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UFC Vancouver: Maia vs Condit Breakdown

Dan Tom

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Demian2

Demian Maia (23-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 38 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Matt Brown (5-14-16)
  • Camp: Demian Maia BJJ (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Excellent

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   2x BJJ World Champion
+   2007 ADCC Winner
+   11 Submission wins
+   10 first round finishes
+   17-2 w/at least 1 takedown scored
+   Excellent wrestling ability
^   Solid hips, under-hooks, & takedowns
+   Crafty leg dexterity
^   Uses to pass guard/complete passes
+   Superb top game/control
^   84 passes in 23 fights
+   Steady & smooth transitions to submissions
^   Actively looks for backs
+   Improved striking
^   Underrated left hand
+   Deceptively strong inside the clinch
–    Propensity to fade late
^   Gas tank bares watching

 

UFC 195: Lawler v Condit

Carlos Condit (30-9)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 32 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Robbie Lawler (1-2-16)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC Interim Champion
+   WEC Welterweight Title
+   15 KO victories
+   13 Submission wins
+   21 first round finishes
+   Consistent pace & pressure
^   Well conditioned & strikes w/volume
+   Diverse kicking attacks
+   Dangerous knees & elbows
+   Improved boxing & head movement
^   Utilizes unique angles
+   Steadily improved wrestling
–    Traditionally struggles defending takedowns
^    40% Takedown defense
+   Good guard retention/get-up urgency
+   Active from the bottom
^   Constantly attempts sweeps & sub attempts
+/-Sometimes starts slow
^   Steadily comes strongly

Summary:

The main event on FOX is a classic styles match as two of the division’s most respected competitors in Demain Maia and Carlos Condit collide. Mentioning the possibility of retirement following his fight-of-the-year candidate with Robbie Lawler last January, the Natural Born Killer has apparently rethought his stance as he now meets Demian Maia. Arguably the division’s top contender next to Stephen Thompson, Maia will look to cement his case by extending his five-fight winning streak against a dangerous fan-favorite and perennial Top-5 fighter.

Although this fight has much more depth than your typical “striker versus grappler” matchup, Carlos Condit has the clear advantages on paper for however long this contest remains on the feet. Although the New Mexican native may not lean heavily on his in patent kicking diversities, his renown knees, and elbows will undoubtedly be at play. More importantly, I feel the improvements within Condit’s boxing and footwork(which I suspect is in thanks to Brandon Gibson) will be crucial in keeping him a threat standing. Despite Demian not likely exchanging with Condit(as this has been his trend since dropping to welterweight), the Brazilian has some legitimate striking tools that could serve him well in this fight.

Even though Carlos has made excellent improvements in his offensive head movement, his head still tends to go upright upon retreat as he slightly leans to his right side. This tendency has traditionally made Carlos more open to left hands as opposed to anything else. With Maia’s straight left being his most effective strike, expect the Brazilian to look for this on the feet when aiming to get Condit’s attention or respect. Aside from that, let us not get too hung up in the striking realm as this fight will likely be decided by the grappling exchanges. With that in mind, it can be easy to see this as a trap fight for Carlos as wrestling pressure has seemingly been the common culprit in most of his defeats.

When you consider that Maia is 17-2 in the UFC when able to score a minimum of just 1-takedown, it is hard not to see a path for the Brazilian to take against Condit. However, numbers do not always tell the story in our sport as there are multiple takeaways here. Although 84-passes in 23-fights looks impressive, it could also suggest that Maia can dominate from bell-to-bell within his own realm and still not produce a finish. Now that is no critique on Demian, as his style secures him rounds and is exciting for grappling fans such as myself to watch. That said, Maia’s style of grueling but steady pressure has gotten him into trouble late in fights where he could not find the finish.

Although those trends may be troubling, you cannot deny the mastery in which Maia operates. Most impressive are the evolutions of his wrestling, as Demian has found a style that melds his MMA and Jiu-jitsu game into one solid sword. Not only does Demian wield an improved reactive shot that serves him well against aggressive strikers, but it is his ability to produce results against the cage that will likely come to light in this fight. Deceptively strong inside the clinch, Maia demonstrates an excellent use of under-hooks and a preternatural ability to keep his hips in close. What is most fun to watch is the slick leg dexterity in which Demian utilizes to finish his takedowns, as his background in Judo and Karate show themselves in these spaces of sweeps & trips.

Despite Condit’s quiet improvements to his takedown defense under grappling guru Ricky Lundell, I do not doubt that Maia will be successful in getting this fight to the floor on multiple occasions. That said, it is the skill sets & knowledge that a coach like Ricky Lundell can bring to Carlos that are so valuable, as we have seen steady improvements in their subsequent camps together. Often compared to Maia’s previous opponent in Matt Brown, Carlos conducts himself in an aggressive manner from the bottom, as he falls back on his breakneck pace to eventually win out fights should his submissions fail. That said, I feel Condit offers a much more technical and diverse game than Brown(which is no slight on Brown), as I feel Carlos’ guard-game may be a crucial stifling point in this fight.

Like many long framed grapplers, Condit poses the problems you would expect from the bottom, whether it is high-guard options or the angles in which he can get leverage on his submission attempts. However, it is the intricacies of Carlos’ guard game that will at the very least give Demian a different look than he has been accustom to in the UFC. Not just using his long legs to climb into attack positions from the guard, Condit is one of the few guard players north of the UFC’s lightweight division, who maintains persistent efforts in hip elevation and debasing his opposition. Preferring to operate out of a guard variation known as K-control, Carlos will under-hook his opponent’s leg as he looks to slide his shin across the belly and up into the chest of his opposition. This combination allows Condit to compromise the base of his opponent while opening up the offense on his terms. Assisting this effort is Carlos’ free hand, in which he will either use to throw strategic strikes(in a baiting effort) or help win the defensive/offensive grip battles.

From here, Condit has a multitude of submission threats from triangle chokes to leg-locks or options of sweeps and scrambles. Although I feel that K control is a great tool for MMA in the appropriate hands, I am sure that Maia should have an answer for this as well as any other guard type you throw at him. That said, I believe that this guard style is the antithesis to Maia’s top game in regards to styles that will make him work. Similar to the great Rickson Gracie, Demian focuses his game on the mastery of fundamentals. Although you cannot understate the effectiveness of his approach, the Brazilian often takes the same path each time when advancing from topside.

Maintaining consistent pressure, Demain will elevate his hips as he utilizes his leg dexterity to complete leg-weaves or knee-slice passes. With Condit’s guard style providing him with an initial wall to work behind, it will be interesting to see how he uses this space as his activity will likely make Maia earn his advances. In my opinion, the key junction in this fight will take place within the scrambles created by these scenarios. Although Carlos is one of the best at getting back to his feet, he tends to turtle out sometimes, which could give your back to a specialist like Maia. That is where I feel Ricky Lundell’s presence will come in handy, as Carlos now shows the hand-fighting and wrestling awareness that may help him navigate these spots.

Though Condit’s slow burn will likely cost him takedowns as well as rounds early on, I feel that the on-paper advantages of Maia will start to unwind should he not find a finish by the third(a round where he traditionally tires). We all talk about a “1st round Rumble” or “5th round Robbie“, but my favorite MMA trope is the “3rd round, Carlos Condit”. Whether we are talking about the head kick landed on St. Pierre, the momentum shifts against Diaz & Lawler, or the demon that came out to fight Johny Hendricks in their final frame, a “3rd round Carlos Condit” is a consistent and dangerous being. Please do not mistake my enthusiasm for bias, as a dominate performance and finish by Demian would not surprise me, nor should it surprise you as I caution playing this one. Although I do believe that Maia has the tools to win the majority of the battles, I feel that Condit will have the proper intangibles to win the war.

Official Pick: Condit – Inside the distance

 

Anthony2

Anthony Pettis (18-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 29 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Edson Barboza (4-23-16)
  • Camp: Roufusport/Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC Lightweight Champion
+   WEC Lightweight Title
+   6 Submission wins
+   9 KO victories
+   12 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Athletic & Agile
+/-Works along the outside
^   Moves well laterally
+   Accurate shot selection
+   Diverse kicking game
^   Dangerous body attacks
+   Excellent feint utilization
+   Active bottom game
+   Improved takedown defense
^   Uses the cage to stand
–    Struggles w/wrestling pressure
+/-1st fight at featherweight

 

DoBronx4

Charles Oliveira (21-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 26 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Myles Jury (12-19-15)
  • Camp: Macaco Gold Team (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   13 Submission wins
+   6 KO victories
+   10 first round finishes
+   Solid Muay Thai arsenal
^   Dangerous knees & elbows
+   Accurate left hook
+/-Reverts to shell-defense
–    Upright head & posture
^   Body shot availabilities
+   Underrated wrestling
+   Crafty clinch game
^   Favors takedown attempts here
+/-Will pull guard
^   Deadly off of his back
+   Superb transition grappler
^   Diverse submission acumen

Summary:

The co-main event for UFC on FOX is a promising predicament as the former lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis drops down to featherweight to meet Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira. Coming off of a 3-fight losing skid, Anthony Pettis is searching for a career rejuvenation at a weight-class he has long talked about visiting. Looking to the play the spoiler, former lightweight Charles Oliveira will once again welcome another fighter to the division.

Despite Pettis coming down a division, he will be the smaller and shorter man on fight night. Not only that, but Oliveira is accustom to fighting larger men as most of his UFC competition have been current or former lightweights. That said, Pettis should have the advantage for as long as this fight stays standing. Although Oliveira has a decent Muay Thai game, he has shown little adjustments over the course of his UFC tenor. Although he has made some improvements in the areas of footwork and defense, the long framed Brazilian naturally seems to keep upright in both his approaches and retreats.

Consistently reverting to a shell defense, Charles has traditionally been susceptible to body shots. In fact, 2 of 3 TKO losses sustained by Oliveira were triggered by body shots that seemingly crippled the Brazilian. Whether or not this specific fragility is due to the issues Oliveira has had making the weight(officially missing the limit 3 times at featherweight), body kicks will be the strike to look out for considering Pettis throws them with impunity. However, Anthony may not throw them so liberally given that body kicks are the easiest to get turned into takedowns(as seen in Oliveira’s last fight with Jury).

In my opinion, Pettis will still have an edge in these scenarios given his speed, and the fact that Charles carries himself so upright that you rarely see him in a position to capitalize. Regardless of Anthony’s advantages standing, the key junction in this fight will take place inside the clinch. A place where Oliveira prefers to score his takedowns from, Anthony’s anti-clinching abilities will be put to the test here. Despite losing close scorecards due to control time in his contest with Eddie Alvarez, Pettis displayed steady improvements to his defense and base maintenance.

Pettis did an efficient job of using the fence to stand, as the found a nice balance between not fully turtling out nor fully giving his head in the process. Given Oliveira’s back taking tendencies and his acumen for chokes off a front headlock, Pettis will need to be on point when looking to get back to his feet. With Anthony having a similar taste for submissions in regards to guillotine & guard attacks, he should have an inherent edge in sniffing out the sneaky Brazilian’s attempts. That said, it is not the first attempt of Oliveira you need to worry about, as the Brazilian chains submissions like he is firing them from an M-60 machine gun.

One-after-another, Oliveira needs only but a limb to initiate his sticky style of clinching, as Charles will use his diverse approach to force his opposition into poor decision making. Capitalizing on the drop of a dime, Oliveira will dive onto a submission as his attacks come in interweaving waves. I do not doubt that Pettis has the technical wherewithal to withstand as I’m sure he is well-trained, but the real question that underlines this fight for me is his mental state. With the main stretch of his UFC career coming in the form of quick nights at the office, it is not hard to see why Anthony got so high to take this fall in the first place. Still well within his prime at the age of 29, Pettis has not suffered the traditional miles that many others have thus far in his career.

With his physical capabilities arguably in full working order, I feel that the psychology of Pettis will be more of a factor in this fight than the actual weight cut. Although Anthony tends to operate near the fence(the preferred place for Oliveira’s takedowns), I feel that his lateral movement and anti-clinch acumen will allow him to get off in the big cage. Assuming that Anthony comes in clear and operating at a minimum of 75%, I suspect he will find a finish before the final bell. However, I would be lying to you if I said I was confident in picking Pettis given his recent trend. With Oliveira being more live than the odds suggest, I recommend caution playing this one as I’ll be sitting back and enjoying the fireworks.

Official Pick: Pettis – Inside the distance

 

PVZ1

Paige VanZant (6-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 24 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 65″
  • Last Fight: Sub loss / Rose Namajunas (12-10-15)
  • Camp: Team Alpha Male (Sacramento, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   BJJ Blue Belt
+   2 Submission wins
+   1 TKO victory
+   1 first round finish
+   Relentless pace & pressure
^   Excellent conditioning
+   Aggressive clinch game
^   Dirty boxes/head & arm tosses
+   Solid scrambling ability
^   Consistently fights for position
+/-Developing striking game
–    Lacks head movement
^   Counter availabilities

 

UFC Fight Night: Rawlings v Ham

Bec Rawlings (7-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 27 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 64″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Seo Hee Ham (3-19-16)
  • Camp: Alliance MMA (San Diego, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 20 Alum
+   4 Submission wins
+   1 TKO victory
+   4 first round finishes
+   Aggressive pace & pressure
+   Improved boxing
^   Favors L. hooks & R. uppercuts
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Improved takedown defense
+   Active top game
^   Relentless ground striker
+   Struggles w/wrestling pressure
^   Gas tank bares watching

Summary:

In what should be a fun fight in the strawweight division, Paige VanZant squares off with Bec Rawlings. Coming off a brief hiatus in which Paige participated in ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”, the young VanZant will look to bounce back from her first UFC loss suffered last December. Seeking to play the spoiler is Bec Rawlings, an Australian contestant of TUF 20 who will look to build some more momentum since coming away with a win last March.

Starting off on the feet, I suspect Rawlings should hold a clear technical advantage in regards to striking. An often underrated striker, the Australian has made improvements to her overall game since moving shop to Alliance MMA in San Diego. Despite not kicking as much as Paige, nor most of her opposition, Rawlings does deceptively well at range once establishing her in-and-out rhythms. Working behind an improved jab, Bec often opts to finish her combinations with left hooks and uppercuts. Considering that VanZant has yet to display defensive head movement of note, expect the Australian’s punches to be live and seeking so long as this fight stays standing.

Despite traditionally eating shots on her way in, VanZant turns into a Tazmanian Devil in regards to her work rate on the inside. A decent dirty boxer herself, Paige will quickly change her agenda to takedowns as she does a good job of getting her opposition against the cage. Regardless of her success in grounding Bec, expect Paige to push for these positions as Rawlings has typically struggled here in the past. With VanZant likely looking to ground Bec, she will need to be careful in the way in which she favors going for takedowns. Often over-committing to hip tosses or head & arm throws, Paige tends to expose her back when failing upon executions.

Although VanZant is arguably the better scrambler, Bec shows a knack for taking backs in those situations where she can find her opponents turtled. That said, we have seen the Paige is no easy out in regards to submission attempts and her ability to take a shot. Despite Bec being no slouch with her ground striking acumen from topside, I feel that the scrambling ability of Paige will expose the previous problems of Rawlings’ career against girls who can out-position & scramble her with consistency. Although I am officially picking VanZant, I strongly disagree with the current betting lines as I feel this is closer to a pick em fight. With Rawlings’ power, size and experience being making her a live dog, I would caution any strong plays either way for the current asking prices.

Official Pick: VanZant – Decision

 

Lauzon2

Joe Lauzon (26-11)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 32 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Diego Sanchez (7-9-16)
  • Camp: Lauzon MMA (Boston, MA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   8 KO victories
+   17 first round finishes
+   17 Submission wins
+   Fast starter
+   Improved boxing
^   Accurate left hook
+/-Favors shell defense
^   Body shot & uppercut available
+   Underrated wrestling
+/-Aggressive transitional grappler
^   Sometimes gives position for submissions
+   Dangerous submission variety
+/-4-5 against southpaws

 

Miller1

Jim Miller (26-8)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 33 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 75.5″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Takanori Gomi (7-9-16)
  • Camp: Miller Bros MMA (New Jersey)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   4 KO victories
+   10 first round finishes
+   14 Submission wins
+/-Aggressive pace & pressure
^   Gas tank bares watching
+   Dangerous short elbows
+   Accurate check right hook
+   Solid leg/inside leg kick
+   Deadly submissions in transition
^   Will sometimes sacrifice position
+/-Willingness to fight from bottom
^   Active & attacking guard
+/-2-4 in last 6 fights

Summary:

Kicking off the main card on FOX is a rematch between two of the most beloved lightweights to compete in the division, as Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller square off one more time. Since their epic battle four years ago at UFC 155, both men have gone on to trade wins & losses in their careers as that bout clearly took something out of each competitor. Between the noted health issues of each fighter and their respective family members in last few years, it is not hard to see why consistency has been hard to come by for either man. That said, I am going to assume that each fighter is near top form as their gameness is unquestionable.

Starting off on the feet, I expect Miller’s Muay Thai arsenal to carry it’s same inherent advantages as before. A southpaw who celebrates his stylistic edges, Miller does a good job at finding the inside angle to deliver his left crosses and short elbows. We saw Jim excel early on in their first meeting as he found his rhythm faster than Joe did, which allowed him to open up a cut and get going. Usually following up his left hands with a cleanup hitting check right hook, Miller’s vicious inside leg kick was the real key to punctuating his punches. Using the inside leg kick as an entry into his combination work, Miller was able to off balance Lauzon from the jump and get the edge in exchanges.

Although he is also known as one of the division’s more aggressive fighters, Joe Lauzon is also one of the most intelligent as I will be looking forward to seeing what adjustments he will make in the rematch. Primarily drawing from a boxing based toolkit, Joe has some dangerous elbows of his own that I am sure he will be looking to use. That said, I suspect we may see more knees and punches to the body of Miller. Not only did Joe have the most success here in regards to striking with Jim, but we have seen Joe steadily develop these tools more since that fight.

Although Miller has been susceptible to body shots in the past, most of his trouble standing stems from his control of the center lane. Whether it is the jabs of Nate Diaz or the check knees from Cowboy Cerrone, Jim’s striking arsenal has shown to struggle when forced to fight at his opponents preferred range. So regardless of Lauzon’s approach, he will likely need to establish his range down to center lane to build on any success he finds. As far as defenses go, Lauzon is traditionally the more hittable man as he has a tendency to plot and revert to a shell defense.

With these habits opening up Lauzon to body shots of his own, I the suspect striking traffic will once again become a two-way street. With the striking portion of this fight likely going to the man who establishes himself first, it will be interesting to which fighter can exploit the ground stanzas in their favor. With both men renown for their submission grappling abilities, we saw an exciting array of back-and-forth scrambles in their last outing. As has been accustom to their careers, each fighter employs an aggressive style of transitional grappling that can quickly turn south should a finish not materialize.

However, both Jim and Joe have seemingly noted this side effect to their style as they have each made adjustments in the subsequent years. Demonstrating a more measured approach from their top control to overall output, Jim Miller and Joe Lauzon have each shown veteran savvy in regards to being realistic about their limitations. With each fighter difficult to submit when sober, I suspect the exchanges will be close as it may come down to whoever ends up on top. With Lauzon showing more of a trend for control as Miller shows a propensity to fight from his back, I give a slight edge to Joe to find his way topside.

Considering where these two fan-favorites are at this stage of their career, it is hard to ask for anything else as these fighters have given more than we can imagine. With both Joe and Jim still dealing with injuries that have plagued them from their first fight, all I can hope is that these two come away safely here. With an official pick being all but a formality for me in regards to this fight, I will be siding with Lauzon this time as I feel his trends are a bit more reliable. That said, there is no certainty in this matchup as I feel it is just as close as their first encounter, albeit for different reasons.

Official Pick: Lauzon – Decision

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Alvey def. Casey
  • Bochniak def. Barzola
  • Di Chirico def. McLellan
  • Campbell def. Silva
  • Laprise def. Gouti
  • Hunter def. Janes
  • Kennedy def. Ricci

Recommended Plays:

Draft Kings recommended rosters:

 

Team #1: $49,000.00

-Alessio Di Chirico ($11,000.00)
-Sam Alvey ($10,200.00)
-Carlos Condit ($10,000.00)
-Charles Oliveira ($9,000.00)
-Shane Campbell ($8,800.00)

Team Summary:

For my first DraftKings recommended roster, I went with Alessio Di Chirico, Sam Alvey, and Carlos Condit as my high tier picks. Alessio Di Chirico is one of Italy’s more promising prospects, as he shows the early signs of a transition game that is reminiscent to a young St. Pierre. With his wrestling being the most impressive part of his game, the Italian demonstrates a learning curve that looks promising. With Garreth McClellan being a jack of all trades and master of none type fighter, this seems like a matchup that is meant to showcase Alessio as he bounces back from a competitive loss in his debut. Even if the Italian doesn’t find a finish, his accuracy and takedown acumen will likely rack up points in a clear decision.

For my second high tier pick, I went with Sam Alvey as he carries the 3rd highest average in regards to point scorers on the card. Although Kevin Casey has a knack for finding himself in strange affairs, I feel his downtrend has been a clear one as Sam presents a stylistic challenge regardless. A heavy-handed knockout artist who can defend the takedown, I feel Alvey finds a finish given how hittable Casey has shown to be on the feet. For the final high-tier option, I went with Carlos Condit as he is a main-event participant and also the highest average point earner on the card. For the reasons listed in my breakdown above, I feel Carlos can come through with a win as he usually does so in style.

For my low-tier options, I elected to go with Charles Oliveira & Shane Campbell. Although I officially picked Pettis, I stated in my breakdown above that Charles Oliveira is always a live dog. Given Pettis’ downtrend and traditional struggles with grappling pressure, an upset produced by Oliveira will likely score you big should you make a spot for the Brazilian. Lastly, I opted to go with Shane Campbell as I feel he is a supporting cast staple at the price of $8,800.00. Although his opponent Felipe Silva is a real undefeated threat who can strike with Shane, this battle of former Muay Thai competitors will likely produce a finish. Given that Shane has shown a more well-rounded game against higher opposition, I give the Canadian a slight edge to be the one left standing.

Team #2: $50,000.00

-Alessio Di Chirico ($11,300.00)
-Anthony Pettis ($10,400.00)
-Sam Alvey ($10,200.00)
-Demian Maia ($9,600.00)
-Shane Campbell ($8,800.00)

Team Summary:

For my second recommended DraftKings roster, I went with Alessio Di Chirico, Sam Alvey, and Anthony Pettis. For the reasons listed in the team summary above, I feel that Alessio Di Chirico and Sam Alvey are well worth the cost as they each are in matchups that are stylistically favorable. For the final high-tier pick, I went with Anthony Pettis as his 83% finish rate could earn you major points given Oliveira’s do-or-die sensibilities. Although that fight is on my “fights to avoid” section, it is there due to the volatility for a finish on either side as I’m siding with Anthony officially.

For my low-tier picks, I elected to go with Demian Maia and Shane Campbell. For the reasons listed in the summary above, I went with Shane Campbell as I feel he is the most potent points earner on the bottom of the list. Although I officially picked Condit, I have no disillusions that Demian Maia can win this fight as I stated this in the breakdown above. As a main event competitor, even a vintage Maia performance should earn you a decent finishing spot at the end of the night if the Brazilian emerges victorious.

Props worth looking at(5Dimes.eu):

-Sam Alvey ITD: -105 (1.0 Unit)
-VanZant/Rawlings over 2 1/2: -270 (1.5 Units)

Playable favorites for your parlays:

-Alessio Di Chirico
-Chad Laprise
-Sam Alvey

Fights to avoid:

-Jeremy Kennedy vs Alessandro Ricci
-Anthony Pettis vs Charles Oliveira
-Shane Campbell vs Felipe Silva

For the complete analysis of future & past UFC events visit MixedMartialAnalyst.com and for future breakdowns & your latest in worldwide MMA news, stay tuned & follow @MMALatestnws MMALatestNews.com

 

Onnit Primal Bells

breakdown

UFC 216 Breakdown: Tony Ferguson vs. Kevin Lee

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As a fight fan, you can’t ask for a much better match up than Tony Ferguson vs Kevin Lee.

This match up is easily one of the most fascinating ones of the year, and with the interim lightweight title on the line, the stake doesn’t get much higher. But the bigger meaning of the fight lies in that fact that a clear number one contender will be determined to virtually guarantee a future opportunity at the current champion, Conor McGregor.

The talks of McGregor next facing rival Nate Diaz next have been circulating for the past few weeks, but once this fight between Ferguson and Lee concludes, and someone walks out of the arena on Saturday with that interim championship around their waist, they will be very hard to deny for McGregor.

Although this fight is a very exciting match up, on paper, it may deceive some people as a mismatch, since Lee’s resume of wins doesn’t include too many top contenders. His biggest win was against Michael Chiesa in June of this year, Chiesa was ranked 6th at the time. But let’s look deeper into it and see what makes this one a must-see fight.

Where Ferguson Flourishes

Ferguson and Lee may be stylistically two completely different fighters, but their ground games and grappling are both extremely high level, possibly the top 3 in the division, a list that can’t leave out Khabib Nurmagomedov. In the grappling department, it is hard to decide a winner here.

Even about five months ago, I would have leaned towards Ferguson, but watching Lee take control against a high level grappler like Chiesa the way he did was beyond belief to be honest. Ferguson will have his hands full if the fight hits the canvas, and likewise for Lee. However, if there is one thing that Lee needs to watch out against Ferguson, it is the unorthodox style he brings, even in the grappling.

“El Cucuy” is a bizarre fighter, but in a good way. Watch him fight against Edson Barboza and do a couple of imanari rolls. Watch him roll while on the bottom against dos Anjos. It is mind-blowing how good he is with such peculiarity and Lee can’t overlook that.

With that being said, advantages for ‘El Cucuy’ are quite clear: Stand-up, cardio and experience. Ferguson showed time and time again what a well-rounded fighter he is, and his record shows it too. Out of 17 finishes on his win column, 9 of them are by knockout and 8 are by submission. He really is a fighter who can do it all.

Tony Ferguson defeated Rafael dos Anjos via Unanimous Decision in November of 2016 at UFC Mexico City.

We also know that his cardio is exceptional, this was displayed in his fight against Rafael dos Anjos, where he went five hard rounds with the former champion in Mexico City, at an altitude of 7,382 feet. Just to give an idea of how high that is, Colorado’s altitude is 6,035 feet.

Ferguson knows what it is like to be in the deep waters. But when a fairly young fighter such as Lee reaches the later rounds, nobody knows how he will respond to the situation, so Ferguson has his advantages in the experience department laid out clearly.

Don’t Count Out Kevin Lee

‘The Motown Phenom’, on the other hand, is a completely different fighter with different strengths. He possesses advantages in the physical department, career mileage, and in the fact that he has less pressure going into the fight. The physical advantage is the most obvious one for Lee. He has spoken before on the fact that he cuts from about 180-pounds, where Ferguson has talked about him being capable of making 145-pounds.

Ferguson may be taller, but it is not difficult to see that Lee is bigger when they stand next to each other. Lee’s second advantage comes from the fact that he is not as battle-tested. In a way, it could be a disadvantage, but he has taken considerably less amount of damage throughout his career compared to Ferguson. The last advantage for Lee listed was explained more specifically on my article ‘Tony Ferguson can’t afford to lose at UFC 216’. Feel free to go and check it out.

Kevin Lee defeated Michael Chiesa by first round submission (rear-naked choke) at UFC Oklahoma City in June 2017.

Now that both guys’ assets are laid out for this fight, it’s time to make a prediction.

Time and time again leading up to this fight, I’ve heard people say that this fight is going to end in a submission, and most say it’s going to come from Ferguson. I would agree with that but here’s one thing. As previously mentioned, Lee’s grappling is top-notch and he is brilliant defensively. This was evidenced when he was on the bottom against Michael Chiesa, a position in which he was easily able to escape.

I don’t believe Lee is a fighter that can be easily submitted. But here’s what I agree with most on: I also see Ferguson winning, because of his experience, cardio, and definitely unpredictability. Kevin Lee, while he is a very talented fighter, I believe it is just a tad bit too early for him at this moment.

Prediction: Tony Ferguson def. Kevin Lee via TKO (punches) in the 5th round.

 

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UFC 216 Breakdown: Demetrious Johnson vs. Ray Borg

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If Demetrious Johnson is able to defend his flyweight title this Saturday at UFC 216, it will be an attempt to break a major record, as he will then have defended his belt for the 11th consecutive time.

It is a remarkable record that he attempts to break, which is currently being held by Johnson and the former middleweight champion Anderson Silva, at 10.

When this fight was first announced for UFC 215, the reactions from the fans were not exactly what the UFC hoped it would be. There were two possible reasons for this, and maybe even both:

1) The talks of Johnson defending his title against T.J. Dillashaw was roaming around at the time, which got fans excited, only to disappoint them in the end when it wasn’t finalized.

2) Ray Borg is not necessarily a fighter that fans are dying to see yet, mainly because he is not the most marketable fighter and he is very young, which made us ask, “Is he ready for this opportunity?”

However, there is one thing we must keep in mind when looking at a fight between a dominant champion and a young rising contender: Expect the unexpected. We saw it last December when Dominick Cruz fought Cody Garbrandt at UFC 207. Who would have ever thought that Garbrandt would be able to outclass Cruz the way he did?

Cody Garbrandt provided yet another shock title change when he defeated Dominick Cruz at UFC 207 in December of 2016.

But don’t get it mistaken. ‘Can’ doesn’t mean ‘will’. And although Borg could shock the world in this fight, it is way more reasonable to lean towards Johnson. After all, if we are being honest, ‘Mighty Mouse’ is the closest thing to a perfect fighter. The only times he lost was to Brad Pickett, which was seven years ago, and to Dominick Cruz, who unlike ‘DJ’ is a natural bantamweight.

This is a tough fight for Borg. The only way for him to win is either catch Johnson with a big shot and finish him or keep up a ridiculous pace for 5 rounds straight and outmatch the champion with skills.

Borg is at a couple of disadvantages here, one being his cardio. “The Tazmexican Devil” has previously shown that he often has a tough time making the 125-pound weight limit, and if you add that to the fact that he never fought past three rounds, his cardio is in question. Whether he will be able to keep up with Johnson, who can put on a ridiculous pace for 25-minutes straight, remains to be seen.

Also, we never know what is going through a fighter’s head, so it will be interesting to see how Borg performs under pressure. He’s never had a title shot, and Johnson has been in the same spot 12-times in his career, so experience also goes to Johnson.

Ultimately, I’m leaning towards the champion in this fight. I do like Borg and what he brings to the table, however, too many questions are unanswered about Borg at this point to pick him over Demetrious Johnson.

Prediction: Demetrious Johnson def. Ray Borg via Unanimous Decision.

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UFC 215 Main Card Breakdown

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The UFC makes its return to Canada as current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson looks to break the record for most successful, consecutive, title defenses, against Ray Borg. Also on the card is a women’s bantamweight title fight between champion Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko, Gilbert Melendez makes his featherweight debut against power puncher Jeremy Stephens, Ilir Latifi looks to bounce back against Tyson Pedro, and Rafael dos Anjos looks to continue his welterweight journey against Neil Magny. Let’s take a look and see how it each fight plays out.

Jeremy Stephens vs Gilbert Melendez

Gilbert Melendez is a fighter who has built his career on being a talented boxer and being incredibly strong both in the clinch and the ground. For years he has been a monster for most lightweights to deal with. However, since having joined the UFC from Strikeforce he has gone just 1-4. In his last couple of fights, he has found himself slowed down due to unchecked leg kicks and opponents who are quicker than him. In an attempt to resurrect his career ‘El Nino’ has dropped down to featherweight and will meet former lightweight, himself, Jeremy Stephens. Stephens has made a career out of hitting hard, knocking opponents out with either hands, legs, or even his knees. Stephens is a fighter who excels in the pocket and has the durability to stand toe to toe with almost any opponent. In his last five fights, he has gone 2-3 due to his opponents being quicker than him and keeping him on the end of their punches.

How the fight will go

Gilbert will come into the fight as the stronger fighter with the better grappling game and better control of the Octagon. His excellent boxing will match-up well with Stephens. However, Stephens will come in as the faster fighter, harder puncher, and will already be used to cutting down to 145. Melendez will need to gain control of the Octagon early and keep Stephens against the cage both in the clinch and on the ground, in order to tire out “Lil Heathen”. If he can use his boxing to keep Stephens at the end of his punches, control the Octogan, and stay out of the pocket, it’s his fight to lose. Stephens does his best work in the pocket and although he’s slow for a featherweight he will have the advantage speed wise in this match-up. If he can keep his back off of the cage, gain control of the Octagon, land his powerful leg kicks, and mix up his powerful strikes, then he will have a dog in this fight and can very well pull off the upset.

Prediction

Gilbert Melendez fights very similarly to the way he fought in the Pettis fight. He keeps Stephens’ back against the cage and forces him to the ground every chance he gets in order to tire him out. Stephens occasionally finds success using his speed and power in the pocket but eventually finds himself too tired to stop the stronger Melendez from imposing his game plan. Assuming Gilbert’s first cut 145 goes well, he beats Stephen’s via a close but clear decision to put his career back on track and start his journey at featherweight on the right foot.

Ilir Latifi vs Tyson Pedro

Ilir Latifi is coming off of one of the most brutal knockout losses of 2016. He ate a huge knee from Ryan Bader in the second round of their fight and has not returned to the Octogan since. The Swedish ball of muscle looks to bounce back against the undefeated Australian Tyson Pedro. Tyson Pedro is a fighter who has never experienced anything beyond a first round stoppage win, his fight against Latifi represents his biggest test yet. Latifi is a fighter with a game centered around his incredible strength and power. He is a fighter who brings a calm energy in the cage and an interesting physique. He is only 5’10, the same height as former featherweight Anthony Pettis, what he lacks in height he makes up for with muscle. His muscle alone makes him one of the strongest and most powerful fighters in the UFC. Pedro is one of the tallest fighters in his division, coming in at 6’3 he’s used to being the stronger, taller fighter and likes to smother his opponents both on the ground and in the clinch.

How the fight will go

A lot of Pedro’s advantages come from being the taller, stronger fighter. He likes to keep his opponents at range, eat them up with oblique kicks, clinch up, take them down and find the stoppage. Latifi’s strength means clinching and takedowns won’t be easy. He can over power most opponents and avoid trouble in those areas. Latifi does have a tendency to get stuck on the outside and eat leg kicks, his tendency to rush in can lead to counters, like in the Bader fight. Latifi is an excellent wrestler but has trouble taking his opponents down, often expanding a lot of energy in the process. Pedro has been hurt before by his lack of head movement and that can lead to him taking big shots, Latifi can always find a big shot early on and take the Australian out.

Prediction

This fight will all depend on how the first round goes. If Latifi can find his range early on he can land the knockout shot and finish the Australian. If he can’t, he will find himself on the outside where Pedro will pick him apart with body kicks and oblique kicks and hold him against the fence where the Swede will tire himself out. If Pedro stays patient he can tire out Latifi and score the finish. Pedro scores the upset and finishes an exhausted Latifi in the third round by TKO.

Neil Magny vs Rafael dos Anjos

Rafael dos Anjos looks to win his second fight at welterweight as he faces long time contender Neil Magny. Dos Anjos is coming off of a well-fought decision win against Tarec Saffiedine in a fight that helped him discover how he stacked up against a real welterweight and how his body would hold up. He brings into this fight excellent body and leg kicks that he uses to break down his opponents and slow down their movement. He has a game that is perfectly suited for his height as he uses a lot of pressure and forward movement to make sure he stays on the inside. His excellent ground game has carried over to 170 as he uses his top pressure to smother his opponents. Neil Magny last fought against Johny Hendricks in a fight where he used his long range better and showed a new technique with his kicks to create range. Magny’s game uses excellent cardio, as well as good footwork and movement. He’s starting to better understand how to use his long and tall body. He also uses his long legs to create triangle attempts from the bottom.

How the fight plays out

If Magny can use his height and reach correctly he can leave Dos Anjos stuck on the outside, as well as using his footwork to ensure he doesn’t take too many shots. His cardio will keep him fresh throughout the three rounds and he can use that to his advantage if dos Anjos tires out. Dos Anjos will look to use his leg kicks to stop Magny’s footwork as well as use his powerful body kicks to sap his cardio. Dos Anjos’ pressure based game could very well negate Magny’s reach advantage and his smothering top game would keep Magny from using his reach.

Prediction

Although Magny has the tools to beat dos Anjos, the Brazilian remains an elite fighter even at welterweight. Dos Anjos uses his leg and body kicks to slow down Magny as well as using his wrestling to tire the American out. Dos Anjos has fought tall opponents in the past and knows how to use his forward pressure to remove the reach advantage, as he did against Donald Cerrone and Nate Diaz. The former lightweight champion takes a decision win and moves to 2-0 at welterweight.

Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko

Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko meet for the second time after fighting each other at UFC 196. The first fight ended in a close 29-28 decision win for the now champion Nunes. Nunes is a long and rangy kickboxer who likes to fight at range, where she uses her jab and cross keep her opponents back. She has been known to finish most of her fights early on, however, if she fails to do so she has a tendency to get tired, gas out, and get finished herself. Shevchenko, although undersized at 5’5, has been beating her opponents using her ever evolving ground game and her excellent Muay-Thai. Her patience and forcing her opponents to lead has brought her victories over top contenders like Holly Holm and Julianna Pena.

How the fight plays out

Amanda Nunes used her strength on the ground to beat Shevchenko in the first two rounds the last time they fought. Nunes didn’t have a whole lot of success on the feet as she was overpowered in the clinch and found herself having trouble with Shevchenko’s patience and lack of counter opportunities. Nunes’ ground game, while she was still fresh, was very dangerous last time out, nasty ground and pound as well as multiple submission attempts. However in the third round of their fight Nunes gassed and found herself too exhausted to overpower her opponent like she had done in the first rounds and found herself eating a lot of shots on the ground and in the clinch. If early on she can force Shevchenko to the ground and use her strength, she can find a submission or a ground and pound TKO. However, if she can’t, she’ll find herself getting tired in the later rounds and seeing her window for victory closing. This fight, being five rounds, heavily favors Shevchenko and her ever evolving game.

Prediction

Much like in their first fight Shevchenko will stay patient and lose the early rounds. Her lack of activity hurt her last time out as well as Nunes’ aggressive ground game. If Nunes can use her strength early on, she can take Shevchenko down and have her way with her as she looks for the early finish. If Shevchenko can weather the early storm, she can take advantage of her tired opponent and finish her late. Shevchenko will force Nunes to lead and although she’ll have to weather the early storm, her patience will eventually pay off as her opponent tires herself out. Valentina Shevchenko finishes an exhausted Amanda Nunes in the fourth round by TKO to become the new women’s bantamweight champion.

Demetrious Johnson vs Ray Borg

Current flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson takes on Ray Borg in an attempt to break the record for most successful consecutive title defenses. His 11th title defense comes against skilled wrestler Ray Borg and his ever evolving striking. Johnson brings to the Octagon one of the most well-rounded games in all of MMA. His excellent stand up paired with his world class grappling has not failed him at 125. His excellent footwork has always troubled his opponents and his lack of clear weaknesses means it’s difficult to exploit problems in his game. Ray Borg started his career as a world class grappler who would immediately take his opponents down and smother them until the fight was over or he was able to find a submission. His striking used to be a big weakness in his game until he started training with Brandon Gibson.

How the fight plays out

Ray Borg used to start his fights by immediately taking his opponents down and smothering them. Now that his striking improved he’s content with staying on the feet and striking with his opponents. This is where he will have problems against Johnson, Johnson is the much quicker fighter out of the two and will keep Borg on the outside. Borg’s incredibly short reach of 63” means he will need to cover a lot of distance, something he struggles with. Borg is not the quickest of flyweights and is a lot slower than Johnson. While Johnson has the bigger advantage on the feet, the wrestling is where it gets tricky. Borg’s ability to find the takedown and stay on his opponent is something he will need to use to tire out Johnson and force him to make a mistake. Johnson’s patience on the ground means he won’t panic if he goes down with Borg and has shown in the past he can easily get back up or even grapple with the best of them. Borg’s gas tank will be a problem in this fight, as Johnson never seems to tire out and is used to going five rounds. If Borg tires, Johnson will completely take over the fight.

Prediction

Borg starts the first round on the feet and ends up getting frustrated as he finds Johnson too quick and gets stuck on the outside. He eventually finds the takedown and forces Johnson to go through some scary moments. Johnson survives the early storm on the ground and starts to run away with the fight in the third round as Borg starts to tire. Although the fight will be close on the ground, it’s obvious Johnson has all the advantages in the standup. Demetrious Johnson beats Ray Borg by unanimous decision to break the record for most successful title defenses in a row.

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