Tonight is the night we see the first ever UFC card in New York and where else but Madison Square Garden. To celebrate we get three title fights tonight and the main event is a champion versus champion match between Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez. The other two title fights are for the welterweight and women's strawweight championships. Earlier today Kelvin Gastelum missed weight by almost nine pounds so the fight was cancelled. I still posted my pick for that fight to show how I thought that was going to go down.
(#9) Liz Carmouche (9-5) vs. (#14) Katlyn Chookagian (8-0): This is the first fight of the night and we see a ranked women's bantamweight bout. First up is Katlyn Chookagian who is undefeated in her MMA career. She was also undefeated in amateur boxing with a 7-0 record. She has won three times by stoppage with two by knockout and one by submission. Two of them were in the first round. Her opponent is an ex marine, Liz Carmouche. Carmouche has won four of her last seven fights. She has a high stoppage rate with five wins by knockout and two wins by submission. Chookagian throws alot of knees and tends to be very aggressive on the ground and this could be a big part of this fight since she is longer than Carmouche. However Carmouche is also an aggressive ground fighter so this could be a battle on the ground. This won't be focused on grappling though as both women will look to get a knockout or TKO from mount. I see this battle going a couple rounds and both women will come out looking battered. I predict that Chookagian will be able to use her length to her advantage and get a TKO late in the second.
Jim Miller (27-8) vs. Thiago Alves (26-10): We are already at the main event of the online prelims with a lot more to come later in the night. This fight will be the lightweight debut for Thiago Alves. In his career, Thiago has 13 wins by knockout and one by submission. More recently, he has won 11 of his last 16 fights and six of those wins were by knockout. His opponent is Jim Miller who needs no introduction. Miller has 14 wins by knockout, four wins by submission and ten total stoppages in the first round. He is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu in case he is on the ground, but he clearly prefers to stand. These guys are going to brutalize each other and I vary on how this will end based on one key factor, which is how Alves handles his new weight cut. With this being his first time at lightweight, this means he will have to lose 15 extra pounds than what he normally does and more often than not this takes a great tole on someone. If the weight cut goes in his favor I see a chiseled monster just terrorize Miller, if it breaks him Miller will quickly add another knockout to his list.
Vicente Luque (10-5-1) vs. Belal Muhammad (10-1): We are quickly moving into the televised prelims and we see the first fight at welterweight tonight. Belal Muhammad is coming in the slightly less experienced fighter in the UFC. He only has two fights opposed to Luque's four. Muhammad has four wins by knockout and one of them was in the first round. His opponent is much more of a finisher with Luque only winning by decision once. Luque has five wins by submission and four by knockout and seven of those stoppages were in the first round. He is also a belt holder in many martial arts. Muhammad has an average of 5 significant strikes per minute so he will be swinging quick and looking to put an end to this with his hands. I predict that Luque will switch into grappling and take him out on the ground. I say that Luque will lock in a submission in the first round and bring home the victory.
(#14) Rafael Natal (21-7-1) vs. Tim Boetsch (19-10): In the second fight of the prelims we are moving up just one weight class to the middleweight division. Tim Boetsch has 11 wins by knockout and three by submission. He is a striker even when he is on the ground and uses his experience as an All-American collegiate wrestler to assert his position. His opponent is a grappler in Rafael Natal who has over a decade of experience in jiu-jitsu. Natal has eight wins by submission and three by knockout. Both of these fighters have had a rough time recently winning fights and not going to decision. I predict this will take all three rounds with Boetsch striking and working to stay up while Natal will look to take his opponent down and get a submission. I think Boetsch will get a split decision victory because I can see him always trying to strike no matter where he is as to where I think Natal will only really be concerned with grappling and finding that submission.
(#2) Khabib Nurmagomedov (23-0) vs. (#6) Michael Johnson (18-10): This fight and the next no business being on a prelim card in my opinion and one of the fighters should be the guy fighting Eddie for the title, but since people lack common sense now we have these two fights to talk about. This fight is between a well-ranked lightweight and the person that should be the champion. Michael Johnson has won five of his last seven fights and has a career eight wins by knockout and two more by submission. No offense to Michael Johnson or Eddie Alvarez, but the reason Khabib should be the champ is because he has the longest undefeated streak in the UFC. He has eight wins by knockout and seven by submission and he has taken on practically the whole division and made half of them look like bitches. If Khabib wasn't prone to injury than he would already be the ruling champ of the division and unfortunately for Michael Johnson I just can't see him winning this. I predict Khabib by TKO in the first.
(#2) Frankie Edgar (19-5-1) vs (#7) Jeremy Stephens (25-12): We are at the main event of the prelims and if Frankie was facing a slightly higher ranked opponent there is no way he would be in the prelims. Jeremy Stephens is still good though with 17 wins by knockout and two by submission. He is currently 5-3 at featherweight. Jeremy Stephens is a big dude who hits like he is still a lightweight. His opponent is one of the best in Frankie Edgar. Edgar is a long-time vet of the UFC and is almost unbeatable unless a title is on the line. Frankie is arguably one of the most rounded fighters in the company and he can adapt to about any situation. He doesn't have as many finishes as Stephens, with five wins by knockout and four by submission, but he can still get the job done against some of the best. This fight will be a long one with both fighters ready to start standing. There will be a good back and forth and I think Jeremy may even take the first round. From there I see that Edgar will develop a game plan and look to take Stephens to the mat. From there I think it will start back and forth, but Edgar will slowly take over. I think this will end with Frankie Edgar getting the unanimous decision.
(#1) Meisha Tate (18-6) vs. (#8) Raquel Pennington (8-6): The first fight of the main event kicks off with a slightly questionable fight in the women's bantamweight division. The reason I say this is similar to the fight previous this one. Raquel is a good fighter and she has been fighting tough people around her rank. My issue is I don't see her ready for Meisha yet. Pennington has won five of her last seven fights and three in a row. She has three wins by submission and one by knockout, but she is a much better striker than stats show. She is having a bit more trouble showcasing how dominant her striking is, but she is starting to rebound back from a shaky start in the company. Her opponent is the person right behind the champ in the rankings, Meisha Tate. Tate has won five of her last six with that loss coming from the champ. She has seven wins by submission and three wins by knockout. Raquel has double the amount of strikes per minute which I think will put her at an early advantage. I think that Meisha will be better equipped to handle this fight and she will win by submission in the second.
(#5) Kelvin Gastelum (13-2) vs. (#6) Donald Cerrone (31-7): At the next fight we go back to the welterweight division for an exciting matchup. The first fighter in this matchup is Donald Cerrone who has only one loss in the last 12 fights. Cerrone has 16 wins by submission and seven by knockout. He has recently moved up from the lightweight division and has been undefeated since. Cerrone is a great striker and his aggressiveness tends to force people to get themselves in compromising situations where he capitalizes with a submission. His opponent is Kelvin Gastelum is also well-rounded. He has five wins by knockout and four by submission with five finishes in the first round. Gastelum hits extremely heavy and always swings for the fences so he tends to gas himself. While Cerrone is a tactician so if he can avoid those hits he can work his way to an easy victory. I think this fight will start with Gastelum going full-speed while Cerrone plays defense and counter-strikes. In the second round Gastelum will gas himself and Cerrone will counter into a standing rear naked choke for the win.
(#2) Chris Weidman (13-1) vs. (#4) Yoel Romero (11-1): Moving on in the night we move up one weight class to the middleweight division between two of the top 5 fighters. Yoel Romero is coming into this fight on a seven fight win streak. He has won nine fights by knockout and four of them in the first round. Romero isn't currently ranked in any martial arts, but is working to become a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. His opponent is the New York native, Chris Weidman. Weidman was the Middleweight Champion before losing to Luke Rockhold and this will be his first fight back after that loss. In his career he has six wins by knockout and three more by submission with six finishes in the first round. Chris isn't a particularly strong fighter, but he has calculated strikes and uses his collegiate wrestling to gain the dominant position for a TKO. In this fight I think is easy to say that Yoel has the upper hand in striking because he is powerful and Rockhold showed that Weidman has issues with getting over-powered. I predict Weidman's gameplan will be to avoid the fists and take Romero down. Once there I still don't see him being that dominant because Romero was able to defend Souza on the ground. I predict that Weidman will get some good shots in, but Romero will get back up and knock Weidman out in the third.
(C) Joanna Jedrzejczyk (12-0) vs. (#2) Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-0): Moving on in the night we see the first of three title fights and they are kicking off in the women's strawweight division. Both of these undefeated fighters are from Poland so the promos are being run saying we will truly see who is Poland's greatest. As always I start with the lower ranked fighter so first up is Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Kowalkiewicz has won two of her fights by submission and one by knockout with all three of them ending in the first round. She has a low finishing rate with the other seven of her wins ending by decision. Personally her striking looks messy, but she tends to get most of them to land and she loves to work the clinch and drop brutal knees. I have also noticed that she spends a good amount of time on the ground, but not because of takedowns; because she beats people til they cripple and she hops on, gains a mount and just batters her opponent until the ref calls it. Now her opponent in this match won't be as easy as most of her other fights. Joanna Jedzrejczyk is the strawweight champ and is one of the scariest strikers in the division. She charges full steam ahead and just breaks people even though her stats don't reflect it. In her career she has four wins by knockout and one win by submission with only one first round finish. Both fighters prefer to stand and bang and work the clinch. If this becomes a pure striking match then I think it will be brutal and neither will walk away unscathed. I think however though, Jedrzejczyk will be looking to just out punch and get a knockout while Kowalkiewicz will look to create the clinch and work her knees. I think this fight will go a few rounds with both fighters struggling to keep their game plan in control. I see that Kowalkiewicz will be successful at the clinch, but she won't get enough time in the clinch so Joanna will take the lead and win this fight by a decision.
(C) Tyron Woodley (16-3) vs. (#2) Stephen Thompson (13-1): This is the co-main event and the second title fight of the night and this time we see it in the welterweight division. Since entering the UFC, Stephen Thompson has gone 8-1 and has won seven in a row. In his career he has seven wins by knockout and one win by submission with five finishes in the first round. Before his MMA career, Thompson had a 57-0 kickboxing record and has 40 knockouts. He is a complete striker that uses his hands to set up kicks that you can't see coming. Not only that, but every single kick has meaning and has the potential to change the fight. His opponent is Tyron Woodley who is making his first title defense since becoming Welterweight Champion. Woodley has seven wins by knockout and four by submission with nine finishes in the first round. Woodley favors his hands and elbows to his legs so he will have to get closer range than Thompson. He tends to wait until he can force the clinch to use his knees and is aggressive with trips and takedowns so he can dominate in the mount. I'm not sure how to call this fight so bear with me. Thompson will have a much higher range with his kicks, but he always sets them up with punches and if he has to get that close then Woodley can get in and drop bombs. Then we move to the clinch and both usually control the clinch and they work crazy knees, but Tyron has the advantage because he uses trips where Thompson just tries to cripple. Then we get to the ground. I have seen a lot of highlights and haven't seen anything with Thompson on the ground where with Woodley he works for the ground and just tears people apart when he gets on top. So the way I am going to call this is, Thompson will take an early lead with his range and probably wobble Woodley. From there he will go to the clinch to work his knees, but Woodley will trip him up and get him on the ground. Once on the ground Woodley will just destroy Thompson and I see this happening in the second round.
(C) Eddie Alvarez (28-4) vs. (C) Conor McGregor (20-3): We are finally at the main event and we see yet another fight with Conor McGregor fighting above his weight class, but this time he gets to fight for the Lightweight title. McGregor has won 16 of his last 17 fights with the only loss to Nate Diaz in a weight class that is two divisions above where his championship resides. He has 17 wins by knockout and one by submission with 13 finishes in the first round. McGregor is looking to make himself the first dual-division champion in the UFC. The person looking to shatter these dreams is Eddie Alvarez who beat Rafael Dos Anjos even though he was written off. Alvarez has won 13 of his last 15 fights and three in a row. He has won 17 fights by knockout and five by submission with 14 first round finishes. These two fighters are very close to the same type of fighter because they are both very aggressive strikers that don't spend too much time on the ground. This will either be a slug fest or someone will spend a lot of time running away. I think this will be a tough fight for McGregor because he can usually get into his opponent's head and Eddie is having none of that. He will have to be a lot more focused like he was in his second fight against Nate Diaz, but as you could see in his conferences that he isn't taking this serious. I think he will come out cocky and not really guard himself. Eddie will come out focused and ready and i think it will go to the second or third round of a lot of maneuvering before Eddie finally catches Conor and gains a TKO victory and retains the Lightweight title.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims (7 PM/ET):
#9 (9) Liz Carmouche (9-5) vs. #14 (12) Katlyn Chookagian (8-0): The first fight of the night is a battle between two women who are looking to slowly start climbing the rankings ladder. Liz is a KO/TKO finisher who has stopped over half her fights by way of knockout. Liz is well known for her ability to take a fight to the mat with her great takedowns and either look for the finish by submission or use her phenomenal ground and pound to pick up a TKO win. Now her opponent hasn’t been beat in her professional career. Katlyn is a phenomenal striker thanks to her amateur boxing career and she is a Renzo Gracie brown belt in BJJ. Katlyn is incredibly talented and could slowly be on her way to the top of the division. I am going to stick with Katlyn remaining unbeaten, Chookagian wins by 2nd round TKO.
Jim Miller (27-8, 1NC) vs. Thiago Alves (26-10): The main event of the online prelims is a barn burner. I love this fight I just wish Thiago Alves didn’t significantly miss weight trying to make his lightweight debut. Jim Miller is a pure savage and grinder who can wrestle with the best of them. Thiago Alves is the opposite he is KO or decision. This fight is two opposites colliding and with the brutal attempt at a weight cut failing on Thiago I have no idea how he can expect to handle a guy who can grind him out and exhaust him in one round. I have to stick with the veteran at lightweight who had a normal weight cut. Jim Miller wins via 1st round submission.
FS1 Prelims (8 PM/ET):
Vincente Luque (10-5-1) vs. Belal Muhammad (10-1): The first fight of the prelims takes place in the welterweight division. These guys are both rising stars and they could easily find themselves in the rankings in one of the most stacked divisions in the UFC. Luque was a stand out in TUF and he hasn’t seen a single one of his wins go to decision. His opponent is a freak and will be fighting his third fight in the UFC. His first fight in the UFC is where he picked up his one loss. This fight is going to see a well-rounded Belal who goes to decision in most of his fights try to handle a guy who pushes the pace and picks up the wins in stoppages. I think Luque on short notice picks up the win in the 3rd round via KO.
#14 (15) Rafael Natal (21-7-1) vs. Tim Boetsch (19-10): This fight is going to test both men in different ways. Rafael is still rising through the rankings and would love to pick up a win in this one and move to a ranked opponent. He is a beast and his ground game is so impressive and his ability to knockout his opponent should never be overlooked. Now is opponent is “the barbarian” Boetsch. He has his nickname for a reason and we should see where he goes with this fight. Tim is a beast and could stop a fight with a flurry of fists and he can take a beating. His real test during this fight will be his ability to keep himself standing against a dominant ground guy. I think Natal wins this fight and does so through a unanimous decision.
#2 (1) Khabib Nurmagomedov (23-0) vs. #6 (7) Michael Johnson (18-10): Man how is this fight not on the main card. Khabib is one win away from getting his title shot that he should have already had. While Michael Johnson is coming off the biggest win of his career. Khabib is untouchable in his career and hasn’t really been tested yet since joining the UFC. He has incredible ability everywhere the fight goes. He might be one of the most dominant fighters in the UFC. His test in this fight will be there though as Michael Johnson can stop a fight in one punch. Michael’s best advantage in this fight though will be his ability in the clinch. He will need to use his reach and ability to keep this fight at a distance and pick up the win. He is a great fighter who has found a rough patch as of late but in his last fight we saw what this kid can do when he pushes the pace. Lets hope he sticks with that moving forward. This fight is going to be remembered forever. I have to stick with the beast himself. Khabib remains unbeaten when he picks up a 2nd round submission.
#2 (2) Frankie Edgar (19-5-1) vs. #7 (4) Jeremy Stephens (25-12): It is time for the Main event of the…. PRELIMS??!?!?! I would pay to watch this fight as a main event fight of a pay-perview. Frankie is a beast and his last fight was a terrible loss in my eyes. Jose Aldo just picked jabs and didn’t really fight like a UFC fighter and it annoyed Frankie. Frankie is going to come into this one with some anger and look to prove why he deserves this title. Frankie will look to shorten the distance and get the fight where he wants to. The problem is, he is fighting Jeremy Stephens. Jeremy is lighting fast and this guy loves to just mash people’s skulls in. He could easily stop any of his fights. Yes, he has a large amounts of TKO stoppages not KO like most people think but that is soley because he will catch someone put them on their asses and then knock their lights out. Frankie needs to avoid Jeremy’s hands during this fight. This fight is seriously so close and impossible to call because both guys deserve a win and both are capable of a win. I think it is time to believe in Stephens to get a title shot. Jeremy Stephens wins via 2nd round KO.
UFC 205 Main Card (10 PM/ET):
#1 (1) Miesha Tate (18-6) vs. #8 (7) Raquel Pennington (8-6): The first fight on the main card is going to be a war between two strong women at 135. Tate is a beast and reportedly had the easiest weight cut of her career and feels incredible. She is looking to avenge her loss of the belt in which she had a rough weight cut and just looked rough. If she can pick up a dominant win here she will be basically making her case for the title back. Raquel Pennington has picked up 2 wins in a row and if she can beat top ranked Miesha Tate she would put herself right into the title talks along with the top 4 in the division. I think both girls will look to put the pressure on the other and take the fight to the mat. These girls are both out to prove something and that makes this fight really interesting. I am going with the girl I want to see the belt back around the waist of her again in her career. Tate wins by 2nd round submission.
#5 (6) Kelvin Gastelum (13-2) vs. #6 (4) Donald Cerrone (31-7, 1NC): This fight is cancelled due to Gastelum once against failing to make weight and missing it by 8lbs. I think if this fight would have happened I had Cerrone picking up a lethal RNC win in the 2nd round.
#2 (6) Chris Weidman (13-1) vs. #4 (3) Yoel Romero (11-1): The middleweight battle between two title worthy fighters is one to not be overlooked. Chris is coming off his first loss in which he got smashed by Rockhold and we haven’t seen him since. He is a grind out you wrestler who can’t stand and smash with anyone. But man if this guy gets you to the ground he is the best and is truly someone to avoid the ground against at all costs. He might not submit you he will just wear you out and pound your face. This fight isn’t easy though as he is facing the guy who can destroy your face with one punch. Yoel is underrated for his abilities on the mat but he did stop Jacare from doing much on the mat against him and that is something to truly be remembered. I think this fight is very intriguing and I am going back and fourth with this one. I think Yoel picks up the win via 1st round KO where Yoel catches Chris going for a takedown.
Champ. Joanna Jedrzejczyk (12-0) vs. #2 (1) Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-0): These women are from the same country and they will show a true Polish brawl. I think Joanna is the best champion in the UFC behind only Demetrious Johnson. Her takedown defense is so good and her striking is honestly better than some men I have seen in the UFC. She is a top level fighter in every way and there is no way around it. Her opponent is a sloppy striker who makes mistakes on her feet she will need to go to the ground where she is best if she wants to have a chance in this fight. I know she is a great fighter I just think this might not be her best matchup for her. I think Joanna retains her title via a brutal TKO stoppage in the 2nd round after seeing some fists and knees.
Champ. Tyron Woodley (16-3) vs. #2 (1) Stephen Thompson (13-1): Are you READY TO SEE two men Smash each other. This fight is going to be just absolutely amazing. I am so torn between who wins this thing. Tyron shocked the universe when he KO’d Robbie Lawler, not that he won but that he picked up a KO on one of the toughest dudes in the world. Now his opponent is a lanky man who fights with the most unpredictable fight style. Stephen can put the title around his waist if he lands his kicks because his kicks are absolutely devastating and come from the craziest angles imaginable. I think the title changes hands. Thompson wins this one via 2nd round KO.
Champ. Eddie Alvarez (28-4) vs. FW Champ. Connor McGregor (20-3): Connor is fighting for the chance to claim the lightweight title while holding the featherweight title. Dana will give his guy whatever he wants and it’s so annoying. Connor is stepping over people like Khabib that deserve this title shot or Cerrone who deserves another one. Connor is going in with the ability to only punch and some ground skills at best. The issue Connor is facing is that he is fighting a monster striker and a guy who can dominate him on the mat. I think he is just out matched in this fight. If Connor hopes to win he will have to utilize his lethal head movements, quick hands, and long reach. If Connor can use those things well he will win this fight. I think all Eddie needs to do is be selective and just don’t get baited into anything. Be patient and pick your pace and your shots. Do not let Connor try and dictate this fight. I am not sure who will walk out with the belt but I feel Connor is so used to being in someone’s head and he isn’t this time. I think the edge goes to Eddie. Alvarez wins via 3rd round TKO.