By Eric Jacinto, Matt Koontz and Mike Whitstone
One of the biggest PPVs in UFC history is about to take place and the main event is the reason for this. Khabib and McGregor’s rivalry and hate is well known and documented. The fight is for more than just the lightweight belt. The rest of the card is absolutely stacked, and we will be treated to a great night as fight fans. Most people are getting caught up in just the McGregor and Khabib hype, but this card is no joke. Mike did a phenomenal job with his picks so I myself (Matt) will only be putting my differences in picks. If I have a different winner, I will write a small analysis on why.
I myself (Eric) will only be putting my predictions (not the early Prelims as I'm doing this little after 6:30pm ET) as Matt and Mike did an excellent job on their breakdown/analysis of all the fights on this great card. I'm so looking forward this fight and have been for for awhile. As Matt said it's not just about McGregor vs Khabib, you have another Lightweight bout that's pretty good in the Co-Main event as Tony Ferguson battles the former UFC Lightweight champion, Anthony "Showtime" Pettis.
By Matt Koontz
UFC Fight Night Boise: Dos Santos vs. Ivanov: This fight card is stacked, and it is like it was kept a secret. The UFC barely advertised this card and most fans seem to know nothing about this card. It is a shame because this card will be one of the best FS1 cards of 2018. I am excited for the entire card top to bottom.
By Matt Koontz and Eric Jacinto
UFC 226: Miocic vs. Cormier: Well this card lost what I believe was the most exciting fight on the card when Holloway had a terrible health scare and has shown some issues similar to a concussion. Ortega was offered Jeremy Stephens and I was told other fighters as well, but he turned them all down really making me lose a bit of respect for that. People can argue he had a camp for Holloway but he would be taking on a fighter without a camp at all on 3 days’ notice who would be tired from cutting the weight unexpectedly and he is supposed to be the best in the division in his own words, so he should be able to take on any opponent. The UFC then tried to schedule Edgar vs. Stephens for the interim featherweight belt. Edgar and Stephens both accepted but Edgar’s family then said there is no way he can take this fight so that fight fell through. So, moving to the co-main is Ngannou vs. Lewis and stepping up to the main card is Felder vs. Perry. Here are my predictions for this card following the weigh-in’s Friday morning.
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.