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UFC Fight Night 82: Hendricks vs Thompson Breakdown

Dan Tom

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Johny3

Johny Hendricks (17-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 32 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Matt Brown (3-14-15)
  • Camp: Former Team Takedown (Texas)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC Welterweight Champion
+   4x Div. 1 All-American Wrestler
+   8 KO victories
+   5 first round finishes
+   KO power/heavy hands
+   Devastating left hand
^   Often doubles up
+   Improved kicks off combinations
+   Stong inside the clinch
^   Hard knees & uppercuts
+   Excellent pressure against fence
^   Favors takedowns from here
+   Superb takedown ability
^   62 takedowns in 17 fights
+   Solid top control
^   Effective ground striker
+   Underrated submission game
–    Pace tends to slow late in fights
+   Never stopped / recovers well
–    Left hand / guard slightly low
^   Right hand / head kick opportunities

 

Thompson2

Stephen Thompson (11-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 32 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Jake Ellenberger (7-12-15)
  • Camp: Upstate Karate (South Carolina)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt Kempo Karate (3rd Degree)
+   5x Kickboxing World Champion (57-0)
+   6 KO victories
+   4 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Accurate shot selection
^   Consistent left-right punches
+   Angles well off punches
+   Excellent distance management
^   Plays in & out of striking lanes
+   Disguises dangerous kicks
^   Favors right leg attacks
+   Active footwork & movement
^   Requires stamina & space to operate
+/-Low hands standing
+   Improved counter wrestling
^   Shows intelligence in get-ups & scrambles
+   Underrated clinch game
^   Solid head positioning & strikes off break
+   78% takedown defense rate
+/-Fights along the outside of the fence

Summary:

In the newly minted main event of the evening, Johny Hendricks and Stephen Thompson will battle for welterweight title contender-ship. Coming off the most impressive win of his career, Thompson will attempt to establish his arrival against his toughest test to date. Returning from a year of competition interrupted by professional & weight related issues, Hendricks will look to reestablish his dominance amongst the division.

Despite both men’s improvements of opposing skillsets, this match should still bare clear pathway advantages as I see this going one of two ways. On the feet, not only do I feel that Thompson carries the on-paper edge, but also has certain favorable openings stylistically. Hendricks has stood and made his mark with strikers such as Robbie Lawler, Carlos Condit, and Matt Brown. What’s important to note is that all of these are forward moving strikers who are not natural counter fighters. In fact, Johny has yet to face a high-level counter striker, much less a pin-point accurate world champion like Thompson.

Still showing to make strides in his striking game, Hendricks displays improved head movement and kicks off combinations. Wielding underrated leg kicks, he could test the wide-based stance of Stephen. However, with Johny being a southpaw, I expect the switch-stance Karate fighter to primarily operate from orthodox. Favoring kicks off his right leg, this stance will keep Thompson’s options of power kicks and spinning attacks in play. With Hendricks being a constant wrestling threat, I doubt Stephen spins much as I see his right head kick having success. Johny shows a natural tendency to keep his left hand low and even drop it on entries. This has traditionally opened him up to right hands and head kicks(as seen in his fights with Condit & Brown).

This could pose problems for Hendricks as Thompson wields accurate right crosses and well-disguised head kicks. Throwing consistent left to right hands, Stephen will smoothly sneak his kick over the shoulder off his darts(as seen in his fight with Dan Stittgen). Obviously, Hendricks is a much more durable & skilled fighter than to whom I referenced. Regardless, he will still be playing with fire should stay in the range of Thompson. Johny’s clear path to victory here is to abuse Stephen with his wrestling edge. Though Thompson has shown impressive improvements to his overall grappling game, I’m not sure how successful he will be in thwarting one of the division’s best.

However, Hendricks takedown game has shown to be primarily implemented against the fence. Johny has displayed the ability to corral opposition here when he needs to, but must be especially careful doing so against Thompson. Hendricks aggression has worked well against said forward-moving strikers, but he could pay against an excellent counter striker(and angle-cutter) as he’ll often throw himself out of position on entries.

I came into this fight favoring Johny Hendricks, as I believe his on-paper advantages and resume makes him the justified favorite. That being said, the off-paper intangibles of his changes in management, nutritionists, and camp are potential flags for me. Though Johny’s weight looks to be on point, we’ve still seen great fighters like Chris Weidman come in light and not perform. Between those intangibles to the glaring technical holes standing, I feel that now is the best time for Thompson’s chances. Johny could very well demolish Stephen on the floor, but will likely need to put forth a massive effort to ground Thompson in the big cage. This could be very troubling for the Texan should he not get Stephen out of there early. For these reasons I strongly caution any serious plays here. However, I do stand by analysis & official pick, which is very hard to do as a big fan of Hendricks.

Official Pick: Thompson – Inside the distance

 

Nelson3

Roy Nelson (20-12)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 39 Weight: 249 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Josh Barnett (9-27-15)
  • Camp: Country Club (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   IFL HW & Grand Prix Titles
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   TUF 10 Winner
+   13 first round finishes
+   14 KO victories
+   5 Submission wins
+   KO power / Heavy hands
+   Deceptive speed & athleticism
+   Underrated takedown ability
^   Strong from the clinch
+   Improved takedown defense
^   Good get-ups/under-hook urgency
+   Devastating right hand
^   setup w/ left hands & feints
–    1 win in last 6 fights
^   All losses to top competition

 

Rosholt3

Jared Rosholt (14-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 29 Weight: 240 lbs Reach: 76.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Stefan Struve (11-14-15)
  • Camp: Team Takedown (Texas)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   4x Div. 1 Wrestler
+   3x All-American
+   3x Big 12 Finalist
+   5 first round finishes
+   6 KO victories
+   Strong pressure inside clinch
^   Good dirty boxing & uppercuts
+   Favors takedowns against fence
+   Excellent positional rides
^   Transitions well off front headlock
+   Consistent top game ability
^   22 passes in last 7 fights
–    Hands low in exchanges
^   Left hand/hooks especially
–    Hurt/dropped in 5 of 7 fights
–    Gas tank bears watching

Summary:

The evening’s co-main event features a heavyweight showdown between Roy “Big Country” Nelson and Jared “The Big Show” Rosholt. Always a fan favorite of fight fans, Roy Nelson will be seeking a vintage victory to get him back on the winning track. Despite his losses coming to high-level competition, a win will be crucial for Roy as he’s lost 5 of this last 6 fights. For Jared, this will be the biggest name and opportunity of his career, but it will also be his most difficult test.

This fight breaks down pretty simply for me in regards to areas of advantage. Starting off on the feet, Roy Nelson holds the clear advantage in technique & fire-power. Using his deceptive athleticism, Nelson will shuffle his way into the pocket behind feints. Often prodding his left hand and changing levels, Roy will look to create defensive uncertainty in range as he unloads devastating right hands. Though possessing underrated leg kicks, going to the well here will actually serve Roy best in this fight.

As big right hands are Nelson’s most notable weapons, they are also Rosholt’s most notable weakness. Aside from occasionally dropping his guard in exchanges, Jared tends to retract his left hooks low & slow. This has opened up Rosholt to right-hand counter shots in particular(as seen his recent fights with Copeland & Johnson). Jared does, however, move his head well off his right crosses. This will be crucial for Rosholt if he means to enter space, as I see wrestling being his most tangible path to victory. With Nelson having his back to the wall figuratively, Jared will have mimic this physically by driving Roy to the fence. We’ve seen opposition effectively wear on Nelson and disrupt his momentum here. This is also the space where Rosholt is most successful at completing takedowns.

Albeit not the most exciting style, Jared’s positional rides could steal him rounds should he find himself on top. However, Roy has shown underrated and improved wrestling skills of his own. With the only 2 men to take him down in 11 fights being Daniel Cormier & Stipe Miocic, Jared will certainly have his work cut out for him. As even the elite have had little success in holding Roy down, I have a hard time seeing Rosholt doing what he wants to.

Jared will also have to be mindful when striking inside the clinch. Although he wields a solid right uppercut that could find similar success as Barnett’s did, Rosholt’s clinch game isn’t as defensively sound. Utilizing a traditional collar tie as opposed to Josh’s slick grip fighting, Rosholt’s dirty boxing style allows more leverage & lanes for his opposition. With Jared’s said defensive liabilities getting him hurt and/or dropped in 5 of his last 7 fights, I don’t think he makes it out of the kitchen without being burned.

Official Pick: Nelson – Inside the distance

 

OSP

Ovince St Preux (18-7)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 32 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 79″
  • Last Fight: Sub loss / Glover Teixeira (8-8-15)
  • Camp: Knoxville MMA (Tennessee)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   10 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   12 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Accurate shot selection
^   Left hand in particular
+   Hard left body kick
+   Improved & active footwork
^   Shows intelligent shifts
+   Underrated submission game
+   Competent wrestling ability
+   Shows get-up urgency off takedowns
^   Uses athleticism to explode up
–    Questionable techniques from bottom
–    Struggles w/wrestling pressure
–    Gas tank bears watching

 

Rafael1

Rafael Cavalcante (12-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 35 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / Pat Cummings (8-1-15)
  • Camp: X-Gym (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Former Strikeforce LHW Champion
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   12 KO victories
+   7 first round finishes
+   100% finishing rate
+   KO power
+   Deadly right cross
+   Strong in clinch
^   Dangerous knees
+   Underrated submission game
^   Solid Guillotine choke
+/-Propensity to brawl
+/-Heavily reliant on head movement
–    Inconsistent activity & performances
^   1 win in the last 4 years
–    Struggles when pressure fought
–    Gas tank bears watching

Summary:

In a dangerous contest of light-heavyweights, Ovince “OSP” St. Preux will do battle with Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante. With both men carrying aggressive styles and finish-friendly resumes, I doubt the judges will be needed for this fight. Feijao, in particular, has not seen the scorecards in victory and only once in defeat(loss to Ryan Bader). Losing 3 of his last 4 fights in a four-year span, a win here will be crucial for Cavalcante’s career. This will be no easy task as he’s drawn the ever-improving St. Preux. Despite coming off a loss to one of the division’s best, OSP has shown consistent fight-to-fight improvements and potential.

Starting off on the feet, Rafael will stalk forward similarly to a Thai March. Possessing good head movement and a hard right cross, Feijao looks to draw engagements through gun fights. This will be his best chances of winning should OSP oblige, however, the Haitian’s inherent footwork would suggest otherwise. Utilizing his natural speed & athleticism, St. Preux will actively change range and attack angles through shifts in his movement. This could fuel the frustration shown by Cavalcante when not allowed offense on his terms.

With Feijao showing to be most effective & accurate when aggressive, this subconscious caveat could play right into St. Preux’s style. Though OSP wields powerful left kicks & crosses, I feel his shifting hooks will serve him best. Displaying a shift variation referred to in traditional martial arts as “opening the gate“, the Southpaw will swing his lead foot backward into an orthodox stance. This deceptively changes the attack range and perceptions of OSP’s opposition. It also allows St. Preux to keep his accurate left hand in play, as we saw this in perfect depiction against Shogun Rua(I also refer to this technique in my Cruz-Dillashaw Breakdown as Cruz has been masterfully doing this for years).

Although I give OSP a slight advantage in wrestling, he’ll need to mind his neck on shots as Feijao has an excellent guillotine. If St. Preux does choose to engage in grappling, I feel he will be more successful than their on-paper rankings suggest. Showing excellent grip fighting awareness, OSP consistently battles for inside hand positioning when in the guard. This opens up his devasting ground strikes that we saw on full display against Cody Donovan. When getting up is a difficult option, Feijao will often succeed closed guard and could subject himself to some harsh weather. Couple these technical habits with Rafael’s propensity to fade under pressure, I feel St. Preux will just need to “add water” to make this one work.

Official Pick: St Preux – Inside the distance

 

Joseph2

Joseph Benavidez (23-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 31 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: 65″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Ali Bagautinov (10-3-15)
  • Camp: Team Alpha Male (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   #1 Ranked UFC Flyweight
+   Former UFC & WEC Title Challenger
+   State Wrestling Champion (New Mexico)
+   6 KO victories
+   6 first round finishes
+   9 submission wins
+   KO power
+   Variates movements well
^   Active footwork & feints
+   Will switch stances
+   Dangerous right hand/hook
+   Hard left kicks
+   Superb scrambling ability
^   Urgently gets up/reverses position
+   Strong from front headlock
^   Threatens Guillotines/dictates position

 

Zach3

Zach Makovsky (19-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 33 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: 64″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / John Dodson (5-23-15)
  • Camp: Tristar Gym (Philly/Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Former Bellator BW Champion
+   Former RFA Featherweight Champ
+   Div.1 Wrestler Drexler University
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   2 first round finishes
+   6 Submission wins
+   Excellent single-leg variations
^   Chains & adjusts to completion
+   Solid positional transitions
^   Technical passes & scrambles
–    Slightly slows late in fights
+   Manages distance well
+   Accurate jab-cross
^   Good movement off attacks
+   Hard left kicks
+   Good chin / never stopped

Summary:

For the main card’s flyweight attraction, number one ranked Joseph Benavidez takes on Zack Makovsky. As two of the division’s most technical & well-rounded fighters, we could be in for three rounds of high-speed chess. With both men coming off a run of decisions, expect each fighter to use this stage to make their statements.

Though both southpaws, each man approaches the striking game differently. Utilizing a shelled guard and bladed stance, the more defensively minded Makovsky will move soundly behind his lead jabs. Firing off an accurate left cross, he displays exceptional head movement off throwing it. Not only does this make him difficult to counter, but parlays perfectly into Zack’s transitional takedown entries.

Despite Makovsky’s impressive technical acumen, I favor Benavidez in the standing exchanges. Showing constant improvements & evolutions, Joseph employs a much more active and unpredictable style. Consistently changing angles & stances through a series of shifts, Benavidez is constantly dictating the offensive terms. Though still dangerous blitzing forward with hooks, it’s his developments in counter fighting that is most interesting.

Primarily standing in southpaw, Benavidez has shown a recent trend to fire off weapons from orthodox. Often stepping back into this stance to give the perception of retreat, Joseph will draw opposition into his counter right hand. Though effective with his punches, Benavidez’s kicking game may serve him best in this fight. Although Makovsky shows to be defensively sound, the weight distribution of his said bladed stance makes him vulnerable to leg kicks. Already wielding powerful left Thai kicks, Joseph could disrupt Zack’s movement should he set aim on his thighs.

Makovsky’s strongest chances in this match will depend on how effectively he can implement his wrestling game. Being able to take down opposition multiple times has been a common thread and a key to all Zack’s UFC victories. However, he will have to be careful of Benavidez’s notorious guillotine choke. Although Makovsky has some of the best takedown transitions in the division, his most effective finish is the high crotch. This single-leg variation puts Zack’s head position high and on the outside. Knowing that this move aligns his neck within a guillotine choke’s grasp, Makovsky does a beautiful job of throwing his hips across his opponent’s body as completes the takedown. Not only does this defend against the choke, but it keeps him a step ahead and into side control.

Regardless of this, anytime Zack puts his neck near Joseph he will be playing with fire. In fact, it’s this technical intricacy that I feel will dictate the ground exchanges. For example, both men show fantastic under-hook awareness and use of butterflies to achieve get-ups. However, Makovsky’s position reversals & reestablishments are heavily predicated off his single-leg engagements. I for one, am a big fan of get-ups and reversals from single-leg positions. Unfortunately, the trade-off is that these positions allow your head & neck into the game. I feel this may ultimately play into the hands of Benavidez who has made a career off dictating grappling positions via head control. With this technical standoff not likely producing a finish, I’d avoid any fantasy picks here.

Official Pick: Benavidez – Decision

 

mishac2

Misha Cirkunov (10-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 28 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Daniel Jolly (8-23-15)
  • Camp: Xtreme Couture (Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   Judo Base
+   5 KO victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   8 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Hard strikes & throws
+   Excellent top game
^   Good positional controls & passes
+   Deadly ground strikes & submissions
^   Shows solid striking fundamentals

 

Alex-Nicholson

Alex Nicholson(6-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 25 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: ?”
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Chaz Morgan (8-1-15)
  • Camp: UFC Gym Winter Springs (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Poor

Supplemental info:
+   5 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   5 first round finishes
+   100% finish rate
+   KO power
+   Athletic & scrappy
^   Capable of setting strong pace
+/-Wild in exchanges
^   Throws spinning back fists/superman punches
–     Suspect takedown defense
+/-Heavily reliant on athleticism
?    Questionable overall ground game

Summary:

In a what should be a fun light-heavyweight styles match, Misha Cirkunov meets the debuting Alex Nicholson. With the UFC 196 main event dropping out, the move to FOX Sports 1 was a nice improvisation. Not without consequence, it seems the main card will now include lesser known fighters in the effort to conserve the balance. Regardless, this is a fantastic showcase opportunity for both fighters to score big on the main stage.

An athletic powerhouse, Alex Nicholson shows to be very technically capable for a former heavyweight. Despite moving very well, it is his aggressive scrappiness that has set him apart thus far in his career. Although showing competent kickboxing skills, Alex shows a flair for the wild side favoring superman punches and spinning back-fists. Despite this style earning him stoppage victories, it’s also gotten him consistently countered and takedown. Often throwing himself out of position, he could play right into the game of Misha Cirkunov.

An athletic specimen in his own right, Cirkunov is a grappling based martial artist who has steadily progressed his career. Not only has he shown the ability to end fights standing, but he also displays solid defensive fundamentals. In keeping tight hand positioning and moving his head, I feel Cirkunov should be able to safely navigate his way inside. I expect the clinch exchanges to be most telling, as I suspect that will be the key factor in this fight. Although Nicholson’s takedown defense should fair better in the cage(as most of his previous fights took place in a ring), he still shows to struggle with his positional awareness.

With his lone submission win coming by guillotine choke in his amateur career, Alex has pursued it defensively in almost every fight since then. However, with Misha’s lack of traditional wrestling entries, I doubt he will be able to significantly threaten the BJJ Black Belt. Should Cirkunov get on top and start to work, it could be a short night for both men. Nicholson looks to be incredibly tough and physically resilient, but this may be too much too soon. Showing to be on a completely different level on paper and in the cage, it’s hard not to side with the Latvian here.

Official Pick: Cirkunov – Inside the distance

 

Pyle1

Mike Pyle (26-11-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 40 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Colby Covington (5-23-15)
  • Camp: Syndicate MMA (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   WEC Welterweight Title
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   6 KO victories
+   15 first round finishes
+   16 Submission wins
+   KO power
+   Dangerous knees
+   Hard right hand & elbows
+   Strong overall clinch game
^   Good composure & counters
+   Solid takedown ability
^   Chains trips & throws
+   Active offensive guard
^   Crafty setup & attacks
+   Excellent positional rides
+   Diverse submission arsenal
–    Head often upright in retreat
^   Allows counter opportunities

 

Spencer1

Sean Spencer (12-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 28 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 75.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Cathal Pendred (1-18-15)
  • Camp: Octagon MMA (Virginia)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Golden Gloves Champion
+   2 KO victories
+   1 first round finish
+   2 submission wins
+   Volume striker
^   Consistent combinations
+   Excellent distance management
+   Technically sound footwork
^   Creates angles & feints
+   Active L. hand/Accurate R. hand
^   Favors double jab – cross
+   Evasive slips & dips
–    Reluctant kicking defense
+   Improved takedown defense
^   Urgently looks to get up
–    Shows limited grappling tools
^   Suspect technical acumen

Summary:

Kick starting the main card on FOX Sports 1 is a solid pairing of welterweights, as Mike Pyle takes on Sean Spencer. As a favorite to fans & fighters alike, the veteran Pyle will look get back on the winning track. Also coming off a loss(albeit controversial), Sean Spencer is back in the hunt after one year plus outside the Octagon.

I see this fight going one of two ways, and neither of which involve the judges. Starting off on the feet, I give the overall striking edge to Sean Spencer. The Golden Gloves champ shows disciplined head movement & footwork, as he smoothly creates angles and attacks. The volume striker also shows a knack for establishing range early. This could be particularly troublesome for Pyle as his last four TKO stoppages have come in the beginning of rounds. That being said, I don’t feel Sean quite fits the bill of those who have stopped Pyle(MacDonald, Brown, Mein, and Ellenberger).

Despite being a technically sound boxer, Spencer has yet to show us his killer instinct and stopping power inside the Octagon(as I’m sure he has it). Which is why Mike will have to be especially mindful in retreat as his head tends to go upright. With Spencers said volume over power-shot style, he remains a threat late into rounds showing a slow burn. Though displaying excellent head movement on his pulls & returns, Sean will have to be careful when dipping his head near the center line. Pyle has dangerous knees and counters that could make Spencer pay for his pattern predictability.

Although Pyle can compete with Spencer’s on paper strengths, I’m not so sure the same can be said the other way around. Despite one-dimensional criticisms, Spencer has shown active improvements in his counter wrestling. That being said, he still wields a box cutter in comparison to Pyle’s swiss army knife of MMA Skillsets. Still showing to struggle with under hook principles, it is Spencer’s urgency & athleticism against the cage that keeps him upright. Aside from his first UFC bout with Rafael Natal, all of Seans opponents since have had difficulty grounding him.

However, none of those fighters have the same grappling prowess as Pyle. Known for his crafty clinch & guard game, Mike has a solid reactionary shot to add to his trips and throws. Being one of the first & few men to take down Rory Macdonald, I feel that Pyle should be able to exercise his advantages. I must admit that I have been a big supporter of Mike Pyle throughout his career. That said, I assure you my ethical due diligence here as I stand by my work. Regardless, this match heavily screams caution of any serious plays due it’s on & off paper intangibles.

Official Pick: Pyle – Inside the distance

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Noons def. Burkman
  • Grabowski def. Lewis
  • Borg def. Scoggins
  • Lahat def. Rivas
  • Gall def. Jackson
  • Lobov def. White

Recommended Plays

Pieces for your parlay:

-Ovince St Preux
-Roy Nelson
-Joseph Benavidez

Props worth looking at:

-Ovince St Preux – Inside the distance
-Roy Nelson- by KO/TKO
-Joseph Benavidez – by Decision

Fights to avoid:

-KJ Noons vs Josh Burkman
-Mike Pyle vs Sean Spencer
-Derrick Lewis vs Damian Grabowski

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Ovince St Preux
-Roy Nelson
-Johny Hendricks

Low Tier Picks:

-Mike Pyle
-Damian Grabowski
-Stephen Thompson

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

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breakdown

GLORY: Redemption – Breakdown and Predictions

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Glory returns to pay-per-view today with a stacked card, featuring some of their greatest fighters. Among them are reigning champions Rico Verhoeven and Alex Pereira, as well as the return of former title holder Nieky Holzken.

In the main event, Rico puts his heavyweight title on the line against the very dangerous Jamal Ben Saddik, who defeated him 6 years ago. Rico comes into the fight riding an impressive 14-fight Glory winning streak.

The co-main event features a rematch of the 2016 Fight of the Year between light heavyweight veterans Michael ‘The Dreamcrusher’ Duut and Danyo ‘Dibuba’ Ilunga. The card is a must-see for kickboxing fans, as well as those who just love a good scrap. And with that out of the way, here’s a breakdown of some of the more interesting fight’s on Saturday’s super-card. Enjoy.

Nieky ‘The Natural’ Holzken – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Nieky Holzken vs Alim Nabiyev

Nabiyev came into Glory with a decent amount of steam behind him, but following his bout against short-notice opponent Jimmy Veinot, I honestly don’t see it. Nieky’s reign as champion was one of the best, and despite two close losses to the equally talented Cédric Doumbé, he’s still one of the best welterweights in the world today. With wins over Raymond Daniels, Joseph Valtellini, and current champion Murthel Groenhart, it’s hard to imagine Nieky having much of a problem with Nabiyev.

Expect plenty of pressure from Holzken early on. Coming off two straight losses Nieky will want to make a statement, and prove that he’s still the man to beat at 170. The liver shot will do it. Holzken will just be too much for Alim. Nabiyev has  potential and could be a contender in the future, but right now Holzken is on a whole ‘nother level. Nieky is back, and he wants that title.

Prediction: Nieky Holzken by 1st Round TKO

 

Alex 'Po Atan' Pereira

Alex ‘Po Atan’ Pereira – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Alex Pereira vs Yousri Belgaroui

Pereira’s win back at Glory 46 came as a shock to me. Simon Marcus has proven himself to be one of the best fighters in the division, and while Pereira is a solid kickboxer in his own right, I fully expected Marcus to win that one pretty easy. I was wrong. Pereira was the better man, and is now the Glory middleweight champion. But don’t expect it to last. Yousri completely shut Pereira down in there last meeting at Glory 40. And based on his last performance, a first round TKO over former champ Jason Wilnis, he’s only getting better.

Pereira’s path to victory is pretty simple, strike hard and strike early. The deep waters are not a place where Alex thrives. His cardio has been questionable in the past and his vaunted knockout power diminishes as the fight goes on. If Pereira can’t put Yousri on the back foot early it’s hard to see him taking this one.

The last fight was a fairly decisive win for Belgaroui. Alex was unable to score on Yousri and was picked apart after gassing out late into the fight. Pereira is a talented striker with some serious power, but Belgaroui’s well-rounded game and superior cardio should be enough to win him the championship.

Prediction: Yousri Belgaroui by Unanimous Decision

 

Michael Dreamcrusher Duut

Michael ‘Dreamcrusher’ Duut – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Michael Duut vs Danyo Ilunga

Last year these two stole the show, putting on one of the greatest fights of the year, maybe of all-time. But can they do it again? It’s hard to say. Consistency is not a strong suit for either of these men. Following his thriller with Ilunga, Duut went on to lose his next Glory contest by disqualification due to excessive clinching, then later won a contender tournament in less than a minute (48 seconds to be exact).

Duut’s incredible power and brawler style make him a dangerous fight for just about anyone in the light heavyweight division, but his lack of defence make him an easy target. Unfortunately, Ilunga hasn’t hit a bullsye in quite some time.

Danyo comes into this fight on a whopping 7 fight losing streak, and hasn’t won a fight in Glory since 2014. On the bright side, all 7 losses have come by decision so his chin has held up. Plus Duut isn’t the most durable guy in the world, so it’s possible that Ilunga could knock him out. But I don’t see that happening. Duut is just too powerful and Ilunga isn’t the same fighter he used to be. Hopefully the fight is as great as the last one was, but don’t expect it to go to a 4th round this time. Ilunga’s on a slippery slope, and Duut’s about to cause an avalanche.

Prediciton: Michael Duut by 3rd Round KO

 

Rico The King of Kickboxing Verhoeven

Rico ‘The King of Kickboxing’ Verhoeven – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Rico Verhoeven vs Jamal Ben Saddik

Despite being the main event this was one of the easier fights to pick. Rico has looked unstoppable lately, and as much as people hate to give him credit for anything, he really is the best heavyweight in the world right now. That doesn’t mean a whole lot considering how weak the division is at the moment, but Rico is champion for a reason.

The rest of the heavyweights just aren’t on his level. ‘Big Ben’ included. Jamal’s last fight against Guto Inocente was a total snoozefest, and if not for his rivalry with Rico he probably wouldn’t even be in the title picture. Badr Hari better get his act together cause Rico’s running out of opponents.

The only advantage I see Jamal having is his power. Rico is faster, more precise, and his striking is more diverse. Again, this is a heavyweight contest so anything can happen, but Jamal hasn’t KO’d a world-class opponent since he fought ‘Braddock’ 2 years ago. Since then, Rico has knocked-out Benjamin Adegbuyi, ‘Braddock’, Bigfoot Silva, and broke Badr’s arm earning him a TKO victory. Rico’s the better fighter, simple as that. And no amount of chest hair is going to change that.

Prediction: Rico Verhoeven by 5th Round KO

All images used in this article are accredited to GLORY Kickboxing

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UFC 218: Holloway vs Aldo 2 Main Card Predictions and Analysis

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The passing of the torch. A usual occurrence in combat sports. There comes a time when the old guard has to step down and let the new generation take its place. UFC 218 is all about the passing of the torch. Holloway-Aldo 2, Overeem-Ngannou, Alvarez-Gaethje, the card is chock full of young hungry fighters looking to make a statement against their aging counterparts. But don’t expect the old lions to give up without a fight. Aldo is still a world-class striker and Eddie’s still got some tread on the tires. And at the age of 37, Overeem is still one of the most dangerous heavyweights in the world today.

Max Holloway is a perfect representative of the new generation. He’s scrappy, well-rounded, and will fight whoever you put in front of him. He’s got the fire. So do Ngannou, Gaethje, and the rest of the young guys. Aldo hasn’t had that fire in a long time. Sure he’s still a great fighter,‌ but in his last few fights, he’s lacked that burning passion he used to have. Aldo has all the tools to beat Holloway, but does he have the drive? Does the fire still burn, or was it put out long ago? That’s what we’re going to find out come Saturday.

 

Tecia Torres vs Michelle Waterson

This is such a weird fight. Torres’ climb to the top has been impressively mediocre. She has wins over quality opponents like Angela Hill, Felice Herrig, and Paige VanZant. However, with just a single finish to her credit, Tecia hasn’t given the fans a reason to pay attention to her. Waterson is the complete opposite. She has only gone to decision twice and is one of the more popular fighters in the division. However, injuries and losses have prevented Waterson from gaining any real momentum.

As far as the fight goes I really don’t know what to expect. Waterson is fairly inconsistent and Torres is so consistent it hurts. My assumption would be that Waterson has the better ground game, so if anyone’s going to take it to the mat it will be her. Torres has the better overall stand-up game but doesn’t possess the same finishing ability of the Karate Hottie. My guess is that this one stays on the feet with Torres pushing the pace early, then getting caught by a powerful strike from Waterson that puts her down for good.

Prediction: Michelle Waterson by 2nd Round TKO

 

Eddie Alvarez vs Justin Gaethje

How the hell did Cejudo-Pettis get billed higher than this? Alvarez vs Gaethje has the potential to be the Forrest-Bonnar of the modern era. Both men are aggressive brawlers on the feet and strong wrestlers on the mat. I’d give the submission edge to Eddie, but that’s about it. Gaethje’s striking game is more diverse than Eddie’s is, and his youth is definitely something to consider. With 34 fights to his credit, Alvarez is certainly no spring chicken. He’s not nearly as durable as he used to be, and against a dangerous scrapper like Gaethje, that’s not a great quality.

I really wanted to go with Alvarez on this one, but facts are facts. Gaethje is younger, tougher, and most importantly, better for business. Eddie already lost to the biggest draw in the game. Money-wise he doesn’t have much to offer. Gaethje, however, is a promoters wet dream. He’s durable, dangerous, and damn fun to watch. Basically, everything Eddie used to be. Why does any of this matter? Because the judges work for the UFC. If the UFC brass wants Gaethje to win, then he will. Simple as that. Is it right? No, but business is business. And Justin Gaethje is good for business.

Prediction: Justin Gaethje by Split Decision

 

Henry Cejudo vs Sergio Pettis

This feels like too big a step up for Sergio, which is weird considering he’s ranked #4 and Cejudo is ranked #2. After Cejudo’s fight with Mighty Mouse, I wrote him off as nothing more than a sacrifice to the flyweight king. But his close fight with perennial #1 contender Joseph Benavidez and his vicious knockout over veteran submission artist Wilson Reis have shown me that Cejudo is more than just a big-headed wrestler. Henry is one of the best. If anyone in the division is taking the belt off Mighty Mouse it’s him.

Sergio is a talented kid, no doubt. Give him a few more years to develop and he could be champion one day. Unfortunately for him, the UFC doesn’t have time for that. They need flyweight contenders. If that means a few prospects have to bite the dust then so be it. I just hope Sergio doesn’t get completely outclassed and is able to make a good showing, but against a guy like Cejudo, I’m not holding my breath.

Prediction: Henry Cejudo by Unanimous Decision

 

Alistair Overeem vs Francis Ngannou

Call me crazy, but I’m still not completely sold on Cheick Kongo with dreadlocks. His only quality win is a knockout over what’s left of Andrei Arlovski. Overeem, on the other hand, has fought nothing but quality contenders in his climb back to the top, with his only loss coming against reigning champion Stipe Miocic (although some would argue they saw the tap). On paper, this is Overeem’s fight to win. Unfortunately, paper is what Overeem’s chin is made of.

Ngannou may not be as technically sound as Overeem is, but he hits just as hard, maybe harder. One good shot from the Predator and Overeem could drop like a sack of horse meat. Combine that with Overeem’s uber-cockiness and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Picking Overeem is always a gamble, but I’m willing to roll the dice on this one. It’s not gonna be pretty but Overeem’s in-and-out kickboxing and “run like hell” defensive style should be just enough to win this.

Prediction: Alistair Overeem by Unanimous Decision

 

 Max Holloway vs Jose Aldo 2

Holloway TKO’d Aldo about 6 months ago. Max is in the best form of his career. Aldo is taking the fight on short notice. I really can’t think of a good reason to pick Aldo on this one. Sure his striking is still some of the best in the division, but at this point, he’s writing checks his body can’t cash anymore. His chin has degraded significantly and his patented leg kicks are nowhere to be found. It pains me to say this because Aldo is an incredible fighter, but it’s starting to feel as though the sport is passing him by. Aldo is the past, Max is the future.

Despite just winning the title this summer, Holloway has effectively cleaned out the division. Swanson, Lamas, Stephens, Pettis, all fell to the young Hawaiian. Hell, since his loss to McGregor nobody’s even come close to beating Holloway. This doesn’t mean Max is invincible though. Frankie is still a huge threat to Max’s title, and those who sleep on Aldo are often put to sleep themselves. The road ahead of him is not an easy one, but something tells me Max is going to do just fine. It is what it is.

Prediction: Max Holloway by 2nd Round TKO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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