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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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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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