Ultimate Fighter 25 Finale: Fights To Watch

Angela “Overkill” Hill (6-3) looked great in her return to the UFC even though she lost the fight. Her movement and striking have come along way since she started her MMA career. I feel like she has really found herself as a fighter. Her footwork, though, does take some pop off her strikes as she is always ready to move out of range. Ashley “The Spider Monkey” Yoder (5-2) is a solid southpaw striker but her best work is done on the ground. I doubt she can overcome Hill’s footwork to get any consistent offence.

  • Hill via Decision

Marc “Bonecrusher” Diakiese (12-0) is one of my boys and when he fights it’s like his opponents are under water. Diakiese has to one of the best athletes to come into MMA and he has picked up all the tools lightening fast. The only problem is that I haven’t seen him truly tested and I doubt powerhouse Drakkar Klose (7-0-1) will pose much of a problem. I see Klose pushing forward and getting hit for his efforts.

  • Diakiese via KO

Teruto “Yashabo” Ishihara (9-3-2) is one of my boys even if he is coming off a deflating loss to Artem Lobov. Ishihara has great movement and power but in no way does he have a complete MMA game. Gray “The Bully” Maynard (12-6-1) is a shadow of his former self since his loss to Frankie Edgar – still two of the best fights of all time – who seemingly took his soul when he stopped Gray in the fourth round. His only wins since then are to Clay Guida, one of the worst fights ever, and Fernando Bruno whoever that is. Gray will pressure but not use all his tools; only his boxing and I think Ishihara easily finishes him in a striking battle.

  • Ishihara via KO

Steve “The Boss” Bosse (12-2) is must watch TV. His three UFC fights have more action than most people’s UFC careers. A former hockey enforcer, Bosse really just likes to sling leather but he actually has some skill in this area. You see Bosse is extremely comfortable exchanging and since moving up to light-heavyweight he has both a speed and recovery advantage over most opponents. Jared “The Killa Gorilla” Cannonier (9-2) is another action fighter who likes to throw heavy well timed strikes. Cannonier’s takedown defence has kept him away from breaching the top fifteen but with Bosse he’s not going to have to worry about a takedown. I actually love this fight and I think in a weekend full of amazing fights this is easily going to be the most enjoyable to watch. Cannonier will find early success but Bosse will just keep pulling his head of the centre line and coming back with right hands.

  • Bosse via KO

Tecia “The Tiny Tornado” Torres (8-1) took this fight with Juliana “Ju Thai” Lima as a late replacement to help pay for her upcoming wedding. Torres is actually quite the talent in the 115 pound division with her lone loss coming from a split decision to Thug Rose. A fight I thought Torres won. Torres has a great takedown game and can completely shut you down when she gets on top. This fear of her takedowns really opens up her striking and it seems she surprises a lot of her opponents with her hands. Lima will make this a tough outing for Torres but I just don’t see her taking over the fight.

  • Torres via Decision

My boy Justin “The Highlight” Gaethje (17-0) is finally making his debut in the UFC and the UFC isn’t pulling any punches on matchmaking this kid. Michael “The Menace” Johnson (17-11) is a top five ranked UFC lightweight for a reason as he is a dangerous striker with some of the fastest hands in the division. Johnson’s speed is aided by his southpaw stance that allows him to work both inside and outside angles on his strikes. Gaethje is a new breed of brawler. The best way to describe how he fights is to look at how a real street fight would go down. In a street fight, once the fighting starts, that’s it; the fight is on and it doesn’t stop until it’s over. This is similar to Gaethje. Once he begins to fight he doesn’t let up or take much of a breather until the fight is over. He goes all out until his opponent cannot continue and up until this point that has worked for him 100% of the time. This is not to say he doesn’t have skills but he is at his best in wild prolonged exchanges where him and his opponent are taking damage. Johnson, with his quick hands, is a poison matchup for Gaethje who is a flat footed slow moving fighter, but there is no way Johnson doesn’t engage in Gaethje’s kind of fight. The thing with these brawls is that Gaethje draws his opponents in. As a fighter you almost can’t back down from those types of exchanges. Otherwise you look weak. I think Johnson will have some moments early but Gaethje will draw him into his kind of fight and Johnson will be broken before too long.

  • Gaethje via KO

UFC Fight Night 112: Fights To Watch

Johnny “Hollywood” Case (22-5) will be looking to bounce back after his thrilling third round submission loss to Jake Matthews with  win over Tony Martin (11-3). Case brings a well rounded MMA game to the octagon with his best moments coming as he mixes things up. Though he isn’t the best physical specimen to have ever fought in the UFC.  Martin on the other hand is one of the biggest lightweights on the UFC roster who is now doing his weight cuts with the same team as Joanna Champion. This will hopefully keep Martin’s gassing issues from popping up. This should be a fun match-up with a real feeling each guy is actually working on the issues that have plagued their careers till this point.

  • Case via TKO

Erik Koch (15-4)  has lacked consistency with his career while his opponent on Sunday Clay “The Carpenter” Guida (31-17) has lacked consistency in his career. Koch has only fought three times in the last 3 years, two of those in 2014, but showed serious promise when he first stepped onto the scene. With years lost to injury it will be interesting if he can get his club and sub game going again. Guida is making a smart move coming back up to 155 pounds but this won’t fix the fact that he cannot take punishment the way he used to.

  • Koch via Submission

Felice Herrig (12-6) is in the beginnings of a actual title run while Justine Kish (6-0) is still looking for a name to help make her mark in the UFC. I heard this fight discussed as “a underrated fighter versus a overrated one” and I can’t help but agree. Herrig has been putting in serious work both on her tools and mind. I think that pays off yet again though that may make for a tepid fight. Kish should look to make this a brawl on the feet and avoid the same type of exchanges on the ground.

  • Herrig via Submission

Despite blowing weight Johny “Bigg Rigg” Hendricks (18-6) will be the superior fighter when he steps into the octagon against Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch (20-11). Boetsch is a bruiser who looks to get in close and land big bombs which has lead to his many comeback wins. Now I know he is a shell of his former self but look at the range Johny fought Robbie Lawler and then tell me he can’t take out Boetsch. I hope to see a relaxed/smooth Johny because all weight jokes aside this guy has serious skills.

  • Hendricks via KO

Kevin “The Motown Phenom” Lee (15-2) will get a real chance to throw down with Michael “Maverick” Chiesa (14-2) and I am sure it will bring more fireworks than their press conference scuffle. Chiesa has one of the best rear naked chokes in MMA with some calling it “The Million Dollar Dream” though it’s his toughness and commitment to the move that are to be admired. Chiesa is a tall slow southpaw and I think Lee’s speed will play a big factor on the feet because of this. Lee is one of my boys so take me with a grain of salt but I see him hurting Chiesa on the feet and getting a RNC of his own.

  • Lee via Submission

 

BELLATOR NYC

“Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis (17-3) vs Ryan “Darth” Bader (22-5)

Look at these big boys making top dollar fighting for a belt live and free on Spike, soon to be the Paramount Channel, it’s a stage they would have never found themselves in the UFC. Who will win though? Who takes the gold? I just went to do some tape study using the trusty fightpass dot com. Searched Phil Davis and to my surprize the first fight I saw was in fact Phil Davis vs Ryan Bader. So then I realized I had to once again dive in. Submerge myself in the depths of a fight I had already forgotten. Luckily I can’t remember who won. Okay Having watched the first fight I can say this fight comes down some simple things. Davis will be looking for the takedown and though he has superior wrestling to Bader it isn’t by that great of a margin. So expect great defensive wrestling from Bader but he will give up takedowns considering how he attacks on straight lines. Bader’s willingness to throw on the feet will slowly put Davis into a defensive shell. Bader may not find that fight ending strike but his consistent work rate will diminish Davis’ will to fight.   

  • Bader via Decision

Aaron Pico (0-0) vs Zach “The Altar Boy” Freeman (8-2)

Aaron Pico looks like the real deal and at 20 years of age it would be a shame to see all his talent not get put to good use. Both a amatuer boxing and wrestling champion Pico seems like the pick here. I like his chances transitioning to MMA and putting him against a journeyman like Freeman will hopefully bring out the best in him. Just too much to like about Pico in this fight he has to be the pick.

  • Pico via KO

Michael Chandler (16-3) vs Brent Primus (7-0)

I should preface this by saying I am a huge Chandler fan and he has some of the best athleticism I’ve ever seen in MMA. Chandler doesn’t last longer than a round and a half before he really starts to fade. Now I could go on and on about all the tricks he pulls out when he is tired but ultimately it can cost him fights. Brent Primus is a talented yet untested kid looking to prove he is legit.

  • Chandler via KO

Douglas Lima (28-6) vs Lorenz “The Monsoon” Larkin (18-5)

Lorenz Larkin is also one of my boys and I think he uses his speed and movement to pick Lima apart. Larkin will presumably have success with the leg kick but he is also sort of a headcase who checks out in fights. That is not something you want to do with Lima who can finish you because of just one mistake. At his best Larkin is an offensive dynamo and I hope to see a stunning display of striking. Be on the lookout for Lima’s own leg kicks and his vicious counter left hook.

  • Larkin via KO

Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko (36-4) vs Matt Mitrione (11-5)

Seeing Fedor rocked by Fabio Maldonaldo I just can’t pick him here. Mitrione is a fun guy and I like his movement based striking at heavyweight. Though he has a tendency to move directly into overhand rights.  Of the two I think Mitrione’s chin can hold out maybe just a second longer and that is why he is the pick.

  • Mitrione via TKO

Chael “PEE” Sonnen (28-15) vs Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva (35-12-1)

Like what do you even say? Chael has lost his last two fights cause he blew it in wrestling exchanges, something I should stress is his strength, then just gave up. Wanderlei on the other hand hasn’t fought since 2013 and it was a wild fight with the now retired Brian Stann.  Wanderlei was dropped several times in that fight and a few of his fights previously. I’m just gonna pick Chael cause I am a old fan and at the very least he was willing to fail a drug test instead of run away.

  • Sonnen via Decision

I Should note Heather Hardy is making her MMA debut and I don’t know much about her. I watched this one fight and I think she has a really cool style of striking just look at her timing. If she can make things click inside the cage she could conceivably be one of the best female flyweights on Earth.  With the UFC just getting around to starting their own female flyweight division it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

 

UFC Fight Night 111: Fights To Watch

Naoki Inoue (10-0) is making his UFC debut against CJ de Tomas (6-0) where his superior grappling skills will overwhelm Tomas. It should be noted Inoue is the brother of Invicta strawweight Mizuki.

  • Inoue via Submission

Kwan Ho Kwak (9-1) is one of my boys and after a hard fought loss to Brett Johns in his debut I think he’ll put pick up a win in a fun back and forth striking battle with the tough Russell Doane (14-7).

  • Kwak via Decision

Jinliang Li (12-4) sometimes known as “The Leech” will be going to war with the undersized Frank Camacho (20-4) who will look to start early but will give into Li’s pressure as the fight goes on.

  • Li via TKO

Justin Scoggins (11-3) is one of my boys I consider myself a huge fan but his losses all come from his own mental mistakes and his weight bundlers don’t help with his reputation. All and all he is a young kid still putting it together and easily made the 125 pound limit this time around. Yuta Sasaki (19-4-2) is a dangerous scrambler and someone who can exploit the grappling holes in Scoggins game. This is great matchmaking and I’m pulling for Scoggins but Sasaki is badass in his own way.

  • Scoggins via KO

RDA (25-9) will be coming into his fight against Tarec Saffiedine (16-6) having exactly the thing Tarec has always needed POWER. Also RDA looked massive at the weigh ins and considering he is moving up that doesn’t bold well for Tarec.

  • RDA via KO

Colby Covington (11-1) really gets MMA and has tons of tools and ways to use them to win any match-up at 170 pounds. Dong Hyun Kim  (22-3-1) is a older version of himself and much more wild. I hope he can at least make Covington work for a round before gassing. Kim’s wildness is something to watch out for cause he can surprize anyone. Nah fuck it Kim is one of my boys gotta pick him.

  • Kim via KO

Marcin Tybura (15-2) only needs to land one shot of his improved striking repertoire to put Andrei Arlovski (25-14) which is sad to say.

  • Tybura via Head Kick KO

Bethe Correia (10-2-1) will be putting hands on Holly Holm (10-3) early Saturday morning and will give Holly her fourth straight loss in a row.

  • Bethe via DESTRUCTION   

 


Note: I skipped last weeks UFC cause there just wasn’t much I personally wanted to write about. I will be doing another long form version of my picks for UFC 213 but expect only quick picks for smaller cards or a breakdown of a specific fight/fighter.

UFC 212 Recap

 

Max “Blessed” Holloway (18-3) vs Jose “Scarface” Aldo (26-3)

Holy shit Max Holloway did it he’s the featherweight champion and it wasn’t easy. The first two rounds saw Aldo working his hands very well even landing a perfectly placed jump knee against the cage. Around the end of round two though Holloway seemed to decided to say “fuck it” and just started dropping his hands even going as far to slap the featherweight great Aldo up the side of the head. Brian Stann called it though as Holloway started to really break up his rhythm cause Aldo had the speed advantage but ultimately boxing isn’t about speed it’s about timing. Holloway started switching it up and Aldo’s speed couldn’t save him if he couldn’t find the timing not to mention the four piece that dropped Aldo involved Holloway staying in the pocket drawing out the counter. A big part of Aldo’s game relies on his opponent to respect his fast powerful counters so you don’t want to stand and bang. This is how Aldo shuts down pressure but Holloway used Aldo’s own tendencies against him and once he had him hurt he never let up. Who the hell can keep up a beating like that besides Holloway? This kid just improves every fight and at only 25 I can’t even imagine what he can accomplish with the skills he has right now let alone after he adds more and more over the years. Either Frankie Edgar or Cub Swanson should be up next for the belt and I favor Holloway over both cause he really is a different newer breed of fighter.

I should also talk about this nonsense about Aldo not being the greatest featherweight of all time. Plain and simple Aldo has the resume and the historical context in the division getting knocked out by Conor McGregor doesn’t erase that. If we go by Joe Rogan’s and many fans thinking then here is a short list of greatest fighters from other weight classes.

  • Welterweight – Matt Serra
  • Middleweight – Chris Weidman
  • Women’s Bantamweight – Holly Holm

 

Claudia Gadelha (15-2) vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-2)

I thought this would go to decision but Claudia just smashed Karolina on the feet and the moment Karolina started to find her range Claudia used her strikes to get double underhooks and take her down. From there it was textbook grappling into one of the tightest RNC’s I’ve ever seen. I can’t say much else Claudia is one of my favorite fighters to watch and that 2 on her record is always a hard pill to swallow. If she keeps improving like this she will earn herself another shot at the belt and I will be picking her. I don’t think Karolina was exposed on the ground instead I think she was just clearly out matched and just didn’t stand a chance. If i’m the UFC I keep Claudia away from most of the division cause she’ll win. Throw her in there with someone like Carla Esparza or Randa Markos someone willing to wrestle with her so she can test her other tools.

 

Other Notes:

The only thing worse than Belfort vs Marquardt was Belfort’s post-fight press conference #cringeallday. Bamgbose is a ridiculous character who probably shouldn’t be in the UFC maybe KSW where they have three minute rounds? Borrachinha will always look good coming off the bus but I really wonder what will happen when he fights legit competition. Strikes me as the kind of fighter who lets Elias Theodorou leg kick him for three rounds from the outside with no idea what to do. But as long as Borrachinha is in there with real low level guys I will watch him bang it out especially if he is gonna work the body like he did against Bamgbose. I said it in my pick that Yancy would KO Silva and I also said Yancy doesn’t have great pop in his hands and that is basically what we got. Silva looked decent but he has too many defensive holes and no durability which is a big part of being a elite fighter. Nothing to complain about the stoppage Silva went down in a heap and smashed the back of his head of the canvas and was only taking more punishment. Can’t Blame a ref for jumping in after seeing a man go down like that. Assuncao is a split decision king and in my picks I laid out exactly how this fight would go it was razor close but I feel Moraes did more and should have gotten the win. But Assuncao is just great at winning these kinds of fights. Poor Spicely getting tapped he’s a fun grappler but the more technical guy in Carlos Junior pulled it off. I hope Carlos can keep getting better but I will never forget the Daniel Kelly loss and hopefully neither will he. Lopez put a hurtin’ on Eduardo and like I said this fight was going one way or another and when that is the case I tend to favor the grappler over the striker. Kelleher has multiple wins grabbing a choke off his opponent’s take down Alcantara basically dove into the a late replacements best move sucks to be him. Pereira ate up Moyle on the feet but she did run into the clinch in the first round like I thought but she escaped and once she took over she never punched her way into the clinch again. Great win for the undefeated Pereira can’t wait to see where she goes and it’s awesome to see a young fighter improving. I picked Luan Chagas by KO and I was right but instead of following up with strikes he easily sunk in the RNC. What a performance for the young Chagas who looked so smooth on the feet. I’ll be honest he was so relaxed on the feet I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before. Daico destroyed Beltran in the night’s opener like I thought Beltran has never looked like a UFC level fight to me and looked at his worse on Saturday night. Daico put on a show and further solidified me as a fan.

UFC 212 Main Card Breakdowns and Picks

Eric Silva (19-7) vs Yancy Medeiros (13-4)

The summer of 2011 changed my life cause that was when I got into MMA seriously and the first live event I watched was UFC 134. I was late to the prelims so the first fight I saw was Erick Silva vs Luis Ramos and Silva’s destruction of Ramos lives in my mind to this day as one of those great MMA moments. Sadly Silva’s career just hasn’t lived up to the promise he showed in those forty seconds. Silva is basically a bipolar fighter where the highs are extreme but so are the lows. In his last fight against Luan Chagas he was dropped a number of times and had to work harder than he ever has to get the submission in round three. It was his first win in the UFC outside of round one and that should really tell you a lot about the kind of fighter he is. Silva has some deadly power and speed and everyone who faces him has too look out for his switch to southpaw and his left body kick that nearly chops all his opponents in half. He also has a great submission game that is predicated on his speed as he can explode into a submission in an instant like how he dispatched Chagas. Besides his offense Silva has serious defensive holes in all areas of his game, a bad gas tank that never seems to take him late into a fight and it seems he gets into his own head at times. Take his recent KO loss to Nordine Taleb where he kept trying to fake Taleb out by touching gloves and attacking off it. It’s these kind of antics that make him seem so erratic and at this point these decisions can’t be blamed on youth. Medeiros is a former lightweight who moved up in his last fight and looked great kicking the boxer Sean Spencer upside the head and pulling off a rear naked choke as fast as Silva would. Yancy keeps a good pace but is too willing to exchange on the feet hoping his head movement will always save him from trouble not to mention he is almost always moving backwards. As a southpaw he has great kicks especially to the head which he will throw consistently enough that they begin to land. Medeiros will definitely have the better endurance and durability of the two men competing in this contest and Diaz like attitude that might see him pull ahead. Medeiros has a good stance switching game and being able to fight out both stances really allows him to open up with his kicks with more variety than someone like Silva. I think he’ll stick southpaw for this fight to take away Silva’s devastating body kicks I mentioned above. One problem might be Medeiros’ lack of real pop behind his strikes this is not to say he lacks power but his strikes don’t seem to be as devastating as they could be especially compared to Silva. Honestly this is going to be a great scrap these guys both bring it in a way that is fun to watch and I know I didn’t speak wonders about them but sometimes a good fight isn’t the two best in the world going at it. In my eyes I see Medeiros as a consistent enough fighter to weather Silva’s early storm and for him to get the better of the mind games.

 

 

  • Medeiros via KO

 

 

Paulo Henrique “Borrachinha” Costa (9-0) vs Oluwale “The Holy War Angel” Bamgbose

Borrachinha is one hell of a athlete and in his lone UFC fight against Garreth McLellan he was bigger, faster, stronger and easily picked up the TKO win. McLellan had no answers for the speed and power Borrachinha brought to the table. With that being said I haven’t seen much of Borrachinha besides flash KOs and I wonder how much skill is buried behind his athleticism because you can knock people like McLellan with just speed and power but as he moves up the rankings he is going to need more layers to his game than being a KO artist. Ultimately though he does have a good pressure game using a right high roundhouse kick and a left  hook cut off escape roots against the cage. Once he has you cornered he will unload crazy combinations and has great finishing instincts. I should note Borrachinha has never been out of round one which is scary to think about cause in a sense he’s never been in a real fight. Bamgbose is a weird fighter and probably won’t test Borrachinha in the ways you would want instead he’ll be the much smaller fighter, usually with a speed advantage, and will back right up into the cage as he does in most his fights. Bamgbose is a weird striker and that’s about the extent of his game as he has little to no ground game and has looked helpless every time he’s ended up on his back.One guarantee is Bamgbose will try to move around on the outside waving his hands around and trying distract his opponent so he can land one perfect strike. This is essentially his game as Bamgbose will not be setting things up and working in combination instead he might just wave his hands around punch your leg then wave his hands around again and throw a high kick. Somehow that sequence actually worked against Daniel Sarafian and it was as weird as it sounds. Bamgbose is being sent out to fail against the young Brazilian prospect and with his game having no process I just can’t see him getting consistent wins in the UFC.

 

 

  • Borrachinha via KO

 

 

Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort (25-13) vs Nate “The Great” Marquardt (35-17)

In his last fight Vitor was knocked out in under a round and it’s the best he’s looked in ages. Kelvin Gastelum floored him earlier in the round and he was able to fight back and land a flurry. It was in that moment he looked renewed because Vitor has always been a frontrunner. The moment he would face adversity in a fight he would fold especially in the post TRT era where he wasn’t “juicing” anymore. The book is out on both these guys though they are older fighters who used to rely on crazy offensive blitz’ to ruin their opponents night and get the W. Both Vitor and Marquardt have popped for steroids and are now clearly past their primes. That is why this is such good matchmaking because it was painful to see Vitor fighting top five fighters and getting smashed. I should say Vitor is a southpaw with viciously fast punches and kicks, the kicks only being added in the last few years, so watch out for his counters and his spinning heel kick. Marquardt can be a flying ball of violence but his recent career has been more and more listless with smaller moments of brilliance like his knockout of Tamdam McCrory. But alas that was over fucken Tamdam “THE BARN CAT” McCrory and in his last fight against Sam Alvey he came out completely flat and played right into Alvey’s counter game as he became restless waiting for Alvey to attack. I think this fight plays out similarly where Marquardt grows impatient and attacks wildly only to get clipped by Vitor’s left hand.

 

  • Belfort via KO

 

Claudia Gadelha (14-2) vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-1)

Every lost on the records you see above came from the same opponent and it is a crying shame because without Joanna Violence this fight right here would be for the belt. Gadelha is one of my favorite fighters she has great muay thai on the feet with serious power in her strikes for a 115 pound woman. Her striking plays second fiddle to her wrestling and insane top game which goes unparalleled in the women’s strawweight division. I picked her both times against Joanna because of this without being able to admit Gadelha’s weakness to myself. She gases and bad but it only really happened badly against Joanna though she almost always slows down as her  fights go on. Gadelha is fully aware of her faults and has relocated to Albuquerque to train at Greg Jacksons’ gym. I think this was great move for her as Albuquerque is located above sea level and training at altitude is the best way to work up great cardio. Cardio issues aside Gadelha has such a well rounded and smart MMA game. She strikes well, clinches with authority and lands a large number of takedowns. Karolina is another one of my favs but less for her actual skills in the cage instead for her persona inside and outside the cage. She is so calm cool and collected this may be a product of her extensive kickboxing career. Karolina is competent in all phases of MMA but prefers to strike where she has great timing and accuracy even though she make lack volume which is what cost her against Joanna. Karolina’s biggest strength is to recognize in a fight what is working and why it is working. Once she finds those tactics she is able to adjust mid fight and work her opponent down. This is exactly what happened against Thug Rose who took the first round at distance but Karolina found success in the clinch so in rounds 2 and 3 she kept going back to the clinch to destroy Rose’s midsection with knees. I think this will be a close fight as both these girls are talented but Gadelha has the more prominent tools to pick up the win.

 

 

  • Gadelha via Decision

 

 

Max “Blessed” Holloway (17-3) vs Jose “Scarface” Aldo (26-2)

What can even be said about this match-up or these two fighters that will not come off as hyperbole? This is literally one of the all time greatest match-ups the UFC has ever made and I could go on for days breaking it down. Jose Aldo is the greatest lower weight class fighter of all time. Now I’m sure people will bring up the 13 seconds in which he was knocked out by Conor McGregor but one flash knockout doesn’t take away from the ten straight years of domination. Hell his domination has continued after his loss to McGregor and to take away from Aldo you must also take away from both GGSP, for the Serra loss, and Anderson, for the Weidman loss, all fighters lose that’s just a fact. So enough of that let’s talk about his actual game which is so good you may miss it. Look at his last fight against Frankie “The Destroyer Of Grown Men” Edgar who he bestest with nothing more than a jab and a step back right hand. He made Frankie Edgar look one dimensional by himself fighting like a one dimensional fighter. There is serious beauty and skill in being able to pull something like that off. Aldo has a great underused wrestling game, a BJJ black  belt and some of the best Dutch kickboxing to ever grace a MMA cage. Aldo has the best leg kicks in MMA hands down also his left hook to the body and low kick combination is always a joy to see. The biggest issue he has faced is cardio but it hasn’t really cost him fights because by the time he has slowed down he has such a lead that no one could ever catch up on the score cards. Not to mention that usually his opponents are so beaten and afraid to engage they let him coast late on his early lead. My favorite aspect of Aldo’s game is his ability to always turn up the heat. If his opponent brings it to him Aldo always seems to have a higher gear that he can shift into and once he does his opponents crumble. It’s like no matter what he always has a higher gear which is aided by his long reach and speed. Max Holloway is an equally high level of fighter but is known for different reason like his pressure, creativity and volume. The way Holloway mixes up stance switches, something he only started after his own loss to McGregor, to better pressure and cut angles is truly a sight to behold. Holloway is one of my boys and I have been watching him throughout his whole UFC career as he gained all the skills that lead him to this moment. It feels great to see him get to the big stage using great takedown defense and distance management to pick apart and overwhelm his opponents. He is just a joy to watch and you can tell he likes putting on a show, cut to the Ricardo Lamas fight where he pointed to the ground and just started swinging, and I think Aldo will bring out the best in Holloway. It’s hard to distance myself from this one but Holloway is such a interesting fighter and brings a whole new look to the game. I think his pressure and style will exploit the few holes in Aldo’s game who likes to fight at a slower pace. Though I see Holloway eating a good few jabs as he doesn’t have the great head movement his durability has been proven time and time again.

 

 

  • BLESSED via TKO

 

 

UFC 212 Prelims Breakdown And Picks

Deiveson “Deus Da Guerra/Daico” Alcantara (11-0) vs Marco “Psycho” Beltran

Daico may not be a name that jumps off the page but with a undefeated record it’s easy to see a lot of upside for the Brazilian. You probably might recognize one of his recent KO’s which made the rounds on twitter in the holy GIF form which showcased Daico backfisting his opponent into oblivion. Daico like most Brazilians making their debuts in the UFC is a savvy grappler when it hits the canvas and a wild striker on the feet. It should be noted that Daico is a flyweight moving up to bantamweight* for this fight against a fighter in Beltran who showed up to his last 135 pound fight a full five pounds overweight. Beltran is a good striker and uses his *cough* size *cough* well to make the best of his striking but his takedown defense is not stellar and in his last fight his ground game was exposed. In an attempt to take the back Beltran found himself getting heel hooked by a superior grappler. Beltran carries himself with confidence on the ground and in scrambles but doesn’t have the technique to back it up. All of this considered I feel Daico has the easiest path to victory with Beltran’s suspect takedown defense/ground game. Beltran will have the size and striking advantage but I just can’t see him working a jab and staying consistent especially if Daico is drawing him into wild exchanges.

 

  • Daico via Submission

* Correction this fight will be contested at 125 pounds how Beltran could make it down to 125 and not 135 in his last fight is beyond me.

 

Luan “Tarzan” Chagas (14-2) vs “Judo” Jim Wallhead (29-10)

In his last fight Chagas hurt Erick Silva on a number of occasions but in the waning minute of the fight with little juice left he dove on a takedown only to have his back taken and the choke sunk in. Chagas gave Silva his first win in the UFC outside of the first round but the 23 year old showed a lot of promise in the fight. Chagas being a natural southpaw can also switch stance and surprized the blindingly fast Silva with his hands on multiple occasions this probably being a product of his black belt in Karate. Not to mention his record is littered with submission victories owing to his other black belt in BJJ. It should be noted he fought to a draw with Sergio “BORINGEST FIGHTER EVER” Moraes in his debut and honestly I thought he took the decision but Moraes has a way of making fights slow and weird. The take away from the contest was Chagas takedown defense looked on point compared to what I saw from the little regional footage I could find of him. If Chagas is a young prospect then Wallhead is definitely the savvy veteran who has fought big names like Dennis Siver and Frank Trigg outside of the UFC. In his UFC debut Wallhead dropped a split decision to Jessin Ayari, who was destroyed by Darren Till last weekend, by being a little to willing to walk forward into strikes waiting to counter. The problem with this gameplan is that I saw little to no head movement from Wallhead though he does have some decent footwork and overall movement. As the “veteran” I should note how easily Wallhead became frustrated with Ayari when he would strike and move, strike and move. Wallhead does keep his guard up though in almost all the exchanges in the fight his hands were always in a great defensive position taking most of the sting off Ayari’s punches and kicks. I should note Wallheads nickname is legit he has a great judo game to fall back on but has relied on his growing striking game to carry him in recent fights. All things considered though Wallhead made it to the big show a little too late and Chagas got there a little too early.

 

 

  • Chagas via KO

 

 

Viviane “Sucuri” Pereira (12-0) vs Jamie Moyle (4-1)

Pereira made her UFC debut against Valerie Letourneau in a fairly unimpressive showing though she picked up the split decision win. How I made it through watching that fight over again is beyond me but in the fight Letourneau dwarfed Pereira, aided by the fact that Letourneau blew weight for the contest, which caused Pereira serious trouble in landing her power strikes. Pereira’s style is similar to that of Jessica Andrade who just fought for the 115 belt recently. Pereira throws wide looping shot and packs some serious power in them once she has crashed the distance landing strikes she will look for double underhooks and drive for a takedown. On the ground Pereira has good hips from both bottom and top control but her top game isn’t as developed as one would hope for a UFC fighter. But at only 23 years of age Pereira should be improving consistently between fights and I hope to see less striking into clinches in this fight especially after rocking her opponents. Her clinches may end up putting her into a Mirsad Bektic vs Darren Elkins situation where all Bektic needed to do was keep it standing to win but instead forced grappling exchanges that cost him the fight. Moyle on the other hand is grinder with a clear wrestling base who likes to have gritty fights wherein she can break down her opponent over three rounds with her pace. In her UFC debut Moyle did just this to Kailin Curran who thought she was in the fight the whole time and because it was such a back and forth scrap not realizing she was playing right into Moyles game. Moyle is a willing striker but her best work is done in the clinch where she lands good knees and dirty boxing she also has great head pressure. In open space she has a number of entries into takedowns, usually double underhooks, and it is these takedowns that ultimately make her hands better as her opponent has to focus more on stopping the takedown. Moyle isn’t a defensive wizard but her pace and volume really makes up for her lack of a great guard or head movement. This all leads to an interesting match-up I see Pereira landing the bigger shots standing but she’ll be punching directly into Moyle’s strengths.

 

 

  • Moyle via Decision

 

 

Iuri “Marajo” Alcantara (34-7) vs Brian “Boom” Kelleher (16-7)

Alcantara is a incredibly offensive fighter with numerous dynamic finishes that make me scream like a little girl. On the feet Alcantara is a crafty southpaw with a insane number of strikes in his repertoire just look at the spinning back elbow that dropped Brad Pickett. Honestly the Pickett fight is Alcantara at his best dropping his opponent with a crazy strike only to finish the fight with his most dangerous skillset his submission game. I should note I wouldn’t say that Alcantara has a great grappling game but he is a serious submission threat in all phases of a fight. Ask Luke Sanders who in Alcantara’s last fight landed about 80 unanswered strikes in a ride position. Cut to the second round and they end up in the same position after Alcantara was rocked on the feet. Sanders begins to land the same devastating strikes as the previous round when out of nowhere a bloody and beaten Alcantara rolls for a kneebar securing the tap and the comeback win. The problem with Alcantara’s game is his stamina not that he has especially bad cardio but Alcantara is so aggressive in round one it’s hard for him to maintain his pace into the later rounds. Alcantara is a huge bantamweight as well and has to be cutting a serious amount of weight to be making the 135 pound limit. Alcantara is a textbook of the type of fighter who is either fighting like a wild man or drained from doing just that. It’s like breaking down two fighters in a sense cause round one Alcantara is a easy pick but a round three Alcantara leaves a lot to be desired. I had some trouble finding much footage on Kelleher who is making his UFC debut riding a six fight win streak with four finishes. Three of those finishes are guillotine chokes so I supposed you have to watch out for that as it has to be one of his main weapons. In the little footage I saw of Kelleher he looked to be a fairly powerful striker on the feet and has a decent takedown game. It’s hard for me to see Alcantara losing this fight as Kelleher seems to be willing to exchange with the aggressive Brazilian early. I’m not saying Kelleher can’t drag this fight out and finish Alcantara late but I see Alcantara’s submissions as his means to victory.

 

 

  • Alcantara via Submission

 

 

Johnny “Pretinho” Eduardo (28-10) vs Matthew Lopez (9-1)

Johnny Eduardo’s game is summed up by the tattoo across his stomach “Muay Thai” as he’ll be out there trying to take both your legs and your head off with power strikes. Eduardo is a training partner of Jose Aldo who will be fighting in the main and this leads me to believe that he must have had a great camp for this fight as he would have been sparring and training with a peaking Aldo. Eduardo’s striking is dynamic and powerful but his defense is a little rigid as his heavy kicks usually leave his head unprotected on the centerline. His true weakness though is his ground game but thankfully he has great takedown defense to make up for the deficiencies he has on the ground. I should say that it took Aljamain Sterling, a incredible wrestler and grappler,  to actually get Eduardo down and submit him. Eduardo’s career has been plagued by long bouts of inactivity with his career starting in 1996. He has gone years between fights and I’m glad to see him be more consistent with his career. With that said Eduardo is not the freshest fighter out there and could be well past his prime. Lopez on the other hand is young in the fight game with a decorated college wrestling career this is not to say he is a unwilling striker as he throws solid, though wild, combinations from a southpaw stance. It was one of these wild combinations that lead his face directly into a Mitch Gagnon hook that dropped him in his last fight. Lopez was able to survive and use his superior grappling and it is in those ground exchanges you can see how talented Lopez is. Lopez’s speed will probably play a factor into this as not only does he like to keep a crazy frenetic pace but he his very quick in both striking and grappling. Overall this is an interesting matchup with both fighters playing towards the other’s weakness.

 

 

  • Matthew Lopez via Submission

 

 

Eric “Zebrinha” Spicely (10-1) vs Antonio “Cara de Sapato” Carlos Jr.

I should preface this fight pick by saying Eric Spicely is one of my boys his aggressive and creative grappling is a sight to behold for a MMA nerd like myself. Spicely is light on his feet and moves around the cage well almost like a poor man’s middleweight Dom Cruz. His movement forces his opponents to move forward and gives Spicely easier access to their hips. Spicely knows the ground is his path to victory so he isn’t afraid to just pull guard attack from his back until he can get into a dominate position. In his last fight against Alessio Di Chirico this is exactly how Spicely picked the win . After unsuccessfully taking Chirico down he was able throw up a triangle and elicit the tap fairly easily. There are a few big issues with Spicely’s game though first he’s not the greatest athlete on Earth but this is also probably why he developed so many tools on the ground. Second is his striking and striking defense are not world class like his grappling which can open him up to each shots on the feet. Lastly Spicely’s insistence on getting the fight down borders on desperation at times and repeated shot attempted is what got him caught in a submission against Sam Alvey. Antonio Carlos Junior on the other hand is an actual legit BJJ grappler on the international scene winning a number of tournaments and making a name for himself. If he gets your back it’s a Demian Maia level of control not to mention Junior is a former heavyweight and has a massive size advantage over almost all middleweights. Junior has worked on his striking and it shows in his fights as his technique has gotten better with each fight. Junior is confident in his hands and has great kicks that utilize his reach very well. One part of his game is that is lacking is his wrestling as he struggles to get a lot of his fights to the ground where he shines. It should be said about Junior that it seems at times he lacks motivation in his fights especially in his fight against Daniel Kelley who he basically let beat him down the stretch. For me it seems like Junior is working on his MMA game as a whole and unlike Spicely he has sort of lost his fighting style, or his prefered style, under all his training. Junior is getting to the point where he has all the skills and he just needs to figure out how his game works for him. It is this lack of focus that makes me think that Spicely will be able to work his game, gas Junior and find a finish

 

 

  • Spicely via Submission

 

 

Raphael Assuncao (24-5) vs Marlon Moraes (18-4-1)

Lets for once give Assuncao the credit he deserves because he is one of the best fighters on the planet I’m not joking either he is a truly talented fighter. The reason he doesn’t get the credit he deserves is because he is not a dynamic finisher instead his true talents are hidden in his superb defense. Everyone who fights him looks bad it’s just impossible to really get your game going against him. Just think about how dynamic TJ Dillashaw is then watch his two fights with Assuncao. They are razor close and all the things that make TJ exciting are almost completely nullified. In their first contest Assuncao embarrassed TJ’s stance switches by just copying them. It seems like such a simple solution but not all fighters could easily read his opponents switch in the moment and have the confidence to fight in both stances. Assuncao did this flawlessly and with serious craft as his switches are so much more subtle than someone like TJ. The biggest takeaway from Assuncao is his style, defensively minded, leads him to have a large number of decisions coupled with his opponents nullified offense his fights can become slow and you can pretty much count on a split decision. Moraes is making his UFC debut after vacating the World Series of Fighting bantamweight belt and is riding a 13 fight win streak. Moraes destroyed the competition outside the UFC exactly the way you would hope from a prospect with most of his fights being cakewalks and those that went the distance only did so because his opponents reverted into a defensive shell. Moraes can be equated to his main training partner Edson Barbosa who has a similar game Moraes pulls it off so much better. So plan A is to stand a distance and pick you apart with kicks, Moraes has both head and leg kick finishes, plan B kicks, pardon the pun, into action once his opponent has enough of the kicks and tries to crash the distance with punches. Moraes will wait on his opponent to throw hands moving his head and counting with accurate and powerful shots. After eating a couple of those shots generally his opponents just end up staying on the outside getting smashed by kicks. Training with the likes of Frankie Edgar has also lead Moraes to have the takedown defense and ground game to maintain his kind of fight. Assuncao is a tough match-up for anyone but for a champion coming into the UFC this is poison as Assuncao could make Moraes look pedestrian to fans that have never had the chance of seeing him fight. Here’s oping Moraes makes a splash in his UFC debut beating of of the best bantamweights the UFC has ever seen.

 

  •   Moraes via Decision