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UFC 194: Aldo vs McGregor Breakdown

Dan Tom

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Aldo2

Jose Aldo (25-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 29 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Chad Mendes (10-25-14)
  • Camp: Nova Uniao (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Excellent
  • Overall Fight Grade: A+

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Featherweight Champion
+   WEC Featherweight Title
+   4x BJJ World Champion
+   11 first round finishes
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   14 KO victories
+   91% TD defense
+   KO power
+   Excellent fast-twitch striker
^   Superb reactive instincts
+   Dangerous kicks & knees
^   Devastating leg kicks
+   Accurate counter right hand
+   Good head movement
–    Seldom shows ground game
–    Faced 1 Southpaw in 7 yrs
^   Struggled with striking lanes

Conor1

Conor McGregor (18-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 27 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Chad Mendes (7-11-15)
  • Camp: SBG Ireland
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: A-

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Interm FW Champion
+   Cage Warriors FW & LW Titles
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   12 first round finishes
+   16 KO victories
+   14 fight win streak
+   KO power/heavy hands
+   Agile & Athletic movement
+   Excellent footwork
^   Deceptively conducts distance
+   Diverse kicking attacks
+   Accurate left hand
^   Set up with right hand
–    low hands/counter available
+   Improved counter wrestling
?    Questionable overall ground-skill
+   Solid Chin

Summary:

As we finally we make it to the weekends main course, Conor McGregor will get his chance to unify the Featherweight Championship against Jose Aldo. Coming off physical injury and an emotional build-up, expect a fully motivated Aldo to show as he attempts to restate his supremacy. With the mind games of McGregor being no coincidence, an underlying intangible leading up to this fight will certainly be the emotional narrative. Though this is not traditionally measurable, it could factor positively or negatively in terms of Aldo’s aggression & approach.

In the spirit of keeping our analysis technical and evidence-based, let’s look at each man’s striking style as I suspect this one will stay standing. An aggressive Muay Thai stylist known for his leg kicks, Aldo will march forward stalking opposition with a constant threat of counter offense. Standing squared to his opponents with his safety switched off, Jose’s fast-twitch reactive instincts has been a key intangible to his success. Though often feared offensively, it’s his said counter striking game that will serve him best in this fight.

Aldo particularly wields an accurate counter right hand that should have play given that McGregor has been hit with significant rights in 4 of his last 6 fights. That being said, Conor has also yet to be hurt or dropped as he’s displayed a rock hard chin. Despite the cost of low hands, Conor shows an evolving brilliance to his striking game that’s thus far allowed him to pay these bills with ease.

Operating out of a Traditional Martial Arts stance, McGregor intelligently conducts distance with agile lateral & lead-foot movement. Using deceptive feints and kicking attacks, McGregor will disrupt distance as he draws out reactions for counters. Showing to focus more on breaking opponents to the body(as seen in his fights with Siver & Mendes), Conor will variate kicks to the mid-section with accuracy & conviction. McGregor may however hold kicking liabilities of his own, particularly the inside leg kick which Conor’s heavy lead legged stance may feed into.

Though the possibilities of potential are difficult to grasp, this fight becomes more clear when watching Aldo’s match against Kenny Florian. With Kenny being the only Southpaw Aldo has faced in over 7 years, I referenced this heavily given its value. In that match we saw Jose primarily struggle to find  the appropriate striking lanes, as his output and effectiveness suffered greatly. With McGregor being a much more unique & dynamic threat than Florian standing, we could see Connor more effectively conduct traffic to gain advantage. Despite showing solid instinctual head movement, Aldo will also habitually(especially against Southpaws) hop back slightly out of range.

If Jose elects back-stepping as opposed to head-movement, it may play into Conor’s hand similarly to what we saw last July against Chad Mendes. Feinting & pawing at the lead hand, Conor will cleverly persuade movement as he accurately fires his long left to intercept. The unspoken intangible in this match will be Jose Aldo’s world class ground game should he decide to dust it off. But given Jose’s on-paper to emotional trends, I suspect Scarface will continue to make his money standing. With McGregors proven chin & said intangibles, expect high risk & high reward at it’s finest as I predict a new King to be crowned.

Official Pick: McGregor – Inside the distance

Weidman1

Chris Weidman (13-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 31 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 78″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Vitor Belfort (5-23-15)
  • Camp: Serra-Longo Fight Team (NY)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good
  • Overall Fight Grade: A+

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Middleweight Champion
+   2x Div.1 All-American Wrestler
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   6 first round finishes
+   6 KO victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   KO power/heavy hands
+   100% Takedown defense rate
+   Excellent TD entries
^   Times & adjusts well
+   Effective ground striker
+   Strong top game
+   Solid transitional Jiu-Jitsu
^   22 passes in 9 fights
+   Manages distance well
+   Dangerous L Hook & Elbows
+   Never out-struck by an opponent

Rockhold4

Luke Rockhold (14-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 31 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Lyoto Machida (4-18-15)
  • Camp: American Kickboxing Academy (San Jose, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good
  • Overall Fight Grade: A

Supplemental info:
+   Strikeforce Middleweight Titles
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   10 first round finishes
+   4 KO victories
+   8 Submission wins
+   Good distance management
+   Solid kicking variety
^   Dangerous left liver kick
–    Head leans heavily left
+   Excellent top control
^   Technically aggressive
+   Dangerous in transition
^   Crafty submissions
+   Efective ground striking
+/-2 official TD’s in 14 fights
+   Consistent pace & pressure

Summary:

For the evening’s co-main event, we are treated to the highest level of  Middleweight Title matches as Luke Rockhold looks to dethrone Chis Weidman. With both men possessing nearly every attribute you’d want in a Champion, we’re very lucky to see the first of possible many, as these two meet in their fighting primes. Tall and long for the weight class, Rockhold’s rangy frame supplements his Southpaw stylings standing. Using a varying kicking attack, Luke dictates the distance of exchanges as he consistently sticks and moves. Wielding a dangerous left power kick(primarily thrown to the liver), Rockhold may find his most success in this realm as Machida did when facing Weidman.

Though not playing a huge factor in that fight, Luke’s power kicks have shown to effect opponents even when blocked(as it damages arms and takes away punching pop). This  however will not be Chris Weidman’s first time partying with Southpaws, as 6 of his last 7 fights has come against some of the best lefty’s in the business. On the feet, Weidman wields a more subtle but effective pressure boxing style, as he’ll intelligently play distance and angles. Stalking just outside of range and disrupting space with his intercepting offense, Chris shows excellent distance management as I see that being the key standing.

Not only dangerous from kicking range, Luke also shows a good counter game as he favors an accurate check right hook. Weidman however, shows a natural knack for evading & rolling to his left setting up offensive angles and right hands. As seen in his fight with Lyoto Machida, Chris would consistently roll & angle off to his left while doubling-up on his right hands. This could be particularly effective in this fight given Rockholds tendency to slip his head heavily(and often unprotected) to his left. We saw Vitor Belfort pick up on this habit, as he continually went to his spinning wheel kick to intercept Luke’s hard movements left.

Despite Weidman’s Wrestling & ADCC Accolades, the MMA grappling is very close in this fight with Luke’s shown technics & abilities. However, Rockhold’s yet to face a wrestler or submission fighter to the caliber of Chirs in his career. From Weidmans subtly effective top pressure to Luke’s technical transition game, I believe wrestling will be the key factor in ground exchanges. I give the on-paper & in-fight advantage to Weidman in that category, but he’ll have to mind his belongings as Rockhold is sneaky & proficient in transit. As close as this fight certainly is, I feel Weidman holds the key skill-sets to dictate the terms of this fight.

Official Pick: Weidman – Decision

Souza1

Jacare Souza (22-3-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 35 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Chris Camozzi (4-18-15)
  • Camp: X-Gym (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good
  • Overall Fight Grade: A-

Supplemental info:
+   Former Strikeforce MW Champ
+   BJJ & ADCC World Champion
+   BJJ & Judo Black Belt
+   15 first round finishes
+   13 Submission wins
+   5 TKO victories
+   Improved striking
+   Heavy right hand
^   Counters well well with it
+   Good head movement
+/-Heavily reliant on speed
^   Improved wrestling
+   Dangerous in transition
^   Always looks for back
–    Activity lulls standing

Yoel2

Yoel Romero (10-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 38 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Lyoto Machida (6-27-15)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: B+

Supplemental info:
+   Decorated Olympic Wrestler
+   Multiple Wrestling Accolades
+   9 KO victories
+   4 first round finishes
+   Incredible athletic & agile
+   KO power / heavy hand
+   Deceptive tempo changes
^   Explodes in entries
+   Variates attack levels
^   Favors flying knees
+   Dangerous late in fight
+/-Sometimes wild in exchanges
^   Counter availabilities
–    Inconsistent pace
^   Gas tank bares watching
+   Devastating ground striker

Summary:

Leading perfectly into the Middleweight Title affair is an eliminator match to determine it’s next contender, as Yoel Romero touches down to meet “Jacare” Souza. This in my opinion being one of the most competitively contested bouts on paper, expect this one to come down to the inches & seconds that are either given or taken in close. Despite the heavy accolades carried by both men, this fight may still ultimately breakdown like many grappler vs grappler match ups and stay standing. Souza, who has steadily improved his striking over his career heavily relies upon his natural speed & athleticism.

Using head movement & feints, Jacare will looks to draw out reactions and create openings to attack. Though playing Matador can be dangerous against the explosive entires of Romero, his ability to powerfully hit counters may be his best bet standing. Yoel’s movement makes him very hard to hit, but he’s shown to expose himself as he’ll occasionally engage recklessly. Souza’s heavy right hand could have play here, especially should he use to it counter as he did in his fight with Derek Brunson(fellow UFC southpaw). Yoel will however pose the intangibles standing as his unorthodox yet dangerous style should sternly test Souza.

The little trouble Jacare has shown throughout his career has come against the likes of technical, athletic, or Southpaw fighters. Romero possesses a little of each as he amalgamates both the traits of technique & raw power. Using deceptive tempo changes, Yoel will lull the perceived rhythm standing only to explode offensively. Covering & closing distance at an insane speed, Romero may very well cancel out the athletic advantage Souza usually holds against opposition. Even if Souza finds himself ahead standing, he’ll still need to be careful as we’ve seen Yoel maintain fight finishing power even when hurt and tired.

On the floor, and more particularly in transition is where the “X-Gym” fighter holds the X-factor in this fight. Despite his renown Wrestling credentials, Yoel’s shown that he’s not above being taken down in MMA fights. Though he’ll still need to mind strong forward entries(due to Souza’s well time double-legs), Romero’s footwork & counter wrestling still largely dictate the Where & When of grappling exchanges. Though possessing solid get-up ability, Romero will have to be most careful when making way to his feet.

With a menacing transition game, Jacare shows a second to none ability to take backs, and may have ample opportunity as many wrestlers habitually give it when standing(in MMA). Yoel is still a bit suspect in his overall Jiu-Jitsu game, as we’ve seldom seen him operate from his back. Both these men are so talented as there’s little to criticize, however each man will occasionally lull standing-action with inconsistent activity making this even harder to sort. Admittedly coming into my analysis, I thought Souza carried the edge, but after reviewing footage my feelings have changed. Though I still agree that Jacare should be the on-paper favorite, Romero’s style will prove more than troublesome should he come in north of his average.

Official Pick: Romero – Inside the distance

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Maia vs LaFlare

Demian Maia (21-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 38 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Neil Magny (8-1-15)
  • Camp: Demian Maia BJJ (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate
  • Overall Fight Grade: B

Supplemental info:
+   2x BJJ World Champion
+   ADCC Champion 2007
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   10 first round finishes
+   10 Submission wins
+   Deceptively strong
+   Effective from clinch
^   Favors trips & double-legs
+   Underrated wrestling
^   Improved shots & entries
+   Excellent top game
^   74 passes in 21 fights
+   Always looks for back
+   Competent striking
–    Tends to fade in fights

Gunnar1

Gunnar Nelson (14-1-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 27 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Brandon Thatch (7-11-15)
  • Camp: SBG Ireland (Iceland)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: B

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   Brown Belt Karate
+   11 first round finishes
+   9 Submission wins
+   Good distance management
^   Closes it quickly
+   Deceptive wrestling ability
^   Strong double-leg TD
–    Low hands standing
^   Counter strike liable
+   Accurate shot selection
^   Well timed cross
+   Excellent top pressure
^   Seemingly passes & transitions

Summary:

In a fantastic match up of grappling greats, Demian Maia and Gunnar Nelson meet in the UFC’s stacked Welterweight division. With both men’s ground-game being the highlight of their skill-sets, many of us fantasize about a possible Jiu-Jitsu match with strikes. They both however carry similar stylings that could very well cancel each other out. Often seen in MMA when two wrestlers collide, the bout tends to progress and contest standing. Though Maia and Nelson aren’t “wrestlers” per say, they both have very underrated games as they favor similar entries and shots into clinch space.

Once in the clinch, both Fighters deceptive strength shine through as they’re hips turn into magnets, especially when pressing against the fence. With each man wielding creative chain wrestling to ground fights, their similarities also follow them to the floor. Showing a consummate understanding of the ground-game, Maia will effortlessly float and pass to dominate positions. Gunnar will also utilize a “floating-pressure style” when topside, as he displays no waste in movement wielding an all-incompasing limb dexterity to support his technical game.

Overall I have to give the on-paper advantage to Demian on the mat, especially with his shown extra gears from bottom(something with seen very little of Gunnar in his career). Though Maia showed a killer guard & triangle game in the Jiu-Jitsu world, he’s had limited success with being effective from here in the back half of his MMA career. Regardless of who gets grounded first, I assure you we’ll be in for a treat from butterfly guards to exciting passes. Where this road begins to split for me is the standing footwork movement of Nelson, which I see being a key factor in this fight.

With his consistent management of distance to his quick reaction speeds, I believe Nelson will be difficult for Maia to pin against the cage. Maia will also have to to navigate the deceptive distance closing of Gunnar, as Nelson shows impeccable timing & accuracy on his intercepting punches. Regardless of the success Maia may have, Gunnar’s durability & activity will likely make the Brazilian work hard in strikes, entries, and wrestling exchanges. Showing to consistently tire past round 2 since dropping to Welterweight, the fight momentum may sway should Maia not find success early against the composed and technically sound Nelson.

Official Pick: Nelson – Decision

Max3

Max Holloway (14-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 23 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Charles Oliveira (8-23-15)
  • Camp: Hawaii Elite MMA (Honolulu, HI)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Excellent
  • Overall Fight Grade: B+

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   3 first round finishes
+   6 KO victories
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Volume & variety striker
+   Excellent shot selection
^   Variates attack levels
+   Intelligent footwork
+   Effective strikes in space
+   Dangerous Guillotine
+   Solid TD defense (79%)
–    Susceptible to slow starts
+   Stronger down the stretch

Stephens3

Jeremy Stephens (24-11)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 29 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Dennis Bermudez (7-11-15)
  • Camp: Alliance MMA (San Diego, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: B-

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   17 KO victories
+   13 first round finishes
+   KO power / heavy hands
+   Dangerous right hand
^   Always ready to counter
+   Underrated wrestling
^   Favors power double-legs
+   Improved submission defense
+/-Propensity to brawl
–    Hand tends to lower
^   Counter shot availabilities
+   Physically durable
+   Deadly late in fights

Summary:

Kicking off the main card is a main event worthy match-up, as rising sensation Max Holloway draws the always deadly Jeremy Stephens. Holloway comes in riding a 7 fight win streak as he’s shown us incredible fight-to-fight improvements as of late. This momentum has seemingly made Max one of the more heavy favorites on the card, but don’t let the oddsmakers fool you as Jeremy Stephens has all the intangibles of a live dog. Showing improved technical striking and even moments of brilliance, Stephens has enjoyed the new lease on his career since moving to Alliance MMA.

With borderline hammers for fists, Jeremy will have the one-shot power advantage in this fight as he usually enjoys this over most of his opposition. With improved combinations and setups, Stephens will look to read where his opponents weight is as he looks to intercept them with force. Though very competent on his feet, Jeremy is ultimately more plotting in his movement which could hinder him in this fight. Holloway who possesses excellent movement, will present a limited availability for Stephen’s power, as I see footwork being a key factor in this fight. Early in the Hawaiian’s career we would see proactive movements, as he showed your general outside circling to feinting-forward setups.

Somewhere before his bout with Cub Swanson we saw Max’s movement evolve into something else, as he would now move less and actually be more affective by mixing in stance-switching. Not just by definition mind you, but by doing so intelligently through counter movement. With already attuned distance management tools, Holloway will use his movement to draw his opposition into a natural momentum. Once his opponents achieve a level of mid-motion, Max will then attack and usually catch his prey off guard. Incorporating Southpaw looks, Max has increased his arsenal as he’ll switch stances when opposition attempts to set. Creating this state of constant pressure & guessing, Holloway can potentially frustrate and chip away at Stephens.

With Max’s likely approach being to “Box the Brawler”, Jeremy’s best chances will be by making this a gritty & ugly affair. Though Max’s head movement & balance seldom put him out of position, Jeremy may have success countering his kicking game. Though Holloway a nice a variety of such attacks, Stephens has a knack for catching right kicks to the body and countering with a right of his own. This often leads him right into a takedown, which in my opinion is an unspoken intangible of this fight. Working a lot of Wrestling in his camp, Jeremy may very well surprise Max with it early or dust it off should he need it late.

Should Stephens fail in close, he’ll need to be careful when exiting space. The quiet X factor to Max’s striking is his ability to strike while breaking off the clinch/standing exchanges. Wielding killer instincts & accuracy here, Holloway can really look to sway the momentum as these counter opportunities have traditionally troubled Stephens(seen in his fight with Yves Edwards). Although I do not agree with the odds on either man, I do see Max as the justified favorite. I caution plays here as Stephens KO power carries late into fights, but I feel stylistically the Hawaiian will give us a show whether or not he finds the finish.

Official Pick: Holloway – Decision

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Uriah Faber def. Frankie Saenz
  • Tecia Torres def. Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger
  • Colby Covington def. Warley Alves
  • Kevin Lee def. Leonardo Santos
  • Magomed Mustafaev def. Joe Proctor
  • Yancy Medeiros def. John Makdessi
  • Court McGee def. Marcio Alexandre Jr.

Recommended Plays

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Conor McGregor
-Urijah Faber
-Chris Weidman

Low Tier Picks:

-Yoel Romero
-Yancy Medeiros
-Jose Aldo

Pieces for your parlay:

-Kevin Lee
-Chris Weidman
-Tecia Torres

Props worth looking at:

-Yoel Romero – by KO/TKO
-Urijah Faber – by Submission
-Gunnar Nelson – by Decision

Fights to avoid:

-Max Holloway vs Jeremy Stephens
-Yoel Romero vs Jacare Souza
-Colby Covington vs Warley Alves

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

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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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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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GSP vs Robert Whittaker is Easily the Best Fight to Make at Middleweight

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GSP became the new middleweight champion of the UFC this past weekend, and many questions have been asked his way. Is he officially the greatest of all time? Who does he fight next? Does he stay at middleweight?

The G.O.A.T. conversation will never be settled completely. There will always be separation in opinions between Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, GSP, Demetrious Johnson, Fedor Emelianenko, and some even say Conor McGregor is the greatest, simply due to the fact that he is the first ever UFC champion to hold two belts simultaneously. Regardless of how that conversation is driven, the biggest question that should be the only concern at this point is the immediate plans for the new middleweight champion.

Where does GSP go next, and who does he fight?

Well, the fact of the matter is, it would not make sense for GSP to go down to the welterweight division again. 170-pounds is alive and kicking at the moment, with new stars emerging such as Darren Till and Mike Perry, to return of veterans like Carlos Condit, and also new additions to the division like Rafael dos Anjos. St-Pierre would have to stay extremely active in order to keep the division flowing.

At the age of 36 and having just returned to MMA last weekend, St-Pierre is unlikely to stay as active as he used to be when he was the king of the welterweight division. Plus, would it really make much sense for him to get on his old diet again in order to make the welterweight weight limit? He looked massive last night, all bulked up, and even seemed like the bigger fighter against Bisping, who used to fight at 205-pounds.

On the other hand, if he decides to stay at middleweight, which is what UFC president Dana White stated would happen yesterday, then there is one clear path for him to take and based on his statements on his contract, will be forced to take: Robert Whittaker.

Whittaker won the interim middleweight belt earlier this year against Yoel Romero at UFC 213, which was a razor close fight that went to Whittaker at the end of 5 rounds. Since then, Whittaker has been sidelined due to the injury he suffered during the fight, damaging his ligament in the left knee.

4 months later, he has seemed to have healed up perfectly, as he was in the arena for the madness last night and even answered a few questions from the media, stating that he is healthy now. The fight against Whittaker would be the best that the UFC could put on at this point in 185-pounds division on a few different levels.

GSP and Whittaker have a lot in common. Starting with the most obvious, they both used to fight at welterweight. Which means that neither fighter will have a massive size advantage. This brings the match up nearly even as far as physicality is concerned.

Then comes the match up itself. St-Pierre and Whittaker both represent the very definition of being ‘well-rounded’. Whittaker, although not an offensive wrestler, proved that his defensive wrestling was second to none in his fight against Romero, a former Olympic wrestler. And while GSP is not necessarily the best wrestler in pure wrestling, his ability to wrestle in MMA is phenomenal due to his timing and fight IQ, which makes this fight even more intriguing to find out whether Whittaker can defend GSP’s takedown attempts.

This fight also represents the UFC an opportunity to see a birth of a superstar. Whittaker, while not a huge talker, is a very marketable fighter especially over in Australia and New Zealand. If he is able to defeat GSP, who’s arguably the biggest draw in the history of the company, it would boost Whittaker’s popularity up an extraordinary amount. And being only 26 years old, Whittaker has the tools and potential to be a dominant champion, much like St-Pierre in his “prime”.

Booking this fight would also clear up the confusing state of the middleweight division. With Bisping’s reign as the champion coming to an end, some hope was born for other contenders in the division. Fighters like Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman, Yoel Romero, Jacare Souza were having an extremely hard time getting a hold of Michael Bisping during his reign, and with a new champion now and possible unification of the belts soon, the contenders will have a goal to work for again.

The fight is one of the best fights that UFC could put on for the fans right now and one that can happen as early as February of 2018, which is when the UFC returns to Australia with a PPV. If it can come to fruition, then it will easily be one of the best fights of the year and one that all the fans can count the days down to.

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