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UFC 195: Lawler vs. Condit Breakdown

Dan Tom

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UFC on FOX: Lawler v Voelker

Robbie Lawler (26-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 33 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Rory MacDonald (7-11-15)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Welterweight Champion
+   Elite XC Middleweight Title
+   81% finish rate
+   12 first round finishes
+   20 KO victories
+   KO power/heavy hands
+   Powerful left kicks(head & body)
+   Accurate & deceptive check R. Hook
+   Devastating left hand
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   80% TD rate over 27 fights
+   Effective ground striker
+   Good get-ups/explosive scrambles
^   Excellent use of Butterfly Guard
–    Lackadaisical kicking defense
–    Susceptible to activity lulls
+   Overall durability/recovers well

Condit4

Carlos Condit (30-8)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 31 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Thiago Alves (5-30-15)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC Interm WW Champ
+   WEC Welterweight Title
+   93% finish rate
+   21 first round finishes
+   15 TKO/KO victories
+   13 Submission wins
+   Excellent kicking variety
+   Dangerous knees
+   Accurate elbows
+   Improved boxing & headmovement
+   Active guard game
^   Constant sweeps & submission chains
–    Struggles with wrestling pressure
+   Effective scrambler/get-up ability
–    Head upright on retreats
^   Shows consistent L. hand availabilities
+   Excellent cardio/comes on late

Summary:

With two careers spent hunting in the same waters, Robbie Lawler & Carlos Condit are perfect parallels of violence as they state their cases for Gold. Not many complaints, nor bold predictions, as this matchup is almost too promising in it’s possibilities. Although I initially felt this way going in, my view of this fight is much clearer after reviewing extensive footage. I’ll do my best here to explain the key factors that will allow each man to expand their paths to victory, and the reasonings behind my prediction (of course all viewpoints are ultimately subjective, my breakdowns are simply here to help your reference points).

Starting off with “The Natural Born Killer”, Condit operates out of an ever-evolving & seemingly sophisticated Muay Thai stance. Known for having a great striking base from his years with Mike Winklejohn, Carlos has made even more improvements to his Boxing and range-finding game since working with Brandon Gibson. At a long frame of 6’2″ these skills are not only crucial for Condit, but something he really needed to tie his game together. As we’ve seen in the last few years of his career, Carlos’s understanding & application of Boxing range has helped him manage distance (especially in regards to takedown threats) and even help open up his deadly knees & kicks.

Despite said improvements on his hands, I feel Carlos’s kicking game will be paramount in dethroning the Champion. I see the front kick in particular to be the key technique to a Condit victory. Even in his recent UFC resurgence, Lawler has traditionally shown a lackadaisical kicking defense. In watching film, you’ll see that Robbie will reluctantly check or block Thai kicks, and show even less resistance for said front kicks (with almost all attempts of recent opposition landing). Though not typically a “fight ending technique“, the front kick is an excellent distance management tool that can allow Carlos space from Lawler’s heavy-handed attacks, and even open up his own offense (as Condit shows a knack for misguiding opposition into head kicks & knees).

As noticeable as Robbie’s kicking defenses may or may not be, I found Condit’s defensive liabilities are surprisingly much more apparent. Despite never being knocked out nor seldom seeming hurt (credit an awesome poker face), Carlos Condit in plain English gets hit a lot…at least a lot more than you’d expect. Although showing improved offensive head movement, Carlos tends to lean his head heavily right or upright upon retreat. This habit has shown to cost him a healthy amount of punches, especially of the left-handed nature. Consistently hit with jabs & hooks from orthodox opposition, the left overhands & crosses from Southpaws have also shown to find natural homes and even sway the momentum standing(as seen in fights with Nick Diaz & Johny Hendricks). Not to mention most of these instances of retreat vulnerability took place between the inner black Octagon lines and the Fence, which just so happens to be Robbie’s preferred Kill Zone.

With Lawler showing little interest in the ground and Condit arguably not possessing the wrestling to take it there, the common forecast for this storm is that it may remain standing. Although Condit’s game is ultra-impressive and ever-evolving, I’m not sure how I feel about his chances going head-to-head or even evading Lawler’s corralling offensive pressure. Though well conditioned himself, the Champion has shown a propensity to lull in activity mid-fight. Now, this may be due to strategy or pacing, but with a Killer who comes on late like Condit, Lawler cannot afford breaks with his “hit you & hurt you” approach. With both men ridiculously tough & durable it almost feels like a crime to predict a stop on either end. However, with no man ever taking a Decision win over Condit without using wrestling, I see the nature of this knife fight forcing the referee’s hand before the final bell.

Official Pick: Lawler – Inside the distance

Stipe3

Stipe Miocic (13-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 33 Weight: 245 lbs Reach: 80″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Mark Hunt (5-10-15)
  • Camp: Strong Style Fight Team (Ohio)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   NAFFS Heavyweight Title
+   NCAA Div. 1 Wrestler
+   Gold Gloves winner
+   5 first round finishes
+   10 KO victories
+   Good cardio/very athletic
^   Consistent volume & output
+   Mixes TD’s with punches well
^   Favors single-legs
–    Counter availabilities
^   Head stagnates mid-combination
–    Lacks kick checking
+   Good chin/recovers well

Andrei Arlovski

Andrei Arlovski (25-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 36 Weight: 241 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Frank Mir (9-5-15)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC Heavyweight Champ
+   Multiple Sambo Accolades
+   17 KO victories
+   13 first round finishes
+   KO power/heavy hands
+   Strong in clinch
+   85% takedown defense rate
+   Accurate right hand
+/-Blitzes in after hurting opponent
^   Open to counter strikes
–    7 KO losses(last in 2011)
+/-Effectively stall from bottom
+   Improved overall striking

Summary:

In the evenings co-main event is a heavyweight showdown between Stipe Miocic vs Andrei Arlovski. Stipe is the on-paper favorite coming into this matchup and I can totally see why. Despite being long marked the division’s contender with his athletic transition game, Miocic has recently struggled with back issues that inevitably sidelined his appearance in Dublin last October. With Miocic still showing physical rehab work leading into this fight (via his Instagram), I strongly feel this is a live intangible heading into this battle.

I always avoid putting heavy weight into what some would consider “private issues” or “personal intangibles” because I don’t feel it makes for ethical or accurate analysis. That being said, there are sometimes where it qualifies as a justified intangible and allow me to explain why. First off, I believe the key factor in this fight will be Stipe’s “Frankie Edgar-like” transition game, and how effective he can be to keep Arlovski working & guessing (which has traditionally shown to take away from his offense).

Though Arlovski has abandoned ground intents in fights, his Sambo base still translates to his deceptively strong clinch game and a takedown defense rate of 85%. This means Miocic’s usual cage pressure (and the double-leg’s he favors from there), may not be as effective as anticipated. With that said, Stipe’s transition game in the open caters to his shown single-leg snap downs, which I see being the key takedown technique to ground Arlovski. This technique off his jab is not only Miocic’s go-to takedown, but it also requires the most inadvertent back leverage of anything else he uses in his arsenal (especially the way in which he executes “running the pipe” to finish).

This is where said “back intangibles” come into play, and here’s how the numbers will tell us it’s validity within the first round. With Miocic’s 47 official takedown attempts over a 9 fight period, he roughly averages 3 to 4 official takedown attempts per round. This may not sound that impressive, but when you put up those numbers consistently at Heavyweight, Miocic’s overall output has arguably pushed him ahead in the pack (coming only second the likes of Cain Velasquez as far as activity goes). If the first round manages to go by with no sign of takedown intentions, it may tell us the physical state Stipe is really at for this fight.

As a noted intelligent fighter with good risk management, I’m sure Stipe and his team know Arlovski’s best chance to win this fight is for Miocic to stand & trade. Even if Stipe manages to ground the Former Champ, Arlovski shows effective stalling techniques & guard retention to get fights stood up (which referees will seemingly do faster at heavyweight). All that said, I believe this fight will primarily take place standing where we’ll see Stipe’s in & out Boxing against Andrei’s counter striking. Though Arlovski’s improved kicking arsenal could have play given Stipe’s reluctance to check, I believe his counter punching will be the key to his victory.

Stipe shows fight-to-fight improvements in his Boxing and overall movement, however, his head position will often stagnate mid-combination which has cost him counter shots in the past. If Miocic is not healthy and/or his transition game fails, I don’t like his chances standing with Andrei and only having three rounds in which to work. With a night full of close matchups, I feel Arlovski has some of the most dog value on this card. But tread carefully, after all it’s Heavyweight MMA.

Official Pick: Arlovski – Decision

Larkin3

Lorenz Larkin (16-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 29 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Santiago Ponzinibbio (6-27-15)
  • Camp: Millennia MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   BJJ Blue Belt
+   7 first round finishes
+   10 KO victories
+   KO power
+   Fast hand speed
+   Good distance management
^   Closes distance quickly
+   Excellent jab
+   well-timed uppercut
+   Solid kicking variety
^   Accurate spinning attacks
–    Lack leg kick checks
–    Struggles when pressure fought
^   Especially when backed into cage

Albert5

Albert Tumenov (16-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 24 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Alan Jouban (10-3-15)
  • Camp: K Dojo (Russia)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Master of Sports: Boxing (Russia)
+   10  first round finishes
+   11 KO victories
+   KO power
+   Accurate defensive & offensive L. Hook
+   Manages distance well
+   Strong core/counter wrestling
^   Good bridge & Scrambles from bottom
+   Excellent right hand
^   Creates subtle openings with angles
+   Fast switch head kick
–    Body kick vulnerabilities
^   Baits/catches to counter strike
+   Solid chin & durability

Summary:

You can’t bring a card out West without a proper gunfight, as the UFC matchmakers grace us with Lorenz Larkin vs Albert Tumenov. In the matchup that’s excited me the most since it’s inception, it’s very hard to see how this technical shootout does not deliver (for however long it lasts). Given both men’s lack of interest for takedowns or cage clinches, I suspect this fight will largely be contested & determined on the feet.

With each fighter requiring comfortable spaces to operate their striking games, I believe this matchup may come down to who can disrupt & discomfort the other more effectively. I’ve been following Larkin’s career since his Strikeforce days, and despite coming from a heavier weight class, I believe he’ll carry a slight speed advantage in this fight. Lorenz’s hand speed is accentuated by his foot speed, as you’ll see him dart in & out of striking range. This is something he’ll need in spades if he means to stifle Tumenov’s rhythm.

Albert’s no slouch in the speed department himself, but it’s his technique & timing that he uses to equalize range and speed advantages. In his past fights, we’ve seen Albert read and time opposition to set up his deadly counter attacks. Offensively, Tumenov will step into space while subtly taking an offsetting angle, which he’ll use to set up his accurate right hand. This coupled with the proper pressure could be effective against Larkin, who traditionally struggles when being pressure fought.

Though Larkin displays excellent offensive movement, he also shows a habit of moving straight back into the cage when pressured defensively. Often exposing his head, Lorenz will usually retreat in a “Philly Shell” (power hand high-lead hand low). This will expose Larkin to Albert’s said right hands and other offensive tools (as we saw in his last fight against Alan Jouban). I feel Larkin’s best chance of disrupting the Russian’s game is to lean heavily on his kicks, where I feel he has the advantage. With Tumenov showing far less kicking defense than punch defense, Lorenz could potentially frustrate & sway the momentum of the fight here.

That said, Albert has shown durability in all areas as he’ll gladly eat or catch kicks to counter strike. I’m a huge fan of both men and would hate to see either lose, but sadly they both can’t be winners. Ultimately, I feel that Tumenov’s chin and precision pressure will be the key factor in this firefight.

Official Pick: Tumenov – Inside the distance

DB2

Diego Brandao (20-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 28 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 68.5″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Katsunori Kikuno (9-26-15)
  • Camp: Team Brandao (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 14 Winner
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   10 KO victories
+   13 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Underrated wrestling
^   Good Double-leg TD
+   Solid topside transitions
^   Head & Arms to passes
–    Takes breaks inside guard
+/-Aggressive strike conviction
^   Counter availabilities
+   Dangerous right hand
–     Propensity to fade

Tcity5

Brian Ortega (9-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 24 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Thiago Tavares (6-6-15)
  • Camp: Blackhouse MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   RFA Featherweight Title
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   4 Submission wins
+   4 first round finishes
+   Improved striking
^   Diversifies attacks well
+   Accurate knees
+   Excellent transition game
^   Chains Submissions well
+   Dangerous off back (guard)
^   Active hips & strikes
–    Will succeed bottom
–    Shows little head movement
+   Consistent pace & conditioning

Summary:

In a fun Featherweight scrap, rising prospect Brian Ortega will meet the dangerous Diego Brandao. A former prospect in his own right, Diego Brandao has had mixed success (and performances) thus far in his career. None the less, “DB” will arguably be the sternest test of Brian Ortega’s growing resume. Though young in his “on paper” MMA career, the long time Gracie Black Belt instructor has been bred for this for some time now. From striking at a young age to his progression in grappling, Brian has been competing in all forms of Martial Arts since  he was a teenager.

In the striking area is where I see Diego’s best chances in testing and possibly taking this fight away from Ortega. Brandao’s right hand specifically could sway the momentum of this fight given Brian’s often stationary head position. Ortega’s consistent volume & ever growing arsenal (especially the comfort in which he employs it), has largely helped him in his overall success so far. That said, Diego’s explosive blitzes & knockout power puts him at a solid benchmark in the division that will certainly show us where Ortega is at in his standing game.

What can make the striking portion of this fight more of a reality, is Diego’s underrated wrestling game. Aside from his solid takedown ability, Brandao also bares an impressive TD Defense rate of 80% which could allow him to dictate where this fight takes place (assuming he chooses a disciplined approach). But given Brandao’s in-fight trends & the impressive ground skills of his own, I don’t expect the often emotional fighter to avoid ground exchanges(despite that being his opponent’s strength). Less we not forget, there are many ways for Brian to also get this fight to the ground, as we’ve seen him pull guard and succeed bottom to get what he wants.

Though succeeding bottom and playing from your back is often looked down upon in modern day MMA, you’ll run into outliers like “T-City” Ortega who make you eat your words. When the young talent was put against his previous toughest test, we saw him consistently threaten, damage, and often/eventually out-grapple the proven UFC Vet & BJJ Black Belt Thiago Tavares (and he did it largely off his back). Don’t get me wrong, Diego shows an excellent transition game from topside, as he displays a beautiful passing game off submission threats (often hunting head & arm chokes). However, Brandao’s stereotype of fading in fights (arguably due to consistent physical & emotional exertion) has shown to hold water.

Despite Diego’s takedown/top-game usually helping him win rounds, he’ll also use his said skills to take breaks in key positions. Inside the guard particularly is where Diego’s been caught speeding (or sleeping depending on viewpoint), as we’ve seen him somewhat consistently swept or threatened here. It’s hard to tell Brandao’s intent, much less his mindset in these exchanges, but it appears he’s so confident in his defense & skills, that he almost allows submission catches as he’ll often lackadaisically flow and escape from them. Though these transitions have opened up opportunities for Brandao in the past, it’s this specific area where “T-City” gets his name and makes his money. Couple Brian’s relentless work-rate off his back with Diego’s exertion issues, and I feel Ortega’s style will wear down the do or die nature of his Brazilian opponent.

Official Pick: Ortega – Inside the distance

Abel3

Abel Trujillo (12-7-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 32 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: Submission loss / Gleison Tibau (11-7-15)
  • Camp: Blackzilians (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   NAIA Collegiate Wrestler
+   7 KO/TKO Victories
+   5 first round finishes
+   KO power / heavy hands
+   Strong power-double TD
+   Accurate & hard ground striker
+   Difficult to hold down
^   Effective scrambler
+   Deadly right hand
^   Closes distance well
+   Dangerous knees
–    Head often upright
–    Hands retract low off strikes
^   Counter availabilities

Sims1

Tony Sims (12-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 30 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: Dec loss / Olivier Aubin Mercier (8-23-15)
  • Camp: Elevation Fight Team (Denver, CO)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   7x State Boxing Champ
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   8 first round finishes
+   10 KO victories
+   Wrestling base
^   Well timed double-leg
+   KO power
+   Accurate striker
^   Dangerous L. Hook – R. Hand
+   Excellent footwork
^   Manages distance well
–    Struggles against fence
^   TD & Control availabilities

Summary:

Once again the UFC will look to it’s exciting Lightweight Division to kick off the main card, as Tony Sims draws the always dangerous Abel Trujillo. Despite this match being put together rather quickly, both men seem more than ready & willing as they’ll each attempt to get back in the win column. Given both fighters style of “Strikers with a Wrestling base“, I expect this match to be largely contested (and likely decided) on the feet. Training with the Blackzillians, Trujillo has made major leaps in his striking game under the tutelage of Henri Hooft. Possessing natural one-punch power, Henry has helped Abel shore up his technique and open up his game.

Trujillo’s most effective attribute standing is his ability to deceptively close distance. This is something that will be crucial if he means to catch the constantly moving Sims. Cutting his teeth in Boxing prior to his MMA career (7-time State Champ), Tony brings a very uniquely active(but effective) footwork styling. Consistently switching stances, Sims will do so according to his opposition’s movement. This allows him to not just stalk, but also more safely dictate the terms of action. Should Abel fail to disrupt rhythm or find his own early, he could be in for a long (or short) night given Tony’s technical aggression.

Though Sims Southpaw looks, corner-cutting, and trap-setting could keep Trujillo in a state of perpetual catch-up, it does not change the fact that he’s still playing with fire. We’ve seen Abel hurt, tired, and still close the show with his lights out power. Tony will also have to mind his natural tendency for head dips & rolls (habits often carried over from Boxing), as Trujillo bears explosive knee attacks from many ranges. That being said, I feel Trujillo is the more defensively liable man standing. With his head often finding its way upright, Abel will close the aforementioned distance with such conviction, that he’ll tend to retract his hands low of his power shots. This coupled with his propensity to brawl has shown to cost him in the counter-strike department, an area where Tony Sims makes his money.

I believe Trujillo’s best chance in this fight is to utilize his underrated wrestling game. Though I give the striking edge to Sims, The Four-Time NAIA All-American Trujillo, shows to have translated his wrestling base more effectively to MMA than Sims. Being one of the few men to take down Khabib Nurmagomedov, Abel wields a mean power double-leg that could ground, or at the very least stifle Sim’s offense. Though Tony shows a well-timed double-leg himself, his takedown and ground defense against high-level opposition still remains questionable (as he struggled in his last fight with OAM). Though Trujillo’s devastating ground strikes could certainly sway momentum his way, it’s hard to not overlook that Abel tends to take damage in victory & defeat as he’s been significantly hit & hurt in 5 of his last 7 fights. Ultimately I do not see Trujillo’s style boding well against a Technician with a chin, especially one who carries a 100% finish rate.

Official Pick: Sims – Inside the distance

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • McDonald def. Kanehara
  • Noke def. Morono
  • Kish def. Ansaroff
  • Holtzman def. Dober
  • Duffy def. Poirier
  • Soto def. Tanaka
  • Westcott def. Garcia

Recommended Plays

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Robbie Lawler
-Albert Tumenov
-Tony Sims

Low Tier Picks:

-Carlos Condit
-Dustin Poirier
-Andrei Arlovski

Pieces for your parlay:

-Brian Ortega
-Albert Tumenov
-Tony Sims

Props worth looking at:

-Albert Tumenov – by KO/TKO
-Scott Holtzman – by Submission
-Brian Ortega – inside the distance

Fights to avoid:

-Stipe Miocic vs Andrei Arlovski
-Michael McDonald vs Masanori Kanehara
-Kyle Noke vs Alex Morono

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

Onnit Primal Bells

breakdown

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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