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

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