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UFC London: Silva vs Bisping Breakdown

Dan Tom





Anderson Silva (33-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 40 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 77.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Nick Diaz (1-31-15)
  • Camp: Blackhouse MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC Middleweight Champion
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   BJJ Black Belt
+   22 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   18 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Superb offensive & defensive instincts
^   Deceptive counters & setups
+   Precise striker (68% accuracy)
^   Intercepts & anticipates
+/-Heavily reliant on head movement
+/-Hands often held low
^   Uses to entice opposition
+   Underrated wrestling ability
+   Strong clinch / Thai clinch
^   Deadly knees / good base
+   Crafty & composed ground game
+   Good triangles & guard retention
+/-Willingness to fight from bottom


UFC Fight Night: Bisping vs. Le

Michael Bisping (27-7)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 36 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 75.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Thales Leites (7-18-15)
  • Camp: RVCA Gym (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Excellent

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 3 Champion
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   17 KO victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   11 first round finishes
+   Consistent cardio & conditioning
+   Excellent footwork
^   Active & fundamentally sound
+   Intelligent clinch breaks & exits
+   Manages distance well
+   High volume striker
^   Output & momentum gains w/fight
+   Good kick catching counters
+   68% striking defense rate
–    Right-hand often drops in exchanges
^   Shown left hook & kick availabilities
+   Underrated wrestling ability
+   Solid grappling & submission defense
^   Effectively gets back to feet


With no title on the line or network broadcast needed, the UFC will award it’s Fight Pass subscribers with the long awaited match up between Anderson “The Spider” Silva and Michael “The Count” Bisping. London is undoubtedly the most appropriate place to host this event given both fighters history in the United Kingdom. Dazzling English fans as the former Cage Rage Champion, Silva will attempt a return to the old form that brought him glory. Whereas being one of England’s finest products, Bisping is more motivated than ever to accomplish his long time goal of fighting the best. The obvious intangibles for this match will be each man’s physical & mental state after overcoming injury adversities. In this breakdown, I will attempt to give my take on how this may effect each fighter, and how these injury intangibles could be stylistically symbiotic.

From a bizarre to brutal last three years, Anderson has had a lot to overcome physically and mentally. At this advanced stage of Silva’s career, it will be interesting to see if he can regain his step in a style that required the highest level of physical & mental acuity. From the psychological warfare of low-handed taunts to his accurate & intercepting counter strikes, Anderson has made his money by confidently coordinating high-risk situations. With this being his second fight back from a career ending injury, we should get a better gauge of where Silva is. In his last fight, we saw a hesitant Anderson that struggled to fire and react to the bullying of Nick Diaz. Despite kicking more with his injured leg as the fight progressed, Silva still showed an underlying lack of commitment and confidence. Given his horrific injury, these issues are understandable, but his left kick will certainly be the key factor in this fight.

Being no stranger to adversity, Michael Bisping has largely spent the last three years fighting with one good eye. Despite holding the best striking defense in UFC Middleweight history(at a current rate of 68%), the Englishmen has shown a tendency to drop his right hand. From preemptive parrying to clocking out early in exchanges, this has traditionally exposed Bisping to left hooks and high kicks. Unfortunately, this scenario cost Michael greatly in his match with Vitor Belfort as he suffered a detached retina. Although this has added to Bisping’s right side vulnerabilities(as seen in his subsequent fights), the ever-improving martial artist has shown to make intelligent adjustments. Demonstrating clean exits away from these trouble areas, Bisping avoidance of Anderson’s power side will be a must for victory.

If this match were five years ago, I would favor Silva’s chances in countering the stick & move stylist. However, I feel Bisping’s footwork and momentous pacing may actually trouble Anderson should he not find the Englishmen early. Silva’s synchronicity in top form is unrivaled, but we haven’t seen it since October of 2012. Unless the Spider finds himself by mid fight, the increasing output & accuracy of Bisping could further peel back the curtain of the Spider’s current state. As an analyst, I generally try and stick to mathematically tangible in-fight evidence for my predictions. Which in this case would lead me to believe Anderson’s left shin will find it’s home to Bisping’s body or head. That being said, we must be careful not to base our arguments too strongly off old information as I fear we may be looking at a different Anderson Silva. I suspect Bisping’s ability to dictate the terms of a technical dogfight to make the difference here. I recommend betting cautiously and enjoying heavily as we may not see either man for much longer.

Official Pick: Bisping – Decision



Gegard Mousasi (37-6-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 30 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / Uriah Hall (9-26-15)
  • Camp: Red Devil International (Netherlands)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Former Strikeforce & Dream Champion
+   Amateur Boxing Champion (12-1)
+   8-0 as a Pro Kickboxer
+   Black Belt Judo
+   29 first round finishes
+   21 KO victories
+   10 Submission wins
+   Manages distance well
+   Active & accurate long jab
+   Solid defensive instincts & fundamentals
+   Underrated takedown game
+   Strong strikes & submissions from top
+   Crafty guard retention/sweeps



Thales Leites (25-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 34 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 78″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Michael Bisping (7-18-15)
  • Camp: Nova Uniao (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   14 Submission wins
+   4 KO victories
+   10 first round finishes
+   Improved striking
+   Heavy right hand – left hook
+   Hard leg kicks
+   Strong body lock trips & takedowns
^   Favored from/against fence
+   Excellent back take ability
^   Dangerous Arm-Triangle/Arm-bars


London’s co-main event features two of the middleweight division’s dark horse talents as Gegard Mousasi takes on Thales Leites. Despite applying their trades against the world’s best for almost a decade, the mainstream audience has been slow to get behind either man. Each fighter will surely be looking to make a statement and get back in the win column with an impressive performance here.

Starting off on the feet, both men apply effective but different styles of approach. Coming out of the renown Nova Uniao camp, Thales has shown a dramatic improvement to his striking in this later chapter of his career. Stalking in a similar Muay Thai stance to his stablemates, Leites will subtly gauge and close the distance. Using improved technique and committed combinations, Thales will punch his way inside with ligament force to accompany his purpose. Demonstrating an accurate & effective left hook, the Brazilian has shown to get consistent respect on his right-hand follow-ups.

Although not wielding an electrifying arsenal, Leites has more than enough tools to earn Mousasi’s respect standing. However, I do give a the technical edge to Gegard, as he has shown to be as fundamentally sound as he is deadly. With displaying little flash or knockout power, Mousasi has largely scored his stoppages through accurate placements and technical superiority. Despite appearing unenthusiastic, Gegard is secretly searching for defensive openings to exploit. Wielding one the best jabs in the division, Mousasi’s ability to manage distance will certainly be the key factor in this fight. If Gegard can find a home for his jab, then he will likely dictate the distance and terms of striking stanzas. If Thales fails to establish himself or hurt Mousasi early, he could be in for frustrating three rounds.

I feel Leites best chance for victory will be by forcing grappling exchanges. Despite still being hittable on his way in, Thales will punch effectively his way into a clinch position. Utilizing body-lock takedowns and outside trips, Leites will look to take down his opposition when against the fence. Although Mousasi has underrated wrestling ability, he has shown to struggle defending takedowns from the cage(as seen in his most recent bout with Jacare Souza).Even though Leites does not possess the same style or athletic abilities as Souza, he is a world class grappler that can give Gegard a run for his money if on top.

This story, however, can also be told from the other side should Mousasi exercise his offensive wrestling first. Known for his defensive instincts, Gegard has parlayed this skill into a fantastic reactive shot that could see the light of day. Regardless of the ground positioning, I highly suspect their skill-sets will cancel each other out. Especially when you consider the fact that both men are aggressive transition technicians who will work toward similar finish points(back mount chains to arm triangles, etc.). Were this match to contest in the small Octagon, I would be a little more optimistic in Leites’ chances of corralling this fight to his terms. However, I feel that Mousasi will be able to safely navigate the cage and apply his technical advantages where needed.

Official Pick: Mousasi – Decision



Tom Breese (9-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 24 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Cathal Pendred (10-24-15)
  • Camp: Tristar Gym (Canada/UK)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Jr. Freestyle Wrestling Champ(UK)
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   6 Submission wins
+   3 KO victories
+   6 first fight finishes
+   Continual striking improvement
+   Effective straight puncher
^   Long jab-cross
+   Hard left Thai kick
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Favors knees & trips
+   Good transitional submissions
+   Dangerous guard game
^   Superb hips & leg dexterity



Keita Nakamura (31-6-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 31 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Jing Liang Li (-26-15)
  • Camp: K-Taro Dojo (Japan)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Former Deep Welterweight Champion
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   15 Submission wins (14 RNC)
+   7 KO victories
+   17 first round finishes
+   Manages distance well
+   Solid combination puncher
+   Accurate knees
+/-Competent takedown ability
^   Lacks in aggressive finishes
+   Dangerous in the scramble
^   Excellent submissions/positional awareness
–    Lacks head movement/often shells
^   Gets hit but recovers well


In an interesting crossroads matchup, rising prospect Tom Breese will be tested against the never say die veteran, Keita Nakamura. Originally from England and now training at Tristar Gym in Canada, Breese will undoubtedly be looking to showcase his fight-to-fight improvements. Coming off a successful short notice appearance in Japan, Nakamura will look to parlay his momentum into a second run in the promotion. Despite his original UFC stint taking place nearly a decade ago, the 31-year-old Samurai will look to disrupt the Englishmen’s ascension.

As one of the more underrated fighters to come out of Japan, Nakamura is also one of the most well-rounded. Possessing a dangerous but expected submission prowess, Keita also wields a technical kickboxing game. What he lacks in traditional knockout power, Nakamura compensates in volume as he will put together punches off pressure(similarly to Nick Diaz). Displaying strike competency from both stances, Keita will heavily rely on foot placements to manage the striking distance.

The glaring hole in Nakamura’s striking game is his lack of head movement. With the former lightweight facing his largest opposition to date, Keita’s head-on-center habits could cost him if exiled to fight at range(as we saw Breese do to his last opponent). When Nakamura does demonstrate conscious efforts of defense, he will often revert to a shell guard. Given Tom’s shown kicking repertoire from the left side, this could be problematic for the Japanese fighter as it may expose his liver or make him a standing target at the very least.

Nakamura will have his best chance to turn the tables by forcing grappling exchanges. He shows the shot competency to enter space but often lacks the athleticism & aggressiveness to finish the bulk of his attempts. However, Keita may have pockets of opportunity against Breese inside the clinch. Demonstrating a base & balance carried over from his wrestling days, Tom shows solid takedown defense for a fighter with his frame. Primarily utilizing a strong over-hook, Breese will use his natural height to execute sharp knees & trips. Although the Englishman looks to be technically strong here, the over-hook naturally gives way to the body lock. A position that Nakamura is crafty from, this could inadvertently give enough play for the Japanese fighter to find the back.

With 14 of his 15 submission victories coming by rear-naked choke, I am sure that Tom will look to keep Keita from his back at all costs. But with Breese being an excellent transitional grappler himself, I give him the overall submission edge. Using said strong over-hooks, Tom translates it beautifully into ground exchanges. Whether he is utilizing it to belly down and get up, or isolate shoulder leverage and attack from the bottom, Breese’s leg dexterity & hip awareness make him deadly with his frame. Nakamura’s miraculous comeback in his last fight against Li was a reminder of why we watch this sport. Although possible, a repeat performance is not probable as I feel Breese will have the right-of-way in this crossroads match.

Official Pick: Breese – Inside the distance



Francisco Rivera (11-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 34 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: Submission loss / John Lineker (9-5-15)
  • Camp: All In MMA /CSW (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   8 KO victories
+   11 first round finishes
+   KO power / Heavy hands
+   High strike output
^   3rd highest at bantamweight
+   Hard Thai kicks
^   Well timed leg kicks
–    Head often upright
^   Counter availabilities
+   Underrated wrestling
^   74% takedown defense
+/-Propensity to brawl
+/-Aggressive action fighter
^   Gas tank bares watching



Brad Pickett (24-11)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 37 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 68″
  • Last Fight: KO loss / Thomas Almeida (7-11-15)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida/UK)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   7 KO victories
+   6 first round finishes
+   10 Submission wins
+   Volume puncher
+   Excellent Boxing technique
+   Accurate left hook
^   Often rips off slips
+   Dangerous in pocket
^   Strikes well of the break
+   Underrate wrestling/takedowns
^   Good entries/reactive shots
+   Solid scrambling ability
+/-Willingness to exchange
^   Gets hit/recovers well


Kicking off the main card on UFC Fight Pass is a fantastic matchup as Francisco Rivera steps in against Brad Pickett. Originally slated to face Henry Briones, Francisco will be taking this bout on just a few weeks notice. Claiming to have already been in training and seeking a fight, Rivera is excited about his first match outside of North America. No stranger to the United Kingdom, Brad Pickett will surely be looking to right his ship after coming off three consecutive losses. If not for a couple close scorecards & technical miscalculations, Brad could very well be coming off victories instead. Regardless, I doubt these circumstances will stop either fan favorite from giving us a show.

Rarely taking a back step, Rivera will plot forward maintaining a constant state of offensive readiness. Dangerous & accurate with both hands, Francisco also wields an underrated kicking game. Although Rivera has made solid improvements to his takedown defense, he may be selective in his kicks given Pickett’s ability to catch & counter. Francisco should have a firepower advantage which is often valuable in matchups of toe-to-toe fighters. Despite their crowd-pleasing propensities to brawl, each fighter’s willingness to trade has also served as the culprit for their defeats.

I suspect their scrapping second-nature will come at a high cost in London as I will be siding with the more technically sound fighter. Despite being a constant participant in wars and sporting a crooked nose to show for it, Brad Pickett demonstrates solid fundamental footwork and head movement. Whether he is changing the angles of attack or slipping & returning, Pickett moves with a constant purpose. I feel Brad’s ability to counter & technically free-flow inside the chaos will make the difference. Rivera, who is not necessarily known as a counter fighter, will often leave his head upright in exchanges. We have seen this head-on-center habit give Franciso problems when facing technically competent strikers like Mizugaki, Koch, and Figueroa.

Another point that cautions a Rivera pick for me is his shown issues of staying technical in exchanges. Often when tagged or aggressively engaged, Francisco will throw his technique out the window and rely on his chin & power. Although both men have only been officially stopped once, they have both been significantly hit and dropped over the past few years. Luckily for Pickett, he has a proven plan B in his wrestling ability. As one of the most effective Englishmen to develop an MMA wrestling game, Pickett should be able to stifle Rivera’s offense. Even if Brad fails to ground Francisco, I feel the threat of grappling pressure will open up Pickett’s punches. However, Brad’s natural aggressiveness often negates his defenses and opens him for interceptions. With each men sharing similar stories of defensive caveats, I will be treating this as a heavyweight bout despite what the scales say. Coming off a string of losses at 37 years of age can certainly be troubling, but I feel that Brad is a more technical fighter with more ways to win.

Official Pick: Pickett – Decision

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Amirkhani def. Wilkinson
  • Grant def. Vera
  • Askham def. Dempsey
  • Allen def. Meza
  • Jotko def. Scott
  • Parke def. Khabilov
  • Danho def. Omielanczuk
  • Packalen def. Gouti
  • Teymur def. Svensson

Recommended Plays

Pieces for your parlay:

-Gegard Mousasi
-Arnold Allen
-Makwan Amirkhani

Props worth looking at(@5Dimes):

-Gegard Mousasi – by Decision +105
-Jarjis Danho- by KO/TKO +250
-Makwan Amirkhani – by Submission +230

Fights to avoid:

-Packalen vs Gouti
-Rivera vs Pickett
-Jotko vs Scott

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Makwan Amikhani
-Tom Breese
-Anderson Silva

Low Tier Picks:

-Michael Bisping
-Brad Pickett
-Jarjis Danho

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

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UFC 216 Breakdown: Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee



As a fight fan, you can’t ask for a much better match up than Tony Ferguson vs Kevin Lee.

This match up is easily one of the most fascinating ones of the year, and with the interim lightweight title on the line, the stake doesn’t get much higher. But the bigger meaning of the fight lies in that fact that a clear number one contender will be determined to virtually guarantee a future opportunity at the current champion, Conor McGregor.

The talks of McGregor next facing rival Nate Diaz next have been circulating for the past few weeks, but once this fight between Ferguson and Lee concludes, and someone walks out of the arena on Saturday with that interim championship around their waist, they will be very hard to deny for McGregor.

Although this fight is a very exciting match up, on paper, it may deceive some people as a mismatch, since Lee’s resume of wins doesn’t include too many top contenders. His biggest win was against Michael Chiesa in June of this year, Chiesa was ranked 6th at the time. But let’s look deeper into it and see what makes this one a must-see fight.

Where Ferguson Flourishes

Ferguson and Lee may be stylistically two completely different fighters, but their ground games and grappling are both extremely high level, possibly the top 3 in the division, a list that can’t leave out Khabib Nurmagomedov. In the grappling department, it is hard to decide a winner here.

Even about five months ago, I would have leaned towards Ferguson, but watching Lee take control against a high level grappler like Chiesa the way he did was beyond belief to be honest. Ferguson will have his hands full if the fight hits the canvas, and likewise for Lee. However, if there is one thing that Lee needs to watch out against Ferguson, it is the unorthodox style he brings, even in the grappling.

“El Cucuy” is a bizarre fighter, but in a good way. Watch him fight against Edson Barboza and do a couple of imanari rolls. Watch him roll while on the bottom against dos Anjos. It is mind-blowing how good he is with such peculiarity and Lee can’t overlook that.

With that being said, advantages for ‘El Cucuy’ are quite clear: Stand-up, cardio and experience. Ferguson showed time and time again what a well-rounded fighter he is, and his record shows it too. Out of 17 finishes on his win column, 9 of them are by knockout and 8 are by submission. He really is a fighter who can do it all.

Tony Ferguson defeated Rafael dos Anjos via Unanimous Decision in November of 2016 at UFC Mexico City.

We also know that his cardio is exceptional, this was displayed in his fight against Rafael dos Anjos, where he went five hard rounds with the former champion in Mexico City, at an altitude of 7,382 feet. Just to give an idea of how high that is, Colorado’s altitude is 6,035 feet.

Ferguson knows what it is like to be in the deep waters. But when a fairly young fighter such as Lee reaches the later rounds, nobody knows how he will respond to the situation, so Ferguson has his advantages in the experience department laid out clearly.

Don’t Count Out Kevin Lee

‘The Motown Phenom’, on the other hand, is a completely different fighter with different strengths. He possesses advantages in the physical department, career mileage, and in the fact that he has less pressure going into the fight. The physical advantage is the most obvious one for Lee. He has spoken before on the fact that he cuts from about 180-pounds, where Ferguson has talked about him being capable of making 145-pounds.

Ferguson may be taller, but it is not difficult to see that Lee is bigger when they stand next to each other. Lee’s second advantage comes from the fact that he is not as battle-tested. In a way, it could be a disadvantage, but he has taken considerably less amount of damage throughout his career compared to Ferguson. The last advantage for Lee listed was explained more specifically on my article ‘Tony Ferguson can’t afford to lose at UFC 216’. Feel free to go and check it out.

Kevin Lee defeated Michael Chiesa by first round submission (rear-naked choke) at UFC Oklahoma City in June 2017.

Now that both guys’ assets are laid out for this fight, it’s time to make a prediction.

Time and time again leading up to this fight, I’ve heard people say that this fight is going to end in a submission, and most say it’s going to come from Ferguson. I would agree with that but here’s one thing. As previously mentioned, Lee’s grappling is top-notch and he is brilliant defensively. This was evidenced when he was on the bottom against Michael Chiesa, a position in which he was easily able to escape.

I don’t believe Lee is a fighter that can be easily submitted. But here’s what I agree with most on: I also see Ferguson winning, because of his experience, cardio, and definitely unpredictability. Kevin Lee, while he is a very talented fighter, I believe it is just a tad bit too early for him at this moment.

Prediction: Tony Ferguson def. Kevin Lee via TKO (punches) in the 5th round.


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UFC 216 Breakdown: Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg



If Demetrious Johnson is able to defend his flyweight title this Saturday at UFC 216, it will be an attempt to break a major record, as he will then have defended his belt for the 11th consecutive time.

It is a remarkable record that he attempts to break, which is currently being held by Johnson and the former middleweight champion Anderson Silva, at 10.

When this fight was first announced for UFC 215, the reactions from the fans were not exactly what the UFC hoped it would be. There were two possible reasons for this, and maybe even both:

1) The talks of Johnson defending his title against T.J. Dillashaw was roaming around at the time, which got fans excited, only to disappoint them in the end when it wasn’t finalized.

2) Ray Borg is not necessarily a fighter that fans are dying to see yet, mainly because he is not the most marketable fighter and he is very young, which made us ask, “Is he ready for this opportunity?”

However, there is one thing we must keep in mind when looking at a fight between a dominant champion and a young rising contender: Expect the unexpected. We saw it last December when Dominick Cruz fought Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207. Who would have ever thought that Garbrandt would be able to outclass Cruz the way he did?

Cody Garbrandt provided yet another shock title change when he defeated Dominick Cruz at UFC 207 in December of 2016.

But don’t get it mistaken. ‘Can’ doesn’t mean ‘will’. And although Borg could shock the world in this fight, it is way more reasonable to lean towards Johnson. After all, if we are being honest, ‘Mighty Mouse’ is the closest thing to a perfect fighter. The only times he lost was to Brad Pickett, which was seven years ago, and to Dominick Cruz, who unlike ‘DJ’ is a natural bantamweight.

This is a tough fight for Borg. The only way for him to win is either catch Johnson with a big shot and finish him or keep up a ridiculous pace for 5 rounds straight and outmatch the champion with skills.

Borg is at a couple of disadvantages here, one being his cardio. “The Tazmexican Devil” has previously shown that he often has a tough time making the 125-pound weight limit, and if you add that to the fact that he never fought past three rounds, his cardio is in question. Whether he will be able to keep up with Johnson, who can put on a ridiculous pace for 25-minutes straight, remains to be seen.

Also, we never know what is going through a fighter’s head, so it will be interesting to see how Borg performs under pressure. He’s never had a title shot, and Johnson has been in the same spot 12-times in his career, so experience also goes to Johnson.

Ultimately, I’m leaning towards the champion in this fight. I do like Borg and what he brings to the table, however, too many questions are unanswered about Borg at this point to pick him over Demetrious Johnson.

Prediction: Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg via Unanimous Decision.

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UFC 215 Main Card Breakdown



The UFC makes its return to Canada as current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson looks to break the record for most successful, consecutive, title defenses, against Ray Borg. Also on the card is a women’s bantamweight title fight between champion Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko, Gilbert Melendez makes his featherweight debut against power puncher Jeremy Stephens, Ilir Latifi looks to bounce back against Tyson Pedro, and Rafael dos Anjos looks to continue his welterweight journey against Neil Magny. Let’s take a look and see how it each fight plays out.

Jeremy Stephens vs Gilbert Melendez

Gilbert Melendez is a fighter who has built his career on being a talented boxer and being incredibly strong both in the clinch and the ground. For years he has been a monster for most lightweights to deal with. However, since having joined the UFC from Strikeforce he has gone just 1-4. In his last couple of fights, he has found himself slowed down due to unchecked leg kicks and opponents who are quicker than him. In an attempt to resurrect his career ‘El Nino’ has dropped down to featherweight and will meet former lightweight, himself, Jeremy Stephens. Stephens has made a career out of hitting hard, knocking opponents out with either hands, legs, or even his knees. Stephens is a fighter who excels in the pocket and has the durability to stand toe to toe with almost any opponent. In his last five fights, he has gone 2-3 due to his opponents being quicker than him and keeping him on the end of their punches.

How the fight will go

Gilbert will come into the fight as the stronger fighter with the better grappling game and better control of the Octagon. His excellent boxing will match-up well with Stephens. However, Stephens will come in as the faster fighter, harder puncher, and will already be used to cutting down to 145. Melendez will need to gain control of the Octagon early and keep Stephens against the cage both in the clinch and on the ground, in order to tire out “Lil Heathen”. If he can use his boxing to keep Stephens at the end of his punches, control the Octogan, and stay out of the pocket, it’s his fight to lose. Stephens does his best work in the pocket and although he’s slow for a featherweight he will have the advantage speed wise in this match-up. If he can keep his back off of the cage, gain control of the Octagon, land his powerful leg kicks, and mix up his powerful strikes, then he will have a dog in this fight and can very well pull off the upset.


Gilbert Melendez fights very similarly to the way he fought in the Pettis fight. He keeps Stephens’ back against the cage and forces him to the ground every chance he gets in order to tire him out. Stephens occasionally finds success using his speed and power in the pocket but eventually finds himself too tired to stop the stronger Melendez from imposing his game plan. Assuming Gilbert’s first cut 145 goes well, he beats Stephen’s via a close but clear decision to put his career back on track and start his journey at featherweight on the right foot.

Ilir Latifi vs Tyson Pedro

Ilir Latifi is coming off of one of the most brutal knockout losses of 2016. He ate a huge knee from Ryan Bader in the second round of their fight and has not returned to the Octogan since. The Swedish ball of muscle looks to bounce back against the undefeated Australian Tyson Pedro. Tyson Pedro is a fighter who has never experienced anything beyond a first round stoppage win, his fight against Latifi represents his biggest test yet. Latifi is a fighter with a game centered around his incredible strength and power. He is a fighter who brings a calm energy in the cage and an interesting physique. He is only 5’10, the same height as former featherweight Anthony Pettis, what he lacks in height he makes up for with muscle. His muscle alone makes him one of the strongest and most powerful fighters in the UFC. Pedro is one of the tallest fighters in his division, coming in at 6’3 he’s used to being the stronger, taller fighter and likes to smother his opponents both on the ground and in the clinch.

How the fight will go

A lot of Pedro’s advantages come from being the taller, stronger fighter. He likes to keep his opponents at range, eat them up with oblique kicks, clinch up, take them down and find the stoppage. Latifi’s strength means clinching and takedowns won’t be easy. He can over power most opponents and avoid trouble in those areas. Latifi does have a tendency to get stuck on the outside and eat leg kicks, his tendency to rush in can lead to counters, like in the Bader fight. Latifi is an excellent wrestler but has trouble taking his opponents down, often expanding a lot of energy in the process. Pedro has been hurt before by his lack of head movement and that can lead to him taking big shots, Latifi can always find a big shot early on and take the Australian out.


This fight will all depend on how the first round goes. If Latifi can find his range early on he can land the knockout shot and finish the Australian. If he can’t, he will find himself on the outside where Pedro will pick him apart with body kicks and oblique kicks and hold him against the fence where the Swede will tire himself out. If Pedro stays patient he can tire out Latifi and score the finish. Pedro scores the upset and finishes an exhausted Latifi in the third round by TKO.

Neil Magny vs Rafael dos Anjos

Rafael dos Anjos looks to win his second fight at welterweight as he faces long time contender Neil Magny. Dos Anjos is coming off of a well-fought decision win against Tarec Saffiedine in a fight that helped him discover how he stacked up against a real welterweight and how his body would hold up. He brings into this fight excellent body and leg kicks that he uses to break down his opponents and slow down their movement. He has a game that is perfectly suited for his height as he uses a lot of pressure and forward movement to make sure he stays on the inside. His excellent ground game has carried over to 170 as he uses his top pressure to smother his opponents. Neil Magny last fought against Johny Hendricks in a fight where he used his long range better and showed a new technique with his kicks to create range. Magny’s game uses excellent cardio, as well as good footwork and movement. He’s starting to better understand how to use his long and tall body. He also uses his long legs to create triangle attempts from the bottom.

How the fight plays out

If Magny can use his height and reach correctly he can leave Dos Anjos stuck on the outside, as well as using his footwork to ensure he doesn’t take too many shots. His cardio will keep him fresh throughout the three rounds and he can use that to his advantage if dos Anjos tires out. Dos Anjos will look to use his leg kicks to stop Magny’s footwork as well as use his powerful body kicks to sap his cardio. Dos Anjos’ pressure based game could very well negate Magny’s reach advantage and his smothering top game would keep Magny from using his reach.


Although Magny has the tools to beat dos Anjos, the Brazilian remains an elite fighter even at welterweight. Dos Anjos uses his leg and body kicks to slow down Magny as well as using his wrestling to tire the American out. Dos Anjos has fought tall opponents in the past and knows how to use his forward pressure to remove the reach advantage, as he did against Donald Cerrone and Nate Diaz. The former lightweight champion takes a decision win and moves to 2-0 at welterweight.

Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko

Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko meet for the second time after fighting each other at UFC 196. The first fight ended in a close 29-28 decision win for the now champion Nunes. Nunes is a long and rangy kickboxer who likes to fight at range, where she uses her jab and cross keep her opponents back. She has been known to finish most of her fights early on, however, if she fails to do so she has a tendency to get tired, gas out, and get finished herself. Shevchenko, although undersized at 5’5, has been beating her opponents using her ever evolving ground game and her excellent Muay-Thai. Her patience and forcing her opponents to lead has brought her victories over top contenders like Holly Holm and Julianna Pena.

How the fight plays out

Amanda Nunes used her strength on the ground to beat Shevchenko in the first two rounds the last time they fought. Nunes didn’t have a whole lot of success on the feet as she was overpowered in the clinch and found herself having trouble with Shevchenko’s patience and lack of counter opportunities. Nunes’ ground game, while she was still fresh, was very dangerous last time out, nasty ground and pound as well as multiple submission attempts. However in the third round of their fight Nunes gassed and found herself too exhausted to overpower her opponent like she had done in the first rounds and found herself eating a lot of shots on the ground and in the clinch. If early on she can force Shevchenko to the ground and use her strength, she can find a submission or a ground and pound TKO. However, if she can’t, she’ll find herself getting tired in the later rounds and seeing her window for victory closing. This fight, being five rounds, heavily favors Shevchenko and her ever evolving game.


Much like in their first fight Shevchenko will stay patient and lose the early rounds. Her lack of activity hurt her last time out as well as Nunes’ aggressive ground game. If Nunes can use her strength early on, she can take Shevchenko down and have her way with her as she looks for the early finish. If Shevchenko can weather the early storm, she can take advantage of her tired opponent and finish her late. Shevchenko will force Nunes to lead and although she’ll have to weather the early storm, her patience will eventually pay off as her opponent tires herself out. Valentina Shevchenko finishes an exhausted Amanda Nunes in the fourth round by TKO to become the new women’s bantamweight champion.

Demetrious Johnson vs Ray Borg

Current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson takes on Ray Borg in an attempt to break the record for most successful consecutive title defenses. His 11th title defense comes against skilled wrestler Ray Borg and his ever evolving striking. Johnson brings to the Octagon one of the most well-rounded games in all of MMA. His excellent stand up paired with his world class grappling has not failed him at 125. His excellent footwork has always troubled his opponents and his lack of clear weaknesses means it’s difficult to exploit problems in his game. Ray Borg started his career as a world class grappler who would immediately take his opponents down and smother them until the fight was over or he was able to find a submission. His striking used to be a big weakness in his game until he started training with Brandon Gibson.

How the fight plays out

Ray Borg used to start his fights by immediately taking his opponents down and smothering them. Now that his striking improved he’s content with staying on the feet and striking with his opponents. This is where he will have problems against Johnson, Johnson is the much quicker fighter out of the two and will keep Borg on the outside. Borg’s incredibly short reach of 63” means he will need to cover a lot of distance, something he struggles with. Borg is not the quickest of flyweights and is a lot slower than Johnson. While Johnson has the bigger advantage on the feet, the wrestling is where it gets tricky. Borg’s ability to find the takedown and stay on his opponent is something he will need to use to tire out Johnson and force him to make a mistake. Johnson’s patience on the ground means he won’t panic if he goes down with Borg and has shown in the past he can easily get back up or even grapple with the best of them. Borg’s gas tank will be a problem in this fight, as Johnson never seems to tire out and is used to going five rounds. If Borg tires, Johnson will completely take over the fight.


Borg starts the first round on the feet and ends up getting frustrated as he finds Johnson too quick and gets stuck on the outside. He eventually finds the takedown and forces Johnson to go through some scary moments. Johnson survives the early storm on the ground and starts to run away with the fight in the third round as Borg starts to tire. Although the fight will be close on the ground, it’s obvious Johnson has all the advantages in the standup. Demetrious Johnson beats Ray Borg by unanimous decision to break the record for most successful title defenses in a row.

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