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UFC Portland: Lineker vs Dodson Breakdown

Dan Tom

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John Lineker (28-7)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’2″ Age: 26 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 67″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Michael McDonald (7-13-16)
  • Camp: OCS Jiu-jitsu (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Title
+   13 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   8 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Persistant stalker
^   Deceptively closes distance
+   Good cage-cutting & pressure
+   Devastating R. hand-L. hook
^   Variates well to the body
+   Underrated wrestling
+   Dangerous Guillotine choke
–    Struggles off back
+/-Willingness to exchange
^   Counter availabilities
+   Solid chin/Physically durable

 

John Dodson (18-7)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’3″ Age: 32 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 66″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Manny Gamburyan (4-16-16)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   2x Wrestling State Champ (NM)
+   9 KO victories
+   2 Submission wins
+   8 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Devastating left hand
^   Accurate & intercepting
+   Athletic & agile
^   Closes distance quickly
+   Dangerous off the counter
^   Works well w/caught kicks
+   Solid counter wrestler
^   84% Takedown defense
+   Superb scrambles & get-ups
–    Slightly low standing guard
+/-Output/Adjustments bear watching

Summary:

The main event for UFC Portland is a fun fight between two former flyweights as John “Hands of Stone” Lineker meets John “The Magician” Dodson. Now enjoying life without weight cuts, the growing John Lineker seems to be making himself a permanent home in the bantamweight division. Coming off crushing victories over three well-respected opponents, Lineker will seek to make another statement for his status as a contender. Standing in his way is John Dodson, a veteran of the lighter weight classes who has already made his claim for the crown.

Despite each man being among the smaller of their contemporaries, both fighters carry supernatural stopping power that makes this feel like a heavyweight affair. That said, I believe this fight should come down to the space in which one man operates, opposed the space in which the other man makes his kills. Dodson, for example, is similar to a smaller version of Chuck Liddell in that he makes his money off of the counter shot. When he is not conducting his bombing runs of explosive jump-knees to dip-and-rip combinations, Dodson will often revert to playing the inner-black Octagon lines along the outside. Looking to land is left hand, in particular, the Magician will patiently bait his opponents into exchanges and counter shots.

Although Dodson is as lethal as he is accurate, the New Mexican native can sometimes be too willing to let the action come to him. Whether Dodson is too patient or not, he seems to lack the consistent volume and output as he is often involved in close rounds. The biggest question in this matchup for me is: How will Dodson deal with the Brazillian’s pressure? Despite Dodson being agile and athletic enough to play the Matador, he has seldom been pressured in the UFC, outside of his fights with Demetrious Johnson. Most of the fighters Dodson faced at flyweight respected his power and explosiveness, but the few who pushed forward were successful more often than not.

Although most of Dodson’s vulnerabilities only showed when facing the outlier that is Demetrious Johnson, he did show difficulty to dealing with pressure through distinct parts of his battles with Zach Machovsky and Tim Elliot. Though one man was wild with their pressure while the other was technical, they both found success in getting the better of exchanges with Dodson when doing so under those terms. In my opinion, this is because Dodson is so dependent and faithful in his counter-left, that he will quickly look to reset for it again instead of flowing into other offensive or defensive options. Hence, when a fighter can avoid the counter shot and disrupt his process with pressure, Dodson will seemingly become more vulnerable off the breaks and against the fence.

Enter John Lineker. Similar to when Super Mario acquires the star of invincibility, is John Lineker in the way in which he walks down his opposition with impunity. Despite wielding power that can change the course of a fight in a single shot, it is Lineker’s durability that makes his game so scary. Don’t let his short stature fool you, despite lacking bounce to his step, the Brazilian closes distance deceptively well. Cutting off the cage and feinting forward, Lineker will look to force exchanges off of his pressure. Wielding devastating hooks from both sides to the head & body, John usually enters off his opponents strike retractions as he gets them to initiate.

Although Lineker’s right-hand is his preferred method of body crushing and cleanup hitting, I feel that his left hook will be the key punch to look for from the Brazilian. Often initiating, or even punctuating with it, Lineker’s left hook is arguably his most accurate punch as it usually sets up his kill shots. Considering that Dodson has a tendency to keep his lead hand low, this could be a shot worth looking for inside the exchanges. That said, Lineker will be the more defensively vulnerable man on paper as the Brazilian is not without pocket liabilities of his own. Unabashedly throwing hooks from left to right with little regard for defense, we have seen Lineker eat punches with no signs of getting full.

Even though his durability is what makes him dangerous, Dodson is no slouch in the power department either, as a stopping shot from him would not surprise me. That said, we have seen Dodson develop some other striking tools since working with Brandon Gibson. Now putting his punches together more fluidly, we have also seen a front kick from his power side show itself with consistency. I feel that kick, in particular, will serve him well against a pressuring Lineker. However, both men will need to be mindful when throwing kicks, as each fighter has a knack for catching them and countering.

That brings us to this fights key-intangible, the takedown. With neither fighter traditionally going for takedowns, Dodson will clearly have more of a motive to do so, as well as the better tools to do it. That said, Dodson usually only engages in takedowns when he or his opponent is hurt in mid-exchange. Though I do not doubt his ability, nor his camp’s intelligence, it is just hard to see a fighter that is 32 years old and has a decade of experience dramatically adjust their style. Another thing to consider is the quiet improvements to Lineker’s wrestling. Knowing that most of his opposition will be looking to take him down, Lineker will lower the level in his approach as his short stature makes him difficult to take down.

However, should Dodson fight smart and look to ground the Brazilian, he could chalk up rounds and momentum in this match. Although Lineker likes to create space with leg-locks, his acumen there is not strong, nor does he use these opportunities to scramble as he is often content to fight from his back. That said, the Brazilian has a dangerous Guillotine choke that almost caught Ian McCall, and subsequently scared him off his takedown game. Even though I agree with Dodson being favored slightly in this fight, I feel that his preferred choice of space will be his undoing as he will ultimately be operating inside Lineker’s kill zone.

Official Pick: Lineker – Inside the distance

 

Will Brooks (18-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 29 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Ross Pearson (7-8-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Bellator Lightweight Title
+   5 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   3 first round finishes
+   Athletic & agile
+   Good distance management
+   Controls pace of fight
^   Makes in-cage & corner adjustments
+   Diverse striking arsenal
^   Heavy kicks & hard knees
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Strikes & stifles
+   Excellent takedown defense
^   Solid base & balance
+   Underrated takedown ability

 

Alex Oliveira (14-4-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 28 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / James Moontasri (7-23-16)
  • Camp: TATA Fight Team (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Pro Muay Thai Experience
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   9 KO victories
+   9 first round finishes
+   2 Submission wins
+   KO Power
+   Fast starter
+   Manages distance well
+/-Heavily reliant on head movement
^   Slips & rolls well
+   Dangerous L. hook-R.hand
+   Physically strong in clinch
^   Favors body locks
–    Struggles off back
+   Good chin/never stopped

Summary:

The co-main event for UFC Portland is a lightweight fight between “Ill” Will Brooks and Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira. After a successful UFC debut back in July, the former Bellator champion Will Brooks will now set his sights on climbing toward the top of the UFC’s lightweight division. Seeking to spoil the party is Cowboy Oliveira. A fast rising fan favorite, Alex will look to score the upset on American soil.

An anomaly of athleticism, the term “natural ability” is an understatement when used to describe Will Brooks. Despite no combat sports or collegiate base, Brooks has developed into one of most well-rounded fighters in MMA’s deepest division. His victories over Michael Chandler alone were proof of this, as Will was able to out wrestle the 4x NCAA qualifier en route to the title. Although he favors fighting on the feet, I suspect Brooks natural grappling abilities will come in handy against the explosive Cowboy Oliveira.

From his fan friendly style to his unmistakable smile, there is a lot to like about the former bull riding Brazilian. A long and physical presence at lightweight, Oliveira moves deceptively well as his fast feet have a knack for finding angles or pressing forward. Although he keeps his hands low, Cowboy does a good job of slipping or rolling with punches. Despite his shown senses and comfortability inside the pocket, the Brazilian is a bit too reliant on his head movement for my liking. Considering that Will’s kicks and knees are the most accurate strikes in his arsenal, Cowboy could run into some heavy gunfire should he not protect himself when slipping and rolling.

However, the pressure Olivera brings early could be the key to opening up Brooks. Traditionally a slow starter, the first round has usually been the closest round for Will in his last few fights. Despite being a good mover himself, we have seen Brooks often revert to a shell defense when coming under heavy fire. With this guard style typically presenting openings up the middle and to the body, expect the uppercut to be the strike worth watching for from Oliveira. Usually implementing his pressure toward the fence anytime the opportunity arises, Alex could make for some interesting exchanges depending on the prerogative Brooks applies.

Although Will is an active clinch striker himself, he tends to let the fight come to him before getting going. Utilizing his preternatural defensive abilities to survive the storms, it is Brooks’ adjustments that allow him to overcome all shapes and sizes of opposition. That said, Oliveira is a deceptively strong clinch fighter that does not allow for lulls in the action. In a borderline head-butting fashion, Alex will drive his forehead into and underneath the chin of his opponent(ala Randy Couture). From here, the Brazilian will use a mix of collar ties, throat grabs, and wrist pins to open up unrelenting elbows, knees, and uppercuts.

Despite Brooks wielding fast hands and knees in close, the former Bellator champ has a far more promising plan B than the Brazilian does. Should things get ugly for Will, he has an underrated takedown game that will serve him well against Alex. Whether he is scoring inside the clinch or off of reactive shots, Will could make this a long night for Alex should he fail to shore up his defenses. Even though Oliveira’s pressure translates well to his top game, he shows to struggle when on the bottom. Not only does Alex display fundamental errors in his hip positioning and under-hooks, but he also demonstrates a lack of technique and urgency in regards to his get-up ability.

We saw the extent of Will’s top control and positional awareness in his fight with Marcin Held, as the Pole was able to put Brooks in a multitude of precarious positions to no avail. Fortunately for Will, Oliveira’s submission and scramble acumen should not be as threatening as Held’s. That said, Brooks will need to maintain a healthy respect for his foe given his heart and opportunistic nature. Although Cowboy is more than capable of winning this fight, this one should be Will’s to lose as I see him weathering a storm en route to a decision win.

Official Pick: Brooks – Decision

 

Josh Burkman (28-13-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 35 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Paul Felder (5-29-16)
  • Camp: The Pit Elevated (Salt Lake City, UT)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 2 Alum
+   Former JUCO All-American (Football)
+   9 KO victories
+   8 Submission wins
+   15 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Deceptive counter strikes
^   Dangerous check right hook
+   Powerful kicks (both stances)
^   Favors body & leg kicks
+   Physically strong in the clinch
^   Looks for takedowns/slams
+/-Primarily throws from right side
+/-Willingness to trade
^   Propensity to take damage

 

Zak Ottow (13-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 29 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Craig Eckelberg (6-11-16)
  • Camp: Pura Vida BJJ (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   Collegiate Football Experience
+   Wrestling base
+   13 KO victories
+   9 Submission wins
+   7 first round finishes
+   Fundamental striking setups
^   Uses to setup shots
+   Strong clinch/cage pressure
^   Favors takedowns from here
+   Solid top game
^   Looks to ride & control
+   Good ground strikes
^   Uses to setup strikes
–    UFC debut on 1 week notice

Summary:

In an impromptu welterweight affair, Josh Burkman will welcome Zak Ottow to the UFC. Originally slated to face Bobby Green at lightweight, Burkman will now meet Zak Ottow at 170 pounds. Although Ottow will be fighting on just over a weeks notice, the Wisconson native was already training for a fight on October 7th. That said, Zak will need to be in his best shape if he means to overcome the durable veteran in Josh Burkman.

Starting off on the feet, Burkman should have the advantage striking as he is the more dangerous man. Often switching his stance, Josh strikes effectively from either side as I see his patent check hook working well against the oncoming Ottow. Although Zak rarely throws himself out of position with his fundamental approach, his striking only seems to exist to set up his shot entries. Despite most of Ottow’s attempts often ending up with him pushing his opponent into the fence, Burkman’s choice of circling the outside may inadvertently feed into Zak’s game. Josh will also have to be careful when throwing kicks, given that catch counters will be Ottow’s best chances of getting this fight to the floor.

Once topside, Ottow has a solid control game as he is clearly a wrestler who has embraced jiu-jitsu. Not afraid to take the mount position, it is Zak’s steady approach to the transition game where he makes his money. However, I am not sure that Ottow can consistently ground Burkman, much less control the terms of the ground fight. Often relying on his athleticism and explosiveness early on his career, Burkman has steadily accrued the technics to strengthen his underrated grappling game. Not only should Josh be able to match Ottow’s strength inside the clinch, but I suspect we will see Burkman reverse position and give Zak some of his own medicine.

Even though Burkman’s eagerness to engage in his opponent’s strength bit him in the ass against Dong Hyun Kim, he has appeared to approach fights more tactically since working with Xtreme Couture’s Dennis Davis. Even if Josh does decide to play in Zak’s wheelhouse, I do not feel that the grappling of Ottow will be near the level as Dong Hyun Kim. Despite being a brown belt in jiu-jitsu, Ottow’s no-gi game does not appear to translate as effectively, and is reliant on him being on top. I do not mean to discount Zak’s chances here, but I ultimately feel that Burkman’s veteran savvy should shut him down for three rounds, if not find a late finish.

Official Pick: Burkman – Decision

 

Louis Smolka (11-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 25 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Ben Nguyen (7-13-16)
  • Camp: Hawaii Elite MMA (Hawaii)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Brown Belt Kenpo Karate
+   Brown Belt Judo
+   4 KO victories
+   5 Submission wins
+   2 first round finishes
+   Consistent pace & pressure
^   Well composed & conditioned
+   Accurate shot selection
^   Excellent check hook
+   Improved takedown game
+/-“Gives to get” positionally
+   Relentless transition game
^   Thrives inside the scramble
–    Head often upright

 

Brandon Moreno (11-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 22 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: N/A”
  • Last Fight: Sub win / Isaac Camarillo (4-16-16)
  • Camp: Entram Gym (Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 24 Alum
+   BJJ Purple Belt
+   WFF Title
+   8 Submission wins
+   1 KO victory
+   6 first round finishes
+/-Aggressive striker
^   Dangerous knees
+   Accurate left hook
+   Solid back controls
+   Active guard game
^   Favors triangles & armbars
–    Suspect transitional choices
^   Willingness to fight from back

Summary:

Kicking off the main card on Fox Sports 1 is a flyweight fight between Louis Smolka and Brandon Moreno. Originally slated to face Sergio Pettis, Smolka will now meet a recent TUF 24 contestant in Brandon Moreno. Despite Smolka being hailed as one of the dark horses to challenge for Demetrious Johnson’s title, Brandon Moreno will look to follow in Eric Spicely’s footsteps and shock the world.

Starting off on the feet may be Moreno’s best shot, especially considering that Smolka tends to take a minute in finding his striking rhythms. Moreno looks to be an aggressive combination striker when he is not circling the outside and throws a solid left hook that may serve him well. Despite Smolka’s shown fight-to-fight improvements, he is quite tall for the division as his head tends to keep upright. In fact, we have seen the Hawaiian stung in his previous bouts due to his defensive posture. Brandon also has dangerous jump-knees that Smolka will have to be aware of, as the Mexican throws them sporadically and with little regard.

That said, Smolka should be the better striker by a clear stretch. Coming from a Kenpo Karate base, Louis displays the distance management and darting attacks that you would expect from that style. However, the Hawaiian will now put his punches together more fluidly, as he promises to show an evolved version of his striking for this fight. Although Moreno’s wrestling game has improved over his short career, he makes questionable calls in transition that could get him burned against a more skilled scrambler. Not only will Smolka be the better overall wrestler, but he is also one of the best scramblers in the sport(and I stand by that statement). Louis is also the more active and efficient clinch fighter, which I see only further fueling the bad decisions from Brandon.

Anytime a fighter entangles with Smolka, the Hawaiian stays two-steps ahead as he uses his long frame as an active blanket of non-disseminating offense. Although Smolka has thankfully shown less head & arm throws, Louis still tends to give his back when attempting tosses and takedown variations. Despite finding the back usually being Brandon’s best case scenario(as it is also his best position), he may ultimately end up taking a deeper step into the quicksand. We saw much more proven back takers in Paddy Holohan and Ben Nguyen struggle here, as they ended up losing the exchanges as well as positions. If Brandon lets his emotions get the better of him and he dives in head first, Moreno may fall into the downward spiral that is Louis Smolka’s scramble game.

An interesting dichotomy of grappler, Smolka possesses the technical flow chart of a black belt that is fueled by the offensive eagerness of a white belt. Whether he is sweeping, standing, shucking, or sitting out, Smolka is snake-like in the way that he denies his opposition complete control. Although I could pontificate on the positional wherewithal of Smolka’s grappling for days, the essence of his game comes down to his give-and-take mentality. Smolka has no problem succeeding the small battles to win the war, as that is what I see happening here.

Official Pick: Smolka – Inside the distance

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Da Silva def. Christensen
  • Dias def. Fili
  • Abdurakhimov def. Harris
  • Nakamura def. Dos Santos
  • McCrory def. Marquardt
  • Cutelaba def. Wilson
  • Blaydes def. East
  • Faszholz def. Vieira

Recommended Plays:

Props worth looking at(5Dimes.eu):

-Lineker by TKO/KO: +190 (0.5 Unit)
-Louis Smolka ITD: -230 (2 Units)
-Abdurakhimov/Harris over 1 1/2: -120 (1 Unit)

Playable favorites for your parlays:

-Tamdan McCrory
-Louis Smolka

Fights to avoid:

-Henrique Da Silva vs Joachim Christensen
-Curits Blaydes vs Cody East
-Jonathan Wilson vs Ion Cutelaba

For the complete analysis of future & past UFC events visit MixedMartialAnalyst.com and for future breakdowns & your latest in world-wide 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.

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