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UFC 206: Holloway vs. Pettis Breakdown

Dan Tom

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Max Holloway (16-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 25 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Ricardo Lamas (6-4-16)
  • Camp: Hawaii Elite MMA (Waianae, HI)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Excellent

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   6 KO victories
+   2 Submission wins
+   3 first round finishes
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Manages distance well
+   Superb feints & footwork
^   Moves laterally / attacks off angles
+   Excellent shot selection & variety
+   Improved wrestling (82% TD defense)
+   Deceptively counter-clinches/grapples
^   Strikes well of the breaks
+   Underrated ground game
^   Dangerous submissions in transition

 

Anthony Pettis (19-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 29 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Charles Oliveira (8-27-16)
  • Camp: Roufusport (Milwuakee, WI)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC Lightweight Champion
+   WEC Lightweight Title
+   9 KO victories
+   7 Submission wins
+   12 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Athletic & agile
+   Good footwork & feints
+   Improved boxing
^   Accurate counter cross
+   Diverse kicking game
^   Dangerous body attacks
+   Improved wrestling ability
+   Active from the bottom
^   Slick submission setups

Summary:

Serving as the newly minted main event for UFC 206, Max Holloway will take on Anthony Pettis for an interim featherweight title. With the UFC long having a holdup atop the featherweight division, the organization has seemingly stripped Conor McGregor of his belt, which will now go to Jose Aldo who awaits this fight’s winner. For Max Holloway, this is a chance to cement his status amongst the top of the division as he is riding the wave of a 9-fight winning streak. For Anthony Pettis, this is a chance to fast-track his goal of holding gold in two divisions as this will be the former champion’s second fight at 145-pounds.

As their on-paper stylings would suggest, I suspect the majority of this fight will be on the feet. Although both men are highly skilled strikers, I believe the former lightweight champ should have a slight edge within the kicking realm. Coming from a Tae Kwon Do base, Anthony Pettis has been able to bring in a spectacular array of kicking attacks into the cage. Balancing out his traditional stylings under the tutelage of Duke Roufus, we have seen Pettis round out his attacks with punches and feints to help set up his fight-ending kicks. As flashy as some of the kicks on his highlight reel may be, Anthony’s body kick is probably his best tool as he can unload them from either stance.

Although Anthony’s ability to read and react to his opposition is impressive, he will have all he can handle in trying to get a beat on the consistently moving Hawaiian. Showing solid striking and footwork fundamentals since coming onto the scene, we saw Max Holloway turn a corner in his Cub Swanson fight. Now demonstrating technical evolutions from fight-to-fight, Holloway is embracing his creativity and range in his movements and attacks. Subtly switching stances as he shifts laterally, Max will deceptively draw his opposition into reacting as he executes attacks that catch them off guard. Showing superb timing, Holloway will usually wait until his opposition is in mid-motion before attacking and angling off safely.

Despite Pettis being the more dangerous fighter at range, I feel that Holloway’s movement and ability to dictate distance may compromise the former champion’s shot selections. Max is also the more consistent striker both offensively and off of the counter as I see him having the advantage at boxing range. That said, the Hawaiian will need to mind the counter cross from Pettis, as that is his most accurate punch. Making measurable improvements to his boxing in the past few years, Anthony’s counter right-hand has been his most consistent weapon in both victory and defeat. Although Holloway is seldom caught clean or hurt, we saw him hit by hard counter crosses from Ricardo Lamas in his last bout as this may be worth looking out for in this fight.

Even though I do not see much of this match happening on the floor, I believe Anthony will be the man with more motive to take it there as he has the on-paper advantages. Long known for his attacks off of his back, Pettis has worked diligently on his wrestling with Izi Martinez in effort combat the top-pressure at the upper echelon of the sport. And though many may focus on Anthony’s shortcomings in said department, he has made measurable improvements to his overall wrestling fundamentals. In fact, the former champ has a decent reactive shot that may be worth watching for in this fight. That said, he will not have an easy time taking down Holloway as the Hawaiian has only been taken down 3-times in the past 3-years.

Considering how often the Hawaiian competes, that stat is especially impressive as Holloway only seems to get better from fight-to-fight. Not only does Max show the balance and defense to stuff takedowns, but he also shows an excellent awareness of how to conduct his hips and grips in close. Deceptively hand-fighting to counter clinches and grappling efforts, Holloway demonstrates a knack for striking off the break as this will be worth watching for in this fight. Pettis will also have to mind his behaviors off of failed shot attempts given what we saw in Max’s last time out. Having his takedown defense tested by one of the best grapplers in the division, Holloway would successfully thwart the shots of Lamas while re-wrestling his way to ride positions.

Where this road of potential possibilities begins to split for me is when looking at Pettis’ head movement. Although Anthony has made improvements in slipping at the end of combos, he still shows the defensive tendencies from his past. Coming from his aforementioned traditional martial arts base, Pettis tends to rely on his fleet-of-foot reactions and trunk movement to manage his defensive distancing. Against faster fighters like Rafael Dos Anjos or Edson Barboza, these tendencies translated into the former champion taking more shots than usual. Not only will Pettis have another fast-fighter on his hands in Holloway, but the Hawaiian is also longer with arguably better footwork as I see him dictating the terms of the action. Couple that with the accuracy of Max’s shot selection, and I ultimately see the Hawaiian stacking up the volume en route to a statement-making performance.

Official Pick: Holloway – Decision

 

Donald Cerrone (31-7)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 33 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Rick Story (8-20-16)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Multiple Muay Thai Titles
+   28-0 as a Pro Kickboxer
+   7 KO victories
+   16 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Intelligent strike setups
^   Feints, reads, and reacts
+   Devastating head kicks
+   Accurate & intercepting knees
+   Hard leg kicks
^   Most landed in UFC history
+   Underrated wrestling ability
+   Excellent transitional grappler
^   Favors triangle chokes
–    Head & posture often upright
^   Overhand & body shot availabilities

 

Matt Brown (20-15)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 35 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / Jake Ellenberger (7-30-16)
  • Camp: Elevation Fight Team (Denver, CO)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 7 Alum
+   Regional MMA Title
+   13 KO victories
+   7 Submission wins
+   8 first round finishes
+   Relentless pace & pressure
+   Strong volume & variety
+   Deceptive fight IQ
^   Creates & capitalizes on scrambles
+   Excellent clinch striker
^   Dangerous elbows
+   Improved wrestling
+   Active guard game
^   Sets up submissions & sweeps
+   Scrambles well
–    Aggression allows for counters
^   Dropped/stunned in last 6/8 fights

Summary:

The co-main event in Toronto is a war of welterweight gunslingers as Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone takes on Matt “The Immortal” Brown. Originally scheduled to face Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 205, Cowboy Cerrone was unfortunately pulled off the legendary card when his opponent failed to make weight. Now drawing a big slot against a name opponent, Cowboy will seek to make a statement to the division’s top-5 with a win here. Coming off the first TKO loss of his career, Matt Brown will look to get back on the horse as he attempts to halt Cerrone’s rise.

In the striking department, both fighter’s skills point to a potential Muay Thai maelstrom. With each man having unique advantages over each other, Cowboy should have the edge when striking at distance. Embracing his frame and kickboxing base, Cerrone does an excellent job of using teeps and legs kicks at range. Mixing in punches appropriately, Cowboy will draw out his opposition’s defenses to set up fight-ending head kicks. When his opponent tries to close-in on Cerrone’s preferred range, Cowboy will intercept them with accurate check-knees up the middle.

Despite these techniques working well against lighter weight fighters, Donald would need to upgrade his game to counter the pressure from bigger, stronger welterweights, and he did just that. Enter Brandon Gibson, the quiet storm in the striking department at Jackson-Wink MMA, as his help has shown in this recent iteration of Cerrone. Moving his head and torso offline and at angles, Cowboy will unload his punches with different mechanics than before–as he now has more of a presence inside the pocket. Often punching his way out of exchanges with his left-hook, Cerrone will feed his newfound flow it into his patent head kicks as his arsenal is much more symbiotic.

Even though Donald is showing a solid technical-renaissance, he will still need to mind the areas that have traditionally plagued him. Despite Cowboy’s improvements to his head movement, he still tends to get upright as this will typically open him up to overhands and body shots. Although Brown lacks the liver kicks that have shown to stop Cowboy in the past, he does have a left hook that he likes to throw in succession as he variates it well to the body. Matt also has an overhand right worth watching for, as we have seen him blitz and dust his opposition in the opening stanzas.

Despite Brown’s power and technique not being amongst the divisions’ best, his ability to pressure is second to none as I see that being a key factor for him in this fight. Willing to walk through a wood chipper, I suspect Brown will not be waiting around for Cowboy to find his rhythm and test his combos. Not only that, but I also feel that Brown will have his biggest striking edge inside the clinch. Treating the clinch like a butcher shop, Brown will utilize all the angles on his elbows to slice away at any available pieces of flesh his opponent leaves open. Mixing in knees, punches, and slick trips, Brown to could turn the tide of this fight in his direction should Cowboy allow him to overstay his welcome.

Even though Cerrone’s clinch game does not have as much of an offensive presence, he does a deceptively good job of maintaining his base and stifling his opponent as he looks to strike off the breaks. Even if Brown is successful in grounding Cowboy, I do not think ground stanzas will last long as I see Cerrone having the advantage. Despite Brown’s multi-faceted ground game, his aggressive eagerness has often cost him dominant positions as well as submission losses. Against a submission specialist like Cerrone who makes his money in transition, I do not like the Immortal’s odds when tangling with Cowboy. Considering that Cerrone has an underrated reactive shot, we could expect to see him explore possibilities on the floor.

From slow starts to southpaw pressure-fighters, Cerrone has conquered many of his traditional tropes since moving to welterweight. And although he has already topped two pressure fighters in Patrick Cote and Rick Story, he will be put to the ultimate test of pressure against a marauding Matt Brown. If Brown can close the distance and create the chaotic environment he thrives in, then we may see an eye-opening upset in the early rounds. That said, it is hard to side with Brown’s chances of not getting burned when seeing that he has been dropped or stunned in 6 of his last 8-fights. Ultimately, I see Cowboy coming out on top of what should be an entertaining gun fight.

Official Pick: Cerrone – Inside the distance

 

Cub Swanson (23-7)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 33 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Tatsuya Kawajiri (8-6-16)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   11 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   7 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Good footwork & movement
^   Stance-switches, shifts, & darts
+   Creative offensive flow
^   From boxing to cartwheel kicks
+/-Often keeps a low standing guard
^   Heavily reliant on head movement
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   Improved hips, frames, & fundamentals
+   Solid transitional grappler
^   Works well from topside

 

Doo Ho Choi (14-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 25 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Thiago Tavares (7-8-16)
  • Camp: Gumi MMA (Korea)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   12 Fight winning streak
+   11 KO victories
+   1 Submission wins
+   8 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Deceptive hand & foot speed
+   Excellent footwork
^   Rarely out of position
+   Preternatural reactive instincts
^   Insanely accurate shot selection
+   Times & intercepts opposition
+   Superb sense of hips & base
^   Sprawls & floats effectively
+   Good transitional ground game
^   Chains submissions to get-ups

Summary:

In a featherweight fight that has hardcore fans salivating, Cub Swanson squares off with Doo Ho Choi. Coming off of a three-round thriller with Tatsuya Kawajiri earlier this year, Cub Swanson seeks to add to his winning streak as he attempts another run toward the top. Standing in Cub’s way will be the fast-rising Doo Ho Choi. One of the most touted prospects to come out of the Asian scene in quite some time, Choi has met all expectations and more since coming to the big show. With getting his wish to fight Cub Swanson, the Korean Super Boy will now face his most dangerous test to date.

Starting off on the feet is an interesting predicament between two skilled-strikers. One man prefers to bait offense and counter, whereas the other likes to use offense to open up counter-opportunities of his own. One of the organization’s more prolific offensive artists, Swanson shows all the attributes you would want in an action-fighter. Although his movements may seem sporadic at times, there is a method to Cub’s madness as he seldom moves against momentum.

Whether he is shifting his stance to throw liver kicks from southpaw or darting off of his favored lead right-hand, Swanson is ultimately looking to initiate the reactions that will allow for his opposition to open themselves up inadvertently. Working with Yoel Diaz for many years, Swanson’s boxing influence shines through in his follow-up punches as he variates brilliantly to the body. That said, I feel that Swanson’s kicking arsenal may come in handy with this particular matchup.

Accurately prodding with inside and outside leg kicks, Cub could certainly test the checking abilities of his South Korean counterpart. That said, he will, of course, need to be weary of the counters Choi keeps at the ready. However, the Korean Super Boy often leans heavily to his left side so that he can stay loaded for his preferred choices of counter shots. This tendency could put Choi in line with Swanson’s attacks from that side, as Cub throws a cartwheel kick off his offensive flow with surprising fluidity.

But, as impressive as Swanson’s arsenal can be, his reliance on being the speedier man could get him burned against a counter striker of this caliber. An unassuming, smirking assassin, Choi operates his overall game with preternatural instincts that are downright spooky. Despite staying close for conservative standards, Choi keeps a measured distance as he hangs just outside of range. Moving deceptively well, Choi maintains his feet beneath him as he will utilize feints to draw out his opposition’s attacks.

Only needing but one or two bites to get a beat on his opponent’s timing, the South Korean will then accurately intercept his oncoming foe with jab-cross-hook variations. Should Choi successfully counter Cub early, we could see him disrupt Swanson’s rhythm and seriously shift the momentum of this match. Even though Cub should have the on-paper advantage on the floor being the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, I doubt we will see much ground time given each fighter’s trends.

Despite Swanson arguably having more of a motive to take this party to the floor, he has only clocked 7-takedown attempts in his last 22-rounds of fighting. Cub will also have to be careful when shooting for takedowns given that Choi is exceptional at intercepting his opposition with knees and uppercuts. The South Korean also displays deceptively effective defense when thwarting takedowns, as I suspect he may make things difficult for Swanson.

Demonstrating an awareness of his opposition’s takedown range and intentions, Choi keeps his hips at the ready as he possesses a strong sprawl. Floating from the top position opportunistically, the South Korean maintains a solid sense of things as he seldom commits himself unnecessarily. Utilizing subtle but effective grip-fighting, Choi disrupts his opposition’s attempts to re-wrestle while dropping bombs from a comfortable cruising altitude(as seen in his fight with Nagakura). Even when the Korean Super Boy is taken down, Choi has demonstrated in past bouts that he is no slouch from here.

Displaying a solid transition game, Choi will intelligently chain together his submission attempts into sweeps or standups. Showing off deceptively strong hips, the Korean pops up with the immediacy and ease of a wrestler. In his last bout, we saw Choi effectively utilize the cage to get back to his feet against a veteran fighter, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt in Thiago Tavares. With the young Korean’s fight-to-fight improvements, ground stanzas will certainly be interesting, even if they are brief. Considering both men’s nature to scramble and stand, I do not expect grappling exchanges to last long no matter who ends up on top.

Where this road of potential chaos becomes clearer to me is when looking at Swanson’s tendencies. Even when at his best, Cub tends to keep his hands low as he relies heavily upon his speed and reaction times. These instincts have cost Cub in the form of strikes and scorecards when facing technically proficient strikers who have a good grasp of timing(Holloway, Edgar, & Stephens). Against a fighter that is possibly more precise and powerful than those aforementioned, Swanson could very well find himself in the fire as I see the Korean Super boy scoring big.

Official Pick: Choi – Inside the distance

 

Tim Kennedy (18-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 37 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / Yoel Romero (9-27-14)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Army Combative LHW Champion
+   BJJ Black Belt
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   8 KO victories
+   6 Submission wins
+   8 first round finishes
+   Heavy hands
+   Accurate shot selection
^   Coming forward & countering
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   Solid takedowns & shot defense
+   Excellent top control
^   Smothers, strikes, submits
+   Superb scrambles & get-ups
+   Strong inside the clinch
–    1st fight in 25 months

 

Kelvin Gastelum (12-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 25 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Johny Hendricks (7-9-16)
  • Camp: Kings MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 17 Winner
+   Wrestling State Champ
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   5 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   5 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   High pressure approach
^   Good volume & combinations
+   Improved boxing
^   Accurate R. hook—L. cross
+   Hard left body kick
+   Solid scrambling ability
^   Always looks for back
+/-Willingness to trade
^   Counter availabilities

Summary:

In an interesting fight in the middleweight division, Tim Kennedy makes his return against Kelvin Gastelum. Originally slated to face Rashad Evans at UFC 205, medical issues forced the former champion off the card, leaving Kennedy without a dance partner in New York. With Toronto following suit in denying Evans a license, Kelvin Gastelum will now step up to his new home of 185-pounds. After failing to make weight at UFC 205, Kelvin will be looking to take a step closer to redeeming himself with a big win against America’s finest.

In one of the most intangible filled fights on the card, it can be tricky when trying to get a beat on how this one will unfold. Although I do agree with Kennedy being favored to win, I feel that Kelvin is more than a live dog here. With weight issues plaguing the majority of his UFC career, it is easy to get lost in the negative narrative of Gastelum when initially assessing his chances in a fight. However, when looking closer at his actual career, Kelvin’s only losses are two split decision’s to top competition that could have gone his way. One of which was to the current champion, Tyron Woodley, in a fight where Kelvin was sick and hospitalized within 24-hours of the event.

That said, Tim Kennedy may be one of his toughest tests stylistically in quite some time. A strong middleweight who is not deterred easily from his tasks, Tim may be able to put Kelvin in positions we have yet to see him in inside of the Octagon. A tactical fighter, Tim will tailor his approach to his opponent as the former sniper stays focused on his objectives. Considering he has a ground advantage on paper, I suspect we may see Kennedy look for takedowns early and often as he did in his fights with Michael Bisping and Melvin Manhoef. Considering that Kelvin has been taken down in 5 of his last 7-fights, it is hard to deny Tim’s chances in grounding Gastelum.

However, Kelvin may not be as easy to takedown as the statistics suggest. Although Tim is not shy in committing himself to his shots off punches, he is most effective when he can get his opposition to the cage. In Gastelum’s fight with Neil Magny, we saw Kelvin surprisingly taken down from the fence multiple times in their match. Even though Magny’s long frame undoubtedly helped his leverage, Neil was ultimately able to work takedowns off of high under-hooks in a similar fashion that Tim likes to score. That said, we saw Kelvin show improvements to this area in his last fight with Johny Hendricks.

Utilizing high and tight over-hooks, Gastelum was able to thwart Johny’s attempts against the fence. Using his free hand to disrupt grips and retain under-hooks, Kelvin was able to reverse position and separate on multiple occasions. Although it will be interesting to see if he can stuff Tim’s attempts, it will be even more interesting if Tim can get Gastelum down. With both men scrambling well, ground stanzas should be fun as each fighter consistently hustles for position. That said, Kennedy has a smothering top game that could prove to be the antithesis for Kelvin’s style of grappling.

Whether Tim is hanging heavy in half-guard or grapevining into his mounts, he leaves little room for rebudle as his transitions are air-tight. Regardless of who is on bottom, both men tend to turtle out when standing, which makes things intriguing when you consider that they both are proficient back takers. Although I can see Tim winning a dogfight within this realm, it is on the feet where my opinions begin to sway. Despite Kennedy being able to do a little bit of everything standing up, he tends to revert to fighting along the outside of the cage when his initial attacks fail.

Although Kennedy is accurate with his counter shots, hanging out along the outside of the fence could ultimately play into Kelvin’s hand as he does his best work when his opponents are in this space. An inherent pressure-fighter, we have recently started to see Gastelum’s skills come to fruition under the tutelage of Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA. Having a history of transforming southpaw grapplers into dangerous pressure-fighting strikers, Cordeiro has seemingly imparted the same knowledge to Kelvin as he now incorporates crushing kicks to his already potent punches.

Staying in the Southern California scene, we have also seen Kelvin make measurable improvements to his boxing and footwork. In his last fight, we saw Gastelum pivot more off of his right hand which allowed him take superior angles and get the jump on Johny. In fact, I feel Kelvin’s right hand will be a key factor in this fight. Tim’s last two losses come to hands of southpaws who were both able to drop him with leaping right hooks. Considering that a leaping right hook is Kelvin’s most consistent and accurate strike, this could be a shot worth looking for on the feet.

That said, the biggest intangible in the striking department will be the potential improvements of Kennedy. Although two years out of competition is troublesome no matter who you are, Tim Kennedy has not exactly been inactive as his background certainly gives him some competitive edges. Tim has also spent a lot of time under the tutelage of Brandon Gibson over the years, which I feel is also worth noting. However, if Kennedy cannot establish himself early on the feet or floor, Kelvin’s output and pressure could turn into a runaway train that earns him scorecards standing. Ultimately, I recommend caution in playing what is one of the harder fights to call on the card.

Official Pick: Gastelum – Decision

 

Jordan Mein (29-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 27 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73.5″
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / Thiago Alves (1-31-15)
  • Camp: Canadian Martial Arts Centre (Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Amateur MMA Accolades
+   16 KO victories
+   7 Submission win
+   19 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Good footwork
^   Will switch stances
+   Solid boxing technique
^   Puts together punches well
+   Accurate left hook
^   Variates well to the body
+   Excellent clinch striker
^   Elbows, knees, & dirty boxing
+   Improved grappling & sub defense
+   Active ground striker
+   Competent takedown ability
+/-1st fight in 23 months

 

Emil Meek (8-2-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 28 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Rousimar Palhares (5-21-16)
  • Camp: Frontline Academy (Norway)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Venator Welterweight Champion
+   7 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   5 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Solid boxing technique
^   Puts together punches well
+   Good head movement
^   Changes level & rolls well w/punches
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Deadly knees, elbows, & dirty boxing
+   Competent takedown ability
^   Explosive double-leg
?   Questionable overall ground game
+/-Aggressive in exchanges
^   Counter availabilities
+/-UFC Debut

Summary:

Kicking off the main card is a firefight as the returning Jordan Mein welcomes Emil Meek to the UFC. Despite his young age, Jordan Mein has been competing in professional MMA since high school as the young gun comes from a fighting family. Retiring after a loss to Thiago Alves almost 2-years ago, Mein will make his return to a mainstage spot as he attempts another ascension up the ranks. Seeking to spoil the homecoming is Emil Meek. Despite Meek being a year older with a fourth of Mein’s experience, the Nordic fighter has stormed the European scene as he now sets his sights on the UFC.

Coming off of a 45-second dusting of former UFC welterweight Rousimar Palhares, Meek made himself known to many as that win put him on the international radar. Although his record is lacking in name value, Emil carries raw, but impressive abilities to go along with a particular type of confidence that draws comparison to Conor McGregor. Despite the ferocity and aggression that often opens up his finishes, Emil shows a surprising amount of technique in his boxing. Prodding with jabs just outside of range, Meek is not shy in exploding forward with cross-hook variations.

Changing his level on feints as well as attacks, Emil demonstrates some solid head movement when he is not going in for the kill. Even when throwing his crosses from the rear, Meek rolls fluidly off of them which typically clears his head from check hook counters. Considering who Emil is facing, these head movements will be crucial for the aggressively advancing Nordic fighter. Although Mein is known for his hooks, it is the diversity in his setups that make him so dangerous. Often switching to southpaw, Mein throws accurate check-hooks from both stances as he pivots appropriately. Given Emil’s pressure-fighting sensibilities, I suspect Mein to lean heavily on his crafty counters in this match.

Never bashful in going to the body, Jordan will variate his hooks with impunity when he senses his opponent is hurt. Even though the Canadian has an aggressive killer instinct and approach, Mein’s technical craft and experience has seemingly molded him into a stick-and-move stylist. Typically prefering to play just outside of range, Jordan will steadily apply pressure as he looks to establish his timing and rhythm. That said, Jordan has traditionally struggled with maintaining his process when pitted against fighters who are not afraid to pressure, as he will need to keep his cool as the likely Matador in this matchup.

Where the striking exchanges get even more interesting is when entering the clinch space. Despite both fighters being effective with similar weapons, Mein is much more technical as he wields wicked elbows that will be worth watching for anytime these two get close. Although more brutish, Emil is equally effective in close range with his dirty boxing and knees. Getting creative with angles, Meek showed us in his last fight that he can get it done with elbows as well. With the clinch fighting also being difficult to forecast, I can only promise that this storm will be violent for as long as it lasts.

If Mein fails to put out the appropriate fires on the feet, we may see him explore his on-paper advantages on the floor. Even though Jordan seldom shoots for takedowns, he does work well from a head-outside single as he shows competent chains from that position. That said, those type of takedowns typically exposes the neck, which in turn could open up a Guillotine choke. Although there is not a huge sample-size on Meek’s ground game, he seems to be strong from the front headlock as he owns Guillotine wins on his professional and amateur record.

Although I do not usually side with the fighter who is making their UFC debut, Meek shows the type of intangibles in his attitude and abilities that play potent parts in a successful debut. Not only that, but I feel that Emil also presents a stylistic matchup that has traditionally troubled Mein. Despite Jordan being much more technically refined, shaking off ring rust and reestablishing rhythm can be tough to do when facing a pressure-fighting madman with crushing power. If you are considering a play on this fight, then I recommend you sprinkle lightly as this shootout can go either way.

Official Pick: Meek – Inside the distance

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Cirkunov def. Krylov
  • Dober def. Aubin-Mercier
  • Letourneau def. Pereira
  • Gagnon def. Lopez
  • Vannata def. Makdessi
  • Khabilov def. Saggo
  • Makovsky def. Ortiz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UFC 217: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Rose Namajunas Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Khabib vs Barboza UFC 219 breakdown

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

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

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

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

I take no credit for this image

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

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

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

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

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