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TUF 23 Finale: Jedrzejczyk vs Gadelha Breakdown

Dan Tom



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Joanna Jedrzejczyk (10-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 28 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 65.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Valerie Letourneau (11-14-15)
  • Camp: Berkut (Poland)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Strawweight Champion
+   5x Muay Thai World Champ
+   Multiple Muay Thai Accolades
+   4 KO victories
+   1 first round finish
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Heavy hands/stopping power
+   Active & accurate jab
+   Hard leg kicks
+   Superb defensive & offensive clinch
^   Solid head positioning & forearm framing
+   Underrated grappling IQ
+   Good get-up technique & urgency
^   Effectively uses the cage
–    Head often stays on center
^   Counter availabilities



Claudia Gadelha (13-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 27 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 63.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Jessica Aguilar (8-1-15)
  • Camp: Nova Uniao (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   3x BJJ World Champion
+   6 Submission wins
+   2 KO victories
+   7 first round finishes
+   Improved overall striking
^   Puts together striking well
+   Hard body kicks & knees
+   Physically strong inside the clinch
^   Favors knees & takedowns here
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   16 takedowns in 3 fights
+   Solid back taker
+/-Heavy on her lead foot
^   Leg kick/counter availabilities
–    Gas tank bears watching


Headlining the TUF 23 Finale is a rematch fueled with fire as Joanna Jedrzejczyk defends her title against rival coach Claudia Gadelha. With their first meeting arguably being both girls toughest test thus far in the UFC, I expect another closely fought battle despite each fighter’s intentions of keeping this one from the judges.

Although Joanna had the advantage standing going into their first fight, Claudia showed she is much more than just a Jiu-jitsu champion inside the cage. Hailing from the renown Nova Uniao camp in Brazil, Claudia demonstrates the Muay Thai staples of her stablemates. Utilizing a classic high-guard and posture, Claudia will steadily march forward as she looks to capitalize on openings created by her pressure. Even though she bears some solid teeps and kicks(particularly to the body), Claudia prefers to punch as she consistently puts together her shots in a healthy variety.

Showing not just striking improvement under Andre Pederneiras, but also showing to pick up on the underrated wrestling that comes from that camp, Claudia has developed into one of the most complete fighters in the division. Although I am still giving a striking edge to the champion, Claudia will not be far behind as she is a real threat in this match. That said, there are some tendencies in her game that I suspect the champion will attempt to exploit. In Claudia’s last fight against Jessica Aguilar, it was apparent that Claudia’s stalking style naturally puts her weight over her lead leg. Not only was this pointed by Joe Rogan on commentary, but also by Aguilar as she continued to kick Claudia’s leg throughout the contest.

Despite Joanna Jedrzejczyk demonstrating devastating leg kicks, I suspect she will throw them sparingly against Gadelha. Although Claudia has shown a knack for catching kicks, Joanna has shown she is acutely aware of this technique. In fact, Joanna was admittedly reluctant to utilize her kicking game until her overall MMA game was up to par(Hence why we have only seen her kick recently in the UFC). Although Letourneau was able to have brief success in catching the champions kick and taking her down early, Joanna has demonstrated fundamental defense when experiencing a caught leg. That said, I feel that Joanna will likely limit her leg kicks to later in the fight, especially considering that takedowns are Gadelha’s best shot at winning the rounds.

I suspect that Joanna will have the most success in the boxing department, particularly within her use of the left hand. Similar to teammate Jose Aldo, Claudia will revert to a defensive shell that emphasizes on protection from the overhand right. Although her left hand comes high, her right hand has a tendency to parry preemptively and retract at a lower position. Traditionally, this opens up Gadelha to left hooks on that side, or uppercuts that can come up underneath the guard(similarly to what dropped her in the first fight with Jedrzejczyk). Even though Joanna does not throw left hooks in volume, she wields an effective one as she variates it nicely to the body.

With distance being the name of the game for Jedrzejczyk, I suspect the jab will be the key punch for the champion. Throwing it actively and accurately, Joanna will set a perceived range for her opponent while simultaneously setting up her right hands and leg kicks. Sadly, this will also serve as Joanna’s best defense due to the champions lack of head movement. Although Joanna keeps her chin tucked and retracts her strikes nicely, her natural aggression tends to keep her head on the centerline as she sometimes overstays her welcome in the pocket. With this traditionally opening up the champion to right hands(as seen in fights with Lima, Letourneau, and of course Claudia), I suspect Gadelha will be looking for this standing.

Never the less, the Brazilian’s best chances in this fight are on the ground. Although the three-time world champion has not scored an in-fight submission in 6-years, Claudia demonstrates an excellent translation of her grappling game into MMA. Like many Nova Uniao fighters, Claudia has embraced and excelled in the wrestling aspect of grappling inside the cage. Although Claudia favors her takedown attempts from the clinch, she possesses a decent reactive shot that may be her best chance in grounding the champion. Despite many feeling that Claudia’s control time against the fence was enough to win her the first fight, Joanna was able to negate any legitimate advances due to overlooked technical intricacies.

In fact, I feel that Joanna shows an intelligent understanding of not just grappling, but grappling in regards to her style and how it relates to MMA. Most impressively is her translation into clinch fighting, as I am certain her Muay Thai base plays a solid role. Displaying good grip awareness, Joanna will effectively hand-fight to assist her defensive & offensive intentions. Supported by a solid base and balance, the champion will often hop to the fence(if not already there) to help her keep upright. Consistently working for a superior head position(forehead driven into and underneath her opposition’s chin), Joanna will look to reverse her opponent to the fence once she establishes this.

What is most impressive about Joanna’s clinch game, is the devastating offense derived from her use of forearm framing. Using her forearms to frame against the face of her opponent, Joanna creates space and opportunities to land nasty short elbows in close. Even when able ground the champion, Joanna shows impressive get-up instincts and urgency. If not already near the fence, Joanna will unabashedly work toward it as she uses it to stand with efficiency. The use of the cage was very helpful against Gadelha, who is excellent at taking backs in transition. Keeping her back to the fence, Joanna was able to prevent this as she worked for under-hooks to reverse position.

Even when the champion has been taken down in the open, she demonstrates a disciplined and intelligent get-up approach that you seldom even see with experienced grapplers. Favoring to work from the half-guard, Joanna uses a far-side under-hook as her legs assist her leverage to come up to a single-leg. This position naturally gives her opponents less to work with(as far strikes & submissions go) and also allows her to either reverse position or stand up in the scramble. Although Claudia possesses the ability to ground Joanna and perhaps steal some rounds, I wonder what the cost will be to the Brazilian’s gas tank in a five round affair.

In life, there is no such thing as a biological free ride as Claudia’s athletic frame comes with a price. Whether it is Claudia’s musculature or output management, the fact remains that she has the propensity to fade in fights. Even if Claudia can ground the champion and win rounds, she may find herself in trouble should she not find a finish by mid-fight. With the emotion Claudia showed in their first meeting, I imagine that intangible has only doubled since then. Even if her intentions is to manage her output conservatively, a measured Gadelha may ultimately prove to be the less effective fighter. Although this is a close contest that I caution playing, I believe Joanna’s chances should only increase after riding out the initial storms.

Official Pick: Jedrzejczyk – Decision


UFC Fight Night: Pearson v Trinaldo

Ross Pearson (19-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 31 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: SD win / Chad Laprise (3-19-16)
  • Camp: Alliance MMA (San Diego, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 9 Lightweight Winner
+   Black Belt TKD/Brown Belt Judo
+   7 KO victories
+   5 Submission wins
+   6 first round finishes
+   Good feints & head movement
^   Looks to slip & counter
+   Accurate left hook
+   Excellent pocket awareness
^   Favors uppercuts off the crouch
+   Improved takedown defense
^   Shows get-up initiative & technique
+   Hard leg kicks
+/-Often dips heavily low
–    Struggles with wrestling pressure
+   20th UFC fight



Will Brooks (17-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 29 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Marcin Held (11-6-15)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Bellator Lightweight Title
+   5 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   3 first round finishes
+   Deceptively athletic & agile
+   Good distance management
+   Controls pace of fight
^   Makes in-cage & corner adjustments
+   Diverse striking arsenal
^   Heavy kicks & hard knees
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Strikes & stifles
+   Excellent takedown defense
^   Solid base & balance
+   Underrated TD ability
+/-UFC debut


The co-main event of the evening features the arrival of former Bellator lightweight champion “Ill” Will Brooks as he meets Ross “The Real Deal” Pearson. After being stuck in between contracts, Will Brooks will finally fight in the organization of his dreams as he enters the UFC. A veteran of the organization, this will be Pearson’s 20th fight with the UFC as he looks to spoil the party.

An anomaly of athleticism, the term “natural ability” is an understatement when used to describe Will Brooks. Despite no combat sports or collegiate base, Brooks has developed into one of most well-rounded fighters in MMA’s deepest division. His victories over Michael Chandler alone were proof of this, as Will was able to out wrestle the 4x NCAA qualifier in route to the title. Although he favors fighting on the feet, I suspect Brooks natural grappling abilities will come in handy for his UFC debut.

A well-rounded martial artist himself, Ross Pearson has trained and traveled worldwide to maintain his skills and relevancy in the UFC’s most stacked division. Primarily a striker by trade, Pearson’s best chances for success lies within his ability to dictate terms of this fight. It will be interesting to see Pearson’s approach in this fight as he usually employs one of two patterns. One: Pearson will pressure forward looking to push the action, although this has gotten him countered and cost him in many of his defeats. Or Two: Pearson will circle on the outside as he looks to capitalize and counter.

Regardless of his game plan for this fight, I suspect he will carry his biggest advantage within the boxing range. Although he is known for his accurate left hook, I feel that Pearson’s uppercut will serve him well in getting underneath Brooks shell defense. Often thrown from a crouch(weight heavy over the power side at a low-level), Ross will unleash uppercuts that lead into hooks as he variates them to the body & head. However, Pearson has a tendency to duck dangerously low when doing so, and may open himself up to a Brooks knee as I see that being the strike to look for here.

Whether he inside the clinch or intercepting his opposition with a knee, Will is accurate with his shot selection. Favoring to fight from the outside, Brooks wields heavy kicks that come from all angles. More impressively, Brooks maintains a solid sense of awareness when attacking, as he can seamlessly transition from striking to defending shots with ease. An efficient puncher, Will rounds out his game nicely as he strikes well inside the clinch and off the breaks. Bearing a solid base and balance, Brooks defends effortlessly from the clinch as the usually looks to manage the fights pace from there.

The obvious intangible in this fight will be whether or not the “UFC jitters” will effect Brooks. We have seen world class Olympians like Daniel Cormier come into their debut’s feeling flat or outside of their comfort zone. With Will undoubtedly coming into this contest with multiple pressures, it will be interesting see how he looks come the first round. Never the less, I feel he has a good skill-set to get the job done. I see Brooks’ heavy kicks and range fighting hampering the movement of Pearson, as Brooks’ wrestling threat will serve him well in-close. That said, I recommend staying away from betting Brooks at his current asking price. Although I don’t favor Pearson stylistically, I feel that the oddsmakers have criminally undersold the Englishman here as he is a live dog.

Official Pick: Brooks – Decision



Doo Ho Choi (13-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 25 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Sam Sicilia (11-28-15)
  • Camp: Gumi MMA (Korea)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   10 KO victories
+   7 first round finishes
+   1 Submission win
+   KO power
+   Deceptive hand & foot speed
+   Excellent footwork
^   Rarely out of position
+   Preternatural reactive instincts
^   Insanely accurate shot selection
+   Times & intercepts opposition
+   Superb sense of hips & base
^   Sprawls & floats effectively
+   Good transitional ground game
^   Chains submissions to get-ups
+/-2 fights in 3 years



Thiago Tavares (20-6-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 31 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Clay Guida (11-7-15)
  • Camp: Team Tavares (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   14 Submission wins
+   9 first round finishes
+   Active right-hand
+   Good knees in close
+   Strong inside the clinch
+   Solid takedown ability
^   Favors double-legs
+   Taken down 15 of 17 UFC opponents
+   Scrambles well
^   Always looks for back
+   Excellent top control
–    Lacks head movement
^   Propensity to take damage


In a matchup with heavily forecasted fireworks, “The Korean Super Boy” Doo Ho Choi draws the dangerous veteran Thiago Tavares. One of the most highly touted prospects to come out of Asia in quite some time, Doo Ho Choi has teased the MMA mainstream with his brief, but memorable performances thus far in the UFC. Nearing his 10th year with the organization, Thiago Tavares will look to maintain his relevancy by turning away a young prospect.

Although the common conception of this fight for many lies within whether or not Thiago can take Choi down, I disagree with that assessment as I feel there is more than meets the eye to this matchup. With Tavares taking down 15 of his last 17 opponents it is easy to see why the takedown will be Thiago’s looming threat. That said, Tavares has only finished 5 of said 15 as grounding his opposition is a far cry from a sure thing. More importantly, I believe Choi carries some skills in that department that we have gotten a glimpse of, but not yet fully seen.

An unassuming, smirking assassin, Choi operates his overall game with preternatural instincts that are downright spooky. Although a bit close for conservative standards, the Korean keeps a measured distance as he prefers to sit just outside of his opponents range. Moving deceptively well, Choi maintains his feet beneath him as he will utilize feints to draw out his opposition’s attacks. Only needing one or two bites to get down his opponents timing, the Korean will then accurately intercept his oncoming foe with jab-cross-hook variations(as seen in his fights with Sicilia & Puig).

With the Korean Super Boy often exploding forward to execute, one would think that a reactive double would work nicely. However, Doo Ho has shown brief instances of brilliance in not only defending, but also in transitioning from the defensive grappling phases. Demonstrating an awareness of his opposition’s takedown range and intentions, Choi keeps his hips at the ready as he possesses a strong sprawl. He will float position on top to strike should the opportunity arise, but maintains a solid sense of things as he seldom commits himself unnecessarily.

Although we have yet to see him on the bottom in the UFC, Choi has demonstrated in past bouts that he is no slouch there as well. Displaying a solid transition game, Choi will intelligently chain together his submissions into sweeps or standups. Showing off deceptively strong hips, the Korean pops up with the immediacy and ease of a wrestler. Even though I give Tavares the advantage on the ground, I do not suspect the skill differential to be as vast in-fight as it is on paper. Never the less, Thiago’s best route in this contest will undoubtedly reside on the ground.

Although an accoladed Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt, Tavares bears a base in Judo as he is effective inside the clinch as well as controlling the action on top. Getting in close and grounding the Korean will be paramount for Tavares as we have yet to see Choi tested, much less grounded at the UFC level of competition. However, Thiago will have to mind his engagements of Choi’s space when looking to shoot(or do anything for that matter), especially considering the way in which Tavares operates.

Not only does the Brazilian have a bad habit of entering in on straight lines, but does so with his head exposed down and forward. Usually throwing a right hand over the top in an attempt to mask entry, Thiago will explode forward into his favored double-leg. Assuming he doesn’t get picked off priorly inside the boxing range, Tavares will need to be careful enacting this level change as Choi wields devastating uppercuts & knees. Utilizing his deceptive hand and foot speed, Choi owns multiple knockouts in this fashion.

With the transition and ground analysis on Choi presented, I feel his biggest advantage is obviously in the boxing range. Although Tavares has made steady improvements to his striking over his career, he has lacked any significant adjustments or efforts in that department to expect something different here. More importantly, Thiago still shows a lack of head movement which is troubling against the fast-calculating Choi. Although a takedown artist with Jiu-jitsu chops should prove a tough test for Choi, I ultimately feel that the Brazilian’s propensity to take damage will likely play into the hands of the Korean Super Boy.

Official Pick: Choi – Inside the distance

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Holbrook def. Silva
  • *Maynard def. Bruno
  • Smith def. Ferreira
  • Arantes def. Sanders
  • *Lee def. Mathews
  • JingLiang def. Zafir

Recommended Plays:

Draft Kings Rosters:


Team #1: N/A

Team Summary:N/A

Team #2: N/A

Team Summary:N/A

Props worth looking at(

-Pearson/Brooks over 2 1/2: -190 (1 Unit)
-Li Jingliang by Decision: +250 (.05 Unit)
-Joanna Jedrzejczyk by Decision: +180 (.25 Unit)

Playable favorites for your parlays:

-John Moraga
-Li Jingliang

Fights to avoid:

-Jake Mathews vs Kevin Lee
-Cezar Ferreira vs Anthony Smith
-Gray Maynard vs Fernando Bruno

For the complete analysis of future & past UFC events visit and for future breakdowns & your latest in worldwide MMA news, stay tuned & follow @MMALatestnws

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UFC 216 Breakdown: Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee



As a fight fan, you can’t ask for a much better match up than Tony Ferguson vs Kevin Lee.

This match up is easily one of the most fascinating ones of the year, and with the interim lightweight title on the line, the stake doesn’t get much higher. But the bigger meaning of the fight lies in that fact that a clear number one contender will be determined to virtually guarantee a future opportunity at the current champion, Conor McGregor.

The talks of McGregor next facing rival Nate Diaz next have been circulating for the past few weeks, but once this fight between Ferguson and Lee concludes, and someone walks out of the arena on Saturday with that interim championship around their waist, they will be very hard to deny for McGregor.

Although this fight is a very exciting match up, on paper, it may deceive some people as a mismatch, since Lee’s resume of wins doesn’t include too many top contenders. His biggest win was against Michael Chiesa in June of this year, Chiesa was ranked 6th at the time. But let’s look deeper into it and see what makes this one a must-see fight.

Where Ferguson Flourishes

Ferguson and Lee may be stylistically two completely different fighters, but their ground games and grappling are both extremely high level, possibly the top 3 in the division, a list that can’t leave out Khabib Nurmagomedov. In the grappling department, it is hard to decide a winner here.

Even about five months ago, I would have leaned towards Ferguson, but watching Lee take control against a high level grappler like Chiesa the way he did was beyond belief to be honest. Ferguson will have his hands full if the fight hits the canvas, and likewise for Lee. However, if there is one thing that Lee needs to watch out against Ferguson, it is the unorthodox style he brings, even in the grappling.

“El Cucuy” is a bizarre fighter, but in a good way. Watch him fight against Edson Barboza and do a couple of imanari rolls. Watch him roll while on the bottom against dos Anjos. It is mind-blowing how good he is with such peculiarity and Lee can’t overlook that.

With that being said, advantages for ‘El Cucuy’ are quite clear: Stand-up, cardio and experience. Ferguson showed time and time again what a well-rounded fighter he is, and his record shows it too. Out of 17 finishes on his win column, 9 of them are by knockout and 8 are by submission. He really is a fighter who can do it all.

Tony Ferguson defeated Rafael dos Anjos via Unanimous Decision in November of 2016 at UFC Mexico City.

We also know that his cardio is exceptional, this was displayed in his fight against Rafael dos Anjos, where he went five hard rounds with the former champion in Mexico City, at an altitude of 7,382 feet. Just to give an idea of how high that is, Colorado’s altitude is 6,035 feet.

Ferguson knows what it is like to be in the deep waters. But when a fairly young fighter such as Lee reaches the later rounds, nobody knows how he will respond to the situation, so Ferguson has his advantages in the experience department laid out clearly.

Don’t Count Out Kevin Lee

‘The Motown Phenom’, on the other hand, is a completely different fighter with different strengths. He possesses advantages in the physical department, career mileage, and in the fact that he has less pressure going into the fight. The physical advantage is the most obvious one for Lee. He has spoken before on the fact that he cuts from about 180-pounds, where Ferguson has talked about him being capable of making 145-pounds.

Ferguson may be taller, but it is not difficult to see that Lee is bigger when they stand next to each other. Lee’s second advantage comes from the fact that he is not as battle-tested. In a way, it could be a disadvantage, but he has taken considerably less amount of damage throughout his career compared to Ferguson. The last advantage for Lee listed was explained more specifically on my article ‘Tony Ferguson can’t afford to lose at UFC 216’. Feel free to go and check it out.

Kevin Lee defeated Michael Chiesa by first round submission (rear-naked choke) at UFC Oklahoma City in June 2017.

Now that both guys’ assets are laid out for this fight, it’s time to make a prediction.

Time and time again leading up to this fight, I’ve heard people say that this fight is going to end in a submission, and most say it’s going to come from Ferguson. I would agree with that but here’s one thing. As previously mentioned, Lee’s grappling is top-notch and he is brilliant defensively. This was evidenced when he was on the bottom against Michael Chiesa, a position in which he was easily able to escape.

I don’t believe Lee is a fighter that can be easily submitted. But here’s what I agree with most on: I also see Ferguson winning, because of his experience, cardio, and definitely unpredictability. Kevin Lee, while he is a very talented fighter, I believe it is just a tad bit too early for him at this moment.

Prediction: Tony Ferguson def. Kevin Lee via TKO (punches) in the 5th round.


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UFC 216 Breakdown: Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg



If Demetrious Johnson is able to defend his flyweight title this Saturday at UFC 216, it will be an attempt to break a major record, as he will then have defended his belt for the 11th consecutive time.

It is a remarkable record that he attempts to break, which is currently being held by Johnson and the former middleweight champion Anderson Silva, at 10.

When this fight was first announced for UFC 215, the reactions from the fans were not exactly what the UFC hoped it would be. There were two possible reasons for this, and maybe even both:

1) The talks of Johnson defending his title against T.J. Dillashaw was roaming around at the time, which got fans excited, only to disappoint them in the end when it wasn’t finalized.

2) Ray Borg is not necessarily a fighter that fans are dying to see yet, mainly because he is not the most marketable fighter and he is very young, which made us ask, “Is he ready for this opportunity?”

However, there is one thing we must keep in mind when looking at a fight between a dominant champion and a young rising contender: Expect the unexpected. We saw it last December when Dominick Cruz fought Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207. Who would have ever thought that Garbrandt would be able to outclass Cruz the way he did?

Cody Garbrandt provided yet another shock title change when he defeated Dominick Cruz at UFC 207 in December of 2016.

But don’t get it mistaken. ‘Can’ doesn’t mean ‘will’. And although Borg could shock the world in this fight, it is way more reasonable to lean towards Johnson. After all, if we are being honest, ‘Mighty Mouse’ is the closest thing to a perfect fighter. The only times he lost was to Brad Pickett, which was seven years ago, and to Dominick Cruz, who unlike ‘DJ’ is a natural bantamweight.

This is a tough fight for Borg. The only way for him to win is either catch Johnson with a big shot and finish him or keep up a ridiculous pace for 5 rounds straight and outmatch the champion with skills.

Borg is at a couple of disadvantages here, one being his cardio. “The Tazmexican Devil” has previously shown that he often has a tough time making the 125-pound weight limit, and if you add that to the fact that he never fought past three rounds, his cardio is in question. Whether he will be able to keep up with Johnson, who can put on a ridiculous pace for 25-minutes straight, remains to be seen.

Also, we never know what is going through a fighter’s head, so it will be interesting to see how Borg performs under pressure. He’s never had a title shot, and Johnson has been in the same spot 12-times in his career, so experience also goes to Johnson.

Ultimately, I’m leaning towards the champion in this fight. I do like Borg and what he brings to the table, however, too many questions are unanswered about Borg at this point to pick him over Demetrious Johnson.

Prediction: Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg via Unanimous Decision.

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UFC 215 Main Card Breakdown



The UFC makes its return to Canada as current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson looks to break the record for most successful, consecutive, title defenses, against Ray Borg. Also on the card is a women’s bantamweight title fight between champion Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko, Gilbert Melendez makes his featherweight debut against power puncher Jeremy Stephens, Ilir Latifi looks to bounce back against Tyson Pedro, and Rafael dos Anjos looks to continue his welterweight journey against Neil Magny. Let’s take a look and see how it each fight plays out.

Jeremy Stephens vs Gilbert Melendez

Gilbert Melendez is a fighter who has built his career on being a talented boxer and being incredibly strong both in the clinch and the ground. For years he has been a monster for most lightweights to deal with. However, since having joined the UFC from Strikeforce he has gone just 1-4. In his last couple of fights, he has found himself slowed down due to unchecked leg kicks and opponents who are quicker than him. In an attempt to resurrect his career ‘El Nino’ has dropped down to featherweight and will meet former lightweight, himself, Jeremy Stephens. Stephens has made a career out of hitting hard, knocking opponents out with either hands, legs, or even his knees. Stephens is a fighter who excels in the pocket and has the durability to stand toe to toe with almost any opponent. In his last five fights, he has gone 2-3 due to his opponents being quicker than him and keeping him on the end of their punches.

How the fight will go

Gilbert will come into the fight as the stronger fighter with the better grappling game and better control of the Octagon. His excellent boxing will match-up well with Stephens. However, Stephens will come in as the faster fighter, harder puncher, and will already be used to cutting down to 145. Melendez will need to gain control of the Octagon early and keep Stephens against the cage both in the clinch and on the ground, in order to tire out “Lil Heathen”. If he can use his boxing to keep Stephens at the end of his punches, control the Octogan, and stay out of the pocket, it’s his fight to lose. Stephens does his best work in the pocket and although he’s slow for a featherweight he will have the advantage speed wise in this match-up. If he can keep his back off of the cage, gain control of the Octagon, land his powerful leg kicks, and mix up his powerful strikes, then he will have a dog in this fight and can very well pull off the upset.


Gilbert Melendez fights very similarly to the way he fought in the Pettis fight. He keeps Stephens’ back against the cage and forces him to the ground every chance he gets in order to tire him out. Stephens occasionally finds success using his speed and power in the pocket but eventually finds himself too tired to stop the stronger Melendez from imposing his game plan. Assuming Gilbert’s first cut 145 goes well, he beats Stephen’s via a close but clear decision to put his career back on track and start his journey at featherweight on the right foot.

Ilir Latifi vs Tyson Pedro

Ilir Latifi is coming off of one of the most brutal knockout losses of 2016. He ate a huge knee from Ryan Bader in the second round of their fight and has not returned to the Octogan since. The Swedish ball of muscle looks to bounce back against the undefeated Australian Tyson Pedro. Tyson Pedro is a fighter who has never experienced anything beyond a first round stoppage win, his fight against Latifi represents his biggest test yet. Latifi is a fighter with a game centered around his incredible strength and power. He is a fighter who brings a calm energy in the cage and an interesting physique. He is only 5’10, the same height as former featherweight Anthony Pettis, what he lacks in height he makes up for with muscle. His muscle alone makes him one of the strongest and most powerful fighters in the UFC. Pedro is one of the tallest fighters in his division, coming in at 6’3 he’s used to being the stronger, taller fighter and likes to smother his opponents both on the ground and in the clinch.

How the fight will go

A lot of Pedro’s advantages come from being the taller, stronger fighter. He likes to keep his opponents at range, eat them up with oblique kicks, clinch up, take them down and find the stoppage. Latifi’s strength means clinching and takedowns won’t be easy. He can over power most opponents and avoid trouble in those areas. Latifi does have a tendency to get stuck on the outside and eat leg kicks, his tendency to rush in can lead to counters, like in the Bader fight. Latifi is an excellent wrestler but has trouble taking his opponents down, often expanding a lot of energy in the process. Pedro has been hurt before by his lack of head movement and that can lead to him taking big shots, Latifi can always find a big shot early on and take the Australian out.


This fight will all depend on how the first round goes. If Latifi can find his range early on he can land the knockout shot and finish the Australian. If he can’t, he will find himself on the outside where Pedro will pick him apart with body kicks and oblique kicks and hold him against the fence where the Swede will tire himself out. If Pedro stays patient he can tire out Latifi and score the finish. Pedro scores the upset and finishes an exhausted Latifi in the third round by TKO.

Neil Magny vs Rafael dos Anjos

Rafael dos Anjos looks to win his second fight at welterweight as he faces long time contender Neil Magny. Dos Anjos is coming off of a well-fought decision win against Tarec Saffiedine in a fight that helped him discover how he stacked up against a real welterweight and how his body would hold up. He brings into this fight excellent body and leg kicks that he uses to break down his opponents and slow down their movement. He has a game that is perfectly suited for his height as he uses a lot of pressure and forward movement to make sure he stays on the inside. His excellent ground game has carried over to 170 as he uses his top pressure to smother his opponents. Neil Magny last fought against Johny Hendricks in a fight where he used his long range better and showed a new technique with his kicks to create range. Magny’s game uses excellent cardio, as well as good footwork and movement. He’s starting to better understand how to use his long and tall body. He also uses his long legs to create triangle attempts from the bottom.

How the fight plays out

If Magny can use his height and reach correctly he can leave Dos Anjos stuck on the outside, as well as using his footwork to ensure he doesn’t take too many shots. His cardio will keep him fresh throughout the three rounds and he can use that to his advantage if dos Anjos tires out. Dos Anjos will look to use his leg kicks to stop Magny’s footwork as well as use his powerful body kicks to sap his cardio. Dos Anjos’ pressure based game could very well negate Magny’s reach advantage and his smothering top game would keep Magny from using his reach.


Although Magny has the tools to beat dos Anjos, the Brazilian remains an elite fighter even at welterweight. Dos Anjos uses his leg and body kicks to slow down Magny as well as using his wrestling to tire the American out. Dos Anjos has fought tall opponents in the past and knows how to use his forward pressure to remove the reach advantage, as he did against Donald Cerrone and Nate Diaz. The former lightweight champion takes a decision win and moves to 2-0 at welterweight.

Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko

Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko meet for the second time after fighting each other at UFC 196. The first fight ended in a close 29-28 decision win for the now champion Nunes. Nunes is a long and rangy kickboxer who likes to fight at range, where she uses her jab and cross keep her opponents back. She has been known to finish most of her fights early on, however, if she fails to do so she has a tendency to get tired, gas out, and get finished herself. Shevchenko, although undersized at 5’5, has been beating her opponents using her ever evolving ground game and her excellent Muay-Thai. Her patience and forcing her opponents to lead has brought her victories over top contenders like Holly Holm and Julianna Pena.

How the fight plays out

Amanda Nunes used her strength on the ground to beat Shevchenko in the first two rounds the last time they fought. Nunes didn’t have a whole lot of success on the feet as she was overpowered in the clinch and found herself having trouble with Shevchenko’s patience and lack of counter opportunities. Nunes’ ground game, while she was still fresh, was very dangerous last time out, nasty ground and pound as well as multiple submission attempts. However in the third round of their fight Nunes gassed and found herself too exhausted to overpower her opponent like she had done in the first rounds and found herself eating a lot of shots on the ground and in the clinch. If early on she can force Shevchenko to the ground and use her strength, she can find a submission or a ground and pound TKO. However, if she can’t, she’ll find herself getting tired in the later rounds and seeing her window for victory closing. This fight, being five rounds, heavily favors Shevchenko and her ever evolving game.


Much like in their first fight Shevchenko will stay patient and lose the early rounds. Her lack of activity hurt her last time out as well as Nunes’ aggressive ground game. If Nunes can use her strength early on, she can take Shevchenko down and have her way with her as she looks for the early finish. If Shevchenko can weather the early storm, she can take advantage of her tired opponent and finish her late. Shevchenko will force Nunes to lead and although she’ll have to weather the early storm, her patience will eventually pay off as her opponent tires herself out. Valentina Shevchenko finishes an exhausted Amanda Nunes in the fourth round by TKO to become the new women’s bantamweight champion.

Demetrious Johnson vs Ray Borg

Current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson takes on Ray Borg in an attempt to break the record for most successful consecutive title defenses. His 11th title defense comes against skilled wrestler Ray Borg and his ever evolving striking. Johnson brings to the Octagon one of the most well-rounded games in all of MMA. His excellent stand up paired with his world class grappling has not failed him at 125. His excellent footwork has always troubled his opponents and his lack of clear weaknesses means it’s difficult to exploit problems in his game. Ray Borg started his career as a world class grappler who would immediately take his opponents down and smother them until the fight was over or he was able to find a submission. His striking used to be a big weakness in his game until he started training with Brandon Gibson.

How the fight plays out

Ray Borg used to start his fights by immediately taking his opponents down and smothering them. Now that his striking improved he’s content with staying on the feet and striking with his opponents. This is where he will have problems against Johnson, Johnson is the much quicker fighter out of the two and will keep Borg on the outside. Borg’s incredibly short reach of 63” means he will need to cover a lot of distance, something he struggles with. Borg is not the quickest of flyweights and is a lot slower than Johnson. While Johnson has the bigger advantage on the feet, the wrestling is where it gets tricky. Borg’s ability to find the takedown and stay on his opponent is something he will need to use to tire out Johnson and force him to make a mistake. Johnson’s patience on the ground means he won’t panic if he goes down with Borg and has shown in the past he can easily get back up or even grapple with the best of them. Borg’s gas tank will be a problem in this fight, as Johnson never seems to tire out and is used to going five rounds. If Borg tires, Johnson will completely take over the fight.


Borg starts the first round on the feet and ends up getting frustrated as he finds Johnson too quick and gets stuck on the outside. He eventually finds the takedown and forces Johnson to go through some scary moments. Johnson survives the early storm on the ground and starts to run away with the fight in the third round as Borg starts to tire. Although the fight will be close on the ground, it’s obvious Johnson has all the advantages in the standup. Demetrious Johnson beats Ray Borg by unanimous decision to break the record for most successful title defenses in a row.

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