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UFC 201: Lawler vs Woodley Breakdown

Dan Tom

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Robbie77

Robbie Lawler (27-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 34 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Carlos Condit (1-2-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Welterweight Champion
+   Elite XC Middleweight Title
+   20 KO victories
+   12 first round finishes
+   1 Submission win
+   KO power
+   Devastating left hand
+   Deceptively accurate right hook
+   Superb outside foot awareness
+   Hard left Thai kicks
^   Variates well to the body & head
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   16 for 20 in takedown attempts
+   Good get-up urgency & technics
^   Excellent use of butterfly guard
+   Effective ground striker
–    Lackadaisical kick defense
–    Susceptible to activity lulls
–    Hurt/stunned in 3 of last 5-fights

 

Twood3

Tyron Woodley (15-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 34 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Kelvin Gastelum (1-31-15)
  • Camp: ATT Evolution (Missouri)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   2x All-American Wrestler
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   6 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   8 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Dangerous right hand
^   Off the counter and offensively
+   Heavy right leg kicks
+   Fast-twitch athlete
^   Closes distance quickly
+/-Strong but inactive in clinch
^   92% Takedown defense
+   Solid reactive shot
^   Favors power double takedown
+/-Often fights w/back to fence
–    Offensive in short bursts
^   Gas tank bares watching
–    1 fight in 2 years

Summary:

The main event for UFC 201 is a welterweight war for the title as “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler defends his belt from Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley.

Seemingly giving us memorable performances each time out, Robbie Lawler has firmly placed himself atop the feeding frenzy known as the welterweight division. Looking to extend his late-career resurgence, Lawler faces a stiff challenge in the American Top Team affiliate, Tyron Woodley. That said, Tyron has not had a history in training directly with Robbie as he has spent his last two camps training with Roufusport in Milwaukee. Despite only fighting one time in the past two years, the current state of the division has allowed the UFC to make good on their promise to grant Woodley a title-shot. Not one to waste an opportunity, Tyron will now attempt to dethrone welterweight’s current ruling warlord.

Whether we are talking about natural athleticism, knockout power, or his strong wrestling base, Tyron Woodley has all the tools to contend with the champion and everyone else in the Top-10. From his early days of embracing his wrestling base in fights, we have seen Tyron steadily evolve his striking game into a real threat at the high levels. Applying his fast-twitch athleticism to his growing understanding of technique, Tyron will explode forward at the drop of a dime as he closes the distance with destructive shots. For this reason, Woodley remains a constant threat as you will see his opposition often operate with slightly abnormal hesitancies.

That said, Tyron traditionally struggles to put his game together consistently as he will need to do so in this fight. Often criticised for his physique in regards to his output, Woodley tends to slow steadily as the fight prolongs. Speculation aside, this is a common trend that could re-appear given Tyron’s time in between fights. However, in fairness, Tyron appears to be working very hard in preparation for this bout as I assume he will be coming in top form. Should Tyron manage his output accordingly, he will be eligible to impact the middle rounds of this fight as Robbie traditionally gets caught taking time off there.

Regardless of each fighter’s liabilities of long-term activity lulls, I suspect the exchanges in the first round will be very telling of this fights trajectory. With many, as well as myself, suspecting Woodley to dust off his wrestling chops, the former All-American will still need to exchange successfully with Lawler to win this fight. Luckily for Tyron, his best weapon may find a home in this contest. Known for his destructive right hand, Woodley will have openings fundamentally given his southpaw opposition. Although not known for his right hand, we saw Carlos Condit have success finding his cross early and often in his fight with Lawler.

That said, Tyron will have right-handed liabilities of his own. Demonstrating a tendency to retract his left-hand low in exchanges, Tyron is most commonly caught by right hands. Though Lawler is known for his devastating left hands & kicks, his right hook is the quiet killer in exchanges as I feel that will be the punch to look for in this fight. Whether he is coming forward with it or throwing it as a check, Robbie’s right hook is deceptively accurate. Fueled by an excellent outside foot awareness, Lawler symbiotically moves his head defensively as his feet set up offensive onslaughts.

On paper, Woodley’s best strategies almost certainly require him to rely upon his wrestling. Tyron’s favoured power-double should be more than enough to ground Lawler, despite the champions shown improvements of takedown defence. However, Woodley has mainly employed his takedowns in a reactionary fashion to combat pressure or buy himself time, so it will be interesting to see his approach here. That said, the grapplers who have traditionally given Robbie trouble were active top players or submission artists. With Tyron not fitting the bill of either, I am not sure how success will be found or sustained when on the floor.

Lawler also has an underrated butterfly guard, as the champion has shown to be effective from many positions with it to create scrambles and stand-up opportunities. With Woodley preferring to operate in offensive bursts, a game plan based on ground control could turn into diminishing returns should Tyron fail to finish by the fight’s midpoint. A veteran of waiting out storms, we have seen Lawler time-and-time-again come back from the brink to control chaos. Where the road begins to split, in my opinion, is the space in which each man operates. More specifically, Woodley, as he tends to fall into a more predictable pattern.

Tyron will often come out willing to exchange during the initial “feeling out” portions of the first round. However, if not successful early, Woodley will relegate himself to fight from the outer edges of the Octagon. Although he will flash his right-hand and shoot reactive-doubles to afford himself space, Woodley will be at a handicap anytime he finds himself here as this is Lawler’s preferred kill zone. Whenever Robbie gets his opposition in between the inner-black Octagon lines and the cage, you can throw out all activity lulling accusations as Lawler attacks with impunity here. Although Woodley has more than a puncher’s chance being that Lawler has been hurt or stunned in 3 of his last 5-fights, I feel that the key junctions in this contest favour Lawler as I see him finishing before the final horn.

Official Pick: Lawler – Inside the distance

 

Rose33

Rose Namajunas (5-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’5″ Age: 24 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 65″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Tecia Torres (4-16-16)
  • Camp: Grudge Training Center (Denver,CO)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt in Karate & TKD
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   TUF 20 Finalist
+   4 Submission wins
+   2 first round finishes
+   Good footwork
^   Manages distance well
+   Solid stance shifts
^   Moving forward & backward
+   Accurate left jab & hook
+   Counters well with right-hand
+   Excellent kicking variety
+   Improved wrestling ability
^   Favors body-lock transitions
+   Solid top-pressure & positional rides
^   Looks/floats toward back
+   Dangerous arm-bars
^   Explosive hips
–    Head sometimes stagnates
^   Counter availabilities

 

KK3

Karolina Kowalkiewicz (9-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’3″ Age: 30 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 65″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Heather Jo Clark (5-6-16)
  • Camp: Gracie Barra Lodz (Poland)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   KSW Strawweight Title
+   Muay Thai Accolades
+   2 Submission wins
+   1 KO victory
+   3 first round finishes
+   Active footwork
^   Moves well laterally
+   Grows in pace & pressure
+   High-volume striker
^   Fluid with combinations
+   Effective right hand
^   Variates angles of attack
+   Improved takedown defense
^   Cage & under-hook awareness
+   Underrated grappling ability
^   Floats & rides well on top
+/-Will turtle out to stand
^   Back taken in 3 of last 4-fights
+/-Aggressive in exchanges
^   Counter availabilities

Summary:

The newly minted co-main event features a fantastic female scrap as “Thug” Rose Namajunas takes on the undefeated Karolina Kowalkiewicz for title contendership. Coming off a 3-0 run during her stint on TUF 20, there were high expectations placed upon Rose Namajunas. Suffering a sobering loss at the hands of former champion Carla Esparza, we have seen Rose steadily evolve into one of the most complete fighters in the division. Another Polish standout at strawweight, Karolina Kowalkiewicz has competed for Invicta and won a title in Poland’s own, KSW organisation. No stranger to tough competition, Kowalkiewicz will look to remain undefeated and make a statement under the spotlight.

Standing on the feet is where Karolina particularly shines, as the Pole packs deceptive power behind relentless waves of offence. Consistently circling out to reset, Kowalkiewicz also works well laterally as she creates angles. Entering off a series of straight punches, Karolina fluidly puts together her combinations from left to right. With a steady mix of leg kicks usually suggesting Kowalkiewicz has found her flow, Karolina tends to put emphasis on the right hand as it primarily punctuates her combinations. Often doubling-up, Kowalkiewicz will usually throw her first right as a cross as she variates the follow-up from a different angle.

What is interesting is the manner in which Karolina achieves her angles on right-hands. Utilising a lateral shift mid-combination, Kowalkiewicz will step off to her left in an almost southpaw stance. Not only does this make it easier for Karolina to get her head off centre, but it also changes her angles of offence as her right cross now turns into a right hook. Considering that Namajunas sometimes stagnates her head position, these will likely be the strikes to look for from Karolina. However, Kowalkiewicz’s aggressive nature in exchanges often cost her counters as she gets caught squared while shifting.

Given that Rose throws a sharp right-hand counter, Karolina will have to be particularly careful when exchanging as her head tends to expose left off of combinations. Another weapon that may stifle the shifts of Kowalkiewicz is the improved jab of Namajunas. Amongst many of Rose’s improvements since coming off the show, has been her active and educated left hand. Mixing in left hooks off accurate jabs, Namajunas now has the crucial connecting piece for her well-versed & varied striking game. That said, she will need to be on point early & often with her output if she means to stop the surmounting momentum of her Polish opponent.

A consistent but slow burn, Kowalkiewicz tends to start a bit shaky as she steadily builds to her cruising altitude. Traditionally, this has cost Karolina the 1st-rounds of her fights as this has also been when she is most hittable. Although her undefeated record suggests that a slow start is not a condemnation, a well-rounded fighter like Rose is a tough enough challenge without the deficit. However, if Kowalkiewicz can get her game going and touch Rose early, we may see a surprising turn of odds as Karolina will easily be the most dangerous striker Rose has faced to date. Couple that with Karolina’s perceived speed & output advantages, Namajunas could find herself in a tight spot as far as the striking goes.

Where this fight’s road begins to split for me, is when I look at the grappling aspects of this matchup. Although I give Namajunas the overall advantage as she is more proven, Kowalkiewicz is no fish out of water on the floor. She floats well from the top and demonstrates a solid under-hook understanding, something I suspect she will need as the key junctions of this contest will likely take place inside the clinch. Although Rose has a decent shot, she scores the majority of her takedowns from the body-lock which will make under-hooks even more crucial for Karolina. Once the Polish fighter establishes a solid under-hook, she does well with utilising it reverse position and spin her opposition.

Another fold to Kowalkiewicz’s game is her ability to use offense in close to defend and discourage opponent’s attacks. Similarly to the Polish fighter who currently reigns over the division(Joanna Jedrzejczyk), Karolina also utilizes her forearms to frame as she closes the space she created with sharp and short elbows. Coupled with Karolina’s consistency in striking off breaks, Rose cannot afford to be caught speeding in close as she did in the first round of her last fight with Tecia Torres. That said, Rose has been able to take down every opponent she has faced under the UFC banner as she still shows fight-to-fight improvements.

Should Rose ground Karolina as most suspect she will try to do, the Polish fighter’s technics will certainly be taken to task. Rose also displays solid under-hook applications that could thwart Karolina’s get-ups, not to mention a shoulder pressure that she uses to pin opponents, or even persuade them to escape a particular way exposing their back. Considering that Kowalkiewicz has had her back taken in 3 of 4 of her last fights, this could spell trouble given that Rose has never lost a fight where she was able to achieve back mount. Between Rose’s proven takedown acumen and Karolina’s propensity to give her back when attempting to stand, I suspect this scenario will have plenty of play. For those reasons I am siding with Namajunas, Although I recommend caution in playing this one as I feel it is closer to a pick’em.

Official Pick: Namajunas – Decision

 

Matt Brown, Mike Swick

Matt Brown (20-14)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 35 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: Submission loss / Demian Maia (5-14-16)
  • Camp: Elevation Fight Team (Denver, CO)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ TUF 7 Alum
+ Regional MMA Title
+ 13 KO victories
+ 7 Submission wins
+ 8 First round finishes
+ Relentless pace & pressure
+ Strong volume & variety
+ Deceptive fight IQ
^ Creates & capitalizes on chaos
+ Excellent clinch striker
^ Dangerous elbows
+ Improved wrestling
+ Active guard
^ Submissions & sweeps
+ Scrambles well
– Aggression allows for counters

 

Ellenberger1

Jake Ellenberger (30-11)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 31 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Tarec Saffiedine (1-30-16)
  • Camp: Kings MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+ Regional MMA Titles
+ Purple Belt BJJ
+ 20 KO victories
+ 13 first round finishes
+ 4 Submission wins
+ KO power/heavy hands
+ Aggressive power double takedown
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Difficult to takedown/control
+ Underrated submission game
+ Effective ground striker
+ Devastating right hand
^ Favors overhands & hooks
– Often throws himself out of position
– Subject to activity lulls
– Won 1 fight in 3-years

Summary:

In a battle of welterweights who have seen their fair share of wars, Matt Brown meets Jake Ellenberger. With his fan friendly fight stylings, Matt Brown has squared-off with many of the division’s contenders in recent years. Coming off of a tough fight against Demian Maia(as well as multiple Brazilian assailants), Matt Brown will attempt to return to the form that earned him a 7-fight win streak. Another veteran of the division, Jake Ellenberger will also look to right his ship in this main card showcase. Once praised for his predatory instincts, Ellenberger will attempt to earn that respect back with a solid performance here.

If this match were made 5-years prior, this fight would undoubtedly be the people’s main event. On paper, both fighters possess action enabling attributes that can produce finishes at the drop of a dime. An athletic powerhouse, Ellenberger has steadily developed his striking to accompany his grappling base. Working with many great trainers over his career, Jake’s most consistent weapon has been his right hand. Although not known as a counter striker, Jake may have ample opportunity to land given Brown’s willingness to trade.

Earning his self-proclaimed title as a “technical brawler”, Matt Brown has surprisingly gotten better as he’s continually walked through the fire in fights. Stalking forward with an open stance, Matt Brown likes to keep all his weapons at the ready as he finds appropriate spots to apply them. An improved boxing game connects his hard Thai kicks at range, although Brown does the best of his work inside the clinch. Brawling instincts may get Matt inside, but the Ohio native is an absolute technician when distributing damage in close.

Angling and executing devastating elbows, Brown also has slick trips and an underrated wrestling game he can apply. That said, Brown’s priorities of punishment over position may serve him well against a strong counter-grappler like Ellenberger. Although I give Brown the overall edge standing, he will need to respect the power of Ellenberger. Despite the fact that Brown has never been officially stopped, he has been dropped or visibly stunned 4 of this last 5-fights. Even though Ellenberger is not known for the body attacks that have traditionally hurt Matt, he has recently gotten back with one best striking coaches in the game, Rafael Cordeiro.

Ellenberger will also carry another important intangible into this fight, his wrestling ability. Despite never actually wrestling in college, Jake has shown the capabilities to take down and even grapple with the best of them. Considering that Brown is no stranger to being taken down in fights, this could be a solid plan B for Ellenberger if the striking exchanges start to go south. That said, Brown is no slouch on the floor as being dominated by Demian Maia is hardly a condemnation of his skill. Always a dangerous submission threat, it is Brown’s ability to get up that is most impressive.

Against a solid top player like Johny Hendricks, we saw Brown’s deceptive fight IQ at play from the bottom. Unable to get his guard going or get up in the traditional sense, Brown opted to transition for leg-lock attempts. Usually, these are discouraged in MMA as it can inherently leave you open for ground strikes. However, in properly attempting leg-locks like Brown did, we saw Matt force Johny to defend as the space created allowed for Brown to stand back up. Should this fight hit the floor, expect a high pace with little stalling.

Although both fighters bring the excitement on paper, one of them has been on a far worse trend than the other. Not only has Jake dropped 5 of his last 6-fights, but in my opinion, he has not looked the same since his fight with Nate Marquardt. Since then, Ellenberger has appeared gun-shy as he has clearly struggled with something outside of physical skill sets. For those reasons it is hard to be confident in an Ellenberger pick, as I feel Brown’s relentless pressure-fighting will create a sink-or-swim environment.

Official Pick: Brown – Inside the distance

 

Rivera7

Francisco Rivera (11-6-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 34 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Brad Pickett (2-27-16)
  • Camp: All In MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   8 KO victories
+   11 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   High strike output
^   3rd highest at Bantamweight
+   Devastating hooks & uppercuts
+   Heavy Thai kicks
^   Times well to the legs
–    Head often on center
^   Counter availabilities
+   Improved wrestling ability
^   Good get-up/defensive technics
+/-Propensity to brawl
^   Dropped/hurt in 4 of last 7
–    Gas tank bears watching

 

Perez1

Erik Perez (15-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 26 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 68″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Taylor Lapilus (11-21-15)
  • Camp: Alliance MMA (San Diego, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   4 KO victories
+   10 first round finishes
+   7 Submission wins
+   High pace & pressure
^   Well conditioned
+   Consistent striking volume
^   Improved combinations
+   Underrated wrestling ability
+   Strong takedown game
^   Favors attempts against fence
+   Solid top pressure
^   Strikes and maintains position
+/-Propensity to brawl
–    Drops head in pocket
^   Uppercut/counter available

Summary:

In a crossroads battle at bantamweight, Francisco Rivera faces off against Erik Perez. A favourite amongst hardcore fans, Francisco has struggled since dropping from the top-10 as he has lost 4 of his last 5-fights. Looking to take advantage of his main card slot, Rivera will attempt to keep this fight out of the judges hands as he seeks the upset. One of Mexico’s most promising prospects, Erik Perez has been able to pass all his tests south of the top-15. Now facing one of the tougher tests of his career, Perez will look to take the next step toward cementing himself as a contender.

An initially raw fighter who was very much developing, Erik Perez has seemingly stacked up seven fights under the UFC banner. A longtime member of Jackson-Wink MMA, the Mexican transplant has since moved shop to San Diego to train at Alliance MMA. Showing new folds to his game last November against Taylor Lapilus, it will be interesting to see what tools Erik brings to the table against Francisco Rivera. On the feet, Francisco is certainly the more technical and dangerous striker. A Muay Thai stylist, Rivera will steadily stalk his opponents as he feints forward looking to initiate and counter.

Although he possesses heavy leg kicks, I am not sure how much Francisco will go them in this matchup. Perez, who has a base in Muay Thai himself, defends well from leg kicks as he has shown to catch them and or counter over the top(something we have seen Rivera’s opposition do as of late). That said, I feel Francisco will have success with his uppercuts. Variating his left-to-right hooking assaults, Rivera will mix in hard uppercuts and shovel hooks with great effect. Considering that Perez has a tendency to duck his head low and forward inside pocket exchanges, Rivera’s uppercuts will be the punches worth looking for in this contest. Fighters like Edwin Figueroa and Bryan Caraway caught onto this as they were able to land uppercuts in their fights.

That said, Perez possesses some solid weapons of his own that may come into play in this fight, particularly his patent right hook. Often shifting back to a southpaw stance as if to retreat, Perez will come over the top with a check right hook that catches oncoming opposition(as seen in his fight with Ken Stone). With Rivera’s aggression and often upright head position, this will be something the Southern Californian will need to be aware of moving forward. The challenge for Francisco in this fight will not only be the wrestling threats of Perez, but also the pace in which he operates. A non-stop action fighter, a lot of Perez’s takedowns are arguably opened up by the pressure he brings.

Favouring to force opponents to the fence, the Mexican-fighter is relentless in his work ethic as he shows real technical improvements in chain wrestling. Although Rivera has shown improvements in regards to his takedown defense, forcing Francisco to wrestle may pay huge dividends as the fight progresses. Despite being a life-long athlete and hard worker himself, Francisco has shown a propensity to fade in the later rounds of fights. Although Rivera is more than skilful enough on the floor to take it to Perez, I feel Francisco may be in trouble should he not establish himself by the midpoint of the fight. Unless Rivera can find a finish, then I suspect Perez’s work rate will earn him the right of way in this crossroads contest.

Official Pick: Perez – Decision

 

Ian1

Ian McCall (13-5-1)

Staple info:

  • Height:5’5″ Age: 32 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: 64″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / John Lineker (1-31-15)
  • Camp: Team Oyama (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   TPF Flyweight Titles
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   4 KO victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   3 first round finishes
+   Excellent footwork
^   Manages distance well
+   Consistent pace & pressure
^   Good cardio & conditioning
+   Improved combination striker
+   Accurate leg kicks(both stances)
+   Superb takedown ability
^   Times & transitions well
+   Solid top control
^   Strong positional player
–    Inconsistent schedule/performances
^   2 fights in 3 years

 

Scoggins3

Justin Scoggins (11-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 24 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: 66″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Ray Borg (2-6-16)
  • Camp: Revolution Martial Arts (South Carolina )
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Karate
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt Kenpo Karate
+   Kickboxing Accolades
+   6 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   5 first round finishes
+   Excellent footwork & movements
^   Manages distance well
+   Accurate shot selection
^   Counters well w/left-hand
+   Solid kicking variety
^   Favors lead-leg side & front kicks
+   Superb defensive/positional awareness
^   Inside the pocket & in scrambles
+   Underrated takedown/wrestling ability
+   Smoothly floats & transitions
^   31 passes in 6-fight
–    Struggles fighting from back

Summary:

Kicking off the main card is a fun flyweight fight as Ian McCall makes his return against Justin Scoggins. Despite once holding the top ranking in the flyweight division, Ian McCall has since struggled with consistency since his wars with Demetrious Johnson. Making a return to the Octagon after an 18-month layoff, the underground fan-favorite Ian McCall will attempt another run toward the top. Also making his ascension upward, Justin Scoggins has steadily stated his case as a contender. Being more vocal as of late, Scoggins will attempt to make himself known to the mainstream as he looks to crack the top-10.

It is hard to ignore McCall’s inconsistent activity and performances in this later chapter of his career, as his physical and mental states will undoubtedly be the intangibles for Ian heading in. Assuming Uncle Creepy is in top form, he will have his work cut out for him with the stylistic challenges Scoggins presents. Usually, we see McCall employ his advantages of movement, timing, and transitions as he circles the outside and looks to dictate action. The problem with playing the distance game with a Karate striker is not that they are better at it, but that they are operating on different terms as they subtly force traditional combat strikers from their games.

A Karate fighter cut from the same cloth as Stephen Thompson, Justin Scoggins bears the similar traits of stance switches and lateral shifts. When standing orthodox, we will see Scoggins employ more kickboxing based attacks. When standing southpaw, the South Carolinian favours lead-leg side & hook kick variations to keep his opponents honest. From Justin’s counter left cross he keeps at the ready, to his superb spatial awareness and reaction times, I suspect we may see McCall struggle in something that even he has seldom seen in his career.

Although Ian leaps in-and-out similarly to a point fighter, he does not apply the same acumen or show to possess the power to earn Scoggins respect early. However, McCall has very accurate leg kicks that may serve him well in this fight. Like many Karate strikers, Scoggins operates out of a bladed stance as his feet are spread wide. Although this style does carry benefits, it can also make you more susceptible to leg kicks. We saw Josh Sampo use them in his fight with Scoggins, as the wrestling based fighter used leg kicks to stifle portions of that contest. Should Ian apply his leg kicks effectively, he may be able to open up his game and establish a presence.

That said, Ian’s best chances to win this fight will most certainly be on the mat. Although he hasn’t leant on his wrestling as much in recent years, McCall is one of the best wrestlers in the division as his strength and timing bring his transition game to life. Whether he is knee-tapping or hitting suplex’s, Ian does his best work from the clinch. What makes McCall’s grappling style effective in a division full of scramblers is his ability to kill momentum with top control. A solid positional player, we could see Ian sway the fight’s scorecards against Scoggins as we have seen Justin struggle here in the past(primarily against Dustin Ortiz).

However, Scoggins is not an easy striker to takedown as he has been wrestling since he was a small child. Not to mention that Scoggins is still young, as the South Carolina native is still showing fight-to-fight improvements. Utilizing his preternatural positional awareness, Scoggins can scramble with the best of them. Employing solid hand-fighting and head positioning, Scoggins displays the ability to shut down his opposition on a technical level. Not afraid to engage in takedowns of his own, Justin will seamlessly change his levels and transition. Carrying over his taste for transitions topside, Scoggins floats from position-to-position with impunity as the 32-takedowns & 31-passes in 6-fights would suggest.

If this fight were a few years earlier, I would say that McCall is one of the tougher stylistic matches for Scoggins. However, with Scoggins overall progressions and McCall’s recent state of uncertainty with the sport, it is hard to have the same confidence in Ian. Although I would like to see McCall do well here, coming back to face an unorthodox fighter on the upswing can make for a nightmare return. Ultimately, I feel that flyweight has itself another prospect on the rise in the form of Justin Scoggins.

Official Pick: Scoggins – Decision

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Krylov def. Herman
  • Masvidal def. Pearson
  • Hamilton def. Grabowski
  • Reis def. Sandoval
  • Graves def. Velickovic
  • Serrano def. Benoit
  • Arzamendia def. Brown

Recommended Plays:

Draft Kings recommended rosters:

 

Team #1: $49,800.00

-Matt Brown ($10,900.00)
-Robbie Lawler ($10,600.00)
-Nikita Krylov ($10,200.00)
-Anthony Hamilton ($9,400.00)
-Ross Pearson ($8,700.00)

Team Summary:

With a chalk filled card overall, I chose to only put out one Draft Kings lineup recommendation, as it is a doozy. For my high-tier favorites, I went with Matt Brown, Robbie Lawler, and Nikita Krylov. Matt Brown carries a 90% finish rate as he can finish from to floor or on the feet. In facing a fighter who has been susceptible to both, I like Brown’s chances against Jake Ellenberger, who has dropped 5 of his last 6-fights. As for the champion’s value, Robbie Lawler makes a great pick as the favored fighter in a 5-round main event. With a strong feel for the finish, I feel Lawler has a great chance to score big.

Nikita Krylov also comes in at a bargain for $10,200.00 as all but one of his victories have taken place in the 1st round. I’m a big fan of Ed Herman but with only 7-fights seeing the scorecards in 34-bouts, I feel Herman’s do-or-die mentality may hurt him against the Ukranian. For my low-tier dog picks, I went with Anthony Hamilton and Ross Pearson. Not only is Hamilton a heavyweight(a high-intangible division with a high-potency for upsets), but I like his chances against Damian Grabowski. Although Hamilton has yet to show his full potential according to his camp at Jackson-Wink, he has been more active against higher-level competition as of late. A heavyweight who’s accrued more miles and is coming off 1-fight in the last 2-years, Grabowski’s sink-or-swim style may cost him against the larger and more athletic Anthony Hamilton.

For my other underdog pick, I went with the Englishmen Ross Pearson. Although I picked Jorge Masvidal, I put this under my fights to avoid section due to the way these veterans line up. Both are crafty & slick boxers, who seldom score well with the judges as each man has the propensity to be in close fights. However, Ross does put out the more volume of the two, as Masvidal has shown a trend of being knocked down in both victory and defeat in recent years. Considering the lack of dog plays on this card, I feel these low-tier picks serve as solid choices to tack onto your high-priced favorites.

Props worth looking at(5Dimes.eu):

-Justin Scoggins by Decision: +115 (1 Unit)
-Rose Namajunas by Decision: +135 (.05 Unit)
-Robbie Lawler by TKO/KO: +145 (1 Unit)

Playable favorites for your parlays:

-Wilson Reis
-Justin Scoggins
-Matt Brown

Fights to avoid:

-Masvidal vs Pearson
-Arzamendia vs Brown
-Krylov vs Herman

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

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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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UFC 217: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Rose Namajunas Preview

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UFC 217 is hoping to explode Madison Square Garden with a stacked card featuring three title fights.

One of the three title fights, is a bout between women’s strawweight champion, undefeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-0-0) and rising star #4-ranked Rose Namajunas (7-3-0).

What we have here is a fight between an aggressive, clinical technician in Joanna, and an unpredictable, well rounded submission artist in Rose.

Joanna is regarded as (out of both male & female fighters) one of the best strikers in the UFC. Undefeated in both kickboxing & MMA with her calculated method of increasing the pace and volume as the rounds go by until what looked like a  fight starts to look close to assault & battery.

With Vegas odds having Joanna as -600 to Rose’s +400  there is no secret that Joanna is highly favoured to win. One can get a clearer picture to why this is by looking at some of her records..

  • Has never lost a professional MMA fight
  • Most sig. strikes landed in a UFC Title Fight
  • 2nd most sig. strikes landed in a UFC fight
  • Most legs kicks landed in a UFC fight
  • – List Info pulled from MMAJunkie –

Rose began her UFC career since the weight classes’ inception into the ranks, in the TUF house. Winning all her fights by stoppage, but coming up short against Carla Esparza for the inaugural women’s strawweight championship. Rose went back to the drawing board to reset, improve and come back stronger.

Rose has fought a high level striker from Poland before in Karolina Kowalkiewicz, and lost via split decision on her way to the title. True to Rose’s form however, she came back better, smarter and more dangerous, securing a win over touted UFC prospect Michelle Waterson. Dispatching “The Karate Hottie” with a perfectly timed high kick that she finished off with a rear naked choke in round two.

Rose’s perseverance, will and ability to overcome her career misfortunes & failures as well as personal problems at home, has granted her nothing but success. Her grit & drive is on display every time she fights. Looking sharper, more refined, well rounded and dynamic, achieving the accolade of “Most submission wins in UFC women’s starwweight history.” 

Joanna has shown to be beyond dominant and ahead of her competitors, time and time again. So far nobody has found a real weakness in her game or has been able to exploit one if they did. Out striking strikers, out grinding grinders and nullifying grapplers of all types. Yet she has never faced a fighter as well rounded & explosively creative as Rose, who is happy to strike and then throw a flying arm bar from standing, seemingly out of the blue. Uncertainty and on the fly creativity is hard to train for. So, though on paper the favour is for Joanna, the devil is in the details and the details are what make this fight so compelling!

Jul 8, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Joanna Jedrezejczyk (red gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

If Rose beats Joanna, she achieves the dream she has sweat, cried and bled for over the past 4 years. It will catapult her to a very different echelon of fighter hierarchy, UFC fame and financial security. She will also have beaten one of only two current UFC Champions who are undefeated in their MMA Career in “JJ”. (Cody Garbrandt, who will fight on the same card in the following match up against TJ Dillashaw, is the other).

If Joanna wins, she will tie Ronda Rousey’s record of most title defenses in women’s UFC History. She will have effectively “cleaned out” the division and from there the she can chose to break Ronda’s record, or go up to the new 125-pound division for a super fight.

A lot to lose, a lot to gain, two super elite competitors, two fighters who are known for giving spectacular performances at a high level, to the bitter end. Despite neither fighter reaching 5″7, & only 115lbs, make no mistake, this fight is Monumentally HUGE! Regardless of the outcome, expect to be entertained.

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Khabib vs Barboza UFC 219 breakdown

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All Credit to https://article.wn.com for the image

Khabib vs Barboza has been made official for UFC 219 and it promises to be an absolute cracker, so in this article, I’m going to give a full breakdown of this fantastic fight.

UFC 219 just got a whole lot better with the addition of Khabib vs Barboza to the main card, Khabib will be hungry to grab a victory in his first fight since his submission win over Michael Johnson at UFC 205.

However, UFC fans will be crossing their fingers and hoping that the fight does happen as Khabib has been scheduled to fight in the main event, back in April 2016, but his opponent Ferguson had to pull out of their scheduled main event because doctors had found fluid and blood in his lungs. Khabib also pulled out of there fight at UFC 209 because he was hospitalized trying to cut weight for there highly anticipated bout, which played down his chances at him getting a title shot against McGregor. This fight is a chance for him to once again prove himself to get that title shot. Hopefully, we do not see a repeat of these past scheduled fights for Khabib and hopefully, we can see him back in the octagon for UFC 219.

I take no credit for this image

Now onto Barboza, who is an explosive and aggressive fighter, his last three fights have resulted in three wins for the Brazilian who won his last fight by TKO/KO with his latest loss coming from Ferguson by way of submission at the Ultimate Fighter Finale, back in 2015.

This Brazilian fighter prefers to stand and trade with his opponents and usually outclasses his opponents on the feet, however, most of Barboza’s losses have come by submission, one of those opponents being Michael Johnson (who Khabib beat by submission) so Barboza may want to work on his submission defence and ground game altogether because Khabib is a very dominant fighter who can control the fight and has a strong ground game so he will be looking to take Barboza to the ground.

Barboza needs to try to take control of the fight away from Khabib and keep it stood up to try and outclass Khabib, which will make for a very Interesting bout on December the 30th and many will be tuning in to see how it turns out.

I believe Khabib will walk with the victory over Barboza at UFC 219 in a fight which promises to be exciting and aggressive throughout.

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