UFC 252: Miocic vs Cormier 3 | Prelim Predictions

UFC 252: Miocic vs Cormier 3 | Prelim Predictions
155lbs- Jim Miller vs Vinc Pichel

Debuting back in 2008, Jim Miller (32-14-0 1NC) continues to find a way to remain competitive even after 35 UFC fights. He is coming off an upset of prospect Roosevelt Roberts and has won 3 of his last 4 outings. The New Jersey native has won 4 straight bouts inside the opening round and 5 of his last 7.

Miller’s primary path to victory has been his grappling. If he can force the action to the floor, he will attack his opponent’s neck or a limb. Against Roberts, he caught an early kick to get the fight to the floor, and after some control time, he secured an armbar and forced the tap. His guillotine win over Guida came after an exchange and Clay diving in for a takedown.

Jim’s window for success has been limited. He has not won a fight beyond the first round since 2016 and nearly .500 (10-9) on the scorecards. The 36-year old’s durability is also a growing concern with a couple of recent stoppage defeats.

Looking to gain some deserved respect, Vinc Pichel (12-2-0) has quietly put together a strong Octagon run with wins in 5 of 7 fights. He is also coming off a win over Roosevelt Roberts, taking Roberts the distance in a close fight. His 2 career defeats have come against strong grappling oriented opponents- Gregor Gillespie and Rustam Khabilov.

Pichel has respectable punching power, but his success has come more on the basis of consistent striking and solid all-around wrestling. He has put up decent takedown numbers when required, but his TDD has been a bit of a concern. Both Khabilov and Gillespie put up some big completion numbers and Roberts had some success as well.

At range, look for Pichel to attack his opponent’s legs with snappy low kicks. He will work a jab and power punches, but is far from a smooth fighter. He makes up for his lack of strong technique by being active.

It is worth noting that Miller is a year younger than Pichel, but he has fought 22 times and Pichel just 7 since Vinc debuted in 2012. Pichel has considerably less mileage on his body and that could be a factor here. If Miller can’t score the early sub, Pichel should be able to wear on him as the larger, harder-hitting, and more durable man. Miller is dangerous early, but fades- my prediction is Vinc Pichel to defeat Jim Miller by decision.

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115lbs- Livia Souza vs Ashley Yoder

Former Invicta FC Strawweight champion Livia Souza saw her 4-fight winning streak come to an end against Brianna Van Buren via decision. She had picked up a pair of wins inside the Octagon prior to the loss. A BJJ Black Belt, Souza has submitted 8 opponents, utilizing a variety of different holds to secure the victory.

Souza is the younger fighter, but she is also 4-inches shorter and will have to overcome a 6″ reach deficit. She will need to close that distance with regularity as the Brazilian authors a lot of her takedowns from the clinch. Utilizing her Judo, Souza will attempt throws from the clinch, and if unable to secure a takedown she will also pull guard.

While not opposed to remaining on her feet, Souza has struggled with the power-punching of each of her last 2 opponents. Her striking work rate couldn’t match Van Buren’s and she seemed frustrated at times with her foe’s constant forward pressure.

After starting 0-3 with all 6 of her UFC bouts going the distance, Ashley Yoder (7-5-0) appeared to have turned her UFC career around but she was unable to continue her winning streak with a split decision loss to Randa Markos. Yoder is a 1-2 in split decisions since arriving in the Octagon.

Yoder has largely lived on the mat, taking all but 1 of her UFC opponents down. She had 4 submissions wins prior to coming to the UFC. She held her own against talented grapplers like Mackenzie Dern and the aforementioned Markos.

Against Dern, Yoder was able to break the majority of the clinch positions and force Dern to strike with her. She landed some decent kicks throughout the bout and cracked Mackenzie with some hard strikes. Conversely, she ate some bit shots against Markos that gave the Canadian the edge throughout the bout.

At 3-5 on the scorecards, Yoder’s style clearly struggles to convince the judges of her superiority over a full 15-minutes. Similar to the Dern fight, she may opt to completely avoid locking up with her foe and in the process lose a key aspect of her offense. Souza’s lack of striking volume in recent bouts is concerning, but she should be able to find more success with her grappling attack. Look for Livia to hold her own on the feet, but find success in the clinch and on the mat- my prediction is Livia Souza to defeat Ashley Yoder by decision.

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265lbs- Chris Daukaus vs Parker Porter

In a battle of debuting Heavyweights, 2-fight Bellator veteran Parker Porter (9-5-0) gets the call to the UFC in the midst of a 4-1 run with the loss coming via DQ. Porter has gone the distance just once in his career, splitting his 8 finishes evenly between knockouts and submission in addition to an even split of his 4 career defeats.

The 35-year old debuts having face a couple of noteworthy opponents earlier in his career in Jon Jones and Gabriel Gonzaga- losing both inside the distance. While he will push the Heavyweight limit, Porter is just 6’0″ tall and has competed as low as Middleweight.

Porter will fire hard low kicks along with wide power punches in conjunction with a left jab while pushing forward. He does some of his best work on the mat, utilizing his low center of gravity to control his foe and look for GNP or set up arm targeted subs.

30-year old Chris Daukaus (8-3-0) is also making his first UFC start. Daukaus has won 6 of his last 7, finishing all but 1 of those fight by (T)KO. The Philadelphia native has recorded 7 wins by knockout, 5 in the opening round, is just 3-2 outside of the first frame.

While standing taller with a slightly longer reach than his foe, Chris ill give up 10-15 pounds when the cage door closes. In recent action against one and done UFC fighter Zu Anyanwu, Daukaus came out with a clinch and takedown centric attack. Daukaus landed a knee that rocked Zu, but was unable to finish him. He was slower in round 2 and eventually, Zu Anyanwu put him down.

Not a quick Heavyweight, Chirs likes to stay relatively close against his opponent where he can shift between power punches and clinch fight. In his last bout, he landed a high kick and GNP to finish a natural Light Heavyweight in the opening 90-seconds.

Both men are coming in on short notice which raises some concerns regarding cardio. Neither man has faced super-strong strong competition in recent action, but it is worth noting that the majority of Parker’s wins have come against shorter, blown-up Heavyweights. Daukaus is the lighter and taller fighter, which should help him to keep Parker at distance. Porter’s bullying style won’t be as effective at this level against a natural Heavyweight, my prediction is Chris Daukaus to defeat Parker Porter by TKO.

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115lbs- Felice Herrig vs Virna Jandiroba

Nearly 2-months removed from her last UFC start, TUF 20 Alumni Felice Herrig (14-8-0) looks to snap a 2-fight losing skid. Herrig had strung together 4 consecutive wins before dropping back to back fights to Karolina Kowalkiewicz and Michelle Waterson.

At the height of her UFC success, “Lil Bulldog” melded together a serviceable striking attack with timely takedowns and top control. A BJJ Purple belt, Felice is 5-1 when completing at least 1 takedown while 0-2 without a completion. She landed just 1 of 9 TDAs during her current slump.

Herrig comes from a kickboxing background, but her striking is usually a means to an end as she looks to move into the clinch. Once inside, Felice will attack with knees and elbows or look for body lock takedowns. Waterson countered her clinch attack with her own throw and top control.

After winning and defending the Invicta Strawweight title in 2018, Virna Jandiroba (15-1-0) made the jump to the UFC and lost the first fight of her career against Carl Esparza via decision. Virna returned to the win column with a 2nd round submission of Mallory Martin last December.

A talented ground fighter, Jandiroba has recorded 12 wins by submission- 7 in the opening round, and 7 by rear-naked choke. She scored a trio of takedowns against the wrestling oriented Esparza but also gave up 4 in the short notice debut. When taken down, Virna was active off her back and worked her way back to a vertical base quickly.

At distance, Virna has excellent timing on her shot and will transition quickly to her opponent’s back. She also comes from a Judo background making her difficult to control in the clinch.

Herrig would be best served to keep this fight standing and attempt to piece up Virna on the feet. Unfortunately, Herrig will struggle with Jandiroba’s well-time entries, as the Brazilian capitalizes on Felice’s forward motion. Once on the mat, Virna will maintain prolonged periods of control that Felice won’t be able to make up if she gets back to her feet. Watch for Jandiroba to eventually work to her back- my prediction is Virna Jandiroba to defeat Felice Herrig by submission.

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145lbs- Herbert Burns vs Daniel Pineda

While his brother continues to make waves at Welterweight, Herbert Burns (11-2-0) has been dominant in each of his first 2 UFC wins including a 70-second submission over veteran Evan Dunham. “The Blaze” has submitted his opponent in 8 of his 11 pro wins- focusing mainly on chokes including 5 RNCs.

In his debut, Burns picked up first career win by knockout and in the process extended his current streak to 4 straight first-round finishes. The Brazilian has finished 6 of his last 7 wins in the first frame with a pair of decision defeats mix in. This may raise some questions regarding how Burns may fair in a longer contest.

While Herbert’s wrestling is still a work in progress, his smooth back against Dunham and eventually RNC finish was impressive especially when considering who it was executed against.

Over a 2-year stretch, Daniel Pineda (26-13-0 2NC) compiled a 3-4 Octagon record before making returns to both Legacy and Bellator before finally ending up competing in the PFL. A 6-fight winning streak, that included a pair of wins in 2019 PFL Featherweight tournament, was diminished after both victories were ruled No Contests following a failed drug test.

Pineda offers a wealth of experience with 41 pro bout bouts. He has never seen the scorecards as a victor, with 26 wins by finish- 18 by submission. He has also been finished 8 times including 6 by tap out and is 3-8 beyond the mid-way mark of round 2.

In his most recent bout, Pineda struggled to create early separation against Jeremey Kennedy, but he was able to get back to his feet when taken down. “The Pit” secured his Canadian foe’s neck during the clinch and sank into a fight-ending guillotine.

Despite his impressive start, there still remains enough concern regarding Burns to be cautious. Mainly, if he can’t secure an early finish, how does he fare in an extended fight? Pineda hits hard and is an opportunistic grappler, but his lack of long fight success and history of getting finished suggests he won’t be able to capitalize on Burn’s shortcomings. Burns will clinch early, drag Daniel to the floor, and work his way to a dominant position- my prediction is Herbert Burns to defeat Daniel Pineda by submission.

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145lbs- T.J. Brown vs Danny Chavez

Despite a strong start in his debut, T.J. Brown (14-7-0) was unable to close the show against Jordan Griffin, succumbing to a 2nd round guillotine choke. The loss ended Brown’s 4-fight winning streak that included fights in LFA and on the Contender Series. “Downtown” has finished 13 of his 14 wins, 9 by submission.

Brown came out with a strong wrestling oriented attack, completing 7 takedowns and grounding Griffin for the majority of the fight. T.J. maintained tight body control, throwing strikes and changing levels. It was a similar performance in his 3rd round Contenders Series submission win.

Griffin threatened with a couple of sub attempts before putting an extremely fatigued Brown to sleep. On the Contender series, Brown was dropped in the opening moments and behind on the cards prior to getting a late finish. With 6 losses inside the distance, split evenly between subs and knockouts- it raises questions about his defensive skills.

Making his UFC debut, Danny Chavez (10-3-0) has won a trio of consecutive bouts with his opponents combining for a 19-14 record. He finished each adversary by knockout in the opening round a deviation from the first 7 wins of his career that all came by decision.

“The Colombian Warrior” is making a quick turn around having competed just month prior to UFC 252- capturing a regional title in the process. He offers a pretty solid striking attack, including hard low calf kicks and a recent KO finish via head kick.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of footage available on Chavez, but one area it would appear he has an advantage in is cardio. With his 7-2 record in the decision and some Championship round experience, Danny should be able to fight deep into this bout without slowing down.

This bout should play out as a wrestler versus striker affair with Brown attempting to wrangle his foe to the floor and Chavez focusing on a striking oriented attack. Brown’s offense-first approach will and has got him into trouble at this level. His cardio is a major concern and if it begins to falter, look for Chavez to go to work on the feet. The quick turn around has Chavez in a better spot as Brown begins to flounder- my prediction is Danny Chavez to T.J. Brown by TKO.

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145lbs- Kai Kamaka III vs Tony Kelley

Shucking off a .500 start through the first 4 fights of his pro career, Kai Kamaka (7-2-0) has won 5 consecutive bouts dating back to early 2018. He is 2-0 in Bellator and most recently was victorious at LFA 87. After winning via submission in his 2nd pro bout, he has gone the distance in each of his 6 subsequent victories.

Kai is just 2 weeks removed from his LFA victory, upending a formerly undefeated opponent. Kamaka entered the bout as an underdog, pairing together hard-punching combinations with well-timed clinch knees and kicks. He also targetted his opponent’s body effectively. His adversary was more than willing to trade in an entertaining scrap.

The Hawaiian will look for a takedown and appears to prefer to fight at close range. With this fight coming on short notice, this style could overwhelm his foe and/or potentially exhaust Kai in the process.

Facing Kamaka on short notice will be Team Alpha Males’ Tony Kelley (5-1-0). Kelley hasn’t seen action in 15-months, and prior to that fight he walked away from the sport for nearly 3-years. Prior to the break, he lost a 5-round split decision to Kevin Aguilar at LFC 57, but successfully rebounded from the first loss of his career with his 2019 return.

Kelley is a big 145er which raises some questions about the short notice weight cut after a long layoff. Against Aguilar, his output wained as the bout advanced, but he was still throwing decent striking bursts. He scored a late takedown in the 3rd round, but was nearly submitted via “The Angel of Death”.

In his last fight, he competed at 158 pounds against a 5-2 opponent that took the bout on 5-days notice. Tony was taken down early, but eventually locked up a guillotine for the first-round finish. He has some solid submission skills and will look for his own takedowns.

Kelley is the larger man, but the short notice and significant inactivity raises major concerns. Kamaka should still be loose from the quick turn around. Additionally, over the last 4 years, he has 75 minutes of cage time compared to just 2:33 for Tony. If Kai can close the gap, his close-range striking attack should wear on his foe, and once he tires the takedowns will be there too. Kelley could be dangerous off his back early, but my prediction is Kai Kamaka to defeat Tony Kelley by decision.

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