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UFC Long Island Fight to Watch: Jimmie Rivera vs. Thomas Almeida

Harry Davies

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Kicking off a great main card this weekend at UFC Long Island, two bantamweights with a combined 41-2 MMA record will look to enter into their division’s title picture.

Jimmie Rivera has been on the sidelines for almost ten months now, last fighting at UFC 203 where he cruised past Urijah Faber despite suffering a nasty eye poke that impaired his vision in the third round. ‘El Terror’ was planned to fight against Bryan Caraway this January, but after Caraway withdrew, Rivera saw no interest in the replacement opponent Marlon Vera, so the fight was scrapped.

After having his 21-fight winning streak snapped by Cody Garbrandt last year, Thomas Almeida bounced back by beating Alberto Morales in November to pick up a Performance of the Night bonus, taking home an extra $50,000 for his impressive stoppage victory.

Can Rivera Make It 20 in a Row?

Although Rivera had won three consecutive fights in the UFC prior to facing Faber last September, it was the win against the ‘California Kid’ that really allowed Rivera to assert his presence in the upper echelon of the bantamweight division.

Faber, who before facing Rivera fought Dominick Cruz in a trilogy for the bantamweight title, has been a long time pioneer of the lighter weight classeses in MMA and retired in December of last year after defeating Brad Pickett in his hometown of Sacramento.

But ‘El Terror’ blazed through the veteran Faber making it look like the roles had been flipped, Rivera was the teacher and Faber was the student. There is nothing remarkably spectacular about Rivera’s performances, both his stand-up and ground game are very stable. It’s been so far so good for him in the UFC, and no-one has really been able to exploit any holes in his game.

The Thrilling ‘Thominhas’

On the other end of the spectrum, Almeida defines flashy. The Brazilian hasn’t seen the judges scorecards in well over two years, and his exciting style that provides fans with entertaining knockouts from all angles has meant he has become a fan favourite in the UFC.

Perhaps his most jaw dropping performance inside the octagon was back at the historic UFC 189, when he faced Brad ‘One Punch’ Pickett. Being dropped by a left hook in the first round, Almeida was visibly hurt and was down on the judges scorecards by a round. Then, just under 30-seconds into the second round, Almeida unleashed a picture-perfect flying knee to score a walk-off knockout, beautiful stuff.

A win against Rivera would be huge for Almeida. He hasn’t fought since defeating Morales last year, and there would be no better way for ‘Thominhas’ to silence those who refer to his impressive record as ‘padded’, by stopping Rivera in Almeida-like fashion this weekend.

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Fight to Watch

UFC 217 Fight To Watch: Stephen Thompson vs. Jorge Masvidal

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UFC 217 features a myriad of phenomenal fights, a list that includes 3 champions and 3 former champions, but amongst this impressive list of fights, one that stands out the most is Stephen Thompson vs Jorge Masvidal.

It seems like a lot of people are forgetting about this fight due to a stacked card that puts this excellent bout at only the 2nd fight in the main card, but stylistically this is the most exciting match up of the night.

No knock on any other fights. Bisping vs GSP is going to be Bisping vs GSP, nothing less. Garbrandt vs Dillashaw is an intriguing match up as well, a storyline that includes two former training partners and friends turned to bitter enemies, and Joanna Jędrzejczyk making her 6th title defense against Rose Namajunas.

But Thompson vs Masvidal is so exciting for two reasons:

1) Stylistic Match Up

As briefly mentioned above, the stylistic view of this fight is beyond excellence. Everyone is aware of ‘Wonderboy’ Thompson’s achievements. 57-0 in kickboxing and a former title challenger who came as close as humanly possible to take the title away from Tyron Woodley. ‘Gamebred’, on the other hand, is an all around great mixed martial artist. Although a natural lightweight, it wouldn’t be an overstatement that Masvidal shined a lot more since moving up to the welterweight division.

This fight has an extremely high chance of becoming a kickboxing match with little to no grappling involved. And what makes it truly so fascinating is the fact that neither of these guys are too worried about getting taken down, which will showcase who’s striking is truly better. Most likely scenario of the fight will be both guys throwing hands for 3 rounds straight, with Masvidal pushing most of the action. But neither fighter can make a game changing mistake, as both fighters are more than capable of finishing fights.

2) Welterweight Division

The fight will also clean up the top of the welterweight division a little bit. With Colby Covington joining top 3 and Robbie Lawler and Rafael dos Anjos going at each other in a month’s time, winning this fight is crucial for Thompson and Masvidal in order to remain in the conversation of a title shot, but of course, only one guy can walk out the winner. It would be difficult for them to drop down in the rankings and then having to fight their way back up with all the prospects that have been rising.

So with all the cards laid out on the table for the fight, it’s time to make a prediction:

It’s tough to see Thompson getting caught with big shots by Masvidal, especially with a reach and size advantage, but it’s a hard pick due to Masvidal’s explosiveness and his ability to pull the trigger. Ultimately, I believe Thompson will edge Masvidal out by a bit, but by no means will this be an easy or simple fight for Thompson.

Prediction: Stephen Thompson def. Jorge Masvidal via Unanimous Decision

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Khabib vs Barboza UFC 219 breakdown

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Khabib vs Barboza has been made official for UFC 219 and it promises to be an absolute cracker, so in this article, I’m going to give a full breakdown of this fantastic fight.

UFC 219 just got a whole lot better with the addition of Khabib vs Barboza to the main card, Khabib will be hungry to grab a victory in his first fight since his submission win over Michael Johnson at UFC 205.

However, UFC fans will be crossing their fingers and hoping that the fight does happen as Khabib has been scheduled to fight in the main event, back in April 2016, but his opponent Ferguson had to pull out of their scheduled main event because doctors had found fluid and blood in his lungs. Khabib also pulled out of there fight at UFC 209 because he was hospitalized trying to cut weight for there highly anticipated bout, which played down his chances at him getting a title shot against McGregor. This fight is a chance for him to once again prove himself to get that title shot. Hopefully, we do not see a repeat of these past scheduled fights for Khabib and hopefully, we can see him back in the octagon for UFC 219.

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Now onto Barboza, who is an explosive and aggressive fighter, his last three fights have resulted in three wins for the Brazilian who won his last fight by TKO/KO with his latest loss coming from Ferguson by way of submission at the Ultimate Fighter Finale, back in 2015.

This Brazilian fighter prefers to stand and trade with his opponents and usually outclasses his opponents on the feet, however, most of Barboza’s losses have come by submission, one of those opponents being Michael Johnson (who Khabib beat by submission) so Barboza may want to work on his submission defence and ground game altogether because Khabib is a very dominant fighter who can control the fight and has a strong ground game so he will be looking to take Barboza to the ground.

Barboza needs to try to take control of the fight away from Khabib and keep it stood up to try and outclass Khabib, which will make for a very Interesting bout on December the 30th and many will be tuning in to see how it turns out.

I believe Khabib will walk with the victory over Barboza at UFC 219 in a fight which promises to be exciting and aggressive throughout.

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Fight to Watch

UFC Fight Night 119 Fight to Watch: John Lineker vs. Marlon Vera

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UFC Fight Night 119 is approaching this Saturday, and most of the attention is on the main and co-main events. While Derek Brunson vs. Lyoto Machida and Demian Maia vs. Colby Covington are exciting fights, there is another fight on the main card that deserves some attention. Kicking off the main card is a bantamweight matchup between Marlon Vera, and #5 John “Hands of Stone” Lineker.

Marlon Vera, who is 10-3-1 in his professional career, is coming off of an eight-month stretch of 3 wins in the octagon. After defeating Ning Guangyou in November of 2016 by unanimous decision, “Chito” followed that up with a huge upset win over Brad Pickett in his farewell fight in London. Vera had a quick turnaround and fought again 3 months later in July at UFC on Fox: Weidman vs. Gastelum, where he submitted Brian Kelleher in the very first round via armbar.

John Lineker, on the other hand, is a different story. His last fight would have elevated him to a title shot with a win, but he ended up with a unanimous decision loss to former champion T.J. Dillashaw. He would have truly earned that shot too, before losing at UFC 207 Lineker had won 4 straight fights since moving up to Bantamweight.  This included wins over names like Rob Font, Michael McDonald, and John Dodson. John Lineker broke his jaw in the first round of his matchup with Dillashaw but didn’t end up needing surgery. He initially intended to return in July but ended up waiting until October to return.

John Lineker vs. Marlon Vera is a great matchup to this fight night card. Vera has a chance to get another huge win that could propel him into the rankings. Fighting in his opponents home country is obviously not something that affects him, as he defeated Brad Pickett in England. He has proven in his last two fights that he has the skills to get it done with his striking, and also has a great submission game. Vera has a 5-inch height advantage that could really help distance himself from Lineker’s power. John Lineker is small for a bantamweight, and this could factor into this matchup. However, he does have 29  professional wins and has shown the ability to take an absolute beatdown and not slow down.

Prediction: When the main card kicks off this Saturday, it will be an important fight for the Bantamweight division. While Vera offers lengthy striking and a good ground game, I see Lineker’s experience and toughness to earn him a victory. John Lineker took some of the biggest shots T.J. Dillashaw had to offer and even fought two rounds after breaking his jaw. This toughness will allow him to take some shots from Vera, before landing a big one of his own. My prediction, John Lineker by 2nd round KO. Who do you think will have the first victory of the main card this Saturday?

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