wins by both knockout and submission and is known for being a mix of flashy and very technical. If Pettis is back in the form he was then this is going to be a long night for these two. As bad as I want to see the old Pettis come back I just don't think it will happen and I predict that Miller will get a TKO in the third.
(#1) Fabricio Werdum (21-6-1) vs. (#3) Alistair Overeem (42-15): This next fight will be a rematch and what many think is for the next contender to the heavyweight title. The last time these two fought it went to Overeem by unanimous decision. Both fighters don't lose much and are skilled in every area. It will be fun to watch these guys square off again in what was one of only two losses for Werdum in the last ten years. I actually believe this will end the same way it did the first time. Both are amazing fighters and it takes something special to beat a guy who almost never loses and I think Overeem will be able to pull it off again. Overeem was able to out-strike Werdum and he effortlessly stopped shot after shot. He negated Werdum at every opportunity and came away looking dominant and I think he will take another unanimous decision here tonight.
(#15) Daniel Omielanczuk (19-7-1) vs. Curtis Blaydes (7-1): Here is another heavyweight fight in two up-and-comers. Blaydes has won all of his wins by knockout or TKO. He loves to take shots and get people on the ground and just beat them down. In his three UFC fights he has landed 15 takedowns and almost 60% of his strikes are on the ground. His opponent may make him want to stay standing because Omielanczuk has won 15 of his last 19 fights. In his career he has nine wins by submission and five by knockout. I think Blaydes shows a very limited skill-set in what we have seen so far and with Omielanczuk being an experienced grappler we are all going to see it exploited. Blaydes is good at what he does, but he will be playing right into where his opponent wants to fight and I say Omielanczuk will get a first round submission victory.
(#1) Yoel Romero (12-1) vs. (#3) Robert Whittaker (19-4): The co-main event is for the interim middleweight title. This match has seen many changes since its original inception. Originally it was supposed to be Michael Bisping vs. GSP for the middleweight title. Then GSP said he wopuldn't be ready by then so Dana took him out and replaced him with Yoel Romero. Almost right after Gsp was taken off, Michael Bisping was all of a sudden injured and unable to make the date either. (Reminder: they stripped Randamie for less.) So Robert Whittaker was put in against Romero and now we are watching this fight. Yoel deserved the title shot, but the opportunity itself is about to be stolen from him in equal parts Bisping and Whittaker. Romero is a great fighter and can bang with the best of them so Bisping has been ducking. On top of that Whittaker is a freak and will come in and tear Romero apart. I want this to sound fair because Yoel Romero is easily title worthy, but Whittaker is a freight train with seven wins and a row and Romero and Bisping are both unlucky enough to be in this kid's way. I predict Whittaker with the TKO in the second or third.
(C) Amanda Nunes (14-4) vs. (#1) Valentina Shevchenko (14-2): Finally at the main event we see Amanda Nunes defend the women's bantamweight title for the third time. This is the second rematch of the night with the first victory going in the champ's favor. Nunes has a longer reach and lands strikes more often while Shevchenko has an extensive Muay Thai career and has shown that she can handle longer opponents with counters. Shevchenko doesn't waste time on strikes or pushing the pace really; she stands her ground and when her opponent comes in she lands devastating counters that almost always land. The champ, Amanda Nunes, is vicious, constantly pushing and mauling her opponent. We watched both of these game plans play out almost perfectly against each other until Nunes realized that Shevchenko couldn't get her off the mat. Even when Shevchenko had the opportunities later in the fight she was still working her counters well, but Nunes put her back on the mat and kept her there. Shevchenko started to come back a bit in the third by keeping Nunes on her feet. I think this fight will yield better results for Shevchenko. She has the experience of the first fight and was even making adjustments as the fight went on. I predict that Nunes is going to go back to thinking she can put Shevchenko on the mat and just bury her, but Shevchenko will know this is coming and have a better defense in place. This will allow her to land more and cause Nunes to worry and take more shots. Rinse. Wash. Repeat. I predict this fight to go the distance and Shevchenko will pick up the victory because she was able to keep Nunes up and as a result deal more punishment.
UFC 213: Nunes vs. Shevchenko: Welcome to a huge card to finish fight week with so much talent and superstar power. I was sad to see Lawler and Cerrone get moved but we respect Cerrone as this is his first time needing to pull out of a fight and still have a stacked card. Now before I start my predictions remember the rankings not in parentheses are our rankings and the ones in parentheses are the UFC rankings.
FS1 Prelims (8 PM/ET):
Jordan Mein (29-11) vs. Belal Muhammad (11-2): We shall kick off the televised fights with a big one here with Jordan Mein and Belal Muhammad. Belal is a machine with the ability to get the fight where he wants it. He got right back on track with his last win with 2 take downs and he grinded out that win. Belal is a tough dude and I believe he needs to really become a more aggressive fighter and come after his wins. His opponent is a guy that already successfully does this in Jordan Mein. I really like Jordan and his ability stop fights. He has stopped over 50% of his fights via KO alone and when you throw the submissions on top of it he has stopped over 75% of his fights. This kid is coming off 2 straight loses and needs to find a way to turn it around. He is a very quick handed and experienced fighter and I hope he comes back around and finds some momentum moving forward. This fight is going to go back and forth as it wages on but I believe in round 3 Mein will land the shot he is looking for and pick up a late TKO.
Thiago Santos (14-5) vs. Gerald Meerschaert (26-8): This middleweight brawl is going to see some sparks fly from one end and a bad ass submission artist on the other. The opposite ends of the MMA world will collide in this one. I see this one going back and forth and Meerschaert will look to land his impressive take downs and grab that ground game dominance. This kid brings another legit ground threat to the middleweight division as he has only fought 2 fights so far in the UFC and grabbed wins in both via 1st round submissions. His stand up isn’t bad but it isn’t good enough for him to rely on it to stay in a fight. He will need to look for fast strikes and shoot for his take downs if he wants to be successful in this fight. Now his opponent, Thiago Santos, better have worked on his takedown defense because Thiago brings a great stand-up and some lethal fists. Santos isn’t bad on the mat but he is better off standing especially in this one but if he can keep this one standing here is what you are going to see. Thiago throws his kicks very well and times them perfectly and I believe if he wants to keep this fight standing he needs to establish his high kicks and knees early to try and scare Meerschaert from diving for the take downs. If he can do this he will find himself at the end of the fight with his hand raised because his stand-up is far superior to his opponent. Now if I am stuck choosing someone to win this one I have to go with the guy I believe can change the fight with one simple takedown. I am going to take Meerschaert by way of 2nd round submission.
Chad Laprise (12-2) vs. Brian Camozzi (7-3): This fight in the welterweight division will bring some pop and has two fighters who can both handle the fight well anywhere the fight goes. I believe Camozzi had a rough entrance to the UFC but we will see him come out strong looking for his first career UFC win in this one. Camozzi hasn’t allowed a fight to go to the judges and I believe he will fight with that same mentality. Camozzi got smashed before he finally went out in his last fight and it showed how durable and tough this guy is and I believe that will be a great thing for the future of his career in the UFC. He has great help with rebounding from his loss though as his brother Chris is a UFC vet and has had a up and down career in the UFC before finding his footing. I believe Brian is so well-rounded that he could push pressure and take the fight wherever his camp feels he has the advantage and I believe we will see him go for that. If Brian can figure things out and get some momentum he could become a legit threat in the welterweight division. Now that being said I believe Chad Laprise is a ranked fighter in the waiting as well and will put on an interesting showdown here with Brian. Chad has stopped 7 of his 12 wins and 6 of them have been finished in the 1st round. Chad needs to make sure he doesn’t get gassed in this fight if he doesn’t finish it early because he has the skill set to win this thing if he can keep the fight on the feet. I believe standup he might have a very small edge and he will most likely keep the fight on its feet. I am more excited for this fight the more I have watched on both fighters in preparation for this fight and believe they could put on a real show for the fans. I am going to take Camozzi though to pick up his first UFC win in the 2nd round via a RNC submission.
#12 (9) Travis Browne (18-6-1) vs. #15 (14) Aleksei Oleinik (51-10-1): The main event of the televised prelims is a huge fight for both guys in the heavyweight division. Aleksei is entering his 63rd professional fight and is coming off a performance of the night which is as of now leader for submission of the year type of performance. He might be 40 years of age but the guy is still extremely lethal and a major threat to fighters in the heavyweight division. Aleksei’s nickname is the “boa constrictor” because he is one of the best fighters in the UFC on the mat and probably is the best in the heavyweight division on landing submissions. He is a sambo fighter and if you aren’t sure what sambo is I suggest you go here, http://www.mattandmikesports.com/styles-of-martial-arts.html and look for the sambo portion, it is a great read and very helpful for understanding it. He will probably look for Browne to push the pace a little and eventually shoot for his takedown and go for the win once he finds the mat. Now his opponent is coming in knowing this is do or die for him. Travis is coming in off 3 straight losses and must find a way to win this one not only for himself but his job in the UFC is probably in danger if he loses another one. Travis has the skill-set as I have said before to be a title fighter but ever since switching to Ronda’s gym he has become a terrible fighter. He seems to be lacking the push of the pace he used to have and his chin seem to have disappeared. I used to be a huge fan of Travis and I believe he can return to form if he can just become the aggressive fighter we know and land his big fists. This guy is a great athlete with an athletic build for his 6 foot 7 frame and could become a lethal stand-up KO specialist in the heavyweight division I just feel he lost that heart in his last 4 fights and hope he has it back this weekend. If he does we will see a great showdown but if not we will see the end of Browne as Oleinik is one tough Russian who will destroy any weakness. I truly believe in calling what I have seen lately and I just think Aleksei is more determined and fighting with that heart to prove at 40 he still belongs and he will get a 1st round submission to end the FS1 prelims.
UFC 213 Main Card (10 PM/ET):
#7 Anthony Pettis (19-6) vs. Jim Miller (28-9, 1NC): We kick off the main card on the PPV with a huge fight in the lightweight division. The former champ in Pettis vs. one of the toughest dudes in the UFC the vet Jim Miller. Miller is a grinder, tough, physical, wrestler with one of the best cardio’s in the UFC and he will not tire and he won’t back down from his opponents flashy style. Jim will look to get past all the flashy stuff that his opponent will throw and close the distance down and land his takedowns. If Jim Miller can get this fight to the ground he will grind out and tire down Anthony and look for a submission which he will probably find as he has stopped 14 of his fights this way and it truly is what he does best. Now the former champ Anthony Pettis is trying to find himself again lately as he struggled badly after losing the title and after a couple tough losses went down a weight class and went 1-1 and missed weight once while down a weight class. He is now back to the lightweight division and hopes he has figured things out and can make a serious run for his title again. Anthony is frustrating because he has such an incredible top of the line skill-set but he seems to get discouraged mid-fight if he loses a round or eats one big shot. Anthony needs to remember he is the former champ for a reason and personally when he was running through this division there wasn’t a more entertaining fighter in the world to watch. I hope he finds that heart, that pace, and that determination again because he could be world class again if he does. He is one of the flashiest fighters in the world if you didn’t know his nickname “Showtime” is seriously deserving as he throws some incredibly well timed highlight reel stuff. He can wrestle with Jim if this fight goes to the ground though as he does train out of Rufus’ gym which is one of the more physically demanding gyms in the UFC. I am not sure which Pettis we will see in this fight but I believe that Duke Rufus will have gotten his head right and he will pick up a 2nd round TKO win to prove he is back in this division to stay.
#1 (1) Fabricio Werdum (21-6-1) vs. #2 (3) Alistair Overeem (42-15, 1NC): For the 3rd time this fight is going to happen and it will be the best of the 3 I believe. These two heavyweights don’t need much of an introduction. I believe Overeem will look to end this thing early because of the two Wedrum historically gets better as the fight goes on. If the Reem wants this win he needs to come into this fight with the aggression and push the pace and back Werdum down for the duration of this one because he doesn’t need Werdum getting momentum or landing full strength. Now if Werdum wants to win this fight there are 2 things he can do that would be huge for him. He needs to push his pace with his kicks and flying knees and keep Overeem on his toes and if he does that he will most likely see out a KO victory. The thing he can do though that will guarantee himself a win is get this fight to the ground and he would dominate Alistair on the mat and pick up a win and probably be next for Stipe. Werdum and Overeem both have been stopped by Stipe and I believe the winner of this fight will be granted another shot at the title which is deserved, maybe not over Ngannou, but this is one tough fight to call. Here is one thing I do know about this fight, it will not last 15 minutes. I am really having a tough time with this one but Overeem looked good at weigh-ins and when he looks healthy and fit he is as lethal as they come so I am going to take Overeem via 1st round KO over the legend Werdum.
(15) Daniel Omielanczuk (19-7-1, 1NC) vs. Curtis Blaydes (7-1): These two heavyweights are very interesting. They are the fight they pulled off the prelims to replace Cerrone and Lawler and I believe that is because this one will see a stoppage too. Blaydes is one big dude with some intense power that are backed behind his 80 inch reach and this dude uses his range and power well. All 7 of his wins have been KO stoppages as his one loss he was KO’d by the man himself Francis Ngannou. Blaydes has good cardio for a big guy and his aggression and love to push the pace and come for the win. He will surely put on a show win or lose in this one and I know we will see him ranked one day in this weak division in which he can help seriously get some attention to. Now his opponent is a guy who can fight standing or on the ground and looks to find himself upsetting the odds makers in this one. He is coming off of two tough losses against Timothy Johnson and Stefan Struve and really hopes to find the momentum here and turn around his bad luck as of late. Daniel hasn’t ever been stopped by strikes and this will be a real test to that chin in this one and I believe he will look to change the elevation and take this fight to the ground. I think the odds makers giving Daniel no chance in this one is interesting to me but I do agree that Blaydes will win this fight. I have Blaydes winning this fight via 1st round KO after he lands using that 6 inch reach advantage in this one.
#1 (1) Yoel Romero (12-1) vs. #2 (3) Robert Whittaker (19-4): The fight for the interim title of the middleweight division should make for an interesting one. I am excited for this one but as a fan I am afraid neither of these guys will get Bisping next regardless because of GSP being around. Now in Whittaker we see a humble quiet guy who has just been keeping his chin down and going to work working his way to this moment of his career and honestly been slept on by a lot of fans but he is no freakin’ joke. What I love about Whittaker is he is growing and learning between each and every single fight and has the ability to fight in any situation, doesn’t matter if it is on his feet, the ground on top or on his back. Whittaker is continuously working hard and growing and is going to one day hold the middleweight title and make a serious run with it around his waist. Now the only worry I have for Whittaker in this fight is that one or two good clean shots from his opponent probably could put a hole in a brick wall and would end any fighters night so he needs to be really careful landing his shots. Now the #1 fighter in this division for a long time, Yoel Romero, hasn’t lost since 2011. Yoel is a freak of nature if you look at his physique you would believe he was made in a lab. Now if Romero can land his heavy and powerful hands often he will find himself the winner of this fight but I am interested to see if this fight goes over 3 rounds can he still have anything left for this fight. I know Whittaker has the edge in all-around skills and cardio but it’s the power vs technical skills battle. I compare this to Dodson vs. Demetrious Johnson of the middleweight division. Who shall win? I am going to take Whittaker in the 4th round with a TKO finish because this guy is bound for history.
Champ Amanda Nunes (14-4) vs. #1 (1) Valentina Shevchenko (14-2): Oh BABY the rematch is on in the main event only this time it is for the title!! We have seen Amanda dominate since her win over Valentina and is enjoying a dominant title reign where she hasn’t been tested yet. I think Amanda’s aggression and phenomenal striking will be what people see as her only weapons but she is a great BJJ fighter as well and her move to ATT has only helped her. Now in their first fight Amanda used that aggression to walk down Valentina early for the first 3 rounds and pushed her pace and proved why she later became champ displaying her skills then her gas ran out in round 4 and 5 and we saw Valentina show her skills once she was able to find her footing. In this fight we will see both come out aggressive and I think Nunes is riding a wave of confidence that could be making her too confident as I believe this is the best duo of women in the bantamweight divisions. Now each time we have seen Valentina come into the octagon we have seen her improve and she looks even more fit entering this fight than last time as she is getting used to putting on the weight since she walks around at about 125. I am so excited to see the talents of these two savage women collide and it is truly going to be a back and forth war for the duration of this one. I do believe that the wave of confidence is going to be brought back to Earth though as I have Valentina picking up the 3rd round TKO and claiming the title setting these two up for a trilogy fight.
TUF Finale: Johnson vs. Gaethje:
Early Fight Pass Prelims (6 PM/ET):
#5 (5) Tecia Torres (8-1) vs. Juliana Lima (9-3): I have no clue how the Tiny Tornado herself is on the fight pass prelims. Lima is a great opponent for Torres as she poses a threat standing as much as Tecia does and she could finish a fight on her feet. I don’t think Lima would go for the ground and she will stay up and keep looking for her strikes. Lima will use her 5 inch reach advantage and land strikes to keep Tecia at a distance. Now on the opposite side of Lima is the beastly tornado herself Tecia Torres. Tecia is one of the fastest strikers in the UFC not just the women’s division and she knows how to land. I know there is a 5 inch reach advantage that she has to face but I believe she will go for it and close the distance and use her insane speed to land a ton like normal. I think this fight will be interesting to see if the distance makes the difference because I believe without the distance advantage Tecia is the better fighter but 5 inches is a significant difference. I honestly think we will see the better fighter win regardless and Tecia will pick up the win in her first professional stoppage victory and grab a 3rd round TKO.
Gray Maynard (13-7-1, 1NC) vs. Teruto Ishihara (10-3-2): This fight in the lightweight division is going to be a battle. Ishihara is a monster and this kid could develop into something special as his two wins showed his skills and his last fight was a tough loss to Lobov but I believe he can find his way back on the right track tonight if he keeps this fight standing and land his left fist. Now his opponent has lost 5 of his last 6 fights as Gray is at 38 years of age probably going to leave the gloves in the octagon after this one win or lose. I think Maynard needs to get this thing to the ground and grind out the win if he wants to have a hope because he doesn’t want to leave this fight standing against this kid. I think this one ends early though as Ishihara will land early and often and pick up a 1st round KO over Maynard and we will thank Gray for a great career when it is over.
FS1 Prelims (7 PM/ET):
Jessica “Evil” Eye (11-6, 1NC) vs. Aspen Ladd (5-0): Alright these two women kick off the night in the women’s bantamweight division and it should be a good one if it goes how I see it going. Aspen is a 22 year old prospect for the UFC and she will be making her debut here during fight week and I personally believe she is one to watch out for moving forward. She is an extremely well-rounded talent and her fists can end someone’s night early and if they knock you to the ground she can get mount and finish on the mat as well. I really like what she can bring to this division but she will have an extremely tough test her biggest of her career against Jessica Eye. Jessica has picked up 4 losses in a row and really needs to turn her luck around as her UFC career could be on the line. Jessica is going to need to use her veteran knowledge of the octagon and really keep herself at her own pace. She needs to avoid Aspen from gaining control of this fight and just use her power to avoid takedown attempts. Jessica is a great fighter who just has lost her way as of late and I hope for her sake she finds it because I don’t want to see the UFC without her. That being said I believe Ladd starts with a little bit of jitters but she picks up the pace late round 1 and picks up that momentum round 2 and picks up a KO halfway through round 2. Watch out ladies Ladd is coming in this division.
Ed Herman (24-12, 1NC) vs. CB Dollaway (16-9): Here is a light heavyweight showdown between two aggressive finishers who love to finish fights. CB will use his grit and heart and tough wrestling style to get in Ed’s face and look for his powerful hands to end the night. Of the two fighters CB has gone to decision more often and could do the same as he can grind out some opponents and really pick up impressive smothering wins. He is coming off a 3 fight losing streak and needs to find a way to turn it around ASAP or could be in danger with the UFC powers that be. Now his opponent Ed Herman is one aggressive dude, this guy beat Glover pre-UFC. He has the talent just he never seems to be able to get a streak going that shows off his skill set. I love Ed’s skills on the mat not that he picks up submissions exclusively because he has some of the best ground and pound and he looks to take opponents down so he can pound them out for a win or to point where he can grab a submission. This fight will provide I believe some fireworks and both fighters could both get rocked at some point and I think it will be a flurry but I think somewhere in round 3 Ed Herman finds a way to grab the TKO finish.
James Krause (23-8) vs. Tom Gallicchio (19-10): The Welterweight division is on display in this one. Gallicchio is entering his UFC debut and is coming in winning 4 of his last 5 fights. Tom is someone to watch in the Welterweight division because he is a submission expert in particular a RNC expert as he has 13 of his 19 wins via submission and 12 of those 13 are by RNC. The guy has great BJJ and wrestling skills he is a dual threat on the mat but he hasn’t ever stopped anyone on his feet and I worry that he could run into some serious walls in the UFC if he doesn’t find a way to get his standup to be more of a threat. Now his opponent James Krause is one hard dude to predict and his standup game is tricky to stop. Now his ground game is backed by a great BJJ skill set and has finished over half his fights on the mat in his professional career. He unlike his opponent though can turn someone’s lights off with his standup as he has done that 6 times in his professional career. I really like this fight as it has the potential to see a finish and some serious display of skills at the same time. This one is so tough for me to call because I have no idea who is better off on the mat and Krause is probably the better fighter on his feet and should look to keep it there just for his own edge. I am having a hard time with this one and actually could see this one go the distance due to the same fight styles clashing and Krause picks up the unanimous decision.
Angela Hill (6-3) vs. Ashley Yoder (5-2): I love this fight because they are counter opposites and could be both looking to get ranked in the strawweight division with a win. Ashley Yoder is coming off one tough loss to Justine Kish but I believe she learned a lot from it and we will see an improved Ashley Yoder here. This girl is a good stand-up fighter but her skill-set on the ground is great and will be where she looks to take this fight. Ashley has the 4 inch height difference and so forth brings a 5 inch reach advantage and will use her distance well and look for her takedowns with that advantage. Now her opponent Angela Hill is one bad girl with some heavy quick hands and she will be looking to land those heavy hands. If Angela lands she can stop almost anyone she is a savage warrior in the cage and she doesn’t know the word quit and makes for an interesting opponent for Yoder because they are counter opposites but this will be a test for Angela due to the 5 inch reach advantage of her opponent. I think this fight is over if this thing goes to the ground Angela will need to keep this thing standing and if she goes to the mat she needs to get up quick and avoid letting this thing stay on the mat. Now that being said I think she does that well early but round 2 Ashley Yoder finds the takedown early and picks up a submission victory.
FS1 Main Card (9 PM/ET):
Jordan Johnson (7-0) vs. Marcel Fortuna (9-1): To kick off the TUF Finale main card we have a brawl in the light heavyweight division. These two beasts are great fighters with the ability to finish very well especially from the mat. Marcel Fortuna is a will be making his UFC debut at LHW in this fight as his first fight which was a win I may add was at heavyweight. This guy has a great ground game with 6 stoppage wins in which 5 have been through submission and his one KO win was his UFC debut when he stopped Anthony Hamilton in the 1st round. This kid can hit and he will do so if this fight stays standing as he proved it during his heavyweight debut. I am excited to see what he does at LHW in this one but he is facing an unbeaten monster in Jordan Johnson. Jordan has stopped 5 of his 7 and impressively stopped 3 of those in 62 seconds or less. He is a machine and will be entering this fight as the aggressor and use his power and wrestling grind to keep himself close and most likely take this fight to the mat. Jordan landed 4 takedowns in his 1st career UFC fight in which he won and will look to do so again and could grind it out with some ground and pound or look for the RNC on the mat. This fight will be very interesting as these are two big LHW’s and we shall see some pure power and ground skills. I am not sure who the true edge goes to here but I will take Jordan Johnson via unanimous decision.
Brad Tavares (14-5) vs. Elias Theodorou (14-1): This middleweight showdown is going to be so much fun between two guys who can take a shelling and stay in the fight. Now this fight will promise to be a grind and two guys looking for the ranks and belong. Elias Theordorou could be described with one word CARDIO but there is so much more to his game. This dude is one tough machine who I personally believe might be impossible to knock out. The thing I love about Elias most though is that cardio he can come get someone for the whole 15 minutes endure a beating while doing so and just keep coming and never tire. Elias has stopped exactly 50% of his professional wins and he picks up the decision wins with some true grind out victories where he looks so impressive through them. Now standing opposite of this machine is Brad Tavares. Brad will be bringing an equivalent toughness and a phenomenal stand-up. Brad is known for his ability to stop fights in the first round and if he comes out aggressive will be looking to do so again in this one primarily using his fists. Brad has a big test here in front of him because Elias is not someone Brad can assume he will take out by knock out and needs to make sure he doesn’t gas himself in this one. If Brad can pace himself keep his gas tank from running out he could grind this fight with Elias and put up a shot for fight of the night. When it comes down to picking this fight I am going to go with the kid I believe someday will find himself in the title picture and take Elias Theodorou by way of unanimous decision.
Jared Cannonier (9-2) vs. Nick Roehrick (7-0): Another LHW showdown and these guys could bring some more excitement even after the previous fight. Nick Roehrick is brand new to the UFC and will be making his debut against a big tough dude here. Nick is a very skilled mixed martial artist. He can handle a fight in all situations and I personally believe the UFC LHW division needs help badly and he is one of those guys along with his opponent who could bring something to be excited about to this division. Nick likes to land the uppercut a lot and if he can get the clinch or the good distance he might finish the fight with his loved uppercut. I believe he is going to be successful in this fight if he can pick his shots and make sure he doesn’t leave himself open for Cannonier’s heavy hands. If he can do this he has a shot at winning this one in his UFC debut. Now his opponent is one bad dude. Cannonier is one physical freak of nature with incredible boxing skills and great foot work to set himself up for his strikes. The speed of his hands is one of the best in the UFC LHW division and I believe if he can figure out the small holes in his game soon he could become a serious title contender soon. In 6 of his 7 stoppages in his professional career they have been in the 1st round. I believe this fight could have the potential for a throw down in the 1st round and slow down after they gas themselves some. Now that being said I don’t see this fight going more than 1 round and Cannonier players spoiler to Roehrick’s UFC debut. I have Cannonier winning this one by way of 1st round TKO.
Marc Diakiese (12-0) vs. Drakkar Klose (6-0-1): No offense to Michael Johnson or any of the other fighters on this card this is the fight I am most excited for here in the lightweight division. First we have Drakkar who is an explosive fighter with one tough chin that will not go down easy. This kid fights with a lot of heart and grit and will push for the win. This kid is a great fighter as truly this division is getting so deep and this kid is just proof of it. Now he doesn’t look for the ground and isn’t known for fighting on the mat but if it goes there he could grab a win as he has some skills on the mat as he was a collegiate wrestler. I believe in his 2nd UFC fight we will see some improvement as he will need it as he is about to run into a buzzsaw named Mark Diakiese. Mark is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC and I personally believe his skill set and abilities are poised for a long title reign one day. I have watched his pre-UFC fights and all 3 of his UFC fights and each time I just saw WOW. His stand-up is unorthodox as he throws crazy kicks and punches and goes from 0-100 in less than a second. His ground game is way over looked and this kid can handle himself on the mat and when he gets tested there later in his career we will see that. But for this fight expect him to pace out his opponent and then explode with some flashy strikes and look for the KO as he could be a highlight reel finisher his whole career. I believe that this fight is going to be a little one sided just based off what I have seen from them both. I have Diakiese by way of KO in round 2.
Dhiego Lima (14-5) vs. Jesse Taylor (32-15): Here is the TUF Finale after a crazy season in which my 3rd favorite TUF fighter of all time was eliminated, Hayder Hassan, and we are down to just two. This fight is in the welterweight division and we will see two guys looking for redemption in the UFC. Taylor is a 34 year old fighter who hasn’t fought in the UFC since 2009 where he lost to Luke Rockhold. His UFC stint was fairly short as he was 1-3 in the UFC before his departure from the organization. This dude is one tough hard hitting man and I think at 170 lbs he is a real threat. I really liked what I saw from him this season during TUF. Jesse beat other UFC vet James Krause to earn his spot in the finals by way of submission and is here to prove he belongs this time. He is a scrappy dude and will not fight ever below a full hearted effort. Now his opponent Dhiego Lima is 28 years old and is looking for redemption in his UFC return as he has been gone for the past 2 years. He lost on the previous season of TUF that he compete on in the finals to Eddie Gordon. Lima is a very good well-rounded fighter who I am excited to see get another shot in the UFC. Lima was who eliminated Hassan in the opening round via decision and beat other TUF finale carder Tom Gallicchio by decision to get here for the finale. Lima is going to have to pace himself and look to grind out a win over his opponent. I think this fight is going to be a crazy ride of passion between these two. Now to pick a winner who is guaranteed a spot back in the UFC I would have to give the edge to Jesse Taylor who I believe picks this one up in round 2 by way of submission.
#5 (5) Michael Johnson (18-11) vs. Justin Gaethje (17-0): This main event will easily be incredible and this could show the test for the lightweight division. Justin is coming over from WSOF where he was champ and still undefeated is ready to prove he belongs with the big dogs. Justin is an incredible striker and he would look to finish this thing via KO but his ground game is undervalued because of his ability to finish so well standing up. This guy has stopped 15 of his 17 fights and I am seriously blown away by some of them when I watch them. I truly think he will prove he belongs win or lose because his talent is undeniable. Now his opponent is a guy I have been frustrated with in the UFC because I am a big time believer of Michael Johnson and his skills. The issue is sometimes it looks like he comes into fights with a lack of a push and then other times like the Poirer fight he comes after it with an aggression and picks up the win. If Michael just like Uriah Hall can come after his wins each and every single fight with an aggression and desire he could become champ one day. I love this fight because if Michael comes after this one with aggression and passion to win this fight could easily become fight of the year. I am beyond pumped about this one and I hope it doesn’t let us down as fight fans but with these two I am pretty sure we won’t be let down. I am going to take who I believe is the underdog based off rank and experience in the UFC and taking Justin Gaethje to win this fight via 4th round KO over Michael Johnson.
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