Saturday, October 3, 2015

UFC 192: My Predictions

Finally, another stacked UFC PPV!  As much as I am disappointed by the loss of Hendricks vs. Woodley (which was scrapped due to a weight cut which ended with Hendricks going to the hospital), there are still enough other matches to keep this card solid.  Here are my predictions for each fight:

Eye vs. Pena:  Julianna Pena is a tenacious, powerful monster who has crushed everyone who has gotten in her way since she was on "The Ultimate Fighter."  I believe she is actually the greatest threat to Ronda Rousey at the moment, because, in addition to her ferocity, heart, and KO power, she has never failed a test for steroids (unlike a certain other "challenger" who's not even on UFC's roster).  In contrast, Jessica Eye seems to have peaked with her decision victory over Sarah Kaufman in October of 2013 (which was overturned due to a failed drug test for marijuana).  While she is a decent technical striker, she was manhandled for 2 out of 3 rounds in her match against Alexis Davis  and dominated in her fight against Miesha Tate.  In other words, she is currently in gatekeeper mode, and I believe that Pena will mow her down with ground-and-pound in Round 2 on the way to getting a title shot.

My prediction: Julianna Pena by TKO.

Benavidez vs. Bagautinov:  I have never seen Bagautinov fight, but I have seen Benavidez, who would be flyweight champion if it wasn't for the much faster "Mighty Mouse."  I see Benavidez staying at the top of the division by grinding out a decision victory with his wrestling.

My prediction: Joseph Benavidez by decision.

Jordan vs. Magomedov: I have to pick Jordan here, due to his UFC experience and that brutal headkick which took down Derrick Lewis in June.  I do not see this going the distance: Jordan will probably KO Magomedov in Round 2.

My prediction: Shawn Jordan by KO.

Bader vs. Evans: Three years ago, I would have gone with Evans.  However, the former champion has been on the shelf for 2 years due to injury and is 36, whereas Bader is 32 and on a 4-fight winning streak.  For that reason, I think "Darth" Bader is finally going to earn a title shot with a decision win over "Suga" in his comeback tour.

My prediction: Ryan Bader via decision.

Cormier vs. Gustafsson: After dominating Anthony "Rumble" Johnson, it is clear that "DC" is the best light heavyweight other than Jon Jones.  He arguably has the best wrestling technique in the UFC as well.  That being said, at 36, he is fighting on borrowed time.  Gustafsson, at 28, is in his prime, and spent three-and-a-half rounds brutalizing the guy who gave DC his first loss before getting robbed by the judges.  At the same time, we can't discount the fact that Gustafsson was violently knocked out by "Rumble" in one round, whereas DC popped right back up after getting hit with the same overhand right and managed to wear Johnson down with wrestling before submitting him in Round 3.  This fight comes down to strategy: if Gustafsson can use his boxing and footwork to keep DC at bay and drag him into the later rounds, then he will win by decision.  If DC can close the distance early and go "Zangief" on "The Mauler", then he will win by submission.  Personally, I believe that Gustafsson will be able to implement his game plan first and take the decision, albeit by the skin of his teeth, and set up a rematch to settle the score with Jon Jones (assuming "Bones" decides to come back to the UFC, of course).

My prediction: Gustafsson via decision.                             

Sunday, September 6, 2015

UFC 191: Business As Usual For Mighty Mouse

UFC wasn't the exciting "lopsided beatdown" gauntlet that I expected, but it was alright.  Here are my thoughts on each match of the PPV:

VanZant vs. Alex Chambers: As expected, "12 Gauge" manhandled the much older "Astro Girl" for the entire match.  This was mostly with knees in the clinch to show off her Muay Thai training, but she also did a neat headlock takedown in the first round.  Chambers looked horrific, falling backwards after a takedown attempt in Round 1 and simply getting shoved to the ground in Round 2.  VanZant capped off the most exciting fight of the main card in Round 3 by hitting Chambers with an overhand right, dropping her with a knee, going for a rear naked choke, transitioning to mount, and using ground-and-pound before finishing with an armbar.  Needless to say, she deserves a big step up in competition after this easy payday, preferably against my favorite strawweight, Joanne Calderwood.

Winner: Paige "12 Gauge" VanZant (submission)

Blachowicz vs. Anderson:  Jon Jones deserved to be stripped of his title and suspended by the UFC due to his behavior outside of the cage.  At the same time, without him, the light heavyweight division (with the exception of Cormier, Rumble, Gustafsson and Teixiera) sucks.  More proof of that is this fight, where Anderson won by basically lying in either Blachowicz's guard or half-guard for two out of three rounds.  If Jones ever does come back, he should just leave this wasteland behind and move on to heavyweight. 

Winner: Corey Anderson (unanimous decision).

Johnson vs. Manuwa:  Manuwa managed to avoid getting knocked out by "Rumble" until Round 2.  That is an accomplishment in and of itself.  Meanwhile, "Rumble" should cash the check from this easy payday and celebrate, especially after winning "Knockout of the Night" with that left body kick and overhand right.

Winner: Anthony "Rumble" Johnson (KO)

Arlovski vs. Mir:  I actually thought Mir did enough to edge out Arlovski with his takedowns and top control, since the striking was equally awful.  But this fight was so terrible that one of these men bragging about winning it is like a turtle bragging about beating another turtle in the 50-yard dash.  Neither man was trying to go for a finish: there were points during the fight where Mir would just stand with his arms down and taunt Arlovski and Arlovski would just stare back.  Suffice it to say that if Arlovski gets a title shot and fights like this, he's doomed.

Winner: Andrei "Pitbull" Arlovski (unanimous decision)

Johnson vs. Dodson: There was a moment of humor where at the end of Round 3, "Mighty Mouse" caught Dodson with a flying knee, fell on his back, and, as soon as the bell rang, he scurried away through Herb Dean's legs.  He also took down "The Magician" with a couple of WWE-style slams (Dodson used his hands to soften the first one) in Round 5.  Other than that, this was just another day in the office for "Mighty Mouse": superior technical striking and speed en route to a dominant decision.  After he beats Silva's record, I hope he goes back to bantamweight so that he can fight opponents who will actually challenge him.

Winner (and still UFC flyweight champion): Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson (unanimous decision) 



Saturday, September 5, 2015

UFC 191: My Predictions

The only thing shorter than this post will be tonight's PPV, because it's full of squash matches.  On the bright side, it should be exciting and will be a nice break after the horrendously long UFC 190 PPV.  Here are my predictions for tonight's card:

VanZant vs. Chambers: "Astro Girl" may rival "12 Gauge" in the looks department, but after VanZant's thrashing of Herrig in her last fight, I see a lopsided beating by the newcomer en route to a decision.

Winner: Paige VanZant

Blachowicz vs. Anderson: My gut tells me Blachowicz will get the KO in Round 2.

Winner: Jan Blachowicz

Johnson vs. Manuwa:  This is a clear tuneup fight for "Rumble."  Manuwa should be proud of himself if he gets out of Round 1 without getting KO'd.

Winner: Anthony Johnson

Arlovski vs. Mir: "Pitbull" has been on a tear, most recently knocking out Travis Browne within one round.  As much respect as I have for Mir, there's no way his chin is going to hold up in this fight.  I see another KO for Arlovski on his way to a title shot.

Winner:  Andrei Arlovski

Johnson vs. Dodson: Like Ronda Rousey, "Mighty Mouse" is leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of his division.  In contrast, "The Magician" hasn't looked any different from his last title fight, especially after he was gifted a decision over Zach Makovsky in his last match (which I thought the latter won).  I see a clear decision win for Johnson en route to his quest to break Anderson Silva's record of title defenses.   

Winner (and still UFC flyweight champion): Demetrious Johnson. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

UFC 190: The Rousey Edition Of "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out"!

Rousey's "Verbal Bully Beatdown" of Bethe Correia was probably the most exciting round in WMMA history, and it only lasted 34 seconds!  Her "face-plant knockout" of Correia redeemed a PPV that had waaaaaaaaaaaaay too many fights.  Aside from the Rousey bout and two other matches, UFC 190 was like watching a first-degree black belt sweep the floor of a dojo.  Here are my thoughts on each fight of the card:

Gadelha vs. Aguilar:  Aside from a brief rally in Round 3 (which was prompted ended by a Gadelha spear), Aguilar was completely dominated both on the feet and on the ground.  Gadelha not only brutalized Aguilar's face with boxing combos, but she also planted Aguilar on her back with four double-leg takedowns that made Edge's spears in WWE look tame in comparison.  These included one which rammed Aguilar into the cage in Round 2.  Suffice it to say that Gadelha's rematch with Joanna Jedrzejczyk has been well-earned.

Winner: Claudia Gadelha (Unanimous decision)

Silva vs. Palelei: Palelei may have come out wearing the hands of the Incredible Hulk, but it was Bigfoot who did the smashing in Round 2 of their match.  Palelei took Round 1 with a whizzer and finished with some ground-and-pound.  However, in Round 2, Silva turned the tide with a right-uppercut, left knee, two straight rights, and finally another right uppercut that dropped "The Hulk" by the cage before finishing him on the ground.  Bigfoot may never get the title, but it seems that he can hang out in the UFC heavyweight division's mid-card for at least a year or two longer.

Winner: Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva (TKO)

Struve vs. Minotauro: This was when the PPV started to go downhill.  The match began with a weird "Octagon Ballroom Dancing" competition with Minotauro and Struve taking turns spinning each other around and pressing each other against the cage.  Later in the fight, Struve was trying the keep the distance with sporadic striking, whereas Minotauro looked like he was trying to hug "Skyscraper" to death.  It is really disappointing to have this snoozefest allegedly be Minotauro's last UFC match.

Winner: Stefan "Skyscraper" Struve (Unanimous decision)

Vieira vs. Lopes: There were more guillotines used in this fight than during The French Revolution!  Other than the main event, this was easily the most exciting fight of the night.  It began with both men pulling jumping guards and getting guillotines in the first round.  Both refused to tap when they were caught in the submission.  Then Vieira got a standing guillotine (Lopes slipped out).  Round 2 was a back-and-forth technical striking battle until Lopes got a takedown.  Then in Round 3, after another 4 minutes of back-and-forth striking, Lopes charged forward and swung for the fences, and later, got another guillotine after spearing Vieira.  Vieira refused to tap, even though he was bleeding all over the place.  In fact, when he slipped out, he did some ground-and-pound from Lopes' guard before time ran out.  I personally thought Lopes was robbed in this Ultimate Fighter Brazil finale match by the judges, but these two guys still put on a show which indicated that they are exactly the shot-in-the-arm that the bantamweight division needs.

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil Season 4 Bantamweight Winner: Reginaldo Vieira (Unanimous decision).

Bruno vs. Franca: Whatever momentum that UFC 190 regained from Vieira vs. Lopes was lost in this bout.  Franca got the submission by rear naked choke after grinding out Bruno for nearly three rounds.  Was it effective?  Yes.  Was it fun to watch?  No, and I'm one of the few UFC fans who actually enjoys grappling.  Congratulations to Franca for winning a UFC contract, but he's going to have to step it up if he wants to survive in the shark tank that's UFC's lightweight division.

The Ultimate Fighter Brazil Season 4 Lightweight Winner: Glaico Franca (Submission)

Shogun vs. Little Nog: This is the second time in a row that the worst fight on the PPV got "Fight of the Night" honors from the UFC.  Me and my friends were seriously hoping it would be brief so we could finally watch Rousey fight and, as you can guess, it didn't turn out that way.  The end of Round 1 had some action, with Little Nog getting an uppercut and teeing off  on Shogun against the cage with punches before getting knocked back with a phantom punch.  He also got a standing guillotine and tried to swarm him again later that round.  However, neither legend did much for the rest of the fight.  It was mostly them throwing a punch or kick every thirty seconds with some clinch work and the occasional takedown thrown in.  I was so bored that I was booing the flatscreen at the sports bar.  Not to mention that the judges robbed Little Nog at the end, giving the fight to Shogun.  I was positive that Little Nog deserved the win, especially after that guillotine in Round 3 which had Shogun bleeding out onto the canvas.  To be honest, though, this fight exposed both men as over-the-hill legends desperately trying to reclaim their former glory and failing miserably.

Winner: Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (Unanimous decision)

Rousey vs. Correia: This fight is WMMA's "Hearns vs. Hagler I"!  It was a brutal, 34-second slugfest that resulted in Correia flipping backward after a failed takedown attempt by Rousey.  Then Rousey swarmed her against the cage with a knee and punches.  Rousey shut up and shut down Bethe "Loudmouth" Correia with a straight right that knocked her out cold and sent her face first into the canvas.  I could no longer tell if I was at UFC 190 or watching someone demo a re-release of "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out" with Rousey as a secret character!  Both "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Rousey's dad would be proud.                      

Winner by KO (and still UFC Women's bantamweight champion): Ronda "Rowdy" Rousey!


Saturday, August 1, 2015

UFC 190: My Predictions

Thank goodness Ronda Rousey did not get injured, because she is basically the only selling point of an otherwise weak PPV.  Besides her "Trash-talker beatdown" match with Bethe Correia and what appears to be a tuneup fight for strawweight contender Claudia Gadelha, this event is mostly made up of, to borrow a phrase from Conor McGregor, "rookies and has-beens."  I'm not trying to be disrespectful, since Shogun, the man who got me hooked on UFC to begin with, is fighting tonight.  Nonetheless, even his best days are well behind him.  Suffice it to say that a blockbuster card this ain't...

Here are my predictions for tonight's PPV:     

Gadelha vs. Aguilar: I'm not that familiar with either fighter, but I find it very difficult to pick against someone who managed to go the distance with UFC strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk.  For that reason, I expect Gadelha to win by decision. 

Winner: Claudia Gadelha

Silva vs. Palelei: This is easy.  Palelei wins by KO.  Without trt, "Bigfoot" can't seem to hang with the elite of the heavyweight division without getting crushed anymore.  Even with trt, his biggest claim to fame was a come-from-behind upset over Alistair Overeem, whom, as Travis Browne and Ben Rothwell proved with subsequent KOs of their own, was seriously over-hyped to begin with.

Winner: Soa "The Hulk" Palelei

Struve vs. Noguiera: From a medical standpoint, Struve really needs to hang up the gloves.  No sport is worth your life and with his heart condition, I strongly believe that that is what he is risking every time he steps into the cage.  I see a submission victory for Minotauro here, although that may be more due to the health condition of his opponent than the skills of the Brazilian legend.

Winner: Minotauro Noguiera

Vieira vs. Lopes:  I know nothing about either fighter so I will follow my gut and pick Vieira.  Take it for what it's worth.

Winner: Reginaldo Vieira

Franca vs. Bruno:  Another fight, another gut prediction.  In this case, I pick Bruno.  I probably should have tried harder to watch "The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 4."  Oh well...

Winner: Fernando "Acougeiro" Bruno

Shogun vs. Little Nog:  Shogun is the reason why I started watching the UFC, and rest assured, I will be rooting for him during this bout.  That being said, Little Nog has been more successful as of late, beating Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans before getting smashed by Anthony "Rumble" Johnson.  In contrast, Shogun has been KO'd by Dan Henderson and Ovince St. Preux after defeating James Te Huna, so as much as I hate to admit it, I believe "Little Nog" will take it via decision.

Winner: Antonio Rogerio "Little Nog" Nogueira

Rousey vs. Correia: A lot of people seem to believe that Bethe "Pitbull" Correia will pull a "Matt Serra vs. GSP" KO upset over "Rowdy."  I commend Correia for her confidence and do believe she will throw everything including the kitchen sink at Rousey.  But the facts just don't point to her winning the belt.  Rousey has demolished the "Murderer's Row" of the women's bantamweight division: Cat Zingano, Alexis Davis, Sarah Kaufman, Sara McMann, and Miesha Tate (twice).  Out of the bantamweight's elite, only Tate has taken her outside of the first round and that was on her second try.  In contrast, Correia's best wins are a razor-thin division over Jessamyn Duke (who's 1-3 in the UFC against mediocre competition) and a lopsided beatdown of WMMA pioneer Shayna Baszler, whose time passed long ago.  That, combined with a lengthy layoff due to eye surgery, makes a victory for the challenger seem rather difficult...

In my opinion, how this fight will play out depends on Rousey's strategy.  If she sticks with the "Rousey smash!", go-for-the-kill-in-the-first-round tactic that has taken her to the top, then Correia will be just another name on her highlight reel.  However, if Rousey decides to stick with her current plan to drag out the fight with Correia and, in her own words "make her suffer", that will probably backfire.  In that case, we will end up seeing the female version of "Silva-Sonnen I", where Rousey gets brutalized for the majority of the fight before winning via a "Hail Mary" submission in Round 5 (most likely an armbar).  Either way, when Rousey leaves the cage, she will be taking the belt with her. 

On a side note, although Correia apologized and asked for forgiveness for her "suicide remark" taunt of Rousey, that was still a horrible thing to say to somebody.  That's been compounded by the fact that Rousey's father took his own life when she was a child (Correia claimed that she was unaware of this).  In my opinion, this definitely makes Correia the heel in this feud and I hope that Rousey does teach her a lesson, regardless of how long (or short) it takes.  The forgiveness can come afterwards. 

Winner: Ronda "Rowdy" Rousey


Sunday, July 12, 2015

UFC 189: Rise Of The Celtic Warrior

Who needs takedown defense when you are the most dynamic and hardest hitting striker in your featherweight division?  Not Conor McGregor, apparently.  Here is my take on the PPV which saw the crowning of the UFC's first Irish interim champion.

Almeida vs. Pickett: The first round was a draw, with Pickett dropping Almeida twice with right hands and Almeida almost catching Pickett with a heel hook.  He also dropped Pickett with a right of his own.  However, an explosive flying knee by Almeida in the second round put a quick end to Pickett and made this a "changing of the guard" match for the bantamweight division.

Winner: Almeida (KO)

Nelson vs. Thatch:  After a left hook-right hook combo, Nelson put on a "BJJ 101" class for the fans.  Side control.  Transition to mount.  Take your opponent's back.  Get a body triangle.  Soften up your opponent with strikes before getting the rear naked choke and just wait for the tap.  The end.

Winner: Nelson (submission)

Bermudez vs. Stephens: The true fight of the night!  In spite of getting cut open and completely handled in Round 1, Stephens rallied in a back-and-forth brawl in Round 2 where he hit Bermudez so hard with a left that Dennis "The Menace" actually spun around like a top!  That being said, Bermudez was still winning the fight in Round 3 when, out of nowhere, Stephens dropped him with a flying knee when his own back was against the cage and swarmed him on the ground to finish the fight.

Winner: Stephens (TKO)

MacDonald vs. Lawler: Lawler's straight left in Round 5, which caused MacDonald to put his hands on his head and fold backward into a fetal position in the first slomo knockout I've ever seen, was exciting.  The rest of the fight was a total snoozefest, with about a minute and 15 seconds of action and almost twenty minutes of them playing octagon pattycake.  "Fight of the Night" this was not...

Winner (and still UFC welterweight champion): Lawler (KO)

Mendes vs. McGregor: In spite of absorbing a spinning back kick to the body which seemed to knock the wind out of him, Mendes dominated the fight at first, taking McGregor down 4 times in two rounds and smothering him a la Silva-Sonnen I.  Then he went for a guillotine and gave McGregor just barely enough space to escape and pop back to his fight.  A one-two combo was all it took for McGregor to knock Mendes out become the interim UFC featherweight champion.

"I was going to prove to the people that I was the true fighter." McGregor said afterwards, acknowledging that he was protected from guys like Mendes on his path to a title shot.

Indeed, the Celtic Warrior has proven that, and I believe that at this point, his fight with Aldo will just be a formality. 

Winner (and new UFC interim featherweight champion): Conor McGregor.     

Saturday, July 11, 2015

UFC 189: My Predictions

Even though Aldo had to pull out due to a fractured rib, this should still be a pretty good PPV.  Here are my predictions for each match:

Pickett vs. Almeida:  I love the British, so I will be rooting for Pickett.  Unfortunately, Pickett is 36 years old, and fighters of that age tend to become shark meat for younger, hungrier fighters like Almeida.  I see Almeida giving this veteran his first KO loss in the UFC.

Winner: Thomas Almeida

Nelson vs. Thatch: After Thatch got finished by Benson Henderson (who's a lightweight, by the way), I am very comfortable picking Nelson for this one.  I see a submission by Nelson in Round 2 at the latest.

Winner: Gunnar Nelson

Bermudez vs. Stephens: This is a no-brainer.  Dennis "The Menace" was the first man to ever finish Clay Guida in the octagon and was on a 7-fight tear before experiencing his first setback against the monster known as Ricardo Lamas.  Bermudez will crush Stephens via submission late in Round 1.

Winner: Dennis Bermudez.

Lawler vs. MacDonald II: I personally believe this will be the fight of the night, and whoever wins depends on MacDonald's strategy.  If MacDonald plays it too safe, Lawler will storm him out of the gate and pull another upset like he did in their last fight.  However, if MacDonald combines his technical finesse with the "Canadian Psycho" tenacity that he used to squish Che Mills, then I see him dominating Lawler for five rounds en route to finally becoming the king of the welterweight division.  Personally, I think the latter will happen and that "Red King" will finally rule in place of his mentor, Georges St-Pierre.

Winner: Rory MacDonald

Mendes vs. McGregor: I am a huge McGregor fan.  He is basically an Irish ninja version of Muhammad Ali.  That being said, although his striking is off the charts, his takedown defense is suspect.  Dennis Siver was able to put him on his back with relative ease, although he had no idea what to do with McGregor once that happened (hence the thrashing that the German striker received afterwards).  Mendes won't have that problem, so I see "Money" grinding out a five-round decision en route to becoming the interim featherweight champion.

Winner: Chad Mendes.