UFC 219 Predictions

With UFC 219 just around the corner, it’s time to make some predictions!

Below is a list of my picks and quick breakdowns for tomorrow’s main card.

Cris Cyborg v. Holly Holm

I’m a sucker for an underdog, especially when that underdog is Holly Holm. Along with being one of the best female boxers of all time, Holm has cemented herself as one of the top dogs in women’s mixed martial arts. Pulling off what was probably the biggest upset in mixed martial arts history with her headkick KO of Ronda Rousey, Holm is a pure athlete with talent for days. Despite a few wobbles along the way after her loss to Miesha Tate, Holm came back against Bethe Correira showing patience and self control to finish the fight with a stunning knockout. Facing an opponent like Cyborg is no easy feat for Holm, however, Holm is a counterstriker and I can’t help but predict that Cyborg will have a tough time “smashing” Holly as she’s used to which may cause her to rush forward in frustration, allowing Holm to slip in with a fight-ending shot.

Holm – 4th Round TKO

Khabib Nurmagomedov v. Edson Barboza

After severe weight issues in March, causing his UFC 209 bout against Tony Ferguson to be scrapped, Khabib is back! Making weight at 155.5 lbs this morning, Khabib is looking in top form which may be bad news for Barboza. My main point (or person) of reference for this prediction is Michael Johnson. Although both men have fought and felt the power of Johnson, only one survived – Khabib. After watching Khabib’s complete domination of Johnson on  the ground, it’s hard not to see this fight going the exact same way. I think Khabib is going to do what he does best, take Barboza down and finish

Nurmagomedov – 3rd Round Submission

Dan Hooker v. Marc Diakiese

Following his first professional loss back in July, 2017, Marc Diakese is back to face Dan Hooker in a lightweight bout moved to the main card after the Rivera/Lineker fiasco. Before his loss to Drakkar Klose, Diakiese was on an eleven fight win streak, 7 of those ending in finishes. This impressive record and showy striking style has gained Diakiese some attention from the media and he is still seen as a hot prospect in the UFC. On Saturday night, I predict that Diakiese will keep his distance against Hooker, who is no stranger to knocking opponents out. If Diakiese times his shots well and uses his somewhat overlooked wrestling skills, he should be back on track to start making his way back up the lightweight rankings.

Marc Diakese – Decision

Cynthia Calvillo v. Carla Esparza

After a phenomenal 2017, Cynthia Cavillo has upped her game to face the first ever UFC strawweight champion, Carla Esparza. With 4 wins already this year, Calvillo may be in the running for fighter of the year if she manages to defeat the former champ Esparza. It’s no secret that the organisation is pushing for Calvillo to get a title shot in the near future. However, Esparza, who has already defeated current champion Rose Namajunas, could be the woman to end the hype train. Although it’s been a rocky road since losing the belt to Joanna Jedrzejczyk in 2014, Esparza has the champion mentality and experience which Calvillo hasn’t faced before. I see Esparza pushing Calvillo against the cage and dominating in the clinch to hand the rising star her first defeat in the octagon.

Carla Esparza – Decision 

Carlos Condit v. Neil Magny

Somewhat flying under the radar, the first fight on the main card is set to be a thriller. “The Natural Born Killer”, Condit is set to make his return to the octagon following a brief retirement after his defeat to Demian Maia back in August 2016. He is facing Neil Magny, also coming off a loss to former lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos. Although Magny could give Condit some trouble on the ground, there is no doubt that Condit has learned from the Maia fight and should be able to neutralise any takedown attempts.  Despite coming off two losses, Condit is a fighter at heart and this is what should get his hand raised on Saturday night. His title fight with Lawler was a pure brawl and many people argue that he should have won the welterweight title that night. His last win came against Thiago Alves back in 2015. This fight showed that once he gets in the groove, Condit is comfortable on the big stage, and comfortable causing damage. I see Condit’s tricky combinations and violent mentality as the two main factors for him to win Saturday’s bout.

Carlos Condit – 2nd Round TKO

UFC Winnipeg – What’s next for the Welterweight division?

After an impressive win by Rafael Dos Anjos we’re going to take a look at the future of the welterweight division in the UFC.

Despite somewhat flying under the radar, UFC Winnipeg’s main event between Rafael Dos Anjos and “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler was one of the most anticipated fights for the hardcore MMA fan, and it did not disappoint.

In his third straight win at Welterweight, RDA showcased his martial arts portfolio by completely dominating the former Welterweight champion Lawler, securing a 50-45 victory which I think most of us can say we didn’t see coming.

With Thompson proving to be a bad match up for current Champion Woodley, and Demian Maia coming off a loss to Colby Covington (who has probably talked himself out of a title shot at this stage), Dos Anjos looks like the next clear cut contender at Welterweight.

However, with Tyrone Woodley recently speaking about shoulder surgery will RDA wait for the title shot or will he try to add one more win to his record before going for gold? Woodley is set to be out of action for several months and if you look at the rankings, Thompson and Covington are the realistic options at this stage but they seem like high risk for little reward. The Welterweight division may be looking at a stale period but with interim titles all the rage, Dos Anjos could soon be a two weight world champion.

UFC 218 Preview – Holloway vs. Aldo 2

It’s time!! UFC 218 is here with a mix of veteran rematches and up-and-comers which hopefully for us means a night full of action. Today, we’re going to concentrate on the main event – Holloway vs. Edgar 2.

It feels crazy to call Max Holloway a veteran at 25 years of age but “at the end of the day” it can’t be denied. Making his UFC debut in 2012 at 21 years of age, Holloway has led a career that should be an example to other young fighters as to what can be achieved with hard work and innovation. Currently on a 13 fight win streak, 8 of those finishes, Holloway has cleaned out the majority of the Featherweight division. In the recent times of money fights and crazy match ups, Holloway is following the old school process of fighting through the rankings, his lack of trash talk and out of the ring antics making him a breath of fresh air for MMA fans.

Holloway is facing another veteran in Jose Aldo, former Featherwight champ who only lost his belt 2 years ago after the famous 13 second knockout by Conor McGregor. Aldo should be the first name you think of at Featherweight – 9 years undefeated and a 19 win streak before his loss in 2015 but Holloway isn’t too far away from securing his own Featherweight legacy. Aldo’s most recent loss came from Holloway himself in June. Aldo put on a great performance to begin with but Holloway pulled through and secured his 3rd round TKO to win the belt. Aldo’s team has since put that loss down to a leg injury which inhibited Aldo in throwing his infamous leg kicks, apparently it shouldn’t be an issue this time. In their last bout, Aldo only threw one kick, which was countered quickly by Holloway.

Aldo and his team seem to think the return of the leg kick will be the answer to winning this fight but with youth and reach on his side, Holloway is hoping to retain his belt and show the world there’s a new Featherweight legend in town. Only 6 months after their first fight, these champions meet again for what could be a true changing of the guard for the Featherweight division.

Prediction: Max Holloway – TKO 2nd Round

Cerrone vs. Till – UFC Fight Night 118 Preview

20150603_110516_donald-cerroneThis Saturday, October 21st, UFC heads to Gdansk, Poland for UFC 118 airing for free on Fight Pass. Fan-favourite Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is facing up-and-coming Liverpudlian Darren Till in a surprising yet exciting match up that is sure to be action-packed.

At this stage in his career, Donald Cerrone could be seen as a veteran in the UFC with a career record of 32-9-0. Despite his last two fights with Robbie Lawler and Jorge Masvidal ending with losses, Cerrone has established himself as one of the front runners of the welterweight division securing wins over Alex Oliviera, Patrick Cote, Matt Brown and a stunning head kick finish over Rick Story. This weekend can be seen as a test to see if Cowboy can get back on track towards perhaps his final run at the welterweight title. Currently ranked no. 6 in the division, Cerrone is certainly not a man to back away from a brawl.

The same can be said for his opponent Darren Till, unranked in the UFC but undefeated in all of his bouts so far. At 24 years of age, Till is still at the beginning of his career. With a record of 15-0-1, Till has more fight experience than a lot of other fighters his age, including over 3 years of experience training and teaching in Brazil. The question is if he will be able to continue this win streak against such a well known and well liked opponent like Donald Cerrone? Obviously popularity doesn’t win fights, but time in the octagon and experience on the big stage is certainly a benefit for Cowboy.

In his last bout against Bojan Velickovic, Till began the fight in flashy fashion, with hands down and disapproving looks at his opponent’s failed shots. Till overwhelmed Velickovic and nearly finished him with some ground and pound early in round one, Velickovic survived and proceeded to survive the rest of the bout landing nasty leg kicks that  impeded the rest of Till’s performance. Till powered through and managed the win by unanimous decision after 3 rounds but his leg showed evidence of an opponent that wouldn’t give up.

Speaking of legs kicks, lets get back to Donald Cerrone. The experienced Jackson-Wink fighter is known for his vicious kicks which could catch Till on his possible journey up the rankings. As confident as Till is, this is not a match up that he can take lightly. Cerrone’s kicks can end a fight in seconds and may have a big part to play in Saturday’s main event. Also, with 16 of his wins coming by submission, Cerrone has to be taken seriously by Till or he could find himself in serious trouble on the ground. Despite his luta livre training in Brazil, Till has a big ground disadvantage to black-belt Cerrone and could easily get caught, especially if his legs are attacked early in the bout. Overall, Darren Till is a promising prospect for the UFC and has confidence for days but is it too early in his career to overcome journeyman Cerrone? We’ll have to tune in on Saturday to find out!

Prediction: Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone – 3rd round submission.

 

 

McGregor vs. Ferguson – Defend or Vacate

McGregor-Ferguson“It’s the fight that has to happen” UFC President Dana White told us at the UFC 216 post-fight press conference Saturday night. It seems as if Tony Ferguson’s impressive 3rd round submission over Kevin Lee has finally given him the shot at the title, unfortunately for the hardcore fight fans out there, that will have to be taken with a pinch of salt.

White is correct, it is the fight that has to happen. Ferguson taking on McGregor is the only way to discover the “real” UFC Lightweight Champion. Now, after his tenth win in a row against some of the toughest fighters in the deepest division, can Ferguson handle the phenomenon that is Conor McGregor? Frankly, the real issue is if McGregor will step up to the plate?

Since beating Jose Aldo on December 12, 2015, McGregor has yet to defend either of his UFC world titles. Despite being stripped of the featherweight title in November of last year, McGregor still considers himself the “champ champ”. Realistically we know that McGregor will not fight at featherweight again, lightweight is the perfect division for him; but to legitimize himself as the champion, the only route is going through Ferguson.

The new interim champ has no qualms with this – “I really want to kick this dude’s ass because I believe that my skills are better. I guarantee you that I’d be a better champ and I would defend the belt. He defends the belt zero times. Zero times. He won it, he talked his way into this sh*t, and my management knows exactly where I stand with this, and I don’t stand for that kind of sh*t. I’m here right now putting numbers behind it, the same way that I made them take me into The Ultimate Fighter.”

When Ferguson spoke on the MMA Hour, he wasn’t lying. It’s been nearly a year since McGregor won the lightweight title and despite his break to take on the boxing world, he’s apparently told Dana White he wants to fight again by the end of the year. If this is to be believed , it’s doubtful that Tony will get the shot. Diaz is the money fight and money is what makes McGregor the true puppet-master of the UFC.

Kevin Lee ranked at number 7 did not seem like a huge obstacle for Ferguson but weight cutting and staph issues aside, Lee proved to be no joke. Looking at the stats, Lee threw more strikes and landed 6 takedowns to Tony’s 1. Despite all of this work, Ferguson pulled through to gain the belt using his world class cardio and jiu jitsu – this is the problem for McGregor.

We all remember UFC 196 when Diaz submitted McGregor with ease and although the Gracie jiu jitsu veteran can be considered as one of the best on the ground, Ferguson is another level. Looking back to Ferguson vs. Vannata we can see that Ferguson can take a punch – can he take a McGregor punch? Looking at the evidence, Ferguson has more of a chance of surviving McGregor’s striking than McGregor has surviving Ferguson’s ground game.

This is why it`s the fight that has to happen. Ferguson will most likely be McGregor`s biggest challenge yet, and if McGregor decides to “defend or vacate”, Ferguson just might prove that he has been the “real” lightweight champion for some time now.

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