Dare I begin this way but, I think I would be remiss to talk about the presence of a one, Adalaide Byrd, cage-side for UFC 222. To any whom watched the broadcast from beginning to end (or at least tried too), you may already understand this. In addition, no outcome was drastically altered in the vein of deep controversy. But, it goes without saying, her presence among any scored competition should alert the senses.
Looking at her actual scores for the night, I can only say the scores were questionable and only in two of the three fights she scored.
For Dodson vs. Munhoz, I wouldn’t have given a 30-27, but I still thought Dodson won so, I am essentially picking hairs but that is a bad score card. The second score is by most accounts questionable. 29-28 in favor of Yoder, again, not the way I scored it but I am not a judge and the fight was fairly close until the final two minutes or so. Again though, not a good score card.
In no way am I condemning, Adalaide Byrd. I don’t know her, I don’t know much about the extremely controversial score card she submitted at Canelo vs. GGG, but I am aware of her and I believe most should be, if we want to avoid a heart-attack.
With the formalities out-of-the-way, I thought UFC 222 was an entertaining card. As I stated in the Pre-Fight Notes, I thought the card turned out pretty well. Fight fans were given a wide range of emotions last night. Each section of the card (Fight Pass Prelims, FS1 Prelims, Main Card), had at least one can’t miss match-up. Mike Pyle making the walk for the final time in his career against Zak Ottow was a moment most did not want to miss. In reality, it was hard to watch.
Not entirely, because the opening round began typical of two strikers clashing. Then, a couple of minutes went by and Zak Ottow landed an overhand right, knocking Pyle down. From there, it was not a pretty sight. The fight was essentially over but Pyle managed to tie up Ottow for a brief moment before his opponent resumed striking and Herb Dean stopped the bout.
— UFC (@ufc) March 4, 2018
Zak Ottow calls his shot and gets a big win. ‘The Barbarian’ lost his previous fight against Li Jingliang by 1st round TKO. He held a 2-2 UFC record before last night, with two split decision victories.
The FS1 prelims fulfilled the seemingly scheduled controversy that comes with the current climate of MMA. CB Dollaway made his octagon return but in not many desire or could imagine. The opening fight of the prelims gave an entertaining opening round between Dollaway and his opponent, Hector Lombard. Unfortunately, it ended with excruciating confusion. Watch and judge for yourself.
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) March 4, 2018
The disqualification is warranted. Both those punches are thrown after the bell sounds, and the damage Dollaway sustained was more than apparent.
Next, the biggest star of the FS1 prelims, was most likely the least known on last nights pay-per-view (PPV) card. Alexander Hernandez made a name for himself after stepping in short notice and defeating the powerful, Beneil Dariush. Not only winning by KO but a 42 second KO.
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) March 4, 2018
Hernandez is now someone to watch in the UFCs incredibly deep, Lightweight division.
Another star and headliner of the FS1 prelims, Mackenzie Dern, won her bout against Ashley Yoder. Dern vs. Yoder, was a closer match-up than most thought, especially Vegas. Odds-makers had Yoder as +375 (Odds courtesy of OddsShark.com). Of course, Dern was not a massive favorite but the fight could have gone to Yoder if just one more judge agreed with Adalaide Byrd.
In this fight, it came down to the first round. The second and third had clear winners while the first didn’t. Yoder scored a huge knockdown in the second round. She didn’t get much of an opportunity to capitalize or find a finish as Dern rose to feet quickly after and chasing a BJJ practitioner at the level of Derns to the ground, could prove foolish. Dern clearly won the third round. The Brazilian-American finally got the take-down and swarmed Yoder on the mat, eventually she transitioned to Yoders back. She nearly got the finish but time proved to be her enemy. The bell rung with the two deeply entangled with each others arms, Dern attempting to sneak her arm back underneath the chin of her opponent, and Yoder attempting to pry them away.
Moving onto the main card of the PPV, Cat Zingano vs. Ketlen Vieira, Stefan Struve vs. Andrei Arlovski, and Sean O’Malley opened the final leg of the event with three consecutive decisions. In the case of first bout (Zingano vs. Vieira), Ketlen Vieira won via split decision, the final split decision of the night. Andrei Arlovski scored his 16th UFC victory, with the split decision on Satuday night. His 16 wins ties him with Frank Mir, for most wins in the UFC Heavyweight division history. Finally, the last decision was in favor O’Malley, in what proved to be another extraordinarily odd bout.
After clearly winning the opening two rounds, Sean O’Malley was well on his way to a second UFC victory. But a fluke injury off a thrown kick left O’Malley one footed, no ability to plant on the injured leg, and exactly then is when confusing began arising. Soukhamthath began to bring pressure and take-downs once he saw his opponent injured.
That was the WORST decision making in a fight I have ever seen!! He took down a LIMPING AND INJURED OPPONENT who couldn’t stand up🙄
— Jimmy Smith (@jimmysmithmma) March 4, 2018
The decision cost Soukhamthath the fight. If he forced O’Malley to stand and move towards him, the referee would have seen that the fighter clearly could not continue based on the injury. To further clarify, fights will be stopped if it becomes clear that one athlete is injured to the point they can not defend themselves. An inability to walk is classified as such. A similar situation took place at Bellator NYC last June, in the promotions Lightweight title bout between, Michael Chandler and Brent Primus. Chandler injured his leg and visibly could not walk correctly, if at all. The referee stopped the bout, called the cage-side physician in and ultimately, declared the bout over.
The final two fights of the evening, ended quickly. In the co-main event, new blood boiled to the top. Brian Ortega vs. Frankie Edgar was the byproduct of losing Max Holloway. It was deeply saddening to see the title challenge match-up crumble to pieces for the second consecutive time. But in the end, a new #1 contender is born.
Brian Ortega emphatically yet calmly stopped Frankie Edgar by KO in the opening round.
— UFC (@ufc) March 4, 2018
The majority of the first round belonged to Edgar. He seemed to move better, going in and out, landing the better strikes on Ortega. But it was counter elbow from Ortega off a faint from Edgar that really put the New Jersey veteran in trouble. Edgar fainted the right hand then threw a left uppercut that lands on Ortega. Off the fainted right hand, Ortega came in with the elbow and clipped him.
After the elbow, Ortega slowly stalked him down. They ended up in close quarters as Edgar looked like he attempted to get the clinch. Ortega separated moving backwards to set up a huge uppercut that dropped Edgar.
— UFC (@ufc) March 4, 2018
After the uppercut, Ortega added a couple of hammer fists to Edgar on the ground before the referee stepped in but the uppercut ended it. Last night was Frankie Edgars 29th pro fight. It is well noted that in the previous 28 fights, Edgar never lost by finish. 27-year-old, Brian Ortega is the first man to do it.
Finally, the main event. As inevitable as a finish could be. Although the finish was as predicted, the opening minute didn’t go without surprise.
— UFC (@ufc) March 4, 2018
Kunitskaya eats a vicious overhand right the begin the action against the fence. She responds by grabbing a single leg and taking Cyborg to the mat. Such a method might prove less damaging but is equally ineffective for Cris Cyborg is a highly skilled grappler. Eventually, Cyborg found her way up and began to unload on Kunitskaya.
— UFC (@ufc) March 4, 2018
Kunitskaya used a lot of front kicks, as expected. It looked like she wanted to stay in kicking range and try to grapple when Cyborg came in close. The problem she ran into was the power and strength of Cyborg. Especially in the right hand, which consistently landed. The Russia couldn’t control the grappling exchanges even when she was on top. Kunitskaya didn’t land many, if any, strikes from the top. She spent the entire time attempting to hold Cyborg there.
This is a problem we are accustomed to seeing. Even in the case of Cyborgs previous victory, over Holly Holm. Holm had the toughness, footwork, and technique to challenge Cyborg. But, it was the power and strength which largely had Cyborg dominate Holm over the course of 5 rounds. The obvious reason why many women are extremely overpowered by Cyborg is because they don’t belong in her weight class. The women’s Featherweight champion is yet to fight a Featherweight in the UFC.
It remains to be seen if Megan Anderson ever challenges Cris Cyborg for the divisions title, but what Anderson represents is the first legitimate Featherweight on the roster besides Cyborg. Rational thought brings forth the notion that Anderson must eventually fight Cyborg. Otherwise, having her on the roster is for nothing.
UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Volkov – Breakdown and Predictions
What better way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than with some afternoon, mid-level UFC fights. Sure, it isn’t the most stacked card we’ve seen all year, but it’s far from a dud. The main event features two of the heavyweight division’s most talented fighters, former UFC Heavvyweight Champ Fabrício Werdum and 8th ranked contender Alexander Volkov, squaring off for a shot at the belt. The co-main features a rematch between light heavyweight veterans Jimi Manuwa and Jan Blachowicz, both looking to assert themselves in the 205 pound division. It’s a pretty good card by Fight Pass standards, and is definitely one not to miss.
Leon Edwards vs Peter Sobatta
The good thing about these daytime Fight Pass cards is you get to see all those fighters you haven’t heard from in a while. And believe it or not, Edwards and Sobatta have both been fairly successful as of late. Edwards is currently riding a 4-fight win streak, which includes victories over Bryan Barberena and Albert Tumenov. And following a loss to Kyle Noke back in 2015, Sobatta has won 2 straight, most recently TKO-ing Ben Saunders last year.
The welterweight division is one of the UFC’s deepest, and a win here is crucial if either man wants a shot at the belt. Overall, it just seems as though Edwards is the more complete fighter. Sobatta is a great finisher, but Rocky’s technical striking should be enough to keep Sobatta at bay. And let’s not forget this fight is taking place in the UK, Leon’s backyard. English judges aren’t always the fairest when it comes to outsiders.
Prediction: Leon Edwards by Decision
Tom Duquesnoy vs Terrion Ware
Can’t say I saw this one coming. Tom Duquesnoy scored an impressive stoppage in his UFC debut against Patrick Williams, then dropped his next fight to Cody Stamann (which doesn’t look so bad given Stamann’s recent success). Despite this small setback, Duquesnoy is still a decent prospect. The same cannot be said for his opponent, Terrion Ware, who is 0-2 in the UFC.
I really don’t know what to say here. Clearly, this looks like an attempt by the UFC to get Duquesnoy back on the winning track. Terrion Ware is by no means a bad fighter, but this is not a match-up that favors him. Duquesnoy is better at just about everything, and while it may not be completely one-sided, I just can’t see Ware getting his hand raised. Hopefully he can get some better matchmaking in the future.
Prediction: Tom Duquesnoy by Decision
Jimi Manuwa vs Jan Blachowicz 2
Ouch. Was really hoping for Jan vs Shogun. At the age of 35, Jan Blachowicz is currently on the best run of his UFC tenure. With back-to-back wins over Devin Clark and Jared Cannonier, Blachowicz is finally starting to look like a real contender. However, his opponent Jimi Manuwa’s résumé speaks for itself, with 16 finishes in 17 wins. And who was that one decision win against? Jan Blachowicz. As weird as it looks on paper, this rematch actually has some sense to it.
Being a fan of Blachowicz, I wasn’t as quick to write him off as some other people were, but I really don’t see this going his way. Manuwa has some of the crispest striking in the division and more often than not Blachowicz is just there to be hit. If he looks to wrestle early I can see him grinding out a decision, but Blachowicz loves to strike, and I can see that being his downfall in this fight. Caveman-like toughness can only get you so far, and against a slugger like Manuwa, it just ain’t enough.
Prediction: Jimi Manuwa by Round 2 KO
Fabrício Werdum vs Alexander Volkov
Fight Pass exclusives aren’t always the most talent-rich cards, but as far as main events go, this one’s rock solid. Both men are angling for a shot at Miocic’s title, and an impressive performance on Saturday all but guarantees it. Werdum has looked impressive since losing the belt to Stipe, with his only loss being a razor-close decision to Alistair Overeem. He currently holds a 2-fight winning streak, most recently defeating Marcin Tybura last November. Volkov on the other hand has yet to taste defeat in the octagon, scoring victories over Stefan Struve, Roy Nelson, and Tim Johnson.
The big question here is how will Werdum fair in the striking. While Werdum has certainly made vast improvements in the striking game, Volkov is a different animal in that department. He’s long, he’s powerful, and most importantly, he’s precise. Werdum hasn’t exactly been a takedown wizard lately, so if he can’t hang on the feet, Volkov could run away with this.
Of course if the fight does hit the ground Werdum has a decided advantage over Volkov. His submission game is still one of the best in the division. But ‘Drago’ has displayed some formidable takedown defence as of late and I can’t imagine it’s in his game plan to try and grapple with a jiu-jitsu world champion. What we have here is a classic Striker vs Grappler match-up, and if the striker can keep it standing, it’s gonna be a rough night for the grappler.
Prediction: Alexander Volkov by Decision
UFC 222 – Breakdown and Predictions
Well, it was a bumpy ride but we’ve finally reached UFC 222. Sure the loss of Holloway-Edgar was a heart breaker, but at least we got Edgar-Ortega out of it. And a heavy betting favorite, in form of Cris Cyborg, is a welcome addition to any card. Throw in a couple of fading veterans and untested youngsters and you’ve got yourself a Fox Sports looking Pay-per-view.
It’s far from perfect, but after what this card has been through it’s amazing that it’s happening at all. Good on the UFC for putting together a solid night night of fights despite the circumstances. And now, onto the breakdown.
Cat Zingano vs Ketlen Vieira
Zingano’s last win came over current Women’s Bantamweight Champion Amanda Nunes, which is impressive. That was over three years ago, less impressive. Cat’s most recent bout was a loss to Juliana Peña back in 2016.
Since then her opponent, Ketlen Vieira, has strung together 3 wins inside the octagon, most recently an arm-triangle submission over Sara McMann back in September.
Zingano is in desperate need of a win, but she picked a hell of an opponent to come back to. Vieira is a well-rounded fighter with an excellent submission game. But what seals the deal for me is the recent inactivity of Zingano. Ring rust is a bitch, and with only 15 minutes of fight time in the past 2 years, Zingano can expect a rough welcome back to the cage.
Prediction: Ketlen Vieira by Decision
Stefan Struve vs Andrei Arlovski
Well better late than never I suppose. Andrei still has a top 15 spot in the UFC’s brittle heavyweight division, but his best years are surely behind him. As for Struve, I can’t tell if his prime has yet to come or has already happened. Hell, this might be his prime.
This fight is a good measuring stick for where these two currently stand. If Struve can’t beat an already busted Arlovski then I don’t see this kid getting anywhere near the title. Likewise, if Arlovski can’t beat the inconsistent Struve, the Pitbull’s days as a contender are just about over.
Durable is not a word that is used often when discussing these two. Arlovski’s chin has always been a cause for concern, and Struve’s certainly no Iron Man with 7 knock-out loses of his own. Basically what I’m saying is whoever lands the first big shot is probably going to win. Struve is bigger, longer, younger, and a bit more powerful than the former champ at this stage of his career, so I’m going with him.
Prediction: Stefan Struve by Round 1 KO
Sean O’Malley vs Andre Soukhamthath
How is this a main card fight? Sure O’Malley and Andre are both decent fighters, possibly future contenders, but isn’t this a bit premature? ‘Sugar Sean’ only has a single UFC fight to his name and Andre is 1-2 with the promotion. Nevertheless, it’s an intriguing match-up. Both fighters are competent strikers, so expect this one to stay standing for a majority of the bout.
What makes this a hard fight to call is that we have very little to go off of. These two have a combined 4 fights in the octagon, none of which against anyone of note. One thing I have noticed though, is that Andre has a tendency to let fights slip away from him. Given Sean’s aggressive, come-forward style, that’s definitely something to look at. On paper, it’s a close fight between two young fighters looking for a break-through performance. Let’s see who shines under the bright lights.
Prediction: Sean O’Malley by Decision
Frankie Edgar vs Brian Ortega
I was very much looking forward to Holloway vs Edgar, but as far as replacement fights go, this one’s top notch. Holloway beat plenty of great fighters during his meteoric rise to the top, yet somehow missed these two along the way. The winner of this fight has a better chance of ripping the belt from the hands of the Hawaiian than anyone else in the division, no doubt.
There’s no debating that Frankie Edgar is one of the best to ever put on the gloves. His exceptional title reign at 155 closed the book on that discussion. Ortega however still has something to prove. Wins against Cub Swanson and Clay Guida are certainly impressive, but the best way to prove he’s ready for a shot at the title is by beating someone who’s been there. Frankie is that someone, but beating him is not an easy task.
Stylistically, this is a close fight. Both men are capable in the stand-up, but I’d give a slight edge to Frankie due to his speed and movement. The ground is where things get interesting. Frankie has a suffocating top game and possesses some of the best ground and pound in the division. Ortega on the other hand is dangerous from just about anywhere thanks to his other-worldly Jui Jitsu game. It’s a tough call, but I think ‘T-City’ gets it done. Frankie is no slouch on the mat, but when Ortega sees an opening he pounces, and I believe this will be the case on Saturday. Sorry Frankie.
Prediction: Brian Ortega by Round 3 Submission
Cris Cyborg vs Yana Kunitskaya
I’m not even gonna pretend this is a real fight. Cyborg is without a doubt the greatest female fighter of all time. With dominant wins over Holly Holm, Gina Carano, and Marloes Coenen (twice), Cyborg has cemented her legacy as the most dangerous woman to ever step inside the octagon. Yana meanwhile has won just 2 of her last 5, all of which being contested in the Bantamweight division, 10 lbs below the Featherweight limit. I think you can all see why I’m so quick to count her out.
It’s amazing that despite fighting in an imaginary division, Cyborg defends here belt as much, if not more, than any other champion. And defending her title on such short-notice shows just how confident she is in her abilities (even if her opponent is completely over-matched.) I could go on about how good Cyborg is for hours, but instead I’ll just cut to the chase. Yana is in trouble. A LOT of trouble.
Prediction: Cris Cyborg by Round 1 KO
UFC on Fox: Emmett vs Stephens – Breakdown and Predictions
UFC returns to Fox with an exciting card full of up-and-coming talent, crafty veterans, and a main event featuring two of the featherweight division’s most powerful punchers. While the card seems to lack some star power, it holds some interesting and exciting match-ups. The co-main event features two of the best women’s 115ers in the world both vying for a shot at the title as Jéssica Andrade takes on Tecia Torres. In the main event, knock-out artist and division staple Jeremy Stephens takes on the young and hungry Team Alpha Male product Josh Emmett. A great main event to head off a solid Fox card, and now onto the breakdown.
Mike Perry vs Max Griffin
This fight should be fun for as long as it lasts, but don’t bet on it lasting too long. Mike Perry is one of the hardest hitters in the UFC’s welterweight division. Griffin can bang too, but Perry’s just a different animal in that department. The good news for Griffin is that there’s already a pretty decent blueprint on how to beat Perry; pick him apart from the outside and don’t brawl with the guy. The bad news is Griffin is a brawler at heart, which isn’t gonna do him any favors against a superior striker like Perry.
Mike Perry is one of the most marketable guys in the UFC’s crowded 170 pound division. Priority number 1 for the UFC is to get Perry back on the winning track. And Max Griffin is the perfect man for the job. Both men will come forward throwing heaters until someone goes down, and chances are that someone is gonna be Griffin. Perry is just too powerful, and unless Griffin can keep Perry on the outside early it’s gonna be a short night for ‘Pain’.
Prediction: Mike Perry by 1st Round KO
Ovince Saint Preux vs Ilir Latifi
Nobody has ever beaten Ovince Saint Preux. OSP beats himself. He’s sloppy, has terrible technique, and is almost always behind on the scorecards. Yet somehow he continues to score victories over the 205’s elite, most of the time in spectacular fashion. It is insane. Latifi is a more complete fighter, with solid boxing and a strong wrestling game to fall back on. Latifi tends to favor the stand-up, but against a big, powerful guy like OSP, that might not be the best idea.
The big question here is; how is Latifi going to approach this one? Striking with the big man is risky due to his monstrous power and 7 in. reach advantage. Wrestling is a safer option, however Ovince is not an easy man to hold down. Latifi’s best bet is to make it ugly. Grind Ovince up against the fence and dirty box the s**t out of him. Then once he’s good and tired, take him down to ice the round. Sure it’s not the most entertaining style, but if it works it works.
Prediction: Ilir Latifi by Decision
Jéssica Andrade vs Tecia Torres
After seeing her completely demolish two-time title challenger Cláudia Gadelha, I was confident picking Andrade over anyone in the division (not named Joanna of course). But after giving it some serious thought, I think Torres might just be the one to bring down the Brazilian brawler, think about it. Joanna was able to keep Andrade away with her jab for the better part of 25 minutes. And while Torres is no Joanna, she’s still an excellent striker with wins over some solid opposition.
Andrade has made vast improvements since her loss to then champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk. This was evident in the Gadelha fight. The same can be said for the ever-improving Torres, whose only loss in mma was to current champion Rose Namajunas (a woman she’s beaten in the past). This truly is one of the most high-level women’s match-ups in recent memory, but I believe the kickboxing of Torres will be enough to keep Andrade on the outside, securing Torres her fourth straight win and possibly a title shot.
Prediction: Tecia Torres by Decision
Josh Emmett vs Jeremy Stephens
Josh Emmett made waves last year, knocking out perennial contender Ricardo Lamas on short-notice in Winnipeg. While impressive, it’s worth noting that this was the first finish of Emmett’s UFC career and he missed weight for the bout (weighed in at 148.5). Stephens on the other hand just scored a vicious knock out over featherweight prospect Doo Ho Choi. This was Stephens’ first finish since July of 2015 when he flying knee KO’d Dennis Bermudez. On paper, this looks like it will be a barn-burner, on paper.
Stephens has struggled against good wrestlers in the past, most recently Frankie Edgar at UFC 205. And Frankie is small for the weight class, unlike Emmett who fought the majority of his career up at lightweight. I give Jeremy the edge in the striking department, but Emmett has some wicked power at 145. If it stays on the feet it’s anyone’s guess what will happen. But if Emmett does the smart thing and takes Jeremy down often, we just might have a new top contender in the UFC’s stacked featherweight division.
Prediction: Josh Emmett by Decision
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