By Eric Jacinto, Matt Koontz and Mike Whitestone
Tonight from, Las Vegas is UFC 235 featuring two World Title fights, as Tyron Woodley defends his UFC Welterweight Title against Kamaru Usman. Jon Jones defends his Light Heavyweight title against Anthony Smith. Also on the card is the UFC debut of Ben Askren taken on former UFC Welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler. Myself, Matt and Mike will predict the card, Mike will only do the ESPN and Main card only.
Women's Strawweight Bout: Hannah Cifers (8-3) vs. Polyana Viana (10-2):
Hannah wins this tough fight by way of split decision. Should be a good fight to kick off the night. – Matt Koontz
Eric Jacinto's Prediction: Polyana Viana via 2nd Round Submission.
Women's Bantamweight Bout: Gina Mazany (5-2) vs. Macy Chiasson (4-0):
This fight has some heat between the two women. I think Macy Chiasson is rolling and picks up a win unanimous decision. – Matt K
Eric's Prediction: Gina Mazany via 1st Round TKO.
Middleweight Bout: Edmen Shahbazyan (8-0) vs. Charles Byrd (10-5):
This fight is a fire fight that will make ESPN + prelims worth the watch. I am so excited for this middleweight brawl. Edmen is an unstoppable force and will grab a 3rd round TKO after a crazy fun fight. – Matt K
Eric's Prediction: Charles Byrd via 1st Round TKO
Welterweight Bout: Diego Sanchez (30-11) vs. Mickey Gall (5-1):
We are kicking off tonight's fantastic card with fireworks. This fight is between someone who has finished all of his fights and a veteran who used to be one of the most dangerous fighters to be stuck against. Mickey Gall has ended all of his fights via submission and only one of them wasn't in the first round. He is a brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and blue belt in Muay Thai and uses his skills to swarm his opponent, get them down and lock in the submission. His opponent is the great, Diego Sanchez. Sanchez has put on many instant classics and was once almost unstoppable. As a matter of fact, he only lost 2 fights out of his first 23. He was known to take an unbelievable beating and keep coming, but unfortunately that time has passed. He has lost 9 of his last 16 fights and has been unable to take half the amount of damage that he used to. Interestingly, Sanchez has never been submitted. I think that's going to change here because Sanchez can't take damage anymore and Gall lands a bunch of strikes so I think Gall is going to take this to the ground. Then he is going to land something that will rock Sanchez and lock in a submission victory in the first. – Mike Whitestone
I am in love with both of these guys and want to point something out in this one. Mickey Gall has never KO/TKO’d anyone before. Diego Sanchez has never been submitted. This fight will be fun but I think in the end Sanchez wins by a late 3rd round TKO. – Matt K
Eric's Prediction: Mickey Gall via 2nd Round Submission.
Bantamweight Bout: (#11) Cody Stamann (17-2) vs. (#12) Alejandro Perez (21-6-1):
Next up is two ranked bantamweights. Alejandro Perez is on a 7 fight undefeated streak with a draw smack in the middle. In his career he has 9 knockouts and 5 submissions with 9 first round finishes. Perez lands an average of 3.7 significant strikes per minute, but that only makes up about 35% of total strikes landed so he lands about 10 strikes per minute. His opponent tends to land about the same amount of total strikes but has a higher percentage of significant strikes sitting at an even 50%. Cody Stamann finishes less than half of his opponents, but he pushes the pace, keeps them on the ground with his wrestling skills and outstrikes them. He lost to Aljamain Sterling in his last fight which snapped a 10-fight win-streak. I believe that Stamann will control the fight again and use his abilities to grind out his opponent for a decision victory. – Mike W
I agree with mike on this one Stamann via decision. – Matt K
Eric's Prediction: I agree with both guys here and I have Cody Strmann via Unanimous Decision.
Light Heavyweight Bout: (#14) Misha Cirkunov (14-4) vs. (#15) Johnny Walker (16-3):
Misha Cirkunov is a beast. He has 8 wins by knockout and 4 by submission with 10 of his 12 finishes in the first round. His opponent is something else though. Johnny Walker is already on his third UFC fight after debuting in November and it's because he is running through people. He has 13 wins by knockout and 2 submissions with 13 first round finishes. He is also on a 8 fight win-streak. Cirkunov has a good success rate for takedowns and an even better takedown defense, but I doubt that'll matter in this fight because Walker hasn't attempted one takedown and has a perfect defense. I think this fight will go just like the others and Walker will walk away with a first round knockout. – Mike W
Johnny Walker is a tank that can’t be stopped. He wins this one via 1st round KO. – Matt K
Eric's Prediction: Johnny Walker via 1st Round TKO.
(#6) Jeremy Stephens (28-15) vs. (#13) Zabit Magomedsharipov (16-1):
This may be the toughest fight of Zabit's career so far in Jeremy Stephens. Magomedsharipov is currently on a 12 fight win-streak. In his career he obtained 7 wins by submission and 6 wins by knockout. Zabit is a Master of Sport in Sanda and is not only a multiple time National Champion he has also won the European title once. On top of this first-rate striking, he averages 7 takedowns a fight. His opponent is a top-ranked guy who fights the exact same way. Stephens isn't as successful with takedowns, but he likes to control the pace and land a lot of shots wherever he can. In his career he has 19 knockouts and 2 submissions with 13 first round finishes. I think this fight is going to be a long war with both guys landing a lot, but due to Zabit having a higher amount of strikes landed will be able to pull off a TKO in the third.
– Mike W
Jeremy Stephens is going to once again shock the world. Zabit is going to be overpowered by the stronger striker and a lot of people are writing off Stephens which is even more motivation for a killer. – Matt K
Eric's Prediction: Zabit Magomedsharipov via Unanimous Decision.
UFC 235 Main Card:
(#2) Cody Garbrandt (11-2) vs. (#8) Pedro Munhoz (17-3):
Kicking off the main card is another pair of ranked bantamweights. Pedro Munhoz has won 9 fights by submission and 3 by knockout with 7 finishes in the first. I'm not sure how a takedown is scored because Munhoz only has a 20% success rate even with his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and nine submission wins so he is getting people to the ground somehow. He is an active striker landing an average of 5 significant strikes per minute but also takes about 6 significant per minute so he's better off grappling. Cody Garbrandt was undefeated until he ran into TJ, who handed him two losses in a row. Garbrandt is a great striker with 9 knockout wins and an almost perfect boxing record in 33 matches. Munhoz has the potential to catch Garbrandt since we haven't seen really anything from Cody grappling, but the big issue is Munhoz' inability to block shots. Garbrandt can throw bombs and for Munhoz to take more strikes than he lands makes me think that this fight is going to end in the first or second with Garbrandt landing a huge knockout. – Mike W
I 100% agree with Mike I think Munhoz can develop to be a great fighter, but I think he is in over his head with the striking skills of his opponent. Cody wins by 1st round TKO. – Matt K
Eric's Prediction: Cody Garbrandt via 1st Round TKO.
Women's Strawweight Bout: (#7) Tecia Torres (10-3) vs. (#15) Weili Zhang (18-1):
Weili Zhang is looking to make a name for herself tonight. Zhang is on a 18 fight win streak, losing only her first fight ever and even has a couple UFC wins under her belt. She has 9 wins by knockout and 7 by submission with 10 first round finishes. She has the high of the night landing an average of 6.5 significant strikes per minute which is only about half of her strikes meaning she lands about 14 strikes a minute. So far she barely gets hit and hasn't been taken down. Her opponent has gone the distance with some of the best. Tecia Torres has 1 submission victory which is the only of her 13 fights to not go to decision. She is a black belt in karate and taekwondo and a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Zhang has a good record, but I think Torres has this one. I say she will grind her opponent out and pick up another decision win here.
– Mike Whitestone
I love the Tiny Tornado as she is one of the most incredible women in the UFC but Zhang is a killer. I mean she is an absolute murderer and will push the pace and pick up a 2nd round TKO of Tecia. – Matt K
Eric's Prediction: Weili Zhang via 1st Round TKO
Welterweight Bout: (#6) Robbie Lawler (28-12) vs. Ben Askren (18-0):
Up next is the UFC debut of hands down the greatest welterweight to never fight in the UFC. Ben Askren is not only undefeated but the longest reigning Welterweight Champ in both Bellator and One history. Askren is an Olympic level wrestler and is the head wrestling coach at Roufusport so he literally trains Woodley and the Pettis brothers. In his career he has 6 wins by knockout and 5 by submission with 8 first round finishes. In my opinion Askren will need to take this to the ground if he wants to win this because he is facing one of the most dangerous strikers in the welterweight division. Robbie Lawler is a monster with more knockout victories than Askren has fights (20). Lawler has a good takedown defense but struggles against people with a good ground game which is where Askren excels. I think Askren is going to get this fight to the ground and pick up a submission victory. – Mike W
Ben Askren is one of my all-time favorite mixed martial artists, but my simple fear is that he isn’t taking Lawler serious enough and will get caught in the 3rd round by a strike. Lawler by 3rd round TKO. – Matt K
Eric's Prediction: Ben Askren via 2nd Round TKO.
(C) Tyron Woodley (19-3) vs. (#2) Kamaru Usman (14-1):
On to the co-main event and this is the first of two title fights tonight. The challenger, Kamaru Usman, is going into this fight on a 13 fight win-streak. Usman isn't a high percentage finisher only finishing exactly half of his fights. He has 6 wins by knockout and 1 by submission with 3 of the 7 finished in the first. However he still gets the job done because he lands almost triple the amount of strikes than gets landed on him. He also lands about 5 takedowns a fight and has never been taken down. His opponent is on a seven fight undefeated streak. Tyron Woodley is a National Champion in wrestling and has used it to also have a near perfect takedown defense. Woodley used to really push the pace in his fights and land a lot of strikes, but since he won the title he has slowed down and just aims to win rounds. I think Usman is going to overwhelm him and manage to take him down and just beat on him. I think it will take a few rounds, but Usman will get a TKO in the second or third. – Mike W
Usman is superior on every level. He picks up the win via 1st round TKO from ground strikes. – Matt K
Eric's Prediction: Kamaru Usman via Unanimous Decision to win the Welterweight Title.
(C) Jon Jones (23-1) vs. (#3) Anthony Smith (31-13): On to the second title fight of the night. Anthony Smith has been undefeated since moving up to the light heavyweight division and has only 2 losses in his last 16 fights. In his career he has 17 knockouts and 11 submissions with 15 of them being in the first round. My issue is he doesn't have a great track record with big names. For his middleweight run, Hector Lombard was the biggest name he beat and he lost to Thiago Santos. For light heavyweight, he beat Shogun and Rashad Evans who both shouldn't be fighting anymore. He also beat Oezdemir which he almost lost to in the first then managed to outlast him. Smith would need to keep this a very close fight to be able to work his striking. Jones however uses both his almost 85 inch reach and relentless use of front leg kicks to keep everyone away from him and it has helped him to out strike all of his opponents by almost double. My personal feelings on the whole Jones problem has me rooting for Smith tonight, but Jones doesn't lose and I don't think it's going to happen here tonight. Smith's biggest asset is getting close and dropping heavy shots and we have all seen Jones keep people at a ridiculous distance and bore us to death until it's over so I say Jones is going to win by decision. – Mike W
Anthony Smith hopefully solved the puzzle of Jon Jones and has learned to walk forward and deal with the leg kicks. If Anthony figured it out he will win this fight. I have Anthony winning this fight via 2nd round KO shocking the world. #ANDNEW. – Matt K
Eric's Prediction: Jon Jones via 3rd Round TKO.
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