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UFC 189 DFS Picks: Luck of the Irish

UFC 189 DFS Picks: Luck of the Irish
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UFC 189 DFS Picks: Luck of the Irish

HIP HIP HOORAY! HIP HIP HOORAY! HIP HIP…well, you get the point. UFC 189 is a LOADED card from top to bottom, featuring TWO TITLE FIGHTS on the main card! Conor McGregor looks to strip the belt from the demon of the lightweight division in Jose Aldo. McGregor has been on a meteoric rise, knocking out his last 3 opponents and earning himself a title shot over several more deserving fighters. Probably cuz Frankie Edgar and Chad Mendes already had their chance to dethrone the champ and failed miserably. Well, damn. Jose Aldo pulled out 2 weeks before the fight due to a rib injury sustained in sparring. Chad Mendes will step in for the injured champion in an interim belt fight against Conor McGregor. Umm….am I happy about this? HELL NO!!!! Still, Chad Mendes is a top 2-3 FW anyways and will ultimately tell us whether or not McGregor is really for REAL! There has been criticism about UFC for not pairing McGregor up against a known wrestler, instead appeasing the violence gods with hand-picked fights that feeds into McGregor’s ferocious striking style. Chad Mendes is probably the best wrestler in the division, and has been sharping his tools in order to become a much more effective and technical striker instead of depending on his gruesome one punch KO power and his pure wrestling pedigree. Sure, it’s terrible that Aldo had to pull out of a championship title fight once again due to injury, but at least the guy stepping up to the plate won’t be a scrub and will be a big litmus test for both McGregor and fans alike.

Alongside that fantastic match-up is the co-main event rematch featuring newly crowned welterweight champion Robbie Lawler and perennial contender Rory MacDonald. Robbie Lawler is coming off his 2nd thrilling championship fight against Johny Hendricks (landed 100+ sig strikes in both meetings FYI – more on this later), and while there are some questions about Lawler’s validity as a champion (fight went to the judges in favor of Lawler, while others though Hendricks deserved the win), there is no denying Lawler’s talent and skill-set. He proved time and time again that you cannot ignore his talent, reviving his career after a horrible stint at middleweight with TKO wins over Josh Koscheck and Jake Ellenberger, and a decision win over his current opponent in Rory MacDonald. He also dominated Matt Brown for 5 rounds, ensuring himself his 2nd title shot against Hendricks, which he obviously made the best out of his 2nd chance at gold. His rematch against Rory MacDonald, who now calls himself the Red King (eek!), won’t be any easier the second time around. MacDonald has been on a mission to regain his rightful spot as the number 1 title contender in the WW division, having lost it to Carlos Condit and Robbie Lawler in the past. He put up masterful performances against Demain Maia, Tyron Woodley, and a eye-opening knockout over Tarec Saffiedine. Will MacDonald avenge his loss to Lawler? Can Lawler truly prove to everyone in the MMA world that he is a deserving champion? Oh, there’s also a fight between Brandon Thatch and Gunnar Nelson too. And the return of Mike Swick! GOOD GOLLY MISS MOLLY!!!!!

Cody Pfister (+165) vs Yosdenis Cedeno (-190)

The Pfist versus the Pink Panther! Yep, that’s their nicknames. Yep, the Pfist. Cody Pfister is coming off a crushing loss by James Moontasri that saw the Pfist get shellacked by numerous knees and finally submitted in the 2nd round. That fight was on short notice though, and Pfister will have a full camp this time around against the Cuban. Yosdenis Cedeno is also coming off a loss to Chad Laprise that showcased yet once again Cedeno’s average take-down defense. He will be looking to bounce back in a big way and prove to the world that his lightning quick strikes are for real and not a mirage. He gets a good chance to test his take-down defense and land some filthy kicks against the lesser skilled Pfister.

CODY PFISTER

Strengths
  • Aggressive wrestler, looks for every chance to duck and shoot/change levels for the take-down
  • Will go for the big punch standing, not going to pull off many combinations
  • Relentless pursuit for the single/double leg take-down can be extremely frustrating and annoying especially if Pfister ends up holding his opponents up the cage
  • Good blend of ground and pound/subs while on top
Weaknesses
  • One dimensional as a fighter, needs to get the take-down or a lucky punch to turn the fight into his favor
  • May be a scrappy and aggressive wrestler, but doesn’t have the strength or take-down variety/ability to be a consistent threat
  • Shoddy submission defense, inexperience and being overly aggressive leads to easy submission attempts for Pfister’s opponents
  • Can be at a bad disadvantage on the feet and get pummeled if unable to stop opponents from coming forward and landing anything
  • Can be controlled in the clinch, ate a ton of knees versus Monntasri and seemed flummoxed on how to get out of it

YOSDENIS CEDENO

Strengths
  • Black belt in Shito-Ryu Karate, has a wide stance and switches stances often – always shifting his feet
  • Terrifying speed with a thunderous right hand, one of the absolute fastest lightweights I have seen – 7 of 10 wins by KO/TKO
  • Primarily a counter-striker, loves the counter-right especially against low kicks
  • Spams the spinning roundhouse kick/body kick but for good reason, it’s unbelievably fast and accurate
  • Hard low right kick can saw lead legs in half, also has mastered switching from low to high kick with the same look – hard to distinguish between the two if not prepared
  • Sprawls quickly against half-hearted/predictable take-downs
  • Did I mention that he has terrifying speed? Oh, I did? Just reminding again
Weaknesses
  • All 4 losses to wrestlers who were able to hold and control Cedeno both standing and on the ground
  • If he is unable to quickly sprawl or predict a take-down, his take-down defense suffers greatly and can be thrown to the ground repeatedly and controlled from top
  • Gets held up the cage for too long, can be outmuscled
  • Doesn’t check leg kicks, but in this particular match-up it doesn’t matter much
  • While his reaction time and speed are off the charts, he relies much too heavily on being a counter-striker when he should take advantage of his speed and start the striking exchanges himself
  • Much like Pfister, submission defense is mediocre

As long as Cedeno is standing and not on his back on the ground, he should win the fight handily as he has a sheer advantage on the feet over Pfister. There won’t be a shortage of take-down attempts by Pfister though, so Cedeno will definitely have his work cut out for him if he truly wants to evolve into a frightening striker. There is a good chance that Cedeno could land the counter right hand and end the fight in 10 seconds so Cedeno doesn’t have to worry about his take-down defense. Just a thought. Cedeno could also imitate his terribleness versus Ernest Chavez where he was perpetually stuck up the cage and did absolutely nothing. Here’s to hoping the real Cedeno shows up.

Cedeno via 1st round spinning roundhouse KO

Louis Smolka (-115) vs Neil Seery (-105)

It’s a flyweight battle between two guys with decent skills but probably aren’t too well known across the MMA fan base other than the truly hardcore fans. Louis Smolka has the most potential of the two with his brown belt in Judo and Kempo Karate, but has yet to really showcase his skill-set in the UFC as his last 2 of 3 fights have been decisions after never going to the judges before his arrival to the UFC. Neil Seery’s record is not a fair assessment of his skill-set, as a 15-10 record seems pretty average on paper until you start digging in deeper and realize he started off pretty bad with 6 losses in his 1st 10 fights! Seery recently beat a promising prospect in Chris Beal who was a good sized favorite over Seery. “2 Tap” is just a pretty decent fighter all around with some surprising submission skills that both help and hurt him as he owns 5 sub wins but has 5 sub losses due to his aggressiveness on the ground. You shouldn’t gloss over this fight when building your lineups as I think there’s a pretty good chance for a finish.

LOUIS SMOLKA

Strengths
  • Brown belt in Judo, Junior Brown Belt in Kempo Karate – 6 of 8 wins by KO/TKO or submission
  • Lanky for a flyweight, stands at 5’9” with 69 inch reach – will have 5 inches of height on Seery and 4.5 inch reach advantage
  • Loves to throw the left hook especially as a combo starter, finishing off with a right straight/cross or a hard leg kick
  • Throws the front kick/axe kick enough times to warrant gameplanning against
  • Good guard, can reverse his position quickly by utilizing his long frame and can escape with ease
  • Has some good submission skills, can hit a choke at any time on the ground if given the chance but mostly a stand-up fighter
  • Hits mostly 2 punch combinations, hook/straight most used but can land some headkicks here and there – knocked out Vaculik with a well timed side kick
  • If allowed to get into a rhythm early, can be very hard to slow down, landed 92 sig strikes against Alptekin Ozkillic despite getting taken down 9x
Weaknesses
  • Mediocre take-down defense, has a good enough guard that allows Smolka to escape or get up quickly on those attempts so hasn’t been a big issue so far
  • Gets hit way too much, minimal head movement and not an intuitive counter-striker so eats power shots trying to land the left hook/straight combination as he comes in – will admit he has one hell of a chin though
  • Deploys the Joe Lauzon defense – covers up if he gets hit by a combination instead of either circling out or hitting back which can lead to easy sig strikes/hard shots landed on Smolka
  • Doesn’t use his Judo often, his ground game is strong enough to be a legitimate threat and a great addition to his fight game but just doesn’t pursue the take-down enough

NEIL SEERY

Strengths
  • Good ability to change stances, throws heavy punches early and often
  • Walks forward, doesn’t back down from a firefight
  • Will throw a large amount of 2 punch combos much like Smolka with bad intent behind them, overhand/hook/cross
  • Aggressive on the ground both on top and off his back, will try to land kimura from guard or set up triangle attempts
  • Strong chin, has never been knocked out – only lost by TKO due to injury early in career
Weaknesses
  • Mediocre take-down defense, has no real take-down offense either, can be thrown down with ease since he doesn’t use underhooks
  • Does not move head very much, gets hit on counters and swings wildly way too much – gets clipped at a high percentage because of that
  • Aggressive nature off his back allows opponents to gain advantageous positions on Seery, can give up his back due to trying to set up a submission attempt – has 5 submission losses
  • Predictable on the feet, just throws hooks and overhands repeatedly until something lands, struggles against fighters who can move around and circle away from his pressure

Both guys are similar in a number of ways as both do like to swing hard and are aggressive on the ground submission wise. They both also get hit way too much and aren’t great counter-strikers. Smolka will have a significant height/reach advantage and has shown he can actually mix up his strikes enough to not be predictable and telegraphed like Seery. Smolka also has some take-down offense that he just doesn’t use enough, but it only takes one attempt to be able to take advantage of Seery’s willingness to give up position on the ground for the submission attempt. I think we’re gonna see a fun battle between two guys who are willing to brawl on the feet, with Smolka being less sloppy and possibly being able to overwhelm Seery early with his reach advantage. With how hard and wild swinging Seery can be, I’m a little leery in using Smolka in every lineup despite the chance of a smorgasbord of sig strikes and finishing potential for Smolka. Still, you shouldn’t ignore this fight, period.

Smolka via 3rd round RNC

Cody Garbrandt (-600) vs Henry Briones (+450)

The 135 pound division is starting to heat up with several young prospects already turning into gold for the UFC. Anthony Birchak, Aljamain Sterling, and now Cody Garbrandt are some of those names that everyone needs to start recognizing. His late 3rd round KO over Marcus Brimage with a little over 10 seconds left opened some eyes, including mine, as his sheer power was on display for most of the fight. He gets a decent test in veteran and tough out in Henry Briones, who was last seen uppercutting Guido Cannetti in a rousing comeback after some early troubles. A participant on the TUF: Latin America, Briones is relatively old at 34 as he starts his UFC career. Unfortunately for him, facing Garbrandt isn’t the best way to finish off a good career as he is unlikely to go out on top. Can Briones withstand Garbrandt’s jaw-shattering power shots to pull out the upset?

CODY GARBRANDT

Strengths
  • Big for a bantamweight
  • Has finished all of his opponents by KO/TKO
  • Strong wrestling pedigree, trains with Team Alpha Male which is known for their top notch wrestling sparring partners and teachers
  • Primarily a counter-striker with legitimate speed
  • Rare power for a bantamweight, aided by his demolishing counter right hand and blistering left hook
  • Good foot work stemming from his days as an amateur boxer (32-1 record)
  • Likes to toss out right headkicks every now and then as a surprise attack
  • If opponents get too close to him he will take them down with a trip take-down or just slam them
  • Strong ground and pound once on top, continually stays active from whatever position on the ground
  • Great cardio as is evident for the majority of Team Alpha Male members
Weaknesses
  • May have a questionable chin, got dropped in some of his past fights – did rebound back for the TKO/KO wins on those occasions though, has an unrecorded KO loss
  • Doesn’t have the best head movement, leaves his chin pretty high which is strange considering his boxing background
  • Needs to be the aggressor, can be too passive at times and needing a counter-strike to be an effective punisher, heavily depends on counter-hooks
  • While he is a great prospect, he’s still relatively inexperienced and needs to add in more combinations/mix up his attacks instead of just being a counter-striker
  • Untested off his back, one fight where he was on his back he quickly got up so not much I can say about it

HENRY BRIONES

Strengths
  • Veteran with 20 fights under his belt and fought on TUF: Latin America – 14 of 16 wins by KO/TKO/Submission
  • Likes to stalk his opponents while moving left and right, wants to set up counter right/uppercut
  • Decent single leg take-downs, can notch a choke of some kind if opponent leaves neck out
  • Good power for a bantamweight, isn’t afraid to swing back under duress even if hurt
  • Also decent GnP whenever given the chance, knows how to finish and get the job done – got the uppercut knockdown against Guido Cannetti for the comeback submission win in a fight he was losing in
  • Tough guy, only been knocked out once and it was an unrecorded loss to Marlon Vera due to a crazy upkick that knocked him out cold, never seen anything like it
Weaknesses
  • Pretty old for a bantamweight at 34 years old, last couple fights including unrecorded ones showed a lack of a gas tank after 1st round
  • Doesn’t really have much else on offense other than right straights and uppercuts, can land a kick here and there but mostly just a counter-puncher
  • Gives up the single leg take-down and can be outmuscled into a take-down as well as held against the cage
  • Maybe it’s just me but I notice his speed just isn’t what you would want out of a bantamweight, might get beat to the punch early and often by Garbrandt

Cody Garbrandt has a promising future in the bantamweight division if he can add more combinations and mixture of attacks to complement his already elite punching power. He has enough wrestling skills to stave off take-downs against the wrestlers of the division and has good countering ability to go toe to toe against the strikers. His main issue is going to be his chin and reluctance to be an aggressor unless he smells blood. Against a stalker and counter-striker in Briones, I think people may be disappointed in the early goings as they both feel each other out and find their range, see what each other does. Garbrandt no doubt has the power to finish the fight early and pay off his expensive price, but I think a late 2nd/3rd round finish is more likely against the tough veteran after some moments of feeling out. Garbrandt probably hits a couple counters and ends up taking Briones down for some vicious ground and pound, finishing Briones off in the 3rd round with a well timed counter right hand. Just don’t be surprised if Briones ends up surviving some hairy moments and goes to the judges.

Garbrandt via 3rd round TKO

Alex Garcia (-400) vs Mike Swick (+325)

Mike Swick makes his octagon return after nearly 3 years away from the sport due to various health issues that appear to be resolved as Swick claims to be his healthiest he’s been in 8 years. The longtime UFC veteran faces quite a monstrous man in the “Dominican Nightmare”, Alex Garcia. A load at welterweight, Garcia was last seen getting Magny’d by Neil Magny, getting taken down by the lanky fighter and unable to get off the ground, depleting his gas tank early and looking like a carcass in the octagon with his measly 5 sig strikes landed despite getting several take-downs but doing nothing with it. Putrid. Swick will have to avoid Garcia’s dynamite of a right hand if he wants to make his return a glorious one. Sadly, I don’t think that’s possible.

ALEX GARCIA

Strengths
  • A physical behemoth at welterweight, has immense power and pure strength – 10 of 12 wins by KO/TKO/sub
  • Not the most polished striker, but shows good ability to land counter-punches with utter disdain that it only takes one clean hit to end the fight – right hand counter his go-to move
  • Alternates from staying back and being a counter-striker to being an aggressor with uppercuts and a surprising ability to land all kinds of kicks such as front kicks and several roundhouses
  • Depends on changing levels and timing a duck and shoot power take-downs that utilizes his strength to get opponent down by either momentum or brute strength by picking his opponents up and ragdolling them around
  • As you would expect, if he’s on top of an opponent he’s a load to get off, opportunistic on submissions and likes going for the RNC as he tricks his opponents into thinking they’re escaping only to have their back taken
  • Doesn’t move around often but seems to handle himself well against pressure and is able to circle out enough times to avoid getting hit by combinations
Weaknesses
  • Biggest issue is his gas tank, depletes his tank after the 1st round and can be sluggish at times but still retains most of his frightening power and can still land the counter right
  • Surprising lack of take-down defense especially when gassed, not great off his back and can be stationary/keeps a closed guard instead of trying to escape
  • Striking is not polished so can be taken advantage by more technical strikers, but again it only takes one punch for Garcia to end the fight
  • Needs to learn when to get away from the take-down attempt against the cage as to conserve his energy and not deplete his stamina, his power is much too important to waste away with jockeying for position up the cage

MIKE SWICK

Strengths
  • 6’1” with 77 inch reach, 4 inches taller and 5 inch reach advantage over Garcia
  • Longtime UFC veteran, making 1st fight after 2+ years off due to medical complications – has 7 finishes in 10 UFC wins
  • Long range striker who uses his length to force opponents to run into his range and eat a counter straight courtesy of Swick
  • Uses the left jab/left hook to gauge the distance, will use some low/high kicks here and there as a deterrent against pressure
  • Does most of his damage with the counter-straight when opponents lunge at him or try to cut him off
  • Tries to stay shifty and constantly keep hands/feet moving
  • Decent grappler, knows how to escape submissions
Weaknesses
  • Age is quickly catching up to Swick who is 36 now, not as quick anymore and chin has completely deteriorated over the years
  • Tries to be a long range striker and does have the tools to do it but has one fundamental flaw – leaves chin high on almost every strike and especially on counters, got slept by Matt Brown and Paulo Thiago due to it
  • Susceptible to the power through take-down that Garcia especially likes
  • Has to outwork and gas out Garcia if he wants to stay away from the Dominican Nightmare’s power shots and be conscious but I just don’t think he has enough to keep Garcia away from him long enough

With Mike Swick making his return to the octagon after nearly 3 years away and seeing his chin turn into Barney Rubble, he’s got a long road ahead as he faces Alex Garcia’s power bombs. Garcia has an underrated ability to land the counter-straight accurately even though it seems like he doesn’t have the technique or speed to consistently land it. Garcia is a tank at welterweight so long his gas tank remains half-full and not half-empty. Garcia has everything that Swick usually struggles against – power take-downs, sheer countering power, and doesn’t jump in recklessly. It all comes down to Garcia’s gas tank and Swick’s long range striking. Garcia is just too damn powerful not to seriously consider him as a staple for many lineups as he has a real chance for a 1st round knockout.

Garcia via 1st round KO

Cathal Pendred (-110) vs John Howard (-110)

Zzzzzzzzzz. I’m already falling asleep. Brandon Thatch was expected to face John Howard before an injury to Gunnar Nelson’s original opponent, John Hathaway, so now Thatch faces Nelson while Cathal Pendred replaces Thatch against Howard. What a mouthful. Pendred is coming off a surprising win over Augusto Montano that confirmed what had already been known – Pendred really, really likes holding people. John Howard at least has a little bit of an offense and a good jiu-jitsu game, but has been involved in 8 decisions out of his 12 overall UFC fights. So, not really expecting much here to be honest, and if we somehow get a compelling fight that doesn’t involve jockeying for position up the cage, I’d call it a success.

CATHAL PENDRED

Strengths
  • Big and lanky welterweight at 6’1” with 75 inch reach – will have 6 inches of height and 4 inch reach advantage on Howard
  • Suffocating wrestling style, looks to get into the clinch early and often, pushing his opponents up the cage to set up take-downs
  • Can be physically overwhelming due to his height and size, often holds people for long periods of time much to the crowd’s dismay
  • Decent power, right overhand is his preferred choice of weapon
  • Has solid BJJ and can lock in several submission attempts, aggressive on the ground in that regard
Weaknesses
  • Has some severe speed deficiencies in his stand-up, often gets beat to the punch during striking exchanges
  • Questionable chin, has been dropped/knocked down in several of his fights – most notably to Mike King and Gasan Umalatov
  • We all know what Pendred wants to do – grab the guy, push him up the cage, and get the fight to the ground where he can lay’n’pray
  • Mediocre gas tank, Pendred’s wrestling style doesn’t help him in that regard
  • If he can’t get the take-down up the cage, he will just simply sit there and hold his opponents until the ref breaks it up

JOHN HOWARD

Strengths
  • Has some power and good BJJ skills with a purple belt – 15 of 22 wins by knockout or submission
  • Moves forward looking for the counter punch knockout, will mix in occasional low kick
  • Swings wildly without abandon if opponents try to pressure against him, while striking is not polished his power must be respected
  • Decent take-downs if Howard can push opponents up the cage for a body lock/single leg take-down
  • Serviceable on the ground with submissions, not going to set up anything fancy but he will take what he can get
Weaknesses
  • Middling striker, mainly a wild swinging counter-striker with no real rhyme or reason behind combinations
  • Holes in defensive striking, gets hit a lot by faster strikers and is a stationary target that can be abused standing
  • Defensive wrestling is average at best, gives up single leg take-down quite a bit and can be overpowered multiple times
  • Bad habit of giving up his back while trying to escape top control
  • Seems to struggle against UFC caliber fighters, majority of finishes were outside of the UFC and has been involved in 8 decisions in 12 UFC fights

Even on short notice, Pendred should be able to take advantage of Howard’s ineffectiveness in defending take-downs especially if Pendred is able to avoid getting hit by a right hand as he pushes Howard up to the cage. Pendred does not have any real striking so he won’t be trying to stand and bang with Howard, and with his chin issues he very well could get dropped several times as did LaFlare in his fight against Howard. LaFlare was able to take Howard down numerous times and rough him up standing despite that. I don’t expect much out of this fight, and if I could I’d mark this fight as a double loss. Ah, well. Pendred’s UFC winning streak continues to grow to 5 fights after he decisions his way against Howard.

Pendred via unanimous decision

Matt Brown (-185) vs Tim Means (+160)

OH YES!!!!! This has all the signs of a violent, bloody war between two men who love to punch people, a lot. Matt “The Immortal” Brown is on a current 2 fight losing skid but they were against the losers of the Hendricks/Lawler title fights – Lawler the 1st time and Hendricks the 2nd time. Those were by far Brown’s biggest and most talented opponents he’s faced, and while admirable in his tenacity in defeat, they were losses nevertheless. He gets an easier opponent (well, in comparison) in Tim Means, owner of a 4 fight winning streak in the UFC. The “Dirty Bird” has been making short work of his opponents after a couple of disappointing losses to Jorge Masvidal, Danny Castillo, and Neil Magny, revitalizing his career and reminding us why fans still love Means’ enthusiasm and fighting style. Both men will be pushing the pace and look to get into a backyard quarrel that can only be decided by their fists. Who’s got the shotgun?

MATT BROWN

Strengths
  • Aggressive brawling fighting style, will walk up to his opponents immediately and challenge then standing
  • 12 of 19 wins by knockout, 5 submissions wins with most being set up by a knock down
  • Pushes the pace at every chance he gets, has an incredible chin that allows Brown to push forward recklessly and without abandon
  • Has power in his hands and will use it whenever he can, will lunge forward with an overhand and try to land the counter-hook if his opponents engage with him
  • Destructive in the clinch as he rains down knees and uppercuts mercilessly while using his height to his advantage
  • Iron will and cardio, refuses to give up or give in even if he’s outclassed on the feet – rewatch Erick Silva fight to see why he truly is the “Immortal”
Weaknesses
  • While his chin is undoubtedly made out of steel, Brown knows he won’t be knocked out so he is willing to take damage in order to dish out his own – can lead to big amount of sig strikes landed against him
  • Has a brown belt in BJJ but is absolutely awful off his back, 9 career submission losses – average take-down defense doesn’t help either
  • Has shown in the past that he is most susceptible to body shots, some of submission losses were due to Brown collapsing after a body kick
  • Doesn’t mix up his attacks, can be predictable at times and doesn’t have the wrestling/take-downs to avoid being telegraphed standing

TIM MEANS

Strengths
  • 16 of 24 wins by knockout
  • Tall for a welterweight at 6’2”, will be 2 inches taller but same reach as Brown
  • Excellent boxer, uses a crisp jab to set up his punishing straights and hooks, lands several body punches as well
  • Surprisingly effective kicker, can land the headkick when opponent least expects it but isn’t a big part of his game, hits low kicks if needed
  • Best part of Means’ boxing is how he uses his range and footwork to mix in jabs/straights then jump into the clinch to land vicious knees much like Brown, much more technical than Brown
  • Also mixes up his attacks well, not easily telegraphed and even mixes in spinning elbows
  • Circles out with ease, knows how to slip past opponents’ strikes to land counters of his own
  • Much like Brown, Means can be an aggressor on the feet and push the pace
  • Chin isn’t on the level of Brown’s but it’s sturdy enough to withstand barnyard brawls which this match-up has all the potential to turn into
  • Solid wrestling, nothing fancy but if needed he can get a single leg take-down
Weaknesses
  • Can be stifled by wrestlers and often gets tangled up the cage for long periods of time
  • Passive off his back if he gets taken down and doesn’t quickly get back up
  • While Means is elusive enough and smart with his movement, he can be caught with a big punch at times, but just like Brown his chin is sturdy enough to deal with the consequences
  • Biggest step up in competition for Means, also the toughest chin he’s faced and will undoubtedly be the most aggressive opponent – might crack under pressure

Normally I’d favor the much tougher chin in a battle between two aggressive strikers with similar gameplans, but Means is the more technical, polished striker who doesn’t get too overly aggressive. I think Means can pick apart Brown’s own tendency to overpursue in an effort to rattle his opponents by his recklessness. Of course, Brown could just end up overwhelming (lots of over’s) Means en route to a knockout win. Brown’s great clinch work and vicious knees can be a counter to Means’ occasional cage corner and push. The fight might end up giving us degenerates a delicious platter of significant strikes for both fighters. I’m still gonna stick with the Dirty Bird in a thrilling and competitive fight that will challenge the title fights for FOTN honors.

Means via unanimous decision

Brad Pickett (+650) vs Thomas Almeida (-950)

Choo choo. CHOO CHOO! Can you hear the train whistles? That’s the hype train of Thomas Almeida trying to run through Brad Pickett. Almeida is no doubt one of the hottest prospects in the UFC and has all the potential in the world to be a true title contender in a few years or even less. The undefeated Chute Boxe Academy product gets a little bit of a stiff test as he faces long time veteran and tank top fashionista in Brad Pickett, who’s been on a bad run as of recently with 3 losses in his last 4 fights including a surprising split decision loss to Chico Camus. “One Punch” will be looking to derail Almeida’s hype train using his experience and veteran savvy against Almeida’s youth (23 years old) and superb striking. It’s a tough task to ask out of Pickett, but he won’t shy away from a challenge. Can he pull off the upset?

BRAD PICKETT

Strengths
  • Effective wrestler, doesn’t have the most creative set-ups for his take-downs but they do the job if he can get close enough to land the double leg take-down
  • Moves around quite a bit, tries to find the best striking angle as he pursues the knockout punch, hence his nickname of “One Punch”
  • Alternates between an aggressor and a counter-striker, best tool Pickett has is his boxing, more specifically his right cross and left hook
  • Strong top control, will go for the aggressive pass and is opportunistic on the ground with 10 submission wins on record
  • Only been knocked out once in 34 career fights
Weaknesses
  • An enigma of sorts, too slow to be a flyweight and not strong enough to be a real threat as a wrestler at bantamweight if his striking falters
  • Can be taken down and dominated on the ground, size issues main reason for lack of take-down defense
  • Like I said before, if his striking falters he doesn’t have the wrestling acumen to be a real threat, can be dominated on the feet if he starts swinging wildly and loses composure – starts getting hit on counters
  • If stuck on the ground, can be susceptible to submission attempts – has 4 career submission losses

THOMAS ALMEIDA

Strengths
  • A real prospect at bantamweight, Almeida is currently undefeated at 19-0 with all but 1 win by finish, 14 by KO/TKO
  • Black belt in Muay Thai and brown belt in BJJ
  • Rare blend of power and speed, led by his sizzling jab and liver punch/straight combinations and the occasional hard leg kick
  • Racks up the significant strikes with his speedy jabs, landed 120 sig strikes in his debut fight….and that was across 2 rounds after he got taken down in the 1st!
  • Keeps his hands close to his face like what you would see in a boxing match, has the speed to quickly counter and land the jab as well despite what seems as Almeida “covering up”
  • While he doesn’t get taken down often, he’s just as adept off his back as he is on the feet with a great guard, has 4 submission wins on record
  • As one would expect out of a red hot prospect, Almeida is also a great defensive striker, avoiding many strikes by keeping his head on a swivel and circling out at opportune times
  • Great defensive grappler, doesn’t get fooled by take-down set-ups and always has underhooks ready to defend, has good scrambling ability
Weaknesses
  • Lack of real competition on record, beat up mediocre opponents and his 2 fights in the UFC were against average fighters, not that Pickett is a world beater or anything but he’s still a veteran
  • This is for future reference, but bigger guys at BW might be able to crack Almeida’s defensive wrestling and control him from top – don’t think Pickett has that kind of ability
  • Other issue with rostering Almeida is paying for his steep price, can land 100+ sig strikes with ease against Pickett but the knockout might be too difficult to get against the grizzled veteran who has only been knocked out once, going to have to hope for a submission win most likely

Again, the odds may tell the casual player that Almeida is going to kill and destroy Pickett. He may very well do that, but Pickett is as tough as they come and can always try to hold Almeida up the cage. I don’t think he’s strong enough to hold Almeida up or quick enough to catch him, which might turn into a lopsided striking battle in favor of Almeida. Just comes down to whether or not Almeida can get enough finishing blows to put away Pickett. I’m gonna predict that if he does finish Pickett, it will be due to one of his favorite punches in the liver shot or a gorgeous submission after Pickett somehow gets Almeida down. Either way, Almeida should be as safe as they come on the loaded card with plenty of sig strikes landed and enough ability to stay away from Pickett’s decent wrestling.

Almeida via unanimous decision

Brandon Thatch (-190) vs Gunnar Nelson (+165)

As explained in the Pendred/Howard intro, Thatch is replacing John Hathaway due to injury, but it won’t be a short notice fight as he was already supposed to fight on the card anyways. His level of competition now has skyrocketed though, as Gunnar Nelson is a legitimate top 15 welterweight. Thatch is coming off an absolutely crushing main event loss to Benson Henderson in his hometown, in which Thatch was comically bigger than Henderson but still got taken down and forced into a submission loss. It was only Thatch’s 2nd fight that went past the 1st round in his pro career. A litany of injuries had kept Thatch on the block for a while and even killed some compelling fights for fans of violence, including a highly anticipated match against karate savant Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson. Thatch will have to put his injuries and his loss to Bendo out of his mind as he faces another guy coming off a hype train derailing main event loss. Gunnar Nelson will be looking to put his black belt in BJJ to use against Thatch who has shown some weakness in defending off his back and cement his top 15 status. It’s a gift given by the violence gods by causing injury to John Hathaway to bring us this beautiful and glorious battle between two young up and comers who have a nose for the finish, with a combined 23 finishes between them. I just popped a boner.

BRANDON THATCH

Strengths
  • One of the biggest welterweights in the UFC at 6’2” but could easily be a middleweight
  • Has finished all 11 of his opponents in the 1st round….yes, you read that right
  • Has some serious power in both hands and feet, learned karate at an early age and trained heavily in kickboxing
  • Switches stances often but fights out of southpaw to start fights, has an innate ability to find a landing spot for almost all of his kicks – rarely misses his target
  • Mixes his punches well, never goes to the same set-up more than two times in a row, good blend of being a stalker and still being aggressive enough to spark some striking exchanges
  • Uses his size as his take-down defense and can overpower opponents on the ground off his back with his strength – reversed several guys just off that alone
  • If Thatch is on top of an opponent, chances are he’s going to find a way to take your back and slam home the RNC win – has 3 submission wins by RNC
  • Vicious and strong in the clinch, body knees are his forte and will be a big factor against Nelson who generally uses the clinch to set up his take-downs
Weaknesses
  • I don’t know if it was hometown jitters or he just made some mistakes, but last fight against Ben Henderson showed some glaring holes in Thatch’s ground game off his back, giving up his back too easily and getting out-maneuvered on the ground
  • Also gassed badly after 2 rounds, could have been the altitude but considering Denver was his hometown and he fights there anyways, I think that’s unlikely and might be an issue in the future
  • Not to keep beating a dead horse, but Thatch seemed to lose his aggression at times against Bendo when he got the opportunity to seriously hurt him and finish the fight – maybe just showing respect or hometown jitters
  • Many of his fights outside of Ben Henderson fight were finished pretty early and didn’t show anything other than Thatch’s huge potential and physicality, so not much to say here other than what I noticed in his last fight

GUNNAR NELSON

Strengths
  • Black belt in Goju-Ryu Karate and BJJ
  • Very wide stance, almost crab-like is his most unique trait
  • Creative striker with his kicks, can land the headkick with little to no energy wasted
  • Excellent out of the clinch, lands knees and trip take-downs – usually forces opponents into the clinch by lunging forward with a right straight
  • A surgeon on the ground, 9 of 13 wins by submissions, makes effortless passes and sets up fantastic traps – truly his biggest weapon
  • Usually stays back out of range to force opponents to jump/lunge forward to land something which plays into his counter-striking gameplan
Weaknesses
  • Was exposed badly in his 1st career loss to Rick Story, struggles mightily if opponents fight smart and don’t play into Nelson’s hands by recklessly jumping in
  • Has no combinations really, depends on 2-3 strikes max – right straight and headkick/variations of a spinning kick
  • Got rocked and dropped by Rick Story in the 4th round, seemed considerably gassed after 3rd round
  • Leaves hands low at times, gets hit when trying to back up away from pressure – Rick Story landed 168 sig strikes on Nelson
  • Really needs to focus on adding more take-downs to his game, BJJ skills is undeniably elite and needs to put more focus on being a grappler instead of a striker

This is as simple as it gets, folks. Thatch’s power striking and aggressive stalking fighting style against Nelson’s counter based striking and gorgeous ground game. Both men are excellent out of the clinch, but considering Thatch is noticeably bigger and stronger, you gotta give him the advantage there. If Nelson still hasn’t shown improvement in his take-down offense and relies on utilizing the clinch to nab a trip take-down, it might be a long night for him. Thatch probably won’t play into Nelson’s hands and rush inside rather choosing to corner Nelson and batter him with timely body kicks and straights out of either stance. It’s quite possible Thatch finishes Nelson in the 1st round as he’s done in every win of his. It also only takes one take-down for Nelson to showcase his black belt in BJJ and expose Thatch’s bad habits off his back. I’m leaning towards Thatch just due to his size and versatility standing over Nelson’s superb ground skills.

Thatch via 2nd round TKO

Dennis Bermudez (-210) vs Jeremy Stephens (+175)

Dennis “The Menace” Bermudez saw his 7 fight UFC winning streak snapped after Ricardo Lamas snatched a guillotine choke over Bermudez in the 1st round after a hard jab dropped Bermudez. He looks to rebound against a high level opponent in Jeremy Stephens, who’s also on a two fight losing streak after a successful drop in weight class from lightweight with 3 straight victories. Stephens is a powerful striker with average take-down defense facing a strong man in Bermudez at featherweight with both a high wrestling pedigree and ever-improving striking skills. It’s not necessarily a classic wrestler vs striker dilemma, as Bermudez can handle himself just as well as anybody on the feet. His wrestling will clearly be a big factor in the match-up, and it’s the main reason why he’s a good sized favorite over Stephens.

DENNIS BERMUDEZ

Strengths
  • Very strong for a featherweight aided by his great wrestling chops, was a NCAA Division 1 All American
  • Has a very shifty fighting styles, uses feints and bobbing/weaving to keep opponents guessing, also hard to tell when he changes levels or is faking it
  • Powerful hands and has shown improvement in being a more technical striker with more usage of the jab/straight instead of the wild swinging hooks, also landing more uppercuts and leg kicks after a feint
  • Likes to catch kicks and go for the take-down, most take-down attempts are double leg take-downs or trips
  • Can get a submission at the right moment, submitted Clay Guida much to the surprise of most
  • Great cardio which helps his constant movement
  • Lands a ton of significant strikes if gets into a rhythm and doesn’t go for take-downs early
Weaknesses
  • Tends to put himself in precarious situations trying to get a duck and shoot take-down/maintain top control, 3 of 4 career losses by submission – recent sub loss to Lamas not due to this reason
  • Has a little bit of a balky chin, has been rocked/dropped in several fights including getting dropped by a hard jab from Lamas that led to the quick guillotine choke
  • Can short-arm his punches a little bit if he can’t get within reach, 66 inch reach sometimes a disadvantage – was fairly obvious versus Max Holloway when he kept missing with his punches

JEREMY STEPHENS

Strengths
  • Used to fight at lightweight, has recently been fighting at featherweight but still retained power he had at lightweight – 15 of 23 career wins by KO/TKO
  • Will have 3 inches height and 5 inch reach advantage on Bermudez
  • Primarily a counter-striker, waits for his opponents to start exchanges and catch them with a right hand or a headkick
  • Not going to wow you with his speed but power is enough to demand respect during striking exchanges
  • Can occasionally get in a quick take-down and stay in top control if opponent is smaller than him
  • Good usage of kicks, won’t stand still for too long
Weaknesses
  • Gas tank issues, was depleted against Charles Oliveira after defending his gazillion sub attempts and trying to get off the ground, faded badly against Cub Swanson in a fight he was winning early
  • Not very combo heavy, relies on counter-punching and being the faster guy to the punch, can sometimes be too predictable
  • Struggles against stronger wrestlers who can pick him up and throw him down, still has decent scrambling ability though
  • Faster strikers also have an edge on Stephens if they can stay away from his counter right hand

I enjoy watching Bermudez do his thing on the feet with his numerous feints and constantly moving his head up and down as to trick his opponents into thinking he’s going for a take-down. It also keeps Bermudez elusive enough to make it difficult for his opponents to get a read on his movement and land accurately. Bermudez also has some strong wrestling that he mixes up well when the match-up calls for it, especially out of the clinch. Stephens power is undeniable though, as he cracked Cub Swanson several times early before fading in the end of a 5 round battle. With Bermudez’s history of getting rocked/dropped in past fights, Stephens quite literally has a puncher’s chance against Bermudez, but I just think Bermudez’s speed and shiftiness combined with his wrestling might be too much early on for Stephens. Even with Stephens’ significant reach advantage, his gas tank issues may rear its ugly head against Bermudez if he’s unable to stop Bermudez early. I don’t think Bermudez can finish Stephens but he should be able to garner enough points to warrant a look on most sites.

Bermudez via unanimous decision

Robbie Lawler (+165) vs Rory MacDonald (-190)

REEEEEEEMATCH!!!! Yes, the champion is indeed the underdog in the championship match-up. Robbie Lawler has already faced and defeated Rory MacDonald in a split decision win that some had pegged as a win for MacDonald. Hey, Lawler took his win and freakin’ ran with it, didn’t he? “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler had been on a mission to change his life and his MMA career, moving down to welterweight after a failed stint at middleweight. He worked tirelessly on his striking, head movement, and overall fighting game to be a better, more polished martial artist who wasn’t just dependent on his immense knockout power. The change in improving his head movement has been a boon to Lawler’s striking prowess, no longer getting hit and frustrated/discouraged from pushing forward to utilize his knockout power. Unfortunately for Lawler, MacDonald’s also been on a mission as well, looking to become the true champion that many envisioned him to be even at his young age. He even changed his nickname from “Ares” to “Red King”. Before you get all scared and start putting Rory in your lineups after reading that, it’s because his name Rory means “Red King” in Irish/Gaelic. MacDonald seems to want to shed away his past criticisms that he was too much of a point fighter instead of relying on his technical prowess and undeniable talent to take over fights. So now we have both an angry and reborn Rory MacDonald looking to avenge only his 2nd career loss against Lawler. Seems like a nice recipe for a slobber knocker and one hell of a co-main event! Who has the best tools for victory?

ROBBIE LAWLER

Strengths
  • Has had an up and down career, but looks to be on the right end of a comeback with several KO/TKO wins in his past few UFC fights as well as a split decision win over MacDonald
  • Powerful, stocky welterweight with 19 of 25 wins by KO/TKO
  • Always had the potential but never could be consistent, has evolved into a dangerous boxer who can ramp up the action with a billion gazillion strikes as evidenced by his 2 100+ sig strike efforts versus Johny Hendricks
  • Southpaw with constant head movement and mixes up his attacks well, leading with the jab and finishing off with an uppercut or straight, rocked Rory with vicious hooks

  • Plethora of punches that Lawler can land with consistency, including more and more body punches in his combinations with the occasional knee (knocked out Ellenberger with one)

  • Doesn’t put himself in bad positions to be countered, has forged himself into a better defensive fighter as the years has gone by, has learned how to handle pressure with effective counters especially with his right hook
  • Not much of a wrestler but if opportunity is there he will take it, has the strength and knowledge to get that one tough round winning take-down
  • Has shown significant progress with his take-down defense which had been an issue in the past – Rory took him down 4x
Weaknesses
  • Has had issues with his gas tank, floundered at the end of the 1st meeting against Johny Hendricks which I personally think lost him the fight as he was just too tired to defend himself and land combinations
  • Has improved somewhat in the past few fights, but take-down defense isn’t the best, hard to control Lawler on the ground and he eventually does get back up sooner than later most times
  • Can be passive one round then turn on the heat the next round and dominate the fight standing, can’t do that against the technically sound MacDonald in a five round fight – every round counts!
  • Main issue that’s plagued Lawler’s career has been consistency, and well…he’s currently the WW champion so yeah, don’t think that’s an issue anymore!

RORY MACDONALD

Strengths
  • One of the best welterweights of the past few years, and he’s only 25! 9-2 in the UFC already with losses to Carlos Condit and Robbie Lawler, a current champion and a future champion!
  • Extremely technical and has one of the best jabs in the UFC period
  • Picks apart his opponents with his technical boxing, stalks his prey and sets up beautiful combinations with his speed and feints/hand movements

  • Trains out of TriStar and has one of the best gameplanning coaches in Firas Zahabi, always has a top notch game plan coming into any fights (see – Tyron Woodley fight)
  • Black belt in BJJ
  • Just like his boxing and overall striking game, his wrestling/grappling is incredibly technical as well, never seems to make the wrong move on the ground
  • Sets up his submissions with precision and knows the wrong moves, can escape predicaments on the ground if he does get caught in something – great guard as well
  • Take-down offense isn’t about strength but rather using his combinations and instincts to catch opponents off guard with a trip take-down
  • You do not want to get cornered by MacDonald as he has the presence of mind and great self control not to overexert himself going for the kill yet keep pouring on the pressure in a timely manner

Weaknesses
  • I have a feeling MacDonald is looking to shed this bad habit, but he can be too much of a defensive fighter, using his jab to poke and prod his way on the feet but never actually committing to a heavy combination or pouring on the pressure when necessary
  • More on that bad habit, MacDonald can be seen as passive and too much of a point fighter which ends up losing rounds for MacDonald even if he stifles his opponents’ offensive output
  • Can be rocked and knocked down by a well timed punch, hasn’t actually been knocked out clean, but Condit/Lawler caught and dropped MacDonald in their wins

Boy, what a tough fight to gauge. On one hand you have someone who seems to be getting it all together just in time for that final run as a true champion in Robbie Lawler, who’s already defeated MacDonald just a few fights ago. On the other, you have an incredibly focused technical savant looking to avenge his loss against Lawler and become the feared Red King of the division. Brawn vs brains. Speed and evasion versus power and countering. Possibly even MacDonald’s take-downs/submissions against Lawler’s defensive wrestling/submission defense. I’m going to throw out their 1st fight as it was 3 rounds and MacDonald’s best suited in a 5 round affair against anybody. Lawler’s already been in 3 main event fights in his last 4 fights over the span of….a year! I first picked Lawler when they announced that MacDonald would get 1st crack at Lawler the champion, and I’m still sticking with “Ruthless”. His power and rekindled passion for MMA is just too damn good of a combo to pick against. It wouldn’t surprise me if Robbie was able to replicate his 3rd round success against Rory where he caught and dropped MacDonald to steal back the fight in the eyes of the judges. The smart play is the decision here, but screw that! I’m a gambler damn it!

Lawler via 3rd round KO

Conor McGregor (-160) vs Chad Mendes (+140)

CONOR MCGOATERRRRRR!!!! CHADRICK MENDESSSSSS!!!! Jose Aldo pulled out of the fight due to a broken rib, and the UFC decided to make the fight between Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo’s replacement in Chad Mendes an interim title fight. The winner will indeed be a temporary champion of the featherweight division, likely to face Jose Aldo to unify the title in the future. Chad Mendes came the closest to defeating Jose Aldo and ending his unstoppable reign as featherweight champion. The small in stature but physically imposing wrestler with a seismic bomb of a right hand had been on a blistering run of late, notching 5 KO/TKO wins over his last 6 wins after starting out with 7 decisions in his 1st 11 wins. It will be a 2 weeks short notice fight for Chad Mendes, but the always training, always in shape Mendes shouldn’t have too much of an issue making weight and having any cardio issues. Not having a full camp may hurt him a little bit despite being a known gym rat, but it’s not like McGregor won’t have his own issues as well. McGregor had been planning on a stand-up war against Aldo, but now he must prepare for an entirely different stylistic match-up with Mendes’ best in division wrestling and different brand of striking. “The Notorious” will no doubt look to end Mendes’ life in the 1st round regardless of the circumstances surrounding the new main event title fight. How will he do it?

CONOR MCGREGOR

Strengths
  • Has TKO’d his opponents in 4 of his 5 career UFC fights, with the decision win over Max Holloway on a torn ACL suffered in the 2nd round
  • Feisty and unique striking out of southpaw stance, very kick-centric and utilizes the low leg kick well
  • Has some serious knockout power in his strikes, has finished all but one of his opponents
  • Flashy and aggressive strikes from tornado kicks to superman punches and spinning roundhouses, even some Karate Kid style crane kicks!

  • While he can be extremely flashy at times, McGregor does have some good technical boxing, using his speedy but powerful left straight early and often in addition to his kicks

  • His speed and quickness is tops in the division, foot movement/overall movement is unpredictable and truly his own style
  • Fantastic counter-striker, will stalk his prey and corner them up the cage, once he smells blood it’s all over (see Dennis Siver/Diego Brandao)
  • Not a small featherweight, has been rumored in moving up to lightweight
Weaknesses
  • Untested on the ground, more specifically off his back – both career losses were by submission
  • Don’t know to the extent of his take-down defense/grappling skills – he did handle himself versus Brandao’s take-down attempts, but Mendes on another level
  • Cardio also is an unknown, and Mendes will absolutely test Conor’s gas tank if McGregor can’t finish Mendes early
  • Doesn’t have the best head movement, can be hit at times while trying to land a flashy strike and leaves his hands down ala Anderson Silva, against Mendes’ true one punch power that might be a big issue for McGregor
  • Does not care for your leg kicks, refuses to check them and will eat the damage
  • There is also the question of whether or not Mendes will look to take advantage of McGregor’s kick-heavy offense  and try to catch/dodge a kick for the take-down

CHAD MENDES

Strengths
  • Best wrestler in the division, literally a bowling ball of destruction at 5’6” (which is generous)
  • True one punch knockout in his hands, one of the few featherweights with such power – 5 KO/TKO wins in last 6 wins
  • Has immensely improved his striking since his 1st career loss to Jose Aldo, not sloppy and reliant on his impressive wrestling anymore
  • Right overhand is an atom bomb, Mendes is Dan Henderson-like in that aspect – loves to set it up with feints and foot movement, knows how to pull the trigger at the right time as a counter-striker

  • Left hook and uppercut also a staple of Mendes’ striking arsenal – is usually his counter-punch against jabs
  • Can land a hard low kick every now and then, may be an advantage for Mendes if McGregor continues to ignore checking leg kicks
  • NCAA Div 1 All American 2x, has been training with Team Alpha Male for a long time, strong as an ox – all traits of a physical brute of a wrestler but has enough savvy and knowledge to be a great grappler as well despite having no BJJ belt
  • Power take-downs is the name of the game for Mendes, ability to change levels is insanely quick and can do it at the drop of a dime – huge game changer now he has worked tirelessly on his striking
  • Suffocating top control, ground and pound game is very solid as one would expect out of someone with Mendes’ power profile
  • Will be McGregor’s hardest test to date with his combination of physically intimidating wrestling, speed, and ability to end fights with one punch as well as his endless gas tank which might be the deciding factor in the 5 round battle
Weaknesses
  • Striking has been a tremendous improvement, but against an unique striker like McGregor who can find such extreme angles that had never been explored before, Mendes may be out of his comfort zone early against McGregor if he can’t get a bead on Conor’s attacks
  • Depends on the right bomb as his real source of damage, great counter-striker but still heavily reliant on it
  • Doesn’t really have a submission game, not a threat on the ground which might end up hurting him if he can’t finish off McGregor with timely ground and pound, letting him back up and allowing more chances for Conor to land that knockout blow
  • It’s only happened against the best featherweight, but Mendes did seem to get rocked early and often by Aldo including an almost fight ending knockout just right before the bell, and considering McGregor is a fantastic striker with power that’s something to keep in mind

  • Will be at a big reach disadvantage against McGregor – 8 inches to be exact (66” vs 74”) – very important in my opinion even if Mendes is already at a disadvantage versus everyone anyways

Now, this is truly a classic dilemma of a wrestler versus a striker. Sure, Mendes has clearly proven himself to be a legitimate threat on the feet with his power and underrated ability to sneak in that Chad Grenade right hand of his. McGregor is just on another level striking wise, and I truly think the 8 inch reach advantage for McGregor is going to be too much for Mendes to handle if he decides to stand and bang against Conor. It ideally should come down to both Mendes’ chin and his wrestling to decide the fate of the fight. Can Mendes take advantage of McGregor’s flashy strikes and get in a power blast take-down, control McGregor on the ground and turn him into a bloody mess with his GnP? Does McGregor have it in him to out-grapple and be able to sprawl against the tiny battering ram? Will his unheralded and largely ignored brown belt in BJJ shine through in the match-up? I don’t know. What I do know is Aldo was able to badly hurt Mendes several times in both of their fights. Now, I’m not saying McGregor is a better fighter than Aldo, but his style of striking/known power might be enough to turn the tide and knock out Mendes. There are still questions about McGregor’s entire skill-set and whether or not he is capable of handling himself vs any wrestler, but those questions should be answered in full after McGregor’s hand is raised and 12 pounds of gold gets draped around his hips.

McGregor via 2nd round KO

I’ll end the article with the best video of Conor McGregor. Enjoy!

Follow that gorgeous young man 2ToN on Twitter at @4000Pounds for updates on MMA scheduled fights and some news as well as his never-ending whimpers of sadness as he loses money in something!

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