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UFC 191: A Magician Never Reveals His Secrets

UFC 191: A Magician Never Reveals His Secrets
DAILY FANTASY RUNDOWN
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UFC 191: A Magician Never Reveals His Secrets

A rematch between Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson? The very same Dodson who gave Johnson his biggest scare to date in the flyweight division? Yes, please. “The Magician” John Dodson will be looking to use his own sleight of hand to trap and put away the demon of the flyweight division in Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. He better get some cheese…..and a lot of it. You better keep your eyes open and turn on the slow-mo setting on your TV (if you even have that) as these two blazing fast strikers are considered some of the fastest punchers in the entire UFC. Weighing 125 pounds helps with that (they’re not really 125 but you get the gist). These guys really hate each other and Dodson is already an accomplished shit-talker, while Johnson still has the personality of a pet rock. I can’t contain my excitement!

Frank Mir also gets his first crack at Andre Arlovski, a match that was supposed to have already been made over a decade ago. Can he continue his surprising winning streak and make one final push for a title shot? Or will we see Fat Mir again? Paige VanZant is also fighting. Whew. “Hands of Stone” John Lineker will be making his bantamweight debut against equally hard hitting Francisco Rivera, in a potential barnyard brawl of a fight that could steal the show. Oh, and of course, Mr. Rumble Johnson will be collecting a check after he decapitates his current victim in Jimi Manuwa. No, he’s not related to Hendrix. Rumble young man, rumble…

Joaquim Silva (+120) vs Nazareno Malegarie (-140)

The losers of TUF Brazil 4 battle against each other to try and keep their roster spot. Joaquim Silva’s 7 wins have all come in the 1st round (4 KO/TKO and 3 subs), while Nazareno Malegarie has 17 submission wins out of his 28 and only 4 losses. Hmm, I guess this fight might end pretty quickly? Both men have black belts in BJJ, with Silva having a Muay Thai background and Malegarie having the better BJJ background (2004 world champion among other accomplishments). I’m intrigued.

JOAQUIM SILVA

Strengths
  • Power puncher who has never went beyond the 1st round in all of his fights, including his sole loss to Glaico Franca on TUF
  • Likes to swing hard with right straight/overhands, especially as a pressure tool
  • Alternates between a counter-striker and the aggressor
  • BJJ black belt but only really shows when he’s taken down or gets a knockdown and goes for the submission – active guard with good timing on triangle/armbar attempts
  • Will have a size advantage over Malegarie since he’s usually fought at welterweight
Weaknesses
  • Competition is subpar at best and they all ended in the 1st round, so difficult to say exactly how Silva may turn into as a fighter
  • Seemed to struggle against competent wrestlers who could get top control and not fall for his guard traps, got submitted by Franca in the 1st round
  • Not a ton of film to really see what else Silva has to offer offensively other than some powerful punches and hard kicks

NAZARENO MALEGARIE

Strengths
  • More accomplished BJJ artist, 17 submission wins of his 28, was riding a 6 fight win streak before decision loss to Bruno on TUF
  • At range counter-striker who likes to time a level change and shoot in for the single/double leg take-down
  • Mostly uses lead jabs and quick straights as counters, sometimes using ducking hooks against pressure
  • Main weapon for Malegarie is his submission game, wants to get top control and make advances to set up whatever he wants – has a mean guillotine choke that he will spam at will
  • Also has some great GnP as he forces opponents to defend themselves, which helps set up more advances for Malegarie
  • Active guard and will go for the reversal/sweeps as often as possible
  • Has faced much tougher competition and has more fights under his belt, will experience pay off against Silva?
Weaknesses
  • Small for a lightweight, has fought at lower weight classes before
  • Struggles against bigger, stronger wrestlers who can control Malegarie and avoid his reversal attempts – all losses to same prototypical strong wrestler
  • Not much offense outside of ducking hooks, no real power as a lightweight so has to depend on wrestling/submission top game

Both Silva and Malegarie are guys who will look for the finish as much as possible. Silva has some real power in his hands and is a willing brawler with some good jiu-jitsu, but mostly relies on a strong overhand and willing opponents. Malegarie is more well-rounded (compared to Silva) and has the better wrestling/BJJ game, but will be at a size disadvantage and isn’t a huge threat on the feet. If Malegarie is unable to control Silva with his wrestling and get it to the ground, there’s a good chance he might get knocked out by Silva. The problem with Silva is he’s barely fought anybody worth mentioning, and against the only actual competition he faced in Franca, he got submitted in the 1st round. Franca is better than Malegarie, but they do have some similarities. It really comes down to the size difference, and while I wouldn’t be surprised for a quick finish in this one, I’m gonna err on the side of caution and say it’ll be a decision win for either one.

Malegarie via split decision

Joe Riggs (+140) vs Ron Stallings (-160)

Fart noises. Nothing to see here, just move on to the next one.

JOE RIGGS

Strengths
  • Longtime UFC/MMA veteran with 56 professional fights under his belt – all but 4 of his 40 wins by KO/TKO/Sub
  • Southpaw stance with a power right hand, but has been mostly a wrestler as of late, hunting for single and double leg take-downs
  • Mainly a counter-striker that uses more leg kicks than you’d expect, decent circling out ability and average hand speed despite going for power bombs
  • Likes to duck and shoot for single legs against pressure, goes for level changes if up close by the cage – doesn’t do much while on top, generally lays and prays
  • He does have a brown belt in BJJ and I mean….I guess he’s capable of getting a submission win against inferior opponents but he just doesn’t make many guard passes
Weaknesses
  • With 56 fights under his belt and at age 32, Riggs is just about done at this point in his career as his body continues to break down – had to tap out after a successful take-down against Saunders due to losing feeling in his arm
  • Also his chin started becoming more suspect as the fights wore on him, 3 fight losing streak 4 years ago before his 6 fight win streak that got him back into the UFC – 2 by KO/TKO and the other by submission, 13 of 16 career losses by KO/TKO (6) and submission (7)
  • Average take-down defense and below average ground defense, gets his face beat in and put into bad positions if on his back as indicated by his 7 submission losses

RON STALLINGS

Strengths
  • Quick and accurate southpaw with a mean left body kick
  • Lands the straight left when opponents rush in as he did against Justin Jones, but won’t land too many combinations otherwise
  • Main weapons of his offense is using the left body kick to open up countering windows and land the fast left straight and occasional right hook while staying back at range
  • Competent from top control with some pretty solid jiu-jitsu as he possesses a brown belt in BJJ but mostly keeps it standing
  • Can land a barrage of strikes from up the cage/in the clinch if he’s got the advantage, almost finished Justin Jones with it
Weaknesses
  • Can be bullied up the cage and in the clinch by stronger fighters
  • Mediocre take-down defense, especially against double leg take-down attempts, passive off his back
  • Striking defense is up and down, as at times he will have excellent head movement and can dodge some attacks, other times he just eats power hooks for breakfast
  • He has 2 attacks – left body/headkick and left straight, other than that? Not many other attacks

Lately, I’ve been trying to give the old veterans with bad chins the benefit of the doubt against lesser competition, despite all the warning signs of chin deterioration screaming at me. I picked Stout over Perez and Maynard over Yakovlev, just to give some examples. Not anymore. Joe Riggs body is breaking down at an alarming rate, and he should have retired after his 3 fight losing streak in ’11. Stallings is nothing special on the feet, but he is quicker than Riggs and actually has some solid power in his 2 strike offense. Enough power that if Stallings catches Riggs with a well-timed straight or even a headkick, it’s probably curtains for old man Riggs. Then again, with how ineffective Stallings’ take-down defense is and his weakness in being controlled by strong wrestlers, Riggs could very well win a super duper boring decision win. Like I said, fart noises. Nothing to see here.

Stallings via 2nd round KO

Clay Collard (-135) vs Tiago Trator (+115)

Will I fall for the Clay Collard trap again? Probably. He faces a highly touted prospect (or at least he was until he got brutally KO’d in the 1st round by Mike De La Torre) in Tiago Trator, owning 13 of his 19 wins by some sort of finish. The high energy, sometimes annoying fighting style of Collard is both entertaining and frustrating to watch, as Collard has the skills to be a tough out for anybody in the FW division but his terrible gas tank and fight IQ continue to hold him back. Trator also has all the skills to be a legitimate top 10 featherweight, but now there may be some chin/defensive striking issues after his last fight against De La Torre. The loser of the fight probably gets their walking papers.

CLAY COLLARD

Strengths
  • High volume oriented striker, loves to throw jab/straight/double hook combos over and over, with several hard kick combo finishers
  • Relentless aggressive striking style, will lunge with several punches
  • One hell of a chin, can take a ton of punishment
  • Good at catching kicks and trying to get opponent down by pushing them down or tripping them
  • Never-ending supply of strikes, will mix up random strikes here and there to keep opponents guessing – no real rhyme or reason behind his 1000000 combinations
  • Decent off his back, capable of landing a triangle/armbar, but not his thing – he wants to keep it standing
Weaknesses
  • Depends way too much on the Anderson Silva-like lean back evasion, runs backwards versus pressure instead of circling out, getting hit in the process
  • Nonexistent striking defense, doesn’t care to defend himself as long as he can counter back with constant barrages of punch combos, can be sloppy at times
  • Can deplete his gas tank quickly in the 1st round if he goes wild with his striking, but will still keep striking back even when extremely gassed – gotta respect his willpower
  • Has been subbed in two of his 5 career losses, has tendency to expose his neck on the few take-down attempts he does
  • Will throw out many random strikes that don’t make sense, like flying crane kicks and spinning backfists, like the energy behind them but needs to be more disciplined standing

TIAGO TRATOR

Strengths
  • Was on a 10 fight winning streak before KO loss to Mike De La Torre – 13 of 18 wins by KO/TKO (7) or sub (6)
  • Usually fought at lightweight, Trator is big for his weight class at FW, and has some very good offensive striking skills
  • Usually likes to lead with a hard low kick to open up his offense, moves around a decent amount and will continuously land those leg kicks to force his opponents to adjust to it
  • Crisp right straights follow with some nice angles that Trator takes with his foot movement, likes to be a patient counter-striker without being inactive as some counter-strikers tend to become
  • If Trator finds his range and can land consistent jab/straight combos, he will continue to plaster his opponents with it + the leg kicks
  • Likes to bully his opponents from the clinch and land some knees/elbows and go for the trip take-down
  • Opportunistic submission hunter when on top, but doesn’t keep top control
  • Decent take-down defense that’s mostly using underhooks and his own size advantage to stop take-downs, good scrambling ability so doesn’t spend much time off his back
  • Will go ballistic when he smells blood going for the finish, great for fantasy purposes since we all want finishes!
Weaknesses
  • There are still some holes in his striking defensively wise despite his good footwork and overall movement, got blasted by several straights against De La Torre even before the one that eventually ended his hype train and winning streak
  • May struggle against competent wrestlers who won’t be thwarted by his size advantage, doesn’t have a threatening guard
  • Lots of hard low/body kicks also opens up Trator’s chin more than it should, and as I said before I have no idea whether or not it’s questionable or Torre just had a perfect punch

I can really see this fight either ending up as an all out war between the two with 100+ sig strikes for both (if they don’t kill each other in the process), or one of the two takes it upon themselves to take it to the ground and finish it there. Collard has the aggression and the balls to be a strange man on the feet, but Trator has the better technical striking and BJJ. Collard’s chin is made out of steel, and he has a heart of a lion so it won’t be an easy fight for Trator regardless of what happens. Collard has more volume and some crazy strikes while Trator is more polished and has the better overall game, even striking defense (only because Collard literally has none). I guess I’ll go with Trator just because he has more ways to finish the fight than Collard and I don’t think his chin is that bad. TRATOR!

Trator via 2nd round RNC

Jessica Andrade (-210) vs Raquel Pennington (+175)

Jessica Andrade bounced back in a big way after she got upset by soccer mom Marion Reneau (OK, she’s not a soccer mom and could kick my ass) with a dominating win over Sarah Moras, even beating Moras at her own game by stifling her on the ground and pulverizing her face in the process. We last saw Raquel Pennington get her knees kicked repeatedly by Holly Holm in an unanimous decision loss. “Rocky” may never be a legitimate title contender or even crack the top 10 in the division, but she always brings it in every fight. Both women like to stand and bang coupled with some durable chins, so there is serious potential for oodles of significant strikes for both. Only way that doesn’t happen is if Andrade takes it upon herself to take advantage of Pennington’s atrocious ground game for a quick submission win. It’s possible! Oh, did I forget to mention this is a rematch? Yeah, that’s probably important. Whoops.

JESSICA ANDRADE

Strengths
  • Top 10 women’s bantamweight with 10 of 13 wins by KO/TKO (4) and 6 by submission
  • Blue belt in BJJ but her ground skills are far from a typical blue belt as she makes some great passes and is smart enough on when to go for a submission versus ground and pound
  • Short in stature at 5’2” but has an aggressive fighting style, loves to push the pace and get into the face of her opponents
  • High volume combination boxer with some low kicks mixed in, leads with left hooks and power bombs then switches to some jab/straight combinations as she continues to apply pressure
  • Strong out of the clinch with several back trips and leg sweeps/hip tosses, very bullish up the cage
  • Very strong top control and makes smart, concentrated advances while still landing ground and pound
  • Opportunistic submission hunter from anywhere, but will mostly rely on postures and GnP
  • Short stature usually helps Andrade with her take-down defense and she has a low center of gravity as well, difficult to get down on the ground
Weaknesses
  • Can get into a brawl when pushing forward, throwing wild swinging hooks and going for the homerun hit, but gets hit instead….alot
  • Short stature and 62” inch reach means against taller, better range strikers Andrade can short arm most of her punches and end up getting beat to the punch early and often, which is what happened at times against Pennington the 1st time around
  • Doesn’t do it often, but she can be stuck on top in one position for too long instead of advancing, but doesn’t seem like an issue anymore

RAQUEL PENNINGTON

Strengths
  • Gritty boxer who can apply pressure whenever possible, but generally tries to land a high volume of punches
  • Jab is the key for Pennington, and every combination starts with it, will finish with either a power hook or quick straight and circle out
  • Can land several body punches as well, decent movement and footwork
  • Will have 5 inches of height and reach advantage on Jessica Andrade, which helped Pennington in their 1st fight where Pennington amassed 82 sig strikes in a split decision loss
Weaknesses
  • Mediocre striking defense, little head movement and while she can land copious amount of strikes, there’s usually no resistance against counters or whenever she gets involved in a brawl
  • Average take-down defense, below average ground defense as she can be stifled from top and put into precarious situations from a submission perspective
  • Struggled to defend Andrade’s clinch work and stopping her bullish ways despite being able to consistently out-box her

I’m surprised Jessica Andrade took the rematch against Pennington since she’s coming off a win and Pennington is coming off a loss plus has a 5-5 record. The fight was almost two years ago, and Andrade has become a much better fighter since then, limiting her own size/reach disadvantage with better footwork and landing higher percentage of her take-down attempts. Pennington is still pretty much the same fighter from way back then, and she still struggles to stop most pressure fighters to keep herself upright. Andrade has shown in the past she’s a willing brawler, but I think she’ll be smart against Pennington and finish the fight on the ground with some vicious GnP and attempt more submissions. Pennington will have to use her reach advantage to the fullest and keep circling away from Andrade’s attempts to get into the clinch if she wants to avenge her loss. Andrade is just the better fighter, period.

Andrade via unanimous decision

Francisco Rivera (+115) vs John Lineker (-135)

The UFC really outdid themselves with the match-up of John Lineker against Francisco Rivera for Lineker’s bantamweight debut. Both men are some of the hardest hitting bantanweights the division has to offer, and unless Rivera decides to play it safe, it will likely be an outright war of attrition. “Hands of Stone” Lineker is making his BW debut due to weight cutting issues during his time at flyweight, including some embarrassing misfires like coming in 4 pounds over the 126 pound limit. Yikes. That was his last flyweight fight and his 4th missed weight cut. He’s still gotta be disciplined enough to make the 135 pound weight cut or the UFC will have no choice but to cut him despite his talent. Rivera is also coming off a fantastic 1st round knockout over Alex Caceres, known to most as Bruce Leeroy. It marked his 3rd win in the UFC by KO/TKO. VIOLENCE!

FRANCISCO RIVERA

Strengths
  • One of the hardest hitting bantanweights, loves to throw the overhand right with impunity – 8 of 11 wins by KO/TKO, including 3 KO/TKO wins in the UFC
  • Will have 5 inches of height and a 3 inch reach advantage on Lineker
  • Counter-striker with very good movement and circles out against pressure, seems to always know his range and still keep himself in front of his opponent
  • Loves to spam his sizzling fast overhand right on anything, and I really do mean ANYTHING – if an opponent looks like he’s gonna throw something or come forward, Rivera will unleash that right hand straightaway
  • Uses the jab to gauge his distance and lands some low kicks as well if there’s inactivity on the feet, but Rivera is a pure power puncher, plain and simple
  • Decent take-down offense if he’s in danger or needs a round sealing win, but otherwise not a threat
  • Great defensive wrestling and sprawls on most take-down attempts, difficult fighter to get to the ground
Weaknesses
  • As fun as it is to watch Rivera swing the hammer with his overhand right, he really does spam it too much and can be fooled by feints, which gets Rivera countered
  • On most of his overhands, Rivera ducks under and swings with all of his might with no real follow-up, sometimes leaving his chin out on an island afterwards, something Takeya Mizugaki was able to take advantage with a 1st round knockdown
  • Faster, more technical strikers who can fake out Rivera can take full advantage of those overhand rights by utilizing the jab and staying out of the danger zone

JOHN LINEKER

Strengths
  • Yet another one of the hardest hitting bantanweights (in theory, since all of his UFC fights were at flyweight), 4 of 6 UFC wins by KO/TKO
  • Similar fighter to Rivera as Lineker always looks to spam the overhand right, but how he does it is different than Rivera
  • Stalks his opponent in an attempt to corner them, then picks the right moment to throw the overhand right if counter opportunities don’t arise
  • Doesn’t fall for feints like Rivera does, more composed against most strikers but will still try to swing the hammer with impunity
  • Only 5’2” but surprisingly has a 67 inch reach and doesn’t seem to struggle against rangy strikers
  • Take-down defense is mostly based on his own strength and low center of gravity rather than using underhooks or sprawling, which was a good thing for him at flyweight – not so much at BW
Weaknesses
  • Has has cardio issues in late rounds, but that could be attributed to the rough weight cuts, has said he’ll still have to cut 30 pounds to make BW – so could still be an issue
  • His powerful and blistering overhand right isn’t exactly crisp, can swing wildly at times and open himself to easy shoot in take-downs which Ali Bagautinov easily did against Lineker
  • Bad ground defense and not very good on his back, 3 of 7 losses by submission
  • Not much in the way of combinations, relies on one hit knockouts and doesn’t offer much else unless opponent is absolutely terrible at striking defense – see Alptekin Ozkillic where Lineker landed 133 sig strikes!

Both fighters are eerily similar in their fighting styles. They both have impressive knockout power for a division that isn’t known for it, and both land the majority of their knockouts/knockdowns through the same way. The overhand right. Rivera throws it with more frequency but less accuracy, and Lineker throws the overhand less often but with a higher hit percentage, plus doesn’t depend on it as a counter as much as Rivera does. Rivera has more tools in his arsenal, including some nice looking kicks, while Lineker is more of a stalk and kill striker, sometimes even lunging forward with a wild swing. Rivera has shown in the past he can be knocked down due to exposing his chin after an overhand right, which is something I absolutely think Lineker can do early and often. Lineker also has the better chin and isn’t fooled by feints or rushes in recklessly, something Rivera wants all of his opponents to do. The sticking point for me is Rivera’s height and reach advantage versus Lineker’s raw power and more composed striking style. It’s difficult to tell how Lineker’s bantamweight debut may go, but Hands of Stone is just a wrecking ball at this point. After rewatching Mizugaki blast Rivera in the 1st round and almost finishing him, I can’t help but to think Lineker does the same thing despite the height/reach disadvantage.

Lineker via 1st round TKO

Paul Felder (-440) vs Ross Pearson (+350)

After a disappointing loss to Edson Barboza where Paul Felder was just simply not ready for Barboza’s lightning quick kicks, the “Irish Dragon” yet again makes a quick turnaround as he squares off against Ross Pearson, last seen getting shut down by Evan Dunham in a decision loss. Felder still proved himself to be a dangerous technical striker against Barboza despite the loss, landing some big blows on the Muay Thai killer and showing off his range of attacks at his disposal. He will need to continue to employ such attacks against the technically sound boxer with a questionable chin. Pearson has suffered some recent knockout losses to Cub Swanson and Al Iaquinta, with some close calls against other fighters. Still, I expect a stand up war between two technically sound but dramatically different strikers. Get your potatoes ready! No one will get that joke…

PAUL FELDER

Strengths
  • Recently saw his undefeated 10-0 record disappear after a L to Edson Barboza that could be considered a good loss – 7 wins by KO/TKO
  • 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo and Karate
  • Very technical pure striker with a plethora of strikes at his disposal, from the hard low kick and spinning kicks, to his favorite tool from what I’ve seen in his usage of knees
  • Not combo heavy outside of the usual 1-2 combos, but his at range striking keeps Felder busy with single precise strikes that hit their target the majority of the time with devastating results – mixes up his attacks so well I can’t even tell you what he likes to do other than plenty of knees
  • Likes to throw knees as a deterrent against take-down attempts and as a counter-poke to certain low strikes
  • Good head movement and almost is never out of place on any strike thanks to great footwork
  • Has a good sprawl since he’s able to stay out of range most times and still be an efficient striker
  • Great countering ability due to his speed and technical prowess, very dangerous to run at him haphazardly
Weaknesses
  • Struggles against an opponent who utilizes hard kicks to lead leg constantly, something Barboza was able to land repeatedly at a high success rate – doesn’t like to check kicks
  • Level of competition isn’t quite what you’d expect out of a great pure striker, Barboza was his biggest test to date and while he didn’t get blown out and actually showed some great things, he faded at the end of the fight – possible cardio issue
  • Struggled against Saggo due to his constant barrages of take-down attempts and jockeying for position up the cage even if he was able to get back up most times– Pearson not a real threat with his wrestling but he may end up shooting for take-downs sooner rather than later

ROSS PEARSON

Strengths
  • Technically sound boxer (even though his Wiki page says he has a Taekwondo black belt) with a brown belt in Judo that Pearson sparingly uses – 12 of 17 wins by KO/TKO/Sub
  • Utilizes great footwork and a crisp jab/straight combination as his go to attack on offense
  • Has a devastating counter left hook that has put opponents to sleep such as old man Sam Stout
  • Can be a power puncher when given chance to, but mostly relies on applying pressure and still keeping his range with footwork and jab combinations/quick leg kicks
  • Won’t go for the take-down often, but when he does it’s usually a shoot in for a double leg or get into the clinch for a quick trip take-down
  • Not much of a GnP game, but will actively hunt for submission opportunities on the ground – 5 submission wins
  • Usually defensively sound in most aspects, great scrambling ability, good take-down defense, above average striking defense, and good scrambling
Weaknesses
  • Chin is Pearson’s biggest issue despite his above average striking defense – only takes one punch to wobble Pearson
  • Evan Dunham recently was able to crack Pearson’s usually stout take-down defense and completely smothered him on the ground, even taking his back for majority of the 1st/2nd round – does that matter against Felder? Nope, just making conversation
  • When he faced dynamic strikers like Cub Swanson (Beautiful Destruction) and “Ragin’” Al Iaquinta (uhh….he doesn’t have a name for his style other than ‘kicking ass’), Pearson struggled to keep them at range and wasn’t able to use his technical striking to counter their dynamic offense – got knocked out in both fights
  • More on that last statement, it also seems Pearson struggles against pressure, as old man Sam Stout was actually getting the better of Pearson for most of the 1st round before eating a left hook for lunch in the 2nd – Felder doesn’t usually pressure but has shown some ability to do so in short bursts

As much as Ross Pearson is a legitimately good, solid opponent for anyone in the LW division, he’s just not a huge threat. Sure, he’s got some great crisp combinations and footwork, has some surprisingly good take-down offense, and can knock you out with his left hook, but most of the time he’s uninspiring and grinds his way to a win. Paul Felder is as dynamic of a striker as they come, with a wide array of attacks he can employ at any one time. And all of them can knock out Pearson if it connects. Pearson will have to be even more technically sound than the technically sound Felder if he wants to survive 3 rounds against the Irish Dragon. Pearson also probably will have to try and get Felder to the ground. Tough task against a good scrambler/sprawl. TECHNICALLY SOUND FIGHT! Felder finds a way to frustrate Pearson and lands some filthy strike to end Pearson’s night.

Felder via 2nd round KO

Alex Chambers (+950) vs Paige VanZant (-1450)

PAAAAAAAAIGE!!!! Another victim for Miss VanZant to beat up on! Alex Chambers pulled off a come from behind victory against Kailin Curran with a 3rd round armbar submission win despite getting her face pounded in for 2 rounds prior. Curran also lost to VanZant, but whatever. I don’t like to do MMA math unless it’s relevant. Paige VanZant is a huge favorite to win, and it’s clear to see why since Chambers struggled against Curran’s gameplan, which is very similar to VanZant’s. Paige is likely 1 or 2 fights away from a title shot, so a dominant win against an opponent VanZant should have no problem beating is crucial. PAAAAAAAAIGE!

ALEX CHAMBERS

Strengths
  • Black belt in Karate and purple belt in BJJ
  • Long range striker with a wide stance as is per the norm for most Karate fighters
  • Methodical striker that uses strong leg kicks as counters and can land body kicks from range
  • Will use counter-rights against pressure as she tries to circle away, but not many combinations – mainly a 1 hit and run striker
  • Decent wrestling and can get a tough double leg take-down if absolutely necessary, but otherwise negligible
  • Good usage of ground and pound if she ends up in top control on the ground, not much of a submission hunter though
Weaknesses
  • Seems to crack under pressure and opens up striking windows as she tries to counter aggressive fighters, Aisling Daly and Rose Namajunas took full advantage of that issue at handling pressure
  • Below average take-down defense, got taken down quickly by Kailin Curran and struggles against heavy ground and pound – Curran landed 81 sig strikes on Chambers in 2.5 rounds!
  • Undisciplined on the ground even from top, got reversed into an armbar by Aisling Daly, and was consistently giving up dominant positions to Curran + got her back taken by Namajunas for the RNC loss

PAIGE VANZANT

Strengths
  • Fast rising strawweight prospect, is only 21 years old and has been training all over the place
  • Strong, almost lanky strawweight who pushes the pace and looks to get one thing done – get into the clinch
  • Strong from the clinch and up the cage with knees, foot stomps, dirty boxing, and plenty of throw/trip attempts especially the hip toss that damn near everyone in that division uses
  • VanZant’s biggest strength is her ground and pound game, with great postures and raining down well-timed punches but still being a threat at getting a submission
  • Makes timely advances if needed be, doesn’t stay still for too long and will make any position including full guard an advantageous one
  • Active guard, goes for aggressive submissions like triangles and armbars despite possibly giving up a dominant position in the process
Weaknesses
  • Her stand-up is still a work in progress, and while she can land some random overhands and good kicks, it’s pretty awkward looking but VanZant’s aggression allows her to get into the clinch quickly as to avoid prolonged stand-up exchanges
  • Tends to overcommit to the hip toss which some opponents have used to their advantage, getting on top of VanZant or getting her back outright, but active guard of VanZant usually mitigates such risks
  • Aggressive nature also applies to her GnP game, which leaves VanZant prone to reversals or submission attempts if she’s not careful and mindful of what’s going on – this is how Alex Chambers pulled off the armbar win over Curran

On paper, this seems like an easy win for Paige VanZant, as Chambers struggled against Curran’s pressure and clinch work, getting taken down and brutally GnP’d. VanZant is better than Curran at everything other than stand-up, so it stands to reason that VanZant should be able to do what Curran couldn’t – finish Chambers. As I said before, Curran got caught in an armbar while doing her usual GnP from top, so that’s something VanZant has to cognizant of as she employs her usual GnP gameplan. Chambers already struggles against pressure and isn’t very good at defending herself from clinch or up the cage, which means VanZant really could do whatever she wants to Chambers as long as she can get into the clinch. This is as easy as they come, so take Paige and build your lineups around her, hoping for an early round finish, either a late round finish with 80+ sig strikes, or a 100+ sig strikes 10 take-downs decision win. Either way, you go girl!

VanZant via 3rd round TKO

Corey Anderson (+130) vs Jan Blachowicz (-150)

Oh, dear. It’s Corey Anderson. If you guys don’t know the backstory to this Anderson guy and how he single handily ruined my dreams of going to Las Vegas to meet Paige VanZant, take her out to dinner, become good friends, be a sparring partners, and later down the road…..who knows? Dana White and all the fighters on UFC 187 (among other people), then well, you never will. The LHW winner of ill fated TUF 19, which seems like a pretty bad season so far fighter wise, gets another crack at padding his win column as he faces Polish sensation Jan Blachowicz, coming off an uninspiring loss to Jimi Manuwa. With 12 of his 18 wins by finish and a penchant for brutality, Blachowicz won’t be an easy fight for Anderson, as there are some stylistic match-up issues for both fighters. What are they, you say? Do I have to do this every time? SCROLL DOWN.

COREY ANDERSON

Strengths
  • Tall and strong LHW at 6’3” with a 79 inch reach, won TUF 19 LHW tournament portion
  • Strong wrestling with athletic ability leads the way for Anderson, with his striking continue to improve
  • During the show on TUF 19, Anderson depended on his strength and raw athletic ability to grind out wins and get easy take-downs coupled with methodical ground and pound – striking was not good enough on its own
  • As time went by and he won the tournament, his striking improved with addition of basic 1-2 combinations and more usage of low kicks and uppercuts
  • Last fight versus Gian Villante was all stand-up for Anderson, did not attempt a single take-down – showcased a quicker, more technical Anderson as he landed 111 sig strikes despite the late 3rd round KO loss
  • Should still focus on his wrestling which is above average with good quickness for a big man of his size, single/double leg take-downs off level changes and good clinch work that helps set up back trips or dirty boxing
  • GnP game is better than most, as he willingly postures up to rain down punches and still maintains top control
Weaknesses
  • Does not check leg kicks even if his lead leg is completely dead, Gian Villante landed a barrage of low kicks on Anderson without any real consequences
  • Gas tank issues, faded badly against Villante despite outstriking him by nearly 50 strikes
  • Inexplicable gameplan of keeping it standing and not trying to get Villante on his back and take advantage of his bad ground defense, something to keep in mind if his fight IQ isn’t there yet
  • Striking may have improved twicefold, but striking defense still leaves much to be desired, ate way too many left hooks against Villante which obviously took its toll on Anderson late
  • Also an issue that COULD maybe show up is Anderson’s ground defense on his back – has not been taken to the ground so it’s an unknown at this point

JAN BLACHOWICZ

Strengths
  • Big LHW with a 79” reach, brown belt in BJJ and has 7 career submission wins
  • Aggressive striker with more of a kick-centric offense but will land some power shots as he switches stances back and forth
  • Likes to set up his opponents with low kicks and continue to alter the depths of each kick as time goes on – knocked out Ilir Latifi with a vicious headkick a couple fights ago
  • Primarily uses right and left straight as a counter, relies on his kicks and being able to time a punch during exchanges
  • Quick for a man of his size, can move around a little bit but not the best footwork though
  • Doesn’t have great take-down offense, but is excellent from top position if he is able to get it, goes for submissions early and often and will make aggressive passes for them
Weaknesses
  • Passive on the ground off his back despite BJJ skills, can get his kicks caught and taken down
  • Last fight against Jimi Manuwa showed some issues with his stand-up, most notably a lack of punch combinations if his kicks don’t connect consistently and kept getting countered/outboxed standing by a guy on one leg –  it was a pretty boring fight overall but still…
  • Lack of real credible take-down offense and overall wrestling also a detriment if he can’t muster enough pressure standing and is stuck being an average counter-striker
  • Not enough offense for my liking, too dependent on one hit and run strikes

So while Anderson didn’t try to utilize his wrestling against Gian Villante, that doesn’t mean he won’t try to against Blachowicz. Well, I hope at least. Blachowicz’s high volume of kicks opens himself to getting a kick caught and taken down, something I could see Anderson trying to do. Anderson isn’t the best boxer, but he’s clearly shown some improvement in that area, enough to warrant some consideration to his stand-up being a legitimate strength. Blachowicz certainly could land the same damaging blows that Villante was able to land without too much effort late in the 2nd and 3rd round, but I have a feeling Anderson will realize he can actually wrestle. Once he grabs a leg and gets the fight to the ground, it should be smooth sailing from then on. As long as he can use enough GnP, he could in theory land some big sig strike numbers + take-down attempts. Then again, he could get KO’d and break my heart again.

Anderson via unanimous decision

Anthony Johnson (-650) vs Jimi Manuwa (+475)

AHHHH OOOOO GAHHHHH!!! One of my favorite fighters gets to commit sheer, utter, unbridled, unadulterated, brutal, uncensored, annihilating violence upon his opponent. Who is his opponent, you may ask? It’s Jimi Manuwa, last seen punching his way a little in a decision win over Jan Blachowicz, apparently on a dead leg as Manuwa revealed he had torn his ACL and MCL before the fight. So, in essence, Jan Blachowicz lost to a guy on one leg. That fool! Rumble Johnson will be looking to tear Manuwa’s ACLs as well, just not the ones in his knees. The ones on his face. Someone call the authorities, there’s a dead man walking!

ANTHONY JOHNSON

Strengths
  • One of the most ferocious, feared striker in the light-heavyweight division – 13 of 19 wins by KO/TKO across 3 divisions in welterweight, middleweight, and light-heavyweight!
  • Outrageous power in both hands, but has some pretty damn good boxing and sets up his death bomb right hand early and often with surprisingly quick combinations
  • Along with power right hand, Johnson can land uppercuts and land some body shots when he has his opponents cornered and is a beast up the cage or in the clinch
  • Has a kickboxer background, so Rumble can land several quick headkicks at any time
  • Likes to push forward against inferior opponents or if he feels he has the edge on the feet – 2 minutes in the cage with him and you’re either done or running for your life
  • Excellent counter-striker, has the speed and reaction time to clobber his foes, seems to know how to hit the right buttons at the right time
  • He’s also huge for a LHW despite the fact that he’s fought at 170 and 185 pounds in the past, an absolute brute of a man
Weaknesses
  • Gas tank issues, was a gigantic detriment to Rumble’s early career at WW and MW as he would badly gas out after the 1st round and end up on his back or submitted – could be attributed to horrible and ill advised weight cuts
  • Take-down defense is pretty mediocre unless he has a complete size advantage over his opponent, gas tank issues makes his take-down defense after the 1st round nonexistent
  • Pretty much doesn’t know what to do if he’s on his back on the ground, barely defends any passes or try to advance and get back up – 4 of 5 career losses by submission

JIMI MANUWA

Strengths
  • A true knockout artist, Manuwa has a 15-1 record with his lone loss to Alexander Gustafsson (who is currently fighting Daniel Cormier to try and win the championship belt) – 13 of 15 wins by KO/TKO
  • Powerful, stalking fight style as Manuwa approaches his opponents like a lion stalking his prey, waiting to unload his ferocious right hand bombs and turn them into dust with a headkick
  • Excellent intuitive counter-striker, speed and power combination makes Manuwa a dangerous opponent to give time and space to operate
  • Purple belt in BJJ and he is competent enough that if he gets top control, he can finish the fight any way he wants
  • Sometimes lands a jab/straight combo, but he’s mostly an at range counter-striker who will sometimes push the pace and land several body kicks at a time
Weaknesses
  • Struggles badly against those who utilize the clinch, was doing well against Gustafsson’s at range striking with his speed and power counters, until Gus got Manuwa into the clinch and ended his life shortly thereafter
  • Needs space to be the stalker that he likes to be, doesn’t like to be bullied or pressured
  • The KO loss to Gustafsson MAYBE tells us Manuwa has an average chin, but it is the LHW division and taking a punch from a 205’er isn’t exactly like getting hit by a pillow
  • Average to below average level of competition faced before entering the UFC, so hard to gauge his full skill-set as it pertains to take-down offense/defense, striking defense, and how he is off his back – Rumble is gonna keep it standing so who cares about all of that

These men will bring the wood immediately after the ref starts the fight, as they both have immense power and a propensity to violence. Rumble Johnson is an imposing man with more refined striking skills and a larger repertoire of strikes that he can land compared to Manuwa, but he can’t take Manuwa too lightly. Manuwa is an excellent counter-striker when given the space to do so, but struggles against pressure and out of the clinch. Rumble would be smart to close the gap quickly and find a way to smash Manuwa from the clinch or up the cage, much like he did to Gustafsson and Lil Nog. Rumble is just an absolute behemoth and a stud kickboxer, so Manuwa is going to have to get the fight to the ground or gas him out. Very, very unlikely. Sorry, but the violence train will continue to rumble on.

Johnson via 1st round KO

Andrei Arlovski (-155) vs Frank Mir (+135)

Fat Mir? Steroid Mir? Which Mir will show up against Andrei Arlovski for their 10 years in the making fight that will likely end either fighter’s title shot prospects? Both men are coming off shocking wins, even though we really shouldn’t have doubted either guy, with Mir knocking out Duffee back into….well, wherever Duffee’s from and Arlovski’s saddening knockout win over Travis Browne. Why was it saddening? They were both great friends and training partners, which made the win a little bittersweet for Arlovski, despite the fight being an incredible but short heavyweight fight for the ages as both men swung for the fences and almost ended the other’s life various times throughout the 1st round. Can they both find the fountain of youth once again? Seems like the older you are, the better you are as a fighter in the heavyweight division. Strange.

ANDRE ARLOVSKI

Strengths
  • Currently riding a 5 fight win streak, including 3 under the UFC banner with KO wins over Antonio Silva and Travis Browne – 17 of 24 career wins by KO/TKO
  • Who says age is a factor? Arlovski is 36 and still has all the talent he had when he was 26, including his famed headkicks
  • Mainly a counter-striker with quicker than average HW hand speed and good footwork, likes to land counter-right straights
  • Picks and prods his way as he searches for the right window of opportunity to strike with a right hand, will smash lead legs with hard kicks as he bides his time
  • Not going to land many combinations, but lately Arlovski has shown even more boxing prowess, including more jab usage and much improved striking defense to hide his terrible chin
  • As for his famed headkicks, he’s toned his usage of them, but it’s still a tool at his disposal, especially if his opponents start to leave their hands down or try to block his low kicks
  • Still has good kicking range and can land body kicks/spinning stuff whenever he feels like it, but much more disciplined and focused than before on the feet – determined to make a final push for a title shot
  • Sambo background so he has the wrestling to get the fight to the ground, but mostly stays at range – GnP game is pretty solid and he does have good top control
Weaknesses
  • Talent and power has never been an issue for Arlovski, it’s his chin – 7 of 10 career losses by KO/TKO
  • Before his win streak, Arlovski used to try too hard and land some silly stuff and had big defensive holes in his stand-up which resulted in some pretty ugly knockout losses – seems to have improved on that problem
  • Has an underrated guard and can be a little bit of a threat off his back with sweeps and reversals, but take-down defense is average at best and against a decorated BJJ black belt like Mir, Arlovski would be wise to keep the fight standing at all costs

FRANK MIR

Strengths
  • One of the most well known, accomplished heavyweight in UFC history, has the most finishes in UFC history and T4th most wins
  • Longtime black belt in BJJ with several gaudy accomplishments, 8 wins by submission, and a black belt in Kempo Karate
  • Has fought as a southpaw for a long time, recently changed to orthodox boxing stance with more emphasis on using the jab/left hook
  • Stand-up has changed often over the years, but one thing still remains – he likes to use hard kicks at range and land counter-hooks
  • More jab combinations lately and lead left hook seems to have helped Mir control higher paced fighters and land more counter strikes
  • Strong take-down offense that’s predicated by his clinch work, loves to get a trip take-down or hip throw
  • On the ground is where Mir is at his strongest and most dangerous, expert in making passes quickly and getting into dominant positions to create submission opportunities
  • Won’t hesitate to try a submission from any position, doesn’t waste time with ground and pound or keeping top control
Weaknesses
  • 7 of 9 career losses by KO/TKO, chin has always been a big issue for Mir, and even today his striking defense is still pretty average with minimal head/body movement
  • Never know what version of Mir will show up, weight has fluctuated over the years as well as body composition – one day he will weigh in at 240 pounds and look sleek, the next he looks huge and roided out at 260+, then looks really fat at 260+
  • Like most of the heavyweights in the division, Mir has some gas tank issues past the 1st round, fight against Duffee was also the Fat Mir version and he looked considerably gassed after about….30 seconds?

Surprisingly enough, this may be a better fight for the UFC now than it could have been 10 years ago. Arlovski seems to have righted the ship and looks like a legitimate contender, while Mir’s change in his stand-up has rejuvenated his career after a 4 fight losing streak. While we won’t know what version of Mir will show up on weigh in day, I can still see some of the defensive deficiencies Mir has had in the past during his last 2 fights. Arlovski is still as dangerous of a striker as they come, and he will hold a significant speed advantage over the bigger Frank Mir. Arlovski also seems to know his range and has been much more disciplined in his usage of attacks, being careful not to expose his brittle chin unlike Frank Mir. Realistically, Mir will probably have to either hope for a well-timed counter punch or get into the clinch quickly and take the fight to the ground, where he has a massive advantage over Arlovski. This is still a heavyweight fight between two well known brittle chins so anything can happen. I’ll still side with the Pitbull until further notice. THIS IS SPARTA!!!

Arlovski via 1st round KO

Demetrious Johnson (-550) vs John Dodson (+425)

REEEEEEEEMATCH!!! Demetrious Johnson almost tasted his first defeat as a flyweight when he 1st fought John Dodson way back in early ’13, as Dodson had dropped the seemingly untouchable Johnson several times throughout the 5 round battle. Eventually, Johnson was able to use all of his tools (mostly his wrestling) to put away the formidable opponent. Two years later, both men have evolved and will be looking to prove to the world that whatever happened in the 1st fight was a fluke. This is also one of the rare times that Demetrious Johnson has actually opened his mouth and started a back and forth banter against his opponents. Maybe it’s because he realizes Dodson is his most dangerous test to come in the flyweight division, or maybe he just plain flat out hates Dodson. Whatever the case, it’s been an entertaining battle of words between the two, which will likely transition over in the octagon. Two blazing quick strikers, two flyweights that seem on the top of their game and are each other’s apparent rival, and two men with game changing strengths and weaknesses that can (and have been) exploited. Ignore the odds, this fight is closer than Vegas thinks, and here’s why.

DEMETRIOUS JOHNSON

Strengths
  • Undefeated as a flyweight with 8 straight wins (and a draw against Ian McCall), only 2 career losses including a bantanweight loss to Dominick Cruz
  • Incredibly lightning quick striker who is always constantly on the move and never lets up on his frenetic pace
  • Diverse amount of combinations, gets in and out quickly and finds unique striking angles from his fantastic footwork and movement – very technically sound boxing with crisp jab/straight combinations and well-timed body/headkicks
  • Dodging ability and circling out + landing quick straights/hooks also one of Johnson’s strengths
  • What really makes Mighty Mouse dangerous isn’t his never-ending cardio or limitless combos, it’s his take-down offense or rather, the huge threat of his take-down attempts coupled with his movement

  • Superb level changes that Johnson pulls off on a dime, gets tough double leg take-downs that are almost impossible to defend against, great from the clinch and has a plethora of other take-downs

  • For all of Johnson’s massive improvement in his striking and overall fighting game, his biggest strength has been his wrestling and ground game, as he has made some absolutely gorgeous passes while on top and is a rock if he gets top control
  • Due to his controlled aggressive guard passes, Johnson also puts himself in great positions to pull off submissions without any risks at getting reversed or losing his position – 9 career submission wins

  • Possibly the best take-down defense and overall defensive fighter in the entire division, very little holes in his game
Weaknesses
  • So what the hell are his weaknesses? Well, he may have a little bit of a chinny chin, as Dodson was able to catch Johnson several times for a couple knockdowns, something that hadn’t been done by nearly anyone Johnson had faced
  • How did Dodson pull that off? He matched Mighty Mouse’s speed and quickness, something that very, very few fighters can pull off which is why this is a fantastic rematch
  • Uhh….yeah I dunno I guess that’s probably it for his weaknesses other than MAYBE he struggles against bigger wrestlers like Dominick Cruz (was at bantanweight and Johnson was at a pretty bad size disadvantage then and has since evolved from that loss anyways)

JOHN DODSON

Strengths
  • Most powerful striker in the flyweight division especially after John Lineker’s departure –  owns 8 knockout wins including a TKO win over current BW champion TJ Dillashaw (granted, it was before Dillashaw evolved into Killashaw)

  • Just as lightning quick as Demetrious Johnson with much more emphasis on his power punches and counter-combinations
  • Wide southpaw stance and likes to circle around his opponent like a shark swimming around a school of fish, waiting for his moment to strike with a devastating left straight
  • Not as combo heavy as Johnson, nor does he land the amount of kicks Johnson does, but every punch/kick he throws usually hits their target with high accuracy and full power thanks to his insane speed and quickness

  • Also has some great double leg take-downs and has a wrestling background which has been a huge aid for Dodson’ take-down defense that is tops in the division
  • Dodson is also much more of a counter-striker than Johnson, which helped him in his 1st battle against the champion as he was able to time Johnson’s attacks and quickly land some flurries of his own – absolutely lethal combination of speed, power and countering ability

Weaknesses
  • While his take-down defense is by far some of the best in the division, that didn’t stop Mighty Mouse from landing his traditional double leg take-down as Dodson got taken down 5x and got stifled on the ground

  • Dodson looked uncomfortable on his back and was giving up some easy passes as well as getting his face punched in, so there’s a real possibility that if the fight ends up on the ground again, Johnson will eventually get the submission win
  • Dodson was also getting consistently outstruck by Johnson, despite being able to land more power shots and eventually getting some knockdowns, as Mighty Mouse’s technique and furious combinations was simply too much for Dodson to deal with in addition to defending the take-downs – Johnson landed 127 sig strikes!
  • Dodson has to be more aggressive and push forward against Johnson and try to force some mistakes – can’t sit back and let Mighty Mouse come to him, relying on a one punch knockout or giving Johnson enough space to do what he does best

Power versus technique. Speed vs speed. Defensive wrestling versus offensive wrestling. These men have very little weaknesses in their game, and yet they are each other’s weakness. Demetrious Johnson has relied on his speed and movement along with technique and wrestling to defeat the majority of his opponents, but his usual speed advantage won’t be as big of a gap against Dodson. On that same note, Dodson’s usual stingy take-down defense that has helped keep Dodson upright in most fights and utilize his game-changing power to the fullest is almost a non-factor against Johnson, much like in the 1st fight. Somehow, Johnson is just able to overpower Dodson with his double leg take-downs and staggering level changes. It all comes down to whether or not Dodson can either land that one punch that changes the complexion of the fight, or has a brand new gameplan by being more aggressive and not allowing Johnson to run around like a crazed madman. I think Dodson just has undeniable power in his hands and has already proven he can match Johnson’s speed to be able to test Johnson’s chin. I’m going for the upset, as the Magician finally pulls the elusive Mighty Mouse out of his hat for once and for all. Time to disappear, Mighty Mouse.

John Dodson via 4th round TKO

ALL RIGHT! See you guys on the next big card! Here’s a video for some entertainment! Some of you may have already seen it in one of my early articles, but it never gets old to me.

MMA

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