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UFC London: Silva vs Bisping Breakdown

Dan Tom

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Anderson9

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

Summary:

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

 

Mousasi7

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

 

Leites2

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

Summary:

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

 

Breese1

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

 

Nakamura2

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

Summary:

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

 

Rivera1

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

 

Pickett4

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

Summary:

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 MixedMartialAnalyst.com and for future breakdowns & your latest in worldwide MMA news, stay tuned & follow @MMALatestnws MMALatestNews.com

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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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Image result for holloway vs aldo

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.

Onnit Primal Bells
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