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UFC 198: Werdum vs Miocic Breakdown

Dan Tom

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FOX UFC Saturday: Werdum v Browne

Fabricio Werdum (20-5-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 38 Weight: 242 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Cain Velasquez (6-13-15)
  • Camp: Kings MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Heavyweight Champion
+   2x ADCC 3x BJJ World Champ
+   BJJ Black Belt
+   10 Submission wins
+   9 first round finishes
+   6 KO victories
+   Deceptively effective showman
^   Baits & taunts opposition into game
+   Underrated & dangerous striker
^   Dynamic attack arsenal
+   Fluid & effective combinations
^   Superb improv & directional changes
+   Improved takedown ability
+   Excellent sweeps & scrambles
^   Capitalizes on chaos
+   Dangerous submissions/guard game
–    Low L.-hand w/R.-hand availabilities
^   Dropped in 3 of his last 6 fights
+   Manages energy/recovers well

 

UFC 195: Miocic v Arlovski

Stipe Miocic (14-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 33 Weight: 245 lbs Reach: 80″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Andrei Arlovski (1-2-16)
  • Camp: Strong Style Fight Team (Ohio)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Regional Heavyweight Title
+   Golden Gloves Champion
+   NCAA Div. 1 Wrestler
+   11 KO victories
+   6 first round finishes
+   Well-conditioned athlete
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Good volume & output
+   Excellent transitions
^   Mixes punches with takedowns
+   Accurate shot selection
^   Dangerous right hand
+   Solid takedown ability
^   Favors head outside singles
+   Scrambles/gets up well
–    Head sometimes stagnant
–    Hands often retract low
^   Counter availabilities
–    Low priority kick defense

Summary:

Headlining this legendary card in Brazil is Fabricio Werdum as he hosts Stipe Miocic in a battle for the heavyweight title. From his legendary upset of over Fedor Emelianenko to his dismantling of Cain Velasquez, you can easily make the argument for Fabricio in being atop the heavyweight history books. That said, the current champion has a tough task ahead as he meets Stipe Miocic. One of the most athletic prospects to rise amongst the heavyweight division in recent years, Miocic will now have his chance to upset an arena as he attempts to take the Brazilian’s gold.

Similar to my take on Werdum’s fight with Velasquez, this fight comes down to the environment needed for Miocic’s style to be successful, and how those terms factor into Fabricio’s strengths. Similarly to Velasquez, Miocic’s game is heavily predicated on his takedown threats & executions to open up his punches. However, Werdum is so dangerous off of his back that takedown threats are not only nullified but welcomed. Considering Miocic averages 4-takedown attempts per round, it will be interesting to see how Werdum’s unique threats affect the Croatian’s transition game. With Fabricio being able to take that option off the table, it inherently forces his opponents to take their striking to task. And in a pure striking matchup, Werdum has the more dangerous & dynamic attacks on paper.

Werdum is unique in the fact that he is truly a double-threat in devastating proportions, whether we are talking about his renown ground game or his drastically improved striking. Under the tutelage of Rafael Cordeiro, we have seen Fabricio’s confidence & competence in striking skyrocket since his awkward encounter with Alistair Overeem in Strikeforce. Stringing together punches, kicks, and uppercuts fluidly, it is Werdum’s ability to improvise that is so impressive. What I mean is, Fabricio can not only set you up high to come underneath but can also change course mid-motion when he senses something awry. This preternatural instinct combined with Werdum’s ability to read & react makes him a very fun technical watch, as we saw these skills in full conjunction with his flying knee execution against Mark Hunt.

Despite said improvements, Werdum still has a lot of defensive holes that Stipe can exploit in this fight. Relying heavily on head movement & defensive-pulling, Fabricio will often keep a low & loose standing guard. Welcoming most oncoming exchanges, Werdum tends to keep a low left-hand that traditionally gets him caught with right hands over the top. With the right-cross being Miocic’s most accurate punch, this will undoubtedly be his best weapon in this fight given that right-hands were the common culprit in dropping Werdum in 3/6 of his last outings. However, many of Fabricio’s falls were arguably flops as he is known for his in-cage baits & showmanship.

Similarly to playing the Matador, Werdum will deceptively roll with punches as he relinquishes to his back. Appearing like a basketball player trying to draw an offensive foul at first glance, this madness has a method on multiple levels. The first being Fabricio’s invitation to the ambush that is his guard. As we’ve seen time and time again, Werdum can not only submit world champions here but more importantly, he creates situations to scramble and sweep his way topside(often utilizing deep-half & X-guard variations). If Fabricio’s opponents decide not to chase him into deep waters, they inherently let him off the hook if he is in fact hurt, or give him a breather at the very least. This tactic has stifled the best of killer instincts and allowed Werdum back into many fights.

The book on how to beat Werdum was once widely thought to be by pressure fighting against the fence. That said, we have seen Fabricio’s devasting clinch game put those theories to rest with his most recent statement of establishing terms on Velasquez. Although Stipe is positionally sound inside the clinch, he carries less offensive weapons there than either Cain or Fabricio as he relies heavily upon his takedown threats against the cage. I am not so certain Stipe will want to engage in takedowns against the submission ace, especially since Stipe favors a head outside single-leg, a takedown that particularly exposes your neck.

If Miocic is forced to fighting at range, he has more than enough speed & power to change this fights course. However, I feel that Fabricio has a deeper arsenal to pull from, as I see his Stipe’s low priority kick-defense not doing him any favors here. Although Stipe is a firefighter by trade, he will likely find himself in the middle of a four-alarm fire should he not find an answer early. Ultimately, I have a hard time seeing Stipe make it out of the kitchen without being burned.

Official Pick: Werdum – Inside the distance

 

UFC on FX: Jacare v Camozzi

Ronaldo Souza (22-4-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 36 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Yoel Romero (12-12-15)
  • Camp: X-Gym (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Former Strikeforce MW Champion
+   BJJ & ADCC World Titles
+   Black Belt BJJ & Judo
+   15 first round finishes
+   13 Submission wins
+   5 Ko victories
+   Heavy right-hand
^   Counters well
+   Improved footwork
+   Moves head well
+   Underrated wrestling
^   Solid takedown ability
+   Dangerous in transition
^   Active submissions & back-taking
+   Superb ground control
–    Subject to lulls in activity

 

Vitor1

Vitor Belfort (25-11)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 39 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Dan Henderson (11-7-15)
  • Camp: Team Belfort (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC LHW Champion
+   UFC Heavyweight Tournament Winner
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   19 first round finishes
+   18 KO victories
+   3 submission wins
+   KO power
+   Improved striking
^   Effectively implementing kicks
+   Accurate left hand
^   Often sets up left kick
+/-Leans/slips heavily left
?   Questionable takedown defense
–    Struggles w/grappling pressure
+   Excellent killer instinct
+/-20+ year fighting career

Summary:
Serving as Curitiba’s co-main event is a battle of Brazilian standouts as Jacare Souza faces Vitor Belfort. The longtime dark horse to the division’s title, Jacare Souza will look to recover from a setback at the hands of Yoel Romero last December. Standing in his way is the living legend that is Vitor Belfort, as the former champion attempts another late run for the top.

In what is a potentially an exciting affair on paper, may surprisingly be subject to a slow start. With both fighters preferring to counter strike and showing surprising stints of action, we could experience some staring and activity lulls early on. None the less, Vitor should have the intangible advantage early given his drop of a dime killer instinct. Although Vitor is the more technical striker on paper, he may have some stylistic liabilities standing.

Displaying his retention for space & movement, Vitor often slips and operates in heavily left leaning dips. This movement will get Belfort offline of oncoming strikes, as well as set up his left uppercut-right hook returns. However, leaning left at the inopportune time could put him on course with Souza’s intercepting right hand. Demonstrating effectiveness offensively and off the counter, Belfort will have to be respectful of Souza’s improved striking abilities. That said, I suspect Belfort may be more preoccupied with Jacare’s looming takedown threats.

Stepping up his wrestling game since entering MMA, Souza has made notable upgrades to his shot entries and takedown chains. With Vitor only being shot on or taken down twice in the last four years, it is hard to make a fair assessment of where he stands. However, the Brazilian has traditionally struggled with grappling pressure as this seem to be the case most recently against Chris Weidman. I can only imagine how much Souza salivated when seeing Belfort’s lack of hip & posture awareness.

The key factor in this matchup will obviously be Belfort’s ability to avoid grappling engagements. Although Vitor will have the big cage in which to move, Jacare has excellent penetrations on his entries, not to mention reactive shots that may limit Belfort’s attack. Outside a big left hand or kick, I have a hard time seeing Vitor fair well in this fight.

Official Pick: Souza – Inside the distance

 

Cyborg1

Cristiane Justino (15-1-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 30 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Daria Ibragimova (1-16-16)
  • Camp: Chute Boxe/RVCA Gym (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Invicta FC Champion (FW)
+   Former Strikeforce FW Champ
+   BJJ Brown Belt
+   13 KO victories
+   8 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+/-Aggressive by nature
^   Superb killer instinct
+   Improved striking
^   More technically refined
+   Solid wrestling ability
+   Physically strong in clinch
^   Favors body-locks/lateral drops
+   Transitions well on top
^   Devastating ground striker
–    First time making 140 lbs.

 

Leslie1

Leslie Smith (8-6-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 33 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 66″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Rin Nakai (3-19-16)
  • Camp: Cesar Gracie Fight Team (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Title
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   4 KO victories
+   1 first round finish
+    Consistent pace & pressure
^   High volume striker
+   Puts together strikes well
+   Solid lead left-kick
^   Often off breaks & combos
+   Improved takedown defense
+   Underrated grappling
–    Head often stagnates
^   Counter availabilities
+/-Aggressive nature
^   Traditionally takes damage

Summary:

Making her long-awaited UFC debut, Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino will fight Leslie Smith in front of her home country of Brazil. Never one to turn down a fight, Leslie Smith was more than happy to welcome Cyborg to the UFC in this catchweight bout.

With insane betting lines that we haven’t seen since the Rousey era, Cris Cyborg will be the largest favorite listed on UFC 198. Although Cyborg is the justified favorite and my official pick, Leslie Smith will be the toughest opponent she has faced in some time. With Smith’s strongest assets being her durability & heart, she may be able to defy the odds long enough to capitalize on possible intangibles.

More specifically, this is Cyborg’s first cut to 140-pounds, which is just five pounds shy of a weight class that she says she cannot make. That said, it will be interesting to see her on the scale come Friday, as that may bear tells to how this weight venture south has been. Intangibles aside, it is pretty clear that Cyborg should have the on-paper advantages in this bout.

However, do not be too quick to count a fighter like Smith out. If there were such a thing as a Diaz sister, Smith would be it as she possesses similar qualities to her Cesar Gracie stablemates. A consistent volume & combination striker, Leslie puts on a pace that can often offset her opposition. Favoring a lead-leg kick to finish combinations, she is also active in striking off the breaks. Leslie’s head does tend to stagnate mid-combination, as she is usually open to counters and traditionally takes damage.

Although leaning on her durability has saved her before, Cristiane Cyborg is not a storm you sail into head first. The Brazilian has always been an explosive Muay Thai knockout artist, but in recent years, she has shown the evolutions of a technically refined striker. Displaying improvements from her energy to distance management, Cyborg executes her dangerous flurries much more efficiently. Even though she carries an advantage standing, it is on the floor where I can see her closing this show.

Demonstrating solid wrestling chops, Cyborg has improved her ability to not only defend takedowns but complete them as well. Primarily operating from the body-lock, Cyborg favors lateral drops and foot sweep variations. Although Leslie shows some craftiness on the mat, Cyborg is a completely different animal from topside. Displaying solid positional awareness, Cyborg will transition seamlessly from knee-on-belly to ground strikes. I am a huge Leslie Smith fan personally and would love nothing more than to see an upset, but it is hard to pick against the baddest woman on the planet.

Official Pick: Cyborg – Inside the distance

 

Sport UFC

Mauricio Rua (23-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 34 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Little Nog (8-1-15)
  • Camp: Kings MMA (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC LHW Champion
+   Pride Grand Prix Winner (’05)
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   19 KO victories
+   17 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Heavy right hand
+   Hard leg kicks
+   Underrated takedown ability
+   Devastating ground striker
–    Often struggles in scrambles
^   Favors turtle-dives & guard rolls
+/-Aggressive by nature
^   Dropped or stopped in last 6/8

 

Corey1

Corey Anderson (8-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 26 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 79″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Tom Lawlor (3-5-16)
  • Camp: Ricardo Almeida BJJ (New Jersey)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 19 Winner
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   2x All-American Wrestler
+   3 KO victories
+   3 first round finishes
+   Training w/Mark Henry & Co.
^   Fight-to-fight improvements
+   Consistent pace & pressure
^   High volume output
+   Excellent footwork
+   Good strike to takedown transitions
^   Favors double-legs
+   Solid top game
^   Active ground striker

Summary:

In a crossroads fight in the light-heavyweight division, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will take on Corey “Beastin 25/8” Anderson. An absolute legend in the world of mixed martial arts, Shogun will attempt to maintain relevancy with a win in his hometown of Curitiba. As one of the division’s more promising prospects, Corey Anderson will look the take the next step as he faces by far the biggest name of his career.

As a long time fan of this sport, it is hard to fathom Shogun’s recent state since following him from his 2005-run with Pride. The talent was never a question with Mauricio, as we saw in fast ascensions with both Brazilian Jiu-jitsu & MMA. Embodying the quintessential Chute Boxe style, Shogun stormed onto the scene in an aggressive awe-inspiring manner. That said, we have seen him progress little progress since making his way into the Octagon. Granted many Pride fighters had difficulty adjusting from overseas, and Shogun’s slew of knee surgeries between ’07-’09 did not help, but he was ultimately able to return and score a title.

Although Shogun returned with similar successes, we saw the effects of his Chute Boxe stylings as he steadily diminished in front of us. Since losing his title to Jon Jones, we have seen Shogun come into fights with vast inconsistencies from his lack of motivation to physical state. Even more disturbing, Mauricio has demonstrated a decreasing ability to take a shot, as what’s left of his chin often keeps him in fights longer than he arguably should be. Even though Anderson is not a knockout striker, Shogun’s classic Thai marching may not bode well for him in this matchup.

Displaying excellent distance management as he moves his feet, Anderson’s footwork will likely be the biggest problem for a plotting Shogun. Training under the tutelage of Mark Henry & Co. for the better part of two years, we have seen consistent fight-to-fight improvements from Anderson. Even though his overall output is his biggest strength, it is his transition game that makes him effective. Similarly to his stablemate Frankie Edgar, Anderson mixes in volume & variety to keep his opposition behind the 8-ball.

However, despite Corey’s ever-growing offense, he still has shown defensive liabilities that could see the light in this fight. Like many high-volume strikers, Anderson runs the risk of getting hit early & often if his entries are not technically sound from hands to feet. We saw him taken to task on this in fights with Gian Villante & Tom Lawlor, as both men were able to score big with right hands. Since Mauricio’s right-hand is a threat that is still intact, Corey will have to be mindful in his approach as this will be a live threat throughout the contest. Ultimately, if Shogun can’t get a beat on Anderson early, I feel he will be subject of a stick & move tutorial.

Official Pick: Anderson – Decision

 

Warlley2

Warlley Alves (10-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 25 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: Sub win / Colby Covington (12-12-15)
  • Camp: X-Gym (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF Brazil 3 Winner
+   Multiple Kickboxing Accolades
+   7 Submission wins
+   1 KO victory
+   4 first round finishes
+   Heavy-handed striker
^   Effective right hand
+/-Very aggressive by nature
^   High output & emphasis in 1st round
+   Physically strong inside clinch
^   Favors takedowns from here
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   80% takedown defense
+   Dangerous Guillotine choke
^   5 finishes including TUF
–    Shows some trouble w/southpaws
^   Jab finding & kick availabilities
–    Struggles w/pressure
–    Propensity to fade

 

BamBam3

Bryan Barberena (11-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 27 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 72.5″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Sage Northcutt (1-30-16)
  • Camp: MMA Lab (Arizona)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles (MW & WW)
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   8 KO victories
+   2 Submission wins
+   5 first round finishes
+   Experienced at multiple weights
+   Improved technical aggression
^   Grows in pace & pressure
+   Adjusts well inside fights
+/-Slow starter / strong finisher
+   Accurate check right hook
+   Active clinch striker
^   Dangerous elbows
+   Competent ground game
^   Solid positional awareness
+   Good get up urgency
–    Head sometimes stagnant off strikes
^   Traditionally takes damage
+   Durable chin / never stopped

Summary:

Kicking off the main card in Curitiba is fun welterweight scrap, as TUF Brazil winner Warlley Alves locks up with the gritty Bryan “Bam Bam” Barberena. One of the more promising young Brazilian prospects, Warlley Alves has made strong statements and impressions thus far with the organization. Warlley will look to keep his undefeated record intact as he meets the always-dangerous Bam Bam Barberena. A quintessential underdog, Bryan will look to score another upset against what is his third straight undefeated prospect the UFC has given him.

Let me first thank you for not immediately condemning my pick before actually reading my explanation. As my positive winning ratio per card and overall would suggest, I do not make an official pick without reason. If you have read my work, then you know that I do not cut corners in my research as I usually bring a solid evidence-based argument to the table(whether you agree with it or not). I will attempt to do the same here, as I explain my take on why conforming to the common narrative can be dangerous as I feel this is a closer fight than the line suggests.

Although I do feel Warlley is the justified favorite, the jury is still out on this young fighter as his sample size of scenarios are still relatively small. That said, I believe Alves is the more superior striker, wrestler, and submission artist on paper. But as I stated(and as we saw) in my last breakdown on Krylov-Barroso, consistent pace & pressure can unwind on-paper advantages. Even though Warlley shows very few deficiencies technically, his lone knock thus far is that he has the propensity to fade as the fight goes on.

The term “front-runner” can be tricky since it can be used generally or perceived negatively. But the truth is, that some of our favorite fighters fit under this umbrella from Mike Tyson to BJ Penn. I also feel Warlley Alves could be a similar fit to that prototype based upon his fights inside the Octagon. Now again, me feeling that Alves may operate better as the hammer as opposed to the nail is no way a condemnation of his skills. But as we saw in his fight with Alan Jouban, Alves was clearly facing some in-fight adversities that he did not react favorably to.

What I found telling, was that although Alan hit him with solid shots to the body that help turn the tide, Warlley succeeded momentum before the damaging blows ever came. Like many aggressive, out of the gate finishers, we often see the strongest forces lose steam when not able to complete their heavily emphasized objectives. Not only did Warlley’s physical(and arguably emotional) tank fade, we also saw him call for referee interventions multiple times in that match for phantom fouls. That said, I am not here to condemn Alves for that lone performance, much less the controversial decision that followed.

However, in watching Warlley’s fights since, he showed similar tells even in bouts he was clearly controlling. In his fight with Nordine Taleb for example, we saw Alves score a knockdown and takedowns in each round as he dictated the overall pace and clearly won the frames. That said, Warlley still consistently took deep breaths and checked the clock throughout the back end of rounds. Again, these are not condemnations, but they are consistent tendencies you can see when reviewing his UFC tape. Although he out-marks his opposition on paper, that same paper also points to durable pressure fighters posing the most problems for this prospect.

Enter Bryan Barberena, a deceptively slow burn, it is very easy to underestimate him upon first glance. It is also hard to confidently pick his most likely path to a finish, given that he is not your typical one-shot knockout or submission artist. That said, the previously mentioned key intangibles that show to be effective with Warlley is something Bryan has in spades. Not only is he durable, but he is also a solid southpaw striker. Although Alves was able to top his southpaw opposition in fights with Marcio Lyoto & Alan Jouban, he showed difficulty in establishing his punches and a surprising availability to kicks(especially against Marcio in a bout he was controlling). Barberena also throws a deceptive check right hook that could find it’s home on an oncoming, aggressive Alves.

That said, Barberena will likely be the one with a target for right-hands as those have been consistent culprits throughout his career. Being a southpaw the right cross is naturally open, but more importantly, Bryan keeps a low guard as his sometimes stagnant head opens him up for counters. He will have to be mindful of this as he will be playing with fire when comes to the right hand of Alves. With the praise & pontification going the way of the Brazilian prospect, there is little talk of his wrestling as I feel this will be a key factor for a victory here. Warlley wields an underrated takedown game that could help him control portions of this fight and perhaps catch his breath should he not find a finish.

Even though Warlley should have an advantage from topside, Bryan demonstrates a good urgency & technique in getting up or creating scrambles. More importantly, Bryan displays excellent positional awareness as he rarely(if ever) gives his head & neck in transition, much less from the top or bottom. In facing one of the best Guillotine applicators in the division, these technique tendencies become very important, as I am sure Bryan’s coach John Crouch has worked this extensively with him. Not to mention Alves gets most of his Guillotines from the clinch, a place where Barberena is active with dangerous elbows & strikes off the break. Honestly, I feel that claiming certainty for either side is silly given each man’s sample size and the game they’re playing, as I strongly caution any plays on this match. Ultimately, I stand by my pick as I feel the 5-1 odds in Alves favor turns into a “pick’em” should this fight go past the first.

Official Pick: Barberena – Inside the distance

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Maia def. Brown
  • Santos def. Marquardt
  • Trinaldo def. Medeiros
  • Font def. Lineker
  • Cummins def. Nogueira
  • Moraes def. Chagas
  • Tukhugov def. Carneiro

Recommended Plays

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Fabricio Werdum
-Cristiane Justino
-Jacare Souza

Low Tier Picks:

-Bryan Barberena
-Rob Font
-Renato Carneiro

Pieces for your parlay:

-Thiago Santos
-Francisco Trinaldo
-Demian Maia

Props worth looking at(5Dimes.eu):

-Francisco Trinaldo -by Decision: +180 (1 Units)
-Demian Maia -by Submission: +150 (1 Unit)
-Corey Anderson -by Decision: +105 (1 Unit)

Fights to avoid:

-Rob Font vs John Lineker
-Warlley Alves vs Bryan Barberena
-Sergio Moraes vs Luan Chagas

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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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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