The Prediction Panel – UFC 216: Ferguson vs. Lee

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 Heller32321011365%UFC 215: 5-6Active
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 FN 116

185lbs #10 Krzysztof Jotko 19-2-0 vs #14 Uriah Hall 13-8-0

My prediction is Krzysztof Jotko to defeat Uriah Hall by unanimous decision

225-265lbs Anthony Hamilton 15-7-0 vs Daniel Spitz 5-1-0

My prediction is Anthony Hamilton to defeat Daniel Spitz by unanimous decision

225-265lbs Justin Ledet 8-0-0 1NC vs Zu Anyanwu 14-4-0

My prediction is Justin Ledet to defeat Zu Anyanwu by KO/TKO

170lbs #13 Kamaru Usman 10-1-0 vs Sergio Moraes 12-3-1

My prediction is Kamaru Usman to defeat Sergio Moraes by KO/TKO

155lbs Gregor Gillespie 9-0-0 vs Jason Gonzalez 11-3-0

My prediction is Gregor Gillespie to defeat Jason Gonzalez by Unanimous Decision

185lbs Hector Lombard 34-7-1 2NC vs Anthony Smith 27-12-0

My prediction is Anthony Smith to defeat Hector Lombard by Unanimous Decision

170lbs Mike Perry 10-1-0 vs Alex Reyes 13-2-0

My prediction is Mike Perry to defeat Alex Reyes by TKO/KO

185lbs #3 Luke Rockhold 15-3-0 vs #9 David Branch 21-3-0

LR is a superior fighter essentially everywhere but I just don't trust him. As Dana once told him just stick to modeling and fighting and I'll do the match making. Mr Hollywood showed up for his fight with Bisping and during fight week he rented a mansion in Hollywood and put some mats on the marble floors to practice, instead of visiting a local gym during the week of the fight. The sunglasses during interviews concerned me then and it concerns me again this week. He certainly is not lacking confidence when describing this match up with Branch, just like during his fight week with Bisping. The only reason I'm picking Rockhold is because I suspect Branch will gas out in a 5 round fight as his output and overall activity is poor in general, but especially later in fights.

My prediction is Luke Rockhold to defeat David Branch by Split Decision
Underwood
UFC 216

Twitter @ryanRJU

Fight Pass Prelims @

125lbs- Matt Schnell (10-4-0) vs Marco Beltran (8-6-0)
Coming Soon...

125lbs- #11 John Moraga (17-6-0) vs #15 Magomed Bibulatov (14-0-0)
Coming Soon...

115lbs- Andrea Lee (8-2-0) vs Kalindra Faria (18-5-1)
Coming Soon...

265lbs- Walt Harris (10-5-0) vs Mark Godbeer (12-3-0)
Coming Soon...

FX Prelims @8ET

115lbs- Pearl Gonzalez (6-2-0) vs Poliana Botelho (5-1-0)
Coming Soon...

155lbs- Lando Vannata (9-2-0) vs Bobby Green (23-8-0)
Coming Soon...

155lbs- Will Brooks (18-3-0) vs Nik Lentz (29-8-2 1NC)
Coming Soon...

135lbs- Tom Duquesnoy (15-1-0 1NC) vs Cody Stamann (15-1-0)
Coming Soon...

PPV @10ET

155lbs- #12 Beneil Dariush (14-3-0) vs #14 Evan Dunham (17-6-0)
Coming Soon...

185lbs- #13 Thales Leites (27-7-0) vs Brad Tavares (15-5-0)
Coming Soon...

265lbs- #2 Fabricio Werdum (21-7-1) vs #6 Derrick Lewis (18-5-0 1NC)
Coming Soon...

125lbs Championship- (c) Demetrious Johnson (26-2-1) vs #3 Ray Borg (11-2-0)

In our co-main event, the defending flyweight champion and argued #1 Pound-for-Pound greatest, Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson sees his 11th title defense as he takes on fast-rising, #3 ranked flyweight, Ray ‘The Tazmexican Devil’ Borg. This is a huge fight for the champion, challenger, and the company as a whole. Demetrious Johnson, if victorious, will surpass Anderson Silva for the most consecutive title defenses. In my opinion, if Johnson defeats Borg, he is the cemented #1 P4P greatest fighter in the sport, and possibly to ever do it. Ray Borg, at only 24 years of age and a UFC record of 5-2 has an incredible opportunity to stop the fastest-moving train in the sport of MMA.

Demetrious Johnson is riding off, what I count as, the three greatest performances of his career with a TKO victory over Henry Cejudo, a unanimous decision against Tim Elliott, and a submission win over Wilson Reis.

Henry Cejudo, an undefeated prospect in the division at the time, made for a relatively close betting line when he took on Johnson. His Olympic wrestling background posed a threat towards the champ, yet that made for no match. Within three minutes of the opening round, Demetrious overwhelmed Henry with strikes, causing a quick stoppage and a performance of the night bonus. With naysayers and critics always nagging of how the flyweights, Johnson in particular, drag out contests until the final horn, this sent a message to the rest of the division along with all watchers of the sport.

DJ then took on TUF 24 winner Tim Elliott and met a match he hasn’t come across in a while. In the opening round, Elliott was able to lock Johnson in a guillotine and a d’arce choke, though not completing it, it was the most trouble we’ve seen the champion in during his reign. In the first five minutes, Johnson also struggled with the size and lankiness of Elliott, as he stands at 5’6, a tad-bit taller than most flyweights. Though losing one round on the scorecards, he bounced back to dominate the remaining four rounds with wrestling and conquering speed.

Johnson’s last defense came against Wilson Reis, a bout long in the making after injuries and re-scheduling, and it was flawless. Johnson was far more active with his strikes, accurate with counters, and merciless when Reis tired out. After nearly three rounds of a one-sided battle, Johnson got him to the mat, landed ground strikes, and tapped Reis with an armbar. Wilson had no match for the complete game of “Mighty Mouse”.

Ray Borg, at #3 in the division, has a fluid mix of heavy strikes and solid wrestling. He’s riding off two-straight unanimous decision victories over Louis Smolka and Jussier Formiga that escalated him to become next in line. Borg shook the rankings to close 2016 with a dominant showing against Louis Smolka, displaying firm top position and flashy strikes/combinations that Louis had no match for. Borg then went on to pick up a decision win against Jussier Formiga with quick shots and taking the A side of most of the grappling scrambles.

On the feet, Borg fared well with Formiga, yet he met problems that weren’t present against Louis Smolka. The distance that came about in the Smolka/Borg bout didn’t compare to the 15 minutes of the Formiga contest. Borg favored the distance as it gave him more opportunity to throw flashy combos and exude strength. Formiga stayed in tight and was willing to trade with Borg in close-quarters, in which Jussier landed far more than Louis. The idea of a close-range dogfight excited Borg a bit as well, which led to him swinging with the atmosphere. He cannot commit this mistake against Johnson as the diverse set of the champ may overcome him.

Ray Borg, though skilled in wrestling, gave up a couple scrambles to Formiga that could’ve ended the fight. Formiga took the back of Borg at one point and found the opportunity to attempt to lock the hooks in. He was unsuccessful, but this opportunity in the eyes of Demetrious Johnson will most likely be grabbed and executed.

In terms of head-to-head striking, Johnson holds the advantage. In close-quarters and in distance, DJ’s speed and accuracy will confuse ‘The Tazmexican Devil’. Look for frustration to set in on Borg, possibly causing him to swing and or chase Johnson down, only to meet a stiff shot from the champ.

Against the cage and on the mat, it’s all Johnson’s world. Demetrious has submitted and grappled the best in the division with the exception of almost being caught by Tim Elliott. Borg’s best chances would be to attempt a guillotine choke if Johnson shoots for a double-leg takedown.

In the end, this is another step on the ladder for Demetrious Johnson to reign supreme as the top champion in the UFC. If we hear “and still”, he will surpass Anderson Silva for the most consecutive title defenses.

Johnson is poised, aware, and ready for competition. In my opinion, it’s a little too early for Borg to be fighting for the title and it will show here. Expect “Mighty Mouse” to jab and work the body in the opening round, counter any flashy-striking from Borg, and take advantage of the cardio attributes in the 3rd to later rounds, finishing Borg on the mat. My prediction is Demetrious Johnson to defeat Ray Borg by submission. (RNC)


155lbs Interim Championship- #2 Tony Ferguson (23-3-0) vs #7 Kevin Lee (16-2-0)


In the lightweight division, the interim championship is on the line as #2 ranked Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson takes on #7 ranked Kevin ‘The Motown Phenom’ Lee. This fight may decide who’s next in line to face Conor McGregor for the unification of the UFC Lightweight Championship. If a Nate Diaz trilogy fight doesn’t happen within our last quarter of 2017, expect the winner to headline a PPV with McGregor to end 2017 or kick off 2018.

A championship opportunity has been long awaiting Tony Ferguson for a while now. He represents a near flawless UFC record of 12-1 and nine of those victories have come consecutively since 2013. His last appearance was in November of 2016 with a five-round decision victory over former champion, Rafael Dos Anjos. Within that year, we saw a major fight canceled with Khabib Nurmogomedov due to another injury on Khabib’s part.

Kevin Lee has proved to be one of the most solid prospects in the lightweight division; holding a 9-2 record with notable victories over Francisco Trinaldo, Magmoed Mustafaev, and Michael Chiesa. He owns heavy hands, powerful submission ability, and some major self-confidence.

Tony Ferguson won season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter and has been on an upward climb ever since. With every contest, Ferguson has improved to become one of the elite in the division, and in my opinion, one of the most skilled fighters the UFC has ever seen. With a brown belt in BJJ under Eddie Bravo, he contains dangerous abilities to lock in a d’arce choke out of nowhere.

Ferguson faced top contender Edson Barboza in December of 2015. Standing across the cage from a devastating striker in Barboza, Ferguson took the challenge head on. ‘El Cucuy’ traded with him early, presenting no dead-space or stale mates for Edson to tee off with his muay-thai arsenal. Tony pushed forward, got in Edson’s face with pressuring combinations, and was not afraid of a scrap.

After a round of trading tough shots, Ferguson found an opening to sink in a d’arce choke in a wild scramble, and submitted Edson Barboza in the 2nd round of a bloody battle. While someone may be right to assume that Tony Ferguson holds the advantage in grappling skills in this pairing, they cannot underestimate the wrestling IQ of Kevin Lee.

Kevin Lee took on Jake Matthews in July of 2016 and saw a first round TKO victory. In a scramble, Lee and Matthews locked arms in a whizzer and Lee got the best of the exchange. He was able to take Jake’s back and land enough shots that warranted a stoppage. To take full control of a BJJ black belt and leave him no option but to be saved from the referee is very impressive. Soon after, Lee kept his octagon activity very high, fighting three times since, and seeing all victories coming by way of rear-naked choke.

The grappling can become a chess match, yet I see the striking playing out one way-in the favor of ‘El Cucuy”. Ferguson’s pressure and overall volume of strikes presents an athlete that Kevin Lee has never faced before. Ferguson was able to land 126 significant strikes against Rafael Dos Anjos in a span of 25 minutes, consistently focusing on body-head combinations along with persistent leg kicks.

In Lee’s past four contests, he was very focused on finishing fights on the mat. He’s faced early onslaughts from people like Francisco Trinaldo and lasted through to sink in a choke in the 2nd round. Lee’s biggest opportunity to finish this fight is to wait until Ferguson’s cardio withers away and seek a grappling exchange. That may not happen. Tony Ferguson has some of the best conditioning in the division. In the Dos Anjos fight, he made an example of that. He walked into the tough altitude of Mexico and broke down a former lightweight champion over a duration of five rounds.

On the feet, Ferguson gambles a bit in shot-trading to attempt to get an upper hand. He will dig into a scrap where he will eat shots, yet it’s successful more than not as Tony will often get the better of the exchanges. Lee will have his best window in the first two rounds where Ferguson will warm up with loose combinations. With two competitors who attempt to get the upper hand first, only time will tell who will have a 10-9 advantage after five minutes.

At the end of the day, I feel Tony Ferguson is on another level than Kevin Lee still has to access. We’ve never seen this young superstar drift into a fourth round and deal with a volume of strikes that Ferguson will present. It will be the biggest test of his career and I hope he leaves an impression. He’s the fastest-rising fighter in the lightweight division and a promising individual at only 25 years old. Even with that being said, I predict another victory for the red corner. With two neck-and-neck opening rounds, I expect Tony Ferguson to handle Lee’s strong grappling attempts, land effective body-head combinations, and gain a major cardio advantage in the later rounds to out-perform Kevin Lee in the full 25 minutes. My prediction is Tony Ferguson to defeat Kevin Lee 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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