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TUF 24 Finale: Demetrious Johnson vs. Tim Elliott Breakdown

Dan Tom

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Demetrious Johnson (24-2-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’3″ Age: 30 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: 66″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Henry Cejudo (4-23-16)
  • Camp: AMC Pankration (Kirkland, WA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Excellent

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Flyweight Champion
+   Amateur MMA Titles
+   5 KO victories
+   9 Submission wins
+   9 first round finishes
+   Incredible speed
+   Superb footwork
^   Finds & creates angles
+   Intelligent coaches and corner
^   Adjusts well during & in between rounds
+   Relentless pace & pressure
+   Creative clinch game
^   Stifles, strikes, sets up takedowns
+   Excellent transition game
^   Seamlessly switches attacks
+   Never slows/recovers well

 

Tim Elliott (13-6-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 29 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: 67″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Pedro Nobre (3-4-16)
  • Camp: Glory MMA & Fitness (Missouri)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 24 Winner
+   Titan FC Flyweight Title
+   Wrestling Base
+   3 KO victories
+   5 Submission wins
+   5 first round finishes
+   Aggressive pace & pressure
+   Sporadic footwork & timing
^   Deceptive dips & crouches
+   Diverse attack arsenal
+   Solid reactive takedowns & chains
+   Good transitional grappler
^   Works well from ride positions
+   Crafty submission setups
+/-Low-handed approach
^   Counter availabilities

Summary:

The main event for the TUF 24 Finale is a flyweight title fight as Demetrious Johnson defends his strap against tournament winner, Tim Elliott. Widely regarded as the pound for pound best fighter in the sport, Demetrious Johnson will take one step closer to the record books with a successful defense here. However, Tim Elliott will be looking to follow in Matt Serra’s footsteps with an equally impactful upset as he seeks to make a statement upon his return to the UFC.

Starting off on the feet, we have a battle of two stance-switching flyweights who can move like few can. With Johnson being the more measured and precise striker in his approach, Elliott embraces his free flowing nature as he is almost sporadic in his movements. In more recent years, we have seen Elliott sharpen his assault steadily as he works well off of a dipping crouch(in a similar fashion to Dominick Cruz). Utilizing this technique to feint and bait his opposition out of position, Tim keeps his unique preferences of punches and kicks at the ready.

Coming from a wrestling base, Elliot embodies more of a funk style that seemingly translates well to his footwork and transitional takedowns. Once grounding his opponent, Tim wastes little time in working for advancements. Often encouraging scrambles to capitalize on the chaos, Elliott does well when able to establish a ride position. Favoring a cross-ride position whenever he can catch his opponent turtling, Elliott will insert one leg hook as he secures a cross-wrist grip on the opposite side. This technique lets Tim strike while still allowing him to threaten with different choke variations.

That said, Elliott’s aggression can also cost him as he will often lose positions due to his offensive eagerness. Even in his semifinal fight with Horimasa Ogikubo, we saw Tim lose position repeatedly against his opponent as he even gave up a Guillotine at the end of the match. Against one of the most technically sound fighters in the sport, Elliott will not be able to afford such mistakes as it will make for a short night. As fun as Tim’s transitions are, Johnson is on another level in regards to his creativity and process. A flow master and multi-tasker, there is no better examples of Demetrious’ brilliance then when watching the evolution of his clinch game.

After being dropped in his first fight with John Dodson, Demetrious intelligently adjusted by taking the fight into the clinch. Using a myriad of grips to trips, or strikes into high-crotch hikes, Johnson has developed quite the taste for breaking his opposition in close. Since then, we have only seen these skills sharpen as we last saw the champion dismember an Olympic wrestler within his comfort of the clinch. As much as I could spend time pontificating on Mighty Mouse’s multiple skill sets, I ultimately see his more efficient flowchart paying dividends early and often. Whether Johnson’s speed and angles tax Tim’s low-handed defenses or his superior clinch game takes over, I believe the challenger’s aggression will only bring out the best in the champion.

Official Pick: Johnson – Inside the distance

 

Joseph Benavidez (24-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 32 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: 65″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Zach Makovsky (2-6-16)
  • Camp: Muscle Pharm (Denver, CO)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC & WEC Title Challenger
+   State Wrestling Champion (New Mexico)
+   6 KO victories
+   9 Submission wins
+   6 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Variates movement well
^   Active footwork and feints
+   Dangerous right-hand/hooks
+   Hard body & leg kicks
+   Superb scrambling ability
^   Urgently gets up/reverses position
+   Strong from front headlock
^   Threatens Guillotines/dictates position

 

Henry Cejudo (10-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 29 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: 64″
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / Demetrious Johnson (4-23-16)
  • Camp: Fight Ready (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Olympic Wrestling Gold Medalist (USA)
+   Bronze Gloves Boxing Champion
+   3 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   4 first round finishes
+   Improved overall striking
^   Favors L. hook–R. cross combos
+   Hard kicks & knees
+   Strong clinch game
^   Solid grips/hand-fighting
+   Excellent wrestling ability
^  100% Takedown defense
–    Difficulty making flyweight limit
^   Gas tank bears watching

Summary:

The co-main event is a battle between TUF 24 coaches, Joseph Benavidez and Henry Cejudo. A perennial number one contender of the flyweight division, Joseph Benavidez will seek to cement his case for a third shot at the champion, Demetrious Johnson. Standing in Joseph’s way is Olympic gold medalist, Henry Cejudo. Coming off a failed attempt at dethroning Demetrious Johnson, Cejudo will look to get back on the winning track by beating his newfound rival.

In a matchup of two wrestlers who potentially hold ill will toward one another, I suspect much of this fight to contest on the feet. Although Benavidez should have an edge when it comes to striking, Cejudo is no slouch in that department as he has shown to prefer to fight upright in MMA. Consistently demonstrating a stick-and-move curriculum, the former freestyle wrestler displays a surprising fluidity as he rarely throws himself out of position. Favoring left hook-right cross setups, he often finishes his combinations with hard kicks to the body.

However, Benavidez has some brutal body kicks of his own as I favor him in the standing exchanges. Showing constant improvements and evolutions, Joseph employs a much more active and unpredictable style. Consistently changing angles and stances through a series of shifts, Benavidez is constantly dictating the offensive terms. Though still dangerous blitzing forward with hooks, it is his developments in counter fighting that is most interesting.

Primarily standing in southpaw, Benavidez has shown a recent trend to fire off weapons from orthodox. Often stepping back into this stance to give the perception of retreat, Joseph will draw opposition into his counter right hand as I feel it will serve him well in this fight. Often keeping his head slightly upright in both attack and retreat, right hands over the top and off of the counter seem to be the common culprit for Henry Cejudo.

Although Henry shows confidence in his striking, it is inside the clinch where he is truly most comfortable as I suspect he will take it here anytime he can. Utilizing fundamental hand-fighting, Cejudo will subtly stifle his opposition’s offense inside as he delivers a healthy dose of hard knees. Even though I see Cejudo having his best advantages from this space, Benavidez is seldom seen in the clinch outside of terms that behoove him.

Aside from his aforementioned footwork, Benavidez can be difficult to pin down in a clinch due to his awareness of when to leave and when to stay. With that in mind, takedowns may become problematic for Cejudo as he generally scores most of his against the fence. Although Cejudo wields a good reactive double-leg that may help his efforts, he will need to be careful anytime he extends himself due to Benavidez’s looming Guillotine threats.

Despite Joseph no longer training at Team Alpha Male, I doubt that his chokes in transition skills have gone anywhere as I give him the clear submission edge. Even if Cejudo can ground Benavidez, it is hard to see him doing so for long given that Joseph is one of the best scramblers in the division. Transitional threats aside, Benavidez is consistent when it comes to his getup urgency and technique. Although you can never count out an Olympian, I feel that Benavidez is a bad matchup for Henry as I suspect a statement to be made here.

Official Pick: Benavidez – Inside the distance

Jake Ellenberger (31-11)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 31 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Matt Brown (7-30-16)
  • Camp: Kings MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   21 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   14 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Devastating right hand
^   Favors overhands & hooks
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Difficult to takedown/control
+   Solid power-double takedown
+   Underrated submission game
+   Effective ground striker
–    Sometimes throws self out of position
–    Sometimes subject to activity lulls

Jorge Masvidal (30-11)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 32 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Ross Pearson (7-30-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Former AFC Welterweight Champion
+   Undefeated in the streets
+   11 KO victories
+   2 Submission wins
+   6 first round finishes
+   Accurate shot selection
+   Solid balance & footwork
^   Rarely out of position
+   Active transition & clinch game
^   Strikes well off the breaks
+   Excellent wrestling ability
+   Underrated submission game
^   Crafty from front headlock
+/-Often shells upright
^   Body/right-hand openings

Summary:

In a potential war in the welterweight division, Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger meets Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal. After a rough stretch of inconsistent performances inside the Octagon, Jake Ellenberger displayed an amazing turnaround in his last fight as he blew away the dangerous Matt Brown. Now looking to get back into the mix at welterweight, Ellenberger is tasked to take on the always game Jorge Masvidal. Although Jorge has only amassed a 2-2 record since moving up a division, those losses were close decisions that came against quality opposition. That said, a win over Ellenberger would cement that Masvidal deserves to be amongst welterweight’s finest.

Starting off on the feet, we essentially have an edge-of-your-seat style striking matchup between a power puncher and a technician. A devastating slugger since coming onto the scene, we have seen different iterations of Ellenberger over the course of his UFC tenor. A deceptive distance closer, Jake has always had a good right-hand despite being amongst the shorter of his welterweight contemporaries. Now working with Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA, Ellenberger was able to show us a glimpse of his improvements in his last fight. Despite Jake’s early success straight out of the gate, the experienced veteran was able to collect himself and get back to the game plan.

Showing stance switches early and often, it was clear that Ellenberger was looking for a liver kick. A weapon that Cordeiro has imparted to many of the grapplers who have studied under him, it was impressive to see Jake take so quickly to the former Chute Boxe coach’s style as he implemented his game plan concisely(something he hasn’t shown to do in quite some time). Although Ellenberger has a history with inconsistencies in his activity, he can pose some real stylistic threats to Jorge in this fight. That said, Masvidal is the more technical man as I give him a slight edge standing. A fighter who has always been noted for his boxing technique, we have seen Jorge Masvidal steadily mature as the rest of his game caught up to his striking.

Confident in his takedown defense, we have seen Masvidal add-in accurate knees and body kicks to his arsenal of attacks. Although Jorge also shares similar criticisms of activity lulls, Masvidal has shown measurable improvements in his output since moving up to welterweight. Working well off of his left hand, Jorge will look to create angles as he tries to encourage his opposition to pulling and return punches with him. That said, Masvidal’s comfortability comes with a cost as he seems to be too willing to allow the fight to come to him. Whether he is inside the pocket or clinch, Jorge’s lackadaisical approach to defense often opens him up to shots he should arguably be avoiding.

Despite wearing damage well, relying on head movement and reaction times is a dangerous game to play with a heavy-hitter who is also a deceptively fast distance closer. Even when Jorge elects to keep his shields up, he usually utilizes a shell defense. Coupled with his upright posture, this typically has opened up Masvidal to overhand rights and body kicks as these are the strikes landed on him most. Considering that those strikes are Ellenberger’s best tools, Masvidal will have to demonstrate a consistent discipline in his defenses for this fight. That said, I expect Jorge to have an inherent edge in exchanges as he should get the jump on Jake’s attacks. A side effect of Ellenberger’s heavy-handed nature, Jake tends to load up on his punches as he preemptively plots before launching an attack.

Given that Masvidal may already carry a speed advantage on paper, we could see Ellenberger get picked apart should Jorge find his rhythm. Despite Ellenberger often being associated with a wrestling background, I give a slight edge to Masvidal as he shows to be the more technical wrestler, both defensively and offensively. Although Ellenberger has an excellent power-double that could certainly ground Jorge, he has not used it as much in recent years and will typically shoot naked(without strikes for disguise). Furthermore, Ellenberger’s aggression that causes him to throw himself out of position on the feet will often translate to the floor.

Even though the drive on Ellenberger’s takedowns is what makes him so effective, the Juggernaut tends to turtle for a beat too long should he fail on his attempts. This tendency has allowed Jake to get his back taken in 3 of his last 5-fights(Gastelum, Thompson, & Saffeidine), and could be something worth watching for in this fight. Although Masvidal is not known as a back taker, he is an underrated transitional grappler who works best from the front headlock. Should Jake find himself turtled against Masvidal, expect to see the patent D’arce choke attempts and arm-in Guillotine sweeps that Jorge uses to put his opponents in precarious positions.

Although Ellenberger has all the skills to control Masvidal on the ground and do damage, I ultimately give the grappling edge to Jorge due to his advantages in transitions and scrambling scenarios. With Masvidal currently having more tools and trends in his favor, I can see why he is favored to win this fight. However, at his current listing price of an over 2-to-1 favorite, this line screams of a trap fight when incorporating the stylistic matchup. Even though I initially sided with Masvidal as I can see him pulling away as the fight wears on, I cannot get around the fact that his susceptibilities standing are Jake’s strengths. As a huge Jorge Masvidal fan, I hope I am wrong here, but I ultimately have to side with what my eyes are seeing.

Official Pick: Ellenberger – Inside the distance

Main Card Predictions:

  • Johnson def. Elliott
  • Benavidez def. Cejudo
  • Ellenberger def. Masvidal
  • Cutelaba def. Cannonier
  • McMann def. Davis
  • Moreno def. Benoit

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • *Maynard def. Hall
  • Font def. Schnell
  • Kim def. O’Reilly
  • Curran def. Moyle
  • Smith def. Mutapcic
  • Clark def. Stansbury
  • Lausa def. ZhiKui

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

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UFC on Fox: Emmett vs Stephens – Breakdown and Predictions

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UFC returns to Fox with an exciting card full of up-and-coming talent, crafty veterans, and a main event featuring two of the featherweight division’s most powerful punchers. While the card seems to lack some star power, it holds some interesting and exciting match-ups. The co-main event features two of the best women’s 115ers in the world both vying for a shot at the title as Jéssica Andrade takes on Tecia Torres. In the main event, knock-out artist and division staple Jeremy Stephens takes on the young and hungry Team Alpha Male product Josh Emmett. A great main event to head off a solid Fox card, and now onto the breakdown.

Mike Perry vs Max Griffin

This fight should be fun for as long as it lasts, but don’t bet on it lasting too long. Mike Perry is one of the hardest hitters in the UFC’s welterweight division. Griffin can bang too, but Perry’s just a different animal in that department. The good news for Griffin is that there’s already a pretty decent blueprint on how to beat Perry; pick him apart from the outside and don’t brawl with the guy. The bad news is Griffin is a brawler at heart, which isn’t gonna do him any favors against a superior striker like Perry.

Mike Perry is one of the most marketable guys in the UFC’s crowded 170 pound division. Priority number 1 for the UFC is to get Perry back on the winning track. And Max Griffin is the perfect man for the job. Both men will come forward throwing heaters until someone goes down, and chances are that someone is gonna be Griffin. Perry is just too powerful, and unless Griffin can keep Perry on the outside early it’s gonna be a short night for ‘Pain’.

Prediction: Mike Perry by 1st Round KO

Ovince Saint Preux vs Ilir Latifi

Nobody has ever beaten Ovince Saint Preux. OSP beats himself. He’s sloppy, has terrible technique, and is almost always behind on the scorecards. Yet somehow he continues to score victories over the 205’s elite, most of the time in spectacular fashion. It is insane. Latifi is a more complete fighter, with solid boxing and a strong wrestling game to fall back on. Latifi tends to favor the stand-up, but against a big, powerful guy like OSP, that might not be the best idea.

The big question here is; how is Latifi going to approach this one? Striking with the big man is risky due to his monstrous power and 7 in. reach advantage. Wrestling is a safer option, however Ovince is not an easy man to hold down. Latifi’s best bet is to make it ugly. Grind Ovince up against the fence and dirty box the s**t out of him. Then once he’s good and tired, take him down to ice the round. Sure it’s not the most entertaining style, but if it works it works.

Prediction: Ilir Latifi by Decision

Jessica Andrade Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Jéssica Andrade vs Tecia Torres

After seeing her completely demolish two-time title challenger Cláudia Gadelha, I was confident picking Andrade over anyone in the division (not named Joanna of course). But after giving it some serious thought, I think Torres might just be the one to bring down the Brazilian brawler, think about it. Joanna was able to keep Andrade away with her jab for the better part of 25 minutes. And while Torres is no Joanna, she’s still an excellent striker with wins over some solid opposition.

Andrade has made vast improvements since her loss to then champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk. This was evident in the Gadelha fight. The same can be said for the ever-improving Torres, whose only loss in mma was to current champion Rose Namajunas (a woman she’s beaten in the past). This truly is one of the most high-level women’s match-ups in recent memory, but I believe the kickboxing of Torres will be enough to keep Andrade on the outside, securing Torres her fourth straight win and possibly a title shot.

Prediction: Tecia Torres by Decision

Josh Emmett vs Jeremy Stephens

Josh Emmett made waves last year, knocking out perennial contender Ricardo Lamas on short-notice in Winnipeg. While impressive, it’s worth noting that this was the first finish of Emmett’s UFC career and he missed weight for the bout (weighed in at 148.5). Stephens on the other hand just scored a vicious knock out over featherweight prospect Doo Ho Choi. This was Stephens’ first finish since July of 2015 when he flying knee KO’d Dennis Bermudez. On paper, this looks like it will be a barn-burner, on paper.

Stephens has struggled against good wrestlers in the past, most recently Frankie Edgar at UFC 205. And Frankie is small for the weight class, unlike Emmett who fought the majority of his career up at lightweight. I give Jeremy the edge in the striking department, but Emmett has some wicked power at 145. If it stays on the feet it’s anyone’s guess what will happen. But if Emmett does the smart thing and takes Jeremy down often, we just might have a new top contender in the UFC’s stacked featherweight division.

Prediction: Josh Emmett by Decision

 

 

 

 

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GLORY: Redemption – Breakdown and Predictions

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Glory returns to pay-per-view today with a stacked card, featuring some of their greatest fighters. Among them are reigning champions Rico Verhoeven and Alex Pereira, as well as the return of former title holder Nieky Holzken.

In the main event, Rico puts his heavyweight title on the line against the very dangerous Jamal Ben Saddik, who defeated him 6 years ago. Rico comes into the fight riding an impressive 14-fight Glory winning streak.

The co-main event features a rematch of the 2016 Fight of the Year between light heavyweight veterans Michael ‘The Dreamcrusher’ Duut and Danyo ‘Dibuba’ Ilunga. The card is a must-see for kickboxing fans, as well as those who just love a good scrap. And with that out of the way, here’s a breakdown of some of the more interesting fight’s on Saturday’s super-card. Enjoy.

Nieky ‘The Natural’ Holzken – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Nieky Holzken vs Alim Nabiyev

Nabiyev came into Glory with a decent amount of steam behind him, but following his bout against short-notice opponent Jimmy Veinot, I honestly don’t see it. Nieky’s reign as champion was one of the best, and despite two close losses to the equally talented Cédric Doumbé, he’s still one of the best welterweights in the world today. With wins over Raymond Daniels, Joseph Valtellini, and current champion Murthel Groenhart, it’s hard to imagine Nieky having much of a problem with Nabiyev.

Expect plenty of pressure from Holzken early on. Coming off two straight losses Nieky will want to make a statement, and prove that he’s still the man to beat at 170. The liver shot will do it. Holzken will just be too much for Alim. Nabiyev has  potential and could be a contender in the future, but right now Holzken is on a whole ‘nother level. Nieky is back, and he wants that title.

Prediction: Nieky Holzken by 1st Round TKO

 

Alex 'Po Atan' Pereira

Alex ‘Po Atan’ Pereira – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Alex Pereira vs Yousri Belgaroui

Pereira’s win back at Glory 46 came as a shock to me. Simon Marcus has proven himself to be one of the best fighters in the division, and while Pereira is a solid kickboxer in his own right, I fully expected Marcus to win that one pretty easy. I was wrong. Pereira was the better man, and is now the Glory middleweight champion. But don’t expect it to last. Yousri completely shut Pereira down in there last meeting at Glory 40. And based on his last performance, a first round TKO over former champ Jason Wilnis, he’s only getting better.

Pereira’s path to victory is pretty simple, strike hard and strike early. The deep waters are not a place where Alex thrives. His cardio has been questionable in the past and his vaunted knockout power diminishes as the fight goes on. If Pereira can’t put Yousri on the back foot early it’s hard to see him taking this one.

The last fight was a fairly decisive win for Belgaroui. Alex was unable to score on Yousri and was picked apart after gassing out late into the fight. Pereira is a talented striker with some serious power, but Belgaroui’s well-rounded game and superior cardio should be enough to win him the championship.

Prediction: Yousri Belgaroui by Unanimous Decision

 

Michael Dreamcrusher Duut

Michael ‘Dreamcrusher’ Duut – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Michael Duut vs Danyo Ilunga

Last year these two stole the show, putting on one of the greatest fights of the year, maybe of all-time. But can they do it again? It’s hard to say. Consistency is not a strong suit for either of these men. Following his thriller with Ilunga, Duut went on to lose his next Glory contest by disqualification due to excessive clinching, then later won a contender tournament in less than a minute (48 seconds to be exact).

Duut’s incredible power and brawler style make him a dangerous fight for just about anyone in the light heavyweight division, but his lack of defence make him an easy target. Unfortunately, Ilunga hasn’t hit a bullsye in quite some time.

Danyo comes into this fight on a whopping 7 fight losing streak, and hasn’t won a fight in Glory since 2014. On the bright side, all 7 losses have come by decision so his chin has held up. Plus Duut isn’t the most durable guy in the world, so it’s possible that Ilunga could knock him out. But I don’t see that happening. Duut is just too powerful and Ilunga isn’t the same fighter he used to be. Hopefully the fight is as great as the last one was, but don’t expect it to go to a 4th round this time. Ilunga’s on a slippery slope, and Duut’s about to cause an avalanche.

Prediciton: Michael Duut by 3rd Round KO

 

Rico The King of Kickboxing Verhoeven

Rico ‘The King of Kickboxing’ Verhoeven – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Rico Verhoeven vs Jamal Ben Saddik

Despite being the main event this was one of the easier fights to pick. Rico has looked unstoppable lately, and as much as people hate to give him credit for anything, he really is the best heavyweight in the world right now. That doesn’t mean a whole lot considering how weak the division is at the moment, but Rico is champion for a reason.

The rest of the heavyweights just aren’t on his level. ‘Big Ben’ included. Jamal’s last fight against Guto Inocente was a total snoozefest, and if not for his rivalry with Rico he probably wouldn’t even be in the title picture. Badr Hari better get his act together cause Rico’s running out of opponents.

The only advantage I see Jamal having is his power. Rico is faster, more precise, and his striking is more diverse. Again, this is a heavyweight contest so anything can happen, but Jamal hasn’t KO’d a world-class opponent since he fought ‘Braddock’ 2 years ago. Since then, Rico has knocked-out Benjamin Adegbuyi, ‘Braddock’, Bigfoot Silva, and broke Badr’s arm earning him a TKO victory. Rico’s the better fighter, simple as that. And no amount of chest hair is going to change that.

Prediction: Rico Verhoeven by 5th Round KO

All images used in this article are accredited to GLORY Kickboxing

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UFC 218: Holloway vs Aldo 2 Main Card Predictions and Analysis

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Image result for holloway vs aldo

The passing of the torch. A usual occurrence in combat sports. There comes a time when the old guard has to step down and let the new generation take its place. UFC 218 is all about the passing of the torch. Holloway-Aldo 2, Overeem-Ngannou, Alvarez-Gaethje, the card is chock full of young hungry fighters looking to make a statement against their aging counterparts. But don’t expect the old lions to give up without a fight. Aldo is still a world-class striker and Eddie’s still got some tread on the tires. And at the age of 37, Overeem is still one of the most dangerous heavyweights in the world today.

Max Holloway is a perfect representative of the new generation. He’s scrappy, well-rounded, and will fight whoever you put in front of him. He’s got the fire. So do Ngannou, Gaethje, and the rest of the young guys. Aldo hasn’t had that fire in a long time. Sure he’s still a great fighter,‌ but in his last few fights, he’s lacked that burning passion he used to have. Aldo has all the tools to beat Holloway, but does he have the drive? Does the fire still burn, or was it put out long ago? That’s what we’re going to find out come Saturday.

 

Tecia Torres vs Michelle Waterson

This is such a weird fight. Torres’ climb to the top has been impressively mediocre. She has wins over quality opponents like Angela Hill, Felice Herrig, and Paige VanZant. However, with just a single finish to her credit, Tecia hasn’t given the fans a reason to pay attention to her. Waterson is the complete opposite. She has only gone to decision twice and is one of the more popular fighters in the division. However, injuries and losses have prevented Waterson from gaining any real momentum.

As far as the fight goes I really don’t know what to expect. Waterson is fairly inconsistent and Torres is so consistent it hurts. My assumption would be that Waterson has the better ground game, so if anyone’s going to take it to the mat it will be her. Torres has the better overall stand-up game but doesn’t possess the same finishing ability of the Karate Hottie. My guess is that this one stays on the feet with Torres pushing the pace early, then getting caught by a powerful strike from Waterson that puts her down for good.

Prediction: Michelle Waterson by 2nd Round TKO

 

Eddie Alvarez vs Justin Gaethje

How the hell did Cejudo-Pettis get billed higher than this? Alvarez vs Gaethje has the potential to be the Forrest-Bonnar of the modern era. Both men are aggressive brawlers on the feet and strong wrestlers on the mat. I’d give the submission edge to Eddie, but that’s about it. Gaethje’s striking game is more diverse than Eddie’s is, and his youth is definitely something to consider. With 34 fights to his credit, Alvarez is certainly no spring chicken. He’s not nearly as durable as he used to be, and against a dangerous scrapper like Gaethje, that’s not a great quality.

I really wanted to go with Alvarez on this one, but facts are facts. Gaethje is younger, tougher, and most importantly, better for business. Eddie already lost to the biggest draw in the game. Money-wise he doesn’t have much to offer. Gaethje, however, is a promoters wet dream. He’s durable, dangerous, and damn fun to watch. Basically, everything Eddie used to be. Why does any of this matter? Because the judges work for the UFC. If the UFC brass wants Gaethje to win, then he will. Simple as that. Is it right? No, but business is business. And Justin Gaethje is good for business.

Prediction: Justin Gaethje by Split Decision

 

Henry Cejudo vs Sergio Pettis

This feels like too big a step up for Sergio, which is weird considering he’s ranked #4 and Cejudo is ranked #2. After Cejudo’s fight with Mighty Mouse, I wrote him off as nothing more than a sacrifice to the flyweight king. But his close fight with perennial #1 contender Joseph Benavidez and his vicious knockout over veteran submission artist Wilson Reis have shown me that Cejudo is more than just a big-headed wrestler. Henry is one of the best. If anyone in the division is taking the belt off Mighty Mouse it’s him.

Sergio is a talented kid, no doubt. Give him a few more years to develop and he could be champion one day. Unfortunately for him, the UFC doesn’t have time for that. They need flyweight contenders. If that means a few prospects have to bite the dust then so be it. I just hope Sergio doesn’t get completely outclassed and is able to make a good showing, but against a guy like Cejudo, I’m not holding my breath.

Prediction: Henry Cejudo by Unanimous Decision

 

Alistair Overeem vs Francis Ngannou

Call me crazy, but I’m still not completely sold on Cheick Kongo with dreadlocks. His only quality win is a knockout over what’s left of Andrei Arlovski. Overeem, on the other hand, has fought nothing but quality contenders in his climb back to the top, with his only loss coming against reigning champion Stipe Miocic (although some would argue they saw the tap). On paper, this is Overeem’s fight to win. Unfortunately, paper is what Overeem’s chin is made of.

Ngannou may not be as technically sound as Overeem is, but he hits just as hard, maybe harder. One good shot from the Predator and Overeem could drop like a sack of horse meat. Combine that with Overeem’s uber-cockiness and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Picking Overeem is always a gamble, but I’m willing to roll the dice on this one. It’s not gonna be pretty but Overeem’s in-and-out kickboxing and “run like hell” defensive style should be just enough to win this.

Prediction: Alistair Overeem by Unanimous Decision

 

 Max Holloway vs Jose Aldo 2

Holloway TKO’d Aldo about 6 months ago. Max is in the best form of his career. Aldo is taking the fight on short notice. I really can’t think of a good reason to pick Aldo on this one. Sure his striking is still some of the best in the division, but at this point, he’s writing checks his body can’t cash anymore. His chin has degraded significantly and his patented leg kicks are nowhere to be found. It pains me to say this because Aldo is an incredible fighter, but it’s starting to feel as though the sport is passing him by. Aldo is the past, Max is the future.

Despite just winning the title this summer, Holloway has effectively cleaned out the division. Swanson, Lamas, Stephens, Pettis, all fell to the young Hawaiian. Hell, since his loss to McGregor nobody’s even come close to beating Holloway. This doesn’t mean Max is invincible though. Frankie is still a huge threat to Max’s title, and those who sleep on Aldo are often put to sleep themselves. The road ahead of him is not an easy one, but something tells me Max is going to do just fine. It is what it is.

Prediction: Max Holloway by 2nd Round TKO

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