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UFC 196: McGregor vs Diaz Breakdown

Dan Tom

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Conor7

Conor McGregor (19-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 27 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Jose Aldo (12-12-15)
  • Camp: SBG Ireland (Dublin, IE)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Featherweight Champion
+   Cage Warriors LW & FW Titles
+   17 KO victories
+   13 first round finishes
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   KO Power / heavy hands
+   Agile & Athletic movement
+   Excellent footwork
^   Deceptively dictates distance
+   Diverse kicking attacks
+   Accurately & deadly left cross
–    Low hands-on engagements
+   Improved counter wrestling
?   Questionable overall ground skill

 

Diaz2

Nate Diaz (18-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 30 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Michael Johnson (12-19-15)
  • Camp: Cesar Gracie Fight Team (Sacramento, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 8 Winner
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   5 KO victories
+   8 first round finishes
+   11 Submission wins
+   Good cardio & conditioning
^   Taking fight w/10 days notice
+   Volume & pressure striker
^   Accurate jab-cross
–    Struggles with leg kicks
–    Head high/low hands & retractions
+   Dangerous transition game
^   Deadly submission dexterities
+/-4-4 against UFC southpaws

Summary:

Despite Conor Mcgregor’s two-title aspirations being altered by injury, UFC 196 has seemingly picked up more steam as it enters our atmosphere. Replacing the injured Rafael Dos Anjos is Stockton’s finest, as Nathan Diaz will look to crash the Irish King’s quest for gold. Fresh off his signature post-fight antics on FOX, Diaz will have his call-out of Conor granted sooner than expected. Taking this bout with a caveat of 10 days notice, Nate will finally get the big fight he has spent his career searching for.

Even though the Diaz brothers are known for their extra-curricular cardio & conditioning, ten days notice is a tall order for anyone in regards to high-level combat. Considering that Nate’s pace & pressure is largely predicated off his stamina, it will be interesting to how his output is effected in this southpaw scrap. With speed and power arguably going to McGregor, Diaz’s ability to dictate distance and control the center striking lanes will be crucial. Firing jab-cross continuums with the snap of a coiled cobra, Nathan will off-set striking rhythms and even disrupt a fighter’s overall approach. Coupled with unabashed physical taunts and mental warfare, Stockton’s own can make things interesting should he establishes himself early & often.

Despite being a pleasure to watch offensively, Diaz does things defensively that could play right into the hands of McGregor. With leg kicks being a common kryptonite for the Diaz brothers, most people are calling for Conor to expose that opening here. Although I feel McGregor has the kicking variety to pose problems, I see his punches having the most promise of placement. Particularly, with Nathan’s strike retractions, as he will tend to retract his punches low and slow. Leaning on his length and technical superiority, Diaz has been able to get away with this against most fighters. However, these habits could cost him with the reach and technical ability of McGregor.

Known for his devastating left hand, Conor will surely be looking to coat-tail his crosses behind the pulls of Nathan’s punches. Although Diaz keeps an upright head position that can aide over-the-top attacks, his defensive dips and slips could open him up to uppercuts. Whether he is dipping forward off his punches or leaning left in defense, Diaz could inadvertently run into McGregor’s underrated uppercut-hook combinations. As we saw in his debut against Marcus Brimage, Conor will dust off these techniques when facing fellow southpaws. With both men lacking orthodox dance partners to dissuade at a distance, McGregor’s ability to be effective at multiple ranges should make the difference standing.

Since Diaz holds a distinct advantage on the floor, it will be interesting to see what attempts are made to get it there. Although traditional wrestling shots are all but devoid of Diaz’s game, he does have some craftiness inside the clinch that could see the light of day. The utilization of an over-hook will be a key tell for grappling initiations. Not only will this setup Nate’s patent Uchi Mata(hip toss), but it will also open up trips and guard pulls should Diaz get desperate or tired. Deadly and proficient in transition, Nate only needs but a moment to shift the fights momentum. As long time fan of Nate Diaz, I cannot say I would be disappointed to see him spoil the party. But with Conor’s obvious physical advantages, to the psychological strikes he has already landed, it’s hard to bet against the streaking Irishmen.

Official Pick: McGregor – Inside the distance

 

Holm1

Holy Holm (10-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 34 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Ronda Rousey (11-14-15)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Excellent

Supplemental info:

 

Tate2

Miesha Tate (17-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 29 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 66.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Jessica High (7-25-15)
  • Camp: Xtreme Couture MMA (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:

Stated Bias:

Due to professional ties with Miesha Tate through Bryan Caraway & Xtreme Couture, I have opted to not break this match down in order to maintain efficacy. Thankfully, Emma Challands from FightNewsAustralia.com & WomensWorldofSport.com was able to help me out on this one. Being one of the only writers to have officially taken Holm over Rousey, Emma shares her take on the evenings co-main event:

Summary:

Conor McGregor may be headlining UFC 196 but there’s only one belt on the line on March 5th and that belongs to women’s bantamweight champion, Holly Holm.

Holly Holm became a household name and the golden girl of the UFC when she knocked out the previously undefeated Ronda Rousey last year. In a fight where Holm was expected to be disposed of early on, the world stood to their feet with mouths gaping open in shock when she did the unthinkable and became the new bantamweight champion. While the UFC was reeling about what to do off the back of their biggest stars’ devastating loss, the fans relished the fact that the bantamweight division was blown wide open and competitive for the first time since its inception in 2013.

The ‘Preacher’s Daughter’ will be heading into her first title defense on a 10-0 win streak(3 in the UFC) and will be more confident than ever. One of the most accomplished athletes on the UFC’s roster, Holm is the only fighter to hold both a world title in boxing and in the UFC.

Holm is a master at technical application and has a world-class training camp to thank for that. Under the tutelage of MMA masterminds Greg Jackson & Mike Winklejohn, they continue to execute the perfect game plan for opponents.

There is no question that Holm’s stand up game is some of the best in the biz, male or female. Her use of range, crisp counter striking, and ability to stay cool, calm, and collected have all made her the incredible fighter she is today. What we haven’t seen from Holm, however, is a large sample size of her ground game.

Now we know that Holm is incredibly good at avoiding takedowns, in fact, the stats speak for themselves – 100% takedown defense since joining the UFC last year. However, her opponent, state-champion wrestler Miesha Tate, may have something to say about that.

With 6 submissions in her MMA career, Tate’s ground game is formidable as she will look to impose her will on the champ with a grinding, aggressive approach. Tate has a relentless work ethic and can overwhelm opponents with a high volume of striking akin to a swarm of bees around the honey pot. She can be susceptible to taking a beating but if there’s one thing that Tate has got in her favor, it’s a rock solid chin and a ton of heart. Tate’s come from behind victories are something to behold.

You’re probably thinking to yourself at this point that if Rousey couldn’t get Holm to the ground what makes you think Tate will? Well, Tate is a wrestler so she doesn’t necessarily need to strike to get into the clinch for the takedown. She can utilize a single or double leg takedown and essentially bum rush the champ, forcing her onto her back or at the very least getting her up against the cage where she can inflict some damage with knees and elbows.

Will Holm have a response for this? Of course, it’d be silly to think she won’t be prepared for Tate’s biggest weapon in this fight. But it’s about whether or not Tate can execute, and if her fight against Olympic medallist Sara McMann is anything to go by, the answer is a resounding yes.

Tate wins this fight if she gets it to the ground early and keeps it there.

Official Pick: Tate – Decision

 

Villante1

Gian Villante (14-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 30 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Anthony Perosh (11-14-15)
  • Camp: Bellmore Kickboxing Academy (NY)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   NY State Wrestling Champ
+   College Wrestling Exp.
+   9 KO victories
+   8 first round finishes
+   2 Submission wins
+   KO power
+   Hard leg kicks
+   Dangerous right-hand/uppercut
+   Accurate check left hooks
+/-Willinges to exchange
^   Hands low off retractions
+   89% takedown defense

 

Latifi1

Ilir Latifi (11-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 32 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Sean O’Connell (1-17-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   ADCC European Champion
+   Swedish National Wrestling Team
+   6 KO victories
+   8 first round finishes
+   4 submission wins
+   KO Power
+   Devastating right-hand
^   Thrown off entries & counters
+   Improved leg kicks
+   Solid takedown ability
^   Favors power double
?    Questionable in later rounds

Summary:

In another fun light heavyweight tilt, Gian Villante draws the dangerous Ilir Latifi. Since his short notice debut in the organization, the powerful Swedish National has yet to see the second round. Moving shop to American Top Team in Florida, the ADCC European Champion will be looking to show the improvements to his game. A long time friend and training partner to Chris Weidman, Villante will seek to put together a win streak as he makes another ascension up the ranks. With the division in desperate need of contenders, both men will have ample opportunity to establish themselves here.

Starting off on the feet, Gian Villante should be the more technical striker. The Bellmore Kickboxing Academy protege throws a nice variety of strikes, as he maintains a high output for an athlete of his size. Deceptively accurate with his check hook, Villante’s right-hand wields bad intentions through the form of uppercuts and crosses. Gian also has an underrated leg kick game, although I am not sure how heavily he will lean upon it given Latifi’s looming takedown threats. Ilir also showed us in his fight with Hans Stringer, that he has the ability to catch kicks and counter effectively. Carrying a war hammer for a right hand, Latifi demonstrates little trouble in attaching it to takedown entries or utilizing it off the counter. In fact, I feel his right-hand in particular will be a key factor in this fight.

As impressive as Villante’s volume is, his willingness to exchange has traditionally made him hittable. In keeping a slightly-low left standing guard, Gian will also retract his hands low off strikes. These tendencies have often cost him right crosses and hooks from his opposition. Villante also favors a collar tie off his left hooks to the head. Establishing a loose clinch/head control from this technique, Gian uses his left-handed grip to guide his opposition into right hands. An instinctual habit for Villante could prove as a natural advantage for Latifi, as this method of dirty boxing exposes the New York native unfavorably. Allowing for right hooks & overhands to come around the blind-side, Villante’s collar tie is also an open invitation for body lock clinches. Although Ilir doesn’t show the eagerness he perhaps should in wrestling engagements, tempting the strongest suplex machine in the organization may not bode well for Gian.

However, Villante does boast an 89% takedown defense rate that’s fueled by his footwork. Subtly circling and moving, Gian makes it difficult for his opposition to set up their shots. Villante’s best chances in this fight will be using his measured aggression and movement to control the center of the Octagon. If he can show defensive adjustments to Latifi’s right hand, Gian’s pressure coupled with some body work could break down Ilir in the later rounds. As a fan of Villante since his early days in Strikeforce, it would be great to see him finally put his long expected potential together. But with being hurt or dropped in 4 out of 5 of his last fights, I am not sure I like the Long Islander’s chances of trading with the power puncher.

Official Pick: Latifi – Decision

 

Corey1

Corey Anderson (7-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 26 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 79″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Fabio Maldonado (11-7-15)
  • Camp: Ricardo Almeida BJJ (New Jersey)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 19 Winner
+   2x All-American Wrestler
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   3 KO victories
+   3 first round finishes
+   Fight-to-fight improvements
^   Training w/Mark Henry & Co.
+   Consistent volume & pressure
^   Keeps a high pace
+   Good strike to takedown transitions
^   Favors double-leg takedowns
+   Active ground striker
+   Excellent footwork
^   Manages distance well

 

Lawlor1

Tom Lawlor (10-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 32 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Gian Villante (7-25-15)
  • Camp: Syndicate MMA (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 8 Alum
+   3x National Collegiate Wrestling Champ
+   Purple Belt in BJJ
+   4 KO victories
+   6 first round finishes
+   4 submission wins
+   KO power / heavy hands
+   Favors check right hook
+   Hard straight left
^   Shows outside-foot-awareness
+   Dangerous Guillotine choke
+   Strong pressure against fence
^   Works takedowns/Double-legs
+   Solid chin/physically durable

Summary:

In a battle of the bold, Corey “Beastin 25/8” Anderson takes on “Filthy” Tom Lawlor. A young prospect training with Mark Henry & Co. out of New Jersey, Anderson has showed consistent fight-to-fight improvements since winning season nine of The Ultimate Fighter. Putting together a win streak since his hiccup against Gian Villante, Corey will face one of his toughest tests to date. A long time fan favorite, Tom Lawlor will look to continue his winning ways and spoil Corey Anderson’s ascension.

Starting off on the feet, is where the fun begins in this battle of footwork and placement. In facing the first notable southpaw of his career, it will be interesting to see Anderson’s application of outside-foot-awareness in this fight. Demonstrating active footwork, Corey’s ability to move and control range is his strong suit as I feel distance management will be a key factor in this fight. In having an overall reach & length advantage, Anderson’s pace and his variety of strikes should give him an edge in exchanges. However, Corey has shown to be hittable in his willingness to trade. It appears that Mark Henry has worked diligently with his prospect defensively, as Corey has shown an improvement in head movement and the fashion in which he exits exchanges.

That said, he will need to be careful with his shown tendencies to exit to the left. Although this will move him away from Tom’s power side, it will also put him right into the line of Lawlor’s check right hook. Even though Lawlor doesn’t present the widest array of strikes, what he does throw he throws well. Showing excellent outside-foot-awareness, Tom favors a left cross to right hook setup. Working with John Wood at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas, Lawlor has been busy in his time outside the Octagon making these technical refinements. Tom’s new found love and ability to counter will certainly be tested in this match.

Where this road begins to split for me, is in Anderson’s transitional game. Displaying excellent takedown chains off his strikes, Corey’s ability to change offensive terms at this weight class drowns most competitors. Although Lawlor is a solid wrestler with more than competent takedown defense, his aggressiveness and hunger for submissions have often cost him positions in fights. That said, Tom possesses an underrated Guillotine choke that could pose problems for Corey should he not mind his head placement on doubles. As a huge Tom Lawlor fan, I would love to see him upset the young lion. But unless he can catch Corey on the counter, he may have to face some unfavorable scorecards.

Official Pick: Anderson – Decision

 

Nunes3

Amanda Nunes (11-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 27 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Sara McMann (8-8-15)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   9 first round finishes
+   9 KO victories
+   2 submission wins
+   KO power / physically strong
+   Dangerous right-hand
+   Aggressive pace & pressure
^   Fades as fights progress
+/-Propensity to brawl
^   Counter availabilities
+   Strong top game
+   Devastating ground striker
^   Hard elbows & punches

 

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Kaufman vs Shevchenko

Valentina Shevchenko (12-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’5″ Age: 27 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 65.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Sarah Kaufman (12-19-15)
  • Camp: Tiger Muay Thai (Thailand/Peru)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   17x Muay Thai & K-1 Champion
+   9x IFMA Champion (56-2 pro record)
+   2nd dan Black Belt Tae Kwon Do
+   6 first round finishes
+   2 KO victories
+   5 Submission wins
+   Excellent straight punches
+   Accurate check right hook
+   Hard left head & liver kicks
+   Competent & crafty clinch game
^   Underrated trips & takedowns
+   Good takedown defense
^   Strong & explosive hips
+   Solid from inside the guard
^   Hand fights & keeps position

Summary:

Kicking off the main card in Las Vegas is a battle of budding bantamweight contenders as Amanda Nunes meets Valentina Shevchenko. A long time physical force in female MMA, Amanda has steadily sharpened her overall skill-sets. Being one of the few challengers to emerge during the Rousey reign, Nunes will look to state her case for a title shot against the co-main event’s winner. Born into a martial arts family, Shevchenko is no stranger to fighting as she has been competing since childhood. Although the Muay Thai champion is a relative newcomer to mainstream audiences, Valentina will be looking to prove she belongs amongst the organizations best.

With two different approaches to striking, the Muay Thai stylings of each fighter will start and likely shape this fight. A brawler by nature, Nunes has demonstrated dramatic adjustments in her technique since moving to American Top Team. Displaying improvements to her hand positioning and footwork, Amanda has shown to be a bit more measured in her execution. However, she still shows suspect to scraps as her aggression often puts her out of position. Usually parlaying said pressure into clinch situations, Nunes has largely been able to get away with her fundamental position and defense errors. However, in facing a technical counter striker like Shevchenko, the Brazilian might not be so lucky.

Utilizing deceptively subtle footwork, Valentina will shuffle just in-and-out of her opposition’s striking range. Maintaining a balanced position, Shevchenko can counter efficiently and with great effect. In fact, I believe Valentina’s ability to manage the distance will be a key factor in this fight. At range, Shevchenko should have a distinct arsenal advantage. Should she effectively exile Amanda at range, Valentina’s hard body, and head kicks could pay some serious dividends. Nunes could very well look to overwhelm Shevchenko with a blitzkrieg, but Valentina has an accurate check right hook that can pose problems for an eager Amanda.

Holding a clear on-paper advantage on the ground, forcing grappling exchanges will surely be Amanda’s best bet. However, this may be easier said than done for the BJJ Black Belt. With her game being devoid of traditional wrestling shots, Nunes heavily relies upon the clinch for her takedowns. Very underrated in this department, Valentina shows to have seamlessly translated her Thai clinch game into MMA. Demonstrating solid head positioning and under-hook awareness, Shevchenko’s natural strength & balance make her difficult to take down. Not afraid to initiate offensive wrestling of her own, Valentina will flow from clinch strikes to crafty trips and takedowns. Favoring to work from inside the opposition’s guard, Shevchenko shows intelligent hand fighting to help her keep the position.

Although lacking activity and largely conservative, safety should serve Shevchenko well in this fight. Where Valentina is most vulnerable, is her inability to get going from the bottom. Since Nunes is nothing short of terrifying on top, I expect Shevchenko to avoid being on her back at all costs. Should she find herself on the bottom, her guard retention and reversal attempts may not bode well against the aggressive ground striker. Given Amanda’s momentum and improvements, I can see why she is the slight favorite according to the odds. But if she fails to stop Shevchenko early, I feel the Brazilian’s propensity to brawl may exhaust her against the more technical striker.

Official Pick: Shevchenko – Decision

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Thatch def. Bahadurzada
  • Silva def. Taleb
  • Miranda def. Guimaraes
  • Skelly def. Elkins
  • Sanchez def. Miller
  • Saggo def. Salas
  • Erosa def. Ishihara

Recommended Plays

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Conor McGregor
-Erick Silva
-Ilir Latifi

Low Tier Picks:

-Nate Diaz
-Valentina Schevchenko
-Miesha Tate

Pieces for your parlay:

-Vitor Miranda
-Brandon Thatch
-Chas Skelly

Props worth looking at(5Dimes):

-Silva/Taleb – Under +125
-Nunes/Schevchenko – Over +100
-Chas Skelly – inside the distance +234

Fights to avoid:

-Erosa vs Ishihara
-Anderson vs Lawlor
-Latifi vs Villante

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

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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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