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UFC 203 Breakdown: Miocic vs Overeem Breakdown

Dan Tom

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Miocic77

Stipe Miocic (15-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 34 Weight: 245 lbs Reach: 80″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Fabricio Werdum (5-14-16)
  • Camp: Strong Style Fight Team (Ohio)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Heavyweight Champion
+   Golden Gloves Winner
+   NCAA Div. 1 Wrestler
+   Regional MMA Title
+   12 KO victories
+   7 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Excellent footwork
^   Angles & outside foot awareness
+   Good sense inside the pocket
^   Pulls & returns well
+   Dangerous right-hand
^   Counters well w/inside parry
+   Solid takedown transitions
^   Favors head-outside singles
+   Good positional rides
^   Active ground striker
–    Lackadaisical leg-kick defense
–    Often upright in approach
^   Counter availabilities

 

Reem4

Alistair Overeem (41-14)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’5″ Age: 36 Weight: 257 lbs Reach: 80″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Andrei Arlovski (5-8-16)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Strikeforce & Dream Heavyweight Titles
+   K-1 Grand Prix Champion
+   ADCC European Winner
+   20 KO victories
+   31 first round finishes
+   17 Submission wins
+   KO Power
+   Excellent footwork
^   Shifts stance well
+   Accurate striker(landing at 75%)
+   Devastating knees & kicks
^   Consistently works the body
+   Crafty clinch game
+   Underrated takedown game
+   Solid top control
^   Good grip fighting & ground striking
+   Dangerous Guillotine
^   Especially from front headlock
–    Tends to lower hands
^   Dropped in 4 of last 8 fights

Summary:

The main event for UFC 203 is a promising one as Stipe Miocic defends his title against Alistair Overeem. Just four months after silencing a stadium in Brazil, Stipe Miocic will return to a home game in Cleveland as he looks to cement his status against one of the best in the world. A Champion in organizations such as Strikeforce, Dream, and K-1, Alistair Overeem will get his first chance to add the biggest title in the world to his collection.

Starting off on the feet, I feel that this fight may begin in a similar fashion to Overeem’s fight with Junior Dos Santos. In facing a pressure-fighting boxer who holds a knockout threat, we saw Alistair play the outside edges in a safe manner, keeping his space and looking for his openings. If you have been watching Overeem since his days in Pride, then you will know that the Dutchman didn’t always fight this way. Although the striking upgrades made during the K-1 chapter of his career helped him immensely, it wasn’t until Alistair’s run of UFC knockout losses that we saw him adjust his footwork & approach.

Already dangerous off of his stance shifts, Alistair’s confidence in his head movement and technique often allowed him to plot in front of his opponents longer than he needed to. However, after a series of camp changes during his run of losses, Overeem seemed to find a home at Jackson-Wink as he would embrace a slightly different approach. Like many fighters who come from that camp, Alistair will now circle the outside comfortably as he looks to sharpshoot his attacks like a torpedo plane on a bombing run. With the highest striking accuracy in the division at 75%, this style is optimal for Overeem as it also plays a huge role in protecting his chin from unnecessary roughness.

This approach will likely force Miocic to implement his pressure fighting ways to close the gap as Alistair searches for his shot. With both men being of similar stature, I feel that Overeem should have the advantage at range given his wide array of attacks. As the matador, I suspect Overeem will look to land leg and body kicks in abundance. Usually moving forward in an upright boxing stance, Miocic has traditionally been open to the body as he also shows lackadaisical leg kick defense. Although Stipe showed attempts at leg checks in his last fight against Werdum, Alistair’s attacks are on another level as I see him doing very well from range.

That said, I am not sure Stipe will be letting Overeem breathe that much on the outside given the Clevelander’s advantage at boxing range. A Golden Gloves winner before he even began his MMA career, we have seen Stipe still make improvements to his striking game. Although his athletic ability and background in wrestling add an undeniable dimension to his game, it is the work Stipe does in small spaces that is so impressive. Moving his feet like the heavyweight version of Frankie Edgar, Miocic will work steadily behind a series of jabs & feints as he always steps slightly off angle in search of his counter shots.

Moving just as well laterally as he does in-and-out, Miocic shows a good sense of things inside the pocket as he almost preternaturally pulls & returns punches. Whether he is using his patent parries or slick step-offs to the side, it is his battering ram right-hand that Overeem will be attempting to avoid. Although punch crowding seems like Stipe’s best game plan on paper against a fighter who requires space to operate, he will need to aware that this approach may ultimately lead Miocic into multiple clinch engagements during this fight. Although Stipe is competent inside the clinch, we have yet to see him against a high-level clinch fighter, much less Alistair who is arguably the best in the division next to Josh Barnett.

However, if Stipe can avoid the Reem’s intercepting knees on his approach, his pressure and corner-cutting may pay huge dividends against the cage. Even in this less confrontational version of Overeem, we have seen in his fights with Roy Nelson & Andrei Arlovski that it does not take much punching pressure to get the Reem to revert into a shell guard. Although he was able to survive these stanzas against heavy hitters like Nelson & Arlovski, Alistair may not fair so well should he elect for this defense against Miocic. Using his said abilities to step off at angles, Stipe is superb when it comes to working around the guard to find the front-left quarter of his opponent’s face. I am not sure if this is what Miocic’s corner is calling for when shouting “Klitschko Quarter”, but I do think it will come to light should Alistair plant and shell.

I am very curious to see how Stipe deals with Alistair’s hand fighting inside the clinch. What makes a clinch striker so dangerous or a “ground & pounder” so good, ultimately comes down to their ability to grip fight. Hence why most good ground & pounders make good clinch strikers and vice versa. Although Overeem has an uncanny ability for smelling openings inside the clinch, it is the grip game that Miocic will have to beat if means to find success in close. Similar to Cain Velasquez, Stipe’s attack is rounded out by his wrestling that can also serve as a plan B. Although Stipe’s grappling is underrated as I see his top game posing potential problems for the Reem, Stipe will have to clear some risky hurdles to get Overeem down.

Miocic, nines times out of ten will go with a head-outside single as his preferred takedown method. Although this takedown transitions beautifully off his punches and stance, it also leaves the neck more vulnerable than any other in regards to Guillotines. Considering that Alistair has one of the best Guillotines in the division, it will be interesting to see if Stipe alters his approach. Brock Lesnar went for a similar takedown attempt in his fight with Overeem but was quickly shut down by the Guillotine threat as this forced Brock to stand for the duration of their bout. Alistair is also an underrated takedown artist himself, as I imagine his attempts will also be live any time inside the clinch.

That said, Stipe is one of the hardest heavyweights to hold down as I don’t see Overeem controlling him for long. However, Miocic is hard to hold down because he is so quick to turtle-out and stand. Although many wrestlers use this method to get up, turtling can often expose your back, or in the case of a heavyweight affair, give up a front headlock. Aside from maybe Ben Rothwell or Fabricio Werdum, Overeem is the worst person to give a front headlock to as he transitions smoothly to devastating ground strikes that sneakily set you up for his patent Guillotine chokes.

Given the arsenal and experience advantage, it is hard not to side with Overeem when forced to make a pick here. Despite being the veteran of both age and in-cage miles, Overeem will be one of the few fighters who can arguably compete with Miocic athletically which makes things interesting. With this fight likely being decided on the feet, I see the Reem searching for his timing while Miocic looks to disrupt it with is own rhythm. In a game of inches, the heavyweight division is king as I predict we may have a new one by the end of the night.

Official Pick: Overeem – Inside the distance

 

FOX UFC Saturday: Werdum v Browne

Fabricio Werdum (20-6-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 39 Weight: 242 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: KO loss / Stipe Miocic (5-8-16)
  • Camp: Kings MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC Heavyweight Champion
+   BJJ Black Belt
+   2x ADCC & 3x BJJ World Champion
+   6 KO victories
+   10 Submission wins
+   9 first round finishes
+   Improved overall striking
^   Dynamic attack arsenal
+   Fluid combos w/improv ability
+   Deceptively effective showman
^   Baits & taunts opposition into game
+   Improved takedown ability
+   Excellent sweeps & scrambles
^   Capitalizes on chaos
+   Dangerous submissions/guard game
–    Tends to drop hands
^   Dropped in 4 of last 6 fights

 

Browne1

Travis Browne (18-4-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’7″ Age: 34 Weight: 244 lbs Reach: 79″
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / Cain Velasquez (7-9-16)
  • Camp: Glendale Fight Club (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   14 KO victories
+   2 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Improved boxing technique
^   Actively measures with jabs
+   Dangerous right-hand
^   Throws long/counters well
+   Deadly elbows in close
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   80% Takedown defense
+   Strong from top position
^   Solid mount & ground strikes
–    Head slightly upright on retreat
^   Dropped in his last 3 fights

Summary:

The co-main event in Cleveland is another heavyweight encounter as Fabricio Werdum meets Travis Browne for the second time. Originally slated to dance with Ben Rothwell, the former champion will now have to face an old foe to get back to his title aspirations. Taking this fight on just a few weeks notice, Travis Browne will also be looking to bounce back from a devastating loss earlier this year.

When Werdum and Browne first fought two years ago, we saw Fabricio’s striking come to fruition as he put on one of the best performances of his career. Although Browne fell victim to a broken hand early in the fight, there was clearly an advantage for Werdum in regards to his speed and arsenal of attack. More importantly, the veteran fighter was able to establish his timing & rhythm as he took Travis out of his game. That said, this was against a much different Travis Browne as I feel the Hawaiian may have quietly made more improvements since their last meeting. After said fight, Travis stayed with Ricky Lundell & Neil Melanson for his ground game but moved his training camp to the Glendale Fight Club.

Say what you will about Edmond Tarverdyan, but we have seen measurable improvements to Browne’s striking since his transition. Early in Travis’ career, we saw a sporadic fighter who’s unpredictability and explosive frame posed a lot of problems stylistically. However, as Browne would climb the ranks, we would see him begin to struggle in the boxing range. Often giving away his intentions through awkward and heavy plots, Browne would find himself a step behind his opposition in exchanges. Couple that with his propensity to be aggressive and throw himself out of position, Travis has also traditionally struggled with being countered. In his subsequent camps with Edmond, we have seen Travis move more fluidly as he does a much better job of keeping his feet appropriately synced with his punches.

Measuring behind an active jab and corralling left hook, Browne’s right cross commands even more respect as he keeps it long and accurate. As we saw in his fight with Matt Mitrione, Travis can now counter well with his cross as this was a skill-set previously vacant to his game. I suspect this will be the setup to look for from Travis, as right crosses have been the common culprit for Fabricio. In fact, Fabricio has been dropped in 4 of his last 6-outings due to right-hands finding their mark. However, many of Fabricio’s falls were arguably flops as he is known for his in-cage baits & showmanship. Similarly to a basketball player trying to draw a foul, Fabricio will deceptively roll with punches as he relinquishes to his back.

Although this may not win him favor with the judges, there is a method the former champ’s madness. The first being Fabricio’s invitation into the ambush that is his guard game. As we’ve seen time and time again, Werdum can not only submit world champions here but more importantly, he creates situations to scramble and sweep his way topside(often utilizing deep-half & X-guard variations out the back door). If Fabricio’s opponents decide not to chase him into deep waters, they inherently let him off the hook if he is in fact hurt, or give him a breather at the very least. This tactic has stifled the best of killer instincts and has allowed Werdum back into many of fights.

That said, it may not come to that as we may see Werdum look to change things up and explore his advantages on the floor. However, Browne has an underrated ground game that was able to keep him safe in their first fight, as I suspect Browne has only gotten better since then. In fact, Travis has shown us glimpses at his ground improvements against Brendan Schaub & Matt Mitrione. Despite both instances involving compromised men, Travis still showed an excellent technical understanding from his time spent with Ricky Lundell & Neil Melanson. From his utilization of the gift-wrap on Brendan Schaub to the sturdiness of his mount against Mitrione, I feel we have yet to see the best from Browne.

None the less, it is hard to like the Hawaiian’s chances on the mat against the world champion grappler. Unless Travis can hurt Werdum first, then he will likely be at an on-paper disadvantage both standing and on the ground. However, if Browne can use his improved boxing and patent front kicks to control the range, he may be able to steal the momentum or land a fight-changing shot. Although I am siding with Werdum, a Browne upset would not surprise me as this is heavyweight MMA. But with both men facing two consecutive losses for the first time in their careers, expect extra high intangibles for this fight as I forecast a tightrope walk between conservation and chaos.

Official Pick: Werdum – Decision

 

Punk1

Phil Brooks (0-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 37 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: N/A”
  • Last Fight: N/A
  • Camp: Roufusport (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: N/A

Supplemental info:
+   Former WWE Pro-Wrestler
+   Limited Karate background
+   BJJ experience
+/-Debuting fighter
–    Lacks athletic or traditional base
?   Questionable overall skill-set

 

Gall1

Mickey Gall (2-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 24 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: N/A”
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Mike Jackson (2-6-16)
  • Camp: Miller Bros MMA (New Jersey)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Title
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   2 Submission wins
+   2 first round finishes
+   3-0 as an Amateur

Summary:

In a unique main card attraction, Phil Brooks(aka “CM Punk“) will make his long-awaited MMA debut against Mickey Gall. A straight edge punk rocker who seemingly found success as a pro wrestler in the WWE, Phil Brooks is about as unlikely a competitor you will find on a UFC main card. Although the Ohio Athletic Commission recently likened CM Punk to Brock Lesnar, Phil Brooks does not come from a collegiate wrestling, nor athletic background. Although Brooks does have limited experience in Karate, and more relevantly Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, the man formally known as Punk will have his work cut out for him.

Enter Mickey Gall, a professional debutant who was able to capitalize on the UFC Fight Pass show, “Looking for a Fight”. There, we saw Mickey Gall introduced to the MMA mainstream as the New Jersey native was quick to call out CM Punk following a win where Dana White was in the audience. Although his organizational debut against Mike Jackson was faster than his first professional fight, Mickey Gall showed us that he is serious about competing in this sport. In fact, Gall is going about his career in an ideal fashion as the 24-year old has already gained a decent amount of experience. Traveling between multiple Gyms in the tri-state area, Gall is Brown Belt in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu as well as ranked in Muay Thai.

Mickey has also competed in many grappling tournaments as he shows a solid ground game from top and bottom. Ultimately, you do not have to analyze this deeply to see who holds the clear on-paper advantages. As a former straight edge punk rocker who is addicted to challenges, I can understand and appreciate what Phil Brooks is trying to accomplish. But as someone who has also competed in combat sports and martial arts for the last twenty years, it is not difficult to see the level Brooks is at through the limited footage that is available. Even within the pro wrestling world, Punk was more of an entertainer than an acrobat. I don’t even know what my expectations are for this fight, except to say that I do indeed wish Phil Brooks well.

Official Pick: Gall – Inside the distance

 

Faber3

Urijah Faber (33-9)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 37 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Dominick Cruz (6-2-16)
  • Camp: Team Alpha Male (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   WEC Featherweight Title
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   Wrestling Base
+   9 KO victories
+   17 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   Fast hand & foot speed
^   Deceptively closes distance
+   Dangerous right hand
^   Counters well
+   Good knees & elbows in clinch
^   Strikes well of the break
+   Solid takedown ability
+   Superb scrambler
^   Deadly chokes & active back takes
+/-Heavily reliant on reaction times

 

Jimmie7

Jimmie Rivera (19-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 27 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 68.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Iuri Alcantara (1-30-16)
  • Camp: Team Tiger Schulmann (New Jersey)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   3rd-degree Black Belt(Tiger Schulmann)
+   4 KO victories
+   2 first round finishes
+   2 Submission wins
+   KO Power
+   Good footwork
^   Manages distance well
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Solid combination striker
^   Mixes in kicks & body work
+   Excellent awareness inside pocket
+   Solid wrestling ability
^   100% Takedown defense
+   Intelligent inside the scramble
+/-Aggressive in exchanges

Summary:

In a potential fight of the night matchup, Urijah Faber will face-off against a rising contender in Jimmie Rivera. A legend of the lighter weight classes for some time now, Urijah Faber recently sounded uncertain about his future after coming up short in another bid for the title. Still appearing to be in the best shape of his career, the California Kid has decided to keep going as he looks to fend off yet another young lion. Despite coming up short in a featherweight stint on season 14 of the Ultimate Fighter against show Finalist Dennis Bermudez, Jimmie Rivera has not suffered an official defeat in 8-years. Now receiving the biggest showcase of his career, Rivera will look to capitalize on an opportunity against one of the sports greatest.

Although I do think highly of Urijah Faber, I feel this may be a tough matchup for him stylistically. Looking back at Faber’s career, Urijah has traditionally struggled with fighters who can match his wrestling ability(nullifying the grappling exchanges) and outwork him on the feet. Although Urijah’s speed often evened the playing field, those attributes can be difficult to rely upon as you age in a lighter weight division. Enter Jimmie Rivera, who despite being stout and well-muscled for a bantamweight, moves deceptively well as the New Jersey native grew up with wrestling and martial arts. A 3rd-degree black belt under Tiger Schulmann, Jimmie’s kickboxing chops shine through as he melds a traditional boxing arsenal disguised behind slick kicks and fundamental footwork.

Although Rivera is aggressive in nature, he does his best work countering inside the pocket and off the breaks. Throwing strikes in an intercepting effort, Rivera will meet his opposition’s attacks as his slight angles and slips inside often allow him to punctuate the exchanges. This countering style could be effective against Faber, who’s darting attacks fueled by his speed make him difficult to time. If Faber is not careful, he may find himself landing the initial shots only to be followed-up on as he leaves the pocket(in a similar fashion to his fight with Frankie Edgar). Although Rivera’s left hook is punch he prefers to punctuate with, I feel that the uppercut may be the punch to look out for in this fight.

A possible carry-over from his level-changing takedown feints, Faber’s head will often come dangerously low and forward on his entries. Not only can you see this cost him uppercuts in his battles with Dominick Cruz, but Urijah was also caught similarly in recent bouts with Frankie Saenz & Cisco Rivera. As we saw in Jimmie’s fight with Pedro Munhoz, Rivera will dust off his uppercuts when facing other orthodox fighters as I suspect this will be something he looks for against Urijah. Despite Faber’s offense often being criticized for its predictability, his patent right hand will be live in this matchup. Although Jimmie keeps a good sense of things in the pocket, his propensity to trade often leaves him open for counters by nature.

Both Iuri Alcantara and Pedro Munhoz found success with counter shots as they were each able to drop Jimmie in their fights. Although Rivera has shown an ability to absorb and recover quickly, he will be playing with fire should he show any signs of weakness against the killer instinct of Faber. That said, I feel that Rivera should have the clearer advantage in the striking realm the longer this fight goes. Urijah’s best chance in this matchup will be testing the grappling skills of Jimmie Rivera. Although Jimmie shows solid wrestling chops and superb takedown defense, even Faber’s failed attempts will force Rivera to work, and possibly wear on that thick frame of his.

Even though Faber is probably the more diverse clinch fighter, Rivera may have the perfect style to stifle him. In a straightforward clinch battle of striking and wrestling, Urijah can hold his own just fine with the division’s best. However, when facing said wrestling stylists like Cruz or Edgar, we have seen the body lock to tight-waist style clinch do wonders in regards to killing Faber’s game. Given that this is a position where Rivera has shown to embrace(most recently in his Alcantara fight), I would not be surprised to see Jimmie use this in close to nullify Faber’s striking and scrambling ability. However, it is in the scramble where Urijah will have his best chances to win this fight.

Despite Rivera having excellent takedown defense, he tends to do so using classic wrestling tools like bellying-down or turtling-out. Although these are effective techniques to stand, they tend to show your back which is the last thing you want to do against an active back taker like Faber. That said, Rivera shows some scrambling ability of his own, as we have already seen him tested against two of the division’s best BJJ Black Belts in Munhoz & Alcantara. Even though an upset win for Faber is well within grasp, I see his reliance on speed costing him as that is the fastest fleeting commodity for an aging bantamweight. Ultimately, I see Rivera having the right of way in this crossroads fight.

Official Pick: Rivera – Decision

 

Andrade1

Jessica Andrade (14-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’2″ Age: 24 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 62″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Jessica Penne (6-4-16)
  • Camp: Parana Vale Tudo (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   Muay Thai Blue Belt
+   5 KO victories
+   6 Submission wins
+   6 first round finishes
+   Aggressive pace & output
+   Heavy hands
+   Improved striking combos
^   Variates to the body
+   Solid pressure against fence
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Trips, throws, strikes off breaks
+   Good top game
^   Strikes & pressure passes
+/-Willingness to exchange

 

UFC Fight Night Weigh-in

Joanne Calderwood (11-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 29 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 66.5″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Valerie Letourneau (6-18-16)
  • Camp: Tristar Gym (Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Blue Belt JJ
+   19-2 as Pro Kickboxer
+   5 KO victories
+   3 first round finishes
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Throws w/volume & variety
^   Variates well to body
+   Accurate knees & teeps
^   In-close/off the shuffle
+   Strong clinch game
^   Solid elbows, knees, & trips
+   Underrated grappling
^   Good positional awareness
+   Improved wrestling
+/-Willingness to exchange

Summary:

Kicking off the main card of UFC 203 is a fun scrap in the strawweight division as Jessica Andrade meets Joanne Calderwood. A former usual suspect in the bantamweight division, Jessica Andrade will be making her second appearance in her new home of 115-pounds. Looking like an instant contender in her debut against Jessica Penne earlier this year, Andrade will make a huge statement to the division if she can beat Joanne Calderwood. A fan-favorite coming off season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter, Calderwood had a slower start than expected as the initial number two seed. With camp changes and personal problems now behind her, Joanne will look to take a step closer to the top should she get past another tough test.

With this fight, in my opinion, being the most tightly contested match on the card, I do not blame you for not having confidence in your pick as I admittedly do not have much in mine. That said, there are some distinct pathways and advantages each fighter will have over the other on paper. At a distance, Calderwood commands an impressive, and seemingly growing arsenal of attacks. Whether it’s her knees and Thai kicks off of the shuffle or her newly sharpened spinning attacks, Joanne will have a good a choice of weaponry as she should hold the advantage at range. With that in mind, I expect Calderwood’s patent teep kick to be at play as well as her improved jab.

Although Andrade has typically shown to take shots well, she is more than hittable at range as I am sure Calderwood will be quick to test her as long as it remains there. Usually using her teep kick to initiate the action, Calderwood will often use her jab to punch of out exchanges, almost as a check. These tools will undoubtedly be crucial for Calderwood, especially considering that she is facing a fast starting pressure fighter. Consistently coming out like a bull in the China shop, Andrade’s pressure-fighting may be even more imposing at strawweight. An equivalent to the female John Lineker, Andrade is most optimal when able to push her opposition toward the cage.

Once able to get her opponent in between the fence and inner black Octagon lines, Andrade will unleash in left-to-right continuums as she variates well to the body. Given that Calderwood was stifled in similar scenarios against Maryna Moroz & Cortney Casey, the path should be clear for the fast-starting Brazilian. That said, the slow starts of Calderwood(a carry-over from traditional Muay Thai), did not show themselves in her last outing as we saw distinct improvements to her game. Now training with Firas Zihabi at Tristar Gym for the better part of a calendar year, Calderwood gave us glimpses of her growth against Valerie Letourneau.

Calderwood showed upgrades in her wrestling ability, jab fundamentals, and ring generalship as these are all staples Firas Zihabi instills in his fighters. Joanne will need these improvements and more, especially if she finds herself pinned to the fence by Andrade’s pressure. That brings us to the key factor in this fight, the clinch game. Both women are deceptively effective clinch fighters, but with different approaches. Although the arsenal advantage should go to the more technical Thai fighter in Calderwood, the stout frame of Andrade may stifle much of the offense. Given that both fighters favor outside trips and tosses, it will be interesting to see who wins out that battle as I feel landing takedowns will be crucial in a fight this close.

Although Calderwood’s base & balance from Muay Thai translates well to her takedown defense, she hasn’t faced a fighter who will force the issue like Andrade. Should the Brazilian get on top, Joanne will have opportunities to submit or stand as Andrade tends to rely on baiting submissions to open up her passes. Should Calderwood get topside, we could see her force her positional ground & pound to wear down Andrade, as she has shown to slow as fights wear on. With one fighter having more tools to win and the other having a clearer path, the intangibles of this matchup justifiably earn its spot on my fights to avoid list. Although an Andrade victory would not surprise me in the least, I will be siding with Calderwood to survive the storm early and come alive late.

Official Pick: Calderwood – Decision

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Eye def. Correia
  • Tavares def. Magalhaes
  • Lentz def. McBride
  • McCall def. Borg
  • Medeiros def. Spencer
  • Dolloway def. Barroso
  • Dober def. Gonzales
  • Hadzovic def. Kasuya

Recommended Plays:

Draft Kings recommended rosters:

 

Team #1: $48,700.00

-Fabricio Werdum ($10,700.00)
-Brad Tavares ($9,800.00)
-Jimmie Rivera ($9,700.00)
-Alistair Overeem ($9,600.00)
-Sean Spencer ($8,900.00)

Team Summary:

For my first Draft Kings roster recommendations, I elected to with Fabricio Werdum, Brad Tavares, and Jimmie Rivera as my high-tier favorites. Coming in as the 3rd highest average point scorer on the card at 73.773, Fabricio Werdum makes for a solid pick at $10,700.00 as my breakdown above also concurs that the Brazilian is favored to win. Secondly, I elected to go with Brad Tavares as I feel he is in a stylistically favorable matchup against Caio Magalhaes. Although Caio has knockout power and better Jiu-jitsu on paper, I feel that Tavares’ wrestling is very underrated as I seem him shutting the Brazilian down. With better striking, athleticism, and knockout power as well, I believe that Tavares is worth the $9,800.00 as he will likely outlast and finish Magalhaes. Finally, I went with Jimmie Rivera as I see him having a stylistic edge against Faber. Although I am predicting Rivera by decision, the New Jersey native has the power to put Urijah away, or at the very least score enough takedowns and significant strikes to justify the $9,700.00 price tag.

Lastly, for my low-tier underdog picks, I went with Alistair Overeem and Sean Spencer. For the reasons stated in my breakdown above, I feel that Alistair Overeem has more ways to win than Miocic does on paper. Couple that with the fact that this is a 5-round main event, the Reem is one of the more valuable dogs for the price of $9,600.00. Finally, I went with Sean Spencer as he will more than likely be involved in a high-stakes striking match with Yancy Medeiros. Although I officially picked the Hawaiian, this is tight matchup due to the stylistic nature of this fight. Considering that Medeiros has been dropped in 3 of his last 4-fights, Spencer may make a solid choice at $8,900.00 to round out an expensive lineup.

Team #2: $49,400.00

-Mickey Gall ($11,400.00)
-Stipe Miocic ($10,000.00)
-Brad Tavares ($9,800.00)
-Joanne Calderwood ($9,500.00)
-Travis Browne ($8,700.00)

Team Summary:

For my second Draft Kings roster recommendations, I went with Mickey Gall, Stipe Miocic, and Brad Tavares. For the reasons stated above, Mickey Gall is heavily favored to find a finish in a fight with a do-or-die undertone. Although he is the most expensively listed at $11,400.00, Gall could score big on fight night should you budget your roster appropriately. Secondly, I went with Stipe Miocic as he is the favored fighter in the 5-round main event. Although I officially sided with Overeem, a Stipe victory would not surprise me as it would likely come in the form of a knockout. Miocic is also the highest average point score on the card at 84.364 as he is well-worth the $10,000.00 price tag. Lastly, I went with Brad Tavares for the reasons listed in the summary above.

For my low-tier underdog picks, I elected to go with Joanne Calderwood and Travis Browne. Quietly carrying the second highest points average on the card at 73.375, I feel that Joanne Calderwood is a live dog in what should be an action-filled affair Lastly, I went with Travis Browne as he is also a live dog who is the participant in a heavyweight fight. Although I officially went with Werdum, Browne’s power and improved technique make him well worth a shot shore up your lineup at the price of $8,700.00.

Props worth looking at(5Dimes.eu):

-Rivera by Decision: +165 (1 Unit)
-Dolloway/Barroso over 2 1/2: -145 (1 Unit)
-Eye by Decision: +150 (1 Unit)
-Werdum/Browne over 2 1/2: +110 (0.5 Unit)

Playable favorites for your parlays:

-Brad Tavares
-Jimmie Rivera
-Nik Lentz

Fights to avoid:

-Yancy Medeiros vs Sean Spencer
-Jessica Andrade vs Joanne Calderwood
-Ian McCall vs Ray Borg

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

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UFC 216 Breakdown: Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee

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As a fight fan, you can’t ask for a much better match up than Tony Ferguson vs Kevin Lee.

This match up is easily one of the most fascinating ones of the year, and with the interim lightweight title on the line, the stake doesn’t get much higher. But the bigger meaning of the fight lies in that fact that a clear number one contender will be determined to virtually guarantee a future opportunity at the current champion, Conor McGregor.

The talks of McGregor next facing rival Nate Diaz next have been circulating for the past few weeks, but once this fight between Ferguson and Lee concludes, and someone walks out of the arena on Saturday with that interim championship around their waist, they will be very hard to deny for McGregor.

Although this fight is a very exciting match up, on paper, it may deceive some people as a mismatch, since Lee’s resume of wins doesn’t include too many top contenders. His biggest win was against Michael Chiesa in June of this year, Chiesa was ranked 6th at the time. But let’s look deeper into it and see what makes this one a must-see fight.

Where Ferguson Flourishes

Ferguson and Lee may be stylistically two completely different fighters, but their ground games and grappling are both extremely high level, possibly the top 3 in the division, a list that can’t leave out Khabib Nurmagomedov. In the grappling department, it is hard to decide a winner here.

Even about five months ago, I would have leaned towards Ferguson, but watching Lee take control against a high level grappler like Chiesa the way he did was beyond belief to be honest. Ferguson will have his hands full if the fight hits the canvas, and likewise for Lee. However, if there is one thing that Lee needs to watch out against Ferguson, it is the unorthodox style he brings, even in the grappling.

“El Cucuy” is a bizarre fighter, but in a good way. Watch him fight against Edson Barboza and do a couple of imanari rolls. Watch him roll while on the bottom against dos Anjos. It is mind-blowing how good he is with such peculiarity and Lee can’t overlook that.

With that being said, advantages for ‘El Cucuy’ are quite clear: Stand-up, cardio and experience. Ferguson showed time and time again what a well-rounded fighter he is, and his record shows it too. Out of 17 finishes on his win column, 9 of them are by knockout and 8 are by submission. He really is a fighter who can do it all.

Tony Ferguson defeated Rafael dos Anjos via Unanimous Decision in November of 2016 at UFC Mexico City.

We also know that his cardio is exceptional, this was displayed in his fight against Rafael dos Anjos, where he went five hard rounds with the former champion in Mexico City, at an altitude of 7,382 feet. Just to give an idea of how high that is, Colorado’s altitude is 6,035 feet.

Ferguson knows what it is like to be in the deep waters. But when a fairly young fighter such as Lee reaches the later rounds, nobody knows how he will respond to the situation, so Ferguson has his advantages in the experience department laid out clearly.

Don’t Count Out Kevin Lee

‘The Motown Phenom’, on the other hand, is a completely different fighter with different strengths. He possesses advantages in the physical department, career mileage, and in the fact that he has less pressure going into the fight. The physical advantage is the most obvious one for Lee. He has spoken before on the fact that he cuts from about 180-pounds, where Ferguson has talked about him being capable of making 145-pounds.

Ferguson may be taller, but it is not difficult to see that Lee is bigger when they stand next to each other. Lee’s second advantage comes from the fact that he is not as battle-tested. In a way, it could be a disadvantage, but he has taken considerably less amount of damage throughout his career compared to Ferguson. The last advantage for Lee listed was explained more specifically on my article ‘Tony Ferguson can’t afford to lose at UFC 216’. Feel free to go and check it out.

Kevin Lee defeated Michael Chiesa by first round submission (rear-naked choke) at UFC Oklahoma City in June 2017.

Now that both guys’ assets are laid out for this fight, it’s time to make a prediction.

Time and time again leading up to this fight, I’ve heard people say that this fight is going to end in a submission, and most say it’s going to come from Ferguson. I would agree with that but here’s one thing. As previously mentioned, Lee’s grappling is top-notch and he is brilliant defensively. This was evidenced when he was on the bottom against Michael Chiesa, a position in which he was easily able to escape.

I don’t believe Lee is a fighter that can be easily submitted. But here’s what I agree with most on: I also see Ferguson winning, because of his experience, cardio, and definitely unpredictability. Kevin Lee, while he is a very talented fighter, I believe it is just a tad bit too early for him at this moment.

Prediction: Tony Ferguson def. Kevin Lee via TKO (punches) in the 5th round.

 

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UFC 216 Breakdown: Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg

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If Demetrious Johnson is able to defend his flyweight title this Saturday at UFC 216, it will be an attempt to break a major record, as he will then have defended his belt for the 11th consecutive time.

It is a remarkable record that he attempts to break, which is currently being held by Johnson and the former middleweight champion Anderson Silva, at 10.

When this fight was first announced for UFC 215, the reactions from the fans were not exactly what the UFC hoped it would be. There were two possible reasons for this, and maybe even both:

1) The talks of Johnson defending his title against T.J. Dillashaw was roaming around at the time, which got fans excited, only to disappoint them in the end when it wasn’t finalized.

2) Ray Borg is not necessarily a fighter that fans are dying to see yet, mainly because he is not the most marketable fighter and he is very young, which made us ask, “Is he ready for this opportunity?”

However, there is one thing we must keep in mind when looking at a fight between a dominant champion and a young rising contender: Expect the unexpected. We saw it last December when Dominick Cruz fought Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207. Who would have ever thought that Garbrandt would be able to outclass Cruz the way he did?

Cody Garbrandt provided yet another shock title change when he defeated Dominick Cruz at UFC 207 in December of 2016.

But don’t get it mistaken. ‘Can’ doesn’t mean ‘will’. And although Borg could shock the world in this fight, it is way more reasonable to lean towards Johnson. After all, if we are being honest, ‘Mighty Mouse’ is the closest thing to a perfect fighter. The only times he lost was to Brad Pickett, which was seven years ago, and to Dominick Cruz, who unlike ‘DJ’ is a natural bantamweight.

This is a tough fight for Borg. The only way for him to win is either catch Johnson with a big shot and finish him or keep up a ridiculous pace for 5 rounds straight and outmatch the champion with skills.

Borg is at a couple of disadvantages here, one being his cardio. “The Tazmexican Devil” has previously shown that he often has a tough time making the 125-pound weight limit, and if you add that to the fact that he never fought past three rounds, his cardio is in question. Whether he will be able to keep up with Johnson, who can put on a ridiculous pace for 25-minutes straight, remains to be seen.

Also, we never know what is going through a fighter’s head, so it will be interesting to see how Borg performs under pressure. He’s never had a title shot, and Johnson has been in the same spot 12-times in his career, so experience also goes to Johnson.

Ultimately, I’m leaning towards the champion in this fight. I do like Borg and what he brings to the table, however, too many questions are unanswered about Borg at this point to pick him over Demetrious Johnson.

Prediction: Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg via Unanimous Decision.

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UFC 215 Main Card Breakdown

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The UFC makes its return to Canada as current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson looks to break the record for most successful, consecutive, title defenses, against Ray Borg. Also on the card is a women’s bantamweight title fight between champion Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko, Gilbert Melendez makes his featherweight debut against power puncher Jeremy Stephens, Ilir Latifi looks to bounce back against Tyson Pedro, and Rafael dos Anjos looks to continue his welterweight journey against Neil Magny. Let’s take a look and see how it each fight plays out.

Jeremy Stephens vs Gilbert Melendez

Gilbert Melendez is a fighter who has built his career on being a talented boxer and being incredibly strong both in the clinch and the ground. For years he has been a monster for most lightweights to deal with. However, since having joined the UFC from Strikeforce he has gone just 1-4. In his last couple of fights, he has found himself slowed down due to unchecked leg kicks and opponents who are quicker than him. In an attempt to resurrect his career ‘El Nino’ has dropped down to featherweight and will meet former lightweight, himself, Jeremy Stephens. Stephens has made a career out of hitting hard, knocking opponents out with either hands, legs, or even his knees. Stephens is a fighter who excels in the pocket and has the durability to stand toe to toe with almost any opponent. In his last five fights, he has gone 2-3 due to his opponents being quicker than him and keeping him on the end of their punches.

How the fight will go

Gilbert will come into the fight as the stronger fighter with the better grappling game and better control of the Octagon. His excellent boxing will match-up well with Stephens. However, Stephens will come in as the faster fighter, harder puncher, and will already be used to cutting down to 145. Melendez will need to gain control of the Octagon early and keep Stephens against the cage both in the clinch and on the ground, in order to tire out “Lil Heathen”. If he can use his boxing to keep Stephens at the end of his punches, control the Octogan, and stay out of the pocket, it’s his fight to lose. Stephens does his best work in the pocket and although he’s slow for a featherweight he will have the advantage speed wise in this match-up. If he can keep his back off of the cage, gain control of the Octagon, land his powerful leg kicks, and mix up his powerful strikes, then he will have a dog in this fight and can very well pull off the upset.

Prediction

Gilbert Melendez fights very similarly to the way he fought in the Pettis fight. He keeps Stephens’ back against the cage and forces him to the ground every chance he gets in order to tire him out. Stephens occasionally finds success using his speed and power in the pocket but eventually finds himself too tired to stop the stronger Melendez from imposing his game plan. Assuming Gilbert’s first cut 145 goes well, he beats Stephen’s via a close but clear decision to put his career back on track and start his journey at featherweight on the right foot.

Ilir Latifi vs Tyson Pedro

Ilir Latifi is coming off of one of the most brutal knockout losses of 2016. He ate a huge knee from Ryan Bader in the second round of their fight and has not returned to the Octogan since. The Swedish ball of muscle looks to bounce back against the undefeated Australian Tyson Pedro. Tyson Pedro is a fighter who has never experienced anything beyond a first round stoppage win, his fight against Latifi represents his biggest test yet. Latifi is a fighter with a game centered around his incredible strength and power. He is a fighter who brings a calm energy in the cage and an interesting physique. He is only 5’10, the same height as former featherweight Anthony Pettis, what he lacks in height he makes up for with muscle. His muscle alone makes him one of the strongest and most powerful fighters in the UFC. Pedro is one of the tallest fighters in his division, coming in at 6’3 he’s used to being the stronger, taller fighter and likes to smother his opponents both on the ground and in the clinch.

How the fight will go

A lot of Pedro’s advantages come from being the taller, stronger fighter. He likes to keep his opponents at range, eat them up with oblique kicks, clinch up, take them down and find the stoppage. Latifi’s strength means clinching and takedowns won’t be easy. He can over power most opponents and avoid trouble in those areas. Latifi does have a tendency to get stuck on the outside and eat leg kicks, his tendency to rush in can lead to counters, like in the Bader fight. Latifi is an excellent wrestler but has trouble taking his opponents down, often expanding a lot of energy in the process. Pedro has been hurt before by his lack of head movement and that can lead to him taking big shots, Latifi can always find a big shot early on and take the Australian out.

Prediction

This fight will all depend on how the first round goes. If Latifi can find his range early on he can land the knockout shot and finish the Australian. If he can’t, he will find himself on the outside where Pedro will pick him apart with body kicks and oblique kicks and hold him against the fence where the Swede will tire himself out. If Pedro stays patient he can tire out Latifi and score the finish. Pedro scores the upset and finishes an exhausted Latifi in the third round by TKO.

Neil Magny vs Rafael dos Anjos

Rafael dos Anjos looks to win his second fight at welterweight as he faces long time contender Neil Magny. Dos Anjos is coming off of a well-fought decision win against Tarec Saffiedine in a fight that helped him discover how he stacked up against a real welterweight and how his body would hold up. He brings into this fight excellent body and leg kicks that he uses to break down his opponents and slow down their movement. He has a game that is perfectly suited for his height as he uses a lot of pressure and forward movement to make sure he stays on the inside. His excellent ground game has carried over to 170 as he uses his top pressure to smother his opponents. Neil Magny last fought against Johny Hendricks in a fight where he used his long range better and showed a new technique with his kicks to create range. Magny’s game uses excellent cardio, as well as good footwork and movement. He’s starting to better understand how to use his long and tall body. He also uses his long legs to create triangle attempts from the bottom.

How the fight plays out

If Magny can use his height and reach correctly he can leave Dos Anjos stuck on the outside, as well as using his footwork to ensure he doesn’t take too many shots. His cardio will keep him fresh throughout the three rounds and he can use that to his advantage if dos Anjos tires out. Dos Anjos will look to use his leg kicks to stop Magny’s footwork as well as use his powerful body kicks to sap his cardio. Dos Anjos’ pressure based game could very well negate Magny’s reach advantage and his smothering top game would keep Magny from using his reach.

Prediction

Although Magny has the tools to beat dos Anjos, the Brazilian remains an elite fighter even at welterweight. Dos Anjos uses his leg and body kicks to slow down Magny as well as using his wrestling to tire the American out. Dos Anjos has fought tall opponents in the past and knows how to use his forward pressure to remove the reach advantage, as he did against Donald Cerrone and Nate Diaz. The former lightweight champion takes a decision win and moves to 2-0 at welterweight.

Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko

Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko meet for the second time after fighting each other at UFC 196. The first fight ended in a close 29-28 decision win for the now champion Nunes. Nunes is a long and rangy kickboxer who likes to fight at range, where she uses her jab and cross keep her opponents back. She has been known to finish most of her fights early on, however, if she fails to do so she has a tendency to get tired, gas out, and get finished herself. Shevchenko, although undersized at 5’5, has been beating her opponents using her ever evolving ground game and her excellent Muay-Thai. Her patience and forcing her opponents to lead has brought her victories over top contenders like Holly Holm and Julianna Pena.

How the fight plays out

Amanda Nunes used her strength on the ground to beat Shevchenko in the first two rounds the last time they fought. Nunes didn’t have a whole lot of success on the feet as she was overpowered in the clinch and found herself having trouble with Shevchenko’s patience and lack of counter opportunities. Nunes’ ground game, while she was still fresh, was very dangerous last time out, nasty ground and pound as well as multiple submission attempts. However in the third round of their fight Nunes gassed and found herself too exhausted to overpower her opponent like she had done in the first rounds and found herself eating a lot of shots on the ground and in the clinch. If early on she can force Shevchenko to the ground and use her strength, she can find a submission or a ground and pound TKO. However, if she can’t, she’ll find herself getting tired in the later rounds and seeing her window for victory closing. This fight, being five rounds, heavily favors Shevchenko and her ever evolving game.

Prediction

Much like in their first fight Shevchenko will stay patient and lose the early rounds. Her lack of activity hurt her last time out as well as Nunes’ aggressive ground game. If Nunes can use her strength early on, she can take Shevchenko down and have her way with her as she looks for the early finish. If Shevchenko can weather the early storm, she can take advantage of her tired opponent and finish her late. Shevchenko will force Nunes to lead and although she’ll have to weather the early storm, her patience will eventually pay off as her opponent tires herself out. Valentina Shevchenko finishes an exhausted Amanda Nunes in the fourth round by TKO to become the new women’s bantamweight champion.

Demetrious Johnson vs Ray Borg

Current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson takes on Ray Borg in an attempt to break the record for most successful consecutive title defenses. His 11th title defense comes against skilled wrestler Ray Borg and his ever evolving striking. Johnson brings to the Octagon one of the most well-rounded games in all of MMA. His excellent stand up paired with his world class grappling has not failed him at 125. His excellent footwork has always troubled his opponents and his lack of clear weaknesses means it’s difficult to exploit problems in his game. Ray Borg started his career as a world class grappler who would immediately take his opponents down and smother them until the fight was over or he was able to find a submission. His striking used to be a big weakness in his game until he started training with Brandon Gibson.

How the fight plays out

Ray Borg used to start his fights by immediately taking his opponents down and smothering them. Now that his striking improved he’s content with staying on the feet and striking with his opponents. This is where he will have problems against Johnson, Johnson is the much quicker fighter out of the two and will keep Borg on the outside. Borg’s incredibly short reach of 63” means he will need to cover a lot of distance, something he struggles with. Borg is not the quickest of flyweights and is a lot slower than Johnson. While Johnson has the bigger advantage on the feet, the wrestling is where it gets tricky. Borg’s ability to find the takedown and stay on his opponent is something he will need to use to tire out Johnson and force him to make a mistake. Johnson’s patience on the ground means he won’t panic if he goes down with Borg and has shown in the past he can easily get back up or even grapple with the best of them. Borg’s gas tank will be a problem in this fight, as Johnson never seems to tire out and is used to going five rounds. If Borg tires, Johnson will completely take over the fight.

Prediction

Borg starts the first round on the feet and ends up getting frustrated as he finds Johnson too quick and gets stuck on the outside. He eventually finds the takedown and forces Johnson to go through some scary moments. Johnson survives the early storm on the ground and starts to run away with the fight in the third round as Borg starts to tire. Although the fight will be close on the ground, it’s obvious Johnson has all the advantages in the standup. Demetrious Johnson beats Ray Borg by unanimous decision to break the record for most successful title defenses in a row.

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