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UFC 199: Rockhold vs Bisping Breakdown

Dan Tom

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Luke2

Luke Rockhold (15-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 31 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Chris Weidman (12-12-15)
  • Camp: American Kickboxing Academy (San Jose, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Middleweight Champion
+   Strikeforce Middleweight Title
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   5 KO victories
+   10 first round finishes
+   8 Submission wins
+   Good distance management
+   Solid kickboxing variety
^   Dangerous left liver kick
–    Head often leans heavily left
+   Excellent top control
^   Technically aggressive
+   Dangerous transitional grappler
^   Crafty from front headlock
+   Superb submission / choke acumen
+   Effective ground striker
+   Consistent pace & pressure

 

Bisping6

Michael Bisping (28-7)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 37 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 75.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Anderson Silva (2-27-16)
  • Camp: RVCA Gym (California/UK)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Excellent

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 3 Winner
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   17 KO victories
+   11 first round finishes
+   3 Submission wins
+   Excellent footwork
^   Active & fundamentally sound
+   Consistent cardio & conditioning
+   Manages distance well
+   Intelligent clinch breaks & exits
+   66 % Striking defense
–    Right hand often drops in exchanges
^   Shown left hook & kick availabilities
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   Effectively gets back to feet
–    Fighting on two weeks notice

Summary:

The main event for UFC 199 stays in the spirit of rematches as Luke Rockhold defends his title against Michael Bisping. Originally slated to rematch Chris Weidman, Luke will now rehash pleasantries with Michael Bisping as the Englishman was more than happy to replace the injured former champion. Despite this not being the best of circumstances for Bisping to receive his title shot, Michael is coming in confident fresh off his upset victory over Anderson Silva. But with only two weeks to prepare for a fighter like Luke Rockhold, we will soon see if Bisping’s acceptance of this challenge is courageous or foolhardy.

Being no stranger to adversity, Bisping has spent the last three years of his career fighting with one eye. Even though he has managed to hold the best striking defense in middleweight history(at a current rate of 66.7%), the Englishman has shown the tendency to lower his right hand. From preemptively parrying to clocking out early in exchanges, this habit has traditionally exposed Bisping to left hooks & high kicks. Unfortunately, this scenario cost Michael greatly in his match with Vitor Belfort as he suffered a detached retina. Although this has added to Bisping’s right-sided vulnerabilities(as seen in subsequent fights), the ever-improving martial artist has shown to make adjustments intelligently since then.

Demonstrating clean exits away from his right side(weak side), Bisping’s avoidance of Luke’s left side will be paramount given how their strengths align. With plenty of experience and sample size against southpaws, Bisping displays a solid outside foot awareness. In fact, he did a good job of executing his angles in his first encounter with Rockhold until getting caught. Although achieving the proper angles, Michael failed to commit and capitalize with his combinations. Even though Rockhold’s check hook is renown for stifling offense, the champion has a tendency to lean his head heavily to the left. We saw Vitor Belfort pick up on this habit as he searched with spinning wheel kicks to that side, and we even heard Weidman’s corner repeatedly call for Chris to expose it in their bout.

Since Bisping had that first fight with Luke, we have seen Michael make concerted efforts in improving his punch commitments under Jason Parrillo. Despite Anderson Silva’s head & trunk movement, we saw Bisping successfully achieve the follow-up left & right hooks he lacked in his initial encounter with Rockhold. Keeping himself afoot & attacking from the proper side will most certainly be Michael’s best chances in this fight, but I am not sure he will have the gas tank to support consistency. Should Bisping slow, there will be no room for rest as Rockhold reminded us of the extent of his opportunism in his last outing. Demonstrating a natural ability for technical destruction to go along with his god given frame, Rockhold could very well put a stamp on this fights momentum should he ground the Count.

I know the majority of this breakdown focused on Bisping’s perspective, but I found it particularly appropriate given the narrative of certainty for Rockhold heading into this fight. And although I may agree with the masses, I always make sure to give a fair argument for the opposing side of my pick. I was one of the few who officially took Bisping against Silva and would love to see him come through here, however, with two weeks notice it is hard to see Michael making it out of the kitchen without being burned.

Official Pick: Rockhold – Inside the distance

 

cruz5

Dominick Cruz (21-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 30 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 68″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / TJ Dillashaw (1-17-16)
  • Camp: Alliance MMA (San Diego, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance/ Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Bantamweight Champion
+   WEC Bantamweight Title
+   Wrestling Base
+   7 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   5 first round finishes
+   Consistent speed & stamina
+   Excellent distance management
^   Constantly moves & feints
+   Utilizes darts & crouches
^   Allows misdirection/directional changes
+   Solid knee-tap takedowns
^   Well-timed penetrations & transitions
+   Intelligent & effective scrambler
+   Accurate R. uppercut & counter hooks
–    Low handed standing guard
^   Relies on head/overall movement
+   Great in-fight instincts/IQ

 

Faber1

Urijah Faber (33-8)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 37 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Frankie Saenz (12-12-15)
  • Camp: Team Alpha Male (Sacramento, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   WEC Featherweight Title
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   Wrestling Base
+   9 KO victories
+   17 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   Fast hand & foot speed
^   Deceptively closes distance
+   Dangerous right hand
^   Counters well
+   Good knees & elbows in clinch
^   Strikes well of the break
+   Solid takedown ability
^   Changes levels well
+   Excellent transitional grappler
^   Deadly chokes / Active back taker
+   Superb scrambling ability
–    Heavily reliant on reaction time

Summary:
Serving as the co-main event in Los Angeles is a showdown for the Bantamweight title as Dominick Cruz defends his belt against Urijah Faber. Completing what was one of the greatest career comebacks in sports history earlier this year, Dominick Cruz will attempt to ascertain his position as the best in the world. Looking to have the final say, Urijah Faber will attempt to achieve UFC gold after multiple crawls to contention. With each man holding a victory over the other, expect high-tensions in this rubber match of rivals.

Despite Dominick only fighting three times since their last encounter in comparison to Faber’s eleven, the skill progression’s/gaps in performances of each fighter is a lot closer than the numbers would suggest. Granted Cruz is an outlier of proportions that defy sample size, but he has none the less managed to return in a sharper form of himself. Utilizing “darts” & “crouches” from both sides, Cruz will continually shift stances to set up his attacks and stifle his opposition.

We saw Cruz use these tactics in his last meeting with Faber as Dominick’s movements & feints made it difficult for Urijah to get a beat on him. Subsequently, Faber was forced to look for counters for the majority of the fight. Although Faber was able to score knockdowns and keep things competitive, Cruz was ultimately able to out point him as he dictated the overall action. Not to mention, some of those knockdowns were scored on Dominick as he was switching stances, as being caught off balance is a common defensive side-effect of shifting.

Regardless of their first encounter, Urijah has made improvements of his own in the past few years. Despite his reluctant/rocky relationship with Duane Ludwig, Faber has shown much tighter technique as he strikes with more purpose and process since his time spent with Ludwig. Utilizing feints more intelligently, Urijah will now incorporate more jabs & hooks to set up his patent right hand. These skills will be crucial if Faber means to abandon his prior approach countering, as I suspect he may do in this fight. But the problem in being aggressive with Dominick Cruz is that you will likely play right into his hand.

As we saw in last fight with TJ Dillashaw(and as was stated in my breakdown prior), Cruz will utilize a style of shifting to counter aggression referred to as “opening the gate” in traditional martial arts. Often from the crouch position, Dominick will swing his lead foot back as this will not only switch his stance but change the overall terms of the exchange. Done in a way that lends a false sense of perception to his opponent, this technique flows fluidly into Cruz’s check hooks which counters aggressive on-comers as this was apparent in his last outing.

Although Faber will most certainly need to have that on his radar, I feel that the uppercut may play a role in this matchup. A possible carry-over from his level-changing takedown feints, Faber’s head will often come dangerously low and forward in his entries. Not only can you see this cost him uppercuts in his last match with Cruz, but Urijah was also caught similarly in recent bouts with Frankie Saenz & Cisco Rivera. Cruz, who commonly uppercuts off his crouches, has seemingly sharpened this technique as it was very present in his last bout.

Similar to Dillashaw versus Cruz, I do not expect prolonged ground stanzas given each man’s ability to scramble effectively. Although I suspect both men will have motives to take the other down, they both embody styles that seem to stifle each other. Favoring low-risk positional rides, Cruz’s more catch-style of wrestling often keeps him from overcommitting himself into traps & reversals. Urijah, on the other hand, thrives on grappling chaos as he is quick to initiate a scramble. Faber’s disregard for what are traditionally bad positions is why he is so difficult to hold down. Electing to turtle out from the bottom, Urijah will often risk getting his back taken as we saw in his fight with Iuri Alcantara.

However, with Cruz’s said style I see these exchanges leading to get-ups as it did in their second encounter. And just like in that fight, I feel Faber’s best chances here will be by striking off the breaks. With Dominick disguising his entries with everything short of a smoke bomb, I suspect Urijah will once again look to unload on the exits. A Faber win would make for a fantastic story, but I ultimately see his stylistic chances as a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario. Faber can either approach aggressively or gamble on the counter shot, but I see both paths playing into the champions style and likely the scorecards as well.

Official Pick: Cruz – Decision

 

Max2

Max Holloway (15-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 24 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Jeremy Stephens (12-12-15)
  • Camp: Hawaii Elite MMA (Hawaii)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Excellent

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Multiple Amateur Accolades
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   6 KO victories
+   3 first round finishes
+   2 Submission wins
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Manages distance well
+   Superb feints & footwork
^   Moves laterally / attacks of angles
+   Excellent variety & shot selection
+   Improved wrestling (82% TD defense)
+   Deceptively counter clinches/grapples
^   Strikes well off the break
+   Dangerous submissions in transitions
–    Sometimes starts slow

 

Lamas1

Ricardo Lamas (16-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 34 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Diego Sanchez (11-21-15)
  • Camp: MMA Masters (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Div. 3 All-American Wrestler
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   4 KO victories
+   5 first round finishes
+   4 Submission wins
+   Accurate left jab & hook
+   Diverse kicking attacks
^   Favors R. leg kicks & L. switch-kicks
+   Strong in the clinch/against cage
^   Looks for knees & takedowns
+   Excellent top pressure
^   Effective ground striker
+   Solid transitional grappler
^   Deceptive submissions & back takes
–    Lacks counters / pocket presence

Summary:

In a fun featherweight affair, number five-ranked Ricardo Lamas squares off against number four-ranked Max Holloway in a high-stakes matchup. Despite being thrown to the wolves early on in his UFC career, Max Holloway has steadily learned to swim as he now finds himself on the brink of title contention. Looking to stop Max’s 8-fight winning streak is former title challenger Ricardo Lamas. Snapping Dennis Bermudez’s 7-fight streak back in 2014, Lamas is no stranger to playing the spoiler.

As impressive as Holloway’s winning ways have been, he has yet to face a strong wrestling threat since a razor-thin decision loss to Dennis Bermudez back in 2013. Although Max has shown brilliant glimpses of ground progress in his subsequent bouts, Ricardo’s wrestling prowess alone should raise stylistic flags coming into this fight. That said, I am not so sure Ricardo’s style will mix well with Max in the overall scheme of things.

Starting off on the feet, Lamas is deceptively fast off the foot as he demonstrates a diverse arsenal of kicks. Despite showing improved check hooks and head movement off of his strikes, Lamas has struggled to develop a presence in the pocket as he favors an all-the-way-in or all-the-way-out approach. Often striking in straight lines, Ricardo heavily relies on his speed and reactionary level changes to keep him safe. What I found particularly strange upon reviewing tape on Lamas was his complete lack of counter striking, as Ricardo almost always elects to defend and will only attack after resetting comfortably.

Against a striker who utilizes angles and unrelenting volume such as Holloway, Lamas may find difficulty in dictating the range and finding his shots. Max also does an excellent job of incorporating feints with his footwork, which could do him wonders in this fight when you consider Ricardo’s propensity to bite hard with parries. Subtly switching stances as he shifts laterally, Max will deceptively draw his opposition into following him as he executes attacks that catch them off guard. Showing superb timing, Holloway will usually wait till his opposition is in mid-motion before attacking and angling off.

Holloway’s commitment to mixing up these techniques traditionally make takedowns difficult to setup. Especially for someone like Lamas, who favors his attempts when his opposition’s back is to the cage. Treating the fence like it is electrically charged, you will seldom find Holloway hanging out in this space. Even when he is found or confined here, Max demonstrates solid defensive fundamentals to accompany his slick grip fighting as this allows him to counter clinches effectively.More importantly, Max display superb strikes off the break as I see that being a key factor in this fight.

With Lamas reluctant to counter as he circles out, look for Holloway’s strikes off clinch breaks and exits to help sway momentum his way. Ultimately, I feel Max’s volume, feints, and movement will freeze up Ricardo’s overall game. Whether by scorecards or late stoppage, I expect the featherweight division to have a new title contender.

Official Pick: Holloway – Decision

 

Hendo1

Dan Henderson (31-14)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 45 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: KO loss / Vitor Belfort (11-7-15)
  • Camp: Team Quest (Temecula, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Pride MW & WW Title Holder
+   2x US Olympic Wrestling Team
+   Multiple Greco-Roman Accolades
+   UFC 17 Tournament Winner
+   Strikeforce LHW Champion
+   15 KO victories
+   14 first round finishes
–    2-8 in the last 5 years
+   KO power / heavy hands
+   Physically strong in clinch
+   Devastating right hand
^   Sometimes throws self out of position
+/-Slips head heavily right
^   Often dips low on entries
^   Counter availabilities
+   Solid top game
^   Dangerous ground striker
–    Dropped/stopped in 7 of last 10

 

Hector2

Hector Lombard (34-5-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 38 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 72″1/li>
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / Neil Magny (2-19-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Bellator Middleweight Title
+   Judo Olympian (Cuba)
+   Black Belt BJJ & Judo
+   22 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   21 first round finishes
+   KO power / heavy hands
+   Athletic & Explosive
+   Excellent TD defense (81%)
^   Strong hips & base
+   Dangerous inside the clinch
^   Throws, trips, dirty boxing
+   Solid positional control
+   Accurate right hook
+   Deadly left hand/uppercut
+   Deceptive distance closer
–    Subject to activity lulls
^   Gas tank bears watching

Summary:

In a middleweight matchup of two accoladed veterans, Dan Henderson welcomes Hector Lombard back to the division. Moving up from welterweight, Hector was hungry for a quick turnaround after a disappointing loss to Neil Magny in March. Also looking to get back into the cage after an extended camp, the legendary Dan Henderson will once again attempt to get back on the path to glory.

In what feels like a heavyweight affair, both men still carry the knockout power and aggressive natures that got them to the dance. However, Hector is the fighter who has shown to maintain his reaction times as he should hold a clear speed advantage. That said, Lombards athletic supremacy does not come without a caveat. Demonstrating a propensity to fade as the fight goes on, Hector is very dangerous in the first round and subject to activity lulls throughout contests.

Should Henderson weather an early storm, the savvy veteran could potentially exploit Lombard as the battle wears on. The problem with that is, I am not sure how confident I am that Dan’s chin will hold as he has been dropped or stopped in 7/10 of his last fights. Not only that, but Henderson’s on-paper tendencies may play into Hector’s on-paper strengths. Often leaning his head heavily to the right, Henderson keeps his devastating H-Bomb loaded. However, this habit leads Dan into the power side of southpaw attacks as we saw in his most recent bouts with Vitor Belfort.

Although Hector does not possess the kicking acumen of Belfort, the Cuban Olympian does wield a destructive left uppercut as this was the culprit in Dan’s first stoppage loss to Vitor. Henderson will not only have to mind this on his entries but also the deceptive check right hook of Hector. Dan’s best chances of winning this fight may come from his counter right hand as opposed to his traditional offensive H-Bomb. As we saw in his fights with Fedor Emelianenko & Tim Boetsch, Henderson can still be a threat when going backward. If Lombard sleeps on Dan’s abilities here, he may be in for a rude awakening.

Despite Henderson’s well-accoladed career in clinch fighting, he may not have the technical edge in this matchup as he was accustom to early in his career. A technically competent fire hydrant inside the clinch, Hector has been proven difficult to deal with as he bears explosive trips & tosses that he carried over from his Judo background. I am not sure that Henderson can successfully navigate Lombard’s threats at this stage of his career as I feel Hector will use clinch opportunities to stall or score points.

Although it may not sound like it from reading this summary, I have been a huge Dan Henderson fan for the past decade of following this sport. There is nothing more I would love to see than Hendo ride off into the sunset with a win, but I am not sure that this is the matchup for that.

Official Pick: Lombard – Inside the distance

 

Dustin1

Dustin Poirier (18-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 27 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Joe Duffy (1-2-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   Amateur MMA Titles
+   9 KO victories
+   6 Submission wins
+   11 first round finishes
+   Cuts off cage well
+   Accurate straight/counter left
+   Excellent right hook
+   Hard left body kicks
+   Solid pressure against fence
^   Looks to overwhelm w/volume
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   Improved shot entries/takedowns
+   Diverse submission game
+   Scrambles & transitions well
+   Active ground striker
+/-Aggressive in exchanges
^   Right hand tends to lower
+   Improved durability & output at LW

 

Green2

Bobby Green (23-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 29 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Edson Barboza (11-22-14)
  • Camp: Pinnacle Fighting Systems (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Wrestling Base
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   9 KO victories
+   8 Submission wins
+   9 first round finishes
+   will switch stances
^   Accurate left from both sides
+   Diverse kicking attacks
+   Slips & rolls well w/strikes
^   Excellent head & trunk movement
+   Consistently works the body
+/-Underrated & under-used wrestling
+   Solid scramble & get-up ability
^   Fights hands / explodes up
+   Floats & transitions well on top
–    Hands low & head upright
^   Counter availabilities
–    Returning from a 19-month layoff
+   Good chin / physically durable

Summary:

Kicking off the main card is a fantastic scrap in the lightweight division as Dustin Poirier takes on the returning Bobby Green. Plagued with injuries & adversities in the most recent chapters of Green’s career, Bobby will look to regain the momentum he had before his last fight against Edson Barboza back in 2014. Standing in the way of Green’s homecoming is Dustin Poirier, who has shown an incredible resurgence since moving back up the 155-pounds.

From their street personas to their technical skill sets, it is hard to imagine a scenario where this fight is not exciting. Although I expect this match to hit the mat on multiple occasions, I feel each man’s wrestling and scrambling abilities will make the majority of this fight play out standing. Despite his accoladed wrestling base, Bobby Green prefers to stand and strike with his opposition.

Stalking forward, Green will switch his stances up and often lead with a variety of kicks or darting left hands. Although criticized for keeping his hands low, Green is deceptively competent in slipping & rolling with punches as he utilizes a variation of the Philly Shell. Coupled with an in-fight trash talking acumen, Bobby’s style of approach often puts doubt or draws out his opposition prematurely as he looks to capitalize in exchanges.

Despite Green’s accusations of previous opponents avoiding exchanges, I doubt he will have to worry about that in this fight as Dustin Poirier is always willing to oblige. Consistently using a healthy variety of strikes, Poirier displays a technical aggression that at a certain point was beginning to cost him at featherweight. However, since moving up the lightweight, Dustin has shored up his footwork and defenses while maintaining his volume.

Regardless Poirier’s shown technical improvements, his aggressive stylings naturally leave him within the range of strikes. Left hands, in particular, have traditionally troubled Dustin as his right-hand has a tendency to lower in exchanges. Considering that Bobby is very active & accurate from his left side, this may be Green’s best opportunities to score in this fight. That said, Dustin has made concerted efforts in his boxing technique since his original appointment with Joe Duffy, as Poirier has been consistently working with top talent in Florida.

I believe the key intangible in this fight lies within the wrestling engagements. Many would argue that Green has under-used his underrated grappling skills throughout his UFC career, but I doubt that trend will change for this fight considering Poirier’s finishing prowess on the floor. Not just a multi-versed submission threat, it is Dustin’s activity and ability to scramble that makes the scrappy fighter a handful. I feel that Poirier should be able to largely dictate the grappling stanzas if he can ground Green, but getting him down will certainly be the big question.

Even though Bobby maintains an upright approach, his fast-twitch reactions and footwork make it difficult for his opposition to get in on his hips from the open. However, Green has shown susceptible to takedowns when forced against the fence. Luckily for Dustin, he specializes in cutting off the cage and forcing his opposition backward. Traditionally overwhelming his opponents with volume and dirty boxing, Poirier’s shown takedown motives & improvements off the fence will likely serve him well in this fight(or score with the judges at the very least).

With neither man the type to go quietly into the night, expect a close and competitive war. Although the skill set of Green can pose some serious problems for Dustin on paper, I feel that the intangibles stack heavily in the favor of Poirier. Although his aggression has got him caught speeding before, I believe Poirier’s shown fight-to-fight improvements(and seemingly upgraded chin) will ultimately see him through. If Green fails to hurt Dustin or sway the momentum early, I could see him getting outworked on the judges scorecards.

Official Pick: Poirier – Decision

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Ortega def. Guida
  • Dariush def. Vick
  • Penne def. Andrade
  • Miller def. Caceres
  • Breese def. Strickland
  • Wilson def. Da Silva
  • Mutapcic def. Casey
  • Kim def. Reyes

Recommended Plays

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Luke Rockhold
-Brian Ortega
-Max Holloway

Low Tier Picks:

-Urijah Faber
-Dan Henderson
-Bobby Green

Pieces for your parlay:

-Max Holloway
-Brian Ortega
-Jessica Penne

Props worth looking at(5Dimes.eu):

-Breese/Strickland – Over 2 1/2: -190 (1 Unit)
-Dustin Poirier – by Decision: +145 (.05 Unit)
-Dominick Cruz – by Decision: -165 (1 Unit)
-Brian Ortega – ITD: -113 (1 Unit)

Fights to avoid:

-Beneil Dariush vs James Vick
-Cole Miller vs Alex Caceres
-Elvis Mutapcic vs Kevin Casey

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

Onnit Primal Bells

breakdown

GLORY: Redemption – Breakdown and Predictions

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Glory returns to pay-per-view today with a stacked card, featuring some of their greatest fighters. Among them are reigning champions Rico Verhoeven and Alex Pereira, as well as the return of former title holder Nieky Holzken.

In the main event, Rico puts his heavyweight title on the line against the very dangerous Jamal Ben Saddik, who defeated him 6 years ago. Rico comes into the fight riding an impressive 14-fight Glory winning streak.

The co-main event features a rematch of the 2016 Fight of the Year between light heavyweight veterans Michael ‘The Dreamcrusher’ Duut and Danyo ‘Dibuba’ Ilunga. The card is a must-see for kickboxing fans, as well as those who just love a good scrap. And with that out of the way, here’s a breakdown of some of the more interesting fight’s on Saturday’s super-card. Enjoy.

Nieky ‘The Natural’ Holzken – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Nieky Holzken vs Alim Nabiyev

Nabiyev came into Glory with a decent amount of steam behind him, but following his bout against short-notice opponent Jimmy Veinot, I honestly don’t see it. Nieky’s reign as champion was one of the best, and despite two close losses to the equally talented Cédric Doumbé, he’s still one of the best welterweights in the world today. With wins over Raymond Daniels, Joseph Valtellini, and current champion Murthel Groenhart, it’s hard to imagine Nieky having much of a problem with Nabiyev.

Expect plenty of pressure from Holzken early on. Coming off two straight losses Nieky will want to make a statement, and prove that he’s still the man to beat at 170. The liver shot will do it. Holzken will just be too much for Alim. Nabiyev has  potential and could be a contender in the future, but right now Holzken is on a whole ‘nother level. Nieky is back, and he wants that title.

Prediction: Nieky Holzken by 1st Round TKO

 

Alex 'Po Atan' Pereira

Alex ‘Po Atan’ Pereira – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Alex Pereira vs Yousri Belgaroui

Pereira’s win back at Glory 46 came as a shock to me. Simon Marcus has proven himself to be one of the best fighters in the division, and while Pereira is a solid kickboxer in his own right, I fully expected Marcus to win that one pretty easy. I was wrong. Pereira was the better man, and is now the Glory middleweight champion. But don’t expect it to last. Yousri completely shut Pereira down in there last meeting at Glory 40. And based on his last performance, a first round TKO over former champ Jason Wilnis, he’s only getting better.

Pereira’s path to victory is pretty simple, strike hard and strike early. The deep waters are not a place where Alex thrives. His cardio has been questionable in the past and his vaunted knockout power diminishes as the fight goes on. If Pereira can’t put Yousri on the back foot early it’s hard to see him taking this one.

The last fight was a fairly decisive win for Belgaroui. Alex was unable to score on Yousri and was picked apart after gassing out late into the fight. Pereira is a talented striker with some serious power, but Belgaroui’s well-rounded game and superior cardio should be enough to win him the championship.

Prediction: Yousri Belgaroui by Unanimous Decision

 

Michael Dreamcrusher Duut

Michael ‘Dreamcrusher’ Duut – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Michael Duut vs Danyo Ilunga

Last year these two stole the show, putting on one of the greatest fights of the year, maybe of all-time. But can they do it again? It’s hard to say. Consistency is not a strong suit for either of these men. Following his thriller with Ilunga, Duut went on to lose his next Glory contest by disqualification due to excessive clinching, then later won a contender tournament in less than a minute (48 seconds to be exact).

Duut’s incredible power and brawler style make him a dangerous fight for just about anyone in the light heavyweight division, but his lack of defence make him an easy target. Unfortunately, Ilunga hasn’t hit a bullsye in quite some time.

Danyo comes into this fight on a whopping 7 fight losing streak, and hasn’t won a fight in Glory since 2014. On the bright side, all 7 losses have come by decision so his chin has held up. Plus Duut isn’t the most durable guy in the world, so it’s possible that Ilunga could knock him out. But I don’t see that happening. Duut is just too powerful and Ilunga isn’t the same fighter he used to be. Hopefully the fight is as great as the last one was, but don’t expect it to go to a 4th round this time. Ilunga’s on a slippery slope, and Duut’s about to cause an avalanche.

Prediciton: Michael Duut by 3rd Round KO

 

Rico The King of Kickboxing Verhoeven

Rico ‘The King of Kickboxing’ Verhoeven – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Rico Verhoeven vs Jamal Ben Saddik

Despite being the main event this was one of the easier fights to pick. Rico has looked unstoppable lately, and as much as people hate to give him credit for anything, he really is the best heavyweight in the world right now. That doesn’t mean a whole lot considering how weak the division is at the moment, but Rico is champion for a reason.

The rest of the heavyweights just aren’t on his level. ‘Big Ben’ included. Jamal’s last fight against Guto Inocente was a total snoozefest, and if not for his rivalry with Rico he probably wouldn’t even be in the title picture. Badr Hari better get his act together cause Rico’s running out of opponents.

The only advantage I see Jamal having is his power. Rico is faster, more precise, and his striking is more diverse. Again, this is a heavyweight contest so anything can happen, but Jamal hasn’t KO’d a world-class opponent since he fought ‘Braddock’ 2 years ago. Since then, Rico has knocked-out Benjamin Adegbuyi, ‘Braddock’, Bigfoot Silva, and broke Badr’s arm earning him a TKO victory. Rico’s the better fighter, simple as that. And no amount of chest hair is going to change that.

Prediction: Rico Verhoeven by 5th Round KO

All images used in this article are accredited to GLORY Kickboxing

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UFC 218: Holloway vs Aldo 2 Main Card Predictions and Analysis

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The passing of the torch. A usual occurrence in combat sports. There comes a time when the old guard has to step down and let the new generation take its place. UFC 218 is all about the passing of the torch. Holloway-Aldo 2, Overeem-Ngannou, Alvarez-Gaethje, the card is chock full of young hungry fighters looking to make a statement against their aging counterparts. But don’t expect the old lions to give up without a fight. Aldo is still a world-class striker and Eddie’s still got some tread on the tires. And at the age of 37, Overeem is still one of the most dangerous heavyweights in the world today.

Max Holloway is a perfect representative of the new generation. He’s scrappy, well-rounded, and will fight whoever you put in front of him. He’s got the fire. So do Ngannou, Gaethje, and the rest of the young guys. Aldo hasn’t had that fire in a long time. Sure he’s still a great fighter,‌ but in his last few fights, he’s lacked that burning passion he used to have. Aldo has all the tools to beat Holloway, but does he have the drive? Does the fire still burn, or was it put out long ago? That’s what we’re going to find out come Saturday.

 

Tecia Torres vs Michelle Waterson

This is such a weird fight. Torres’ climb to the top has been impressively mediocre. She has wins over quality opponents like Angela Hill, Felice Herrig, and Paige VanZant. However, with just a single finish to her credit, Tecia hasn’t given the fans a reason to pay attention to her. Waterson is the complete opposite. She has only gone to decision twice and is one of the more popular fighters in the division. However, injuries and losses have prevented Waterson from gaining any real momentum.

As far as the fight goes I really don’t know what to expect. Waterson is fairly inconsistent and Torres is so consistent it hurts. My assumption would be that Waterson has the better ground game, so if anyone’s going to take it to the mat it will be her. Torres has the better overall stand-up game but doesn’t possess the same finishing ability of the Karate Hottie. My guess is that this one stays on the feet with Torres pushing the pace early, then getting caught by a powerful strike from Waterson that puts her down for good.

Prediction: Michelle Waterson by 2nd Round TKO

 

Eddie Alvarez vs Justin Gaethje

How the hell did Cejudo-Pettis get billed higher than this? Alvarez vs Gaethje has the potential to be the Forrest-Bonnar of the modern era. Both men are aggressive brawlers on the feet and strong wrestlers on the mat. I’d give the submission edge to Eddie, but that’s about it. Gaethje’s striking game is more diverse than Eddie’s is, and his youth is definitely something to consider. With 34 fights to his credit, Alvarez is certainly no spring chicken. He’s not nearly as durable as he used to be, and against a dangerous scrapper like Gaethje, that’s not a great quality.

I really wanted to go with Alvarez on this one, but facts are facts. Gaethje is younger, tougher, and most importantly, better for business. Eddie already lost to the biggest draw in the game. Money-wise he doesn’t have much to offer. Gaethje, however, is a promoters wet dream. He’s durable, dangerous, and damn fun to watch. Basically, everything Eddie used to be. Why does any of this matter? Because the judges work for the UFC. If the UFC brass wants Gaethje to win, then he will. Simple as that. Is it right? No, but business is business. And Justin Gaethje is good for business.

Prediction: Justin Gaethje by Split Decision

 

Henry Cejudo vs Sergio Pettis

This feels like too big a step up for Sergio, which is weird considering he’s ranked #4 and Cejudo is ranked #2. After Cejudo’s fight with Mighty Mouse, I wrote him off as nothing more than a sacrifice to the flyweight king. But his close fight with perennial #1 contender Joseph Benavidez and his vicious knockout over veteran submission artist Wilson Reis have shown me that Cejudo is more than just a big-headed wrestler. Henry is one of the best. If anyone in the division is taking the belt off Mighty Mouse it’s him.

Sergio is a talented kid, no doubt. Give him a few more years to develop and he could be champion one day. Unfortunately for him, the UFC doesn’t have time for that. They need flyweight contenders. If that means a few prospects have to bite the dust then so be it. I just hope Sergio doesn’t get completely outclassed and is able to make a good showing, but against a guy like Cejudo, I’m not holding my breath.

Prediction: Henry Cejudo by Unanimous Decision

 

Alistair Overeem vs Francis Ngannou

Call me crazy, but I’m still not completely sold on Cheick Kongo with dreadlocks. His only quality win is a knockout over what’s left of Andrei Arlovski. Overeem, on the other hand, has fought nothing but quality contenders in his climb back to the top, with his only loss coming against reigning champion Stipe Miocic (although some would argue they saw the tap). On paper, this is Overeem’s fight to win. Unfortunately, paper is what Overeem’s chin is made of.

Ngannou may not be as technically sound as Overeem is, but he hits just as hard, maybe harder. One good shot from the Predator and Overeem could drop like a sack of horse meat. Combine that with Overeem’s uber-cockiness and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Picking Overeem is always a gamble, but I’m willing to roll the dice on this one. It’s not gonna be pretty but Overeem’s in-and-out kickboxing and “run like hell” defensive style should be just enough to win this.

Prediction: Alistair Overeem by Unanimous Decision

 

 Max Holloway vs Jose Aldo 2

Holloway TKO’d Aldo about 6 months ago. Max is in the best form of his career. Aldo is taking the fight on short notice. I really can’t think of a good reason to pick Aldo on this one. Sure his striking is still some of the best in the division, but at this point, he’s writing checks his body can’t cash anymore. His chin has degraded significantly and his patented leg kicks are nowhere to be found. It pains me to say this because Aldo is an incredible fighter, but it’s starting to feel as though the sport is passing him by. Aldo is the past, Max is the future.

Despite just winning the title this summer, Holloway has effectively cleaned out the division. Swanson, Lamas, Stephens, Pettis, all fell to the young Hawaiian. Hell, since his loss to McGregor nobody’s even come close to beating Holloway. This doesn’t mean Max is invincible though. Frankie is still a huge threat to Max’s title, and those who sleep on Aldo are often put to sleep themselves. The road ahead of him is not an easy one, but something tells me Max is going to do just fine. It is what it is.

Prediction: Max Holloway by 2nd Round TKO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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