Tag: Cris Cyborg

UFC 222: Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya Punch Drunk Predictions

UFC 222: Cyborg vs. Kunitskaya Punch Drunk Predictions

How’s this for a take: this card is better now than it was before Max Holloway fell out.

Listen – I love “Blessed” and that isn’t a commentary on his skills, but his original opponent, Frankie Edgar, remained on the card in a terrific fight with Brian Ortega that serves as the co-main event and adding Cris Cyborg defending her title against Yana Kunitskaya is an intriguing main event.
As for how things shake out, let’s get to it.

Cris Cyborg vs. Yana Kunitskaya

I don’t think this is as “Yana’s gonna get murdered!” as most people.

She’s a well-rounded fighter with good size and had a full training camp for this date, even if the change to Cyborg only came a couple weeks ago. Plus, she trains at Jackson-Wink and was part of Holly Holm’s camp for her UFC 219 tilt with the featherweight titleholder, so she’s got coaches and teammates with some experience against Cyborg to lean on.

I still think she’s going to lose, but I don’t think she’s going to just get completely mauled.

I’m really interested in seeing how Cyborg looks jumping back into the cage this quickly because it’s going one of two ways: she’s either going to look great and start fighting more frequently – which her coach Jason Parillo has always wanted – or she’s going to look a little off and go back to fighting every four-to-six months. How she’s feeling will likely have an impact on how she approaches this fight as well.

My feeling is that she’s probably perfectly fine hustling back into the cage like this, so I envision a patient, measured performance similar to what Cyborg showed against Tonya Evinger – walk her down, touch her up and then swarm in the third when the damage starts adding up.

Prediction: Cris Cyborg

Frankie Edgar vs. Brian Ortega

Brian Ortega is an outstanding talent that has matriculated his way up the rankings, finishing literally everyone that has stood opposite him in the Octagon. He just turned 27, continues to improve and will remain a championship contender for the next several years.

But he’s losing here.

Look – Ortega is ultra-talented, but he’s facing a goddamn legend in Frankie Edgar and while I think he’ll do better than Yair Rodriguez did opposite “The Answer” at UFC 211, this one really feels like one of those “how does he beat him?” fights for Ortega.

He might be able to catch Edgar with something unexpected, but Frankie has never been finished and I just don’t see the path for him beyond that. He’s not out-striking the former lightweight champion and he’s not out-wrestling him either.

Ortega needs a finish, while Edgar can just out-hustle him for 15 minutes and win on the cards, which is how I see this playing out.

Prediction: Frankie Edgar

Sean O’Malley vs. Andre Soukhamthath

O’Malley is getting a little push here, with a main card assignment in his second UFC appearance, and I’m just not sure he’s going to be able to make good on it.

He has talent, but it’s not “jump off the page, this kid is insane” talent. He rallied to beat Terrion Ware in his debut – winning the first, dropping the second and digging deep to get the third – but if you’re rallying to beat Terrion Ware in your debut, I’m not sure you’re an elite prospect and a guy that should be getting an early push.

So yeah, I’m picking Soukhamthath here. He’s more experienced, he’s got the ability to finish in multiple ways and he has zero pressure on his shoulders heading into this one.

O’Malley likes to fight with his hands down and I think the 29-year-old Rhode Island resident makes him pay.

Prediction: Andre Soukhamthath

Stefan Struve vs. Andrei Arlovski

I’m not going to put a lot of time into this one because honestly, I think whoever lands the first clean shot is going to get their hand raised and neither guy is really in the mix at heavyweight.

As much as Arlovski is only one fight removed from a prolonged losing streak, I still think he’s going to win here because Struve still gets hit way too much for a guy that should be able to keep pretty well everyone on the end of his jab and I just don’t think the gigantic Dutchman has been that locked in on his fighting career since coming back from his heart issues.

It’s understandable, but it’s also a recipe for disaster in the cage.

Arlovski lights him up early to get a second straight win.

Prediction: Andrei Arlovski

Cat Zingano vs. Ketlen Vieira

This is the most intriguing fight on the main card to me because Zingano hasn’t fought in 18 months, but has the talent to be a force in this division, while Vieira just keeps getting better and better each time out.

I kind of want to side with the more active fighter and not roll the dice on an athlete looking to bounce back from a host of serious personal issues over the last several years, but I also remember watching Zingano roar back against Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes.

If she’s right – and she said she’s right and fired up when we spoke earlier this week – Zingano will get the job done and put herself right back in the mix for the bantamweight title.

Prediction: Cat Zingano

Preliminary Card Predictions

Mackenzie Dern def. Ashley Yoder
Beneil Dariush def. Alexander Hernandez
John Dodson def. Pedro Munhoz
C.B. Dollaway def. Hector Lombard
Zak Ottow def. Mike Pyle
Cody Stamann def. Bryan Caraway
Jordan Johnson def. Adam Milstead

2018 Prediction Record: 47-34-0 (.580)

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