Category: Predictions

UFC on FOX: Jacare vs. Brunson 2 Punch Drunk Predictions

UFC on FOX: Jacare vs. Brunson 2 Punch Drunk Predictions

Saturday’s event on FOX is another one of those cards everyone says it’s terrible and not worth watching, but as per usual, I beg to differ.

Look, I’m not going to try to convince you that this is some stacked event and you’re a jerk if you aren’t hyped to see Gregor Gillespie do his thing, but I will say that the main event should be compelling and competitive, the co-main will be fun and that there are a handful of intriguing up-and-comers on this show – like Gillespie – that you might want to keep an eye on.

Here’s how I see things shaking out.

These are the UFC on FOX: Jacare vs. Brunson 2 Punch Drunk Predictions.

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. Derek Brunson

One thing I know for certain is that this is going to last longer than the first time these two met when Jacare iced a green Brunson in 41 seconds thanks largely to a beautiful inside right hand to the chin.

Under normal circumstances, I would probably take Souza – he has a more diverse offensive arsenal and is the savvier fighter, but he’s been off since losing to Robert Whittaker last year, had two different surgeries since then and contemplated walking away. Couple that with Brunson having serious power and I think we see the hometown boy draw level with another knockout win.

Prediction: Derek Brunson

Dennis Bermudez vs. Andre Fili

This one feel pretty straightforward to me: Bermudez by wrestling.

As much as Fili could stick on the outside and snipe with long punches and occasional kicks, I just don’t see Bermudez letting him hang out at range and trading with him. This is going to be a classic “crash forward and grind” performance from the perennial Top 10 fixture Bermudez.

Prediction: Dennis Bermudez

Gregor Gillespie vs. Jordan Rinaldi

Gillespie is a legit lightweight to watch.

I know the division is loaded and he’s 31 and he hasn’t fought anyone of real substance yet, but trust me on this one: “The Gift” is the goods.

He’s a four-time All-American and a perfect 10-0 since transitioning to mixed martial arts. His hands are still a work in progress, but he’s shown flashes there too, like when he blasted Andrew Holbrook in no time flat in his sophomore appearance in the Octagon.

This one is going to be lopsided.

Prediction: Gregor Gillespie

Drew Dober vs. Frank Camacho

Losing Ovince Saint Preux and Ilir Latifi forced this welterweight fight to get moved up to the main card and it should end up being a Fight of the Night contender as Camacho has taken home an additional $50,000 in each of his first two UFC appearances and Dober is down to scrap with anyone.

As much as Camacho’s pressure could make this interesting, Dober is the better overall talent and his technical advantages should carry him to victory. He’s quietly been very good since moving to Colorado to work with what used to be the Elevation Fight Team and should be able to make “Frank the Crank” pay no matter whether he stays outside or crashed forward.

Prediction: Drew Dober

Preliminary Card Picks

Bobby Green def. Erik Koch
Mirsad Bektic def. Godofredo Pepey
Mara Romero Borella def. Katlyn Chookagian
Randa Markos def. Juliana Lima
Justine Kish def. Ji Yeon Kim
Vinc Pichel def. Joaquim Silva
Niko Price def. George Sullivan
Cory Sandhagen def. Austin Arnett

2018 Prediction Record: 14-8-0 (.636)

UFC 220: Miocic vs. Ngannou Punch Drunk Predictions

UFC 220: Miocic vs. Ngannou Punch Drunk Predictions

Before getting to the predictions for this card, I want to jump up on my soapbox for a quick minute.

There has been the usual chatter about how weak this card is beyond the two championship fights and a lot of criticism about the other three bouts that make up the main card and while none of it surprises me because it happens before pretty much every pay-per-view now, they ring particularly hollow to me this time around.

The whole “aside from the championship fights” bit never makes sense to me because those you can’t just pretend like those fights aren’t happening or act like the UFC is somehow asking you to pay for the rest of the card independently. You’re paying for the whole thing and in my opinion, those two title fights are worth the asking price on their own, making everything else that will transpire on PPV a bonus.

Secondly, I’m not buying people thinking the bantamweight fight between Thomas Almeida and Rob Font is a yawn. This time two years ago, most people had Almeida as the next big thing in the 135-pound ranks and now he’s suddenly an also-ran? And Font may not be a contender, but he’s proven himself to be an action fighter who delivers entertaining performances every time he’s in the cage. If a scrap like that doesn’t tickle your fancy, I don’t know if you should be referring to yourself as a fight fan.

Lastly, I get that Calvin Kattar and Shane Burgos aren’t big names, but they’re prospects that people who follow the UFC and cover the sport should know given that (a) Kattar rolled in and beat Andre Fili in his short notice debut (on FS1) and (b) Burgos is 3-0 in the UFC and 10-0 overall with a couple memorable moments in the Octagon to his credit.

Again, if you’re a fan of this sport or someone who gets paid to watch these events, you should know that they’re two quality emerging talents in a stacked division that is going to be front-and-center all year and that their placement on the main card is a way to introduce them to the portion of the audience that only wants to tune in to see the guys that are fighting for the shiny gold belts.

Not all cards can be monsters and if you can’t get behind an event with two terrific title fights, a Top 15 pairing and a bout between a couple solid emerging talents in a deep division, I think you’re in for a long year of hate-watching UFC events.

Thanks for listening.

Here are my picks.

These are the UFC 220: Miocic vs. Ngannou Punch Drunk Predictions.

Stipe Miocic vs. Francis Ngannou

Man, I have been wrestling with this one for a while because like everyone else, I recognize the hellacious power Ngannou possesses and that we’ve seen Miocic get clipped a couple times in the past. If that happens here, he won’t have a chance to recover; that’s the kind of power and finishing instincts the challenger brings to the table.

That being said, I think Miocic is the craftier of the two and the more complete of the two and something tells me we’ll see him take a similar approach to the strategy he used against Mark Hunt.

Ngannou is far less powerful when his back is on the fence or the floor and my guess is Miocic will look to keep him in one of those two spots for as long as possible. If he gets him down and can keep him there – which is a big if, I know – I think the champion has the top control and effective offense to do a lot of damage. Think back to that fight with Hunt – it had me wondering if Miocic was the guy that would end up being Cain Velasquez’s greatest rival. Now I think he’s supplanted Velasquez as the best, most complete fighter in the division and I think we see him prove that once again here.

Prediction: Stipe Miocic

Daniel Cormier vs. Volkan Oezdemir

Oezdemir is still underrated and could be someone who is at the start of a long stay in the upper echelon of the light heavyweight division, but I’ve only seen one man defeat Daniel Cormier and since that dude isn’t the one stepping into the Octagon on Saturday night, I’m sticking with “DC” to retain his title.

Look – you can question his title reigns all you want and remind me that he’s 0-2 against Jones, but Cormier has also beaten literally everyone else that has been put in front of him and done so with relative ease. The only other person to test him was Alexander Gustafsson and while Oezdemir might be able to replicate that performance here, Cormier still rightfully came away with the win and will do the same in Boston.

Prediction: Daniel Cormier

Calvin Kattar vs. Shane Burgos

Like I said up top, this is a terrific little fight between a pair of featherweight upstarts looking to take the next step forward in a loaded weight class. Kattar has won nine straight, including his unanimous decision win over Fili at UFC 214, while Burgos is perfect through  his first 10 fights, meaning someone’s lengthy winning streak is coming to an end.

While I was really impressed with Kattar’s ability to roll in and get the better of Fili in Anaheim back in July, I’m siding with Burgos in this one because the New Yorker reminds me a little bit of featherweight champ Max Holloway in that he works behind a quality jab, throws in combinations, recognizes when he gets his opponents hurt and turns up the output accordingly.

As long as he comes out with the kind of steady offense he’s exhibited thus far in his UFC career, “Hurricane Shane” should rain on Kattar’s homecoming.

Prediction: Shane Burgos

Gian Villante vs. Francimar Barroso

Okay, if you want to be critical of any fight on the main card, I’m not going to stop you from questioning why this one made the cut. Both guys are coming off losses, they’re not Top 15 talents and it’s not like they’re faded veterans who can still trade on their names either, so yeah, if we’re doing the whole “one of these things is not like the other,” this is the one that doesn’t belong.

This is another one of those fights that Villante should win because he has more power and – in theory – a little bit of a wrestling game to fall back on if things get rough, but the Serra-Longo product and BFF of the heavyweight champion tends to take more of a “you punch me and I’ll punch you and we’ll see who falls down first” approach to things that can always make it scary to pick him.

That said, he should be able to get through Barroso.

Prediction: Gian Villante

Thomas Almeida vs. Rob Font

The fact that people are suddenly not enthused about seeing Almedia compete this weekend is Exhibit 437 in the case for MMA fans being the most fickle and fair-weather fans in all of sports.

Two years ago, when he was 20-0 with 19 finishes and coming off four straight UFC victories – all of which produced a bonus – the Brazilian standout was considered one of the most can’t miss prospects in the sport. Then he loses to a guy that ends up winning the damn title seven months later (Cody Garbrandt) and a top contender on a 20-fight winning streak (Jimmie Rivera) and he becomes this dude no one cares about any more.

Watch how quickly that will change if he lights up Font and collects another savage finish, which I think he will on Saturday.

Font is a perfect lower third of the rankings resident – too good for scrubs, but not quite good enough to beat guys in the Top 10. He’s good everywhere and might be able to catch Almeida with something because he likes to hang out in the pocket and doesn’t have great defense, but given Almeida’s power, the more likely outcome in my eyes is the former up-and-coming star collecting the kind of blistering knockout that reminds everyone of his upside.

Prediction: Thomas Almeida

Preliminary Card Picks

Brandon Davis def. Kyle Bochniak
Abdul Razak Alhassan def. Sabah Homasi
Alexandre Pantoja def. Dustin Ortiz
Dan Ige def. Julio Arce
Matt Bessette def. Enrique Barzola
Islam Makhachev def. Gleison Tibau

2018 Prediction Record: 9-2-0 (.818)

UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi Punch Drunk Predictions

UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi Punch Drunk Predictions

Here we go – once more into the breach for another year for UFC fight predictions.

The 2018 campaign kicks off with a familiar theme hovering overhead as fight week issues forced not one, but two bouts to be pulled from today’s line-up in St. Louis. First it was Zak Cummings slipping in the tub and splitting his head open and then Saturday, Uriah Hall was taken to the hospital without weighing in, scrapping his co-main event assignment and delaying Vitor Belfort’s retirement fight by a couple months.

Nonetheless, this is a solid show for a Sunday afternoon after football and the main card should be exciting.

Here’s who I think will emerge victorious.

These are the Punch Drunk Predictions.

Jeremy Stephens vs. Dooho Choi

As much as Choi is super-entertaining to watch and coming off his 2016 Fight of the Year battle with Cub Swanson, this is a terrible matchup for the talented South Korean featherweight. He doesn’t move particularly well and tends to deploy an “I trust my chin” style of defense in striking exchanges, neither of which are good things when you’re facing a seasoned heavy hitter like Stephens.

While he’s yet to put together the kind of winning streak needed to climb all the way into contention, the 31-year-old Stephens is coming off one of his most complete and professional performances to date – a three-round mauling of Gilbert Melendez at UFC 215 in Edmonton. The Alliance MMA product chopped at Melendez’ lead leg and beat him to the punch in most exchanges, remaining patient throughout even though he had the former Strikeforce champ hobbling around on a bad wheel.

Stephens has only been stopped by strikes once, so while Choi has excellent power, I’m not sure he’s going to be the man to drop and finish the 26-fight UFC veteran. Look for Stephens to press forward, beat up Choi’s lead leg and snipe home big shots similar to the approach he deployed against Melendez. Because he’s got a couple extra rounds to work with, I think he’ll get the stoppage late in the fight.

Prediction: Jeremy Stephens

Paige VanZant vs. Jessica-Rose Clark

It feels like there are a lot of people who are writing off VanZant, which is odd to me because this is the time to be buying up her faded stock.

Look – I think the UFC has pushed her too quickly and spent too much time trying to convince people that she’s a contender when the results just haven’t been there, but the 23-year-old is moving up to a division where she is a much better fit physically and has shown the flashes of talent that justify her being viewed as a solid prospect. At the end of the day, her two UFC losses have come against the reigning strawweight champion and a former Invicta champ with much more experience and savvy.

Clark is a tough Aussie who has shared the cage with some familiar names, but she’s struggled against more skilled opponents and just squeaked by in her biggest wins. She’s gutsy and durable and isn’t going to be overwhelmed by suddenly being in the co-main event, however I’m not sure if she has the all-around skills to get the job done against someone like VanZant.

After a year working with Chael Sonnen’s crew in Portland, I think we see a more grappling-heavy style from VanZant, who has always been a good scrambler and opportunistic in her pursuit of submissions. Look for her to use her speed and movement to get inside, bring this to the mat and work Clark over from there, eventually finding a finish.

Prediction: Paige VanZant

Kamaru Usman vs. Emil Meek

Kamaru Usman is a different type of fighter, man.

You know the guy Colby Covington thinks he is? Kamaru Usman is that guy – a powerhouse wrestler who can also lay you out if the fight stays standing. While Covington talks all kind of junk, Usman simply puts in work and piles up wins, having collected six straight victories in the UFC and 10 consecutive wins overall heading into this one.

Meek is a dangerous brawler who showed he can go the distance in his UFC debut, but this feels like a fight where Usman shows he’s on a different level than the wild Norwegian. As much as I want to see these two stand and slug is out, I fully expect this to be a takedown heavy affair where Usman breaks Meek’s spirit before breaking him down physically and getting the stoppage.

Prediction: Kamaru Usman

Darren Elkins vs. Michael Johnson

I’m not sure what to make of this fight because on paper, Johnson is an intriguing addition to an already loaded division and has the power and hand speed to be a factor at featherweight. But he’s always been a guy with suspect Fight IQ to me and I’m not sure how much better he’s going to be dropping down in weight.

The one thing that I know for sure heading into this one is that Elkins remains criminally underrated and one of the toughest outs in the UFC. You don’t catch a beating like the one he took against Mirsad Bektic only to rally back and get a stoppage of your own in the dying seconds of the fight without having insane resolve, tons of heart and an unbreakable spirit.

Thinking about how this might play out, I keep going back to Johnson’s fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov and while Elkins isn’t the same kind of grappler as the unbeaten lightweight contender, he’s a very good wrestler and tenacious enough to eat some shots in order to get inside and take this to the floor. Plus, he’s a former lightweight as well, so it’s not like Johnson is going to be significantly bigger than him or anything.

As much as Johnson getting a win at home in St. Louis in his divisional debut would be a nice story, I think Elkins keeps his winning streak going by earning the kind of dominant victory that forces everyone to start thinking about him as a potential contender in this division the rest of the year.

Prediction: Darren Elkins

Preliminary Card Picks

James Krause def. Alex White
Matt Frevola def. Marco Polo Reyes
Irene Aldana def. Talita Bernardo
JJ Aldrich def. Danielle Taylor
Jessica Eye def. Kalindra Faria
Mads Burnell def. Mike Santiago
Kyung Ho Kang def. Guido Cannetti

 

UFC 219: Punch Drunk Predictions

UFC 219: Punch Drunk Predictions

Here we go, fight fans – it’s the last UFC event of the year and it’s a good one!

Featuring a championship main event between the most dominant female fighter of the past decade (Cris Cyborg) and a former champion who has already knocked off an icon once before (Holly Holm), UFC 219 is a terrific blend of big stakes, big names and quality preliminary card fights that should entertain.

Rather than warming you up to it any more, I’m going to assume that if you’re here reading this piece on this site, you’re already stoked and just looking to know who I think will emerge victorious, so I won’t keep you waiting any longer.

Here are my thoughts.

These are the UFC 219 Punch Drunk Predictions.

Cris Cyborg vs. Holly Holm for the UFC women’s featherweight title

I think there is a way for Holm to win this fight – stay outside, pick her spots, stick and move and hope Cyborg gets tired – but I just don’t see her being able to take big shots from the Brazilian standout long enough to edge out a tepid decision.

One of the things I always find interesting when we’re breaking down Cyborg fights is how someone always thinks the next opponent is the one who is going to show that her gas tank is suspect by taking her into the championship rounds and beating her once she gets tired. A big reason that hasn’t happened yet is because Cyborg is an ultra-talented fighter who pressures well and wears you down under a frequently more patient, but powerful approach. It’s hard to take someone into deep water when they’re drowning you in the shallow tides.

I believe Holm will get out of the first round and land some of the clean left hands that she hit Ronda Rousey with in their fight, but overall, I think she’s going to end up getting overwhelmed and put away just like everyone else.

Prediction: Cris Cyborg

Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Edson Barboza

Let me start by saying I stand by my column earlier this week stating that Barboza is being overlooked and that feels really weird to me because he’s a tremendous fighter and a dangerous finisher facing a guy that is kind of hittable in Nurmagomedov.

He could win. He could knock “Nurmy” out and surprise a whole lot of people.

But I don’t think he’ll do it.

Between writing that piece and this piece, I went back and re-watched Nurmagomedov’s win over Michael Johnson and I sat here giggling at how goddamn dominant he is on the ground. This happened just a couple hours after I talked to the unbeaten lightweight standout for a UFC.com feature that includes lines like “wrestling and Khabib are the same” to explain his prodigious acumen on the ground and “my background is to smash opponents,” which is exactly what he did to Johnson at UFC 205.

And I think he’ll end up doing it to Barboza here as well.

Prediction: Khabib Nurmagomedov

Dan Hooker vs. Marc Diakiese

The Marc Diakiese hype train was slowed a little last time out as “The Bonecrusher” dropped a sluggish decision to Drakkar Klose, but he gets a favourable bounce-back opportunity that should be contested exclusively on the feet here against Hooker, a seven-fight UFC veteran who has alternated wins and losses over that stretch and enters off a knockout finish of Ross Pearson in June.

When I say this is a “favourable bounce-back opportunity” for Diakiese, I’m not trying to throw shade at Hooker, but rather just call it like I see it and the way I see it, Diakiese is a very good prospect with excellent striking who is going to continue to improve in big chunks over the next couple years as he keeps working at American Top Team and Hooker is a middle of the pack fighter who has some weapons, has some skills, but isn’t as polished or explosive of his British opponent.

Maybe he proves me wrong and catches Diakiese with the same kind of nastiness he used to put Pearson down back in the summer, but looking at whom he’s beaten and he has gotten the better of him in the cage, I give the edge to Diakiese and I think he wins going away.

Prediction: Marc Diakiese

Cynthia Calvillo vs. Carla Esparza

This is the most interesting fight on the main card to me because Calvillo is still very much a work in progress even though she’s hustled into the Top 10 this year, while Esparza is established and seasoned, but still has glaring holes in her game.

Everything about this fight comes down to who can control the action on the canvas because neither woman is particularly skilled or polished when it comes to throwing hands. Calvillo is the better scrambler, but Esparza has the more robust takedown game and has historically done a good job of working just enough to maintain top position once she gets you to the ground.

As much as I like what Calvillo has been able to do so far this year and believe she still has another level she can reach, this is one of those “you’ve got to show me you can win this fight before I can pick you to win this fight” deals for me. Dragging Joanne Calderwood to the ground and riding out dominant positions is one thing, but doing it to someone like Esparza is  completely different and until I see it happen, I’m siding with the former champion.

Prediction: Carla Esparza

Carlos Condit vs. Neil Magny

On pedigree and skill set, Condit wins this fight in a route. He’s a high output striker who is dangerous off his back as well, can pressure Magny to get inside his long jab and rough him up in the same way Lorenz Larkin roughed him up last year at UFC 202.

But here’s the thing: I was at Condit’s last fight and he got trucked.

He got trucked after coming back from a lengthy layoff where he was considering retirement and saying all the right things about having the hunger back and being ready for what Demian Maia had to offer and he still got trucked. So it’s hard for me to sit here 16 months after that – after Condit has gone away again and started working on other things and gotten another year older – and hear him saying all the right things and not be reminded of last August in Vancouver.

Magny is a competent welterweight – a very solid Top 10, Top 15 guy with a good jab, great motor and no glaring deficiencies. He’s only lost to really good fighters in the last couple years and while Condit was a really good fighter, I’m not sure he still is. I need to see it before I can believe it again, so I’m picking Magny.

Prediction: Neil Magny

Preliminary Card Predictions

Khalil Rountree def. Michal Oleksiejczuk
Rick Glenn def. Myles Jury
Marvin Vettori def. Omari Akhmedov
Matheus Nicolau def. Louis Smolka
Tim Elliott def. Mark De La Rosa

UFC on FOX: Lawler vs. dos Anjos Punch Drunk Predictions

UFC on FOX: Lawler vs. dos Anjos Punch Drunk Predictions

As I said in my column this week for The Province, I think this weekend’s FOX event in Winnipeg is going to be an avalanche of awesomeness that sends people into the Christmas break before UFC 219 on a high.

From start to finish, this event is loaded with combustible matchups that should produce explosive results and add to what has been a really entertaining final couple months in the Octagon.

But who will leave Winter-peg with their hand raised in victory?

Here are my thoughts.

These are the UFC on FOX: Lawler vs. dos Anjos Punch Drunk Predictions.

Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos

This is such a compelling fight to me because Lawler isn’t far removed from being champion, still has tremendous takedown defense and can take apart pretty much anyone in the division in a striking battle on any given night, while dos Anjos put on a clinic against Neil Magny back in Edmonton and has the kind of pressure style with strong grappling at his disposal that could be problematic from “Brutal Bob” Lawler.

People are going to think this is weird when I say it, but I’m picking dos Anjos based on current/recent form, even though he’s 2-2 over his last four and Lawler is 3-1 with a couple successful title defenses in there. But please, hear me out.

I think the Rory MacDonald fight took a toll on Lawler the same way it did MacDonald and after another brawl with Carlos Condit, he got caught by Tyron Woodley. While he rebounded with a good win over Cowboy Cerrone, he wasn’t the same menacing force we’re used to seeing, especially when you consider how good Darren Till looked dispatching Cowboy in the first round three months later.

While dos Anjos dropped back-to-back outings to end his time at lightweight, we’e since heard the horror stories about his weight cut prior to his bout with Eddie Alvarez and going the distance with Tony Ferguson is no easy feat. After a good, not great debut at welterweight against Tarec Saffiedine, he looked scary-good opposite Magny at UFC 215.

I think the likelihood of seeing a similarly strong performance from him here is greater than the potential of Lawler putting it on him early and putting him away. I have a feeling dos Anjos shines here and makes the UFC strongly consider awarding him a title shot in the first half of 2018.

Prediction: Rafael dos Anjos

Ricardo Lamas vs. Josh Emmett

Normally, I would give this a lot of thought and break it down in detail because Emmett is tough and durable, but homeboy missed weight by a couple pounds on Friday and Lamas was already salty about having his original opponent (Jose Aldo) pulled so he could fight for the title, which is the second time that has happened to the Top 5 fixture in four years.

Lamas is out to prove that he’s deserving of another title opportunity and a second bout with Max Holloway and I think he delivers a dominant performance here.

Prediction: Ricardo Lamas

Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Mike Perry

I get that Perry is slightly unhinged and completely unfiltered, which makes him an interesting interview and general curiosity, and that he carries a bunch of dynamite around in his hands, which always makes him a threat. That being said, I’m not sold on “Platinum” being anything more than a middle of the pack wild card in the welterweight division – a guy that collects some highlight reel wins and talks a bunch of nonsense, but ultimately fails to crack the Top 10.

Ponzinibbio is far from unstoppable, but he’s proven himself against quality competition and is the more seasoned, complete fighter of the two. While Perry is always capable of landing that one blow that brings the proceedings to a sudden halt, “Gente Boa” has power in his hands as well and has shown far more poise and patience in the Octagon to date.

As always, Perry will come out of the gate fast and throw smoke the entire time he’s in there, but look for Ponzinibbio to frustrate him with movement and counters until he connects with something stiff and settles things inside the distance.

Prediction: Santiago Ponzinibbio

Glover Teixeira vs. Misha Cirkunov

This is the fight I have had the most trouble with because despite his advanced age and slowly diminishing skills, Teixeira a tough old cuss and capable of putting Cirkunov down with one of his patented clubbing hooks.

Youth and athleticism are on the side of the Latvian-Canadian grappler, but Teixeira is no slouch on the canvas either, so it’s not like Cirkunov can rush in, blast a double and grind out the win from top position. The usual path to beating Teixeira has been to out-work him on the feet and avoid his big punches and I’m not completely sold on Cirkunov’s ability to do that yet.

But I’m gonna roll the dice on the younger, fresher, more mobile fighter and see what happens.

Prediction: Misha Cirkunov

Preliminary Card Picks

Jan Blachowicz def. Jared Cannonier
Julian Marquez def. Darren Stewart
Chad Laprise def. Galore Bofando
Nordine Taleb def. Danny Roberts
Abel Trujillo def. John Makdessi
Alessio Di Chirico def. Oluwale Bamgbose
Jordan Mein def. Erick Silva

UFC Fresno: Punch Drunk Predictions

UFC Fresno: Punch Drunk Predictions

As per usual when it’s fight week, but not pay-per-view fight week, there have been lots of cracks about “UFC Fresno” being an actual thing and how all these Fight Night events are problematic.

As per always, I think it’s mostly a bunch of noise from people who want every show to be the best show ever and prefer to complain about just about everything rather than accepting there are five different types of UFC events.

When we’re headed into a Level 2-type show like we are this weekend in Fresno, it’s about enjoying the opportunity to see more from a few solid prospects (Hello Eryk Anders! Greetings Merab Dvalishvili!) with a couple really good fights tossed in there too.

Seriously – there are two Top 10 pairings, plus a Top 15 matchup and the return of “Hick Diaz.”

That’s a nice little Level 2 Saturday night fight card if you ask me.

Here are my thoughts on who will emerge victorious.

These are the UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Ortega Punch Drunk Predictions.

Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega

This is a classic “veteran vs. upstart” battle similar to the one we got in Gdansk, Poland earlier this year between Darren Till and Donald Cerrone, but while the young Scouser got the better of “Cowboy,” I think we see the veteran get the best of it in this one.

Ortega has looked pretty good throughout his five-fight UFC run and earning four straight fights by third-round stoppage is crazy and speaks to the way he’s always working to get the finish, rather than happily coasting to the cards. But in his last two bouts – wins over Clay Guida and Renato Moicano – he’s needed those finishes in order to avoid going to the cards in a close fight that could produce his first career loss.

Given the way Moicano was able to have success on the feet against him, I just don’t see how Ortega manages to survive the offensive onslaught Swanson will bring from the jump. “Killer Cub” has more power, better movement and more creativity than Moicana and while I remain high on Ortega’s overall potential, I’m still leaning towards this being the wrong matchup at the wrong time for the laid back prospect from Torrence.

Prediction: Cub Swanson

 Jason Knight vs. Gabriel Benitez

First and foremost, I love that Knight is completely down with the “Hick Diaz” moniker; it makes me feel comfortable using it knowing that he self-identifies as a hick.

Secondly, I think he rolls here and shows that he should be considered alongside guys like Ortega, Yair Rodriguez and Mirsad Bektic as one of the top twenty-something talents in the featherweight division. He had his “face a veteran” fight last time out, lost to Ricardo Lamas and pulled out a bunch of positives from that performance, all of which will help him a great deal going forward.

It won’t necessarily show here because I think he’s head-and-shoulders better than Benitez and should handle him with relative ease, but still. Knight will be a Top 10 fixture pretty soon.

Prediction: Jason Knight

Marlon Moraes vs. Aljamain Sterling

This is a terrific fight between the No. 7 and No. 8-ranked fighters in the bantamweight division and if you can’t get hyped for that, I’m not sure you can honestly identify yourself as a fight fan.

Seriously.

Moraes just collected a win over John Dodson on November 11 and jumped the opportunity to get right back in the cage when Sterling’s original opponent, Rani Yahya, was forced to the sidelines. That was a good matchup for “Aljo,” but this one isn’t so favourable.

Listen – I like Sterling, but I still haven’t seen enough from his standup to think he’s able to hang on the feet with a dangerous striker like Moraes. While the possibility is there for him to take the “Human Jansport” approach and wrestle Moraes, the former WSOF champ trains with dudes like Frankie Edgar and Eddie Alvarez, so I’m not sure he’s going to just get completely controlled in the grappling department.

My guess is that Moraes keeps this in kicking range, beats up Sterling’s lead leg and out-strikes him over the course of 15 minutes.

Prediction: Marlon Moraes

As for the rest of the card… 

Scott Holtzman def. Darrell Horcher
Eryk Anders def. Markus Perez
Benito Lopez def. Albert Morales

Alexis Davis def. Liz Carmouche
Luke Sanders def. Andre Soukhamthath
Alex Perez def. Carls John de Tomas
Merab Dvalishvili def. Frankie Saenz

Iuri Alcantara def. Alejandro Perez
Davi Ramos def. Chris Gruetzemacher
Trevin Giles def. Antonio Braga Neto

UFC 218: Punch Drunk Predictions

UFC 218: Punch Drunk Predictions

Everything old is new again; that’s the saying, right?

For the first time on this site, but the 487th time since I first started writing on any site emblazoned with the name Keyboard Kimura, it’s time to dive into my picks for a UFC event.

Saturday’s UFC 218 pay-per-view in Detroit is one of the best cards from top-to-bottom that the company has delivered in years, excluding the over-the-top attractions that dotted the calendar over the last couple years. All five main card fights feature competitors ranked in the Top 10 (the Top 6 if you want to be hyper-specific) and we could have a couple new title contenders emerge depending on how things shake out.

On a way more basic level, they’re all great fights that should be exciting and action-packed, so sit back, buckle up and keep reading.

These are the UFC 218 Punch Drunk Predictions.

Max Holloway vs. Jose Aldo (for the UFC featherweight title)

I never thought I would get to a point where I was picking Jose Aldo to get blown out of the water, but I’m picking Jose Aldo to get blown out of the water here. Max Holloway is that good.

Coming off a third-round stoppage win over Aldo in Rio earlier this year, the rematch tilts things in Holloway’s favour even more because he’s already been able to get his read on what Aldo brings to the table and as we saw in their first meeting, once “Blessed” felt comfortable, the Brazilian got trucked.

The champion still needs to be careful, but I fully expect him to start pressuring forward behind combinations and hurting Aldo to the body in the late stages of the first, making it clear that the belt isn’t going anywhere. If the challenger makes it out of the opening round, I don’t think he’ll get through the second.

Prediction: Max Holloway

Alistair Overeem vs. Francis Ngannou

Ngannou is a scary proposition, man – a massive physical specimen who has shown both devastating power and an incredible ability to learn and improve at a rapid rate. Four years after starting his professional career, he’s favoured against one of the most decorated heavyweights of all-time… and I’m pretty sure he’s going to beat him handily.

This is one of those fights where my pick is dictated by the thing I know, instead of the thing that remains a question mark.

We don’t know how well Ngannou can take a big shot because no one has really anything too serious on him to this point in his UFC career, but we do know that Overeem has a suspect chin and I’m positive that “The Predator” is going to find it, probably before the first round is over.

Prediction: Francis Ngannou

Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis

This is a great fight and I’m glad Pettis was afforded the chance to develop over a couple years instead of getting hustled up the ladder like a few previous flyweight prospects. That said, this fight feels a little like the fight between Frankie Edgar and Yair Rodriguez to me, with Cejudo playing the Edgar role, showing he’s still a level or two above the young upstart.

Here’s the thing: Cejudo hasn’t even been fighting for five years yet and he’s already one of the best flyweights in the world. Not only is his wrestling game excellent, but his hands are quick and dangerous too; ask Wilson Reis.

Pettis likes to control the distance and win technical fights from range, but I don’t think Cejudo will give him the space to operate. We’ve seen Pettis get clipped and finished before and I think Cejudo will continue to showcase his hands and get another stoppage here.

Prediction: Henry Cejudo

Eddie Alvarez vs. Justin Gaethje

Making a pick here is tough because it basically comes down to trying to figure out which of these two savages will be able to endure more punishment and land the blow that brings this Fight of the Year contender to a close?

I think both guys will catch some big shots, but my money is on Gaethje pulling off something similar to what we saw in his debut against Michael Johnson, where he eats some doozies, but still manages to respond and ultimate finish Alvarez.

All I really hope is that this fight is 80% of what I’ve built it up to be in my mind. If we get that, we’ll get an instant classic.

Prediction: Justin Gaethje

Tecia Torres vs. Michelle Waterson

This feels like one of those fights where once it’s done, a lot of people will kick themselves for getting sucked into the Michelle Waterson hype again, kind of like after she got trounced by Rose Namajunas.

The UFC has been pushing the Jackson-Wink staple since she returned to action a year ago and while she’s a solid depth piece in the strawweight division, I don’t think she’s as good as Torres or anyone else in the Top 5.

Torres keeps a quick pace, is better on the ground than people ever give her credit for and is coming off a very good performance against Julianna Lima. Plus, the only person to beat her to date is the new champion and if you don’t think that adds an extra dose of motivation heading into this one, you’re crazy.

I thick the constant pressure and pace of Torres eventually gets to Waterson and the TUF 20 alum gets a third-round finish.

Prediction: Tecia Torres

Preliminary Card Picks

Paul Felder def. Charles Oliveira
Alex Oliveira def. Yancy Medeiros
Drakkar Klose def. David Teymur
Cortney Casey def. Felice Herrig
Abdul Razak Alhassan def. Sabah Homasi
Dominick Reyes def. Jeremy Kimball
Allen Crowder def. Justin Willis
Amanda Cooper def. Angela Magana