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