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UFC 202: Nate Diaz vs Conor McGregor 2 Breakdown

Dan Tom

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Diaz1

Nate Diaz (19-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 31 Weight: *170 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Conor McGregor (3-5-16)
  • Camp: Cesar Gracie Fight Team (Stockton, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 5 Winner
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   12 Submission wins
+   5 KO victories
+   8 first round finishes
+   Pressure fighter
+   Good cardio & conditioning
+   High volume striker
+   Accurate jab-cross
^   Disrupts timing & tempo
–    Lackadaisical leg kicks defense
+/-Low hands/head often upright
+   Dangerous transitional grappler
^   Solid submission & choke acumen
+/-Traditionally takes damage
^   Physically durable / recovers well
+/-5-4 against UFC southpaws

 

Conor02

Conor McGregor (19-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 28 Weight: *170 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Submission loss / Nate Diaz (3-5-16)
  • Camp: SBG Ireland (Dublin, IE)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Featherweight Champion
+   Cage Warriors LW & FW Titles
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   17 KO victories
+   13 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Agile & athletic mover
+   Excellent footwork
^   Deceptively dictates distance
+   Diverse kicking attacks
+   Accurate & deadly left cross
+/-Low hands / head often upright
^   Heavily reliant on trunk movement
+   Improved wrestling/counter grappling
^   Urgent get-ups & clinch breaks
+   Underrated grappler
+/-3-1 against career southpaws

Summary:

The main event of UFC 202 features a rematch that stems from UFC 196 as Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor run it back one more time. In a last minute shakeup earlier this March, Nate Diaz stepped in for an injured Rafael Dos Anjos with just 10-days notice. Accepting this stand-in, and even allowing for weight accommodations at welterweight, Conor McGregor would take what was his 1st loss with the organization. With the fallout from this event being equally compelling, Conor McGregor will now have his shot at repaying one of the most memorable upsets of 2016.

The hardest part about breaking down a rematch of this magnitude is the thickly spread narrative that has already been laid out. The common narrative has went from: “How can Nate win with just 10-days notice?” to “How can Conor win if Nate beat him with just 10-days notice?”. Not that either of these statements are not valid, but I’ll try and steer clear of those reasonings for my pick as I will focus this breakdown on what adjustments we could see from both men.

Although my pick was incorrect when these two first met, many of the things I predicted came to light on both sides of the stanzas. Although many, including myself, called for Conor’s patent left-crosses to coat-tail behind the strike retractions of Diaz, I felt that uppercuts would be the unspoken threat as Conor will dust off those techniques against fellow southpaws. Despite McGregor’s conviction to these left-handed shots off of slipped jabs, it was Nate’s steady grasp of timing down the center lane that helped him take over the contest. Firing jab-cross continuums with the snap of a coiled cobra, Nathan will off-set striking rhythms or, as we saw at UFC 196, disrupt a fighter’s overall approach.

With Conor arguably controlling the fight until the middle of the second round, we saw a distinct example of Nathan’s off-beat offense take effect at the 2:21 mark. Although it looked like a jab-cross combo that Nate has thrown a million times before, he broke the perceived rhythm of McGregor as it caught him mid-motion and off guard. What compounded the effect of the blow was the manner in which Diaz fires his cross. Shifting his rear hip forward to accompany the lunge off his attack, Diaz will attach his cross directly behind his jab for cover as this also cuts down the strike’s delivery time. With the initial jab causing a slight disruption to the senses, Nate’s follow-up cross becomes a game-changer when gone unseen.

That said, the side-effects of Nate’s style remains the same as the uppercut will still be a live threat. Often leaning heavily forward on his approaches, Diaz’s posture off his punches inherently allows him to be available to shorter ranged weapons despite his advantages of height & length. When retracting said strikes, Diaz will heavily lean back and to his left as Josh Thomson most famously capitalized on this by timing a head kick. Conor’s chief corner & coach, John Kavanagh, also picked up on this tendency as he strongly urged his fighter to follow-up his left crosses with right uppercuts to intercept Diaz.

To McGregor’s credit, he did try to follow his corner’s advice as he came out for the second round, but Diaz had seemingly begun to grasp the center striking-lanes as this prevented Conor from a proper setup. With Diaz’s defensive habits causing him consistent damage to his right eye throughout the Stockton native’s career, it is hard to imagine that McGregor will avoid emphasizing his left handed attacks. However, if Conor intends on catching Diaz off guard in the punching department, I suspect a shovel hook from the right side will be the punch that holds the most potential given said tendencies. Regardless, as we saw in their last outing, all will be for not if Conor fails to apply an answer to Nate’s control of the center lane.

Once Diaz establishes a rhythm, it quickly becomes difficult to dissuade him at a distance as we saw McGregor’s more diverse arsenal eventually run out of road against the Stockton slugger. Considering that Conor surprisingly uses minimal jabs and check-hooks as a southpaw, I have a hard time seeing McGregor outdo Diaz down the center striking lanes. Instead, I suspect we will see Conor stick to his original approach in the 1st round by mixing in base-debilitating kicks. However, McGregor may forgo the oblique kicks and instead go with more traditional leg kicks as these have been crucial keys for success in Diaz’s past opponents.

Usually using his kicks to corral his opposition, we seldom see Conor throw leg kicks. Although I am sure that McGregor is capable of being effective with an outside leg kick, I suspect the inside leg kick may make for a more likely culprit given its connectivity to Conor’s arsenal. For example, If Conor’s right shovel hook comes off of his left cross, then by nature McGregor will need something to setup said cross to have success and avoid a repeat of his last performance. The inside leg kick provides a low-risk solution to debasing Diaz and also is a technique that feeds naturally into overhands & crosses ala Dan Henderson. Regardless of the Irishman’s approach, control of the center striking lanes will be the key factor in this fight.

Despite Diaz holding the clear advantages on the floor, I feel that Conor’s ground skills have been underestimated grossly if not written off altogether. Now, I am not going to tell you that McGregor’s game is elite, much less a threat to submit Nate. But what I will say is that there are small intricacies to his grappling techniques that suggest a sober McGregor may be able to stay safe in-close. In Conor’s fights with Holloway & Siver, we saw the Irishman’s diversity on top as he smoothly pressured and passed. Although a knee injury made for a lackadaisical display from his back at UFC 189, McGregor gave us a brief glimpse of his bottom acumen at the end of the 1st round against Diaz as he hit a “Curu Curu” sweep variation.

That said, unless Diaz can once again force McGregor into desperation mode, I do not see Conor carrying any intentions of grappling engagements. Although traditional wrestling shots are all but devoid of Diaz’s game, he does have some craftiness inside the clinch that could see the light of day. The utilization of an over-hook will be a key tell for grappling initiations from Nate. Not only will this setup Nate’s patent Uchi Mata(hip toss), but it will also open up trips and guard pulls should Diaz be so inclined. Deadly and proficient in transition, Nate only needs but a moment to shift the fights momentum. McGregor did a great job in their first outing of avoiding Nate’s over-hook entanglements as he was able to break away from clinches early.

Although I am officially siding with Diaz, I believe that Conor has more options available overall to adjust and win this fight. That said, the key to all of Mcgregor’s paths to victory lies within his ability to maintain the utmost amount of discipline. Against a physical & psychological threat as durable as Diaz, Conor will need to upkeep his focus as Nate will only grow stronger should the Irishman slip. Unless Conor’s power can produce a different outcome on Diaz, he will likely need a safe or near perfect fight to earn a decision. But with only 1-bout reaching the distance in a 22-fight career, we will likely have another do-or-die scenario on our hands. Though I have a strange feeling Conor has something special in store, the Irishman’s reliance on defensive trunk movement may once again get him burned should he not find an answer for Stockton’s fire starter.

Official Pick: Diaz – Inside the distance

 

MMA: UFC on Fox 18-Johnson vs Bader

Anthony Johnson (21-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 32 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 78″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Ryan Bader (1-30-16)
  • Camp: Blackzilians (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   JUCO National Wrestling Title
+   Regional MMA Championship
+   15 KO victories
+   11 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Devastating right hand
^   Overhands, uppercuts, & hooks
+   Dangerous left kicks
^   Set up off stance switches
+   Underrated takedown defense (%79)
+   Shown grappling improvements
+   Solid top pressure & positional rides
^   Superb ground striker
–    Struggles when pressure fought
^   Gas tank bares watching

 

UFC 146: Dos Santos v Mir

Glover Teixeira (25-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 36 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Rashad Evans (4-16-16)
  • Camp: Team Teixeira/ATT (Danbury, CT)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   16 KO victories
+   17 first round finishes
+   6 Submission wins
+   KO Power
+   Solid boxing technique
^   Accurate R. hand-L. hook
+   Good economy of movement
^   Rarely throws self out of position
+   Works well off single-legs
+   Underrated wrestling abilities
+   Improved getup ability/urgency
^   Uses under-hooks or turtles out
–    Struggles w/pressure against fence

Summary:

The co-main event in Las Vegas features the top 2 contenders at light-heavyweight as Anthony Johnson takes on Glover Teixeira. Coming off a pair of knockout victories, “Rumble” Johnson will seek to cement himself once again as the number one contender for Daniel Cormier’s belt. Also considered the division’s most dangerous man not long ago, Glover Teixeira will look to earn another title shot should he add to his 3-fight finishing streak.

Starting off on the feet is an interesting battle of pressure-style strikers. Subtly stalking forward in left-to-right plots, Anthony Johnson maintains a state of constant offensive and defensive readiness. Using said left-to-right shifts, Johnson is already set in motion to move defensively one way in order come back offensively the other. These movement principles keep Rumble in balance and translate beautifully to his kicking game. As seen in his fight with Jimi Manuwa, we saw Anthony throw left power kicks as he counterbalanced this attack with hard right hands from the other side.

Although Anthony’s overhand right is seemingly always on the table as a threat, he may find some success with his uppercut in this contest. Even though Teixeira is no stranger to eating his fair share of overhands, I noticed that Glover’s defenses are a bit lackadaisical to uppercuts on the inside. In fact, all four of his opponents previous to Rashad Evans were able to exploit him inside this space(Jones, Davis, OSP, & Cummins). Though Teixeira took these shots with little issue, Johnson’s power is proven and not to be taken lightly. It will also be interesting to see what Johnson’s kicking selections are for this fight, especially given that Glover has a knack for catching body kicks and turning them into takedowns.

As for the Brazilian, Teixeira also maintains a solid economy of movement as he employs a tight and technical boxing game. Wielding a dangerous right-hand of his own, I feel that Glover’s left hook will be the punch to look for in this fight. Often initiating exchanges with his right cross, Teixeira will create chaos that draws out his opposition’s defense and allows for his accurate left-hand to serve as a cleanup hitter. Training Rashad Evans for Teixeira earlier this year, I am sure that Henri Hooft is more than aware of this as he and the rest of the Blackzilians staff ready Rumble for this fight.

That said, Anthony will need to maintain discipline with his hand positioning as his inherent aggression could cost him if he is not careful. Often in the heat of exchanges, Johnson tends to wind up when chambering as well as retract his right-hand low. Given Glover’s looming left hook, these small windows inside the pocket could be crucial pickings for a veteran fighter like Teixeira who shows wherewithal under pressure. With the standing exchanges between these two destroyers feeling like a heavyweight affair, it will be interesting to see if either man employs a ground fight.

With Teixeira obviously having more motive to take this fight to the floor, we will likely have a further gauge of the grappling improvements of Anthony Johnson. A former collegiate wrestler, Anthony has been even harder to take down since improving the balance of his striking. With Anthony’s defense difficult to penetrate on initial shots, Teixeira’s patent single-legs may not be enough as he’ll likely have to chain his attempts for success. Should Glover ground Johnson, his on paper advantages may not be as big as projected. Working with renown catch wrestling coach Neil Melanson, Anthony has shown improvements to his grappling game in recent performances.

From his top pressure to positional rides, Anthony appears to be embracing the part of his game that has plagued him in the past. Although Anthony has the tools to pose problems from the top, I am not so certain how much he will look to initiate grappling exchanges. Possessing a dangerous Guillotine choke threat, Glover is also an underrated wrestler himself. Using under-hooks or fighting hands and turtling out, Glover is relentless in his reversal and get-up attempts. With the grappling back-and-forths being what traditionally tires Rumble, he could get burned if he plays Teixeira’s game for too long, or trapped should he end up on the bottom.

A smooth pressure passer, Glover is a veteran chef when it comes to cooking his opposition underneath him. Methodically(and brutally) using ground strikes, Glover adds fuel to the fire as he force-feeds opponents to turning into head & arm chokes, or catching them with rear-naked-chokes as they turn away. Although I initially came into this fight favoring Anthony Johnson, I feel that this bout is closer than the betting lines reflect. Not only does Teixeira have more than enough tools for the job, but the Brazilian also demonstrates the durability to contest with Johnson as well as the veteran savvy to capitalize where he needs to. That said, bet carefully and enjoy one of the best matchups on the card.

Official Pick: Teixeira – Inside the distance

 

Story fights Nelson in a welterweight MMA bout at the UFC gala, at the Globe Arena in Stockholm

Rick Story (19-8)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 31 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Tarec Saffiedine (5-29-16)
  • Camp: Blackzilians (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Collegiate Wrestling Experience
+   4 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   4 First round finishes
+   KO Power

 

Cowboy7

Donald Cerrone (30-7)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 33 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Patrick Cote (6-18-16)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Multiple Muay Thai Accolades
+   28-0 as pro kickboxer
+   6 KO victories
+   16 Submission wins
+   13 First round finishes
+   KO Power

Summary:

**Full Disclosure**: Due to personal affiliation’s with Rick Story for this fight week, I have opted out of doing my usual in-depth breakdown for this matchup. That said, I stand by my pick as I will loosely list some of my thoughts for this fight below.

As I always say, a durable southpaw who can wrestle can be the most potent style to upset fighters inside the cage. With Donald traditionally struggling with pressure fighters, the styling’s of Story could bring these problems to light. Now fully healthy and operating at 100%, it will be interesting to see more from Rick as this will now be his second fight since his return. Reuniting with an old coach of mine, Neil Melanson, Story has spent this entire camp with the Blackzilians.

Not only will Neil’s catch-wrestling style help Story with his overall grappling, but Neil also specializes in Triangle chokes which happen to be Cerrone’s most potent submission threat. On the feet is where Cowboy should have his biggest on-paper edge, but it is hard to overlook to body onslaught Story brings. An underrated counter and combination puncher, Rick will repeatedly rip lefts to the body with impunity. In similar fashion to the shots that Rafael Dos Anjos landed on Cerrone in their contests, this will be the punch to look out for in this fight.

Usually, this is the part where I tell you that Cerrone’s superior kicking game will be a key to dissuading Story at a distance and winning this fight. However, the wild card for Cowboy comes in the form of Brandon Gibson. A quiet storm in the striking department at Jackson-Wink MMA, Six Gun Gibson has been a crucial and cerebral piece behind the scenes to some of the biggest fighters. Coming more into his own, we saw Cowboy have his 1st camp under the supervision of Gibson as the results were evident against Cote.

In fact, that last fight Cowboy turned in completely flipped the sample size we had on him as he looked like a different fighter within the boxing ranges. Showing slicker head movement than before, Cerrone connected it beautifully in conjunction with counters and combination punches. Assuming that Donald continues with this recent recipe, we may see an even more improved Cowboy in what will be his 22nd fight with the organization. Although a Cerrone win would not surprise me, I feel the intangibles Story brings are equally compelling as I’ll be siding with his on paper attributes to score the upset.

Official Pick: Story – Decision

 

Lim1

Hyun Gyu Lim (13-5-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 31 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 79″
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / Neil Magny (5-16-15)
  • Camp: Korean Top Team (Korea)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   10 KO victories
+   2 Submission wins
+   9 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Devastating knees
^   Shuffles & intercepts
+   Improved jab
+   Dangerous hooks
+   Active guard
^   Good leg dexterity
–    Keeps/retracts hands low
+/-Aggressive in exchanges
+/-1 fight in 23 months

 

Perry1

Mike Perry (6-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 24 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: N/A”
  • Last Fight: KO win / David Mundell (5-14-16)
  • Camp: Team Sparta (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   6 KO victories
+   4 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Athletic & agile
+   Heavy right hand
^   Uppercuts & overhands
+   Dangerous knees
+   Competent takedown ability
+   Shows good submission defense
+   Scrambles well
+/-Aggressive in exchanges
+/-UFC Debut
+/-Fighting on 2 weeks notice

Summary:

In a potential war at welterweight Hyun Gyu Lim welcomes UFC newcomer Mike Perry. Originally slated to face Sultan Aliev, Hyun Gyu Lim will now meet Mike Perry, an undefeated up-and-comer from the South Florida fight scene. With an injury keeping the Korean Top Team fighter from the Octagon for over a years time, Hyun Gyu Lim will attempt to get back on track.

Although he is amongst the shorter end of the welterweight stable, Perry is deceptively agile and athletic. Utilizing a boxing-based style, Mike Perry will attempt to slip and dip his way inside similarly to a vintage Mike Tyson. Carrying potent one-shot stopping power, Perry will often blast his way inside with overhands as he favors uppercuts & hooks in the pocket. It is in this space where Perry will be the most dangerous in this fight given Lim’s defensive tendencies.

Despite the height and reach advantages Lim carries into most fights, his aggression often causes the Korean to close the distance for his opposition as he eagerly looks to intercept. With a low guard by nature and a tendency to retract strikes even lower, Lim will be playing with fire anytime he lacks discipline inside the pocket. With Lim being no stranger to absorbing right-hands in his fights, I suspect that will be the likely culprit in a Perry victory.

Although most of Perry’s finishes come off of his knees in close, I am not sure how available those shots will be due to height differentials. That said, the renown knees of Hyun Gyu Lim may be more than live in this particular matchup. Utilizing said boxing stance and stylings, Perry will often dip heavily forward and or to his right side. Though this habit allows Perry to slip off the centerline and come back with his noted right-hand, it also puts him directly in-line with Lim’s intercepting knees.

A specialty of the South Korean, Lim will reign down strikes from above as this will often force his foes to come at him from below. Anticipating this, Lim does a spectacular job of shuffling in to land with his left knee. Considering that Perry habitually dips to that same side, I expect that to be the key strike to look for from Lim. Despite neither man wielding a particularly impressive wrestling acumen, an effort from either fighter to get this to the floor wouldn’t surprise me. Although the Korean is the more experienced and diverse submission fighter on paper, Perry shows surprisingly good submission defense from credible threats outside the Octagon.

Perry’s athleticism also translates to his wrestling, as the Floridian appears to be a good scrambler with a natural inclination to get after it. That said, I suspect ground fighting to be a near wash should each man engage soberly. Although I agree that Lim should be the favored fighter, I heavily caution playing him at the current price as this fight is closer than the odds indicate. Although I am siding with South Korean, it is hard to be confident as this is essentially a welterweight war with heavyweight intangibles.

Official Pick: Lim – Inside the distance

 

Means1

Tim Means (25-7-1)

Staple info:

  • Height:6’2″ Age: 32 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: KO win / John Howard (12-10-15)
  • Camp: Fit NHB (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   17 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   Superb technical striker
^   Good footwork, angles, & diversity
+   Strong volume & pressure
+   Accurate left hand
+   Deadly elbow acumen
+   Underrated grappler
+   Improved wrestling
^   Active getup urgency
+   Good chin/never stopped

 

Sabah1

Sabah Homasi (11-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 27 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Jorge Patino (8-5-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 21 Alum
+   8 KO victories
+   2 Submission wins
+   5 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Physically strong & athletic
^   Moves well on the feet
+   Solid jab
^   Hard cross & hook follow-ups
+   Strong top pressure
^   Good elbows inside the guard
+/-Fighting on 2 weeks notice
+/-UFC Debut

Summary:

Kicking off the main card of UFC 202 is a guaranteed scrap in the welterweight division as Tim Means meets Sabah Homasi. Originally slated to face Sean Strickland, Means does not seem concerned with the late opponent switch as he is hungrier than ever coming off of a brief layoff. Stepping in for the injured Strickland is Sabah Homasi, an American Top Team staple from the TUF 21 season. Coming straight off a victory as recently as August 5th, Homasi was more than happy to make a quick turnaround to debut on the big stage.

An athletic and physical force bred by American Top Team, Sabah shows the well-rounded game you would suspect. Though demonstrating a competent wrestling ability, Homasi prefers to make his money on the feet. Showing solid footwork & head movement, Sabah gauges the distance well as he works behind his jab. Wielding hard hook & cross follow-ups, Homasi has more than enough skill and power to pose problems for the veteran Tim Means.

That said, “The Dirty Bird” Tim Means will be the most technical striker by a longshot. Proficient from both stances, Tim primarily operates out of southpaw as I suspect he will do here. Not only does Means have a deeper arsenal to pull from, but the angles in which he creates makes it difficult for opponents to get a beat on the oncoming waves of pressure. Considering that Sabah seems to rely heavily upon the establishment of his jab to get going, the southpaw stylings of Means may pose problems for Homasi in finding his target.

Couple that with Means’ seemingly nonstop pressure and volume, the short notice debutant may have difficulty establishing himself comfortably. If Tim can put Sabah behind the 8-ball early, he will likely force a fight that favors his terms. Although Homasi throws his punches technically with power, Tim demonstrates superb head movement as he is amongst the top-5 at welterweight in regards to striking defense.

Should this contest hit the floor, I expect the action to remain high as both fighters have increased their urgency on top and bottom as of late. With Means showing to struggle with succeeding to his back early in his career, there could be some motive for Sabah to ground Means(especially should he start to get tagged). Should Sabah make his way on top, he shows to execute elbows well from inside the guard. However, Means has made marked improvements to his wrestling, Particularly in his get-up ability.

Showing an urgency to turtle out and stand, Tim has proven increasingly difficult to control. When Tim is on top, he is a terror as the Fit NHB fighter shows superb catch-like controls. From his excellent top pressure, submissions setups, and strike activity, Tim Means is all offense all the time. In the sport of MMA, you cannot discount anyone as Sabah has the skills to score on the big stage. That said, the division’s dark horse is a tall order as I see it hard for Sabah to make it out of the kitchen without being burned.

Official Pick: Means – Inside the distance

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Garbrandt def. Mizugaki
  • Pennington def. Phillips
  • Lobov def. Avila
  • Casey def. Markos
  • Magny def. Larkin
  • Covington def. Griffin
  • Vettori def. Uda

Recommended Plays:

Draft Kings recommended rosters:

 

Team #1: $50,000.00

-Colby Covington ($11,300.00)
-Tim Means ($10,900.00)
-Cody Garbrandt ($10,300.00)
-Marvin Vettori ($8,800.00)
-Glover Teixeira ($8,700.00)

Team Summary:

For my first Draft Kings roster, I went with the high-tier favorites of Colby Covington, Tim Means, and Cody Garbrandt as my picks. Colby Covington is a solid pick on this card as he welcomes UFC newcomer Max Griffin. Although Griffin’s all-action stylings have earned him titles and attention on the regional circuit, he has not faced nor shown the high-caliber of grappling that will likely take place in this match. Despite Covington being the highest priced pick of the litter, I feel it is for good reason as he has the exact tools & approach for finding a finish here.

For my second pick, I went with Tim Means as I like his chances of finding the finish against Sabah Homasi. For reasons stated in the breakdown above, I feel Tim’s high-pressure striking acumen will force a finish of some sort to come to fruition. For the final favorite, I went with Cody Garbrandt as I believe he is a stylistically difficult matchup for Mizugaki. Carrying the highest average points on Draft Kings for this card at 93.375, I feel that Garbrandt is a steal at the $10,300.00 listing price.

For my lower-tier picks, I elected to go with Marvin Vettori and Glover Teixeira. Another prospect from the Italy’s budding MMA scene, Marvin Vettori is coming off his 2nd camp with Kings MMA in California. Fresh off a submission win over BJJ Black Belt & UFC Vet Igor Araujo, I like Vettori’s stylistic chances against Alberto Uda, who is a decade his elder and fighting at welterweight for the 1st time. Finally, I capped off this team with Glover Teixeira for the reasons listed in the breakdown above. Quietly the 3rd highest scorer on the card at 87.35, I feel that the durable Teixeira makes for a solid choice to fill out the bottom end of your roster.

Team #2: $50,000.00

-Colby Covington ($11,300.00)
-Tim Means ($10,900.00)
-Cody Garbrandt ($10,300.00)
-Nate Diaz ($9,200.00)
-Mike Perry ($8,300.00)

Team Summary:

For my second Draft Kings team, I ended up going with the same high-tier picks as my 1st recommended roster. Although there is flexibility with your mid to high-tier choices, I feel Colby Covington, Tim Means, and Cody Garbrandt make solid picks for the reasons stated above. As for my low-tier picks, I elected to go with Nathan Diaz and Mike Perry.

Regardless of what the Vegas odds say, I am of the hardcore majority who feel that Nate Diaz is tough stylistic matchup for Conor McGregor (as I list my reasons in the breakdown above). As a main event participant with the propensity to find a finish, I feel Nate makes for a solid supporting cast member at $9,200.00.

For my final pick, I elected to go with Mike Perry despite officially picking Hyun Gyu Lim. As stated in my breakdown above, this is a welterweight war with heavyweight intangibles. Although Lim is the bigger and more experienced man, Perry’s athleticism and one-shot stopping power will be at play given his Korean opposition’s inherent recklessness. At the low price of $8,300.00, Perry can be used to round out those high priced and heavy hitting lineups.

Props worth looking at(5Dimes.eu):

-Colby Covington by Submission: +295 (0.5 Unit)
-Cortney Casey by Decision: +273 (0.5 Unit)
-Tim Means by Submission: +420 (.25 Unit)

Playable favorites for your parlays:

-Tim Means
-Colby Covington
-Raquel Pennington

Fights to avoid:

-Hyun Gyu Lim vs Mike Perry
-Neil Magny vs Lorenz Larkin
-Artem Lobov vs Chris Avila

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

*This breakdown is in memoriam to Rick Budo. An MMA hardcore who touched many in the short time he was here. Rest in peace, Rick. #JunkieNation

Budo

 

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GLORY: Redemption – Breakdown and Predictions

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

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

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

Nieky ‘The Natural’ Holzken – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Nieky Holzken vs Alim Nabiyev

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

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

Prediction: Nieky Holzken by 1st Round TKO

 

Alex 'Po Atan' Pereira

Alex ‘Po Atan’ Pereira – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Alex Pereira vs Yousri Belgaroui

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

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

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

Prediction: Yousri Belgaroui by Unanimous Decision

 

Michael Dreamcrusher Duut

Michael ‘Dreamcrusher’ Duut – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Michael Duut vs Danyo Ilunga

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

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

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

Prediciton: Michael Duut by 3rd Round KO

 

Rico The King of Kickboxing Verhoeven

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

Rico Verhoeven vs Jamal Ben Saddik

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

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

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

Prediction: Rico Verhoeven by 5th Round KO

All images used in this article are accredited to GLORY Kickboxing

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

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

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

 

Tecia Torres vs Michelle Waterson

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

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

Prediction: Michelle Waterson by 2nd Round TKO

 

Eddie Alvarez vs Justin Gaethje

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

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

Prediction: Justin Gaethje by Split Decision

 

Henry Cejudo vs Sergio Pettis

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

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

Prediction: Henry Cejudo by Unanimous Decision

 

Alistair Overeem vs Francis Ngannou

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

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

Prediction: Alistair Overeem by Unanimous Decision

 

 Max Holloway vs Jose Aldo 2

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

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

Prediction: Max Holloway by 2nd Round TKO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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