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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

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UFC 216 Breakdown: Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee

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

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

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

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

Where Ferguson Flourishes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Count Out Kevin Lee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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UFC 216 Breakdown: Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UFC 215 Main Card Breakdown

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

Jeremy Stephens vs Gilbert Melendez

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

How the fight will go

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

Prediction

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

Ilir Latifi vs Tyson Pedro

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

How the fight will go

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

Prediction

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

Neil Magny vs Rafael dos Anjos

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

How the fight plays out

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

Prediction

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

Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko

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

How the fight plays out

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

Prediction

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

Demetrious Johnson vs Ray Borg

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

How the fight plays out

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

Prediction

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

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