Derrick Lewis (16-4)
- Height: 6’3″ Age: 31 Weight: 265 lbs Reach: 79″
- Last Fight: Split Decision win / Roy Nelson (7-7-16)
- Camp: Silverback Fight Club (Houston, TX)
- Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
- Risk Management: Fair
+ Regional MMA Titles
+ 94% Finishing Rate
+ 14 KO victories
+ 1 Submission win
+ 7 first round finishes
+ KO power
+ Devastating right hands & uppercuts
+ Underrated kicks & knees
+/-Aggressive engagements & entries
^ Counter availabilities
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Strikes well off the breaks
+ Improved grappling/positional awareness
^ Underrated scrambling ability
+/-Limited tools shown from back
^ Times get-ups & explosions well
Shamil Abdurakhimov (17-3)
- Height: 6’3″ Age: 35 Weight: 255 lbs Reach: 76″
- Last Fight: Split Decision win / Walt Harris (10-1-16)
- Camp: Preservet FT (Makhachkala, Dagestan)
- Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
- Risk Management: Good
+ Master of Sport in Kickboxing
+ Wushu Sanda Champion (Russia)
+ 7 KO victories
+ 4 Submission wins
+ 9 first round finishes
+ Excellent footwork
^ Deceptively athletic & agile
+ Accurate shot selection
^ Good timing and instincts
+ Competent takedowns
^ Changes level well
+ Strong inside of the clinch
^ Strikes well off of the breaks
+ Floats well on top
– Shows to struggle from bottom
– Lacks overall output & urgency
The main event for UFC Albany is a heavyweight showdown between Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis and Shamil “Abrek” Abudurakhimov. A fast-rising fan favorite, Derrick Lewis has wasted little time in getting to work since coming on board with the organization. Recently scoring some of the biggest wins of his career in battles with Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga, Lewis will look to make a statement in this showcase spot. An interesting addition to the heavyweight division, Shamil Abdurakhimov has quietly accrued a 2-1 record in the UFC as the Dagestani seeks to shake up the rankings and land on the radar with a big win.
Although Abdurakhimov seems like an unlikely contender, there is a lot to like about the man who has a Master of Sport in Kickboxing. Like many Dagestani strikers, Shamil comes from a Wushu Sanda base. One of the earlier forms of martial arts embraced by Russia, Wushu Sanda, originated from Chinese Wushu in an effort to create a more competitive form of kickboxing. From punches to low kicks, this style has all the fundamental nods to boxing and Muay Thai. However, it also incorporates a lot of clinch fighting in the form of strikes, trips, and tosses.
Hailing from Makhachkala, Abdurakhimov comes from a place of solid strikers who embody this style. ACB’s current heavyweight champion, Salimgirey Rasulov, is another successful Dagestani from Makhachkala who fights similarly to Shamil. Although Shamil does not throw as flashy of kicks as Salimgirey, he does some things quietly well that could surface against the Black Beast. Deceptively agile, Abdurakhimov displays intelligent footwork that allows him to manage the distance at his preferred fighting range.
Even though these abilities can often allow Abdurakhimov to fall subject to cruise control, Shamil possesses and well-timed right hand that he keeps cocked for oncoming opposition. Maintaining a light bounce in his step, Abdurakhimov will plant his weight appropriately when his opponent attempts to close the distance. Although Abdurabkhimov lacks the typical heavyweight pop to his punches, he arguably makes up for it with his accuracy and placement. We saw perfect examples of this in Abdurahimov’s fight with Anthony Hamilton, as he was able to stun the more powerful man on multiple occasions.
Despite Shamil’s lack of follow-up making for a forgettable fight, that does not change that fact that his counter right hand will be his best shot in this matchup. Even though Abdurakhimov lacks traditional one-shot stopping power, all it takes is placement and momentum in this weight class. However, if Abdurakhimov’s counters fail to get the same respect from Lewis that they did from Hamilton, then he may be outgunned in the striking exchanges.
Stepping onto the scene as an unabashed brawler, Derrick Lewis has shown signs of improvements underneath the scary destructions that often take place in his fights. An incredible athlete for a man of his size, Lews can throw accurate knees and head kicks with little signs of a struggle. A downright scary distance closer, Derrick will force his opponent into the fence whether he lands on them or not. Difficult to deal with inside of the clinch, Derrick does his best work when striking off of the breaks as he does so with impunity.
Although Abdurakhimov is competent inside of the clinch, he gets too comfortable in this space as that could be a crucial mistake against Lewis. Since Shamil is the more technical clinch fighter, it will be interesting if he tries any of his trip-takedowns in an attempt to neutralize Lewis. We saw Roy Nelson have success with an outside trip from the clinch, even though he ultimately struggled to keep Lewis grounded. Although Lewis lacks your typical technics off of his back, he is intelligent in knowing when to time his explosions.
Granted, his size and strength are a huge, outlying reasons for his success, but that still does not change the fact the Lewis is showing steady signs of technical improvement. Given that grapplers like Gabe Gonzaga and Roy Nelson struggled to implement their terms, I do not see Shamil breaking any new ground in that department. Abdurakhimov is also not too inactive in regards to taking his opponents down, as the Dagestani will usually only change his level to stifle an oncoming rush. Against Lewis, Abdurakhimov could lower his head into a knee if he is not careful.
Shamil also likes to score takedowns off of caught kicks, but I am not sure that will be much of a threat considering that most of Lewis’ sprinkled-in attempts are to the head. Whether he finds his way topside in a scramble or shoots his forceful double-leg, Shamil will need to be worried if he finds himself as the man on the bottom. Although Abdurakhimov’s one stoppage loss was not a clean KO, Derrick Lewis possesses the power to knock out an Elephant if given the opportunity. If Abdurakhimov fails to establish and follow up on his counter shots, then I suspect the Black Beast will find another scalp here.
Official Pick: Lewis – Inside the distance
Main Card Predictions:
- Lewis def. Abdurakhimov
- Ngannou def. Hamilton
- Anderson def. O’Connell
- Villante def. Safarov
Preliminary Card Predictions:
- Kish def. Yoder
- Brown def. Camozzi
- Meerschaert def. Gigliotti
- Sanchez def. Smith
- Burgos def. Trator
- Diakiese def. Perez
- Janes def. Berish
- Lima def. Aldrich
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
GLORY: Redemption – Breakdown and Predictions
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 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 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 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 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
UFC 218: Holloway vs Aldo 2 Main Card Predictions and Analysis
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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