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UFC Vegas: Almeida vs Garbrandt Breakdown

Dan Tom

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Almeida3

Thomas Almeida (21-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 24 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 72.5″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Anthony Birchak (11-7-15)
  • Camp: Chute Boxe (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Legacy Bantamweight Title
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   16 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   16 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Solid footwork
^   Rarely out of position
+   Strikes with volume & variety
+   Often leads with this right
^   Favors finishing with his left
+   Deadly left switch knee
^   Mixes well with inside leg kicks
+   Improved wrestling ability
^   Good get-up technique & urgency
+/-Consistently/unabashedly aggressive
^   Can over stay welcome in pocket
^   Traditionally takes damage

 

Cody1

Cody Garbrandt (8-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 24 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 65.5″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Augusto Mendes (2-21-15)
  • Camp: Team Alpha Male (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Title
+   Multiple Wrestling Accolades
+   32-1 as an Amateur Boxer
+   7 KO victories
+   5 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Fast hand & foot speed
^   Attacks well of angles
+   Improved hand movement
+   Accurate left hook
^   Checks, attacks, & counters
+   Dangerous right-hand
+   Underrated kicks
+   Explosive power double TD’s
+   Demonstrates good grappling IQ
+   Gets up/scrambles well
+/-Willingness to brawl
^   Sometimes engages emotionally

Summary:

Headlining UFC Vegas is the most potent firefight of the entire card, as Thomas Almeida squares off against Cody Garbrandt. In the rare meeting of young undefeated prospects, it is matchups like these that make you feel like Christmas has come early. Similar to when John Lineker fought Francisco Rivera, we will be in store for a bantamweight scrap that bears heavyweight intangibles in regards to power.

Starting off on the feet, both men employ aggressive approaches but in different ways. Almeida, the more persistent stalker, and forward mover, embodies the classic Chute Boxe stylings of old. Covering distance quickly and parlaying his marches appropriately, Almeida displays variety & volume as he fires off preset combinations at the drop of a dime. What is even more impressive than the Brazilian’s striking flow, is the fact that he rarely finds himself out of position despite his voracious approach.

Often entering with his hard right-hand(or elbow depending on the range), Almeida will accentuate his combinations off of his left side. Thomas particularly favors finishing with left hooks to the liver, as he will also unabashedly quark screw uppercuts inside the pocket. Although lacking the outside leg & head kicks demonstrated by his stablemates, Almeida handily makes up for it with his use of the left leg. Parlaying his previously mentioned Thai marches, Almeida beautifully mixes up his inside leg kicks with devastating knees off the shuffle.

Despite his impressive offensive tools, the Brazilian’s inherent aggression has allowed him to take more damage than many think he should. Although Almeida keeps his hands high with improved pocket awareness, his constant fearless attempt for the finish often encourages him to overstay his welcome inside range. Thomas has been able to get away with his fan-friendly recklessness thus far, but he will be certainly playing with fire against the combination & counter prowess of Garbrandt.

Carrying a similar narrative, Cody is also an offense-first fighter. Sharing similar defensive criticisms as his opponent Almeida, Garbrandt has since shored up many of his liabilities since working with Brandon Gibson. Always a skilled boxer, Cody has been able to get away with his aggression through his natural toughness & durability. Realizing the problems with that approach early in his career, we have since seen Garbrandt incorporate much-improved head movement and angling off of his strikes.

In fact, I feel Garbrandt’s ability to slip off angles will be a key factor in this fight. Using his aggressive engagements to bait exchanges, Cody will subtly & slightly move off center to execute his combinations. Like Almeida, Garbrandt will also initiate action with his heavy right hand, but does his cleanup-hitting with the left. I feel Cody’s left hook, in particular, will serve him well in this contest. As seen in Almeida’s bout with Brad Pickett, the Brazilian often keeps and resets his head within range. Despite retracting his hands high, this habit has led Almeida into left hooks on multiple occasions.

Garbrandt’s biggest enemy in this fight will likely be himself. Never one to back down from a brawl, Cody has a tendency to get emotional if the action is not to his liking. If he fails to keep his emotions in check against a destroyer like Almeida, he will likely find himself in the eye of the storm. However, unlike his opposition, Garbrandt wields an explosive power-double takedown that could add an interesting fold to this fight. Whether countering his opponents aggression or solidifying a round, Cody’s ability to take this fight to the floor may prove crucial. That said, Almeida has shown wrestling proficiency of his own with his underrated get-up ability.

Given each fighters stylings and ability to scramble effectively, I doubt we will see prolonged ground stanzas. I believe this fight will be decided by mere inches on the feet, making certainties for either side hard to argue. However, after putting this one under the microscope, I feel Almeida’s approach may end up costing him in this stylistic standoff. Regardless of who you like here, make no mistake about it, this is a gun fight.

Official Pick: Garbrandt – Inside the distance

 

Barao1

Renan Barao (33-3-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 29 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 70.5″
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / TJ Dillashaw (7-25-15)
  • Camp: Nova Uniao (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC Bantamweight Champion
+   BJJ Black Belt
+   8 KO victories
+   13 first round finishes
+   15 Submission wins
+   KO Power
+   Dynamic striker
^   Accurate spinning attacks
+   Solid left hook
+   Dangerous right hand
+   Heavy leg kicks
+   Superb takedown defense
+   Excellent transitional grappler
^   Effective scrambler & back taker
+/-Often reverts to shell defense
^   Uppercut & body availabilities
+/-Aggressive in exchanges
^   Will overstay welcome inside

 

Stephens1

Jeremy Stephens (24-12)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 29 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Max Holloway (12-12-15)
  • Camp: Alliance MMA (San Diego, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   17 KO victories
+   2 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Devastating right hand
^   Uppercuts & overhands
+   Catches kicks & counters
+   Dangerous late into fights
+   Hard kicks & knees
+   Underrated wrestling ability
+   Improved submission defense
^   Good grip & hand fighting
+/-Often turtles to stand
^   Risks back being taken
+/-Propensity to brawl
^   Counter availabilities
+   Solid chin / Physically durable

Summary:

In a creative co-main event matchup, former bantamweight champion Renan Barao moves up to featherweight to face Jeremy Stephens. After losing his title to the hands of TJ Dillashaw, Barao has since struggled to regain the form & ferocity he had early in his UFC career. No longer having to diminish himself with the cut to 135, Barao will look for a fresh start at featherweight. Welcoming the former champ to the division, Stephens will look to use this opportunity to maintain his relevancy in the standings as he has dropped 3 of 4 of his last fights. With all of Stephens’ recent losses coming by competitive decisions, his record may be deceiving as Jeremy has proved his status of a live dog time & time again.

That said, judges scorecards and on-paper advantages may not matter considering the serendipitous matchup of these two violent strikers. Stalking in a similar fashion to his Nova Uniao stablemates, Barao traditionally comes forward with a full clip on the ready. Wielding a classic Muay Thai repertoire, Renan will occasionally show his wild side with surprisingly accurate spinning attacks. Although his right-hand is most prominent on the highlight reels, Barao possesses an effective left hook that may serve him well in this fight.

Even in his devastating losses to TJ Dillashaw, Renan Barao was still able to land left hooks throughout the contest(especially when thrown as a check). Against an aggressive striker like Stephens, a check hook can become your best friend as we saw Yves Edwards find success with this in his fight with Jeremy. Never the less, the surface level of Barao’s striking skills can be deceiving as we have recently seen the former champion’s aggressive style taken to task in the last two years.

Despite his dynamic attack ability, Barao has steadily become predictable in his plots. These subtle dips in his step often tip off Renan’s oncoming attacks, as his aggression has seemingly enabled him to overstay his welcome in exchanges of late. Barao also reverts to a shell defense, that coupled with his dipping tendencies, have traditionally exposed the Brazilian to uppercuts. Considering Stephens throws a devastating uppercut, I feel this will be a key punch to look for from the little heathen.

In a similar spirit, Stephens also presents a unique threat in the form of knees that may see some light in this fight. As he brilliantly stated after his victory over Dennis Bermudez, Stephens will look for his opposition to heavily put their weight on their front foot, as this opens up knees and uppercuts. Considering Renan consistently keeps heavy on his front foot, this could be something to look for as Barao comes forward.

I feel that Barao’s best chances of closing this show will be on the floor or in transition. Although I am not sure how Renan’s size will translate to this division, he possesses an underrated strength and takedown ability inside the clinch. Even though Stephens has some solid wrestling ability of his own, he was taken down from the clinch in his last three fights. Never the less, Stephens will be at his highest risk while transitioning back to his feet. Often turtling-out to stand, Stephens runs the risk of getting his back taken by the more proficient scrambler in Barao.

Stephens is no slouch in defending submissions as we saw him successfully thwart the attempts of specialist, Charles Oliveira for three rounds. Demonstrating intelligent grip fighting, a sober Stephens may prove difficult to catch. That said, a single back take from Barao could cost him a round positionally as it did with Oliveira. Although I do not disagree with Renan coming in as a slight favorite, I am not sure a durable knockout artist will be the best matchup for Barao to get his groove back.

Official Pick: Stephens – Inside the distance

 

MMA: UFC on Fox 18-Saffiedine vs Ellenberger

Tarec Saffiedine (15-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 29 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 70.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Jake Ellenberger (1-30-16)
  • Camp: Tristar Gym (Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Strikeforce Welterweight Title
+   Black Belt BJJ & Karate
+   Amateur Kickboxing Experience
+   5 first round finishes
+   5 Submission wins
+   Good distance management
^   Moves well laterally
+   Disciplined striking defense
^   Head moves well off strikes
+   Effective jab from both stances
^   Conducts tempo/sets up kicks
+   Superb leg kick timing
+   Underrated counter wrestling
^   86% takedown defense
+/-Consistently fights along the fence
–    Sometimes vulnerable off the break

 

Story fights Nelson in a welterweight MMA bout at the UFC gala, at the Globe Arena in Stockholm

Rick Story (18-8)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10″” Age: 31 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Gunnar Nelson (10-4-14)
  • Camp: MMA Lab (Washington/AZ)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Title
+   Collegiate Wrestling Experience
+   4 KO victories
+   4 first round finishes
+   4 Submission wins
+   KO power / Heavy hands
+   Persistent pressure
^   Consistent volume & combos
+   Dangerous left hand
+   Hard body shots
+   Counters well of the break
+   Underrated wrestling ability
+   Solid strikes & transitions on top
+/-Willingness to brawl
^   Traditionally takes damage
+   Physically durable / never KO’d

Summary:

In a welterweight pairing that promises action, Tarec Saffiedine will take on the returning Rick Story. Due to a recent run of injuries, we have not seen Rick Story in action since his 5-round victory over Gunnar Nelson back in October of 2014. Now with a clean bill of health, Rick will look to use this main card spot to continue his journey.

Standing in his way is Tarec Saffiedine, who has also struggled with fight activity due to injuries in the past few years of his career. With an undisclosed injury sustained late in Tarec’s camp, it will be interesting to see how close to competition level he will be. With that intangible stated, let’s take a look at how these two stack up technically.

Although Story has shown striking improvements since moving shop to the MMA Lab, Saffiedine is still the superior striker on paper. One of the most proficient switch-stance fighters in the UFC, Tarec will effectively fire off jabs from both sides as this allows him to dictate and disrupt striking tempos. With Tarec’s patent leg kicks that usually come behind his straight punches, Saffiedine’s approach should be straight-forward against an aggressive looping puncher like Story.

That said, Story has shown time and time again that his application of aggression is not as simple as it seems. Displaying improved head movement and an understanding of angles, Rick has shown to be just as dangerous off the counter as he is coming forward. In fact, Story shifts particularly well going backward, as he scored knockdowns against Kelvin Gastelum & Gunnar Nelson by deceptively countering on retreats.

With Saffiedine possessing the advantages at range, he will likely be trying to avoid pocket exchanges with Story. However, Tarec will need to be careful when exiting the pocket as his last three knockdowns(or times he was clearly stunned) have all come off the break. Since Story is most dangerous when striking off the break, I suspect this will be a key factor in this fight.

Even though Saffiedine more than has the skill and stamina to stick & move, he habitually finds himself operating from the outside which could be a detriment in this fight. A persistent pressure fighter by nature, Story is most consistent with his combinations when his opposition is in between the fence and inner-Octagon lines. If Saffiedine chooses to circle inside Story’s preferred kill zone, he will need to be as sharp as a sword.

Given each man’s styling, I doubt we will see prolonged stalemates on the floor. I do feel that Story is the better on-paper grappler, and will have more motive and ability to take this match to the mat. However, Tarec is an underrated grappler, as there is more than meets the eye in his takedown defense. As a fan of technicians, Saffiedine has always been a fun watch since his days in Strikeforce. That said, I do not feel this is a good style matchup for him, as I once again preach the underdog value of a durable southpaw.

Official Pick: Story – Decision

 

Miranda1

Vitor Miranda (12-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 37 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Marcelo Guimaraes (3-5-16)
  • Camp: Team Nogueira (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   TUF Brazil 3 Alum
+   23-8-1 as a Pro Kickboxer
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   10 KO victories
+   2 Submission wins
+   8 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Accurate shot selection(64%)
^   Measures well with jab
+   Dangerous head kicks
^   Often snuck over the shoulder
+   Hard leg kicks & knees
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   Improved TD defense
+/-Often retreats towards fence
^   Comfortable & effective from there

 

Camozzi1

Chris Camozzi (23-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 29 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 75.5″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Joe Riggs (2-21-16)
  • Camp: Factory-X Muay Thai (Denver, CO)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 11 Alum
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   8 KO victories
+   6 Submission wins
+   8 first round finishes
+   Accurate distance striker
^   2nd most landed MW in UFC
+   Excellent leg kicks
^   Most landed in UFC MW history
+   Active long jab
+   Underrated Guillotine choke
+   Improved takedown defense
^   Good under-hook awareness
–    Struggles when pressure fought
+   Solid chin / never stopped

Summary:

In a Muay Thai maelstrom at middleweight, UFC staple Chris Camozzi takes on the surging Brazilian veteran Vitor Miranda. In a fight that measures up to be an all-out war, each man will look to parlay their recent momentum by taking full advantage of this main card showcase.

Although both fighters strike from Muay Thai bases, Miranda is the more technically refined practitioner as his well-accoladed past would suggest. Like Chris Camozzi, Miranda’s striking was also stifled early on in his MMA career due to grappling pressure. Since Vitor’s debut with the UFC, we have seen steady improvements in his takedown defense and overall wrestling ability. Even though Miranda often retreats toward the fence, he demonstrates comfort & efficiency in operating from this space.

Staying calm and collected, Miranda’s defenses and get-up ability usually forces his opposition to exert much more energy than he does. That said, he will likely not have to worry about this with Chris Camozzi. As his statistic accolades would suggest, the long & durable Camozzi prefers to make his money at range. Staying behind an active jab, Chris keeps a consistent flow of leg kicks coming as he does a good job of mixing in teeps and mid-level kicks. These tools coupled with his ability to dictate range will likely be Camozzi’s best chances at a victory.

Even though Camozzi has solid offensive accuracy he can stand by, his willingness to exchange has shown to expose him defensively. Displaying a tendency to keep his head upright(especially when exiting space), Camozzi traditionally takes damage in both victory and defeat. Chris also tends to keep/retract his left-hand low when exchanging, which could cost him against the attacks that Miranda brings from that side. Wielding deceptively accurate jabs and leg kicks of his own, Miranda will smoothly sneak his patented right head kick over his opposition’s shoulder.

Durable southpaws often make for deceptive underdogs, but unless Camozzi can establish his terms early, he may find himself outclassed by a superior striker. And even though Chris’s chin has allowed him to surmount comebacks before, his propensity to take shots may get him burned here as he will surely be playing with fire.

Official Pick: Miranda – Inside the distance

 

Masvidal1

Jorge Masvidal (29-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 31 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Ben Henderson (11-28-15)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Former AFC Welterweight Champ
+   Undefeated in the streets
+   11 KO victories
+   6 first round finishes
+   2 Submission wins
+   Accurate shot selection
+   Solid balance & footwork
^   Rarely out of position
+   Active transition & clinch game
^   Strikes well off the break
+   Excellent wrestling ability
^   81% Takedown defense
+   Underrated submission game
^   Dangerous from front headlock
+/-Often shells upright
^   Body/right-hand openings
–    Low priority leg checking
–    Sometimes subject to activity lulls

 

Larkin2

Lorenz Larkin (16-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 29 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Albert Tumenov (1-2-16)
  • Camp: Millenia MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   10 KO victories
+   7 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Good distance management
^   Closes range quickly
+   Fast hand & foot speed
+   Dynamic kicking game
^   Accurate spinning attacks
+   Heavy leg kicks
?   Questionable ground game
+/-Heavily prioritized TD defense
^   Limits clinch game
+/-Often reverts to Philly Shell
^   Head upright/counter available
–    Struggles when pressure fought
^   Especially when forced into cage

Summary:

The fight that I am looking forward to most resides in the welterweight division, as fan favorites Jorge Masvidal and Lorenz Larkin face-off. Both men were 2-0 since making the move to 170-pounds until dropping close decisions in their most recent bouts. Masvidal lost a razor thin decision to the former champion Benson Henderson last year in Korea, whereas Larkin found himself on the wrong side of the scorecards in a close contest with Albert Tumenov. No stranger to suspect scorecards, Masvidal will look to combat his criminally underrated career by leaving this one out of the judges hands. And with a willing dance partner like Lorenz Larkin, we should be in for quite the show.

Both men are technically sound strikers, as they each demonstrate diversity & flexibility whether they are attacking or countering. However, both men also struggle with pressure fighting as I suspect that will be the key factor in this fight. For my money, whoever decides to lead first on the dance floor should have the edge in striking exchanges. In looking at each fighter’s ring generalship that man will probably be Masvidal, as he employs the more straight forward approach.

Although Lorenz is more than capable of effectively coming forward, he tends to favor using his creativity at range. Larkin usually carries a speed advantage over his opposition that compliments his footwork and anti-grappling agenda. Given the looming grappling threat of one of American Top Team’s most underrated wrestlers, I suspect Lorenz will stay on his horse when attacking Masvidal. Despite being a former light-heavyweight, I suspect Larkin will still have a slight speed advantage over Jorge.

If Larkin can dictate the distance and draw Jorge into a battle of range-finding, he will have his best chances of picking apart Masvidal as I see leg kicks in particular being effective. Although Jorge’s footwork is not as flamboyant as Larkin’s, he closes the distance deceptively well as he utilizes subtle angles to enter. What makes Masvidal such sound stalker is the fact that you will rarely catch him out of position. Not only does this keep Masvidal’s striking & countering arsenals open, but it also lends to his takedown defense, as he consistently keeps balance in his form.

Should Masvidal get his pressure game going, we may seem him expose some of Larkin’s defensive tendencies. Although Lorenz moves well laterally, he will often retreat toward the cage in a Philly Shell(Power hand high with head tucked into the lead shoulder as the lead hand hangs low). Traditionally, this has opened up Lorenz to right hands when caught up against the cage(as seen in his fights with Philippou & Brunson). Considering Lorenz tends to circle on the outside, he could be playing with fire whenever he finds himself between the fence and inner-black Octagon lines.

With the biggest skill differential residing in the grappling department, Larkin will need to be especially mindful in clinch situations. Although Lorenz has made improvements to counter-grapple from in close, his over-prioritization of defending takedowns ultimately limits his offensive threats & overall clinch game. Against a multifaceted threat like Masvidal, Larkin may likely find himself in trouble, especially if Jorge takes this fight to the floor. Even if Lorenz can break the clinch and avoid being taken down, he will still need to be careful when exiting space, as even a lackadaisical Masvidal is consistent with striking off the breaks.

I am self admittedly a huge fan of both fighters but have a hard time going against the man with the bigger arsenal. Without seeing Larkin’s ground game since his 2014 bout with Derek Brunson, it is hard to make a fair assessment of where he stands. That said, their sample sizes of grappling acumen seem to reside on separate ends of the spectrum, as Masvidal’s craft & in-fight IQ is on another level. With neither fighter the type to go quietly, this is likely your early contender for Fight of the Night.

Official Pick: Masvidal – Decision

 

Burkman1

Josh Burkman (28-12-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 35 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / KJ Noons (2-6-16)
  • Camp: The Pit Elevation (Utah)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

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

 

Felder1

Paul Felder (11-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 31 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 70.5″
  • Last Fight: Sub win / Daron Cruickshank (1-17-16)
  • Camp: Team Renzo Gracie (Philly)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   2nd degree Black Belt Tae Kwon Do
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   7 KO victories
+   2 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Diverse striking arsenal
^   Accurate spinning attacks
+   Dangerous Knees
+   Underrated takedown defense
^   Good butterfly guard/get-ups
+   Deceptive submission acumen
+   Solid feints & footwork
+/-Willingness to trade
^   Solid chin / Physically durable

Summary:

Kicking off the main card on FOX Sports 1 is fantastic lightweight scrap as the veteran, Josh “The People’s Warrior” Burkman draws the always dangerous Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder. With both men recently righting their ships with hard-fought victories, this fight will be a good measuring stick for the current momentum of each fighter’s career.

Starting off on the feet, I suspect we will see a classic pairing of aggressive stalkers & counter fighters as each combatant is consistent with their approach. Felder is the more forward moving fighter, as he will utilize a variation of Thai-marching to stalk & feint his way inside. Whereas Burkman primarily makes his money off the counter, as he will parlay his aggression(and chin) into high-risk exchanges. I expect Josh will lean on his craftiness from the outside, as he will look to play matador with the oncoming Irish Dragon.

Although Burkman can powerfully variate his attacks from both stances, he primarily throws from his right side. That does not mean Josh is a one-sided fighter, but throwing from his left-side may serve him well in this fight. Burkman has a solid left hook in particular that may find its home, especially when you look at Felder’s past performances against fighters like Ross Pearson. That said, Felder may be harder to counter than expected.

Despite being known for his forward pressure, Felder does a good job at feinting his way inside. As we saw in Burkman’s fight with Cote, he struggles to find his rhythm when being drawn out prematurely with feints. I expect that this facet of Felder’s game has only improved since moving shop to New Jersey to train with Mark Henry & company. If Felder can bait Josh effectively, we may see his striking variety and volume advantages come to life.

Burkman’s best bet may come by mixing in his underrated takedown game. As we saw in Josh’s last fight, he still demonstrates the ability to change gears when he needs to. However, Burkman scores most of his takedowns off the fence, a place Felder is very familiar defending from. Demonstrating a fundamental understanding of takedown defense, Paul has steadily improved his abilities in counter grappling. In his last fight, we saw his progression here, as he was able to threaten and eventually finish with his deceptive submission acumen.

As a fan of tough veterans like Burkman, you cannot be too quick to count someone out. That said, all the on-paper signs point to the Irish Dragon in what I imagine will be a three round war.

Official Pick: Felder – Decision

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • McMann def. Eye
  • Trujillo def. Rinaldi
  • Uda def. Collier
  • Campbell def. Koch
  • Caraway def. Sterling
  • Milstead def. De La Rocha

Recommended Plays

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Abel Trujillo
-Paul Felder
-Vitor Miranda

Low Tier Picks:

-Cody Garbrandt
-Jeremy Stephens
-Jorge Masvidal

Pieces for your parlay:

-Vitor Miranda
-Abel Trujillo
-Paul Felder

Props worth looking at(5Dimes.eu):

-Barao/Stephens – Under 2 1/2: +110 (1 Unit)
-Jorge Masvidal – by Decision: +185 (1 Unit)
-Sara McMann – by Decision: +155 (.05 Unit)
-Jeremy Stephens – by TKO/KO: +365 (.05 Unit)

Fights to avoid:

-Erik Koch vs Shane Campbell
-Thomas Almeida vs Cody Garbrandt
-Chris De La Rocha vs Adam Milstead

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

GLORY: Redemption – Breakdown and Predictions

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Glory returns to pay-per-view today with a stacked card, featuring some of their greatest fighters. Among them are reigning champions Rico Verhoeven and Alex Pereira, as well as the return of former title holder Nieky Holzken.

In the main event, Rico puts his heavyweight title on the line against the very dangerous Jamal Ben Saddik, who defeated him 6 years ago. Rico comes into the fight riding an impressive 14-fight Glory winning streak.

The co-main event features a rematch of the 2016 Fight of the Year between light heavyweight veterans Michael ‘The Dreamcrusher’ Duut and Danyo ‘Dibuba’ Ilunga. The card is a must-see for kickboxing fans, as well as those who just love a good scrap. And with that out of the way, here’s a breakdown of some of the more interesting fight’s on Saturday’s super-card. Enjoy.

Nieky ‘The Natural’ Holzken – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Nieky Holzken vs Alim Nabiyev

Nabiyev came into Glory with a decent amount of steam behind him, but following his bout against short-notice opponent Jimmy Veinot, I honestly don’t see it. Nieky’s reign as champion was one of the best, and despite two close losses to the equally talented Cédric Doumbé, he’s still one of the best welterweights in the world today. With wins over Raymond Daniels, Joseph Valtellini, and current champion Murthel Groenhart, it’s hard to imagine Nieky having much of a problem with Nabiyev.

Expect plenty of pressure from Holzken early on. Coming off two straight losses Nieky will want to make a statement, and prove that he’s still the man to beat at 170. The liver shot will do it. Holzken will just be too much for Alim. Nabiyev has  potential and could be a contender in the future, but right now Holzken is on a whole ‘nother level. Nieky is back, and he wants that title.

Prediction: Nieky Holzken by 1st Round TKO

 

Alex 'Po Atan' Pereira

Alex ‘Po Atan’ Pereira – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Alex Pereira vs Yousri Belgaroui

Pereira’s win back at Glory 46 came as a shock to me. Simon Marcus has proven himself to be one of the best fighters in the division, and while Pereira is a solid kickboxer in his own right, I fully expected Marcus to win that one pretty easy. I was wrong. Pereira was the better man, and is now the Glory middleweight champion. But don’t expect it to last. Yousri completely shut Pereira down in there last meeting at Glory 40. And based on his last performance, a first round TKO over former champ Jason Wilnis, he’s only getting better.

Pereira’s path to victory is pretty simple, strike hard and strike early. The deep waters are not a place where Alex thrives. His cardio has been questionable in the past and his vaunted knockout power diminishes as the fight goes on. If Pereira can’t put Yousri on the back foot early it’s hard to see him taking this one.

The last fight was a fairly decisive win for Belgaroui. Alex was unable to score on Yousri and was picked apart after gassing out late into the fight. Pereira is a talented striker with some serious power, but Belgaroui’s well-rounded game and superior cardio should be enough to win him the championship.

Prediction: Yousri Belgaroui by Unanimous Decision

 

Michael Dreamcrusher Duut

Michael ‘Dreamcrusher’ Duut – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Michael Duut vs Danyo Ilunga

Last year these two stole the show, putting on one of the greatest fights of the year, maybe of all-time. But can they do it again? It’s hard to say. Consistency is not a strong suit for either of these men. Following his thriller with Ilunga, Duut went on to lose his next Glory contest by disqualification due to excessive clinching, then later won a contender tournament in less than a minute (48 seconds to be exact).

Duut’s incredible power and brawler style make him a dangerous fight for just about anyone in the light heavyweight division, but his lack of defence make him an easy target. Unfortunately, Ilunga hasn’t hit a bullsye in quite some time.

Danyo comes into this fight on a whopping 7 fight losing streak, and hasn’t won a fight in Glory since 2014. On the bright side, all 7 losses have come by decision so his chin has held up. Plus Duut isn’t the most durable guy in the world, so it’s possible that Ilunga could knock him out. But I don’t see that happening. Duut is just too powerful and Ilunga isn’t the same fighter he used to be. Hopefully the fight is as great as the last one was, but don’t expect it to go to a 4th round this time. Ilunga’s on a slippery slope, and Duut’s about to cause an avalanche.

Prediciton: Michael Duut by 3rd Round KO

 

Rico The King of Kickboxing Verhoeven

Rico ‘The King of Kickboxing’ Verhoeven – Credit: GLORY Kickboxing

Rico Verhoeven vs Jamal Ben Saddik

Despite being the main event this was one of the easier fights to pick. Rico has looked unstoppable lately, and as much as people hate to give him credit for anything, he really is the best heavyweight in the world right now. That doesn’t mean a whole lot considering how weak the division is at the moment, but Rico is champion for a reason.

The rest of the heavyweights just aren’t on his level. ‘Big Ben’ included. Jamal’s last fight against Guto Inocente was a total snoozefest, and if not for his rivalry with Rico he probably wouldn’t even be in the title picture. Badr Hari better get his act together cause Rico’s running out of opponents.

The only advantage I see Jamal having is his power. Rico is faster, more precise, and his striking is more diverse. Again, this is a heavyweight contest so anything can happen, but Jamal hasn’t KO’d a world-class opponent since he fought ‘Braddock’ 2 years ago. Since then, Rico has knocked-out Benjamin Adegbuyi, ‘Braddock’, Bigfoot Silva, and broke Badr’s arm earning him a TKO victory. Rico’s the better fighter, simple as that. And no amount of chest hair is going to change that.

Prediction: Rico Verhoeven by 5th Round KO

All images used in this article are accredited to GLORY Kickboxing

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

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The passing of the torch. A usual occurrence in combat sports. There comes a time when the old guard has to step down and let the new generation take its place. UFC 218 is all about the passing of the torch. Holloway-Aldo 2, Overeem-Ngannou, Alvarez-Gaethje, the card is chock full of young hungry fighters looking to make a statement against their aging counterparts. But don’t expect the old lions to give up without a fight. Aldo is still a world-class striker and Eddie’s still got some tread on the tires. And at the age of 37, Overeem is still one of the most dangerous heavyweights in the world today.

Max Holloway is a perfect representative of the new generation. He’s scrappy, well-rounded, and will fight whoever you put in front of him. He’s got the fire. So do Ngannou, Gaethje, and the rest of the young guys. Aldo hasn’t had that fire in a long time. Sure he’s still a great fighter,‌ but in his last few fights, he’s lacked that burning passion he used to have. Aldo has all the tools to beat Holloway, but does he have the drive? Does the fire still burn, or was it put out long ago? That’s what we’re going to find out come Saturday.

 

Tecia Torres vs Michelle Waterson

This is such a weird fight. Torres’ climb to the top has been impressively mediocre. She has wins over quality opponents like Angela Hill, Felice Herrig, and Paige VanZant. However, with just a single finish to her credit, Tecia hasn’t given the fans a reason to pay attention to her. Waterson is the complete opposite. She has only gone to decision twice and is one of the more popular fighters in the division. However, injuries and losses have prevented Waterson from gaining any real momentum.

As far as the fight goes I really don’t know what to expect. Waterson is fairly inconsistent and Torres is so consistent it hurts. My assumption would be that Waterson has the better ground game, so if anyone’s going to take it to the mat it will be her. Torres has the better overall stand-up game but doesn’t possess the same finishing ability of the Karate Hottie. My guess is that this one stays on the feet with Torres pushing the pace early, then getting caught by a powerful strike from Waterson that puts her down for good.

Prediction: Michelle Waterson by 2nd Round TKO

 

Eddie Alvarez vs Justin Gaethje

How the hell did Cejudo-Pettis get billed higher than this? Alvarez vs Gaethje has the potential to be the Forrest-Bonnar of the modern era. Both men are aggressive brawlers on the feet and strong wrestlers on the mat. I’d give the submission edge to Eddie, but that’s about it. Gaethje’s striking game is more diverse than Eddie’s is, and his youth is definitely something to consider. With 34 fights to his credit, Alvarez is certainly no spring chicken. He’s not nearly as durable as he used to be, and against a dangerous scrapper like Gaethje, that’s not a great quality.

I really wanted to go with Alvarez on this one, but facts are facts. Gaethje is younger, tougher, and most importantly, better for business. Eddie already lost to the biggest draw in the game. Money-wise he doesn’t have much to offer. Gaethje, however, is a promoters wet dream. He’s durable, dangerous, and damn fun to watch. Basically, everything Eddie used to be. Why does any of this matter? Because the judges work for the UFC. If the UFC brass wants Gaethje to win, then he will. Simple as that. Is it right? No, but business is business. And Justin Gaethje is good for business.

Prediction: Justin Gaethje by Split Decision

 

Henry Cejudo vs Sergio Pettis

This feels like too big a step up for Sergio, which is weird considering he’s ranked #4 and Cejudo is ranked #2. After Cejudo’s fight with Mighty Mouse, I wrote him off as nothing more than a sacrifice to the flyweight king. But his close fight with perennial #1 contender Joseph Benavidez and his vicious knockout over veteran submission artist Wilson Reis have shown me that Cejudo is more than just a big-headed wrestler. Henry is one of the best. If anyone in the division is taking the belt off Mighty Mouse it’s him.

Sergio is a talented kid, no doubt. Give him a few more years to develop and he could be champion one day. Unfortunately for him, the UFC doesn’t have time for that. They need flyweight contenders. If that means a few prospects have to bite the dust then so be it. I just hope Sergio doesn’t get completely outclassed and is able to make a good showing, but against a guy like Cejudo, I’m not holding my breath.

Prediction: Henry Cejudo by Unanimous Decision

 

Alistair Overeem vs Francis Ngannou

Call me crazy, but I’m still not completely sold on Cheick Kongo with dreadlocks. His only quality win is a knockout over what’s left of Andrei Arlovski. Overeem, on the other hand, has fought nothing but quality contenders in his climb back to the top, with his only loss coming against reigning champion Stipe Miocic (although some would argue they saw the tap). On paper, this is Overeem’s fight to win. Unfortunately, paper is what Overeem’s chin is made of.

Ngannou may not be as technically sound as Overeem is, but he hits just as hard, maybe harder. One good shot from the Predator and Overeem could drop like a sack of horse meat. Combine that with Overeem’s uber-cockiness and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. Picking Overeem is always a gamble, but I’m willing to roll the dice on this one. It’s not gonna be pretty but Overeem’s in-and-out kickboxing and “run like hell” defensive style should be just enough to win this.

Prediction: Alistair Overeem by Unanimous Decision

 

 Max Holloway vs Jose Aldo 2

Holloway TKO’d Aldo about 6 months ago. Max is in the best form of his career. Aldo is taking the fight on short notice. I really can’t think of a good reason to pick Aldo on this one. Sure his striking is still some of the best in the division, but at this point, he’s writing checks his body can’t cash anymore. His chin has degraded significantly and his patented leg kicks are nowhere to be found. It pains me to say this because Aldo is an incredible fighter, but it’s starting to feel as though the sport is passing him by. Aldo is the past, Max is the future.

Despite just winning the title this summer, Holloway has effectively cleaned out the division. Swanson, Lamas, Stephens, Pettis, all fell to the young Hawaiian. Hell, since his loss to McGregor nobody’s even come close to beating Holloway. This doesn’t mean Max is invincible though. Frankie is still a huge threat to Max’s title, and those who sleep on Aldo are often put to sleep themselves. The road ahead of him is not an easy one, but something tells me Max is going to do just fine. It is what it is.

Prediction: Max Holloway by 2nd Round TKO

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

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GSP became the new middleweight champion of the UFC this past weekend, and many questions have been asked his way. Is he officially the greatest of all time? Who does he fight next? Does he stay at middleweight?

The G.O.A.T. conversation will never be settled completely. There will always be separation in opinions between Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, GSP, Demetrious Johnson, Fedor Emelianenko, and some even say Conor McGregor is the greatest, simply due to the fact that he is the first ever UFC champion to hold two belts simultaneously. Regardless of how that conversation is driven, the biggest question that should be the only concern at this point is the immediate plans for the new middleweight champion.

Where does GSP go next, and who does he fight?

Well, the fact of the matter is, it would not make sense for GSP to go down to the welterweight division again. 170-pounds is alive and kicking at the moment, with new stars emerging such as Darren Till and Mike Perry, to return of veterans like Carlos Condit, and also new additions to the division like Rafael dos Anjos. St-Pierre would have to stay extremely active in order to keep the division flowing.

At the age of 36 and having just returned to MMA last weekend, St-Pierre is unlikely to stay as active as he used to be when he was the king of the welterweight division. Plus, would it really make much sense for him to get on his old diet again in order to make the welterweight weight limit? He looked massive last night, all bulked up, and even seemed like the bigger fighter against Bisping, who used to fight at 205-pounds.

On the other hand, if he decides to stay at middleweight, which is what UFC president Dana White stated would happen yesterday, then there is one clear path for him to take and based on his statements on his contract, will be forced to take: Robert Whittaker.

Whittaker won the interim middleweight belt earlier this year against Yoel Romero at UFC 213, which was a razor close fight that went to Whittaker at the end of 5 rounds. Since then, Whittaker has been sidelined due to the injury he suffered during the fight, damaging his ligament in the left knee.

4 months later, he has seemed to have healed up perfectly, as he was in the arena for the madness last night and even answered a few questions from the media, stating that he is healthy now. The fight against Whittaker would be the best that the UFC could put on at this point in 185-pounds division on a few different levels.

GSP and Whittaker have a lot in common. Starting with the most obvious, they both used to fight at welterweight. Which means that neither fighter will have a massive size advantage. This brings the match up nearly even as far as physicality is concerned.

Then comes the match up itself. St-Pierre and Whittaker both represent the very definition of being ‘well-rounded’. Whittaker, although not an offensive wrestler, proved that his defensive wrestling was second to none in his fight against Romero, a former Olympic wrestler. And while GSP is not necessarily the best wrestler in pure wrestling, his ability to wrestle in MMA is phenomenal due to his timing and fight IQ, which makes this fight even more intriguing to find out whether Whittaker can defend GSP’s takedown attempts.

This fight also represents the UFC an opportunity to see a birth of a superstar. Whittaker, while not a huge talker, is a very marketable fighter especially over in Australia and New Zealand. If he is able to defeat GSP, who’s arguably the biggest draw in the history of the company, it would boost Whittaker’s popularity up an extraordinary amount. And being only 26 years old, Whittaker has the tools and potential to be a dominant champion, much like St-Pierre in his “prime”.

Booking this fight would also clear up the confusing state of the middleweight division. With Bisping’s reign as the champion coming to an end, some hope was born for other contenders in the division. Fighters like Luke Rockhold, Chris Weidman, Yoel Romero, Jacare Souza were having an extremely hard time getting a hold of Michael Bisping during his reign, and with a new champion now and possible unification of the belts soon, the contenders will have a goal to work for again.

The fight is one of the best fights that UFC could put on for the fans right now and one that can happen as early as February of 2018, which is when the UFC returns to Australia with a PPV. If it can come to fruition, then it will easily be one of the best fights of the year and one that all the fans can count the days down to.

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