Tag: Punch Drunk Predictions

UFC 225: Punch Drunk Predictions

UFC 225: Punch Drunk Predictions

So I’m still super-pumped about this card as a whole, though I have to admit Romero missing weight and the uncertainty of everything (as of this writing on Friday evening) really sucks in quite a few ways.

It sucks for Whittaker because he did his job and deserved a chance to solidify his place atop the division by beating Romero again without anyone offering up any kind of excuses, though the Cuban doesn’t really have any as far as I’m concerned.

It sucks for the UFC because there is a chance that Romero wins and then the division is stuck in a major way because the champ will have lost to a guy that blew weight for back-to-back title fights and the thing that would make the most sense is running it back a third time – since they’d be 1-1 – but there is no way to trust Romero can make the weight… so then what?

It sucks for the fans who are sick and tired of crucial fights getting cancelled or complicated at the last minute because professional fighters are being unprofessional. And that’s all this is: unprofessionalism. You know when you have to weigh in and you know what the scale has to say. You have ample time to ensure it happens and if it doesn’t, that’s on you. Your first job is to make weight and if you don’t do your job, that is called being unprofessional.

More professional fighters need to learn to handle these sorts of things with greater professionalism because for as much attention as we give the few that miss, most of these competitors handle their business without issue.

On to the predictions.

Robert Whittaker vs. Yoel Romero

I was picking Whittaker before Friday’s missed weight and I’m picking him with even more conviction now.

Listen: he beat Romero last summer with a bad wheel that was made worse right out of the gate. He made the right adjustments, didn’t panic and delivered a tactically smart, technically sound, masterful performance to claim the interim title… and now he’s fully healthy and probably more than little pissed off that four months after Romero missed weight against Luke Rockhold, he’s done it again here.

I always thought Whittaker would deploy a similar game plan to their first encounter – stay outside, pick his spots, disrupt Romero’s timing when he can, defend takedowns and scramble well – and the only thing I want to add is that now I think he’ll get the finish.

Romero looked to be in agony after his second weigh-in and dejected on the scales at the ceremonial weigh-ins this afternoon. Whittaker bleeds his gas tank and then puts him away with ground-and-pound down the stretch.

Prediction: Robert Whittaker

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Colby Covington – for the interim welterweight title

I know it’s not as simple as “Fighter X looked great last time and Fighter Y didn’t look as good,” but in his three welterweight appearances, dos Anjos has dominated Top 10 opponents, while Covington looked good, but not great against Demian Maia, out-worked Dong Hyun Kim and hasn’t really beaten anyone else of true substance.

Maybe I’m crazy, but I thought this was a bad matchup for Covington from the jump and I’m not sure I’ve read or seen anything in the build to this fight that has convinced me otherwise. Dos Anjos has good takedown defense, good power in his hands, a deft submission game on the ground and the kind of pressure style that doesn’t allow opponents to get comfortable and I’m just not sure Covington will be able to mount enough offense to win three of five rounds against the more seasoned, more talented Brazilian.

For me, the Maia fight is instructive: Covington ate a lot of shots in that bout and while some of that is because he wasn’t too worried about Maia’s power, dos Anjos can crack and I’m not sure Covington has a Plan B when he’s unable to implement his wrestling. If he gets stuck standing – and I think he will – I think he gets lit up.

Prediction: Rafael dos Anjos

Holly Holm vs. Megan Anderson

This one is really interesting to me because I think Anderson will come forward and take the fight to Holm, but that’s kind of what the former bantamweight champion needs in order to really be effective with her offense, so I’m curious to see if the UFC newcomer can have her own success without giving Holm too many opportunities to get off her own shots?

My guess is that she won’t be able to and Holm will earn a decision over the course of 15 minutes. This is a huge step up in competition for Anderson and her first fight since January 2016, so while I think she has a bright future, I also think this is too much, too soon for the returning Australian and Holm will be able to stick and move, stinging her with punches and kicks while avoiding the big blows that have felled Anderson’s lesser opponents.

Prediction: Holly Holm

Andrei Arlovski vs. Tai Tuivasa

This one is simple to me: Arlovski has never been great at taking a shot and Tuivasa hits like a goddamn truck.

As much as I could see the former champion using his wrestling and trying to keep the Australian upstart on the canvas for 15 minutes, I just don’t think he’ll be able to keep his chin tucked and untouched for three rounds. At some point, Tuivasa will find a home with something and Arlovski will fall.

Prediction: Tai Tuivasa

CM Punk vs. Mike Jackson

How do you even really handicap this one?

Both are 0-1 with first-round submission losses to Mickey Gall. Neither has fought since. Jackson has been out longer than Punk, but he’s also boxed a little and done some kickboxing and has been in an MMA gym training for much longer overall.

The question is going to be how well Punk can take a punch because I don’t think he’s got the jam to pop Jackson with something serious that tilts this fight, so he’ll need to get it to the canvas in order to have any success and my guess is Jackson will try to catch him with something coming in.

But what the hell – I’m willing to throw a pick away in order to take a shot that Punk gets it to the floor and finds a submission because Jackson looked completely overwhelmed on the mat against Gall and what would be wilder than CM Punk registering an actual UFC victory?


Prediction: CM Punk

Preliminary Card Picks

Alistair Overeem def. Curtis Blaydes
Claudia Gadelha def. Carla Esparza
Mirsad Bektic def. Ricardo Lamas
Rashad Coulter def. Chris de la Rocha

Anthony Smith def. Rashad Evans
Joseph Benavidez def. Sergio Pettis
Clay Guida def. Charles Oliveira
Mike Santiago def. Dan Ige

2018 Prediction Record: 110-76-0 (.591)

UFC Chile: Drunk Predictions

UFC Chile: Drunk Predictions

Last weekend was a nice (and needed) return to form – a 9-4 mark over 13 fights in Rio de Janeiro to help bring my yearly percentage closer to where I want it to be overall.

There is still a long way to go, but I feel like I’m building a little momentum and doing the background work to keep this thing moving along in the right direction.

So let’s keep things moving.

Here are my picks.

These are the UFC Chile: Punch Drunk Predictions.

Demian Maia vs. Kamaru Usman

Maia is one of my all-time favourite fighters, but just like his last two bouts, this is a nightmare matchup for the grappling wizard. Usman is a better version of Colby Covington – he’s more powerful, more athletic and more focused – and I think this turns into a lopsided fight pretty quickly.

The Brazilian is dangerous whenever he gets his hands on you, but Usman should be able to dictate the terms of engagement and put Maia in spots where his offensive options are limited. Look for a steady diet of takedowns and rugged ground-and-pound that brings this one to a close inside the distance.

Prediction: Kamaru Usman

Alexa Grasso vs. Tatiana Suarez

I’ve gone on the record with my beliefs that Suarez has championship potential myriad times, so I’m obviously rolling with her here.

Grasso has been good, but not great since coming over from Invicta and while I like her boxing skills and general toughness, I think she can be too passive at times and that should create opportunities for Suarez to get inside, get a takedown and maul her on the canvas.

The only real uncertainty to me here is whether she’ll get the finish or not and I’m leaning towards no, just because I think Grasso will do a good job to shell up and play defense whenever Suarez starts unloading and looking for submissions.

Prediction: Tatiana Suarez

Jared Cannonier vs. Dominick Reyes

This is the most intriguing fight in the main card to me because while Cannonier is headed to middleweight after this one, he can still crack and for as good as Reyes has looked, he hasn’t really been tested yet in his career.

The only time Cannonier has been finished in his career was against Shawn Jordan back in his UFC debut, so I’m not sure Reyes is going to be able to get him with one shot here like he has pretty well everyone else. I know he subbed Jeremy Kimball last time out, but it started with some thunder, which is his way in to everything else he wants to do in the cage.

My head says Cannonier because he’s more seasoned and still carries some pop, but my heart says Reyes because he’s look so damn good and the division needs a relatively young newcomer to start making moves and he could very much be that dude.

I’m going to go with Cannonier, but I’m fully aware that this could end up looking like a really bad pick.

Prediction: Jared Cannonier

Diego Rivas vs. Guido Cannetti

This is a hometown showcase for Rivas, the lone Chilean competing on the main card, and while it’s not a complete squash match, he should be able to get the job done.

I honestly think you can throw out his last performance as he was returning after a lengthy layoff and a battle with testicular cancer, so the fact that he was even in the cage was a victory in and of itself.

While he’s far from a complete fighters or a finished product, Rivas does have enough power and striking acumen to get the job done here against his fellow TUF Latin America alum.

Prediction: Diego Rivas

Veronica Macedo vs. Andrea Lee

There are lots of people who envision Lee as an instant contender and some kind of breakthrough signing for the UFC, but I’ve never been in that camp. She’s had some success, sure, and collected a few nice finishes, however she lost to the two veteran talents she’s faced and still needs to answer some questions for me before I’m ready to christen her a contender.

Macedo was fighting way over her head at bantamweight and has never beaten anyone of great substance, so I don’t think she’s going to come in and expose all kinds of holes in Lee’s game, but this should be a more suitable matchup for her and a chance for “KGB” to start convincing me that she’s for real.

Ultimately, I think Lee gets the win – she’s bigger, more experienced and more technical – but I’m not as high on her prospects as everyone else.

Prediction: Andrea Lee

Vicente Luque vs. Chad Laprise

This is a terrific fight between welterweights on the fringes of contention and the winner should move into the Top 15. Laprise has looked great since returning to the division and is unbeaten in his career when competing at 170 pounds, while Luque is 5-1 in his last six and has tremendous finishing instincts.

For me, it’s that one loss in Luque’s recent run that is instructive here. Leon Edwards was able to initiate the grappling and use his wrestling to neutralize Luque’s weapons and I think Laprise should be able to do the same here.

He’ll need to be careful coming in to avoid a stinging left hand or leaving his neck exposed, but if he can put Luque on his back, the Canadian should be able to keep his winning streak intact.

Prediction: Chad Laprise

Preliminary Card Picks

Zak Cummings def. Michel Prazeres
Alexandre Pantoja def. Brandon Moreno
Poliana Botelho def. Syuri Kondo
Gabriel Benitez def. Humberto Bandenay
Enrique Barzola def. Brandon Davis
Frankie Saenz def. Henry Briones
Felipe Silva def. Claudio Puelles

2018 Prediction Record: 87-63-0 (.580)

UFC 224: Punch Drunk Predictions

UFC 224: Punch Drunk Predictions

Let’s be honest: I’ve been slacking with my prediction columns lately and I think it has contributed to me doing relatively poorly in terms of my actual selections.

I know that sounds unlikely to some, but slacking on the column means I’m not focusing as much on the matchups and not focusing as much on the matchups means I’m not putting as much energy and attention into making picks as I usually would and that explains (in part, at least) why my success rate has been in a steady decline all year.

But it’s time to change all that and while I know it can’t happen in a single event, there are three events over the next three weeks and I want to try to get as close to the 60% success rate by the time this stretch is over as possible.

Welcome to the comeback.

These are the UFC 224 Punch Drunk Predictions.

Amanda Nunes vs. Raquel Pennington

Nunes gets the opportunity to compete in her home country for the first time in three years and looks to become the first Brazilian to earn a championship victory at home since Jose Aldo successfully defended his title against Chad Mendes at UFC 179, while Pennington aims to continue the trend of titles changing hands in Brazil.

Unfortunately, Pennington is entering this contest off an 18-month hiatus after undergoing shoulder surgery following her breakout victory over Miesha Tate at UFC 205 and a career-threatening ATV accident after that and it’s hard to overlook the potential impact that time on the shelf could have in this fight.

While I don’t question her preparedness, there is just such a profound difference between getting in rounds at the gym and going live against someone like Nunes and although I think Pennington could be able to shake off the rust as the fight goes on, the champion also has a penchant for finishing early, so she might not get that opportunity.

Although Nunes showed greater patience and a more measured approach in her last bout against Valentina Shevchenko, a return to her attacking ways seems obvious here. Pennington has always been hittable (but tough to finish) and blitzing her while she’s still getting loose makes a lot more sense than allowing her to find a rhythm and start looking for counters.

My feeling is that Nunes presses forward with low kicks and sharp punches early and gets the finish before the end of the fight hits the championship rounds.

Prediction: Amanda Nunes

Jacare Souza vs. Kelvin Gastelum

As someone who believed Gastelum had championship potential following his time on The Ultimate Fighter, his career to this point has been mildly disappointing. He’s had some good wins, but his weight struggles at welterweight sucked and I’m not sure he’s got enough advantages at middleweight to be a real contender, which relegates him – for now – to being a guy who lives in the 6-10 range in the Top 10.

That’s really good in the grand scheme of things, but not good enough, in my opinion, to beat someone as skilled and proven as Souza.

It often feels like we forget how good Jacare is. I did it heading into his fight with Derek Brunson and I think lots of people are doing it here, but the guy has only lost five times in his career and outside of his debut loss to Jorge Patino – who was already 25-fights deep into his career – the 38-year-old has only been beaten by absolute studs.

This might be the point where Gastelum takes that next step forward, but for me, the more likely scenario has Souza taking this fight to the floor and finishing there, much like Chris Weidman did againt him two fights back.

Prediction: Jacare Souza

Mackenzie Dern vs. Amanda Cooper

I just don’t buy the whole “all of Cooper’s losses have come by submission and Dern is a submission specialist so Dern is obviously going to maul her” logic many are espousing heading into this fight.

The facts are correct – Cooper’s three losses have all been by submission and Dern is one of the most decorated jiu jitsu players to transition to the Octagon – but Aspen Ladd, Tatiana Suarez and Cynthia Calvillo are all better athletes and more polished than Dern is at this point and Cooper has continued to improve as well.

I could end up looking ridiculous by picking Cooper here, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with Dern’s performance against Ashley Yoder and think Cooper will have opportunities to piece her up on the feet and unless Dern’s wrestling has improved by leaps and bounds in the last two months, she should be able to maintain distance and avoid her takedown attempts as well.

I didn’t like this meeting for Dern when it was first announced and nothing has made me change my mind on it since. If anything, the fact that Dern missed weight by a ridiculous seven pounds only further reinforces my conviction in picking Cooper, who was happy to take the fight regardless and seems pretty damn fired up about making a statement here.

Prediction: Amanda Cooper

John Lineker vs. Brian Kelleher

I love Kelleher’s moxie and he’s been largely impressive since arriving in the UFC, but this just feels like a bridge too far for the Oceanside, New York native.

Lineker is a powerhouse with an iron chin and better defensive skills than he gets credit for, mostly because he tends always be on the offensive, and while I think Kelleher will be able to connect with some good shots and this will be a fun fight, I see “Hands of Stone” hurting him on the feet before clamping onto a guillotine or rear-naked choke to get the finish.

Prediction: John Lineker

Vitor Belfort vs. Lyoto Machida

I was always going to pick Machida, even though he didn’t look great against Eryk Anders because this is Belfort’s last fight and he looked washed several fights ago. Then Vitor went and turned up to Media Day wearing his bathrobe from the hotel and made this a slam dunk selection for me.

I get wanting to be comfortable and good for you for giving zero fucks on your last few days at work, but Belfort has checked out and Machida will finish him early.

Prediction: Lyoto Machida

Preliminary Card Picks

Karl Roberson def. Cezar Ferreira
Oleksiy Oliynyk def. Junior Albini
Davi Ramos def. Nick Hein
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos def. Sean Strickland
Warlley Alves def. Sultan Aliev
Jack Hermansson ded. Thales Leites
Alberto Mina def. Ramazan Emeev
Markus Perez def. James Bochnovic

2018 Prediction Record: 78-59-0 (.569)

UFC on FOX: Emmett vs. Stephens Punch Drunk Predictions

UFC on FOX: Emmett vs. Stephens Punch Drunk Predictions

So the good news – for me and anyone who chooses to follow my picks for wagering purposes (Hi Patty B!) – is that I went 8-4 with my selections for last weekend’s UFC Fight Night event in Austin, Texas, including posting a 5-1 mark on the main card.

The bad news (for only me) is that hitting at 66.6 percent (repeating) on that show still didn’t pull my yearly win percentage up above the 60 percent threshold, which shows you both (a) how detrimental a couple bad weeks can be and (b) how difficult it’s going to be for me to reach the goal I’ve set for myself of getting 70 percent of my picks right over the course of the year.

But I’m not hedging and I’m not changing my target. The goal remains the same.

Here are my picks for Saturday’s UFC on FOX fight card in Orlando.

These are the Punch Drunk Predictions.

Josh Emmett vs. Jeremy Stephens

I don’t want to discredit what Emmett did last time out when he flattened Ricardo Lamas in Winnipeg. Beating “The Bully” is no easy task and he landed a beautiful counter shot that laid him out stiff; it was a great connection and a very big win for the Team Alpha Male member.

Looking at his past results, that finish feels like a little bit of an anomaly, as Emmett has never been one to just straight up settle fools with walk-off shots like that. He’s more of a grinder who buries you with volume or chokes you out on the ground and his four fights before that – including a loss at lightweight to Desmond Green – all went the distance.

That’s the long way of me saying I need to see it again before I believe Emmett is a guy that is going to roll into the Octagon and sleep guys on a consistent basis.

Additionally, he’s fighting someone who has only been knocked out once (I was there, it was a beautiful shot) and has only been finished four times in his entire career, so the odds aren’t in his favour.

But the biggest factor in me taking Stephens here is that the 31-year-old veteran has found his rhythm and finally harnessed all the raw potential and power that has made him fun to watch throughout his career and turned it into an aggressive, but technical approach inside the cage that has produced his best two-fight stretch to date.

Stephens now uses all of his weapons effectively and dictates the terms of engagement, halting aggressive fighters with leg kicks and crashing home crisp, forceful combinations on guys that want to sit back looking to counter. He’s refined his technique and found an approach that works for him and I think he’ll continue this nice little run he’s on here.

Prediction: Jeremy Stephens

Jessica Andrade vs. Tecia Torres

Torres has been on a nice little run of late, but this is a terrible matchup for her. She is most successful when she can get into point-fighting bouts against fellow volume strikers with minimal power or use her good, but not great grappling to control things along the fence and on the ground.

It’s why I loved her fight with Michelle Waterson – it was tailor-made for Torres to do exactly what she did and felt like an easy pick.

And that’s why Andrade is such an easy pick here.

The compact Brazilian does not care about being hit and is the superior grappler of the two, so Torres is going to have to deal with a powerhouse walking her down and firing blistering combinations at her for 15 minutes.

Now, is it possible that she tries to pick and move and avoids any prolonged exchanges, eking out a victory? Maybe, but I just don’t think she’s going to be able to do enough damage to swing the fight in her favour if that’s the approach she takes.

I expect Andrade to march forward and connect with enough heavy combinations and high amplitude takedowns to win this handily on the scorecards.

Prediction: Jessica Andrade

Ovince Saint Preux vs. Ilir Latifi

I think this fight hinges on which version of Saint Preux shows up on Saturday evening in Orlando. There are times where he is too relaxed, too lackadaisical inside the Octagon and more aggressive opponents are able to put it on him, but when he’s looking to pull the trigger and moving well, OSP can be a handful.

Knowing how hyped he is to be fighting in his home state for the first time in his career, my guess is that he shows up ready to work and if that’s the case, I think he should win this one fairly easily by working on the outside, picking his spots and potentially catching Latifi with something unexpected, like the kick he blasted Corey Anderson with last time out.

Prediction: OSP

Mike Perry vs. Max Griffin

Listen – Griffin is tough and has a little pop in his hands, but this one is all about getting Perry a showcase win at home and setting him up for a bigger, more high profile pairing later this year.

Whether you like him or not, you have to admit that “Platinum” is tough and can crack and I just don’t see Griffin being able to go in there and out-work Perry over 15 minutes. Maybe I’m mistaken and he turns this into a grind, but the more likely scenario to me is these two trading shots and Perry landing something filthy that brings the fight to a sudden halt.

Then he’ll probably say something stupid on live network television.

Prediction: Mike Perry

Preliminary Card Predictions

Brian Kelleher def. Renan Barao
Sara McMann def. Marion Reneau
Angela Hill def. Maryna Moroz
Ben Saunders def. Alan Jouban
Marcin Prachnio def. Sam Alvey
Rani Yahya def. Russell Doane
Eric Shelton def. Alex Perez
Manny Bermudez def. Albert Morales

2018 Prediction Record: 41-28-0 (.594)

UFC Austin: Punch Drunk Predictions

UFC Austin: Punch Drunk Predictions

Heading into last weekend’s event in Australia, I said I wanted to bounce back from going 4-7 on the previous fight card in Belem and get back on track towards reaching my goal of getting 70% of my picks correct over the course of the year.

That kind of happened, but also kind of didn’t because while I went 6-6 – which is far better than 4-7 – my winning percentage for the year dropped for the second straight event and now sits below 60% for the 2018 campaign.

Hopefully that changes this weekend.

Here are my picks for Sunday’s fight card in Austin, Texas.

These are the Punch Drunk Predictions.

Donald Cerrone vs. Yancy Medeiros

This one feels slippery because Cerrone and Medeiros enter on veery different streaks, but also have very different reputations and track records, none of which line up right.

Do you go with the perennial contender who has lost three straight to a trio of Top 10 welterweight talents or the guy who has been an entertaining action fighter who has yet to crack the Top 10 in his career, but has rattled off three straight victories? I’m siding with Cerrone, even though his recent results make me a little nervous about how this one shakes out.

I think he hustled into the Darren Till fight too quickly and didn’t give the kid enough respect; it was a terrible matchup for him and came overseas, which puts Cerrone out of his element and he paid for it dearly in the Octagon. Medeiros, however, is the kind of guy “Cowboy” has made a career of beating – tough customers who aren’t quite elite, but are willing to trade with him in the center of the Octagon.

Cerrone seems to be rejuvenated for this one and unless that is all talk (which it could be), I think he gets the job done here.

Prediction: Donald Cerrone

Derrick Lewis vs. Marcin Tybura

Tybura could very well grind this out over three rounds, but when you’re dealing with a guy like Lewis who can end a fight in an instant, it’s hard not to pick him in a matchup like this.

If this were someone with a little more seasoning, a little more pedigree, I’d be taking them because Lewis has obvious holes in his game and flaws that you can exploit, but I just don’t think Tybura has the ability to do that for 15 minutes while simultaneously avoiding the sledgehammers that are going to be coming his way. Though I expect him to have success pinning Lewis to the fence and perhaps even getting him to the canvas, eventually he’s going to eat one of those cinder blocks Lewis calls fists and the fight will end soon after.

Prediction: Derrick Lewis

James Vick vs. Francisco Trinaldo

There is a risk that Vick rolls into this one too fired up for his own good after lobbying for a Top 10 opponent and a main event assignment for this card and settling for a date with Trinaldo in the middle of the main card, but he’s been on-point as of late and should be able to use his substantial height and reach advantage to get the job done here.

Trinaldo has been great over the last couple years, going 8-1 and turning in a bunch of stellar performances, but Vick brings a little more weaponry to the table in this one. He’s shown how potent his hands can be in striking exchanges and does a great job locking up chokes using his long arms, so while the Brazilian might be able to muscle him around at points if he gets inside, the more likely outcome is Vick picking away from the outside and catching Trinaldo with something stiff as he looks to close the distance.

Prediction: James Vick

Thiago Alves vs. Curtis Millender

Given how good Alves looked against Patrick Cote last April, it’s hard to pick against the tenured welterweight in this matchup with a UFC newcomer.

While that fight was now 10 months ago and Alves is 34, it’s not like Millender is some young kid on a tremendous run who is going to roll into the cage and out-everything him on his way to greatness. The 30-year-old LFA graduate has put together a nice little run of success, but he’s lost to the best competition he’s faced thus far in his career and I don’t think that is something that you can correct this far into things.

Alves is as polished and technical a fighter as their is in the division and he should be able to out-work Millender in every facet to get a second straight win.

Prediction: Thiago Alves

Steve Peterson vs. Brandon Davis

Honestly, I’m not sure why this fight is on the main card other than not wanting to shuffle the prelim lineup.

Davis faltered in his Octagon debut last month in Boston, coming up short against Kyle Bochniak, but if he can get back to being a more active fighter now that he’s gotten rid of the Octagon jitters, he should be able to have his way with Peterson, a regional vet who has yet to win the kind of pivotal bout that really helps him stand out in the crowd.

Prediction: Brandon Davis

Sage Northcutt vs. Thibault Gouti

This is a showcase opportunity for Northcutt and it should be fairly one-sided.

Gouti avoided going 0-4 in the UFC last time out with a first-round knockout win over Andrew Holbrook and Northcutt will need to avoid getting caught with something similar, but the 21-year-old Texan should be able to get this fight on the ground and finish it there, either with strikes or a rear naked choke.

Prediction: Sage Northcutt

Preliminary Card Predictions

Jared Gordon def. Carlos Diego Ferreira
Geoff Neal def. Brian Camozzi
Joby Sanchez def. Roberto Sanchez
Sarah Moras def. Lucie Pudilova
Alex Morono def. Josh Burkman
Oskar Piechota def. Tim Williams

2018 Prediction Record: 33-24-0 (.579)

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