UFC 145 touches down in Atlanta, Georgia and brings with it a huge 205 pound title fight between the current Champion Jon `Bones` Jones and former Champion `Suga` Rashad Evans. These two men need no introduction, as this matchup has been over a year in the making. Jones and Evans, formerly friends and training partners, have gone back and forth with injuries and other opponents getting in the way of the inevitable confrontation.
The rest of the UFC 145 main card and preliminary fight predictions can be found here at Kamikazeoverdrive.net. UFC 145 will attempt to build on a successful night of predictions at UFC on Fuel TV: Gustafsson vs Silva. On the night K.O. went 7-3 overall, including a solid 5-1 main card mark. On the night I hit six exact predictions: Brian Stann by knockout, Dennis Siver by decision, John Maguire by submission, Brad Pickett by submission, Francis Carmont by TKO and Jason Young by decision. The Kamikaze Overdrive Bet Pack paid out huge with multiple winners: parlays, single bets, props and just good overall betting advice about fights to avoid and potential underdogs to consider based on value (even if I didn`t predict them to win). Last shows betting pack can be seen here, but is enough about last show; let’s get to the predictions for UFC 145 and hopefully put some money in your pocket with my $5 UFC 145 Betting Pack.
In the Heavyweight division, ‘Big’ Ben Rothwell 31-8-0 battles Brendan ‘the Hybrid’ Schaub 9-2-0. Both fighters are coming off losses, with Rothwell dropping a decision to Mark Hunt and Schaub getting knockedout by Big Nog at UFC UFC 134.
Rothwell`s time in the UFC has been a struggle, putting together a 1-2 record. Even in his win over Gilbert Yvel he put on an underwhelming performance using his wrestling to ground his opponent and hold him on his back for the duration. Coming out of the Mark Hunt fight there are significant questions about Big Ben`s ability to compete with the elite fighters of the division. Rothwell was expected to exploit Hunt`s lack of ground game on root to the victory, but issues with conditioning prevented him from doing so. His cardio problems could be a huge issue against Schaub, if Brendan drags the fight into the second half. But at the same time his poor performance against Hunt could be attributed to injuries, a long layoff, and fighting in Colorado at a higher altitude.
Physically, both men matchup evenly, standing 6`4″ with Rothwell holding a slight 2 inch reach advantage. Schaub should have a speed advantage along with improving footwork and overall I like his athleticism to be a key component to his success in this fight.
Both men possess knockout power; Brendan has scored 7 of his 8 wins by knockout, while Rothwell has picked up an impressive 17 KO victories. On the losing end, both men have been knocked out in previous fights Schaub suffered knockouts against Nogueira and Roy Nelson, while Big Ben has been stopped 4 times most notably against Cain Velasquez and Andrei Arlovski. Despite, Rothwell having been knocked out twice as many times, Schaub`s chins is a far greater concern. Rothwell`s two recent knockout losses were the result of an accumulation of strikes, while Schaub was rendered completely unconscious in both of his losses. Schaub was successful avoiding the heavy hands of Mirko CroCop and Grabriel Gonzaga, but as is the case in any Heavyweight fight it only takes one shot to end the fight.
Schaub brings a nice right hand and uses a left jab to set it up, often double it up. He stopped CroCop with his right hand which is his power weapon, but he will also attack in a flurry attempting to catch his opponent anything. He used a lot of clinch work against Cro Cop, tying him up against the wall and attacking with short strikes looking to break him down. For a heavyweight he moves well, but got himself in trouble against Big Nog when he got away from his movement and allowed Nogueira to cut off the cage, close the distance.
Rothwell has a decent striking repertoire of his own. He will attack in combination using hooks and uppercuts and a dangerous straight right hand. He stood and traded with Mark Hunt far more than expected, but against a superior striker in Gilbert Yvel it was clear that Ben wanted nothing to with Yvel’s striking focussing mainly on taking the fight to the ground.
Both guys will take the fight to the ground; Schaub landed several takedowns against Mirko and as mentioned as mentioned above Rothwell used takedowns against both Yvel and Hunt. Rothwell has a far greater submission background having picked up 11 wins by submission with only one tap out defeat. Schaub has yet to secure a win via submission in his career, but he did pick up one during his time on the Ultimate Fighter.
Rothwell will be desperate for a victory with his job potentially on the line, while Schaub should be equally as focused with his position as a potential future contender in the division at risk. I don’t anticipate this fight going the distance with both fighters capable of scoring the knockout. Schaub’s speed advantage and footwork should give him an advantage on the feet, as long as he keeps moving to avoid Rothwell’s power. If Rothwell’s cardio becomes an issue Schaub should be able to put pressure on him and bring about a ref stoppage, so my prediction is Brendan Schaub to defeat Ben Rothwell by TKO.
In the UFC’s Featherweight division former title challenger Mark ‘The Machine’ Hominick 20-10-0 takes 15-5-1 Eddie ‘The Filipino Phenom’ Yagin. Yagin lost his UFC debut, losing only his second fight in his last 9 while Hominick suffered a setback against the Chan Sung Jung at UFC 140.
Physically, they match up well with the Canadian holding slight height advantage, but Yagin possessing a longer reach. This should help Yagin to improve on his debut performance as he struggled to engage because he wasn’t able to close the distance.
Both men have knockout power, Yagin has 5 career knockouts but Hominick has the superior knockout resume recording 9 including wins over George Roop and Yves Jabouin. On the losing end Hominick has been stopped 3 times and Yagin has suffered a pair of doctor stoppage TKO’s.
Hominick is known for his striking; he has excellent technique, landing 3.5 strikes per minute while avoiding a remarkable 71% of his opponent’s attempts. His combinations mainly consist of jabs and straight punches, while not attempting too many kicks. Against aggressive strikers like Leonard Garcia and Jabouin, Hominick used his superior head movement and footwork to avoid getting hit while still remaining in range to attack. As a result of his footwork and aggressive forward push he forces his opponents to attack while moving backwards which limits their offensive output.
Yagin’s striking isn’t nearly as refined, but he as a decent left jab, a powerful overhand right and will threaten with a head kick. He uses a lower stance and likes to mix in a quick uppercut and in his last fight we saw him attempt to counter strike. On the negative side, he has a tendency hold his hands low when striking and if he is unable to find the range he tends to lunge into his punches usually unsuccessfully.
On the mat both men have multiple submission victories (Hominick 7 & Yagin 5). Hominick’s ground game is underrated, but with submission wins over Bryan Caraway and Yves Edwards his ground skills shouldn’t be overlooked. Of the two fighters, Yagin is more likely to attempt a takedown, but it was his inability to defend his opponent’s shot that cost him his last matchup. Off his back he has a nasty guillotine choke, although he was unsuccessful on two occasions in his debut, he has won 4 of his 5 submission victories with this maneuver.
Yagin shouldn’t be written off based on one poor performance, but there are a few significant areas that could ultimately cost him against Hominick. As mentioned above he holds his hands low which Mark should be able to exploit with his superior striking skills. Secondly, I question Yagin’s cardio as he was breathing quite heavy at the end of two relatively slower paced rounds in his last fight. Sometimes a debuting fighter can struggle with cardio issues because of nerves, but if Eddie has any conditioning problems in this fight Hominick will surely take advantage of this as well. Hominick should bring a more controlled and focussed approach looking to rebound from his last fight, while Yagin hasn’t shown enough to indicate he can compete with the Canadian. So my prediction is Mark Hominick to defeat Eddie Yagin by knockout.
In the Lightweight division 10-4-0 Mark Bocek welcomes back fellow Canadian John Alessio 34-14-0. Bocek has alternated wins and losses over his last 6, while Alessio has won 3 in a row and 10 of his last 11.
Alessio has recently dropped to Lightweight going 2-0 after a long career fighting at 170lbs. He will have a 2” height advantage over Bocek, but Mark will hold a moderate 2.5” edge in the reach.
Overall Alessio is the more well rounded fighter having earned 11 wins by knockout and another 14 by submission. In his last fight with Ryan Healy, Alessio hurt Healy on multiple occasions; dropping him with a short left jab and then later in the fight connecting with a nice right hook straight left combo. Against Healy, John showed incredible durability battling back from a difficult second round where he took a great deal of punishment. Overall, I would give Alessio the advantage over Bocek in striking department, as Bocek is not the most refined striker. In fact, the majority of Bocek’s striking is centered around setting up his takedowns.
Mark is an elite level BJJ Black Belt with 7 career submission victories, including 4 inside the Octagon. His highest profile submission victory came at UFC 124 against fellow BJJ Black Belt Dustin Hazelett, where he mounted him and eventually transition into a beautiful triangle. Bocek completes 4.07 takedowns per fight and has put up some impressive numbers against elite level ground fighters. Against Nik Lentz he completed five takedowns and was successful on four occasion against both Jim Miller and current divisional Champion Ben Henderson. Bocek will shoot from the outside, but he is most effective when he is able to drop down, push his opponent into the cage and then attempt to drag them to the mat. When he gets on top he has excellent control, smothering his opponent while attempting to set up submission opportunities.
Alessio is far from a grappling novice, with an extensive list of submission victories, but it his large number of submission defeats that is concerning. Alessio has been submitted seven times by the likes of Carlos Condit, Joe Doerksen, and Pat Miletisch and one area off interest is that all of these losses came while fighting at a higher weightclass. Although he has been successful in his brief stin at at Lightweight, he has yet to be tested against a grappler on Bocek’s level since making the cut.
In Bocek’s UFC debut he struggled with Frankie Edgar’s hand speed and was eventually knocked out. This is a style that Alessio should try to emulate; keep the fight standing and use his footwork to maintain distance while attacking. If Alessio isn’t able to sustain separation he will have a difficult time defending against Bocek in tight. Alessio has been on an impressive run, but Bocek has fought superior competition and even against the best the division has to offer he has been able to turn his fights into ground battle. It’s hard to overlook John Alessio’s history of being submitted, so my prediction Mark Bocek to defeat John Alessio by submission.
Chad Griggs (11-1-0) will try to keep the ball rolling as the fifth victorious Strikeforce Heavyweight to enter the Octagon when he meets undefeated Travis Browne (12-0-1). Both men have knockout power, with 9 wins by KO or TKO each. Browne has stopped both James McSweeney and Stefan Struve since joining the UFC while Griggs dispatched Bobby Lashley, Gian Villante, and Valentijn Overeem while fighting under the Strikeforce banner. Neither man has significant submission totals (Griggs- 2 Browne-1), but they will take their opponent down when the opportunity arises with the focus on ground and pound.
Griggs is a tough opponent, having overcome his previous adversaries with heart and durability but against Browne he will be up against the biggest challenge of his career. Browne is the superior technical striker using a lot of movement and he will hold significant physical advantages in both height and reach. If Griggs can turn this fight into a brawl and press Browne he could either hurt him in an exchange or wait for his cardio to breakdown and finish him late. Griggs has earned notoriety for his gritty knockout wins but consideration should be given to the fact that they came over a relative MMA newcomer, a natural Light Heavyweight and a fighter notorious for breaking under pressure. Griggs is capable of winning this fight, but I like what I have seen from Browne so far. Browne should try to control the distance and use his movement to avoid Griggs catching him in a rush and I expect that he will attempt a takedown or two to mix things up so my prediction is Travis Browne to defeat Chad Griggs by decision.
Decorated Kickboxer Stephen Thompson (6-0-0) did not disappoint in his UFC debut and will attempt to keep the momentum going against battle tested veteran Matt Brown (15-11-0). Thompson compiled a perfect 63-0 kickboxing record and has started his MMA career off with 6 straight wins including 3 by knockout. He uses a kick heavy attack and knocked out Dan Stittgen with a perfectly executed head kick. Matt Brown will surely test the gifted striker with his gritty style and granite chin. Brown is the definition of a cage warrior; he has never been knocked out in 24 career MMA bouts and never backs away from a battle.
Thompson will have a clear advantage in the striking department with his kickboxing and karate background. He has also been working his ground game; holding a BJJ Blue Belt and picked up a submission victory via rear-naked choke in his third career bout. Brown’s Achilles heel has been his submission defence having lost 9 of his 11 defeats by tapout, but against Thompson he will be the superior ground fighter and will want to make this the focal point of his attack. If Thompson can defend Brown’s forward push or counter strike effectively he could end this fight quickly, but Brown’s experience should help him to avoid Thompson early and break him down in tight. Look for the veteran to use his clinch game with elbow and knee strikes, work his dirty boxing, and eventually put Thompson on his back. Brown will want to brawl the boxer and then take the fight where his advantage is greatest, so my prediction is Matt Brown to defeat Stephen Thompson by submission.
John Makdessi (9-1-0) is looking to bounce back from his first career defeat against Dennis Hallman when he takes on the always dangerous Anthony Njokuani (15-6-0). Makdessi was submitted by Hallman in his last fight, something that Njokuani is all too familiar with as he has been submitted in 3 of his 6 defeats. Both men are aggressive striking based fighters and that is why this fight is my Adrenaline Training Center Certified Overdrive Fight of the Night. Both men have significant knockout power; Njokuani has shutdown 9 opponents via KO or TKO while Makdessi has 8 on his record including a brutal spinning back fist against Kyle Watson at UFC 129.
Neither man is known for his ground game, but that is not to say we won’t see this fight go to the mat at least for a short period of time as Njokuani has started to incorporate more takedowns into his arsenal. Makdessi has put on an impressive striking display so far in his career, but this fight will easily be his biggest test as he faces an opponent on the same striking skill level. Conversely, Njokuani has faced many talented strikers in his career including Edson Barboza, Donald Cerrone, and Andre Winner. In his loss to Dennis Hallman, Makdessi’s size disadvantage was apparent and against Njokuani, this could very well be an issue again. The Canadian will be forced to deal with the 7.5” reach advantage of his opponent along with an additional 4” of height. If Makdessi can get inside the range he could find success, but Njokuani’s striking both offensively and defensively has looked sharp which will make this difficult. I like Njokuani to use his reach and kicks to maintain the distance and then counter strike when Makdessi tries to close the gap. Makdessi has never been finishe and that could change here but I will take Anthony Njokuani to defeat John Makdessi by decision.
A battle of Ultimate Fighter winners in the Lightweight division will matchup Efrain Escudero (19-4-0) and Mac Danzig (21-9-1). This contest has the makings of a close battle as both Escudero and Danzig match up very well in all areas. Both fighters are skilled on the mat winning the majority of their fights via submission: Escudero 12 and Danzig 10, although neither one is a dominant wrestler on the level of a the division’s best. In fact, both guys have struggle against grappling based fighters with Escudero dropping fights against Jacob Volkman (dec), Charles Oliveira (sub), and Evan Dunham (sub) while Danzig suffered losses against Jim Miller (dec), Clay Guida (dec), Matt Wiman (sub/dec), and Josh Neer (sub). Probably the biggest win on either man’s list is Danzig submission victory over the BJJ Black Belt Mark Bocek, which leads me to believe he could have technical advantage if he can deal with Escudero’s wrestling. Efrain only has 1 knockout victory TKOing Cole Miller at UFC 103, but he is still a capable striker that can give most fighters problems. Danzig probably has a slight edge in the stand up, as he has become a technically refined striker along with 5 career KO/TKOs highlighted by his Knockout of the Night counter left hook that made him the first man to KO Joe Stevenson.
This is a difficult fight to predict and is probably going to be closer then the betting odds currently indicate. Escudero is the slightly larger fighter and if he can use this advantage to set the pace of the fight he could grind out a decision victory. Despite his loss to Wiman in his last fight, I was impressed with Danzig’s use of short punches in close and his ability to handle Wiman’s aggressive pursuit of takedowns shutting down 5 of 7 attempts. The deciding factor could well be work rate and conditioning; Danzig fights at a pretty high pace and Escudero’s conditioning will need to be at its best in order to match him. Additionally, Danzig averages 3.11 strikes per minute compared to Escudero at 2.01, which could add up significantly over a 15 minute bout. Both men will be desperate and this should bring out the best in them, but Danzig’s best will be just a little better so my prediction is Mac Danzig to defeat Efrain Escudero by decision.
Chris Clements (10-2-0) makes his UFC debut against Keith Wisniewski (28-12-1) in one of two fights that are sure to entertain despite being on the Facebook prelims. Clements is a dangerous striker with significant power having won all 10 of his wins by knockout. Wisniewski is searching for his first UFC victory in his third attempt, but he is a well travelled veteran with a lot of top quality experience. He has 15 career submission victories and this is something that Clements will be to be prepared for as 3 of his 4 defeats have come via tapout. Wisniewski showed a lot of heart and toughness against Josh Neer, but he also show a lack of striking defence getting hit 133 times on 200 attempts. He has a tendency to back straight up with his chin exposed, not something you want to do against a striker like Clements. So my prediction is Chris Clements to defeat Keith Wisniewski by
TUF alumni Marcus Brimage (4-1-0) will attempt to earn his second UFC victory when he welcomes one and done former Strikeforce competitor Maximo Blanco (8-3-1). Just like Clements/Wisniewski this has the makings of an exciting matchup as both guys are aggressive strikers with heavy hands. Brimage started very fast in his UFC debut pushing the pace with his striking, while averaging just under 6 strikes landed per minute. Blanco is also a fast starter, against Pat Healy he came out aggressive early attacking with flurries of punches and kicks and throughout his career he has demonstrate significant power with 7 of 8 wins by knockout. While both started quickly, they had issues maintaining that pace with Blanco eventually getting submitted by the much bigger Healy and Brimage noticeably slowing down in the second half of his fight. Both men have suffered submission defeats in their careers, but Blanco should have an edge in the grappling with his background in wrestling. Blanco has fought the majority of his fights with a size disadvantage while competing at Lightweight, it will be interesting to see how he fares in fight where he has the physical edge. Brimage is a physically strong fighter with good hands, but Blanco should have a speed advantage along with his kicking arsenal and wrestling making a significant difference. This could be the launching point for a new force in the Feathweight division so my prediction is Maximo Blanco to defeat Marcus Brimage by knockout.