Tag Archive for Pass

Predictions! UFC 232 Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 1

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., Dec. 29, 2018) when UFC 232: “Jones vs Gustafsson 2” storms The Forum in Inglewood, California. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC 232 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ends the year this Saturday (Dec. 29, 2018) in the most fitting manner possible: a logistical nightmare made possible, once again, by Jon Jones. He’ll fight Alexander Gustafsson inside The Forum in Los Angeles, Calif., after an “abnormal” drug test scrapped their original planned site of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Elsewhere on UFC 232’s pay-per-view (PPV) main card, women’s Bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes returns to 145 pounds to challenge division queenpin, Cris Cyborg, and Carlos Condit welcomes Michael Chiesa to the Welterweight division.

This cluster-you-know-what has eight “Prelims” undercard matches ready to set the stage. Let’s look at the first four:

135 lbs.: Nathaniel Wood vs. Andre Ewell

Nathaniel Wood (14-3) lived up to his name with a series of impressive victories on the British circuit, winning and twice defending the Cage Warriors Bantamweight title before joining UFC in June. After a tough first round that saw him rocked by Nova Uniao veteran Johnny Eduardo, “The Prospect” capitalized on a failed takedown attempt to submit Eduardo with a bonus-winning d’arce choke.

He has scored nine professional knockouts and three submissions.

Andre Ewell, the CES Bantamweight champion, hopped right into the deep end in his UFC debut against former champion Renan Barao in Sao Paulo. He came up big in hostile territory, taking home a split decision over the one-time Bantamweight great.

He steps in for the injured Tom Duquesnoy on short notice.

Wood vs. Duquesnoy had the better storyline, but this is still a terrific match up between strong prospects. Though Wood has more time to develop, being five years younger, both are worth keeping tabs on as they rise through the ranks at 135 pounds.

In what’s a pick-‘em fight both on paper and the sportsbook, the X-factor could be dimensions. Ewell is six inches taller than Wood and has a seven-inch reach advantage. Wood’s key weakness is that he’s hittable, which had him in trouble against Eduardo until the latter foolishly attempted a takedown. Expect Ewell to outland him at distance, racking up left hands and surviving the heavy blows coming back his way to take a narrow decision.

Prediction: Ewell via split decision

185 lbs.: Uriah Hall vs. Bevon Lewis

Uriah Hall (13-9), who became the first man to knockout Gegard Mousasi in 2015, is just 1-4 since that victory, including three (technical) knockout losses. Following his comeback knockout of Krzysztof Jotko, which snapped a three-fight losing streak, “Primetime” took on the rising Paulo Costa, who battered him into submission midway through the second round.

He has knocked out nine professional foes and submitted another two.

Bevon Lewis (6-0) dispatched Elias Urbina on the first season of “Contender Series,” but didn’t earn a contract in the process. After a decision in LFA, “The Extraordinary Gentleman” returned for Season Two, knocking out Alton Cunningham in the first round.

He will have three inches of height on Hall.

Hall is genetically engineered to piss off mixed martial arts (MMA) pundits — he has the athleticism and power to pull out a win from the depths of defeat alongside the fight IQ to pull out a defeat from the depths of victory. I don’t even know why I bother predicting his fights.

Oh, right. Because they pay me.

Lewis is a young, well-rounded prospect out of an excellent camp in Jackson-Wink. He looks to be durable enough to withstand Hall’s sporadic power punches and force it into the clinch, where his height, knees and elbows should pay dividends. He exploit’s Hall’s legendarily terrible ring craft to pin him against the fence and put him away late in the first.

Prediction: Lewis via first-round technical knockout

170 lbs.: Curtis Millender vs. Siyar Bahadurzada

A pair of highlight-reel head kicks extended Curtis Millender’s (16-3) win streak to six and set up a February UFC debut against veteran Thiago Alves. “Curtious” wound up starching Alves with a knee in the second round, earning “Performance of the Night,” then outclassed Max Griffin five months later.

He is three inches taller than Siyar Bahadurzada (24-6-1) and will have a 3.5-inch reach advantage.

“The Great,” who missed all of 2014 and 2015, is undefeated (3-0) with three finishes since returning to action in March 2016. After choking out Brandon Thatch, he proceeded to knockout Rob Wilkinson and Luan Chagas, earning “Performance of the Night” for his starching of the latter.

Thirteen of his 20 stoppage wins have come by form of knockout.

I’ll readily admit that I consistently underestimate Bahadurzada. He looks like a mediocre slugger, consistently winging straight-armed punches with nary a jab to be found, but he’s so relentless and hits so hard that it often doesn’t matter. I’m still going to pick against him, though, because his lack of set ups mean he’ll struggle to close the distance against the rangy Millender. And the threat of his wrestling is likewise mitigated by range at which he’d have to initiate his takedowns.

The threat of the one-hitter quitter is there, but the likeliest outcome sees Millender patiently take apart Bahadurzada at long range.

Prediction: Millender via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Brian Kelleher vs. Montel Jackson

I’m just going to go ahead and copy-paste what I wrote when these two were booked to fight at UFC 230 as a Christmas present to myself.

Wrestling, aggression and sheer grit carried Brian Kelleher (19-9) past Damian Stasiak and Renan Barao on his way to contendership. Those weren’t enough against John Lineker, who out-brawled Kelleher before knocking him stiff with a left hook.

“Boom” has five wins by guillotine, including one over fellow undercard fighter Julio Arce.

Montel Jackson (6-1) — whose “Contender Series” victory was marred by a series of fouls — got the UFC call anyway when Benito Lopez pulled out of a fight with Ricky Simon. Though he put forth a strong effort, he couldn’t overcome his foe on short notice and suffered his first career loss by decision.

He was supposed to fight Kelleher last month, but the latter withdrew due to illness.

Jackson is still somewhat green and came up short against Simon, but even on short notice, this is a much more winnable fight for him. He’s four inches taller than Kelleher and will have nearly a foot of reach on him. Kelleher gets inside through sheer tenacity, which just isn’t going to work against someone this rangy and hits this hard.

Kelleher’s only real chances of victory lie in Jackson gassing late or going for a takedown and leaving his neck out. Neither seems likely. Jackson plugs him with power shots at range to take a clear decision victory.

Prediction: Jackson via unanimous decision

Four more UFC 232 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict tomorrow, among them the latest effort from B.J. Penn and another appearance from blue-chip Bantamweight prospect, Petr Yan. Same time as always, Maniacs!

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 232 fight card on fight night, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 232: “Jones vs. Gustafsson 2” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

MMAmania.com – All Posts

Predictions! UFC 231 Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 2

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., Dec. 8, 2018) when UFC 231: “Holloway vs. Ortega” storms Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg continues the UFC 231 “Prelims” party with the second (and final) installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Two weight classes produce their best match ups this Saturday (Dec. 8, 2018) when Max Holloway vs. Brian Ortega and Joanna Jedrzejczyk vs. Valentina Shevchenko hit the pay-per-view (PPV) airwaves inside Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada. Other UFC 231 main card attractions include Thiago Santos vs. Jimi Manuwa and the return of Gunnar Nelson against the surging Alex Oliveira.

Four FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard matches will set the PPV stage (check out the Fight Pass portion here). Let’s see how:

115 lbs.: Claudia Gadelha vs. Nina Ansaroff

Following wins over Cortney Casey and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, the latter of which saw Claudia Gadelha (16-3) score her first finish since 2013, “Claudinha” fell short in a wild “Fight of the Night” against Jessica Andrade. She returned to action nine months later against former champion Carla Esparza, narrowly edging “The Cookie Monster” at UFC 225.

She is one inch shorter than “The Strina” and will give up reach in both the arms and legs.

Nina Ansaroff (9-5) stumbled out of the gate with decision losses to Juliana Lima and Justine Kish, but has since won three straight. She choked out Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger for her first UFC victory, then defeated Angela Hill and Randa Markos in a pair of entertaining decisions.

Four of her six stoppage wins have come via (technical) knockout.

Ansaroff is legitimately one of the best strikers at 115 pounds, especially now that Joanna Jedrzejczyk is plying her craft at Flyweight. Heck, I think she’d be a decent match up for Rose Namajunas and most of the fighters in the rankings, save perhaps a handful of tough outs.

Gadelha is among that handful.

The key to wearing down Gadelha is making her burn herself out trying to establish and maintain top control, and while Ansaroff can control the striking even with the threat of Gadelha’s jab, I’m not sure she can consistently scramble out from underneath the hulking Brazilian. Gadelha will fade late as she always does, but I say she banks the first two rounds via top control and survives Ansaroff’s comeback attempt.

Prediction: Gadelha via split decision

125 lbs.: Katlyn Chookagian vs. Jessica Eye

Katlyn Chookagian (11-1) went 2-1 as a Bantamweight in UFC before dropping to 125 pounds in January. After debuting with a decision over Mara Romero Borella in Charlotte, “Blonde Fighter” returned to the UFC on FOX airwaves with a successful back-and-forth battle with veteran Alexis Davis.

She will have three inches of height and two inches of reach on Eye.

Jessica Eye (13-6) won just one of her first seven UFC bouts, prompting her own move to Flyweight. She’s found considerably more success there, winning decisions over Kalindra Faria and Jessica-Rose Clark.

“Evil” has four wins via stoppage, three of them (technical) knockouts.

So, spoiler warning, this one’s going the distance. Chookagian has one finish in her last eight fights, Eye one in her last 10. It’ll be a measured striking battle at range, one that seems to favor Chookagian. Eye will struggle to outwork her foe, and though she’s crafty enough with her jab to find the mark against a lengthier opponent, she doesn’t have enough power to make up the difference.

Eye’s key to victory may be her wrestling, which she’s leaned on since dropping to 125 pounds. It’ll be close, and Eye could very well have an argument for victory, but considering their respective luck in close fights and Chookagian’s output, I say “Blonde Fighter” ekes out another decision.

Prediction: Chookagian via split decision

185 lbs.: Elias Theodorou vs. Eryk Anders

Elias Theodorou (15-2) — winner of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Nations” — has quietly put together a 7-2 record in UFC’s Middleweight division. He currently rides a two-fight win streak, defeating Daniel Kelly and Trevor Smith by unanimous decision.

“The Spartan” has stopped six opponents with strikes, though none since 2015.

Eryk Anders (11-2) rebounded from a narrow loss to Lyoto Machida in his first UFC main event to knockout Tim Williams with one of 2018’s nastiest head kicks. Less than one month later, “Ya Boy” stepped up in weight on short notice to challenge Thiago Santos, ultimately succumbing to “Marreta’s” brutal striking.

Six of his eight stoppage victories have come in the first round.

This is one of those weird fights that will vacillate between exciting and unwatchable depending on who’s winning. It’ll be great if Anders is hurling his left hand with abandon, garbage if Theodorou is chilling in the clinch or throwing ineffectual kicks at range.

Unfortunately for “The Spartan,” Anders is strong enough to avoid being muscled around against the fence clinch and has far, far superior boxing. Theodorou is too durable to put away, but expect Anders to touch him up for the full 15 minutes.

Prediction: Anders via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Gilbert Burns

Olivier Aubin-Mercier (11-3) put a surprising loss to Carlos Diego Ferreira behind him to win four straight, upping his Octagon record to 7-2. “The Quebec Kid” went on to face fast-rising Alexander Hernandez, and despite showing some slick Judo, faded down the stretch on his way to a decision defeat.

His eight submission wins include seven via rear-naked choke

Though Gilbert Burns’ (13-3) Brazilian jiu-jitsu pedigree carried him to UFC, his knockout power has taken center stage recently, earning him savage one-punch finishes of Jason Saggo and Dan Moret. He tried to do the same to Dan Hooker in July, but the durable Kiwi came out on top in a firefight and put away Burns midway through the first round.

He has submitted seven professional opponents and knocked out another five.

This looks like one of those rare grappler-versus-grappler fights where the inevitable striking battle will wind up being actually watchable. Aubin-Mercier has developed a nasty body attack and Burns has dynamite in his hands. Even if we don’t get to see elite judo against elite jiu-jitsu, this could be fun.

Aubin-Mercier’s struggles against Ferreira and Hernandez have me questioning the effectiveness of his judo against big, explosive grapplers, a bill Burns fits nicely. “Durinho” gets back on track, keeping the fight standing and ultimately lamping the fading Canuck sometime in the second.

Prediction: Burns via second-round knockout

Holloway vs. Ortega is legitimately one of the best possible match ups in the entire sport — you better not miss it. See you Saturday, Maniacs.

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 231 card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record for 2018: 178-78-1

MMAmania.com – All Posts

Predictions! UFC 230 Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 1

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., Nov. 3, 2018) when UFC 230: “Cormier vs. Lewis” storms Madison Square Garden in New York, New York. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC 230 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has had to scramble a bit, resulting in an unexpected pay-per-view (PPV) main event for UFC 230: The Heavyweight title fight between division champion, Daniel Cormier, taking on hard-hitting challenger, Derrick Lewis, the latter of whom fought just one month ago. Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., this Saturday (Nov. 4, 2018) will also host a top-notch Middleweight clash between Chris Weidman and “Jacare” Souza, as well as another that puts submission specialist David Branch against knockout artist Jared Cannonier.

UFC 230 features a hefty eight “Prelims” undercard matches this time around; therefore, let’s go from the bottom-up, starting with the Fight Pass portion online:

155 lbs.: Matt Frevola vs. Lando Vannata

Matt Frevola (6-1) made the most of his headlining spot on the Contender Series by submitting Luke Flores to secure a contract. His customary brawling ways didn’t serve him well in his debut, however, as Polo Reyes demolished him with punches in just 60 seconds.

“The Steamrolla” went undefeated (8-0) as an amateur before making his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) debut in 2014.

The terrific Octagon debut of Lando Vannata (9-3-1) against Tony Ferguson and subsequent wheel kick knockout of John Makdessi have not given way to the expected success. “Groovy” is just 0-2-1 in his last three Octagon appearances, most recently losing a one-sided decision to Drakkar Klose in July.

He owns four wins apiece by knockout and submission.

It’s become clear that Vannata isn’t what we though he was, but he’s almost certainly a level or two above Frevola. The latter is a bog-standard brawler with solid wrestling to back it up, which is an archetype Vannata really ought to be able to deal with. As long as he doesn’t horribly mismanage his cardio, Vannata should be able to style on Frevola all night.

It’s hard to have faith in Vannata at this point, but Frevola is a far cry from the likes of David Teymur and Bobby Green. Head movement, strong kicks and good takedown defense carry “Groovy” back into the win column.

Prediction: Vannata via unanimous decision

145 lbs.: Shane Burgos vs. Kurt Holobaugh

Shane Burgos (10-1) announced his arrival in UFC’s Featherweight division with entertaining victories over Tiago “Trator,” Charles Rosa and Godofredo “Pepey.” He would fall to Calvin Kattar his next time out, but secured “Fight of the Night” for their back-and-forth battle.

His eight stoppage wins are split evenly between knockouts and submissions.

Kurt Holobaugh (17-5) battered Matt Bessette on the inaugural “Contender Series” episode, only for the fight to be overturned when it was revealed that he used an IV to rehydrate. Despite this, he made his Octagon a year later with a “Fight of the Night”-winning brawl against Raoni Barcelos, who put away Holobaugh with uppercuts in the third round.

Though their heights are identical, he will give up two inches of reach to “Hurricane” Shane.

Holobaugh showed in his last fight that his pressure-heavy style struggles against strong counter-punchers willing to stand their ground, so in response, UFC booked him against another strong counter-puncher willing to stand his ground. Burgos has virtually all the tools needed to recreate Barcelos’ effort aside from strong offensive wrestling, and what he lacks in slick head movement he makes up for with concussive power.

The “X-Factor” here is whether Burgos, whose hands-low slugging demands extreme confidence, has mentally recovered from the Kattar knockout. He’s young enough to bounce back strong, though, so I say we get about a round and a half of “Fight of the Night” action before Burgos catches him with something gnarly.

Prediction: Burgos via second-round technical knockout

135 lbs.: Brian Kelleher vs. Montel Jackson

Wrestling, aggression and sheer grit carried Brian Kelleher (19-9) past Damian Stasiak and Renan Barao on his way to contendership. Those weren’t enough against John Lineker, who out-brawled Kelleher before knocking him stiff with a left hook.

“Boom” has five wins by guillotine, including one over fellow undercard fighter Julio Arce.

Montel Jackson (6-1) — whose “Contender Series” victory was marred by a series of fouls — got the UFC call anyway when Benito Lopez pulled out of a fight with Ricky Simon. Though he put forth a strong effort, he couldn’t overcome his foe on short notice and suffered his first career loss by decision.

He steps in for “Contender Series” product Domingo Pilarte on less than one month’s notice.

Jackson is still somewhat green and came up short against Simon, but even on short notice, this is a much more winnable fight for him. He’s four inches taller than Kelleher and will have nearly a foot of reach on him; however, Kelleher gets inside through sheer tenacity, which just isn’t going to work against someone this rangy and hits this hard.

Kelleher’s only real chances of victory lie in Jackson gassing late or going for a takedown and leaving his neck out. Neither seems likely. Jackson plugs him with power shots at range to take a clear decision victory.

Prediction: Jackson via unanimous decision

265 lbs.: Adam Wieczorek vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima

Poland’s Adam Wieczorek (10-1), who has not tasted defeat since a loss to Marcin Tybura in his second professional fight, enters the cage undefeated (2-0) in his Octagon career so far. His last victory was one for the history books, as he hit the UFC Heavyweight division’s first omoplata against the heavily favored Arjan Singh Bhullar in Glendale.

He replaces the injured Ruslan Magomedov, who ran into visa issues, on less than two weeks’ notice.

Marcos Rogerio de Lima (15-5) opened his UFC career with two knockouts in a combined 2:19, but has alternated losses and victories since. “Pezao” was last seen tapping to an Ovince Saint Preux von Flue choke after missing weight for the second consecutive time, after which he ran afoul of United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

The Brazilian has stopped 12 opponents with punches, 10 of them in the first round.

de Lima is an inordinately frustrating fighter to follow. He has truly ridiculous punching power, but his ground game has failed to improve by even the slightest amount since his Octagon debut. “Pezao’s” takedown defense is atrocious and his defensive grappling is downright appalling; indeed, if the fight hits the mat under any circumstances, “Siwy” will tap him in a hurry.

Considering that the Pole will be one of the larger men de Lima has faced, getting the fight there may not be too difficult. The Brazilian isn’t a true heavyweight; he’s a light heavyweight with no discipline. Though the potential for another stunning knockout is there, Wieczorek survives a rough start to ultimately drag his foe to the mat and lock up a submission shortly thereafter.

Prediction: Wieczorek via second-round submission

Four more UFC 230 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict on FOX Sports 1, including a rematch from The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) and the latest from all-action Jason Knight. Same time tomorrow as always, Maniacs!

Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 230 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

MMAmania.com – All Posts

Predictions! UFC 228 Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 1

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FX this weekend (Sat., Sept. 8, 2018) when UFC 228: “Woodley vs. Till” storms American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC 228 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Two Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) titles are on the line inside American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, this Saturday (Sept. 8, 2018) as champions Tyron Woodley and Nico Montano look to turn aside Darren Till and Valentina Shevchenko at UFC 228.

Earlier in the evening, Brandon Davis steps up on short notice to face top prospect Zabit Magomedsharipov and Jessica Andrade pleads her case for another title shot at Karolina Kowalkiewicz’s expense on UFC 228’s pay-per-view (PPV) main card.

Before all that, though, UFC 228 features nine “Prelims” undercard bouts, five on Fight Pass and four on FX. So let’s start from the bottom-up:

170 lbs.: Diego Sanchez vs. Craig White

Diego Sanchez (27-11) has had a, well, self-descriptive go of things lately, suffering crushing knockout losses in three of his last four fights. The last one was perhaps the most brutal yet, a savage elbow from Matt Brown that knocked the legendarily durable Sanchez into another dimension.

“The Nightmare” will surrender four inches of height and reach to “The Thundercat.”

Craig White (14-8) answered the call when Gunnar Nelson withdrew from UFC Fight Night 130, stepping up to fight Neil Magny on short notice. Things didn’t exactly go swimmingly for him, as Magny dropped him with a knee before pounding him out.

He has never gone pat the second round as a professional or amateur.

This is about the most winnable fight in UFC’s Welterweight division for Sanchez and it’s still a toss-up. White is a below-average wrestler who relies on submissions off of his back, which is one of the few things Sanchez can still deal with. That said, White’s a fair bit larger than Sanchez and “The Nightmare” can’t take a shot anymore

It’s really going to come down to whether White can catch him coming in with a knee or one of the winging punches he enjoys, because otherwise Sanchez still has what it takes to sit in someone’s guard for three rounds. I say he pulls it off, using his size to offset the wrestling issues and clipping his fading foe with something gnarly on the way in.

Prediction: White via first-round technical knockout

155 lbs.: Jim Miller vs. Alex White

Jim Miller (28-12) — closing in on his tenth year on the Octagon — enters the cage this weekend on a four-fight losing streak, the longest of his career. His last fight saw him face fast-rising Kiwi Daniel Hooker and survive three minutes before eating a nasty knee to the face.

He stands four inches shorter than Alex White (12-3), though their reach is the same.

White has struggled to find consistency in the UFC since debuting with an 88-second smashing of Estevan Payan, losing four of his next six. He’s currently 1-2 since moving to Lightweight, a stoppage of Mitch Clarke sandwiched between losses to Tony Martin and James Krause. He has knocked out and submitted five opponents apiece.

Miller’s a strange case in that he hasn’t shown any super obvious physical decline, but his game just doesn’t work anymore. His only wins since 2015 were a knockout of a completely shot Takanori Gomi, a bogus decision over Joe Lauzon, and a win over Thiago Alves wherein “The Pitbull” came in seven pounds overweight.

On the other side is White, a generalist with solid punching power, but nothing particularly outstanding in his game. I’d pick the Miller of 2014 to smoke him, but that’s not who he’s facing here. White’s punching power and Miller’s iffy takedowns allow the former to rack up the damage on the feet and earn the win.

Prediction: White via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Irene Aldana vs. Lucie Pudilova

Irene Aldana (8-4) took home “Fight of the Night” in her Octagon debut against Leslie Smith, but couldn’t pull out the win against either her or Katlyn Chookagian her next time out. She finally managed to enter the UFC win column in January with a decision over Talita Bernardo in St. Louis.

Five of her seven stoppage wins have come by first-round knockout.

Lucia Pudilova (8-2) got the chance to avenge her sole career defeat in her Octagon debut, but couldn’t quite topple Lina Lansberg despite inflicting some horrendous swelling. She’s since righted the ship with decisions over Ji Yeon Kim and Sarah Moras, extending her current run to 5-1.

She has scored two wins each by (technical) knockout and submission.

Pudilova isn’t anywhere near as much of a gimme win as Bethe Correia would have been, but she’s still someone Aldana should dominate. The Mexican bruiser has shown difficulties with strong wrestling and extreme pressure, neither of which Pudilova is likely to offer, and she’s the harder puncher by a fair margin.

Though I’m still not sure Aldana will ever become more than a fun action fighter, that’s all she really needs to be to come out on top. So long as she stays at her preferred range, she boxes up her foe on her way to a mid-round stoppage.

Prediction: Aldana via second-round technical knockout

125 lbs.: Ryan Benoit vs. Roberto Sanchez

Ryan Benoit (10-5) made waves in 2015 when, after scoring “Fight of the Night” in a losing effort against Josh Sampo, he defied +500 odds to knock out Sergio Pettis at UFC 185. He’s alternated losses and wins since, most recently knocking out local favorite Ashkan Mokhtarian in Sydney.

He has knocked out eight professional foes and submitted one other.

Roberto Sanchez (8-1) took on fellow unbeaten prospect Joseph Morales in his Octagon debut, ultimately getting dropped and choked out late in the first round. “Little Fury” came back strong against Joby Sanchez, whom he submitted in less than two minutes.

All but one of his wins have come by either rear-naked choke or armbar.

Though Benoit packs some of the heaviest hands in the division, both his striking technique and his takedown defense have continued to lag behind. Fredy Serrano and Brandon Moreno dragged him to the mat a combined 10 times and he struggled with Mokhtarian’s movements in the early going.

Not a good sign against a quick, dangerous takedown and submission artist.

Benoit throws bombs and Sanchez got his clock cleaned by Morales, but I don’t believe Benoit can land a game-changing punch before Sanchez gets in on his hips, moves to the back, and chokes him out.

Prediction: Sanchez via first-round submission

As an aside, as I was finishing up this article, Jarred Brooks announced on his Instagram that Benoit was out and that he had taken his place. At the time of submission, however, I could not find confirmation from UFC, and since I’d already written up this particular fight, I’m going to leave it up. If Brooks does wind up subbing in, I’ve got him beating Sanchez by unanimous decision.

170 lbs.: Frank Camacho vs. Geoffrey Neal

Frank Camacho (21-6) has been nothing if not entertaining during his Octagon tenure, winning “Fight of the Night” against Li Jingliang, Damien Brown and Drew Dober. The former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) hopeful is just 1-2 in that stretch, but fought his way to a controversial decision loss against Dober his last time out.

Despite his grappling base, “The Crank” has knocked out 15 professional opponents.

Geoffrey Neal (9-2) earned a spot on “Contender Series” just 11 days after his previous win, showing no ill effects from the quick turnaround en route to stopping Chase Waldon in 116 seconds. His Octagon debut was equally successful, a first-round submission of Brian Camozzi.

“Handz of Steel” stands two inches taller than Camacho and will have as many inches of reach.

Camacho is a badass and I’m always happy to see him on my screen, but I just don’t think that free-swinging style of his can work against larger, stronger men like Neal. “Handz of Steel” is more than happy to trade leather and has the length, durability and power to come out on top.

There’s a difference between going life-and-death with natural Lightweights and duking it out with a guy who can compete at Middleweight. Unless Camacho can get his wrestling going and bring those Brazilian jiu-jitsu chops of his to bear, Neal outslugs him in a terrific opener for the evening.

Prediction: Neal via unanimous decision

Four more UFC 228 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict tomorrow, including top-ranked Bantamweight contenders Aljamain Sterling, Cody Stamann, Jimmie Rivera and John Dodson. Same time as always, Maniacs.

Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 228 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FX at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

MMAmania.com – All Posts

Predictions! UFC 227 Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 1

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FX this weekend (Sat., Aug. 4, 2018) when UFC 227: “Dillashaw vs. Garbrandt 2” storms Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC 227 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has sequels on the mind this Saturday (Aug. 4, 2018) as T.J. Dillashaw and Demetrious Johnson defend their respective titles against former foes Cody Garbrandt and Henry Cejudo inside Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. UFC 227 will also feature a Featherweight crossroads fight between Renato Moicano and Cub Swanson, as well as top women’s Strawweight prospect Polyana Viana against The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) veteran J.J. Aldrich.

Prior to the start of the pay-per-view (PPV) main card, eight “Prelims” undercard bouts will set the stage, the latter four on FX for once. So let’s first check out the Fight Pass lineup:

125 lbs.: Jose Torres vs. Alex Perez

Jose Torres (8-0) went from the world’s top amateur to Titan FC’s Flyweight and Bantamweight champion in just five fights, both titles which he defended. While bulking up for a crack at the Featherweight belt, “Shorty” got a short-notice call to the Octagon, where he struggled early against Jarred Brooks before “The Monkey God” knocked himself out with a slam.

Torres has knocked out four opponents, including Brooks, and submitted another two.

Alex Perez (20-4) rebounded from the first two-fight skid of his career, which included the loss of his Tachi Flyweight title to future Ultimate Fighter competitor Adam Antolin, with four consecutive regional wins and an anaconda choke of Kevin Gray on “Tuesday Night Contender Series.” He has been equally impressive in UFC itself, choking out Carls John de Tomas and upsetting Eric Shelton by decision.

As you might imagine from his opponent’s nickname, Perez is two inches taller, though their reaches are identical.

Considering the short notice and the massive weight cut Torres had to go through to make 125 pounds, I can forgive his shaky performance against Brooks. When he’s on, “Shorty” is as good as anyone in the world, and I expect we’ll see a much better performance here.

Perez is a damn good wrestler who seriously impressed me against Shelton, but Torres’ boxing is quite a bit sharper, and Perez will find him much more difficult to keep on his back. Torres has the skills to keep it standing, sneak in a takedown or two of his own, and get to work with punching combinations. Perez should take the first round, as Torres is notoriously slow to get going, but expect “Shorty” to take over once the combos start flowing.

Prediction: Torres via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Ricardo Ramos vs. Kyung Ho Kang

Ricardo Ramos (11-1) came up short in his “Lookin’ for a Fight” appearance opposite Manny Vazquez, but earned a call up after choking out future “Tuesday Night Contender Series” hopeful Alfred Khashakyan. Following a decision over Michinori Tanaka, Ramos faced fellow prospect Aiemann Zahabi and wiped him out with an awesome spinning elbow.

He has gone the distance just twice as a professional, submitting six.

Kyung Ho Kang (14-7) put on one of 2014’s best fights against Michinori Tanaka, but was unable to capitalize on his momentum due to South Korea’s mandatory military service. He returned to action earlier this year, choking out TUF: “Latin America” alumn Guido Cannetti at UFC Fight Night 124.

“Mr. Perfect” has submitted 10 opponents and knocked out another two.

Most of the odds are already out for this event and Kang is around a two-to-one underdog. That doesn’t quite reflect the reality, which is that this is an extremely winnable fight for the Korean. Not only can he match Ramos’ height, he looks to be a fair bit thicker than the Brazilian and is enormously strong for the weight. In addition, he’s a sufficiently skilled takedown artist to put Ramos on his back and tricky enough to hold his own on the mat against the Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace.

Kang has faded in the past, but his sheer physicality and ground skills seem like just the ticket to overwhelming the Brazilian. He banks at least two rounds through top control and submission attempts to get the decision.

Prediction: Kang via unanimous decision

115 lbs.: Danielle Taylor vs. Weili Zhang

After a loss to the much, much taller Maryna Moroz in her Octagon debut, Danielle Taylor (9-3) got back on track with narrow decisions over Seo Hee Ham and Jessica Penne. Shew as unable to do the same against J.J. Aldrich, however, and is now sitting on a .500 UFC record.

As usual, the 5’0” Taylor will give up height, specifically four inches this time.

Weili Zhang (19-1) has not tasted defeat since her professional debut, establishing herself as one of China’s best fighters … period. She has been exceedingly efficient about it, too, going past the second round just once in her current streak.

She has knocked out nine and submitted six.

Some Chinese fighters have greatly exceeded my expectations upon joining UFC, but none have impressed me before their debuts as much as Zhang. She’s aggressive, powerful, entertaining and throws some lovely combinations. She’s borderline Top 10-quality already, an excellent addition to the roster.

Though Taylor has legitimate one-punch power and Zhang has been hurt before, “Dynamite’s” measly 30 percent striking accuracy and notoriously low work rate make this an uphill battle for her. Therefore, expect Zhang to rack up points with her low kicks and boxing on her way to a dominant decision.

Prediction: Zhang via unanimous decision

135 lbs.: Marlon Vera vs. Wuliji Buren

Marlon Vera (12-5-1) put together an impressive three-fight win streak, among them stoppages of Brad Pickett and Brina Kelleher, to unexpectedly become a legitimate contender. He has since dropped decisions to power-punchers John Lineker and Douglas Andrade, though neither managed to significantly hurt him.

He steps in for the injured Bharat Khandare on two weeks’ notice.

Wuliji Buren (11-5) joined several of his countrymen in Shanghai in Nov. 2017, debuting against Rolando Dy in the midst of a four-fight winning streak. It wasn’t to be five, as “The Beastmaster” lost a wide decision to the Filipino boxer.

He has stopped six opponents, four by submission.

Khandare vs. Buren would have been an interesting clash of wrestlers. This is just going to be a stomp.

Buren really has no clear advantage here outside of his takedowns, and that weapon just puts him in danger of “Chito’s” submission arsenal. On the feet, Vera is the more proven kickboxer, meaning there’s no apparent avenue of victory for the China native. “Chito” touches him up with long-distance kicks until an ill-advised shot from Buren gives him the chance to lock up his neck.

Prediction: Vera via first-round submission

Four more UFC 227 “Prelims” fights to preview and predict tomorrow, including the debuts of two recent “Tuesday Night Contender Series” victors. See you then, Maniacs!

Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 227 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FX at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

MMAmania.com – All Posts

Predictions! UFC 225 Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ Preview – Pt. 1

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., June 9, 2018) when UFC 225: “Whittaker vs. Romero 2” storms United Center in Chicago, Illinois. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC 225 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

The two undisputed kings of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight division will duke it out once again this Saturday evening (June 9, 2018) when Robert Whittaker fights Yoel Romero in UFC 225’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event inside United Center in Chicago, Illinois. The co-main event sees Rafael dos Anjos look to secure a title in a second weight class against Colby Covington, competing for the interim UFC Welterweight belt, and Invicta champ Megan Anderson fights Holly Holm in the third slot.

UFC 225 features eight “Prelims” undercard bouts this time around, four apiece on Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1. Let’s see what’s cooking on the Internet!

205 lbs.: Rashad Evans vs. Anthony Smith

It’s been more than four years since Rashad Evans (19-7-1) demolished Chael Sonnen in his last Octagon victory. He has since lost four straight, including a winless (0-2) Middleweight run that featured split decision losses to Dan Kelly and Sam Alvey.

“Suga” is four inches shorter than Anthony Smith (28-13) and will give up two inches of reach.

“Lionheart” — who was one-and-done in his first UFC venture — won eight straight to earn another shot in the Octagon. After splitting his first two bouts, he rattled off a three-fight knockout streak before succumbing to the power of Thiago Santos in February.

Fourteen of his 25 stoppage wins have come by form of knockout.

If Evans had shown even a modicum of his former self since 2013, I’d pick him to win this without much trouble. Smith’s takedown defense remains iffy and I don’t think moving to 205 pounds is the panacea for that particular trouble. As is, Evans is too reluctant to pull the trigger for me to pick him over someone who throws this much volume.

Evans needs to stay low, active and work his way inside Smith’s reach to overpower him on the mat. I’m sure he can still do that physically, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him finally pick up another win, but I say his hesitation costs him as Smith potshots his way to victory at range.

Prediction: Smith via unanimous decision

125 lbs.: Sergio Pettis vs. Joseph Benavidez

After opening his UFC career 3-2, Sergio Pettis (16-3) finally got his feet under him and proceeded to win four straight, among them a main event victory over Brandon Moreno in hostile territory. Henry Cejudo proved a step too far, though, exploiting Pettis’ takedown defense to win a unanimous decision.

He will have two inches of height and four inches of reach on Joseph Benavidez (25-4).

Benavidez has won 13 of his last 15 fights, defeating everyone not named Demetrious Johnson along the way. His current six-fight streak includes a split decision victory over Cejudo in his last bout.

This will be his first Octagon appearance since Dec. 2016 thanks to ACL surgery.

In more than one decade as a professional fighter, Benavidez has only ever lost to the Flyweight G.O.A.T. and the arguable Bantamweight G.O.A.T. That streak has to end at some point, obviously, but it won’t be doing so this Saturday. He’s got the same sort of wrestling prowess that has stymied Pettis in the past and his sheer speed is enough for him to hold his own on the feet.

Unless Pettis can finally show off some stopping power, Benavidez is going to walk him down all night, clipping him with overhands and hooks until he can dominate on the mat. In other words, 30-27s across the board for Joe B.

Prediction: Benavidez via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Clay Guida vs. Charles Oliveira

Clay Guida (34-17) has found new life since returning to Lightweight, winning two straight after ending his Featherweight run on a 1-3 skid. His last fight saw him score his first (technical) knockout in almost a decade by stopping Joe Lauzon in just 67 seconds.

“The Carpenter” is three inches shorter than Charles Oliveira (22-8) and will give up four inches of reach.

A series of catastrophic weight cut failures — including weighing in at the Lightweight limit for his Featherweight fight with Ricardo Lamas — sent “Do Bronx” back to 155 pounds after 12 fights at Featherweight. He choked out Will Brooks in his Lightweight return, but got pounded into the dirt by Paul Felder in his most recent appearance.

He replaces Bobby Green on just over a week’s notice.

This could either be very entertaining or hideously boring — there is no middle ground. All things being equal, I lean toward Oliveira. On the feet, his height and clinch knees give him the edge, while his ground prowess is well-known. Guida risks a guillotine or sweep every time he ducks in for one of his favored double-legs and isn’t an active enough ground-and-pounder to break Oliveira’s will the way Felder did.

Oliveira is just too dangerous on the ground for Guida to execute his ideal gameplan and too dangerous with his clinch striking for Guida to grind him to death on the cage. In short, Oliveira catches him in something nasty before long.

Prediction: Oliveira via first-round submission

145 lbs.: Mike Santiago vs. Dan Ige

Mike Santiago (21-11) knocked out Mark Cherico on Dana White’s “Tuesday Night Contender Series” to cap off an 11-fight win streak that included nine first-round finishes. He went on to lose to Zabit Magomedsharipov in his Octagon debut, then dropped a decision to Mads Burnell four months later.

He has submitted 10 opponents and knocked out another seven.

Dan Ige (8-2) rattled off five straight wins to earn a “Tuesday Night Contender Series” slot, choking out Luis Gomez in Week 3. Facing fellow “Tuesday Night Contender Series” alumnus Julio Arce in his UFC debut, “Dynamite” struggled to deal with his opponent’s striking and ultimately lost a unanimous decision.

He is three inches shorter than Santiago, but will have a two-inch reach advantage.

Santiago is the more entertaining of these two by a fair margin, which makes it a bit of a bummer that he’s going to eat his third consecutive loss. Ige may be a slow, one-note grinder, but a severely diminished Burnell managed to take down Santiago three times, so my faith in his counter-wrestling isn’t sky-high at the moment.

Santiago’s the better striker of the two and will have a considerable edge if he can force a high-pace, scramble-heavy bout. After his last performance, though, I see Ige’s meat-and-potatoes wrestling putting him on top long enough to get the decision.

Prediction: Ige via unanimous decision

Four more UFC 225 “Prelims” bouts to preview and predict tomorrow, including the return of Mirsad Bektic and a clash of Top 10-ranked Heavyweight contenders in the featured undercard bout. See you there, Maniacs!

Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 225 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:15 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

MMAmania.com – All Posts

Rutten Sticks Up For McGregor: ‘Give Him A Pass As A Fan’

Conor McGregor’s recent actions outside of the cage have not gone unnoticed.

The Irishman’s bus destruction in Brooklyn prior to UFC 223 last month has been talked about for weeks now, with most mixed martial arts (MMA) community members trashing the UFC superstar for going ape shit with no regard for the safety of others. After seeing all the footage of McGregor’s hunting party for rival Khabib Nurmagomedov, it’s hard to disagree.

That said, some are still willing to give “Notorious” a pass for his New York antics, which ultimately led to McGregor flying back to Ireland with a felony charge under his cap.

MMA legend Bas Rutten is one of those people willing to turn the page on the UFC 223 debacle, as he recently shed light on McGregor’s unique situation as a global superstar.

“We are not in Conor McGregor’s shoes. You know? People can shout what they want, they have no clue what goes on,” Rutten said during a recent interview with Submission Radio (shown above). “I think once people realize that you have 50 million dollars – he gets mail all day long from people with sick babies and sick kids and my grandma and everybody wants him to give money and so on.”

“I mean, he doesn’t only have money, he is super famous on top of that. I know the stupid stuff I did when I was 28 – I didn’t do that, okay, but you know, he has a group around him and he was already angry going in because they wanted to strip him of the title and he’s angry and now the partner, his friends, start saying, ‘hey, maybe we should throw something against them’. Like, ‘yeah,’ everybody starts agreeing. Yeah, you get caught up in the whole moment and you start doing it.”

We all understand that McGregor’s position is not an easy one. He’s young, extremely successful at his craft, just cashed in a career payday opposite Floyd Mayweather Jr., and is one of the most recognizable athletes in the world no matter where he goes.

But does that give him the ability to do what he did last month in Brooklyn? While Rutten agrees that McGregor needs to pay for what he did, he explains that maybe fight fans should give “Notorious” the benefit of the doubt.

“That’s why I said when I was with Joe Rogan, I said, guys, we should give him a pass. And people online, they were like, is he crazy? I’m not saying that (you excuse everything),” Rutten explained. “I’m saying, yes, he’s going to have to pay for what he did, he goes to court, he has to do all that. I’m not saying that (he doesn’t do those things). Of course, he has to – and I said that on Joe Rogan as well – but give him a pass as a fan. Don’t kick the guy while he’s down. Don’t throw him under the bus. He did so much good for MMA. He just needs to find his way in this world.”

“I hope they just … give him a pass, don’t spit him out yet,” he added. “Let him see if he cleans up. I mean, you give Jon Jones a lot of passes. And me too, I love Jon Jones, I want to see him back. He’s such a talent that is gone and I want to see him fight. This could be a guy that could literally go undefeated his entire life. So yeah, I would love to see a guy like that back.”

Whether you agree with Rutten or not, he probably isn’t the only MMA figure who believes McGregor should be forgiven for his actions. But it really is difficult to look past this incident, especially since the Irishman has been making so much noise everywhere other than inside the Octagon.

What say you, Maniacs? Should we give McGregor a pass for this one?

MMAmania.com – All Posts

Predictions! UFC Fight Night 128 Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ Preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., April 21, 2018) when UFC Fight Night 128: “Barboza vs. Lee” storms Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC Fight Night 128 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

The lightweight division continues to churn out quality matchups, the latest of which headlines this Saturday’s (April 21, 2018) UFC Fight Night 128 mixed martial arts (MMA) event on FOX Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass.

Said main event pits Edson Barboza, fresh off a mauling from newly-crowned division champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, against Kevin Lee, who succumbed to interim titleholder Tony Ferguson’s grappling late last year.

The supporting cast, meanwhile, features a rematch between featherweight veterans Frankie Edgar and Cub Swanson and a top-flight bantamweight showdown between Brett Johns and Aljamain Sterling.

After last week’s 10-Prelim bonanza, we’re back to a more reasonable seven this time. Here are the first three, which take place on UFC Fight Pass.

135 lbs.: Leslie Smith (10-7-1) vs. Aspen Ladd (6-0)

Smith, entering her ninth year as a professional, enters the cage this Saturday on a winning streak for the first time since 2013. Undaunted by her knockout loss to Cris Cyborg, Smith upset Irene Aldana in a Fight of the Night-winning brawl before beating down unbeaten Brazilian Amanda Lemos in Glasgow. “The Peacemaker” stands three inches taller than Ladd at 5’9”, but their reaches are identical.

Ladd went 8-1 as an amateur, losing only to Cynthia Calvillo, before making her Invicta debut in 2015. She beat the likes of Amanda Cooper and Sijara Eubanks on her way to the Octagon, where she pounded out Lina Länsberg midway through the second round. She has stopped four pro opponents with strikes.

Ladd is a quality talent, but the stylistic matchup does not favor her. She’s an aggressive, come-forward striker who absorbs an inordinate amount of strikes until she can lock up a takedown and go to work with ground-and-pound. The problem here is that Smith hits way harder than Ladd does, is inordinately difficult to finish, and does not get tired.

Ladd’s strategy of pushing the pace until opponents succumb is profoundly ill-suited to dealing with the indefatigable Smith. “The Peacemaker” wears her down with body shots for a late stoppage.

Prediction: Smith by third-round TKO

135 lbs.: Merab Dvalishvili (7-3) vs. Ricky Simon (12-1)

Dvalishvili, a product of the vaunted Serra-Longo team, flipped the script on “Lookin’ for a Fight” by knocking out the favored Raufeon Stots in just 15 seconds. This set up a UFC debut against Frankie Saenz, who narrowly edged the Georgian in a grappling-heavy contest. Two of his three pro stoppage wins have come by knockout.

Though Simon emerged victorious on the Tuesday Night Contender Series, his split decision over Donavon Frelow wasn’t enough to earn him a UFC contract. Undeterred, he went on to batter Chico Camus for the vacant LFA Bantamweight title before flattening Vinicius Zani in his first and only defense. He replaces Augusto “Tanquinho” Mendes, who ran afoul of USADA, on around a month’s notice.

Simon looked meh against Frelow, solid against Camus, and looked terrifying against Zani. He’s got great wrestling, great hands, and plenty of time to improve at age 25. The problem is that Dvalishvili is a tank of a bantamweight, incredibly strong and adept in the grappling. His strength and the threat of his takedowns are enough to shut down Simon’s high-octane striking.

It’s also worth noting that Simon slowed down against Camus right around the start of the third round, and Camus was not the sort of suffocating wrestler Dvalishvili is. The Georgian battles back from a rough first round to grind his way to a controversial split decision.

Prediction: Dvalishvili by split decision

170 lbs.: Tony Martin (13-4) vs. Keita Nakamura (33-8-2)

Cardio issues led Martin to start his UFC career 1-3, suffering submission losses to Beneil Dariush and Leonardo Santos despite starting strong in both fights He got back on track with three straight wins, only to lose a split decision to Olivier Aubin-Mercier in his last bout. This will be his first appearance at welterweight since his fourth pro fight in 2012.

“K-Taro” has alternated wins and losses since rejoining the UFC in 2015 with a come-from-behind submission of Li Jingliang that earned him Performance of the Night. Most recently, he rebounded from an entertaining loss to Elizeu Zaleski with a split decision over Alex Morono in Saitama. 15 of his 17 submission wins have come by rear naked choke.

I’m definitely interested in seeing how Martin looks at 170. His sheer physicality was a big part of his success at 155, but it also held him to only a few minutes of quality action. Nakamura is a quality test for him, incredibly savvy on the mat but frustratingly inconsistent with his fight IQ.

Though “K-Taro” is never far from an out-of-nowhere choke, Martin is the cleaner striker and his wrestling figures to be a match for Nakamura’s judo. In addition, I expect Martin’s gas tank to hold up far better at 170, giving him the energy needed to exploit Nakamura’s lapses. Martin grinds out a victory on the feet and the mat.

Prediction: Martin by unanimous decision

Four prelim bouts remain, including the return of Magomed Bibulatov. Same time as always, Maniacs.

MMAmania.com – All Posts

Finalized! UFC ‘London’ Fight Card, Fight Pass Line Up

With Michael Bisping no longer attached to the UFC London fight card, the promotion has instead called upon former heavyweight titleholder Fabricio Werdum to assume headlining duties against dangerous division standout Alexander Volkov.

Event: UFC Fight Night 127: “Werdum vs. Volkov”
Date: Sat., March 17, 2018
Location: O2 Arena In London, England
Broadcast: UFC Fight Pass

UFC Fight Night 127 Main Event:

265 lbs.: Fabricio Verdum vs. Alexander Volkov

UFC Fight Night 127 Main Card (5 p.m. ET):

205 lbs.: Jan Blachowicz vs. Jimi Manuwa
135 lbs.: Tom Duquesnoy vs. Terrion Ware
170 lbs.: Leon Edwards vs. Peter Sobotta

UFC Fight Night 127 Prelims (2 p.m. ET):

185 lbs.: Charles Byrd vs. John Phillips
170 lbs.: Oliver Enkamp vs. Danny Roberts
170 lbs.: Jack Marshman vs. Bradley Scott
145 lbs.: Hakeem Dawodu vs. Danny Henry
205 lbs.: Magomed Ankalaev vs. Paul Craig
155 lbs.: Kajan Johnson vs. Stevie Ray
155 lbs.: Nasrat Haqparast vs. Nad Narimani
265 lbs.: Mark Godbeer vs. Dmitry Sosnovskiy

For more upcoming UFC events click here.

MMAmania.com – All Posts

UFC 221 predictions: ‘Rockhold vs Romero’ Fight Pass ‘Prelims’ undercard preview

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing a bevy of “Prelims” fights to both UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Sat., Feb. 10, 2018) when UFC 221: “Rockhold vs. Romero” storms Perth Arena in Perth, Australia. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC 221 “Prelims” party with the first installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

With Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight champion Robert Whittaker on the mend, two of the 185-pound division’s most freakish athletes do battle in Perth, Australia, this Saturday night (Feb. 10, 2018) as Yoel Romero faces former division roost-ruler, Luke Rockhold, in UFC 221’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event.

The Aussie faithful will also get to see Mark Hunt face rising Heavyweight prospect Curtis Blaydes and up-and-coming knockout artist Tai Tuivasa throw down with Cyril Asker.

Before all that, though, we’ve got seven “Prelims” undercard matches that will set the PPV stage. Here’s the Fight Pass line up:

155 lbs.: Ross Pearson vs. Mizuto Hirota

Once feared as among the division’s premier strikers, Ross Pearson (19-14) enters the cage this weekend having lost four in a row and five of his last six bouts. He last fought in New Zealand, where local favorite Dan Hooker timed a vicious knee to turn the lights out in the second round.

He stands one inch taller than Mizuto Hirota (18-8-2) at 5’8.”

Hirota — who won Lightweight titles in both Sengoku and DEEP — finally picked up his first UFC victory in Dec. 2016 with a decision over Cole Miller. Things have been a tad disastrous since, however, as he was battered by Alexander Volkanovski and pulled from a fight with Charles Rosa because of a failed weight cut.

“Pugnus” has stopped 10 opponents with strikes, including fellow Japanese standouts Satoru Kitaoka and Masakazu Imanari.

This is probably the Japanese mixed martial arts (MMA) fanboy instincts I’ve tried so hard to suppress talking, but I’ve got Hirota here. The book is out on Pearson, who is just 2-6 in his last eight bouts and had to settle for split decisions in those two victories. Hirota is as durable as they come, can handle himself on the inside, and has the takedown prowess to ruin Pearson’s day.

Pearson does have a habit of coming up big when he’s been counted out, of course, and is sharper than Hirota with his boxing. Still, I believe Hirota can weather his best shots and eke out a decision through effective grinding.

Prediction: Hirota by split decision

135 lbs.: Teruto Ishihara vs. Jose Alberto Quinonez

The ever-charismatic Teruto Ishihara (10-4-2) rattled off two brutal knockouts following his draw with Mizuto Hirota in The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Japan” finals, only to suffer consecutive upset defeats to Artem Lobov and Gray Maynard. When UFC next returned to Japan, “Yashabo” took on Filipino striker Rolando Dy and survived a late surge to win a unanimous decision.

This will be his first Bantamweight appearance since 2014.

Jose Alberto Quinonez (6-2) defeated Bentley Syler and Marco Antonio Beltran on his way to TUF: “Latin America” finals, where he lost a decision to former victim Alejandro Perez. Though he has fought just three times since that Nov. 2014 defeat, “El Teco” has yet to taste further defeat in UFC, most recently defeating former castmate Diego Rivas in Mexico City.

He has knocked out two professional opponents and submitted another.

Ishihara’s power is catastrophic, but there just hasn’t been any development in his game since joining UFC. He’s still a one-handed slugger with cardio issues and iffy defensive wrestling. Despite training with Team Alpha Male, his takedowns aren’t much better — the ones he tried on Dy looked more like football tackles than polished double-legs. If he can’t get rid of his opponents early, he’s in trouble against someone with a solid sprawl.

Quinonez is more polished all around, can wrestle fairly well and proved that he can fight through heavy firepower against Joey Gomez. Clean boxing and resilience carry him through the early storm, after which he takes over with punches and takedowns.

Prediction: Quinonez by unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Luke Jumeau vs. Daichi Abe

Luke Jumeau (12-4) put submission losses to future UFC competitors Li Jingliang and Jake Matthews behind him with six consecutive stoppage victories, including a technical knockout of TUF: “Nations” competitor Vik Grujic. “The Jedi” upset Dominique Steele in his Octagon debut, but couldn’t quite handle the relentless pressure and wrestling of Shinsho Anzai in “The Animal’s” native Japan.

All nine of his professional finishes have come inside of two rounds.

Daichia Abe (6-0) made his professional MMA debut in Pancrase in April 2016 and won its Welterweight title little more than one year later, felling former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) standout and professional boxer Hiromitsu Miura with punches. He went on to face Korean bruiser Hyun Gyu Lim in his debut, fighting through an eye poke to drop “The Ace” late and secure a decision victory.

Four of his six wins have come by form of knockout, three in the first round.

The X-factor here is Abe’s judo. The two are well-matched on the feet, both packing plenty of skill and aggression, but Jumeau’s takedown defense and bottom game remain underdeveloped. Grujic and Anzai demonstrated that you don’t even need all that much craft to dominate him on the ground … just gusto and determination.

It’s a toss-up so long as it stays on the feet, with Abe’s power giving him a slight edge. It’s a wash on the ground, though, and that decides it. Abe holds his own in the exchanges and mixes in enough throws and top control to take the decision.

Prediction: Abe via unanimous decision

Four more UFC 221 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict tomorrow, including the Octagon debut of one of the world’s best kickboxers. See you there, Maniacs.

Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 221 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

MMAmania.com – All Posts