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UFC Sacramento: VanZant vs. Waterson Breakdown

Dan Tom



Paige VanZant (7-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 22 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 65″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Bec Rawlings (8-27-16)
  • Camp: Team Alpha Male (Sacramento, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   BJJ Blue Belt
+   2 KO victories
+   2 Submission wins
+   1 first round finish
+   Relentless pace & pressure
^   Good cardio & conditioning
+   Improved striking
^   Combination flow to kicking attacks
–    Lacks head movement
^   Counter availabilities
+   Aggressive clinch game
^   Dirty boxing/head & arm tosses
+   Solid top pressure & transitions
+   Superb scrambler
^   Consistently fights for position
+/-Will turtle to stand
^   Back take availabilities

Michelle Waterson (13-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’3″ Age: 30 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 62″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Angela Magana (7-12-15)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Invicta FC Atomweight Title
+   Black Belt Karate
+   3 KO victories
+   8 Submission wins
+   7 first round finishes
+   Accurate shot selection
+   Diverse kicking attacks
^   Works well off of lead leg
+   Solid Thai clinch
^   Hard knees & elbows
+   Strikes well off of the break
+   Improved wrestling
^   Defensively & offensively
+   Underrated submission game
^   Slick armbar setups
+/-Sometimes overstays welcome
^   Often fending off submissions


The main event in Sacramento is stellar strawweight scrap as “12 Guage” Paige VanZant takes Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson. Fresh off her highlight-reel knockout of Bec Rawlings, Paige VanZant will get her wish to fight in her adopted hometown of Sacramento. As one of the promotion’s more recognizable stars, VanZant will look to deliver big on what is her second main event spot. Drawing a dangerous opponent, Paige will face the former Invicta Atomweight champion, Michelle Waterson.

A pioneer of the lower-weight classes, Waterson will look to cement her arrival to the big show by taking advantage of this showcase spot. Having a handful of matchups fallout in the past year due to injury, we have not seen Waterson since her successful UFC debut against Angela Magana. Although a year plus off is not the best thing for a fighter, Waterson has appeared to keep active at Jackson-Wink MMA despite hitting some speed bumps. Considering that the veteran fighter has made many successful returns from layoff before, I suspect Waterson to be well-tuned a ready for the challenge ahead.

A Karate practitioner since the age of 10, Michelle is no stranger to martial arts as her skillset has expanded well beyond her Black Belt in American Freestyle Karate would suggest. Competing in MMA for almost a decade, Waterson has shown slightly different iterations of herself as she has steadily added to her arsenal. Incorporating more Muay Thai in the second half of her career, Waterson displays an ability to delegate her kicking styles uniquely. Like many Karate strikers, Michelle works well off of her lead leg as she throws the front and round kicks you would expect from a fighter with her background. However, she will seamlessly switch her kicking style as she often sets up hard Thai kicks from her power side.

When feeling in stride, Waterson will throw a spinning hook or crescent kick as she has a solid sense for intercepting her opponent’s trajectory. Although VanZant displayed kicking progressions in her last fight, I doubt that her game plan here will involve trading with Waterson at range. Despite Paige showing a change of pace by fighting on the outside with Bec, I suspect she will go back to her pressuring pursuits given this style matchup. In Michelle’s most recent loss to Herica Tiburcio, we saw Waterson struggle with the forward and top pressure from a larger fighter. Whether she was getting pushed to the fence or punished on the bottom, we saw key themes in that fight that could play out in this matchup.

Although Waterson does not emphasize on counter fighting, I feel we may see her focus on it more considering her opposition. Even if VanZant continues to show steady striking improvements, her inherent aggression traditionally translates to her head staying on center. Despite displaying the chin and toughness to take multiple counters, I doubt Paige will want to take too many strikes in a 5-round affair. If Waterson can capitalize on a charging VanZant early, we may see her dissuade Paige and force her to fight on the outside. However, if she fails to keep her preferred range, then much of the exchanges will take place inside the clinch, as I feel that space will be a key factor in this fight’s trajectory.

Both fighters are aggressive inside of the clinch but in different ways. Although Waterson was initially defensive in this space as an inherent striker, her confidence, as well as attack options, have increased as her wrestling has improved. Now able to hit hip tosses and trips of her own, Waterson can present different threats to accompany her usual body assaults from the Thai clinch. That said, VanZant has a knack for killing this striking-space in close, as she uses her hips to debase her opposition and set up takedowns and tosses of her own. Even though Paige’s preferred head-and-arm tosses have cost her back takes in the past, she may have more success in out-muscling a smaller fighter.

Despite VanZant’s dirty boxing and overall clinch tactics not being the cleanest, I see her having a slight advantage in this space as I feel it will happen on terms that favor her. For example, whether Waterson is ahead or behind, she tends to reset or circle along the outside of the cage. Against a fighter like VanZant who does her best work when able to get her opposition to the cage, Michelle could be inadvertently playing into Paige’s hands if she does not show she can effectively circle out and disengage. Should the clinch battles take place along the fence, then I suspect we will see Waterson stifled by the stronger fighter.

Once this fight hits the floor, we should be treated to some fun, back-and-forth scrambles. Although Michelle is no slouch in the transition department, I give a scrambling edge to VanZant over most in the division due to her relentless will to consistently chase better positions. Despite having to be on alert for Waterson’s slick armbar setups, I feel that Paige should be able to navigate deep waters and possibly wear down on her opponent as time wears on. In fact, if any fighter finds themselves in submission trouble, I suspect it may be Michelle.

Although Waterson demonstrates the same grit and grip-fighting that makes her counterpart so hard to submit, the Karate Hottie has a tendency to overstay her welcome positionally (especially when on top), as it is not uncommon to find her fending off submission threats. Ultimately, I see this battle being a back-and-forth scramble for position that may set a record for armbar attempts, and even flying kicks. In a pick-em fight that could fall either way, I will reluctantly side with VanZant as I see her size and pressure helping sway this scrap in her favor.

Official Pick: VanZant – Decision


Sage Northcutt (18-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 20 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 74.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Enrique Marin (7-9-16)
  • 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
+   4 KO victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   5 first round finishes
+   Supremely athletic & agile
^   Explosive entries & escapes
+   Diverse kicking attacks
+   Effective combination striker
–    Lacks countering presence
+   Solid power double takedown
+/-Aggressive transitional grappler
^   Often loses position
–    Struggles off of back
?   Questionable decisions in transition


Mickey Gall (3-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 24 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Phil Brooks (9-10-16)
  • Camp: Miller Bros MMA (New Jersey)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Title
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   3-0 as an Amateur
+   3 Submission wins
+   3 first round finishes
+   Manages distance well
+   Shows solid striking fundamentals
+   Excellent level changes
^   Offensive or reactionary double-legs
+   Superb top game
^   Strikes & passes effectively
+   Good transitional grappler
^   Always looks for back
+/-3rd professional fight
^   Limited overall sample-size


The co-main event in Sacramento is a showdown between UFC Fight Pass products Sage Northcutt and Mickey Gall. The first fighter to come off of the Dana White “Looking for a Fight” series, Sage Northcutt stormed the UFC scene as he would compete 3-times within his first 4-months of being with the organization. Although the young gun would receive a wake-up call in the form of Bryan Barberena, Sage would rebound at UFC 200 with a hard-fought win over Enrique Marin. Now tasked with another unique challenge at welterweight, Northcutt will attempt to prove his doubters wrong as he answers Mickey Gall’s challenge.

Also storming his way into the UFC through Fight Pass programming, Mickey Gall has not been bashful in making his presence known. After finally getting his fight with CM Punk, Gall wasted no time in calling out Sage Northcutt in his post-fight speech. Receiving his wish, the 3-0 professional from New Jersey will now have his toughest test to date. When looking on at this fight on paper, it is hard not to instinctually side with the fighter who has more combat sports experience and athletic upside. However, the oddsmakers and the general public seem to have Gall the favorite, and I can see why as I present to you my take on this matchup.

Starting off on the feet, Sage will certainly have the on-paper edge in striking. Although Northcutt’s Karate stylings seldom allow him to sit down on his punches, his athleticism makes up for a large part of it as he produces pop on his explosive attacks. Possessing incredible speed, Sage will put together punches at the drop of a dime as his opposition typically struggles to get a beat on him. When feeling in stride, Sage will mix in diverse kicking attacks as he works particularly well off of his lead leg. Considering Sage’s on paper and athletic edges, his best chances of closing the show will likely reside in his ability to blitz effectively. That said, we have seen Northcutt’s aggressive approach cost him more and more at the higher levels.

With aggressive entries often equating to counter strike opportunities, they can also open you up to takedowns in MMA. Although we have not seen the full extent of Gall’s countering capabilities, we do know that he has a solid double-leg shot, both reactively and offensively. With Mickey having the on-paper edge on the floor, it will be interesting to see if Sage tries to temper his attack and measure his approach from the outside. Although range fighting seems like the smart option for Sage, it is his lack of counter presence that both concerns and surprises me in the striking realm.

Despite competing in Karate from childhood, Sage does not show the knack for countering that most Karate based fighters inherently have from years of range-finding. This could be troublesome for a fighter who notably struggles with pressure, especially if Gall is the one who comes forward on him. Although we do not have a large sample-size from Gall, he has shown us he is capable of coming forward with force and intelligence. In his brief bout with Mike Jackson, Gall demonstrated that he has a good feel for distance and pressure as he was able to stalk and feint appropriately.

Showing solid offensive fundamentals, Gall puts together punches well as his flow reflects his comfortability. Although I am sure he will continue to show fight-to-fight improvements, Mickey also will need to demonstrate his defensive awareness against the dangerous, darting attacks of Sage Northcutt. Even though the ceiling is far from certain, Gall’s efforts through the amateur ranks as well as his time spent with the Miller brothers have seemingly prepared him well. Where I start to side with Mickey’s chances of winning, is when I look at the prospects of ground fighting. It is not just that Gall has the on-paper edge there, but it is Northcutt’s propensity to take fight’s there that sells me.

From his amateur fights to his recent professional performances, Sage seemingly cannot help himself when it comes to changes gears and grappling mid-attack. Even when he is against the fence or fresh off a successful takedown stuffing, we have seen Sage get stuck on playing defense as he would re-wrestle when he probably should be disengaging. These tendencies nearly cost Sage in his fight with Cody Pfister, and subsequently cost him in his lone career loss to Bryan Barberena. After dabbling at other gyms in the past year, I was hoping to see improvements in Sage’s decision making with his last matchup.

Even though Sage would show us his gritty determination in escaping some close submission attempts, he will still repeatedly put himself in those trouble spots despite his corner’s instructions. If Northcutt has not shored up his decisions in transition, then he may be in for a rough ride with Gall. Not only does Mickey have the takedown ability to be the one who initiates ground stanzas, but he also has the skills to keep and close the show there. Displaying solid positional fundamentals, Gall will smoothly strike to assist his transitions. An avid back-taker, Mickey rarely says no to putting his hooks in, as he’ll often try to trap an arm in transit.

Although I am siding with Gall, I cannot say that I am doing so with certainty. With Sage’s looming athletic upside, this could be the fight where the young Texan starts to take his game to the next level. But, considering his lack of fundamentals from hand-fighting to hip-awareness, it hard to side with the suspect defensive-priorities shown by Sage, as I see his propensity to play with fire getting him burned here.

Official Pick: Gall – Inside the distance


Urijah Faber (33-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 37 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Jimmie Rivera (9-10-16)
  • Camp: Team Alpha Male (Sacramento, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   WEC Featherweight Title
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   Wrestling Base
+   9 KO victories
+   17 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   Fast hand & foot speed
^   Deceptively closes distance
+   Dangerous right hand
^   Counters well
+   Good knees & elbows in clinch
^   Strikes well off of breaks
+   Solid takedown ability
+   Superb scrambler
^   Deadly chokes & active back takes
+/-Heavily reliant on reaction times
–    Inconsistent output & adjustments


Brad Pickett (25-12)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 38 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 68″
  • Last Fight: Submission loss / Iuri Alcantara (10-8-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida/UK)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Cage Rage Featherweight Title
+   Ultimate Challenge FW Title
+   Boxing Base
+   8 KO victories
+   10 Submission wins
+   6 first round finishes
+   High-volume striker
+   Excellent boxing technique
+   Accurate left hook
^   Often rips off slips
+   Dangerous inside of pocket
^   Strikes well off of the break
+   Underrated wrestling/takedowns
^   Good entries & reactive shots
+   Solid scrambling ability
+/-Willingness to exchange
^   Knocked or taken down in last 4/5


In a potential barnburner in the bantamweight division, Urijah Faber makes his last stand against Brad Pickett. Despite having a rough go of things recently in his career, Urijah Faber is a pioneer of the lighter weight classes as his place amongst MMA history is unquestionable. Faber’s featherweight reign in the WEC was legendary as his battles with Jens Pulver provided promotional gold that put the California Kid on the map. Now, almost a decade later, it seems only right to put his career to bed in the same place that it came to life.

Looking to spoil the Sacramento homecoming is another crafty veteran in Brad Pickett. Seemingly experiencing a similar career arc to his counterpart, Pickett has self-admittedly struggled in finding the proper door to make his exit. Although the oddsmakers are not too kind in his chances, I believe there is still some fight left in the Englishman. Despite being a willing participant in wars and sporting a crooked nose to show for it, Brad Pickett demonstrates solid fundamental footwork and head movement. Whether Brad is changing his angles of attack or slipping and returning, he always moves with a purpose when coming forward.

Working well off of a crouch, Pickett will feint takedowns as he comes up with his patent uppercut-hook combinations. This stalking style could be effective against Faber, who’s darting attacks fueled by his speed, make him difficult to time. If Faber is not careful, he may find himself landing the initial shots, only to be followed-up on as he leaves the pocket(in a similar fashion to his fight with Frankie Edgar). Although Pickett’s left hook is the punch he prefers to punctuate with, I feel that the uppercut may be the punch to look out for in this fight.

A possible carry-over from his level-changing takedown feints, Faber’s head will often come dangerously low and forward on his entries. Not only can you see this cost him uppercuts in his battles with Dominick Cruz, but Urijah was also caught similarly in recent bouts with Frankie Saenz & Cisco Rivera. If Faber is careful on reading Brad’s dips, he could run into a momentum-shifting shot. That said, I feel that Urijah will have his own potent spots standing in this fight. Despite Faber’s offense often being criticized for its predictability, his patent right hand will be live in this matchup.

Although Pickett keeps a good sense of things inside the pocket, his propensity to trade often leaves him open for counters by nature. Considering that Urijah’s counter-cross is his most effective punch, I suspect that will be the strike to watch out for from him. Despite having a rocky relationship with Duane Ludwig, Faber has shown to strike with more purpose and process since his time spent with Duane. Utilizing feints more intelligently, Urijah will now incorporate more jabs and hooks to set up his patent right-hand though touch-pull-return setups. That said, Faber could be playing with fire anytime he overstays his welcome inside the pocket.

Where this fight looks more favorable for Faber, is when looking at potential ground stanzas. From his positional awareness in scrambles to his deadly chokes in transit, you do not have to look far to see why Urijah has an on-paper grappling advantage. And although Pickett is one of the best MMA wrestlers to come out of England, the majority of his improvements are offensive ones as his aggression often allows him to be taken down. Given that basic equation, the American’s prospects begin to look fruitful as Urijah will likely have multiple opportunities to find a finish. That said, Brad is quietly technical in the ways he chooses to stand.

Whether he is bellying-down with a hard over-hook or carefully using the cage to assist an under-hook getup, you will seldom see Pickett give his neck or expose his back soberly. If the Brad can successfully thwart takedowns or get back to his feet, he can make this fight significantly closer due to the nature of his volume and output. However, when you consider that the Englishman has been knocked down and or taken down in 4 of his last 5-fights, it is hard not to favor Faber to find the submission in transition. Although I agree that Urijah should be the betting favorite in this fight, I feel that the oddsmakers are a bit off as I see this one being closer than the line suggests.

Official Pick: Faber – Inside the distance


Alan Jouban (14-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 34 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Belal Muhammad (7-7-16)
  • Camp: Blackhouse MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   Muay Thai Base
+   10 KO victories
+   7 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Solid combination striker
^   Variates well to the body
+   Accurate counter left hand
+   Diverse kicking attack
^   Dangerous liver kick
+   Improved wrestling
^   Defensively & offensively
+   Crafty guard game
+   Scrambles well back to feet
+/-Sometimes starts slow
+/-Aggressive in exchanges
^   Hit early/recovers well


Mike Perry (9-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 25 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Danny Roberts (10-8-16)
  • Camp: Team Sparta (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   9 KO victories
+   6 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Solid Boxing
^   Heavy R. hand–L. hook
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Dangerous knees
+   Deceptively athletic & agile
+   Good takedown defense
^   Superb base & balance
+   Improved ground game/transitions
^   Bails or re-wrestles when appropriate
+   Effective ground striker
+   Durable chin
+/-Aggressive in exchanges


Kicking off the main card on FOX is a welterweight war as Alan “Brahma” Jouban takes on “Platinum” Mike Perry. A name that has always excited hardcore fans, Alan Jouban returns from a fight-of-the-night performance against Belal Muhammad this past summer. Advocating for Top-15 recognition, Jouban will likely earn himself a spot should he get past the task ahead. Showing to be an instant character upon arrival, Mike Perry has made his presence known in one way or another. That said, the Team Sparta product has shown us in just two fights that there is more than meets the eye.

In what is my most anticipated matchup on this card, I expect this fight to resemble MMA’s equivalent to a high-speed chase. Both men will be trying to edge out the other at a breakneck pace, but only one will reach the border without wrecking. Considering the striking sensibilities of both fighters, I suspect the majority of the match to contest standing. Although each man is arguably at their best coming forward, I suspect Jouban will be the one who plays Matador as he is the craftier counter fighter. As seen in his previous bouts, Alan will often revert to countering on the outside when his offensive stanzas fail to produce stops or swings in the momentum.

Given the durability and drive of Jouban’s stubborn counterpart, I suspect that this fight will contest in similar spaces to each man’s last match. Although Alan struggled in fending off Belal Muhammad in his previous bout, Jouban was also without his left hand for most of that match as it will certainly serve him well here. Despite Perry winning in his last time out against Danny Roberts, we saw the Platinum one hit on multiple occasions with counter left hands throughout the contest. Considering that the counter left hand is Jouban’s best punch, this could be a shot worth watching for, especially if Alan throws his counters straight like a cross.

Although Perry has demonstrated glimpses of excellent slips and rips, he lacks overall head movement as he is primarily offensively-minded. Even though Mike displays good reaction times in his blocking and shelling, his head and body typically stay on the centerline as straight strikes are usually Perry’s common-culprit. Jouban also wields lethal liver and head kicks that could see some light in this fight, however, Perry’s defenses showed to hold up well against Danny Roberts(who had some clever setups).

Keeping a low standing guard, Perry does a good job on inherently blocking his body while goading his opponent into attempting a head shot. Backed by a granite chin, Perry keeps right hand–left hook counters at the ready as he retaliates at the drop of a dime. Although Alan should still have the slight speed advantage in this matchup, I feel Perry’s style is a potent foil for a fighter who traditionally gets caught being over-aggressive in exchanges. Where things start to get more worrisome for the fan-favorite fighter, is when looking at Alan’s prospects of fighting smart and looking for the counter.

As previously stated, Alan will often revert to countering along the outside when faced with a durable and determined stalker(as seen in his Alves & Muhammad matches). The problem with operating in this space is that Jouban will be playing inside of Perry’s preferred Killzone. Anytime Mike can get his opponent in between the fence and inner-black Octagon lines, expect violence. Whenever Alan has struggled in striking exchanges, it was usually inside of this space as we saw him have trouble with fighters like Tumenov, Alves, and Muhammad here.

When under fire, Alan will often call upon his clinch game where he has shown to be effective from whether he is defending shots or unloading elbows. If Alan is unable to establish his clinch, he well often change his level like he is going to shoot, but instead will push his opponent away for space. Against an opponent like Perry who wields devastating knees, Jouban will have to be careful anytime leans forward or changes his level. Although Alan’s posture awareness is usually on point as he comes from a Muay Thai base, Perry has a knack for landing his knees whenever he is in range.

In fact, when looking at many of Mike’s finishes dating back to Preston Parsons, Perry’s knees will often initiate the end as they seem to have an almost irreparable effect. With that in mind, it will be interesting see if Jouban elects to shoot any takedowns, as his wrestling has progressed under the tutelage of Kenny Johnson. Although Alan may have an on-paper advantage on the floor, I am not sure it will translate in his fight given Perry’s shown improvements. Despite Alan making improvements to his wrestling game, he does not typically make an initiative for top position as he is traditionally known for his bottom game.

On the flip side, Perry’s athleticism has translated well to the wrestling department as he is deceptively agile. Demonstrating a solid base and balance, Perry defends takedowns like it is almost second nature to him. Carrying competent takedown abilities of his own, Mike shows to be an effective ground striker as he seems to make it his number one priority. Earlier in Perry’s career, he showed a surprising amount of intelligence when it came to knowing when to bail on a position. Now, showing more confidence and competence, Perry will re-wrestle for position or even put his hooks in when appropriate. Should Perry find himself topside, Alan could be in trouble if he cannot scramble to safety.

Even though Jouban is the more technical fighter from top to bottom, Perry shows the ability to make improvements each time out which make his performances hard to forecast as a growing fighter. If Alan cannot stun or stop Perry off of his counter crosses or liver kicks, then I suspect his propensity to play inside of the Platinum one’s Killzone will cost Jouban here. As a fan of Alan, I hope I am wrong and that the veteran takes this opportunity to teach the young fighter a lesson. However, considering that Alan carries similar defensive liabilities, I have to side with the man who is more durable and has arguably the more athletic-upside. If you intend on siding with either man for a play, I suggest sprinkling lightly as this is the most potent gunfight on the card.

Official Pick: Perry – Inside the distance

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Da Silva def. Craig
  • Hirota def. Miller
  • Covington def. Barberena
  • Moontasri def. Morono
  • Emmett def. Holtzman
  • Aldana def. Smith
  • Wineland def. Mizugaki
  • Serrano def. Sandoval
  • Velickovic def. Aliev

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

Onnit Primal Bells


UFC on Fox: Emmett vs Stephens – Breakdown and Predictions



UFC returns to Fox with an exciting card full of up-and-coming talent, crafty veterans, and a main event featuring two of the featherweight division’s most powerful punchers. While the card seems to lack some star power, it holds some interesting and exciting match-ups. The co-main event features two of the best women’s 115ers in the world both vying for a shot at the title as Jéssica Andrade takes on Tecia Torres. In the main event, knock-out artist and division staple Jeremy Stephens takes on the young and hungry Team Alpha Male product Josh Emmett. A great main event to head off a solid Fox card, and now onto the breakdown.

Mike Perry vs Max Griffin

This fight should be fun for as long as it lasts, but don’t bet on it lasting too long. Mike Perry is one of the hardest hitters in the UFC’s welterweight division. Griffin can bang too, but Perry’s just a different animal in that department. The good news for Griffin is that there’s already a pretty decent blueprint on how to beat Perry; pick him apart from the outside and don’t brawl with the guy. The bad news is Griffin is a brawler at heart, which isn’t gonna do him any favors against a superior striker like Perry.

Mike Perry is one of the most marketable guys in the UFC’s crowded 170 pound division. Priority number 1 for the UFC is to get Perry back on the winning track. And Max Griffin is the perfect man for the job. Both men will come forward throwing heaters until someone goes down, and chances are that someone is gonna be Griffin. Perry is just too powerful, and unless Griffin can keep Perry on the outside early it’s gonna be a short night for ‘Pain’.

Prediction: Mike Perry by 1st Round KO

Ovince Saint Preux vs Ilir Latifi

Nobody has ever beaten Ovince Saint Preux. OSP beats himself. He’s sloppy, has terrible technique, and is almost always behind on the scorecards. Yet somehow he continues to score victories over the 205’s elite, most of the time in spectacular fashion. It is insane. Latifi is a more complete fighter, with solid boxing and a strong wrestling game to fall back on. Latifi tends to favor the stand-up, but against a big, powerful guy like OSP, that might not be the best idea.

The big question here is; how is Latifi going to approach this one? Striking with the big man is risky due to his monstrous power and 7 in. reach advantage. Wrestling is a safer option, however Ovince is not an easy man to hold down. Latifi’s best bet is to make it ugly. Grind Ovince up against the fence and dirty box the s**t out of him. Then once he’s good and tired, take him down to ice the round. Sure it’s not the most entertaining style, but if it works it works.

Prediction: Ilir Latifi by Decision

Jessica Andrade Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Jéssica Andrade vs Tecia Torres

After seeing her completely demolish two-time title challenger Cláudia Gadelha, I was confident picking Andrade over anyone in the division (not named Joanna of course). But after giving it some serious thought, I think Torres might just be the one to bring down the Brazilian brawler, think about it. Joanna was able to keep Andrade away with her jab for the better part of 25 minutes. And while Torres is no Joanna, she’s still an excellent striker with wins over some solid opposition.

Andrade has made vast improvements since her loss to then champion Joanna Jędrzejczyk. This was evident in the Gadelha fight. The same can be said for the ever-improving Torres, whose only loss in mma was to current champion Rose Namajunas (a woman she’s beaten in the past). This truly is one of the most high-level women’s match-ups in recent memory, but I believe the kickboxing of Torres will be enough to keep Andrade on the outside, securing Torres her fourth straight win and possibly a title shot.

Prediction: Tecia Torres by Decision

Josh Emmett vs Jeremy Stephens

Josh Emmett made waves last year, knocking out perennial contender Ricardo Lamas on short-notice in Winnipeg. While impressive, it’s worth noting that this was the first finish of Emmett’s UFC career and he missed weight for the bout (weighed in at 148.5). Stephens on the other hand just scored a vicious knock out over featherweight prospect Doo Ho Choi. This was Stephens’ first finish since July of 2015 when he flying knee KO’d Dennis Bermudez. On paper, this looks like it will be a barn-burner, on paper.

Stephens has struggled against good wrestlers in the past, most recently Frankie Edgar at UFC 205. And Frankie is small for the weight class, unlike Emmett who fought the majority of his career up at lightweight. I give Jeremy the edge in the striking department, but Emmett has some wicked power at 145. If it stays on the feet it’s anyone’s guess what will happen. But if Emmett does the smart thing and takes Jeremy down often, we just might have a new top contender in the UFC’s stacked featherweight division.

Prediction: Josh Emmett by Decision





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GLORY: Redemption – Breakdown and Predictions



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



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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