The Prediction Panel – UFC 218: Holloway vs Aldo II

Welcome to the Kamikaze Overdrive Prediction Panel- Home to Ryan Poli, Mitchell Davies, Ryan Windsor, Ryan Underwood, and Tyler Matlock who are some of the best minds the MMA prediction game. Check back every week for their latest prediction.

Records

FPWL%Last ShowStatus
Ben Heller34322511866%UFN 117: 9-3Active
Ryan Underwood63939924062%UFC 218: TBDActive
Mitchell Davies85353431963%UFC 200: 7-5Inactive
Ryan Poli92458533963%UFN 82: 8-4Inactive
Tyler Matlock123814266%UFC 201: 0-2Inactive
Ryan Windsor65142622565%UFN 90: 8-4Inactive
Josh Harper85554630364%UFC FN 40: 8-6-0Inactive
Martin Pedersen27317010362%UFN 48 & 49: 12-6-0Inactive
Dillon Collins106763072%UFC on FOX 8: 8-4-0Inactive
Joe Caporale152747949%UFC 157: 4-7-0Inactive
Joel Richer81463557%UFC on Fox 5: 7-3-0Inactive
Ezz Fadel80433754%UFC 159: 8-3-0Inactive
Garth Beks34241071%UFC 170: 9-0-0Inactive
Chris Fuhrmann34211362%UFC on FOX 10: 6-5-0Inactive
Ben Heller
UFC 217

205lbs #6 Ovince Saint Preux 21-10-0 vs #7 Corey Anderson 10-3-0

Unless OSP catches Anderson on the chin early, this is Anderson's fight to win. He should be able to chain TDs together, especially as OSP tires out like he always does in longer fights.

My prediction is Corey Anderson to defeat OSP by Unanimous Decision

225-265lbs #9 Aleksei Oleinik 52-10-1 vs #12 Curtis Blaydes 7-1-0 1NC

My prediction is Curtis Blaydes to defeat Aleksei Oleinik by TKO/KO

170lbs Randy Brown 9-2-0 vs Mickey Gall 4-0-0

Both overrated fighters but I actually see Gall as a legit prospect. Everyone is betting against him bc of his less than stellar UFC opponents. To be honest I like him even more bc of that. He is being overlooked and the line reflects that imo. People don't talk about fighter IQ enough. Gall was brilliant in calling out CM Punk knowing that he would get a prime time UFC ppv spot against a big name and destroyed him rightfully so. He then showed even more intelligence by calling out a super name in Sage Northcutt...again getting another prime time spot on a main card against a fighter with major flaws in his game that he could take full advantage of. Now he is fighting another guy who is in a similar situation to himself as far as being "overrated" in the eyes of the mma community bc of the nature in which he came to the UFC from Dana's show. Problem is I don't think he is nearly as well rounded as Gall and Gall should be able to get this fight to the mat and finish him..

My prediction is Mickey Gall to defeat Randy Brown by Submission (RNC)

205lbs Michael Oleksiejczuk 12-2 vs Ion Cutelaba 13-3-0 1NC

I see Cutelaba getting a 1st round KO but if Michael is game enough then Cutelaba could easily take him down and beat on him for 3 rounds for an easy and dominant decision.

My prediction is Ion Cutelaba to defeat Michael Oleksiejczuk by 1st round KO

225-265lbs Walt Harris 10-5-0 vs Mark Godbeer 12-3-0

My prediction is Walt Harris to defeat Mark Godbeer by TKO/KO

155lbs James Vick 11-1-0 vs Joe Duffy 16-2-0

I think this fight is a total coin flip and while Duffy is the more polished fighter Vick will have the range and likely higher striking output. I'll lean towards Vick for the split decision upset.

My prediction is James Vick to defeat Joe Duffy by Split Decision

185lbs Johny Hendricks 18-7-0 vs Paulo Borrachinha 10-0-0

Another former champ getting served up to an up and coming prospect. The UFC calls this prospect building and they do it well. If Hendricks survives the first round he could theoretically win rounds 2&3 with his wrestling but he should be just as tired as Borrachinha at that point.

My prediction is Paulo Borrachinha to defeat Johny Hendricks by devastating 1st round KO

170lbs #2 Stephen Thompson 13-1-1 vs #4 Jorge Masvidal 32-12-0

This should amount to a low action fight as both fighters are extremely patient and calculated. I'll flip this script and give a split decision to Masvidal even though he historically loses these.

My prediction is Jorge Masvidal to defeat Stephen Thompson by Split Decision

W115lbs #C Joanna Jedrzejczyk 14-0-0 vs #4 Rose Namajunas 7-3-0

Rose needs to turn this fight into a brawl and catch JJ in transition. Maybe jumping on her back sinking in a RNC or transitioning to an armbar while JJ trys to defend in the scramble.

That is really Rose's only legitimate chance of winning. If she try's to stand at range and make this a calculated strikers fight, JJ will own her....especially in the championship rounds where she thrives.

My prediction is Joanna Jedrzejczyk to defeat Rose Namajunas by Unanimous Decision 49-45

135lbs #C Cody Garbrandt 11-0-0 vs #2 TJ Dillashaw 15-3-0

This could be a close fight but I see Cody's superior hand speed and head movement being the difference in this fight. While each individual round could be close, I think Cody will win the fight 50-45 or 49-46 if it lasts to a decision. He should also have the edge in wrestling which will help him dictate the fight. TJ will swing wildly and aggressively throughout the fight which could set up for a bad decision. I actually expect Cody to catch and drop TJ much like he did against Cruz. Will he rush in to finish TJ or stand there and mock TJ just like he did with Cruz? I suspect the later simply bc he wants to embarrass him.

My prediction is Cody Garbrandt to defeat TJ Dillashaw by Unanimous Decision

185lbs #C Michael Bisping 31-7-0 vs Georges St-Pierre 25-2-0

Too many unknowns in this fight to be confident enough to bet. The one thing I am certain is that GSP hasn't fought in 4 years while Bisping has fought almost 10 times. Can GSP take down Bisping enough to win 3 rounds? Yes he can but I suspect his gas tank will stop him from landing TDs past the first round and fighting up a weight class will also stop him from having continued success with TDs. If this stays on the feet the majority of the time, like I suspect it will Bisping's striking output should let him coast to a decision victory. Of note GSP has a history of wearing damage on his face and that will also help Bisping in the closer rounds.

My prediction is Michael Bisping to defeat GSP by Unanimous Decision
Underwood
UFC 218 Predictions

Fight Pass Prelims (6:15 ET/3:15 PT)

115lbs- Amanda Cooper (3-3-0) vs Angela Magana (11-8-0)
Cooper by submission

265lbs- Justin Willis (5-1-0) vs Allen Crowder (9-2-0 1NC)
Willis by decision

205lbs- Jeremy Kimball (15-6-0) vs Dominick Reyes (7-0-0)
Reyes by KO/TKO

170lbs- Sabah Homasi (11-6-0) vs Abdul Razak Alhassan (7-1-0)
Alhassan by KO/TKO

Fox Sports 1 Prelims (8ET/5PT)

115lbs- #9 Felice Herrig (13-6-0) vs #11 Courtney Casey (7-4-0)
Herrig by decision

155lbs- David Teymur (6-1-0) vs Drakkar Klose (8-0-1)
Teymur by decision

170lbs- #15 Alex Oliveira (17-3-1 2NC) vs Yancy Medeiros (14-4-0 1NC)
Oliveira by submission

155lbs- Charles Oliveira (22-7-0 1NC) vs Paul Felder (14-3-0)

In the lightweight division, two veterans go head-to-head as Charles ‘Do Bronx’ Oliveira meets Paul ‘The Irish Dragon’ Felder.

The matchmakers weren’t messing around when they made this pairing. Felder and Oliveira are hearty athletes that are riding off their most impressive victories in the lightweight division.

Charles Oliveira has recently returned to lightweight after 6.5 years in the featherweight division. After struggling to make weight and coming in over the mark in four appearances, the return was imminent. With a first-round submission win over former Bellator Lightweight Champion, Will Brooks, in April, Oliveira is looking to close out 2017 at 2-0.

Paul Felder burst on the lightweight scene in 2015 with a highlight-reel spinning-back-fist knockout over Danny Castillo. Following, he would see the down-side of two close decisions against Edson Barboza and Ross Pearson.

With a 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo, a black belt in Karate, and a purple belt in BJJ under Daniel Gracie, Felder is skilled to be marketed as the perfect mixed-martial-artist, and he’s hungry to prove so at an inclining 33 years-of-age.

With a history of success in striking, Felder engages in dogfights to gamble for landed combinations.

Felder has one submission victory in the octagon, displaying that he’ll search for opportunities at every angle.

Before submitting Daron Cruickshank with a rear-naked choke in the 3rd round, he may have dropped two rounds on the scorecards. With only minutes to go before a clear-cut decision loss, Felder turned the heat on and sought a finish.

Felder’s main weakness in the octagon so far have been fellow elite strikers. Barboza’s chess game with a base of hard leg-kicks made for a frustrating time to flow 100% with counter-combinations.

Charles Oliveira’s main discipline is BJJ. There’s no debate that he’s one of the most skilled in the division when it comes to submission abilities.

Paul Felder has given up takedowns in his career and saw the most consequences when fending off Francisco Trinaldo. With a strong build and stocky characteristics, Trinaldo saw high times when attempting to body-up on a grounded Felder. Though controlling most grappling exchanges, Trinaldo was denied access to any submission openings.

Is Charles Oliveira a versed enough BJJ stud to take Felder out in the first round?

With favorable submissions over Andy Ogle, Hatsu Hioki, and Nik Lentz, the pattern of size is obvious. In the featherweight division, a major decline in large frames occurs due to the smaller weight. Fighters such as Ogle, Hioki, and Lentz have huge size disadvantages when compared to athletes like Paul Felder.

Felder has visible body mass and a sculpted core that cannot compare to smaller fighters such as Ogle or Lentz. I will be surprised if Oliveira can wrap up Felder with ease.

In all of Felder’s contests, he has never been stopped.

Oliveira’s recent history with lengthy strikers hasn’t panned out to his liking. Despite a throw-away loss due to a micro-tear in his esophagus against Max Holloway in 2015, Charles had a rough night with former Lightweight Champion, Anthony Pettis.

At 145, both Oliveira and Pettis were thinner than usual and collided head-to-head in 2016. With a high volume of body-head kickboxing strikes, Pettis would overwhelm Oliveira over two rounds and submit him with a guillotine choke in the 3rd.

A classic ‘Do Bronx’ submission is only one lock away, but Felder may not give him the opportunities to search for them.

With a persistent pressure from a diverse striker, Oliveira sees trouble keeping up with the pace and staying agile over 15 minutes.

Paul Felder is no stranger to three-round slugfests or technical battles and doesn’t make inefficient hastes to rock an opponent.

Felder will stay on hawk-like watch for a submission, revert the fight to the center of the octagon, and keep Oliveira at distance with heavy body-head strikes. My prediction is Paul Felder to defeat Charles Oliveira by decision.


PPV (10ET/7PT)

115lbs- #5 Tecia Torres (9-1-0) vs #6 Michelle Waterson (14-5-0)


In the strawweight division, #5 ranked Tecia ‘The Tiny Tornado’ Torres goes head to head with #6 ranked Michelle ‘The Karate Hottie’ Waterson.

This is a huge crossroads matchup for both women as the winner may skyrocket to the front of the line for a title opportunity, pending the UFC’s current decision on whether Rose Namajunas will immediately defend against Joanna.

Torres has seen a UFC record of 5-1 and is riding off two-straight victories over Bec Rawlings and Juliana Lima. Her mixed style of taekwondo and grappling makes for a very well-rounded mixed martial artist.

Michelle Waterson, previously known for defending the Invicta Atomweight Championship twice before coming to the octagon, achieved the main event spot fast in her UFC career. After one debut win over Angela Magana, she would headline UFC on FOX 22 against (at the time) #7 ranked Paige VanZant.

With not even four minutes in the books, Michelle Waterson would drag VanZant to the mat and lock in a tight rear-naked choke and put her to sleep. Waves were sent throughout the division and she would soon be matched up with now current division champion, Rose Namajunas.

Namajunas and Waterson would last until midway through the 2nd round as Namajunas found the opportunity to slip a rear-naked choke for the submission victory.

Waterson is a well-versed athlete and has experience in deep water with elite level-competition in her storied career. Torres, though in a competitive division, has only seen one huge threat in her UFC career and that was Rose Namajunas.

Torres tested herself on the feet for most of the fight and saw some success when making it a dogfight in the earlier half. Her remaining competition in the UFC never truly brought toward her a mixed-martial artist as gifted as Namajunas is. This will be her 2nd time around with the elite.

Karate vs Karate. Both women have foreshadowed a stand-up battle and I see this going down. Namajunas was able to out-volume Torres over three rounds and Waterson has experience in big-level contests.

Against the cage, both women are neck-and-neck when comparing skill. Torres has only seen one finish in her whole career with her recent victory of Juliana Lima by submission. Waterson has a history of being a finisher and will be able to use her fight IQ to gain points in each round.

With the skill list at hand and hand here, it’s really a coin toss.

In a back-and-forth contest that will make for confusing scoring in the first two rounds, I expect Waterson to rely on her veteran mind to find openings on the feet/in the clinch in the later half of the contest to edge her a close decision. My prediction is Michelle Waterson to defeat Tecia Torres by decision.


155lbs- #4 Eddie Alvarez (28-5-0 1NC) vs #5 Justin Gaethje (18-0-0)

In the lightweight division, TUF 26 coaches will collide in a high-stakes contender matchup when former UFC Lightweight Champion and #4 ranked Eddie ‘The Underground King’ Alvarez takes on #5 ranked Justin ‘The Highlight’ Gaethje.

Prepare for war. The UFC matchmakers had an obvious sweet tooth for blood when making this pairing, knowing these two 155ers are some of the most violent amongst the sea of lightweights.

Justin Gaethje will be walking into only his second bout in the UFC. His debut match against Michael Johnson put the stamp on Gaethje’s welcome message to the rest of the division. With even being rocked within the first 10 seconds and well-throughout the 1st round, Justin Gaethje would put on a classic performance of recovery. After gaining prime advantage in the 2nd round, he would unload a barrage of punches and knees that devastated Johnson for a significant amount of time before being stopped.

There’s not too much to list when analyzing Gaethje’s fighting style. He’s a plain brawler. Justin Gaethje will throw every limb in attempt to rock you, cartwheel kicks included. ‘The Highlight’ has been ultimately successful with this tactic- he’s undefeated in all 18 fights. No matter how many times he’s been on the receiving end of a beating himself or recovered from being terribly rocked, he hasn’t been too phased in his MMA career thus far.

Michael Johnson brought a fight to Justin Gaethje that ended up being one of the toughest of Justin’s career. He ate hard shots in the first round and may have dropped a round on the scorecards, but his rebound round proved to be his second wind.

With 15 of Justin’s 18 wins coming by way of KO/TKO, it’s hard to see this fight easily reaching the distance.

Eddie Alvarez has been a stronghold of the UFC Lightweight division over the last two years with an opening 2-1 record before capturing the Lightweight Championship in July of 2016. His short-range boxing and grittiness have led him to close contests, yet also efficient victories in his UFC run.

‘The Underground King’ is currently in the midst of a brief skid as his last two contests have made for an 0-1-1 record. Alvarez dropped the Lightweight title in November of 2016 to Conor McGregor and saw a slugfest in May with Dustin Poirier that ended in a no-contest due to illegal knees.

Alvarez’s best UFC performance was seen when defeating Rafael Dos Anjos for the lightweight throne 16 months ago. Eddie displayed precise combinations that flustered the heavy head of Dos Anjos into subconscious defense mode, leaving him covering up with his back against the cage, and the referee wisely chose to save RDA from further damage.

The former champion mixes best with shorter frames and reaches. With a neck-and-neck reach length against Dos Anjos, Alvarez was motivated to step into combinations more frequently and load up in the pocket. Against longer reaches such as Conor McGregor or Dustin Poirier, Eddie’s ability to stay at close-range with no consequences is hindered.
Alvarez’s last opponent, Dustin Poirier, used efficient feints and counter-footwork to dodge heavy shots.

Eddie is a head-hunter. There’s no secret about it, but how’s his history of targeting lengthy athletes?

Eddie Alvarez has seen losses to Donald Cerrone and Conor McGregor in his UFC career. Both ‘Cowboy’ and the ‘Notorious’ one have significantly longer reaches than Alvarez’s 69 mark. McGregor measures at 74” while Cerrone owns a 73” span. In both contests, Alvarez struggled to find his range against the unpredictable strikers, and he’s walking into another unpredictable battle.

Justin Gaethje owns a 2” height and reach edge over the former champion and has previously countered one of the most powerful head-hunters in the lightweight division, Michael Johnson. Though having a reputation of a wild game-plan and agreeing to swing for the fences, Gaethje fends off loaded-up strikes well and keeps the distance at his advantage.

Eddie Alvarez will agree to swing his fists in a barnburner, but he hasn’t had a match-up quite like Justin Gaethje in his career. Alvarez has predicted a submission victory coming from a dazed and floored Gaethje, but I cannot view a grappling exchange being the key to a win, as he maxed out at 0-4 for takedowns against Dustin Poirier earlier this year.

It’s a shame that this contest could be possibly cut short of a possible five rounds, if both men are able to last 15 minutes in the octagon with each other. Yet, with obvious haymakers only waiting to be thrown, this bout may not even reach the third round.

Eddie Alvarez stands at a +155 underdog at the time of this writing (Wednesday) which is a tad-bit unusual for a recent division champion, yet this goes to show how much of a threat Justin Gaethje truly is.

If Alvarez can dictate the pace and use a stick-and-move approach to gradually weaken Gaethje, he could possibly throw the energy to his corner and be successful with close-range pressure. Cutting off the lead leg of Justin would be highly advisable, but I cannot trust that this will be a goal for Eddie.

In an absolute slugfest, I see the range playing to Justin’s liking. I expect his ruthless arsenal of fight-ending blows to be abundant as we’ve seen before, and I see Alvarez falling victim to a drowning volume of strikes. My prediction is Justin Gaethje to defeat Eddie Alvarez by KO/TKO.


125lbs- #2 Henry Cejudo (11-2-0) vs #4 Sergio Pettis (16-2-0)

In the flyweight division, two top contenders meet in an elite-level clash as #2 ranked Henry ‘The Messenger’ Cejudo takes on #4 ranked Sergio Pettis.

Both men have looked on-point as of late in a very competitive division.

Henry Cejudo, undefeated before facing Demetrious Johnson, went 0-2 in 2016 with the loss to DJ and followed with a split decision loss to Joseph Benavidez. He returned in September with an emphatic performance, finishing top contender and #6 ranked Wilson Reis in under six minutes.

Sergio Pettis owns an impressive 7-2 record in his 9-fight-run with the UFC with a 4-1 record at flyweight. He’s fueling off four-straight victories over Chris Cariaso, Chris Kelades, John Moraga, and Brandon Moreno, all by unanimous decision.

Pettis owned four out of five rounds on the scorecards against Brandon Moreno in August, fending off major grappling attacks and dictating stand-up exchanges with his controlled distance.

Pettis landed 203 total strikes over the 25-minute duration with a cemented total of 55 significant strikes landed. Accuracy was the key for Sergio, taking away a 94% strike succession rate over all five rounds.

The statistics were heavily in favor of Pettis, but Moreno made sure he didn’t have a flawless victory. Pettis gave up 4 takedowns out of 8 total attempts and seemed to be nonchalantly accepting the guard when a double-leg was shot.

Henry Cejudo rose to fame with his dominant wrestling stemming from his Olympic-level background. As of recent, Cejudo has looked much improved on the feet. He relied solely on his striking against Wilson Reis, and his straight-shooting technique payed off with a 2nd round TKO over the solid veteran.

Striking has been an underrated category for Cejudo. He was able to stand with the quick-witted Jussier Formiga and edged a split decision back in 2015. Soon after, he would realize that striking was the aspect he needed the most work in. After dropping two straight-losses that resulted from striking disadvantages, Cejudo turned his focus around and walked into his bout with Reis as a composed striker.

Using speedy footwork, Cejudo stepped into the range of Reis with shots on his chin with no roadblocks and it rewarded him soon into the contest.

As calm and focused as Pettis was in the Moreno fight, I still don’t favor his wide striking stance and how liberal his takedown defense strategies were. Pettis may be confident in his mat-scramble abilities, but Cejudo’s top control is far more versed than Brandon Moreno’s. Pettis cannot let Cejudo access a flush double-leg takedown or Henry will go into classic wrestling mode.

The 5” reach advantage of Sergio Pettis is the one attribute that makes for a nervous betting situation. Cejudo’s new striking confidence leaves me to think he’ll attempt to step into Sergio’s range without fear and land effectively, but he may be swatted away if Pettis uses his length. Only time will tell.

In the first two rounds, I expect Cejudo to attempt to put Pettis on his back if not able to gain control during striking exchanges. Henry will head-hunt in the first round, but if the reach poses a problem, the best idea is to wear him out with wrestling. That’s easier to do for Cejudo than it is for most in the division.

If Sergio Pettis can escape the mat as easy as he did against Moreno, it becomes a toss-up on the feet to see whose combinations will land more often. If he uses his distance to flash shots from the outside, he can make this a statistical downpour. Expect most success to come in the late 2nd to early 3rd round if he can find his perfect range.

With those possibilities at hand, I expect Henry Cejudo to have points in mind early, find which game-plan works best, and execute on opportunities immediately to slide away in a close contest. My prediction is Henry Cejudo to defeat Sergio Pettis by decision.


265lbs- #1 Alistair Overeem (43-15-0 1NC) vs #4 Francis Ngannou (10-1-0)

The co-main event features a major heavyweight clash as #1 ranked Alistair ‘The Demolition Man’ Overeem takes on fast rising #4 ranked Francis ‘The Predator’ Ngannou in a matchup that could possibly take the winner to a title shot.

Alistair Overeem has moved himself into title contention once again in his historic career, recently capturing victories over Mark Hunt and former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Fabricio Werdum. No matter how much the age has inevitably risen, Overeem still doesn’t show any signs of slowing down too much anytime soon. A win here could easily catapult him into a rematch with Stipe Miocic.

Francis Ngannou has proved to be the scariest prospect in the heavyweight division. Debuting in late-2015, ‘The Predator’ has lived up to his name, picking up four TKO victories as well as a submission. Dominant to say the least, Ngannou has only been to decision once in his career as he dropped a 3-round loss in 2013, and left with his hand raised in all other cases.

Holding insane punching power and strong submission skills, Ngannou has been the most talked-of heavyweight in 2017.

2017 has been a great year for Alistair Overeem as he walks into this bout 2-0 since January 1st.

Overeem, though walking away with a KO victory over Mark Hunt, left openings in the first round for Hunt to capitalize. Stepping in with his classic kickboxing stance, Overeem does leave a square of an opening for an opponent to attempt a straight right or a body kick and Hunt landed both during the contest.

Ngannou will not hesitate to throw an atomic bomb of a right uppercut to the chin of Overeem. We saw the exact same situations against big men like Travis Browne and Ben Rothwell, and Alistair unfortunately woke up at the bottom of the canvas those nights.

Being the skilled kickboxer Overeem is doesn’t come without any consequences. His knees are devastating whether to the body or head, but I don’t prefer his forward movement habits. Overeem tends to leave much space with his hands when stepping in for a close-quarters knee or clinch and he ate shots from Hunt when doing so.

With the tree-trunk limbs and crushing power of Ngannou, no opportunities like this can be left, or it will be a short night.

Before heading into the third round in his fight with Mark Hunt, Overeem had successfully landed 25 body strikes. Could a large volume of body shots fend off the attack of Ngannou? This may be possible, only if Ngannou gives him the opening to clinch and step in close.

A major key in Alistair’s success in landing as many body knees as he did to Hunt was the control of double under-hooks in the clinch. Hunt posed a 74” reach that Overeem was easily able to hold in tight, yet Ngannou will own a monstrous 83” reach that could give the Reem some problems.

If Overeem can come in close and engage in a clinch against the cage without eating any uppercuts or tight punches from Ngannou, he can see prime time in attempting body knees if he’s able to perform double under-hooks to his advantage.

The way the finish came in the Hunt fight was very interesting. It was apparent that Hunt’s gas tank was diminished heading into the last round, and Overeem stayed composed before then, leaving a substantial amount of energy to do work in the clinch. Hunt was exhausted, and he left enough space for Overeem to land a sharp elbow followed by devastating knees that faceplanted the ‘Super Samoan’.

Francis Ngannou is coming off a first-round knockout victory over former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski that displayed truly how dangerous this man is. The first significant connection of the contest was the one that ended it all. Arlovski went for a low-ducking overhand right and Ngannou found the top of the Pitbull’s head with a left and followed with a flush right uppercut that floored him. With a handful of ground strikes being pummeled by Francis, there was no choice but to end the fight.

Overeem may be stuck between a rock and a hard place when striking against Ngannou. At distance, his superhero-like reach can tag you, and at close range, an uppercut may be luring.

I feel bad as I may be underestimating Overeem a bit. He’s still one of the most technically sound strikers in the heavyweight division and his kickboxing arsenal can end a fight with the blink of an eye. Even with that factor at hand, Francis Ngannou is simply on another level.

This will be a huge step for the young Cameroon native. Alistair Overeem is the most diverse athlete that Ngannou will face thus far in his career and its almost unpredictable to state how he’ll approach the Reem.

Both men stand at 6’4 which will give them a level head-hunting playing field. The 3” reach advantage of Ngannou gives a huge one-up for him, as he can test his punching power at distance and at close-range.

At boxing range, I give Ngannou the nod as it’s been nearly proven that he holds the strongest punching power among all the heavyweights in the octagon.
I’m confident in his combination work, especially his ruthless uppercut that left Luis Henrique and Andrei Arlovski unconscious.

To add, on the feet, we’ve seen Overeem use a method of running back to the center of the octagon when opponents pressure him against the cage.

When Francis Ngannou fought Bojan Mihajlović, Bojan attempted to run along the sideline, just like Overeem does, in order to escape the wrath of Ngannou, but ‘The Predator’ followed accordingly and landed a wide left that staggered Bojan to the mat for the finish. Overeem cannot use this tactic as freely as he does in other contests.

If Overeem flashes classic head kicks and attempts to establish clinch control to soften up the body of Ngannou, he could take this to deep water and try to slide a decision. Cardio and composure will be the keys to victory for The Reem here. But, I don’t see Overeem getting past Francis any easy way.

I expect Francis Ngannou to cut open octagon space off, pressure Overeem against the cage, and look for an opening to land a significant combination, possibly an uppercut, that will result in a finish for the #4 ranked heavyweight. My prediction is Francis Ngannou to defeat Alistair Overeem by KO/TKO.


145lbs Championship- (c) Max Holloway (18-3-0) vs #1 Jose Aldo (26-3-0)

In the main event, the featherweight championship is on the line for the 2nd and final time of the year as undisputed champion, Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway, will meet former featherweight champion and #1 ranked 145lb contender, Jose Aldo.

Ever since Conor McGregor indefinitely left the division in 2016 after two welterweight clashes with Nate Diaz and a capture of the UFC Lightweight Championship, two division strongholds saw continuous success, and they will already clash for the 2nd time in the same year.

Jose Aldo was the king of the featherweights for the longest time. He held a 17-fight win streak before his loss to McGregor in 2015 with (UFC/WEC) title defenses over the likes of Urijah Faber, Frankie Edgar, Chad Mendes, Chan Sung Jung, and Ricardo Lamas. With an undeniable arsenal that is still living and breathing, Aldo is cemented as one of the greatest competitors in the game, past and current.

Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway entered the UFC in 2012 as one of the youngest fighters on the roster and soon proved to be a promising prospect. Unbeaten since 2014, Holloway would see 10 wins over a three-year span with eight finishes and two unanimous decisions over respected names in Cub Swanson, Jeremy Stephens, Ricardo Lamas, and Jose Aldo. Holding a set of efficient fists and mean submission skills, Max Holloway has proved to be the grittiest fighter in the division, as well as the current throne holder.

Holloway was slated to see his first title defense against former lightweight champion and #2 ranked featherweight contender, Frankie Edgar, until Edgar suffered an injury on November 8th that would sideline him until after December 2nd. With no prepared on-deck replacement, the most obvious choice for a late fill-in would be the former champion himself, Jose Aldo.

Aldo isn’t coming into this rematch with no preparation as he was signed to face Ricardo Lamas on December 16th before taking the title opportunity. Though owning the respect as the (possibly) greatest featherweight in history, he needs to make some major adjustments to handle the champion to his advantage.

Just as it was in June, Holloway will hold the 4” height lead over Aldo, yet lack a 1” edge in reach. With the disadvantage in reach, Holloway makes up for in activity. Holloway lands a whopping average of 5.79 significant strikes per minute compared to 3.36 SSPM for Aldo.

Max Holloway started off his performance in a very unorthodox way when competing against Aldo, walking in a with a wide stance and often standing still in front of him. This caused for Aldo to become very confident as he landed some haymakers in the first and second round But, this may have been in Holloway’s game-plan all along.

Holloway took the first two rounds to feel out Aldo’s forward movement and combination patterns. After two rounds, a significant cardio change was seen for Jose Aldo. His gas tank thrived within the opening 10 minutes, yet took a huge drop when his last round would begin. Holloway has realized the strength Aldo owns and can finally combat that to a tee with his fluidity and stiff punches. Aldo, though very powerful, tends to throw wide with forward combinations and Holloway’s past bouts show success in countering fast shots.

While Aldo will attempt to pick and move against small and agile athletes like Frankie Edgar, he cannot use the same approach against Holloway. Aldo and Edgar would share the spotlight of countering to see who was the top dog in their 2016 pairing, yet against Holloway, Aldo attempted to establish dominance early. Walking in with his wide-set stance, Max would leave openings right down the middle for Aldo to tee off. Jose sure did test these cracks in the defense of the pride of Hawaii, but his pressure and volume of strikes wasn’t enough to put Max down.

One minute into the third round of Aldo/Edgar from 2016, the distance traveled in the octagon highly differed between the two. At said time in the fight, Edgar had traveled 2,306 feet compared to Aldo’s mark of 1,644. Aldo had (arguably) already taken two rounds up against Edgar at this point and did so without pacing as frequently. Now, when looking at Holloway vs Aldo from June, it’s obvious that Aldo was more active with footwork and speed than Max was, and this may be the reason for the cardio dump in the third round. Call it a rope-a-dope style if you may as Holloway ate shots within the first 10 minutes and wasn’t focused on points, but he sure turned that around.

We all can picture the famous stance of Jose Aldo before rushing into Conor McGregor’s infamous left hand that ended it all. Aldo was swinging and shaking out his left arm waiting for the referee to set them off as he was ready to throw right away, and this has proved to be a pattern. Aldo’s heavy pressure on his lead leg makes for a predictable load-up and Holloway will be able to spot it much quicker than he did in the first matchup. He won’t be able to spot it in 13 seconds quite like ‘The Notorious’ one did, but it may be easier this time around.

Insanely close matchups like this are why we tune into the sport of MMA as we have no idea what will happen, and this is yet again, another one of those fights. We have the cemented legacy of Jose Aldo attempting to reclaim his belt against the young and ferocious Max Holloway and there will never be any certainty on how this will go down.

Unlike the first match, I expect Holloway to enter the center of the octagon testing out combinations and feeling out the speed of Aldo. We will see whether leg kicks will be a focus of the former champion here as a possibly injury may have held Aldo back from throwing frequent kicks in the first fight. Posing a roadblock to the accuracy of Holloway would be definite if Aldo can see ultimate success with hard leg kicks.

The best chance I see of an Aldo victory is to take Holloway out early, just as he attempted earlier this year. Huge strikes were eaten by Holloway before the fateful third round began, but they were not enough to cause significant trouble.

Look for Holloway to take some opening minutes to time the lead leg of Aldo and his overall motivation to step forward with quick strikes. With doing so, he may be able to find a perfect range to land solid 1-2 combinations that originally staggered Aldo and put him down.

Jose Aldo can never be counted out of a fight, and one shot of his can always end a contest. With that being said, I still expect a similar outcome from Holloway/Aldo I.

Max Holloway will test the waters, play out the heart of Aldo with boxing combinations, and eventually overwhelm Aldo when the cardio inevitably changes hands. I see Holloway’s strikes being the cause of victory, but my gut is foreshadowing a nice submission to occur when Max is scrambling on the mat for a finish. My prediction is Max Holloway to defeat Jose Aldo by submission. (RNC)









Davies
155lbs – Takanori Gomi (35-11-0) vs Jim Miller (25-8-0)
Both guys are seriously in desperate need of a win here. In most cases the loser would likely be cut, but unless someone retires, I think they have the name value for the UFC to keep them around. Miller had such a quick rise up the division, only to be a shell of his former self in the last few years, likely due to the big jump in competition. He had a close fight with Sanchez, and certainly doesn’t look like he’s too far behind the pack. Gomi has been put away in pretty devastating fashion in his last two fights and it seems like the years are catching up to him. I don’t know if Gomi can take a punch as well anymore, and Miller’s likely going to be able to wrestle him to the ground and rain down shots from there. I think this gets ugly for Gomi, as Miller can usually handle guys who don’t have wrestling on his level. My prediction is Jim Miller to defeat Takanori Gomi by TKO

185lbs – Gegard Mousasi (38-6-2) vs Thiago Santos (13-3-0)
A good short notice replacement for Mousasi here, as Santos is a dangerous up and comer. Mousasi is lacking those big exciting wins people expected out of him when he first came in. He’s coasted in his wins over Latifi, Philippou, and Leites, despite having a big skill advantage in certain areas. His TKO loss to Uriah Hall was concerning as Santos has big power. Thiago has steadily improved throughout his UFC tenure, and is coming into his own recently. His kickboxing and clinch game are vicious. If you can’t take him down, you better be quicker than him and have good defense. Fortunately for Mousasi, he has that. He fights smart at all times and definitely has the ability to shut down what Santos throws at him, which I believe he will. My prediction is Gegard Mousasi to defeat Thiago Santos by decision

155lbs – Joe Lauzon (25-11-0) vs Diego Sanchez (26-8-0)
This could actually be much closer than anticipated. Sanchez looked stellar in his last win over Jim Miller, a lot better than we’ve seen him in a while. Lauzon is definitely on the decline in his career, but still puts on exciting fights and can win when he needs to. Even though Lauzon has a similar style to Miller, I see him being able to bust Sanchez open and get the better of the striking exchanges by being more accurate. I think this could be a fight Sanchez looks great in, but I also think his emotions will get the better of him and he’ll get a little too wild. I see Joe capitalizing on some openings and getting the narrow victory. My prediction is Joe Lauzon to defeat Diego Sanchez by decision

155lbs – Sage Northcutt (7-1-0) vs Enrique Marin (8-3-0)
Northcutt really proved he has some holes to fix in his last fight, and even the one before that. His ground game seems to be lacking behind his striking and athleticism. He’s so young though, and already has a few fights under his belt in the spotlight in the UFC. The pressure has been on, and I believe he can only go up from here. Marin has nearly all his wins by submission, so if he can get Northcutt down it’ll get interesting. I’ve got to go with Sage though. His striking should be enough to get him through here. I bet he comes in looking his best as well. We should see some solid improvement from him since January. My prediction is Sage Northcutt to defeat Enrique Marin by decision

135lbs – T.J. Dillashaw (12-3-0) vs Raphael Assuncao (23-4-0)
If I was in TJ’s position, I would be pretty choked. He had some incredibly entertaining wins and defended his title a couple times before a razor thin decision loss to Dominick Cruz, and now he’s so far down the card no one can remember he’s fighting. Assuncao isn’t an easy out either. This is most likely the number 1 contender fight. The first fight between these two was very close, and TJ’s evolved since then. His footwork, speed, boxing, are all right up to the level his wrestling has always been. Assuncao has an excellent ground game himself and is an explosive striker. He’s technical everywhere so I expect a fight just as close as the last one. I see Dillashaw’s championship level experience and pace as the difference maker here. Even in light of the loss, he’s still on another level of confidence than he was 3 years ago, and I see him taking a close win here. My prediction is TJ Dillashaw to defeat Raphael Assuncao by decision

170lbs – Johny Hendricks (17-4-0) vs Kelvin Gastelum (11-2-0)
Hendricks really needs this win. He missed weight albeit only by a quarter of a pound, but still, it doesn’t look good on him since he’s struggled so much with his weight in the past. He got outclassed in his last fight and if he loses here he goes right out of the title picture window. Gastelum has had his ups and downs as well, but is still growing into his own. He lost a close decision to a very tough opponent in Neil Magny in his last fight, but is looking better. His cardio has been a big knock on him and against Hendricks he can’t let his guard down. I think everything that Kelvin can do, Hendricks can do a little better, and if Johny shows up motivated to win here, he should be able to outwrestle and grind a decision win. My prediction is Johny Hendricks to defeat Kelvin Gastelum by decision

W135lbs – Cat Zingano (9-1-0) vs Juliana Pena (7-2-0)
After a long and understandable layoff, it’s good to see Zingano back in action. She’s one of the most exciting fighters in the division and is fighting a surging prospect in Pena. She made a critical mistake in rushing Rousey, and I’m sure she’s learned from that and will come back strong. Her gutsy and impressive wins over the two girls in the main event is really what put her on the map. She’s got a well-rounded skillset and is explosive and durable on top of that. Pena is a bright, young up and comer right now, and this will be the fight to put her right in contention for a potential title shot. Her ground game is her best weapon, she gets on top of girls and smothers them. Once she gets mount it’s pretty hard to get her off. Zingano is a big step up in competition though, and will test her. There’s no real big holes in Cat’s game and she’s tough to put away. She’s proven that she’s ready for a big test, and I think she’s capable of holding her own. I feel Zingano has more ways to win here though. If she can stuff the takedown, I think she’ll beat up Pena in the clinch and on the feet. I don’t think Pena will do well with such a high level fighter who can match her everywhere. My prediction is Cat Zingano to defeat Juliana Pena by decision

265lbs – Cain Velasquez (13-2-0) vs Travis Browne (18-3-1)
Here’s an important fight for both guys. Browne has always been that guy right at the top of the division, but loses the fights he needs to win. If he wins this, it’ll be the biggest of his career. Cain is still one of the toughest outs in the whole division. He puts on an incredible pace, tight boxing, and relentless wrestling. The only question is how his body can handle it at this point in his career. He’s had so many surgeries and injuries. This fight could be a measuring stick to where he’s heading. Skill wise, you have to take Cain all day. Browne is a great fighter in his own right, but his defense needs work, and he struggles against guys who are more technical than him. Cain needs to avoid the big shot, but I think once he starts putting his pace on Browne will struggle and succumb to the damage. My prediction is Cain Velasquez to defeat Travis Browne by TKO

145lbs – Jose Aldo (25-2-0) vs Frankie Edgar (20-4-1)
Maybe the toughest match up to pick on the card is right here. Two guys battling for the right to challenge McGregor. They both need to win this fight and have a lot to prove. Aldo is coming off that quick, devastating loss, so we don’t know what to expect going in. Edgar is on fire, the best he’s ever looked for sure. So as far as momentum going in, Edgar’s got the advantage. Interesting to note, their last fight was the opposite, Edgar coming off two loses and Aldo still on his crazy streak.
Their first fight was close, and they’ve both gotten better since then. Aldo is still quick and going to look to tear up Frankie’s leg again. Frankie has settled into featherweight, and is getting even better as he’s going. His wrestling, clinch and boxing are excellent, and up against Aldo’s muay thai, BJJ, and TDD, it’s an incredibly tough one to decide on. All I know is that it’ll be close, and every round will count. I think Frankie’s pace will give Aldo problems, especially if Jose comes in a little more tentative because of the clean KO. I think its Frankie’s time and he proves that here. My prediction is Frankie Edgar to defeat Jose Aldo by decision

205lbs – Daniel Cormier (17-1-0) vs Anderson Silva (33-7-0)
I’m glad that Cormer still gets to fight through all this madness, and it’s still a fun fight, but I think it’ll get ugly. Silva still has the ‘you never know what could happen’ factor, especially since Cormier has only had 2 days to plan for his style. Cormier is still going to be the bigger fighter, and most significantly, the better wrestler. His grinding, wrestling style is just going to overwhelm Silva. Obviously Daniel has to be careful of a crafty submission or a counter coming in, but I think if he fights smart, he’ll get it done handily. My prediction is Daniel Cormier to defeat Anderson Silva by TKO

265lbs – Brock Lesnar (5-3-0) vs Mark Hunt (12-10-1)
This is an extremely fun fight, I’ll admit. It’s fun because it’s tough to say what will happen for sure, and there’s plenty of ways it could end, all seemingly consist of devastating fashion. Lesnar coming back after 4.5 years off is not good. Or maybe it is. For all we know Brock could come back a much healthier, conservative, smart fighter. I think Hunt’s improved a lot more in that time than Brock could have though. It’s the well-rounded and technical fighters that seems to beat Hunt though, which Lesnar has shown to not be so much of. He is pretty wild, rushes in often, and doesn’t set up his shot particularly well. That plays right into Hunt’s strengths. It’s possible he gets it to the ground and beats Hunt up, but I don’t think it’ll take too many shots to put Lesnar away here. My prediction is Mark Hunt to defeat Brock Lesnar by TKO

W135lbs – Miesha Tate (18-5-0) vs Amanda Nunes (12-4-0)
Now the only champ defending her belt on this card, Tate gets the headlining spot. This isn’t an easy match up for her by any means. Nunes has big power, great BJJ, and a solid all-around game. Her knock has always been her cardio though. She tends to slow down significantly later in the fight. Tate also has a very well rounded game. I think the difference is that Tate does everything a little bit better, and can maintain a pressuring pace throughout the fight. Tate is also so tough, that if she does get tagged early, I don’t see her going down. It usually takes an accumulation of damage to take her out. I think Meisha is as motivated as ever, and comes in and fights smart, wearing down Nunes for an eventual TKO finish. My prediction is Meisha Tate to defeat Amanda Nunes by TKO
Windsor
UFC on Fox 19
Fight Pass Prelims
170lbs – Omari Akhmedov (15-3-0) vs Elizeu Zaleski (14-5-0)
This fight is a pretty solid one to start off the card. Both of them are hulking bruisers who have ground skills, but prefer to throw hands with their opponent. Akhmedov is a well-rounded fighter, but seems to lack any big standout skill that separates him from the top tier. He starts a furious pace and has fight changing power, but struggles to keep a consistent pace and I feel that could be a big detriment to him in this one. Zaleski impressed me in his debut despite being on the wrong side of a close decision loss. He has big knockout power in all of his limbs and the majority of his wins have been by knockout. His grappling is good, but his wrestling defense is still a question mark as he consistently outlanded his opponent in his debut but struggled to stay on the feet and keep his back off the cage.

Zaleski has solid cardio and I think his ability to carry his power late will pay off big against Akhmedov. As the fight progresses, I don’t see Akhmedov having the same success with his wrestling and he doesn’t have the cardio to maintain a consistent attack for all three rounds. Plus, Zaleski has shown to be very durable in the past while Akhmedov was hurt badly in his debut before coming back, got dropped by Nelson before getting submitted, and got knocked out by a fighter who specializes on the mat last time out.

Akhmedov should look good early, but he’ll struggle to finish Zaleski early and the later this fight goes the more it favors Zaleski. I think he’ll either take the later rounds or land something big on Ahkmedov once his starts to tire. Prediction: Zaleski via TKO

185lbs – Cezar Ferreira (8-5-0) vs Oluwale Bamgbose (6-1-0)
Skill-wise, Ferreira is a pretty consistent and well rounded fighter. He has Capoeira background where he can be a solid range kickboxer, along with a dangerous and opportunistic submission game. However, I’m still expecting him to get starched here.

Why?

Ferreira has zero sense of defense on the feet to go along with one of the worst chins I’ve seen in a long time. Not something you want especially when facing a brickhouse like Bamgbose. I like Bamgbose a lot and he’s someone I expect to improve rapidly from fight to fight. His awkward but extremely powerful striking acumen should give Ferreira big problems here.

If this fight can get out of the first, things could get interesting. But I can’t see it. Bamgbose gets another highlight reel finish early in the fight and gives the Brazilian his 4th loss by knockout in his last 5 fights. Prediction: Bamgbose via TKO

170lbs – Randy Brown (7-0-0) vs Mike Graves (5-0-0)
This matchup makes a lot of sense from match making perspective. It’s between two skilled but inexperienced fights with different skill sets. Brown is massive for the division and is as dangerous of a finisher in the clinch as he is on the feet. Graves is only 25 and trains at ATT, so im expecting improvements from fight to fight. He can strike, but his main point of attack will likely be his wrestling here against Brown.

Brown showed that he can hold his own on the ground in his debut, but that was against Dwyer, someone who you will definitely not mistake for a dominating wrestler. Graves is very durable on the feet and competed very close with the wrestling powerhouse who was Kamuru Usman on the show. This will be the first solid wrester Brown has faced in his career.

The reach of Brown is a big advantage, but it will be nulled if he can’t stay on the feet. Graves snags a late finish in a scramble late in the fight, but it will be very competitive. Prediction: Graves via Submission

135lbs – John Dodson (17-7-0) vs Manny Gamburyan (15-8-0)
It’s pretty obvious Dodson is the choice here. He’s faster, a more powerful striker, and Manny simply doesn’t have a dynamic enough wrestling game to stifle Dodson. The only thing I’ll get to far into is to where Dodson is now as a fighter. Fighters start to decline earlier as the weight classes get smaller and Dodson has been fighting for 14 years. Dodson drastically depends on his athleticism and on being the more dynamic fighter. I have a feeling that Dodson is at that point where we will begin to see a drop off both of those.

However, this is not a fight that im concerned about it happening in this one. I don’t think Dodson will melt Manny in the first like I’ve heard from some, but it will still be a clear victory. Prediction: Dodson via Decision

FOX Prelims
170lbs – Court McGee (17-4-0) vs Santiago Ponzinibbio (21-3-0)
Heres a very difficult fight to both analyze and pick a winner here. On one hand, you have a high output low power boxer-wrestler with fantastic cardio in McGee. On the other, you have an aggressive striker with fight ending power in both of his hands.

It will be interesting to see who can dictate the pace and control the center of the octagon. While Santiago doesn’t tire easily, the fact that he throws a hundred percent into almost every one of his strikes and McGee is stupidly durable gives me pause about taking him. McGees wrestling isn’t dominating but his offense is proactive enough to where it doesn’t necessarily have to be.

I expect some scary moments early for McGee, but I think he’ll stick around and his offense won’t let Santiago pressure him against the fence where he’s most dangerous. It will be a close, possibly split decision either way, but ill side with McGee. Prediction: McGee via Decision

W135lbs – Bethe Correia (9-1-0) vs Raquel Pennington (6-5-0)
In short, I think Correia is overrated and had an incredibly easy run to the title against Duke and Baszler (lol). Pennington isn’t a marvel of consistency or perfect technique, but she’s a improved her striking and has turned into a very good opportunistic submission grappler. If Correia can make this a primarily boxing matchup she can win, but Pennington has too many avenues for victory here. Predcition: Pennington via Submission

155lbs – Mike Chiesa (13-2-0) vs Beneil Dariush (12-1-0)
The prelim headliner is one of my favorite fights on the card. Chiesa looked great last time out in choking out black belt ace Jim Miller and Dariush held his own on the feet against Johnson, one of the division’s best pure boxers.

The more I look at this fight, I see Dariush edge Chiesa in almost every category. He’s the better striker, his ground game is positionally and defensively superior to Chiesa’s, and Dariush’s takedown defense is incredibly solid. The one advantage I’d have to give Chiesa is his durability and his aggression. If he’s able to pressure Dariush and either make him uncomfortable or hit him with something fight changing, it could put the fight in his favor.

However, that will be much easier said than done. Chiesas’s very physically strong, but Chiesa gets most of his takedwons in the clinch where Dariush is very strong and Dariush’s shorter stature will make it even harder for him to take him down. Chiesa will be game, but I expect Dariush to barely edge him everywhere. Prediction: Dariush via Decision

Main Card
145lbs – Cub Swanson (21-7-0) vs Hacran Dias (23-3-1)
Prediction: Swanson via Decision

160lbs – Khabib Nurmagomedov (22-0-0) vs Darrell Horcher (12-1-0)
Prediction: Nurmagomedov via Submission

115lbs – Tecia Torres (7-0-0) vs Rose Namajunas (4-2-0)
This fight has now be promoted to the co-main event, where it’s probably belonged this whole time. Torre’s won the first fight, but both of the two have grown tremendously since their last fight. The winner of this fight could likely face the winner of Joanna/Gadelha, so this is a very important fight for each fighter.

Both of them are very different fighters. Namajunas is dangerous and a finisher everywhere. Her grappling is arguably the most dangerous in her division and she overcomes some of her technical flaws with overwhelming aggression. Torres on the other hand, is a very competent kickboxer with a functional wrestling game. She’ll struggles to finish fights though, as all of her wins have come by decision.

Torres is likely still the better wrestler, but Namajunas grappling is on a level to where that will probably nullify that advantage. On the feet its very close, but I think the aggression will eventually overwhelm Torres. Namajunas has just seemed to grow more as a fighter ever since their first fight and get revenge from the first fight.
Prediction: Namajunas via Submission

205lbs – Glover Teixeira (24-4-0) vs Rashad Evans (19-4-1)
When I first saw the announcement of this fight, I thought Texeira would win easily. Evans just simply looked noticeably weaker in his last fight against Bader and Teixeira is starting to look to regain the form he has win he was on his lengthy winning streak.

Now? Not so sure.

Evans last fight was his first one back in 2 years. Its hard to know where he’s at. If the Evans shows up that dominated Phil Davis and finished Chael Sonnen, then I think he could definitely beat up Glover on the mat and score a convincing win. But if the same fighter who fought Bader shows up here, I think Rashads in for a long night.

Glover has scored two straight wins over the likes of OSP and Cummings after getting dominated by both Jones and Davis. His striking will definitely be a point of focus here against Evans, but that will depend on where his wrestling defense is.

This has been a very difficult fight to pick. Evans has the wrestling to stifle Glover and has a pretty specific gameplan laid out to him by Glover’s previous opponents. I think that Evans will show up looking noticeably better than when he fought Bader. His inactivity as of late makes this an even fight, but I expect Rashad to use his wrestling to take this fight on the scorecards. Prediction: Evans via Decision



Matlock
Eddie Alvarez vs Conor McGregor


Personally, I'm picking Conor to win via first round TKO. I feel like there may be similarities to the Chad Mendes fight. Yet, I have to assume Conor has only grown in his ability to defend takedowns over the years. He has fought styles similar to Eddie Alvarez but Eddie presents a different style of footwork and toughness, so I think Conor will have to overcome some adversity. This is a style of grappling Conor will need to get used to because Eddie is the prototype boxer/wrestler. If Conor can't handle Eddie's grappling, he may need to consider going back down to featherweight.

If this fight goes beyond 2 or 3 rounds, I think it heavily begins to favor Eddie. I do hope Eddie stands and trades with Conor because I'm curious to see how his footwork stacks against Conor's style. I think Eddie's pure boxing mechanics are great and he may be able to land bombs on Conor. I'm not sure why people are discounting Eddie so much in the striking. There is no guarantee Conor's left hand will KO him.

I think Conor will pressure Eddie Alvarez and land precise right hooks, left uppercuts and straight lefts. When Eddie strikes back, Conor will find a home for his devastating counters. Eddie generally gets rocked but recovers well. I do think Eddie will shoot in but I think Conor should be able to defend, at least early. The pressure will continue until Conor puts Eddie Alvarez away. People talk of Conor's power but it's a combination of speed, precision, timing and movement. I think Conor will revert back to the style he used at featherweight. Light on his feet with a bladed and wide stance. This boxing-karate hybrid style is quite different than what most fighters are used to seeing. Conor is quick and he has the reach advantage. There may not be enough time for Eddie to adjust to this - that may be a little too late. That's why I'm picking Conor to win.

This isn't a knock on Eddie because he definitely can win this fight. He has proven time and time again he can work his way back from being rocked, he has proven successful against southpaws, and he has shown the championship mindset to take a fight where he needs to win. He is a tough veteran, a smart guy and I like that he's training under Mark Henry. This is a different time for Alvarez and we're seeing development so I do hope he goes out there and shows it. I think Eddie can win by KO, I think Eddie can submit Conor and he definitely can grind him out to a decision.

No bet placed for this fight but I'm excited to see these styles match up. Again, sometimes looking too deeply into a fight bites me in the ass when the outcome turns out to be quite basic. Reach advantage, first round pressure, power, precision and timing for Conor. If it goes beyond that - congratulations Eddie Alvarez.
--
Woodley vs Wonderboy

I think this fight either goes the distance or ends early. It could go to either guy early, too. Wonderboy may have great "distance management" and "phenomenal striking" but this guy can be pressured and he can be hit. Wonderboy gets tagged with the right hand in every fight, he doesn't keep his guard up. It bit him in the ass against Ellenberger and it could bite him in the ass here. All it will take is Woodley to level change a few times to get Wonderboy to take the bait, and it's over. If you are looking for are a reason to bet on Woodley, look no further.

For myself, I can't pick him here either, also I couldn't muster the courage to bet on this fight at all, too many variables. In my head, I'm picking a highly focused game plan of using kicks on all levels to freeze Woodley and pick him apart from there. I'm not going to react to level changes but keep my guard high, if I get taken down - so be it. Wonderboy should have full confidence in his BJJ with the training he's received over the years. He has a purple belt, been training with Weidman and even Ryan Hall this camp. Whatever I can do to threaten Woodley with submissions off my back, I'm doing it - that way he works. Wonderboy can get this fight finished by the third round - no doubt. Hopefully he welcomes Woodley into his guard, too.

Going to go for the crazy pills on this fight and say Wonderboy picks up a submission win. Regardless, I see Wonderboy getting a victory here.

JJ vs KK




Gastelum vs Cerrone

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Ryan Poli
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