The Prediction Panel – UFC 214

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 Heller30019810266%FOX 25: 7-6Active
Ryan Underwood63239623663%UFC 214: 9-3Active
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 214

155lbs Joshua Burkman 29-15-0 1NC vs Drew Dover 17-8-0 1NC

2 flawed fighters in this opening match up. Burkman's best chance to win is on the mat. Leaning towards a boring close decision for Dober. He should not be this heavily favored but Burkman is 1-6 in his last 7 fights.

My prediction is Drew Dober to defeat Jush Burkman by Split Decision

125lbs Eric Shelton 10-3-0 vs Jarred Brooks 12-0-0

Gonna be a high paced action fight in the grappling and striking exchanges. Brooks should smother him with his unrelenting gas tank.

My prediction is Jarred Brooks to defeat Eric Shelton by Unanimous Decision

W115lbs Kailin Curran 4-4-0 vs Alexandra Albu 6-0-0

Albu is a physical specimen and although her technique may be a bit raw, Curran has never been considered a technical fighter. I expect Albu to starch her. Rough her up on the feet that leads to a sub.

My prediction is Alexandra Albu to defeat Kailin Curran by Unanimous Decision

145lbs Andre Fili 16-4-0 vs Calvin Kattar 16-2-0

Kattar making his UFC debut on short notice and that rarely goes well for the newcomer. Fili is an aggressive fighter that likes to walk his opponent down and throw bombs with their backs against the cage. I see this finishing quickly.

My prediction is Andre Fili to defeat Calvin Kattar by 1st round KO/TKO

145lbs #9 Renato Moicano 10-0-1 vs #8 Brian Ortega 11-0-0 1NC

I was leaning towards Moicano by Unanimous decision from simply keeping thenfight standing and outstriking Ortega. Ortega has arguably lost every round he has fought in the UFC until catching his opponents in a quick sub. Moicano is a great grappler and should be able to keep the fight standing. Meanwhile Ortega did not look too good on the scale this AM lending the thought process of a hard cut. I suspect Moicano will light him up on the feet and potentially get a late finish when Ortega gets caught in a desperation shot from too far away. Moicano will sprawl, stuff the TD and circle around to his back to sink in that RNC. For ironic purposes all go with the third round.

My prediction is Renato Moicano to defeat Bryan Ortega by Submission (RNC)

140lbs #8 Aljamain Sterling 13-2-0 vs #14 Renan Barao 35-4-0 1NC

AS has a very low striking output, especially compared to Barao's. With 100% TD defense For Barao I see this fight staying on the feet leading towards a decision victory for Barao.

My prediction is Renan Barao to defeat Aljamain Sterling by Unanimous Decision

145lbs #3 Ricardo Lamas 17-5-0 vs #15 Jason Knight 20-2-0

I'm really torn on this fight and see it as a coin flip. If the fight remains standing I lean towards Knight outstriking Lamas with volume from distance en route to a decision victory. Knight has had some TDD issues in previous fights which is what Lamas should aim to exploit. Lamas is extremely well rounded and a major step up in competition for Knight. Knight is young and seems to be making improvements in leaps and bounds which is why I'll lean his way.

My prediction is Jason Kinight to defeat Ricardo Lamas by Split Decision

205lbs #3 Jimi Manuwa 17-2-0 vs #5 Volkan Oezdemir 14-1-0

Another fight that I am torn on. Either one is capable of KOing the other and I would not really be surprised with either outcome. I am leaning towards a more technical match up with Oezdemir being the aggressor and Manuwa playing the roll of counter striker. My only concern in this match up is that Oezdemir lost his match up against OSP (IMO) and I didn't really gain any insight from his fight with Cirkunov considering how quickly it ended and the way that it ended. A stand up fight is Manuwa's world and he has only lost to Gustaffson and Rumble Johnson who would both be huge favorites over Oezdemir. Although Oezdemir could win this fight I have some concerns about his gas tank and whether he is truly a top 5 fighter in this 205lb division.

My prediction is Jimi Manuwa to defeat Volkan Oezdemir by KO/TKO

170lbs #3 Robbie Lawler 27-11-0 1 NC vs #7 Donald Cerrone 32-8-0 1NC

Tough to predict how Lawler will come out for this fight. Does he have another run left for that title fight and rematch with Woodley? He would likely need to win this fight, then beat Jorge Masvidal for the rights to fight the winner of GSP vs whomever wins the Woodley/Maia fight. He has had a big distraction with Hughes being in a coma who is his best friend and mentor.

Cerrone is coming off a groin injury and staph infection which only postponed this fight 3 weeks. I am seriously concerned Cerrone is "toughing" this one out and putting himself in serious risk. He certainly will not be 100%. Aside from that, Cowboy was brutally KOd by Masvidal in his last fight which was a direct result of lack of head mvmt. Cerrone loves to stand and trade a diverse striking arsenal from distance but he does lack head movement and that caught up with him in his last fight. Although he possesses the more diverse striking arsenal, Lawler is definitely the better boxer and has a tougher chin.

Cerrone's best route to victory is to frustrate Lawler with good head movement and distance striking. Lawler does have a tendency to give rounds away from inactivity. However, having said that I envision this fight going 1 of 2 ways...Cerrone fights extremely conservative and this goes the distance in a possible split decision, or Lawler comes out aggressive and starches Cowboy the same way RDA did. Lawler already has his post fight speech planned for Matt Hughes and his Woodley call out.

My prediction is Robbie Lawler to defeat Donald Cerrone by 1st Round KO/TKO

Women's 145lb CHAMPIONSHIP

W145lbs Chris Cyborg 16-1-0 1NC vs Tonya Evinger 19-5-0

No need for a breakdown. Evinger is tough but has never fought someone like Cyborg. Simply put she needs to avoid the early onslaught and survive until Cyborg gasses out hard. I still don't see that happening.

My prediction is Chris Cyborg to defeat Tonya Evinger by 1st round KO/TKO

Men's 170lb CHAMPIONSHIP

170lbs #C Tyron Woodley 16-3-1 vs #1 Demian Maia 25-6-0

Which Tyron Woodley shows up for this fight? The one that blitzed Lawler and finished him quickly? Or the one that stands on his back foot with his back against the cage while his opponent stalks him? If we see the first version of that he will destroy Maia with a 1st round KO. If we see the 2nd version of that I expect Maia to get ahold of him against the cage and sink in the RNC. Yes I realize Woodley hasn't been taken down in years and has never been submitted but Maia is a different animal. Woodley' gas tank is only good bc he fights a slow paced, low striking output type of fight with little to know grappling. If Maia is able to grapple with Woodley early and often, I expect Woodley to gas out hard.

On the flip side of that Maia gasses out all the time and will take a ton of damage if Woodley stuffs the TDs in this match up.

Really this could go either way. As long as Woodley does not come into the fight with a being afraid of the TD mindset, he should finish the fight.

My prediction is Tyron Woodley to defeat Demian Maia by 1st round KO/TKO

Men's 205lb CHAMPIONSHIP

205lbs #C Daniel Cormier 19-1-0 vs #1 Jon Jones 22-1-0

Before I give my breakdown I want to make one thin clear. People talking about Jones being washed up from the layoff or lack of PEDs are crazy. Jones was power lifting before the OSP fight and had a legit 20 lbs of extra muscle on his frame. That slowed down his striking speed (and thus volume) as well as his cardio. McGregor made the same mistake in the first Diaz fight. The entire fight you could hear Jackson in his corner saying "too much muscle" bc he knew it took away from Jones' overall fighting style and hindered him significantly in that fight. Bc of that issue Jones played it safe and coasted to a decision.

There are really only 2 ways I see this fight playing out. Jon Jones dominates with his wrestling, elbows/knees in the clinch, and 12 inch reach advantage to win an easy decision 50-45...or the other option is that Jones comes in pissed off for the last 2 years of Cormier's shit talking and goes for the jugular. I absolutely think that we will see the best version of Jon Jones tomorrow night. He not only wants to beat Cormier, he wants to embarrass him. If Jones gets tagged with an early power punch, he may avoid his aggressive game plan and go for the safer route to victory but I see a starching of Cormier with an early finish and possibly Cormier retiring in the ring after the fight. He is 38 years old, has a great 2nd career as an analyst for FS1 and has been competing his entire life because of his wrestling background.

My prediction is Jon Jones to defeat Daniel Cormier by 2nd round KO/TKO
Underwood
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UFC 214 Predictions

{Body_1] Fight Pass Prelims 6:30 ET [/Body_1]

155lbs- Josh Burkman (29-15-0 1NC) vs Drew Dober (17-8-0 1NC)
Drew Dober by decision

125lbs- Eric Shelton (10-3-0) vs Jarred Brooks (12-0-0)
Brooks by KO/TKO

115lbs- Kailin Curran (4-4-0) vs Alexandra Albu (6-0-0)
Albu by decision

FXX Prelims 8ET

145lbs- Andre Fili (16-4-0) vs Calvin Kattar (16-2-0)
Fili by KO/TKO

145lbs- #9 Renato Moicano (10-0-1) vs #8 Brian Ortega (11-0-0 1NC)
Ortega by decision

(Catchweight) 140lbs- #8BW Aljamain Sterling (13-2-0) vs #13FW Renan Barao (35-4-0 1NC)
Sterling by decision.


145lbs- #3 Ricardo Lamas (17-5-0) vs #15 Jason Knight (20-2-0)
Lamas by submission

PPV @10ET

205lbs- #3 Jimi Manuwa (17-2-0) vs #5 Volkan Oezdemir (14-1-0)


In the light heavyweight division, #3 ranked Jimi “Poster Boy” Manuwa takes on fast-rising #5 ranked Volkan Oezdemir in a fight that will put the winner close to a title shot. Volkan recently debuted in February of this year, already having wins over Ovince St. Preux and Misha Cirkunov. His debut came against OSP and he slid away with a split decision victory with gradual strikes that gave him the edge over the former interim title challenger. He then saw a short night when he took on Misha Cirkunov and landed a slight right below the ear and Misha instantly collapsed to the canvas. With only two fights to show for, Volkan Oezdemir is still unpredictable. '

Jimi Manuwa is on a two-fight win streak, seeing two knockouts of Ovince St. Preux and Corey Anderson that quickly moved him into contention. Though 88% of his victories come by way of KO/TKO finish, Manuwa has struggled with elite strikers in the past; his only two losses to Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson via strikes. He’s not one to bite down on his mouthpiece and trade relentlessly, as he’s more focused on backing his opponents against the cage and landing precise shots.

Manuwa took some time to catch his groove against Ovince St. Preux as he spent the first five minutes attempting to counter the strong wrestling of the Tennessee Volunteer. Once the second round started, he found his happy place and started to rev up his combinations that eventually left OSP unconscious. Volkan found his success against OSP on the feet as well, yet wasn’t able to fully pull the trigger and tee off as Manuwa did.

Don’t expect this fight to hit the mat as both men are primary strikers, yet expect possible fireworks in the first five minutes. Volkan will sit on the outside and wait to counter Manuwa’s combinations, but he hasn’t faced the caliber of opponent in the “Poster Boy”. I expect Manuwa to gradually step in when he sees openings and not let Volkan tee off with the distance Jimi will provide. Oezdemir will be able to land jabs and occasional uppercuts, yet I see Manuwa letting his strike count and consistency to lead to a possible finish, but a UD is more foreseeable. My prediction is Jimi Manuwa to defeat Volkan Oezdemir by decision.


170lbs- #3 Robbie Lawler (27-11-0 1NC) vs #6 Donald Cerrone (32-8-0 1NC)


Please make sure your children are tucked in and ready for bed when this one starts; this is rated R television. Former welterweight champion and #3 ranked contender “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler returns to the octagon after a year on the shelf after his knockout loss to Tyron Woodley which resulted in the turnover of the title. He’s on a recent switch of fight camps and it’ll be very interesting to see how his style will play against the tenacious regime of Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. “Cowboy” is coming off a devastating TKO loss to Jorge Masvidal in his home state of Colorado that put a stop to another train of victories, this time at welterweight.

Donald Cerrone has one of the most vast and diverse arsenals of anyone to compete in the UFC. His kickboxing has never failed him in his attacks, and his submissions are nothing to mess with. Don’t worry, this fight will not hit the mat. Both men are straight shooters. They will not be hesitant to flaunt their combinations and it may come down to whoever lands the biggest one first. With crazy brawlers, they both share the same flaw which is to leave their face open at times when moving around the cage. Woodley tagged Lawler with a punch that landed with ease as Lawler’s stance was very open when backing away. This is something Robbie cannot do against the flashy style of Cerrone. He will not hesitate to crack the former champ with his famous head kicks.

Cerrone has a history of being a more active fighter in the cage, landing an average of 4.18 significant strikes per minute against Lawler’s 3.49. This fight compares to Lawler/Condit. Robbie was able to slide the decision as the strike count was in Condit’s favor, yet the more significant and powerful strikes came from Lawler. Defending head kicks is something Robbie is used to- so don’t expect him to be caught off guard there.

I was not fan of how Cerrone looked in the Masvidal fight. He was extremely loose and didn’t capitalize on a game-plan in the first round which ultimately led him to being caught hard and eventually finished. Though Cerrone has some of the best conditioning in the game in terms of outside training, it didn’t seem to stand tall in the Masvidal contest.

Lawler’s and Masvidal’s fighting styles can very much compare to each other’s in their last respective contests. Lawler keeps a very composed and bent stance and steps in with southpaw combinations. Donald didn’t deal well with the pressure that Jorge posed in their six-minute contest. “Cowboy” will have the two-inch height advantage, yet Lawler thrives when throwing overhand lefts and dealing with taller fighters. Masvidal had great success testing the chin of the taller fighter as Cerrone underestimated the power. With the combination of the focused stance of Lawler throwing at an active Cerrone, I see an educated left landing and causing trouble for Cowboy. Expect both men to be rocked at one point, but expect Lawler to be the last one standing. My prediction is Robbie Lawler to defeat Donald Cerrone by KO/TKO.


145lbs Championship- Cris Cyborg (16-1-0 1NC) vs Tonya Evinger (19-5-0)

Do I have to give an explanation? Cris Cyborg to defeat Tonya Evinger by KO/TKO.

170lbs Championship- Tyron Woodley(c) (16-3-1) vs #1 Demian Maia (25-6-0)


In the co-main event, welterweight champion Tyron Woodley will see his third title defense as he takes on #1 ranked Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu artist, Demian Maia. The champion is coming off two straight defenses as a draw with Stephen Thompson left the belt around his waist, and a split decision rematch ended the rivalry. Demian Maia has seen a 10-2 run at welterweight since making the move from middleweight in 2012. He’s currently on a seven fight win-streak with notable wins over Neil Magny, Carlos Condit, and Jorge Masvidal, constantly displaying dominant grappling that saw two submissions over those three opponents.

Tyron Woodley, though a devastating knockout artist, often picks and chooses times to be destructive. He grasped the welterweight championship with a rumbling overhand right that floored Lawler and this knockout truly made everyone flinch. Though the finishes of Robbie Lawler and Josh Koshcheck will be played on UFC montages for the next decade, he’s not as persistent as we think. Woodley has as many KO/TKO finishes as he does decisions and recently against Stephen Thompson, the bloodthirst seemed to run a tad-bit dry. The only person who enjoyed Woodley’s last defense was Joe Rogan- the rest of the crowd was asleep.

Demian Maia truly established himself as a future challenger when he finished former two-time challenger and WEC champion, Carlos Condit in less than two minutes with a rear-naked choke. Once Maia gets a hold of you, it can be over within the next 30 seconds. His BJJ skills are hand in hand with the legend Royce Gracie and some argue he may be even better. On the feet, Maia is not a knockout artist yet he is comfortable trading strikes at times. Will it be smart to stand with the champ for five rounds? Absolutely not. He will need to shoot for a takedown or a trip early in this fight.

Tyron Woodley has never been submitted in his MMA career, yet he’s never faced a fighter with the strength and technique of Demian Maia. He’s dropped a split decision loss to grappler Jake Shields in the past in a contest which was closely contested, though Shields edged the judges with time-draining clinch work. Maia is not a time-draining clincher- he’s actively looking for the submission when he’s on the mat.

The last time Maia went for a full five rounds was in 2015 as he picked up a unanimous decision victory over fellow grappler Ryan LaFlare. The Brazilian veteran will be 40 years old in the fall of this year, and that’s a big factor to consider when matching up the speed and athleticism of Tyron Woodley. The champion is up there as well at the age of 35, yet it seems that this era is his prime rather than his downward descent, and the same goes for Maia.

The champion will have a two-inch reach advantage that he needs to flaunt and keep Maia at distance with. The closer the exchanges, the more opportunity Maia will have to attempt a takedown. Woodley has submission win experience early on in his career, yet they came against weak competition while Demian has been submitting the elite in the game for a while. The 39-year-old fared well against the monstrous reach of Neil Magny back in 2015 and his fighting style can compare to Woodley’s. Magny’s strikes are persistent and vicious, possibly not to the level of Tyron’s, but Neil’s track record can speak for itself.

Tyron Woodley’s history of takedown defense holds true as very accurate, yet again, he has never faced someone as elite as Maia. The mat is Demian’s world, and if he can get Woodley on the mat, it could be the beginning of the end. Maia needs to duck and predict the combinations of Woodley as any of the champ’s opponents can get caught off guard by his speed. A takedown and a back-take would be extremely beneficial for the BJJ black belt, and I predict this happening. It’s a coin toss for me and the sportsbook is riding a similar line, but I may see a new welterweight champion on Saturday night. I see Demian Maia seeing an opportunity for a grappling exchange which will result in a rear-naked choke. My prediction is Demian Maia to defeat Tyron Woodley by submission.


205lbs Championship- Daniel Cormier(c) (19-1-0) vs #1 Jon Jones (22-1-0)


The championship is on the line in the light heavyweight division as defending champion Daniel “DC” Cormier takes on former champion Jon “Bones” Jones. This is one of the most awaited rematches in the history of the UFC next to Silva/Sonnen and McGregor/Diaz and rightfully so. Jon Jones, as we all know, never lost the title due to a defeat in the octagon as he was stripped due to legal reasons in 2015 and suspended for the 2nd time in 2016. This will be his first opportunity at gold since his defense against Cormier in January of 2015. In the meantime, since their first bout, Cormier has grasped the championship and hasn’t let go since. After a war with Alexander Gustafsson and a solid defense against Anthony Johnson, DC has showed he wasn’t just in the right place at the right time. At 38 years of age, Daniel Cormier is one of the most elite in the game, and this is the battle to see who’s the “baddest” man on the planet. The bad blood cannot get thicker here, and it will be finished on July 29th.

Fight Study- Jon Jones(c) vs Daniel Cormier (January 3, 2015)

Round 1 - Both men very eager to step in. Jones lands several knees to the body when DC clinches forward. Cormier has luck with a couple uppercuts as does Jones. DC attempts a body kick, yet Jones catches the leg and trips DC and takes his back for a brief amount of time. After a slightly hectic 90 seconds, Jones and DC traded in the middle of the octagon for the rest of the round. Jones would have occasional luck with his reach- landing a stiff overhand left that woke up DC. Oblique kicks were landed often by Jon, yet DC was able to capitalize in the last two minutes of the round with successful combinations. He landed the jab often and countered with fast shots. Very competitive round, but I would slide the 10 to the challenger. 10-9 Cormier

Round 2 - Right out of the gate, Jon knew he couldn’t give DC the opportunity to tee off. Jones clinches with Cormier and takes advantages of openings for dirty boxing and a few sharp elbows. DC struggles with the size of Jones for the first three minutes of the round until some moments where he was able to throw the champ off of him and combat the clinch. Jones would fire body kicks yet DC would answer. Jones is able to stun DC with short elbows when defending an opposing clinch. Similarities to the first round are present as Cormier finishes off the round with combinations that land. Due to the opening control and stiff elbows of the first 3:30, Jones takes the round. 10-9 Jones

Round 3 - The first 90 seconds to two minutes were a chess match as DC was trying to get around Jon’s positioning and footwork which is hard to read. Jones not letting DC step in and land in the opening half yet it all changed in the latter 2:30. While Jones was moving and attempting clinch work/knees, DC would keep on the short uppercuts that scored. Cormier was the far more active fighter in the third and takes the nod. 10-9 Cormier

Round 4 - Jones opens with flashy strike attempts and lands one head kick in the process. Jon advances toward Cormier and is able to show off the dirty elbows and knees in close quarters. The champ lands a big trip onto DC and catches a few shots on his chin. Jon continuously landing effective knees and uppercuts against a tired Cormier. 100% control for Jones in the 4th round. 10-9 Jones

Round 5 - No match for the first four minutes of clinch control from Jones. Jon could have been a boulder laying on DC here. Cormier’s exhaustion was not a match for the consistent pressure and dirty boxing of Jon. DC able to land one takedown towards the end of the round, but it was not enough to slide away with the championship. 10-9 Jones.
48-47 Jones. (49-46x3 Official Decision)


Plain and simple, there was a better fighter on January 3rd, 2015, and that was Jon Jones. Two and a half years have passed since their first encounter. Daniel Cormier captured the championship four months after his loss to Jones and hasn’t lost since in battles against Anthony Johnson, Alexander Gustafsson, and Anderson Silva. The key in most moments of those victories has been the overwhelming wrestling of DC. Anthony Johnson and Anderson Silva had no match for the smothering-type style of the champion. Ironically, this is how DC lost to Jon in the first place. Fighting fire with fire sometimes works, and Cormier cannot forget UFC 182 and how it went down.

Though Jon Jones has one of the longest reaches in UFC history, this will not be a major factor in this matchup as Cormier has had ultimate success closing distance and landing shots on Jon’s chin. When a 12-inch advantage would throw anyone else off- it will not throw DC for a loop. The proof is in the pudding. The times that DC struggled the most against the strikes of Jones was tight in the clinch and body shots via knees and kicks. The kicks will come from distance that Jones will create, yet Cormier has to counter with takedown attempts whenever this occurs.

2.5 years. That’s the biggest factor in this contest. Jon Jones has fought once since defeating Daniel Cormier while DC has seen three victories in that span. The champion is now 38 years of age while Jon Jones is nowhere near slowing down. One thing Daniel Cormier had a major issue with was taking on the pure cardio advantage of Jon. He could not stand at 80-100% with Jones heading into the championship rounds. That was the true turning point of the first meeting.

If Cormier can stay as active has he did in the 25 minutes against Alexander Gustafsson, he may be able to defeat Jon Jones. The comparison from the Jones to the Gus fight is remarkable. 5 rounds went incredibly differently in these two championship decisions. Whether Cormier simply got better or Gus is less of a challenge than Jones, it’s no doubt that something was different.

Jon Jones brings a competition that is one of a kind. The pressure, technique, and composure of “Bones” will go down in history to define him as one of the greatest of all time. You can like him. You can hate him. It will mean nothing to him. I certainly am not a fan of Jon Jones- but that will not persuade me in the slightest to pick with my emotions.

Daniel Cormier will also go in the record books as one of the greatest mixed martial artists to ever compete in the game, and he knows that. This is the one task that DC has never completed and July 29th will be a monumental moment win or lose. I’m betting on the track record of Jon “Bones” Jones to reclaim his championship with his overwhelming pressure, cage control, close-strikes, and confidence to lead to another unanimous decision victory over Daniel “DC” Cormier. My prediction is Jon Jones to defeat Daniel Cormier by decision.




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.
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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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