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UFC Sacramento: VanZant vs. Waterson Breakdown

Dan Tom

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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

Summary:

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

Summary:

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

Summary:

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

Summary:

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

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breakdown

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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UFC 217: Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs Rose Namajunas Preview

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UFC 217 is hoping to explode Madison Square Garden with a stacked card featuring three title fights.

One of the three title fights, is a bout between women’s strawweight champion, undefeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-0-0) and rising star #4-ranked Rose Namajunas (7-3-0).

What we have here is a fight between an aggressive, clinical technician in Joanna, and an unpredictable, well rounded submission artist in Rose.

Joanna is regarded as (out of both male & female fighters) one of the best strikers in the UFC. Undefeated in both kickboxing & MMA with her calculated method of increasing the pace and volume as the rounds go by until what looked like a  fight starts to look close to assault & battery.

With Vegas odds having Joanna as -600 to Rose’s +400  there is no secret that Joanna is highly favoured to win. One can get a clearer picture to why this is by looking at some of her records..

  • Has never lost a professional MMA fight
  • Most sig. strikes landed in a UFC Title Fight
  • 2nd most sig. strikes landed in a UFC fight
  • Most legs kicks landed in a UFC fight
  • – List Info pulled from MMAJunkie –

Rose began her UFC career since the weight classes’ inception into the ranks, in the TUF house. Winning all her fights by stoppage, but coming up short against Carla Esparza for the inaugural women’s strawweight championship. Rose went back to the drawing board to reset, improve and come back stronger.

Rose has fought a high level striker from Poland before in Karolina Kowalkiewicz, and lost via split decision on her way to the title. True to Rose’s form however, she came back better, smarter and more dangerous, securing a win over touted UFC prospect Michelle Waterson. Dispatching “The Karate Hottie” with a perfectly timed high kick that she finished off with a rear naked choke in round two.

Rose’s perseverance, will and ability to overcome her career misfortunes & failures as well as personal problems at home, has granted her nothing but success. Her grit & drive is on display every time she fights. Looking sharper, more refined, well rounded and dynamic, achieving the accolade of “Most submission wins in UFC women’s starwweight history.” 

Joanna has shown to be beyond dominant and ahead of her competitors, time and time again. So far nobody has found a real weakness in her game or has been able to exploit one if they did. Out striking strikers, out grinding grinders and nullifying grapplers of all types. Yet she has never faced a fighter as well rounded & explosively creative as Rose, who is happy to strike and then throw a flying arm bar from standing, seemingly out of the blue. Uncertainty and on the fly creativity is hard to train for. So, though on paper the favour is for Joanna, the devil is in the details and the details are what make this fight so compelling!

Jul 8, 2016; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Joanna Jedrezejczyk (red gloves) fights Claudia Gadelha (blue gloves) during The Ultimate Fighter Finale at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

If Rose beats Joanna, she achieves the dream she has sweat, cried and bled for over the past 4 years. It will catapult her to a very different echelon of fighter hierarchy, UFC fame and financial security. She will also have beaten one of only two current UFC Champions who are undefeated in their MMA Career in “JJ”. (Cody Garbrandt, who will fight on the same card in the following match up against TJ Dillashaw, is the other).

If Joanna wins, she will tie Ronda Rousey’s record of most title defenses in women’s UFC History. She will have effectively “cleaned out” the division and from there the she can chose to break Ronda’s record, or go up to the new 125-pound division for a super fight.

A lot to lose, a lot to gain, two super elite competitors, two fighters who are known for giving spectacular performances at a high level, to the bitter end. Despite neither fighter reaching 5″7, & only 115lbs, make no mistake, this fight is Monumentally HUGE! Regardless of the outcome, expect to be entertained.

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Khabib vs Barboza UFC 219 breakdown

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All Credit to https://article.wn.com for the image

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

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

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

I take no credit for this image

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

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

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

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

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