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 Fightpass Early Prelims (7 PM/ET):
Jamie Moyle (4-2) vs. Emily Whitmire (2-2): These two women in the strawweight division will be kicking off the night on fightpass. This fight won’t have much in it but I think we will see it go to mat a couple times and Moyle grab a 3rd round submission over Whitmire.
#14 (NR) Dan Hooker (17-7) vs. Gilbert Burns (14-2): This fight being the FIghtpass main event shows you how good the rest of the card is because this is definitely worthy of a televised prelims spot. This lightweight brawl is between two guys who don’t let their fights go to the judges often and love to finish both standing and on the mat so we could see a true war here. Hooker tends to get hit some going in and getting hit by Burns is dangerous and will be the difference maker in this fight. Gilbert Burns wins by 2nd round TKO catching Hooker going for a takedown.
FS1 Prelims (8 PM/ET):
Curtis Millender (15-3) vs. Max Griffin (14-4): We kick off the televised weigh-ins with a bang in the welterweight division. This fight could be a good start to these loaded televised prelims. Griffin will want to get the fight to the mat and take advantage of his superior ground skills. Millender is going to need to pace himself and land shots if he can do that he will come out the winner. Max Griffin wins by way of unanimous decision.
Lando Vannata (9-2-1) vs. Drakkar Klose (8-1-1): This fight in the lightweight division will definitely be a back and forth battle between two very skilled mixed martial artists. We learned in Drakkar’s last fight that if you frustrate him and can prevent him from his game plan he tends to give up and really not show the maturity he needs inside the octagon. That being said that can be fixed with good coaching and I think it will be in this one as Klose picks up the win in round 1 with a TKO.
#2 (3) Raphael Assuncao (26-5) vs. #10 (11) Rob Font (15-3): This bantamweight showdown is going to be a very technical battle and I believe we could see some slow feeling out to start the fight with the action picking up in the 2nd round. Raphael Assuncao is in the end the better all-around fighter and will pick up the win by split decision.
#10 (9) Uriah Hall (14-8) vs. #7 (10) Paulo Costa (11-0): This middleweight fight is the main event of the prelims and we will not see 3 full rounds in this one. This fight honestly should have betting odds if it will make it out of the first 3 minutes as these two absolute monsters throw heavy fists and will be looking for a quick KO. Hall will need to use his reach and speed to win this fight. He can let Costa get into bomb range otherwise he will be going to sleep from a heavy Costa bomb. Costa will need to push the pace and get in tight to win this fight which I see him doing. Costa wins this fight in the 1st by way of KO.
UFC 226 Main Card: (10 PM/ET):
Gokhan Saki (1-1) vs. Khalil Rountree Jr. (7-3): The first fight of the main card takes place in the light heavyweight division and there will be fireworks. You can bet on someone getting knocked out in this fight. The only thing to solve is who. I am so torn on this fight you can honestly flip a coin because it is razor thin but I will go with Saki pulling off the win in the 2nd round by way of TKO after a great fight in the 1st between the two.
#7 (9) Michael Chiesa (14-3) vs. #11 (12) Anthony Pettis (20-7): This fight in the lightweight division has Michael Chiesa coming in over weight after missing and not being able to cut the weight due to hydration issues. He immediately did announce he will be done at 155 after this fight and it worries me he will be gassed in this one. One fighter I would put in the top 10 of the UFC that you wouldn’t want to fight any less than 100% is Anthony Pettis. Pettis has been showing improvement lately and if he can put it together and push his pace. I have a tired Chiesa losing this one and Pettis winning in the 3rd round by way of submission.
#10 (LW) (14) Paul Felder (15-3) vs. Mike Perry (11-3): This fight was originally Mike Perry vs. Yancy Medeiros but Yancy got hurt and Felder steps in at a weight class up for him. Perry has changed gyms to Jackson-Wink and that could be huge as he needed to polish up the holes in his game and this will be the first time we have seen him since the change. He will be getting a huge test here in Felder and might be outmatched. Felder wins in round 2 by TKO.
#1 (1) Francis Ngannou (11-2) vs. #4 (5) Derrick Lewis (19-5, 1NC): The new co-main event will live up to the hype. These two man throw BOMBS. Neither one will leave this fight without some damage and I don’t see how it gets out of round 1 honestly. Be ready for a big man to go down in this one. Ngannou looked really good on the scales and energetic compared to his Stipe fight. I think Francis will win this fight in the 1st round by way of KO.
Champ: Stipe Miocic (18-2) vs. LHW Champ Daniel Cormier (20-1, 1NC): The main event is a superfight as DC technically comes up a weight class to try and win the heavyweight division. He weighed more than Miocic at weigh in’s and will use his fat weight if he can to smother Stipe and keep this fight close otherwise DC will get absolutely destroyed. DC can’t win a standing fight in this one and will need to get this to the ground. Stipe didn’t need to do much prep if any for his striking for this fight. Hopefully he worked on his takedown defense and how to defend the big man just laying on him like he loves to do on the mat. If this fight stays standing which I believe it won’t in round 1 but Stipe will keep it up in round 2 the winner will be the current HW champ. The fight goes to ground and stays there than DC will win this one. I have Stipe winning this fight in round 2 by way of KO catching DC trying for a takedown.
Eric's UFC 226 Predictions:
Fight Pass Prelims 7pm ET (2 Fights)
Women's Strawweight Bout: Emily Whitmire, (2-2) vs. Jamie Moyle, (4-2)
Prediction: Emily Whitmire via Unanimous Decision
Lightweight Bout: Dan Hooker, (16-7) vs. Gilbert Burns, (14-2)
Prediction: Dan Hooker via Unanimous Decision
FS1 Prelims (4 Fights):
Welterweight Bout: Curtis Millender, (15-3) vs. Max Griffin, (14-4)
Prediction: Curtis Millender via 1st Round TKO
Lightweight Bout: Lando Vannata, (9-2-1) vs. Drakkar Klose, (8-1-1)
Prediction: Drakkar Klose via Split Decision
Bantamweight Bout: #3 Raphael Assuncao, (26-5) vs. #11 Rob Font, (15-3)
Prediction: Raphael Assuncao via Unanimous Decision
Middleweight Bout: #9 Uriah Hall, (14-8) vs. #10 Paulo Costa, (11-0)
Prediction: Paulo Costa via 2nd Round TKO
Main Card PPV, (5 Fights)
Light Heavyweight Bout: Gokhan Saki, (1-1) vs. Khalil Roundtree Jr. , (7-3)
Prediction: Khalil Roundtree via 1st Round TKO
Catchweight (Lightweight) Bout (157.5): #9 Michael Chiesa, (14-3) vs. #12 Anthony Pettis, (20-7)
Prediction: Anthony Pettis via Split Decision
Welterweight Bout: #14 Paul Felder, (15-3) vs. Mike Perry, (11-3)
Prediction: Paul Felder via Split Decision
Co-Main Event, Heavyweight Bout: #1 Francis Ngannou, (11-2) vs. #5 Derrick Lewis, (19-5), 1NC
Prediction: Derrick Lewis via 3rd Round KO
Super-Fight, Main Event UFC World Heavyweight Title Bout (UFC Light Heavyweight Champ), Daniel Cormier, (20-1), 1 NC vs. (UFC Heavyweight Champ), Stipe Miocic, (18-2)
Prediction: Stipe Miocic via Unanimous Decision to remain the UFC Heavyweight Champ