By Matt Koontz and Eric Jacinto
UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs. Lee: This good card takes place in Atlantic city, New Jersey and should be a good one for the fans in attendance and the fans watching around the world. The main event just like last weeks could be a fight of the year candidate. Have fun fans with this card and enjoy some great fights that will entertain for sure. Here is my call for this card and analysis for the fights.
FS1 Main Card (10 PM/ET):
#5 (5) Edson Barboza (19-5) vs. #6 (6) Kevin Lee (16-4): The main event of the evening will take place between two top lightweight fighters battling to throw their name in this overflowing list of title contenders. Both fighters are coming off disappointing losses and will each have a fire in their bellies to get back on track. Kevin Lee is returning from a disappointing loss to Tony Ferguson which I believe was due to a poor weight cut during the week and it drained his energy. Kevin Lee is a phenomenal athlete and when he isn’t messing around and makes a weight cut well he is one of the best fighters in the lightweight division. Kevin Lee is a wrestler with a vastly improving striking game. His submissions are nothing to forget as this guy has stopped 8 fights by way of submission and he can pounce on one with a knockdown instead of going for ground and pound. Lee would probably be best to get this fight to the mat and avoid many striking exchanges with Barboza as Barboza is the superior striker in this fight. Edson is coming off a disappointing loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in a fight that we saw Khabib refuse the stand-up and use his weight to keep Edson on the mat as he just ate ground and pound. Edson is a weaker fighter on the mat, but his striking and aggressive fight style has been something he has been able to rely on in his career. When Edson fights he seems calm and collected and then out of nowhere will explode offensively. Barboza should enter this fight with an offensive and aggressive display and land some powerful kicks to the legs and body to keep Kevin Lee slowed down. This fight will be a lot of fun for the fans especially if it lasts longer than a round as these two will try and figure each other out. No idea who is going to pull off this win as these two have some incredible skills and we will see a display of them for sure as each fighter has something to prove in this one. If Kevin Lee has cut weight well and is in great shape this fight I have him winning this one in round 3 by submission after a back and forth fun first two rounds. I will edit this pick if he seems to struggle with his weight cut Friday morning. Edited as Kevin Lee struggled cutting weight missing weight hitting 157 and I now believe he will be tired tomorrow. I am taking Edson Barboza to win by TKO in the 2nd round.
#2 (3) Frankie Edgar (21-6-1) vs. #3 (4) Cub Swanson (25-8): The co-main event of the evening is another one of these phenomenal fights in the featherweight divisions with a ton of potential to steal the show. Both fighters just like the main event are coming off a loss and looking to avenge that loss and get back in the title picture. Both fighters are actually coming off a loss to the same fighter just with different ways they lost. This is the 2nd fight between these two in which Frankie won by way of submission in round 5 after dominating Cub in their first fight. Cub is coming off a submission loss to Brian Ortega and his last 3 fights have all been fight of the night winners which shows you that good ol’ Cub is still good ol’ Cub. He is a BJJ black-belt with an elite ground game yet only 4 submission stoppages. Cub has finished 11 fights by KO and does so normally with his aggressive striking and seemingly invincible jaw. Cub throws a lot of heavy and accurate shots while moving forward and is willing to eat shots to land shots. It makes him a very dangerous fighter to face for any opponent. If Cub wants to win this fight he needs to keep the pressure on Frankie and test his chin after Frankie suffered his first ever KO loss and test his confidence in his chin as well. Now Frankie who every single fight fan will love forever is coming in as I just said off his first ever KO loss in his career. Frankie is one tough dude and probably won’t let a loss set him back. He is a great wrestler with the ability to keep his opponent grounded under him and keep it that way. His ability to smother an opponent and land shots from the top is extremely impressive and a large reason he has been so successful in his career. Frankie’s strategy gasses his opponents and leaves them open to submissions or a TKO from ground and pound they can’t escape. This fight is going to be so fun because neither guy knows the word quit and never will. Two warriors are about to go at it and leave their hearts and souls inside the octagon. I believe this fight is going to go the distance and we will see a bloody pair of warriors standing opposite of each other, but Frankie Edgar will get the win by split decision.
Justin Willis (6-1) vs. Chase Sherman (11-4): A heavyweight brawl is going to take place in this fight in which we are almost guaranteed to see some body’s lights go out. Chase is a great athlete in the heavyweight division and lands some powerful shots with his great speed and dynamic fight style. Sherman has struggled some in his career in the UFC as he has gone 2-3 since becoming a part of the UFC. Not that I expect Justin Willis to take this fight to the mat but if he attempted it is something worth noting that Chase Sherman has never been taken down since joining the UFC. Chase has stopped 10 of his 11 professional wins, all of them are by way of KO and 9 of those are in the very first round. Chase’s opponent Justin Willis is one hard working dude who continues to improve and never settles because of a win. Justin has won his only two fights in the UFC so far and if he can pick up a 3rd straight since coming to the UFC he will find a number next to his name next week. Justin has stopped 4 of his 6 wins by way of KO and 3 of them were in the first round including his last fight. Justin is one big dude with a lot of power in his hands and hasn’t lost a fight since his pro debut. He is riding a 6-fight win streak and is looking to use his continuing growth inside the cage to prove he is ready for a ranking and top opponent after this one. I have Justin Willis winning this fight in the 1st round by way of KO and proving to the big boys above him that he is here and a force to be reckoned with.
#7 (8) David Branch (21-4) vs. #11 (12) Thiago Santos (17-5): This middleweight fight is a battle of opposite strategies. Thiago Santos is one incredibly beastly savage with knockouts on his mind whenever he steps inside the octagon. Thiago is rolling right now as he has won 4 fights in a row all 4 have been KO victories and 2 of them won him performance of the night bonuses. One thing to love about Thiago Santos is that he won just stand there and throw a flurry of punches this man will kick you in the chest, the head, and the lead leg. Santos is a monster on his feet and the only way someone beats him is either endure the beating and hope he tires or get him to the mat and submit him. His last loss was a submission loss and if David Branch wants to have his hand raised at the end of this fight he will need to find a way to safely close the distance and get the takedown he needs and work a submission victory. Now David Branch is a well-rounded mixed martial artist, but his standup game is very slow and defensive. He doesn’t push a pace on his feet, but it works for him because he has a ton of power in his hands and can catch someone coming in clean and end their night with one shot. Branch has picked up 7 wins by submission and 5 more by way of KO. Branch will need to get this fight to the mat if he wants to have an advantage though because he does own a black belt in Renzo Gracie BJJ. He is a very skilled jiu-jitsu fighter and would have a significant advantage on the mat over his opponent in this one and if he gets it to the mat he would win this fight. I believe Thiago Santos will keep this from reaching the mat and pick up a 2nd round KO of David Branch.
#8 (8) Aljamain Sterling (14-3) vs. #14 (14) Brett Johns (15-0): This fight is going to take place in the bantamweight division and should be a great one for the fans. Brett is a young, skilled, and intelligent wrestler with an unbeaten record taking on the biggest test in his career. In his UFC debut he scored 11 takedowns to avoid taking any big shots and getting the fight to a place where he could dominate it. Johns is a black belt in judo, a purple belt in BJJ, and a brown belt in Muay-Thai, he is an extremely skilled fighter who has learned many forms of mixed martial arts. I love this because it gives him a diverse set of skills and makes him hard to figure out coming into a fight as he is improving leaps and bounds between every fight. His last fight with Joe Soto was extremely fast and we saw his first stoppage win in the UFC and I believe he will become a crowd-pleasing fight finisher. Now his opponent Aljamain Sterling is a UFC vet who loves to put on a show. Aljamain is an incredibly gifted wrestler just like his opponent and he also owns a purple belt in BJJ. He lost his last fight to Marlon Moraes in a fight where we saw him get knocked out in the first round. “The Funk Master” doesn’t stay down long as this guy is a hard working determined monster, honestly a savage. Aljamain loves to lock in a RNC submission as six of his submission wins have been by way of his favorite RNC. If this fight goes to the ground it will be a true display of incredible skills and a great finish could be in store for the fans. I believe this fight will not find a stoppage though and that we will see a decision. The winner of this fight could go either way, but I am going to give the edge to the fighter with the momentum as I have Brett Johns winning this fight by way of unanimous decision.
Jim Miller (28-11, 1NC) vs. #15 (NR) Dan Hooker (16-7): This is the first fight of the FS1 main card and it will take place in the lightweight division. This fight might start out with a slow pace as these two warriors try to figure each other out and what to expect from the other. Hooker’s last win was enough to impress me moving forward and has me believing he is a talent to be watched in this division. Hooker has fought in heavyweight before and as low as featherweight but has found his proper home in the lightweight division. Hooker is a blue belt in BJJ but doesn’t play favorites to the mat as he has stopped 7 by way of KO as well as 7 by submission. I used to underestimate Dan Hooker in the past, but I will not be making that mistake moving forward as this guy has an incredible skill set. His opponent Jim Miller has been around in the lightweight division for as long as I can remember but is facing a slippery road as he has lost his last 3 fights. Jim is a great fighter and will be fighting at home and will be looking to put on a display for his fans. Jim is a black belt in BJJ and his ground game skills have been proven a lot in his career as he has grabbed 14 wins in his professional career by way of submission. This fight will be interesting for sure as Jim is looking to get back on track and Dan is looking finally prove that he deserves a number next to his name. I think Dan Hooker wins this fight in the 1st round by way of submission and I think he will lock in a guillotine choke for the win.
FS1 Prelims (8 PM/ET):
Ryan LaFlare (13-2) vs. Alex Garcia (15-4): The main event of the prelims should be a lot of fun in the welterweight division. Alex Garcia a well-rounded mixed martial artist and is coming in off a submission victory. Garcia loves the Rear Naked Choke, 6 of his wins are submission victories and 5 of them are by way of RNC. If he gets to the mat he will most likely look to lock in his favorite submission, but he still might try and keep this fight standing as he has knock out power as he has stopped 6 fights by KO. He does take shots to land shots though and would need to avoid that one in this fight. His opponent Ryan LaFlare has wrestling and BJJ both in his arsenal. He has the skill set to put on a display on the mat, but he might look to keep this standing because of Garcia’s tendency to eat shots and LaFlare having a kickboxing background makes him a dangerous opponent. LaFlare is looking to get a number next to his name with a win here and I believe he will get that win with a 2nd round KO over Alex Garcia.
Merab Dvalishvili (7-3) vs. Ricky Simon (10-1): This bantamweight fight was originally on the online prelims but due to an injury to Magomed Bibulatov this fight was added to the televised prelims. Ricky Simon is from Dana White’s contender series and will be making his UFC debut on this card after picking up a split decision victory on the contender series. He is a blue belt in BJJ which gives him some comfort if the fight goes to ground, but he is a better fighter on his feet and will most likely look to keep this fight standing. If we don’t see any UFC debut jitters he could put on an interesting display for the fans including his great takedown skill set that we saw get him 14 takedowns in his contender series fights. His opponent Merab is fighting in his second fight in the UFC after being originally discovered in Dana White looking for a fight. Merab lost his UFC debut in a split decision that I actually believed he won, he landed 11 takedowns in that fight and somehow still got screwed over by the judges. Merab is a judo fighter and loves to strike but he also has good takedown skills just like his opponent and could lead to a fight with two men respecting each other’s skillsets too much and not going after it like they normally would. This fight will be interesting to say the least as it has gained a spotlight by being on the televised card we better just hope it lives up to this spotlight. If the UFC debut jitters doesn’t get to Ricky Simon I believe he will pick up a unanimous decision victory in this fight.
Siyar Bahadurzada (23-6-1) vs. Luan Chagas (15-2-1): This is the fight that fight fans should be most excited for on the prelims because these two welterweights know how to put on one hell of a show. Luan Chagas has never let a single one of his wins go to the judges score card and he really doesn’t seem to be stopping those type of performances anytime soon. This guy is a part of the future of this division and I don’t doubt that for one minute at 24 years of age and has 9 wins by submission and 6 more wins by way of knockout. He has stopped 10 of his wins in the very first round and he could do that again in this one. He is an extremely skilled mixed martial artist holding a black belt in BJJ and a black belt in karate. This kid is something really special to watch and is really strong and part of his strength is shown by his takedown defense because he has never been taken down in his UFC career. His opponent is a one punch KO fighter with great overall skill set. Siyar has only lost two fights in the UFC both losses were decision losses and he tend to slow down as a fight goes deep and will need to end the fight early if he wants to have his hand raised, at least based on his past. Siyar is a fun fighter to watch though and this fight we could really see fireworks fly. I think Luan Chagas is the better overall fighter in this fight and will have his hand raised in the end with a 2nd round submission victory.
#12 (10) Corey Anderson (10-4) vs. #13 (11) Patrick Cummins (10-4): We kick off the televised prelims with a ranked fight in the light heavyweight division. Patrick is coming in off an impressive win over Gian Villante and looking to use this head of steam to pick up the most impressive win of his career. Cummins was two time all-American and two-time US national team member in wrestling and would have the advantage on the mat in this fight. Patrick is one of the toughest LHW fighters as we have seen him take an absolute beating and not give up and keep fighting his fight. I think his cardio, grit, and determination keep him relevant in any fight he is in and will be a threat against his opponent in this one. Corey Anderson has all the talent in the world but has become what it seems like, scared to lose so he has become a slow-paced fighter with a lack of aggression. Corey has the ability to dominate in the UFC if he just pushed the pace of his fights and was more aggressive. He won TUF 19 and won 4 of the next 5 after that but has hit a brick wall once he got ranked competition. He has lost 3 of his last 4 fights and the last two were KO defeats. Corey needs to use his big size, power, and incredible athleticism to unleash the beast inside him that we saw in the TUF season he was on. When he is having an off night, he can put on one of the most boring LHW fights you will ever watch but when he is on this guy puts on one hell of a show. Which Corey Anderson shows up this weekend is the question that needs to be answered. This fight will move one of these guys into a top 6 battle in their next fight and could cost the loser a ranking depending so this fight is important to both of them. I have Corey Anderson unleashing his skill set again here and winning this fight by unanimous decision.
UFC Fight Pass Prelim (7:30 PM/ET):
Tony Martin (12-4) vs. Keita Nakamura (33-8-2, 1NC): The only fight remaining on the online prelims after one fight moving up to the televised prelims and another being scrapped entirely will take place in the welterweight division. Keita is an incredibly talented fighter who loves to finish fights in the first round doing so 17 times in his career. Keita has 16 submission wins, but 15 of those 16 is by way of a RNC and is without a doubt his favorite move to get someone in. He does have 7 wins by way of KO and he might actually be the better off keeping this fight on his feet. His opponent Tony Martin is an incredible athlete with a very gifted set of skills on the mat which I believe he will be looking to get this fight to the ground where he should have the advantage. Tony has only stopped fights through submission otherwise his fights have gone to decision, I love this fight as a start off to the night because it doesn’t look like it will be one going to decision. I have Tony Martin winning this one in the 2nd round by way of submission kicking off the night with a good fight.
Eric Jacinto's UFC Fight Night: Barboza vs Lee Predictions:
#Division Ranking (MMA Record) NC No Contest
Fight Pass/Fox Sports 1 Prelims (5 in total):
Fight Pass Fight, Welterweight Bout: Tony Martin, (12-4) vs. Keita Nakamura, (33-8-2), 1 NC
Prediction: Keita Nakamura via 2nd Round Submission
Fox Sports 1:
Light Heavyweight Bout: #11 Patrick Cummins, (10-4) vs. #10 Corey Anderson, (10-4)
Prediction: Patrick Cummins via 2nd Round TKO
Welterweight Bout: Siyar Bahadurzada, (23-6-1) vs. Luan Chagas, (15-2-1)
Prediction: Luan Chagas via Unanimous Decision
Bantamweight Bout: Merab Dvalishvili, (7-3) vs. Ricky Simon, (10-1)
Prediction: Ricky Simon via 1st Round TKO
Welterweight Bout: Alex Garcia, (15-4) vs. Ryan LaFlare, (13-2)
Prediction: Ryan LaFlare via 1st Round Submission
Fox Sports 1 Main Card, (Six Fights):
Lightweight Bout: Jim Miller, (28-11), 1 NC vs. Dan Hooker, (16-7)
Prediction: Jim Miller via Unanimous Decision
Bantamweight Bout: #14 Brett Jones, (15-0) vs. #8 Aljamain Sterling, (14-3)
Prediction: Brett Jones via 3rd Round Submission
Middleweight Bout: #12 Thiago Santos, (17-5) vs. #8 David Branch, (21-4)
Prediction: David Branch via 3rd Round Submission
Heavyweight Bout: Chase Sherman, (11-4) vs. Justin Willis, (6-1)
Prediction: Justin Willis via 2nd Round TKO
Co Main-Event, Featherweight Bout: #4 Cub Swanson, (25-8) vs. #4 Frankie Edger, (21-6-1)
Prediction: Frankie Edger via Unanimous Decision
Main Event, Catchweight/Lightweight Division (157 Ibs) Bout:
#6 Kevin Lee, (16-4) vs. #5 Edson Baroza, (19-5)
Prediction: Edson Baroza via Split Decision
UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Gaethje: Results and Review.
#3 (5) Dustin Poirier TKO’s #6 (6) Justin Gaethje in round 4: Dustin was crazy accurate and dominated the striking in this fight. Gaethje threw his normal leg kicks continuously but he needs to realize against UFC elite opponents it simply won’t be enough. He proved he can be a title contender in my eyes he just needs to use his wrestling more and land shots more often in other places away from the legs, I am not saying give up the leg kicks but lower the amount to damage elsewhere. This fight was a ton of fun I really enjoyed it as did any fight fan because Poirier showed how perfect his striking is and lethal he can be. The one take back from his fight that we need to see more of from Poirier is to land some more shots to the body of his opponents. This fight was fight of the night and was so deserving. I believe Poirier should get Khabib next because Tony has been scheduled Khabib 4 times and that fight hasn’t happened secondly because Conor only has one lightweight fight in his career and should have to prove he is back before getting a title shot. Dustin also has 16 UFC wins since 2011 only Cerrone has more. I think Gaethje should fight Nate Diaz next because that fight would be so fun to watch. Grade: A+
Alex Oliveira submits #13 (12) Carlos Condit in round 2: This fight would have been fight of the night if the main event didn’t happen just like I said in my predictions for this fight. This fight seemed to be Condit’s fight on the feet but once it got to the mat it was very interesting. At one point I thought Condit was going to win by submission but eventually Oliveira got Condit with an up-kick which I think stunned Condit. That made it easier to lock in the guillotine choke and end the fight. This was a phenomenal fight and sadly was Condit’s 4th straight loss and could be nearing the end of his career. Oliveira will find a number next to his name after this one. Alex Oliveira should get Gunnar Nelson in his next fight which could set up a really fun fight. I think Condit should get Dong Hyun Kim in his next fight in a battle that would be fun for the fans and might be the fight he needs to get him back on track. Grade: A
#15 (NR) Israel Adesanya beats Marvin Vettori by split decision: This fight was a bit less exciting than believed. Israel proved he really needs to work on his ground game and takedown defense and he seemed to have no clue how to fight on the mat. Vettori landed some shots not as many strong shots as Israel but he proved he has a great chin. Now he should have used his wrestling earlier in this fight and might have found himself successful, but he used it too late and might have cost him the upset victory. I think Israel needs to improve his ground game entirely and if he can then he could be a future champion. Israel Adesanya should fight Paulo Costa in his next fight as a battle of 11-0 vs 13-0 between two future champion contenders would be incredible. I think Vettori should fight Eryk Anders in what would be a great battle between two powerful wrestlers. Grade: B-
#8 (7) Michelle Waterson beats #11 (10) Courtney Casey by unanimous decision. This fight was an interesting battle as Waterson had the reach disadvantage and the size disadvantage. She kept herself active and used her speed to strike and get out before Casey could land much. I think this fight was as good as it could get with the size difference and reach difference between the two fighters. Michelle Waterson should face the winner of Gadelha and Esparza in her next fight. Courtney Casey should fight Joanne Calderwood in her next fight in the strawweight division. Grade: C-
Antonio Carlos Junior submits Tim Boetsch in round 1. This fight didn’t last long, and it was fairly one sided from the beginning to the end. Boetsch had a hard time getting his heavy big hands on Antonio and he couldn’t get the pace of the fight under his control. Antonio being able to control the pace of the fight landed his shots and got his takedown. Once this fight got to the mat there was no hesitation for him on how he was going to end this fight. This fight was fun though as it was an aggressive paced fight and we saw a great finish. I would like to see Antonio Carlos Junior fight Uriah Hall in his next fight to see if he belongs among the top middleweights. Grade: B+
Muslim Salikhov knocks out Ricky Rainey in round 2. This fight was a very interesting battle as it was slow at times, and then had moments of brilliance. Muslim had great takedown defense and kept this fight standing which is where regardless of a significant disadvantage in the reach department he was the better fighter. Ricky was hitting once and stopping he wasn’t landing combinations and continuing to strike he was respecting the power coming back too much and it cost him. Muslim caught Rickey one on of his shots and ended the fight so quick I missed it at first because I went to throw a ball for my dog. It was a great fight in the end and has me wondering just what the king of Kungfu, Muslim Salikhov could do in this division. Muslim should fight Abdul Razak Alhassan like he was originally supposed to in this fight. Grade: B
#10 (10) John Moraga defeats #7 (6) Wilson Reis by unanimous decision. I can’t lie I was shocked a little bit by this decision. I thought Moraga was clearly the better fighter on his feet, but Wilson did everything he could to get this fight to the met where he dominated the ground and kept the fight on the mat for 7 minutes. Wilson landed 8 takedowns in this fight showing how good he is at getting top level flyweights to the mat. Moraga though I believe did do more damage though and was the much more accurate striker and maybe that’s what the judges saw in the decision. John Moraga should fight Ben Nguyen in his next fight that would be a great fight for the fight fans. Wilson Reis should fight Alexandre Pantoja in his next fight and see if he can turn around his flyweight luck of late. Grade: C
NR (15) Brad Tavares knocks out #14 (13) Krzystztof Jotko in round 3. Tavares just simply beat Jotko with his striking and takedown defense when Jotko tried. Tavares proved he had a gas tank this fight and was able to keep his aggressive striking and landed good clean shots. The knockout came with his patience and he proved he is really finally ready to start moving up this division and can win big fights in this division. Tavares called out Bisping for his next fight and that should be a good fight to make. Jotko who isn’t going to be ranked anymore should fight Johny Hendricks in his next fight and get himself back in the rankings conversation. Grade: A-
By Matt Koontz and Eric Jacinto
UFC Fight Night Glendale: Poirier vs. Gaethje: The main event of this card is going to be incredible. A fight I personally believe is worthy of being on a PPV main card. The Co-main was originally Condit vs. Brown but Matt Brown tore his ACL and replacing him is Alex Oliviera. This card also has Waterson on it and two rising stars in the middleweight division Vettori and Adesanya squaring off. I personally love this card and can’t wait for Saturday to happen. Here is my prediction for this card!
UFC Fight Pass Prelims (3:30 PM/ET):
Luke Sanders (11-2) vs. Patrick Williams (8-5): The first fight of the night takes place in the bantamweight division and it should be a good one to kick off a loaded card. Patrick is a 2-time former state champion wrestler. Patrick went to Arizona state where he was teammates with some of the best wrestlers the UFC has seen like Cain Velasquez, Ryan Bader, CB Dollaway, and John Moraga. This guy is a powerful wrestler with great takedowns and so far, hasn’t been taken down in his career in the UFC. His last fight he was doing well with Tom Duquesnoy before he got caught and got knocked out. He needs to improve his stand-up if he wants to become a well-rounded complete mixed martial artist. His opponent Luke Sanders is a skilled well-rounded martial artist. His last two fights he faced two tough losses, but they shouldn’t discourage him as he will turn it around and become a star in this division if he keeps polishing off his skill set. Sanders has stopped 6 of his wins in the first round. Sanders is a great athlete, but his takedown defense hasn’t been good in his career in the UFC and he will needed to have worked on it hard in camp for this fight or he will find himself in trouble on the mat early and often. I think this fight will take a little bit to get going but once it does Sanders uses his great striking skills to keep Williams from being able to shoot much and will land a late KO/TKO in round 1.
Matthew Lopez (10-2) vs. Alejandro Perez (20-6-1): This will be the 2nd straight fight in the bantamweight division. Alejandro Perez is 4-0-1 in his last 5 fights. Perez has struggled of late to finish fights, but he has the ability as he has stopped 10 in the first round and 14 overall. Perez is only really known for some reason for his boxing skills and striking inside the cage, but he has 5 submission finishes in his career. I do think Perez will look to use his boxing and footwork in this fight to win by way of KO and keep his hot hand of late. His opponent Matthew Lopez is a wrestler without a lot of power and I believe he was going to pull off a win in his last fight against Assuncao but he wound up getting TKO’d in round 3. That fight was easily the biggest test of his career, but I think it will have taught him a lot and he is going to utilize his new skills and lessons in this fight. He has proven to be mentally tough in the octagon so far and believe he will handle his loss the same way outside the octagon. I like what this fight brings for the fans. I think Matthew Lopez wins this one by way of 2nd round KO and moves into the top 15.
Arjan Singh Bhullar (7-0) vs. Adam Wieczorek (9-1): This heavyweight fight will be between two guys fighting for the 2nd time in the UFC for each of them. I hate to bash fights but if they both fight the way they did in their first fights in the UFC this fight will be the least exciting one on the card. Adam, I believe could become a good fighter in the UFC as his one pro loss was to Marcin Tybura before they were both in the UFC. Adam has stopped all but one of his professional fights 5 of which by submission and 3 by KO. In his UFC debut he withstood Anthony Hamilton’s takedowns and outlasted him for the lone non-stoppage and picked up a unanimous decision. One thing I really see as a positive for Adam is that he has the skill set to fight on the mat which a lot of younger heavyweights seem to be lacking. Adam also has some pretty incredible stamina and a gas tank in the heavyweight division is a great thing to see. Now his opponent Arjan is undefeated and an Olympic wrestler for Canada. Arjan is openly confident in himself and will be coming into this fight very confident he can handle this one and make a bigger name for himself. I think Arjan will need to improve his striking skills to become a complete and well-rounded fighter in this LHW division. I believe this fight will be slower paced but it could still be a decent fight because I believe both fighters had octagon debut jitters in their last fights and could make something of this fight. I have a feeling Adam Wieczorek is going to win this fight by unanimous decision giving Arjan his first professional MMA loss.
Dhiego Lima (14-6) vs. Yushin Okami (34-11): For this fight we step into the welterweight division between two UFC veterans who have recently returned to the octagon. Yushin is making his second appearance in his second stint in the UFC. Before he left the UFC in 2013 he was part of the organization for 6 years and now has returned after 4 years away in other organizations. His return fight was at light heavyweight which he shouldn’t be fighting at and didn’t last long as he was submitted by OSP in round 1. I am excited to see his official UFC return to his natural welterweight division. Yushin if he is back to his normal self has a great cardio and sets an aggressive pace because he knows he can rely on his cardio to back him. I expect we will see him go for takedowns and take a dominant position on top and use his phenomenal ground and pound. I love watching Yushin dominate and drop heavy hands and elbows from top position when he takes his opponents down. Now his opponent Dhiego Lima is also making his 2nd fight in his 2nd stint in the UFC after losing to Jesse Taylor in TUF redemption finale. Jesse Taylor eventually had his blood work come back tainted which makes me wonder if the fight would have gone slightly differently. Lima is a well-rounded fighter with 8 stoppages under his belt 5 by way of submission and 3 by KO. His biggest weakness entering this fight is his takedown defense and he will need it because as I said if Okami gets top position and can land his shots this one won’t last long at all. Lima would be best off keeping this fight standing and avoiding this fight going to the mat unless he can get dominant position on the mat then he is a threat to submit Okami. I really think this fight could be worth the subscription fee of UFC.tv alone. I am really excited for this one. I think Yushin will use his size advantage and take this one to the mat and get his ground and pound going early. I believe Okami wins via 1st round TKO in his return to his welterweight division.
Shana Dobson (3-1) vs. Lauren Mueller (4-0): This fight in the women’s flyweight division should be a good one as Shana got herself ranked with her first fight in the UFC until Ashlee Evans-Smith broke into the rankings this week, and she will be taking on a good young flyweight Lauren Mueller. Lauren has a good striking game and has only one stoppage being a KO but it still needs some slight improvement if she wants to find her way up in this division. Mueller is a blue belt in BJJ and I believe is continuing to improve her BJJ skills and could become a dual threat in this division soon. She should have the advantage in this fight on the mat and might look for a takedown after she establishes her threat standing. Her opponent Shana is a very skilled striker and her head movement and ability to keep herself on the outside is pretty impressive. Her one career loss is to the current Flyweight champion Nicco Montano. Shana is coming off her KO/TKO win in her UFC debut and her first stoppage finish in her career. Now this fight will be fun for the fans as we get a glimpse of two women trying to get themselves into the rankings to stay. I believe Mueller will find a way to win this one and it will by way of unanimous decision.
Gilbert Burns (12-2) vs. Dan Moret (13-3): The main event of the UFC fight pass prelims is going to take place in the lightweight division. Dan Moret is making his UFC debut here and draws a really tough opponent to make a debut against. Moret is a well-rounded fighter, he has a purple belt in BJJ. Moret has seven wins by submission and only two by way of KO, he has stopped 6 fights in the first round in his professional career as he doesn’t tend to come out slow. This fight will be interesting as both fighters have great skill sets on the mat. Now Moret’s opponent is Gilbert Burns. Gilbert is a 4-time world Jiu-jitsu champion and he loves the armbar. Now his standup is underrated because of how good his takedown and ground game skills are but, he has a ton of power in his fists and can land some devastating shots on his feet to end fights. He won his last fight by KO/TKO displaying his powerful hands and striking skills. I know a lot of fans find fights that stay on the mat to be fairly boring but personally I hope this fight goes to the ground and these two put on a show for us all. I think in the end Burns has the superior skill set and the size advantage and will pick up a 2nd round submission victory.
FOX Prelims (6 PM/ET):
#14 (13) Krzysztof Jotko (19-3) vs. NR (15) Brad Tavares (16-5): We kick off the televised prelims in the middleweight division between two UFC.com ranked fighters. Brad Tavares has seemed to put things together lately as he has picked up 3 wins in a row, but I believe he needs to do more as he has let the judges decide his fate in the last three. Tavares is a tough fighter who is really hard to prevent his moving forward regardless of the damage he receives during a fight. Tavares needs to work on his gas tank a bit because he seems to fade midway through round 2 and continues to fade as the fight goes. Tavares does have the skill set though to dominate a fight and impress the fans watching and in attendance. Now his opponent Jotko is coming in on a 2-fight losing streak after getting knocked out by Uriah Hall. Jotko is an unpredictable striker with an unorthodox style. His unique striking style could surprise Tavares and make it hard for him to use his aggressive style. Jotko if he takes his opponent to the mat lands impressive hammer fists and elbows from top position. This fight could go back and fourth as either fighter can rock the other a little bit but keep coming. I am excited for this one and, I believe in the end we will see Jotko’s losing streak come to an end and pick up a 2nd round KO/TKO.
#7 (6) Wilson Reis (22-8) vs. #10 (10) John Moraga (18-6): This ranked flyweight battle will most likely go to the mat and be a great fight. John Moraga is coming in on a 2-fight win streak and his last win was very impressive. Moraga is a powerful striker with an improving stand-up between each fight we see him. I do think regardless that Moraga has the advantage in this fight on his feet we will see him use his wrestling skills and takedown abilities to get this to the mat. Once he gets the fight to the mat he will use some ground and pound to open Reis’ guard and slip in a submission. I know a few fights ago Moraga debated retiring and it made me sad to think of that, but I am glad he changed gyms and is now firing on a new cylinder. His opponent Wilson Reis is a very strong powerful fighter with a phenomenal ground game. Wilson is coming into this fight on a 2-fight losing streak, one of which is to the champion Demetrious Johnson. Reis is a black belt in BJJ who has some good ground and pound as well. Reis has some decent boxing skills but has not finished polishing them off as he has never finished a fight by KO as all 10 of his finishes have been by way of submission. This fight might be interesting if they keep this one standing, but if it goes to the mat we will see BJJ vs wrestling which lately has seemed to favor wrestling. This fight will be interesting. I have Moraga pulling off his 3rd straight win which he will get by way of unanimous decision.
Muslim Salikhov (12-2) vs. Rick Rainey (13-4): This fight will take place in the welterweight division between two knockout artists. Rick Rainey will be making his UFC debut in this fight. Rainey is coming in on a 2-fight win streak before his anticipated UFC debut. His nickname sniper is appropriate because this guy has a 77-inch reach which is huge for this weight class. This guy has the ability to land and keep himself untouched by his opponent which makes him a very dangerous opponent and he will have a full 7 inches in this fight. Rainey has stopped 6 fights in the very first round and 8 fights total of his 13. His striking abilities are impressive but with that reach it goes without saying and his clinch skills are great and if he gets in trouble he can rely on the clinch to get his head back and still do damage. Now his opponent Muslim Salikhov lost his UFC debut and is looking for a way to turn it around in this fight. Muslim has the issues of starting to show fatigue after the first round and hopefully has worked on his conditioning coming into this fight. He has stopped all 12 of his wins, all 12 have been stopped in the first round. He has picked up 10 KO’s of those 12 stoppages. His Kung-Fu skills are incredible, he is the only non-Chinese fighter to win the Wushu Sanda King’s Cup. He is a 5-time Wushu Sanda world champion and an Olympic Sanda tournament champion. This fight will be an extremely interesting fight on the feet and the striking battle will be insane. I am hoping if there is no octagon debut nerves for Rainey and this fight goes as the skill sets say it could go. This fight is hard to call because of the range difference and the unknown factor of the ability to close the distance for Muslim. I think in the end we will see the distance work and Muslim tire trying to close the distance. Rick Rainey wins his UFC debut in the 3rd round through a KO/TKO victory.
Tim Boetsch (21-11) vs. Antonio Carlos Junior (10-2, 1NC): The main event of the FOX prelims will be a battle of opposites in the middleweight division. Antonio Carlos Junior is a great fighter but his stand-up needs to improve if he wants to become a true contender in this division because he has become fairly one dimensional. His ground game is so impressive though because he is an offensive Jiu-jitsu fighter. He does have really powerful hands and the ability to drop people, but he just hasn’t figured out how to close a fight with his striking yet. I believe this fight will be a true test for him as he will be facing the true barbarian of the UFC. Tim Boetsch a true UFC vet with an aggressive pace and powerful hands will be looking to keep this fight standing and close the 5-inch reach gap between him and Antonio Carlos Junior. Boetsch is a truly powerful fighter with the ability to stop fights with one punch and he never seems to slow down no matter the damage done to him. This fight on the feet could be one-sided and, on the ground, it could be a little lopsided as well in the other direction. I believe that the 5-inch reach could be a little too much for Boetsch and Carlos Junior will get a knockdown in which he will take advantage on the mat and pick up a submission in round 3.
UFC FOX Main Card (8 PM/ET):
#8 (7) Michelle Waterson (14-6) vs. #11 (10) Courtney Casey (7-5): We start off the main card in the women’s strawweight division. Courtney Casey is a well-rounded fighter who lost her last fight to Felice Herrig. Casey has stopped all 6 of her stoppage victories in the first round, 3 by submission and 3 by KO. She is a former soccer player whose career was cut short by injury and has picked up MMA and keep improving and I believe we will see her improve even from her last fight. Courtney is so well-rounded that it won’t matter where this fight goes she will still have the ability to win against most opponents, but she will want to keep this fight away from the mat. Now her opponent Michelle Waterson, “the Karate hottie”, is also an extremely well-rounded fighter. Michelle uses her very impressive speed of her hands and her Karate skills to make opponents respect her and fear charging her. Waterson will have a 5-inch disadvantage when it comes to reach but she will use her legs to keep the distance factor to a minimum, at least she should. Now Waterson has stopped 9 of her 12 stoppages by submission and if this goes to the ground we will most likely see her lock in another one. That being said I truly think this will be a back and fourth battle between two women looking to turn around their luck. I think Waterson wins this fight using her superior skills, striking and ground game both. Waterson wins by way of 2nd round submission.
#15 (NR) Israel Adesanya (12-0) vs. Marvin Vettori (12-3-1): This fight will take place in the middleweight division and is a battle between two young prospects of this division. Marvin Vettori is the much bigger fighter in this battle and normally uses his power to wobble an opponent and then shoot for a takedown and lock in a submission. Vettori is a brown belt in BJJ and is continuing to improve. Each time I have watched him fight I have seriously been impressed and he has me very excited for his future in this division and the UFC. Vettori is going to be facing a massive disadvantage in reach and honestly striking skills alone. He will need to use his takedowns and get the fight to the mat and force his weight to tire Isreal and land a submission win once he tires Isreal. Vettori is a massive favorite on the mat for sure. That being said this fight as all fights start on the feet and if Vettori can’t get this one to the mat he will need to land a big heavy hand which he has the power to do and hope that Isreal doesn’t have a granite chin. Now his opponent is making his 2nd appearance in the UFC and is considered to be the UFC’s most exciting prospect. Isreal Adesanya has a gaping weakness on the mat but I believe greatly that he is improving his ground skills and will become a complete mixed martial artist. He is a creative fighter and throws shots from unpredictable angles. His Muay-Thai skills are incredible and his ability to finish a fight with those skills in obvious as he has stopped all 12 of his fights by KO/TKO. If this fight stays standing he will have a 6-inch reach advantage and a superior skill set. If it goes to the ground, we will see Vettori use his weight to smother and exhaust Adesanya and pick up a submission win. This fight is as simple as where does this fight go. I think we will see the reach advantage be the X-factor and keep Vettori from being able to close the distance and land the needed takedowns. I believe Israel Adesanya will win by way of 1st round KO.
#13 (12) Carlos Condit (30-11) vs. Alex Oliveira (17-4-1, 2NC): The Co-main event of the evening will take place in the welterweight division. Well this fight would steal the show from most cards but with the main event that is on this card it will be nearly impossible, but it is possible with this one. This fight will be a complete and utter war. This fight was originally Condit vs Matt Brown, but Brown tore his ACL and we got blessed and Oliveira stepped in and gave the fight fans a truly incredible fight. Condit is always ready to put on a war and willing to get bloodied, and never stop fighting regardless of the amount of damage he received. Oliveira has been in some pretty incredible brawls himself and will always be able to put on a display against his opponents as well. This fight will be a lot of back and fourth fun. I think both fighters will leave the night bloody and battered. I know he is the underdog, but I feel he is always underestimated and Oliveira will pick up the win in the 3rd round by way of submission once he knocks down Condit.
#3 (5) Dustin Poirier (22-5, 1NC) vs. #6 (6) Justin Gaethje (18-1): The main event of the night will take place in the lightweight division! I believe this is honestly the front runner for fight of the year before it even happens. These are two incredible fighters with no quit in them. Dustin is a powerful yet clinical and nearly flawless striker. Gaethje is a psycho and his striking is much more wild, and will eat 3 or 4 shots to land one and keep smiling. Neither fighter ever really seems to tire in their fights and both always march forward and land. If this fight goes to the ground at all it will be only due to a knock down which I believe we could see multiple knockdowns in this fight and see blood fly during it. If you want to know what to really expect in this one Israel Adesanya said it best, “light a match and step back”. This will be an incredible fight and I think clinical beats sloppy and a granite chin. Poirier wins this one in the 3rd round after a back and forth bloody brawl and a fight of the year candidate.
Eric Jacino's UFC on 29 Predictions:
#Division Ranking (MMA Record) NC No Contest
Preliminary Card on UFC Fight Pass (Six Fights):
Bantamweight Bout: Luke Sanders, (11-2) vs. Patrick Williams, (8-5)
Prediction: Luke Sanders via 1st Round TKO
Bantamweight Bout: Matthew Lopez, (10-2) vs. Alejandro Perez, (20-6-1)
Prediction: Alejandro Perez via Split Decision
Heavyweight Bout: Adam Wieczorek, (9-1) vs. Arjan Singh Bhullar, (7-0)
Prediction: Arjan Singh Bhullar via Unanimous Decision
Welterweight Bout: Dhiego Lima, (14-6) vs. Yushin Okami, (34-11)
Prediction: Dhiego Lima via Unanimous Decision
Women's Flyweight Bout: Shana Dobson, (3-1) vs. Lauren Mueller, (4-0)
Prediction: Lauren Mueller via Unanimous Decision
Welterweight Bout: Gilbert Burns, (12-2) vs. Dan Moret, (13-3)
Prediction: Gilbert Burns via 3rd Round TKO
Fox Prelims (Four Fights):
Middleweight Bout: #13 Krzysztof Jotko, (19-3) vs. #15 Brad Tavares, (16-5)
Prediction: Brad Tavares via 2nd Round TKO
Flyweight Bout: #6 Wilson Reis, (22-8) vs. #10 John Moraga, (18-6)
Prediction: John Moraga via Unanimous Decision
Welterweight Bout: Muslim Salikhov, (12-2) vs. Ricky Rainey, (13-4)
Prediction: Ricky Rainey via 3rd Round TKO
Middleweight Bout: Tim Boetsch, (21-11) vs. Antonio Carlos Junior, (10-2) 1 NC
Prediction: Antonio Carlos Junior via 1st Round Submission
Fox 29 Main Card (Four Fights):
Women's Strawweight Bout: #7 Michelle Waterson, (14-6) vs. #10 Cortney Casey, (7-5)
Prediction: Michelle Waterson via 3rd Round Submission
Middleweight Bout: Israel Adesanya, (12-0) vs. Marvin Vettori, (12-3-1)
Prediction: Israel Adesanya via 1st Round TKO
C0-Main Event, Welterweight Bout: #12 Carlos Condit, (30-11) vs. Alex Oliveira, (17-4-1) 2 NC
Prediction: Carlos Condit via Unanimous Decision
Main Event, Lightweight Bout: #5 Dustin Poirier, (22-5) 1 NC vs. #6 Justin Gaethje, (18-1)
Prediction: Justin Gaethje via Split Decision
UFC 223 Fallout:
Devin Clark beats Mike Rodriguez by unanimous decision. This fight had the potential to be great, but Devin couldn’t hang on his feet and used his much heavier size to clinch and hold A LOT and made this fight come to a screeching halt. It worked for him but if he wants to beat top light heavyweight’s he is going to have to significantly improve his standup. Who should Clark fight next? I believe he should get Gadzhimurad Antigulov and prove he can handle a ranked fighter. Fight Grade: C-
Ashlee Evans-Smith defeats Bec Rawlings by unanimous decision. Ashlee pretty much dominated Bec in this fight using her larger size and weight to push Bec around. She was making her flyweight debut and she looked like she could do some damage in this division I would like to see her be tested a bit more and unfortunately this fight might have been the last of Bec’s UFC career as she moves to 7-8. I think Ashlee should fight Rachel Ostovich next and see where she stands in the flyweight division moving forward. Fight Grade: C-
Olivier Aubin-Mercier Knocks out #15 Evan Dunham in round 1: I mean I thought Olivier was going to win this one, but I had no idea he was going to do what he did. A great lightweight fight for the whole 54 seconds it lasted. I was pleasantly surprised, and I hope that he finds himself ranked now on UFC.com as he will surely be on my site. This fight lasted less than a minute as he weathered a very early storm from a power puncher in Dunham and KO’d him. I think Mercier should fight James Vick next in this division and see if he can crack the top 10. Fight Grade: B+
#3 Karolina Kowalkiewicz defeats #6 Felice Herrig by split decision: This fight had moments of excitement, but it seemed Felice got tired early into round 2 and that was when it slowed down. Felice should have considered shooting for a takedown to use her power and wrestling skills to get this fight in her control. Karolina dominated this fight on the feet really and set up a fight with either Gadelha or Joanna after this performance. I believe Felice Herrig should fight the winner of Waterson and Cortney Casey this weekend. Karolina Kowalkiewicz, I believe should fight Joanna for a number one contender spot in a rematch as Karolina has grown a lot. Fight Grade: B-
Chris Gruetzemacher stops Joe Lauzon by doctor stoppage at end of round 2. Joe started this fight incredibly well, but he tired so fast. This lightweight battle was fun though for the 10 minutes it lasted. Once Joe tired out Chris turned the tables and started dominating Joe and bloodied him fast. Chris was so much more powerful than Joe and just dominated him. I have to give Joe credit though as he never went down and kept fighting regardless of being completely battered and beaten to a pulp. I would like to see Chris fight Alexander Hernandez and set up a great standup brawl. Fight Grade: B
Zabit Magomedsharipov defeats Kyle Bochniak by unanimous decision: This featherweight brawl was fight of the night EASY. This fight was absolutely insane. Zabit showed his composure and skills. He was technical and precise. He was a lot of fun to watch and showed why 5 different featherweights turned him down. Bochniak showed that he is absolutely insane and kept coming regardless that he was getting battered and beaten. Every time Zabit hit him it seemed to fire him up even more, I see a future Diego Sanchez in this kid. I would like to see Bochniak and Dooho Choi throw down next. As for Zabit I would like to see him take on Ricardo Lamas in his next fight as he called out Yair Rodriguez but Yair has said he has a fight announcement coming out soon. Fight Grade: A++
#12 Renato Moicano defeats #14 Calvin Kattar by unanimous decision: This featherweight fight was actually really a dull fight which I wasn’t expecting. Moicano utilized the inside leg kicks and Kattar after getting his legs chopped couldn’t do much at all offensively. This fight would have been a great fight if they could have both gone at it. I was shocked that regardless Kattar didn’t have an offense that Moicano didn’t take the fight to the mat or at least stop it by KO. I think Kattar should fight Myles Jury in his next fight and set up a fun fight for the fans. Moicano I believe should take on the Korean Zombie Chan Sung Jung. Fight Grade: C
Champ Rose Namajunas defends her strawweight title against #1 Joanna Jedrzejczyk by unanimous decision: This fight was a really good back and forth battle between the top two women in the division. This fight showed that Rose doesn’t need to go to the mat to win a fight though even against top opposition. It is nice to see how much Rose’s stand-up game has developed and now shown that she is a very well-rounded fighter. Joanna needs to learn how to handle a fighter putting pressure on her because when she wasn’t moving forward she was getting beat. She needs to pick up a bit of better head movement, but I personally think she should go up to flyweight as it would be better for her career. I think Joanna should fight Karolina Kowalkiewicz if she stays at strawweight. I think next for Rose and her next title defense should be Jessica Andrade which would be an incredible fight. Fight Grade: B+
#2 Khabib Nurmagomedov defeats #11 Al Iaquinta by unanimous decision to win the lightweight belt: This fight might have changed opponents for Khabib 2 different times and been offered 5 different fighters, but this absolutely DID NOT live up to the hype. Khabib was known for being able to take his opponent to the mat and dominate them. That did not happen at all, Al kept fighting his way back to his feet and eventually managed to keep it standing with takedown defense. Iaquinta might have been able to win this fight if he got close and managed to use his striking skills but he looked worried to go for broke on his feet in fear of the takedown. Khabib when on his feet looked like he had no place among the elite of this division. His ground and pound is one thing but you can’t be a top fighter in the UFC without being a well-rounded mixed martial artist. I would love to see Iaquinta fight Michael Chiesa after this one. Khabib I personally want to see fight the winner of Poirier and Gaethje but realistically it will be Tony Ferguson or Conor McGregor. Fight Grade: D-
By Matt Koontz & Eric Jacinto
UFC 223: Khabib vs. Iaquinta: All right well I had my predictions done for the original card before Conor McGregor went crazy and acted like a thug or a child with a temper I am not sure which one is more accurate. All I can say is he is a disgrace and a pathetic excuse for a man. So I will keep my predictions on the website under this one but here are my updated projections for UFC 223’s new card. First off here are the fighters who are no longer on this card. Ray Borg due to glass in his eye from Conor, Michael Chiesa from lacerations due to glass thanks to Conor, Artem Lobov for being involved in the childish acts with Conor, those are the three fighters removed from being directly involved somehow by either being innocent bystander or in Artem’s case a moronic participant. The other fighters off the card are Alex Cacares who was supposed to fight Lobov and win, Brandon Moreno who was supposed to fight Borg in what would have been a great fight, and Anthony Pettis who was supposed to fight Michael Chiesa. Paul Felder is now off the card as well because Iaquinta moved up to the main event when Holloway was declared unfit to fight by NYSAC when they didn’t have a doctor make that decision which raises a lot of questions. Pettis was originally offered the title fight with Khabib to keep Felder and Iaquinta on the card but he was low balled by the UFC money wise for trying to save the main event. Felder then offered to take the fight but NYSAC is so dumb and said he can’t because he isn’t ranked on UFC.com’s rankings but is elsewhere including our personal rankings. Iaquinta according to NYSAC will not be fighting for a title shot only Khabib will be but that is because he weighed in at 155.2 lbs instead of 155 exactly with his underwear or shorts on. He didn’t need to use the towel because he wasn’t fighting for a title when he originally weighed in. Then went back to start hydrating and over an hour later found out he could fight for the title. If you ask anyone with common sense the underwear/shorts he was wearing would have been the .2 LBS and would have hit title weight without them. MMA fighters around the world were tweeting that but NYSAC has no brain cells and declared otherwise thankfully Dana White has a brain and said Iaquinta will be fighting for the belt regardless of NYSAC recognition as champion.
FS1 Prelims (8 PM/ET):
Devin Clark (8-2) vs. Mike Rodriguez (9-2): This LHW fight could be a great fight but at the same time it could be slow paced and lack the excitement the rest of the card contains. I really like Mike Rodriguez’s fight skills as a Muay Thai fighter and the ability he has to KO an opponent or pick up a win by submission if needed. He hasn’t once in his career let a fight he has won go to decision and I believe he could be the aggressor in this one and if he is he will win this fight. His opponent Devin Clark missed out on an opportunity to make a big name for himself in his last fight in which he was submitted by Jan Blachowicz. Devin brings a lot of speed in his hands along with some impressive power when paired with his speed. If he can avoid the big shots from Mike and use his speed and power as a counter striking option, then he could win this fight and get himself a ranked fighter again. I am not really sure who will pull off the win in this one, but I feel the Muay-Thai skills of Rodriguez will be the difference and get a 3rd round KO.
#15 (14) Evan Dunham (18-6-1) vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier (11-2): This fight will take place in the lightweight division. Olivier is riding a 3-fight win streak and looking to get a number next to his name if he can pick up his 4th straight in arguably the most stacked division in the UFC. He is a durable fighter with the ability to take shots unfortunately for him his standup hasn’t proven to be a positive for him. His known strengths are his wrestling and grappling which he excels at. His opponent Evan Dunham is a BJJ black belt with no quit in him if he gets in trouble, he will never stop pushing for the wins. Evan does have some decent striking as he has picked up 3 KO’s in his professional career and has been working hard at becoming a complete fighter. I think this fight will go the distance and we could see a newly ranked fighter come Monday as I believe Olivier Aubin-Mercier wins by unanimous decision.
Bec Rawlings (7-7) vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith (5-3): This fight in the flyweight division will be pretty interesting but should be the least exciting fight of the night just because of how stacked this card is. Ashlee is coming in on a 2-fight losing streak and will need to snap it and if she wants to do so she will need to be the aggressor and use her phenomenal ground and pound. If she can control the pace of this fight she will turn her bad luck of late around and grab a needed win. Now her opponent Bec Rawlings is probably fighting for her job in the UFC as she is coming in on a 3-fight losing streak and if she loses will have a losing record overall. Bec is an aggressive fighter but she has a good few holes in her fight skills and will need to have really worked and fixed them if she wants to remain in the UFC. Hopefully the weight-class change will help her and make her a better overall fighter. This fight will be interesting to see who turns around their bad luck though I take Ashlee Evans-Smith to win this one by way of unanimous decision.
#3 (4) Karolina Kowalkiewicz (11-2) vs. #6 (8) Felice Herrig (14-6): The main event of the televised prelims is going to be a great fight between two people who are championship fight bound with a win soon in the women’s strawweight division. Felice Herrig is riding a 4-fight win streak and I personally love what she brings to the UFC. She brings a fun, loving, positive attitude, of who loves her fans. She is a great fighter who sets up a fast pace and uses her great stamina to keep that pace tiring her opponents. Her nickname Lil’ Bulldog is appropriate because she is a feisty fighter who never backs down no matter how deep into trouble she is. She is a very well-rounded fighter with good striking and great wrestling. Now her opponent has been a title contender already and will be back there again some-day. Karolina is a very good fighter who is versatile enough to be able to handle a fight standing or on the mat. Karolina is a great fighter for the first two rounds, but she tends to slow a little towards the end of a fight and if this fight goes into the third she will find that her opponent doesn’t slow at all. This fight will really be a great one for the fans and a true test to both to see who is most ready for a title shot or a shot at Andrade for the title shot. I think Herrig wins this one in the 3rd round via submission.
Joe Lauzon (27-15) vs. Chris Gruetzemacher (13-3): The king of performance of the night bonuses will be in this lightweight bout, Joe Lauzon. Lauzon hates letting the fights go to decision and he will most likely be the same ol Lauzon in this one pushing the pace looking for his takedown shots. If Joe can get Chris to the mat it most likely will be over shortly as he has finished 17 of his 27 professional wins by way of submission. He has 6 Submission of the night bonuses just to show you how great his submissions are. Joe is coming off 2 straight loses and looks to turn it around and maybe pick up another performance of the night bonus like only he can. His opponent Chris Gruetzemacher will be looking to stop this from happening. Chris was a collegian wrestler and is now a jiu-jitsu fighter though his last two fights he lost by way of submission. If this fight goes to the mat I think he will be overwhelmed and out-classed as he will want to keep this one standing at all costs and look for a KO. This fight could be great or over quick. I think Lauzon gets a takedown though in round 1 and lands a RNC submission in the first round.
Zabit Magomedsharipov (14-1) vs. Kyle Bochniak (8-2): The featherweight division will be on display in this one. This will be a second fight for Bochniak in 2018 coming off a win over Brandon Davis. If Kyle wants to win this fight he will need to use his stand-up and close the distance and push the pressure. Kyle is a good fighter but he could be out performed by the incredible talent of Zabit. Zabit is someone to watch in this division as he has impressed me greatly since he entered the UFC as he has picked up 2 wins in as many fights with 2 submissions which were performance of the night winners. Zabit is a Wushu-Sanda fighter which is basically Chinese Kungfu. His incredible wrestling is well-known but isn’t his only skill set as he has just as many submission finishes as he does KO finishes and could do well in a standup fight. I got Zabit winning this fight in the 2nd round via submission after he lands a takedown.
#12 (11) Renato Moicano (11-1-1) vs. #14 (13) Calvin Kattar (18-2): The last fight before we get to the two title fights and it is a great fight between two ranked featherweights. Kattar is 2-0 since joining the UFC and has really made a great impression on us fight fans and shown he can improve just between his first and second fight in the UFC. Kattar is on a 10-fight win streak riding a hot hand as his striking skill set is really incredible. His ground game could use some work and his blue belt in BJJ will be really tested in this fight. He does have two submissions in his career, but I can also say with confidence he hasn’t fought an opponent as skilled on the mat as Moicano. Now Moicano hasn’t fought since his first career loss which came to Brian Ortega in a fight of the night showdown where he was submitted in round 3. Moicano is a BJJ genius and a Muay-Thai fighter, he actually teaches Muay-Thai in his gym. Moicano will be outmatched if this fight stays standing long and will be overwhelmed so he should find a way to get it to the ground quick and change the pace of the fight. Moicano hasn’t ever stopped a fight by way of KO/TKO and is facing one good striker who can cause him problems on the feet. I think this fight is really interesting for the bantamweight division and I see Kattar coming out the other side with his hand raised by way of 2nd round KO.
Champ: Rose Namajunas (8-3) vs. #1 (1) Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-1): The Co-Main event of the evening has been a fight we have been waiting for since the original fight between the two ended. This is going to be the first time in her career that Joanna is coming into a fight off a loss and she is doing it to try and recapture her old title against the one person who dethroned her. It was a shock to many including Joanna, but it wasn’t to me because if you watch Rose she doesn’t waiver she doesn’t break she handles the pressure. Joanna needs to ignore the pressure, the fact that she can’t get into Rose’s head, the fans, and her own doubts if she has any. Joanna to win this fight will need to avoid the mat and use her Muay-Thai skills. If she can use her legs and power/fast hands she will be the champ again. She has to be the one to put the pressure on Rose and keep backing Rose down, the best Joanna is an aggressive Joanna. Now her opponent Rose is one of the most loveable human beings in the world of MMA. She is calm, patient yet aggressive, intelligent, a great heart inside and outside the octagon, should be a fan favorite because of the way she is and her fight skills alone. Rose is an aggressive fighter who’s striking skills have become so much better than they were when she originally entered the UFC. Now her ground game is the best in my eyes of all women in the UFC as she can submit people in her sleep, I’ve even seen her submit her boyfriend Pat Berry who has easily 100lbs on her in a training session before. If Rose can apply the pressure like she did in their previous fight and keep Joanna from setting up her striking she will walk out the champ still because then she can control the fight entirely. I think this fight could be one for the record books, but we will see the championship remain where it is and Joanna go up to flyweight following this fight. I have Rose winnings this one in the 4th round by way of a guillotine choke.
#2 (2) Khabib Nurmagomedov (25-0) vs. #11 (11) Al Iaquinta (15-3): I think it is crazy to call Al a huge underdog as Khabib hasn’t faced anyone as aggressive, powerful, and skillful as a wrestler as Al is. I do love what Al brings to this fight but I still think Khabib has the slight edge and will win the lightweight title by way of 2nd round TKO.
- Matt Koontz
#UFC Division Rankings (Record) (C) Champion
FS1 Prelims Card:
Light Heavyweight Bout: Devin Clark, (8-2) vs. Mike Rodriguez, (9-2)
Prediction: Devin Clark via Split Decision
Women's Flyweight Bout: Bec Rawlings, (7-7) vs. Ashlee Evans-Smith, (5-3)
Prediction: Bec Rawlings via Unanimous Decision
Lightweight Bout: #14 Evan Dunham, (18-6-1) vs. Oliver Aubin-Mercier, (11-2)
Prediction: Oliver Aubin-Mercier via 2nd Round Submission
Women's Strawweight Bout: Karolina Kowalkiewicz, (11-2) vs. Felice Herrig, (14-6)
Prediction: Karolina Kowalkiewicz via 2nd Round TKO
Main Card on PPV:
Lightweight Bout: Joe Lauzon, (27-15) vs. Chris Gruetzemacher, (13-3)
Prediction: Joe Lauzon via 1st Round TKO
Featherweight Bout: Zabit Magomedsharipov, (14-1) vs. Kyle Bochniak, (8-2)
Prediction: Kyle Bochniak via Unanimous Decision
Featherweight Bout: #11 Renato Moicano, (11-1-1) vs. #13 Calvin Kattar, (18-2)
Prediction: Calvin Kattar via 1st Round TKO
Co-Main Event, Women's Strawweight Championship Bout: #1 Joanna Jedrzejczyk, (14-1) vs. (C) Rose Namajunas, (8-3)
Prediction: Joanna Jedrzjczyk via 4th Round TKO to become the UFC Strawweight Champion
Main Card, Lightweight Championship Bout: #11 Al Iaquinta, (13-3-1) vs. #2 Khabib Nurmagomedov, (25-0)
Note: If Khabib wins he's the Lightweight champion but if Iaquinta wins he is the unofficial Lightweight champion, it's a very confusing situation as Tony Ferguson is still known as the Interim Lightweight champion. As Matt said above NYSAC won't consider Iaquinta as champion but Dana White said he would be if he wins.
Prediction: Khabib Nurmagomedov via 2nd Round TKO to become the "Official" UFC Lightweight champion.