Connect with us

breakdown

UFC on FOX 18: Johnson vs Bader Breakdown

Dan Tom

Published

on

 

Rumble1

Anthony Johnson (20-5))

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 31 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 78″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Jimi Manuwa (9-5-15)
  • Camp: Blackzilians (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Juco National Wrestling Title
+   Regional MMA Championship
+   14 KO victories
+   10 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Devastating right hand
^   Overhands, uppercuts, and hooks
+   Dangerous left high kick
^   Set up off stance switches
+   Underrated takedown defense(79%)
+   Working diligently on grappling
^   Improvements shown in last fight
–    Struggles when pressure fought
^   Gas tank bears watching

 

Bader3

Ryan Bader (20-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 32 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Rashad Evans (10-3-15)
  • Camp: Power MMA (Arizona)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   2x Div. 1 All-American Wrestler
+   3x Pac-10 Champion
+   7 KO victories
+   8 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Explosive power double TD’s
+   Strong pressure against fence
^   Effective clinch & body locks
+   Solid positional awareness & rides
+   Active ground strikes
+   Good footwork & movement
+   Much improved overall striking
–    Strikers sometimes retract low
^   Counter opportunities

Summary:

The evening’s main course features a battle for contender-ship at light heavyweight, as Anthony Johnson takes on Ryan Bader. Riding a 5-fight winning streak, Bader will surely cement his case for a title shot should he get past Johnson. As one of the toughest outs in the division, Anthony will look to skip over Ryan with an impressive vintage win here. Although I do feel Johnson is a justified favorite, I found myself disagreeing with the odds as this is a much closer fight stylistically.

Starting off on the feet, it’s not difficult to see why Johnson carries an on-paper advantage. Under the tutelage of striking coach Henri Hooft, Anthony’s natural aggression has been steadily honed into a more technically efficient wrecking machine. Subtly loading in left-to-right plots, Johnson will constantly counter-balance himself with strikes to maintain offensive & defensive readiness. Using said left-to-right shifts, Anthony is already set in motion to move defensively one direction, which will naturally load up hooks that he’ll use to throw himself back into position.

These movement principles also translate seamlessly with Anthony’s kicking game, as we saw this demonstrated in his last fight with Jimi Manuwa. Smoothly changing angles by switching to southpaw, Johnson threw his patent left power kick that set him up to come back with a right hook from the other side. Though known for his devastating punches, I believe Anthony’s kicks off movement will be key in this fight. Should Johnson effectively variate his attacks, he could limit Bader’s shot selection and even discourage his offense.

Despite the edge in striking going to Johnson, I don’t feel Ryan is as far behind as many suggest. Working heavily on his stand up with his new striking coach Chaz Turner, we’ve seen clear fight-to-fight improvements in his techniques. With a huge focus on opening up Ryan’s hips & stance, he’s shown to more fluidly hit and move. Although displaying improved entries, Bader will occasionally retract his hands low opening up counters(as seen in his fight with Lyoto Machida). Footwork will certainly be a key factor for Ryan standing if he means to avoid Anthony’s power shots.

Bader’s most consistent weapon may also be the key intangible to this fight. Wielding an explosive power double takedown, Ryan can disrupt Anthony’s forward aggression by parlaying it into pressure of his own. Though Johnson has underrated counter wrestling, consistent shot attempts could put Anthony on defense and force him to work. Although Phil Davis struggled to take Johnson down, it’s important to note that he and Bader have different takedown styles. Despite displaying more direct entries, Bader also executes solid reactive shots that could serve him well. With a shown superior gas tank, I believe Bader has the tools to make this a pressure fight. Traditionally struggling with said pressure, Anthony may have a chance to prove his cardio critics wrong if this fight goes past three. But with finishes beyond round 2 non-existent in Johnson’s career, I’m not sure I like his chances should he not close the show early.

Official Pick: Bader – Decision

 

Ben3

Ben Rothwell (35-9)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 34 Weight: 263 lbs Reach: 78″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Matt Mitrione (6-6-15)
  • Camp: Rothwell MMA (Kenosha, WI)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Undefeated in IFL run (9-0)
+   Finished 32 of 35 wins
+   91% finish rate overall
+   28 first round finishes
+   20 KO victories
+   12 Submission wins
+   KO wins / heavy hands
+   Improved footwork
^   Will switch stances
+   Excellent pressure fighter
^   Draws counters well
+   Dangerous L. Hooks & R. Uppercuts
+   Underrated submission game
+   Effectively gets up / uses cage
+   Durable chin / hard to stop
+/-Takes damage to give it

 

Barnett3

Josh Barnett (34-7)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 38 Weight: 248 lbs Reach: 78″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Roy Nelson (9-26-15)
  • Camp: CSW (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC HW Champion
+   Accomplished No-Gi Grappler
+   10 KO victories
+   13 first round finishes
+   18 Submission wins
+   KO power
+   Dangerous clinch game
^   Setup w/wrist controls & under-hooks
+   Hard elbows & knees in close
^   Consistently works body
+   Will switch stances
^   Powerful kicks from southpaw
+   Superb top-game/mount
^   Effective ground striker
+   Diverse submission variety
+/-Willingness to exchange

Summary:

The evening’s co-main event contests in the heavyweight division, as “Big” Ben Rothwell takes on Josh “The War Master” Barnett. With both fighters being amongst the most well rounded & dangerous at heavyweight, tossing a dart blindfolded could serve as a strong prediction for either man. Rather than use that method, I’ll instead provide some technical aspects of what I feel you should consider before taking this ride.

Starting off on the feet, “Big” Ben has shown a gradual evolution & understanding of striking, as he’s steadily honed in on what works for him. Barnett, on the other hand, has always shown a well-rounded arsenal of attack. However, it wasn’t until his last fight against Roy Nelson where we really Josh take things to the next level. Adding stance-switches in conjunction with forward momentum, Josh effectively opens up left power kicks to the body that may find a home on Rothwell. Aside from his natural height & hand position, Ben often retracts his standing guard high opening up the body(exposed particularly well in his fights with Vera & Overeem). With Rothwell being so dangerous in close, this could be a useful navigation tool standing for Josh.

Although he may not be as pretty on his feet, Don’t let Rothwell’s standing demeanor fool you. Utilizing pressure in an awkward but intelligent fashion, Ben will stalk forward while baiting his opposition to initiate exchanges. Most fighters who play this game, ultimately end up paying due to Rothwell’s incredible durability and devastating power. If an opponent doesn’t have answers such as a Cain Velasquez-like transition game, then we often see Rothwell force frantic footwork & bad decisions. That being said, Barnett won’t be as easy to dictate with his consistently aggressive style.

Despite their different approaches to pressure fighting, I feel the fighter who establishes their terms first will speak volumes. With Rothwell being more of a counter fighter, I expect Barnett to be the one with stronger advances. That said, he’ll need to be careful when traveling from boxing to clinching range. This is where most of Josh’s defensive liabilities lay and is also where Ben is most effective. Although Josh has shown suspect head movement in the pocket on previous occasions, he demonstrated recent improvements in footwork & distance management to help supplement this(something crucial for this match).

The key factor for me lies within the clinch exchanges. As a custom in most Barnett fights, it’s from the clinch where he likes to strike and set up takedowns. As a huge Catch Wrestling enthusiast, there’s nothing I’d rather see more than some violent ground fighting. However, with Josh’s shown trend to strike(51% of his accredited offense) as opposed to wrestle(5 official TD attempts in over 5 yrs), I’m not sure how much mat time we’ll actually see. Not to mention Rothwell’s improved takedown defense and ability to scramble to/up from the cage. Although Barnett carries an on-paper ground advantage, Ben’s grappling is very underrated. He may not be able to submit a sober Barnett, but I believe Rothwell is more than competent to negate Josh’s offense.

Although I also give Barnett a technical edge in the clinch, he will still be essentially playing with fire. As seen in his fight with Brendan Schaub, Rothwell can still close the show when his back is to the cage. With Josh favoring the right under-hook to establish clinch offense, he’s shown right uppercut openings in the past that could prove costly against Ben. If Barnett can stay disciplined with his hand fighting in close(as seen in his fight with Nelson), then he may nullify some of Ben’s offense and open up his own. Ultimately, I give Barnett the overall technical advantage in this fight. However, should this battle primarily contest upright, I feel Rothwell’s chin, power, and fight-to-fight improvements may see the light of day. Regardless of who you favor, I recommend caution as this is heavyweight MMA and should be treated as such.

Official Pick: Barnett – Decision

 

Iuri2

Iuri Alcantara (32-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 35 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Leandro Issa (8-1-15)
  • Camp: Marajo Bros Team (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Regional Jiu-Jitsu Champion
+   BJJ Black Belt
+   Muay Thai Accolades
+   19 first round finishes
+   13 KO victories
+   12 Submission wins
+   Underrated wrestling
^   14 for 20 in UFC takedowns
+   Strong top game / control
^   36 passes in last 12 fights
+   Heavy left hand
+   Hard left Thai kick
+/-Crafty but content on bottom
^   Struggles when pressure fought

 

Jimmie1

Jimmie Rivera (18-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 26 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 68.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Pedro Munhoz (11-7-15)
  • Camp: Team Tiger Schulmann (New Jersey)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   3rd degree Black Belt(Tiger Schulmann)
+   4 KO victories
+   2 first round finishes
+   17 first round finishes
+   KO power/heavy hands
+   Wrestling base
^   Excellent takedown defense
+   Solid positional awareness
+   Manges distance well
+   Maintains pace & pressure
+   Consistent 2-3 punch combos
^   Mixes in body work / kicks
+   Tight striking defense / recovers well

Summary:

In what should be a fun styles matchup, rising contender Jimmie Rivera meets the always dangerous Iuri Alcantara. Holding wins over UFC fighters from flyweight to welterweight, calling Alcantara experienced is an understatement. Despite seeming like a perennial contender, the Brazilian’s technical acumen and knockout power have kept him more than relevant amongst the division’s best. However, Iuri has typically struggled with pressure fighters & wrestlers as he’ll get just that in Jimmie Rivera.

Coming off a victory over the highly touted Pedro Munhoz(another Muay Thai/Jiu-Jitsu specialist), Rivera is slowly but surely proving himself to be the dark-horse of this division. Showing consistent pace & pressure, Rivera will move and manage distance as he fires off combinations. Mixing in body-shots and accenting his volume with kicks, Jersey’s own will move especially well to his left as he’ll attach an accurate hook in conjunction. This movement will be key in facing a dangerous southpaw like Alcantara, who heavily leans upon his left sided attacks.

Although possessing underrated takedown defense, Iuri is most successful in discouraging shots through his left power kick. Throwing his shin at a 45-degree angle across the body, Alcantara will time his opposition coming in. Iuri will need to be careful when doing this with Rivera, as Jimmie shows a natural ability to catch kicks and counter. With Alcantara carrying a length advantage in most fights(including this one), it tends to grant him a false sense of security as he often loads up on single-shots. Should the Brazilian approach exchanges with single-shot setups in mind, I feel he will end up playing catchup for the remainder of the night.

Iuri should have his biggest on-paper advantage in the grappling department. Particularly from top-side, the BJJ Black Belt holds 36 passes in his last 12 fights. But with Alcantara facing one of the hardest men to take-down in the division, I’m not sure it will play out his way. Though Iuri is 14 for 20 in UFC takedown attempts, Jimmie shows excellent technical reactions in defending shots. From his superb positional awareness to his polished MMA wrestling, Rivera should decide where this fight takes place. If he’s smart, he’ll follow Frankie Saenz & Uriah Faber’s footprints of pressure and positional control. Without discounting the threats & skills of Alcantara, I see the younger lion taking the right-of-way in this crossroads match.

Official Pick: Rivera – Decision

 

Sage1

Sage Northcutt (7-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 19 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 74.5″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Cody Pfister (12-10-15)
  • Camp: Gracie Barra Katy (Katy, TX)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt Tae Kwon Do
+   Black Belt Kajukenbo
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   5 first round finishes
+   4 TKO victories
+   100% finish rate
+   Manages distance well
^   Plays all the way in or out
+   Excellent lead leg side kick
+/-Aggressive advances/sub attempts
^   Often losing position
–    Appears uncomfortable on bottom

 

Barber1

Bryan Barberena (10-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 26 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 72.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Chad Laprise (4-25-15)
  • Camp: MMA Lab (Arizona)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   Experienced at multiple weights
+   8 KO victories
+   5 first round finishes
+   Improved technical aggression
^   Grows in pace & pressure
–    Tends to start slow
–    Sometimes stagnant off strikes
^   Counter opportunities
+   Active clinch striker
+   Competent takedown defense
^   Scramble to stand up urgency
+   Good chin (never stopped)

Summary:

As customary, the UFC’s lightweight division will kick off the main card on FOX. Featured first, rising star “Super” Sage Northcutt takes on the dangerous Bryan Barberena. Clearly being pushed as a prospect by the UFC, this will certainly be the toughest test of Sage’s career. Aside from an early competitive start in traditional martial arts, Northcutt possesses uncanny athleticism that facilitates(and largely compensates) his well-rounded skillsets. Narrowing down his kicking arsenal for MMA, Sage has shown to utilize his lead side-kick to manage the distance. Playing all-the-way in or out, it’s Northcutt’s ability to quickly close said distance(or even the show) that’s most impressive.

In fact, I believe Sage’s ability to dictate range will be a key factor in this fight. Bryan is, in my opinion, a more technical striker overall. However, Sage’s speed advantage could disrupt Barberena’s offensive pressure, particularly early on should he start slow. That being said, the assumption that Sage can enact the necessary discipline to consistently dictate range has yet to be proven. With a low sample size of Northcutt against mid-tier strikers(much less Southpaws), it will be interesting to see him against a more advanced striker with a chin. Despite a sometimes slow burn, the brooding Barberena will consistently build in pace & pressure with little signs of slowing. Supported by a strong chin, Bryan’s technical aggression will certainly test the young prospect.

In order to hedge his bets, I feel Northcutt’s reactionary takedowns will serve him well in this matchup(unlike against his original opponent). Though Bryan’s no slouch on the ground(BJJ Blue Belt under John Crouch), Sage could create these exchanges to counter momentum. But even when in top position, Northcutt’s shown eagerness for advancing/submission attempts has cost him positions despite eventually winning fights. Although Sage’s athletic aggression has made him difficult to control, he does show some technical indecisiveness in scrambles. This could cost him against an active and urgent fighter like Barberena, who seldom succeeds position.

Between the late notice & name value, I can completely understand why Northcutt is a justified favorite. That said, I feel that the current asking price screams caution if you’re thinking about playing him. On the flip-side, I believe there’s big value in Barberena’s style and the intangibles the durable striker brings. If Sage can’t stop him or establish clear dominance by the end of the first, I feel that Barberena will take over mentally and physically. Sage hasn’t experienced the same in fight adversities as Barberena, much less shown the in-corner adjustments that he’s executed. This won’t be Bryan’s first short notice fight for the UFC, as he’s stepped in last minute to stop Joe Ellenberger at lightweight. And with this bout being contested at welterweight, I like the stylistic chances of the man who was already in camp.

Official Pick: Barberena – Inside the distance

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Saffiedine def. Ellenberger
  • Mercier def. Ferreira
  • Natal def. Casey
  • Ortiz def. Reis
  • Yakovlev def. Sullivan
  • Caceres def. Fullen
  • Brown def. Dwyer
  • Makashvili def. Jackson
  • Martin def. Olivieri

Recommended Plays

Pieces for your parlay:

-Jimmie Rivera
-Tarec Saffiedine
-Rafael Natal

Props worth looking at:

-Bryan Barberena – Inside the distance
-Randy Brown- by KO/TKO
-Jimmie Rivera – by Decision

Fights to avoid:

-Ben Rothwell vs Josh Barnett
-Tony Martin vs Felipe Olivieri
-Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs Carlos Diego Ferreira

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Anthony Johnson
-Randy Brown
-Jimmie Rivera

Low Tier Picks:

-Felipe Olivieri
-Ben Rothwell
-Ryan Bader

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

Onnit Primal Bells
Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

breakdown

GLORY: Redemption – Breakdown and Predictions

Published

on

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

Onnit Primal Bells
Continue Reading

breakdown

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

Published

on

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

Onnit Primal Bells
Continue Reading

breakdown

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

Published

on

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
Continue Reading

Trending