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UFC 194 MMA DFS: Where’s Aldo?

UFC 194 MMA DFS: Where’s Aldo?
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UFC 194 MMA DFS: Where’s Aldo?

(Knocks on wood). Okay. The epic battle between brash and expert trash talker Conor McGregor and longtime featherweight slayer Jose Aldo has finally descended upon us. They both don’t like each other, McGregor might be fighting drunk, and Aldo might literally choke McGregor to death! What more do you want? There’s also the battle between current middleweight champion Chris Weidman (the guy who beat Anderson Silva twice) and Luke Rockhold (not to be mistaken with a random Californian surfer dude), and their hatred for each other has been festering for a while now. Their Twitter back and forth has been very entertaining to say the very least, but only one man can win and become the champion! Yoel Romero also gets his toughest test to date in a battle for the #1 MW contender against BJJ killer and alligator wrestler Jacare Souza. Jacare has been widely regarded as one of the absolute best jiu-jitsu practitioners for years, and he’ll get his chance to prove it against Romero. Yoel is an Olympian wrestler with gaudy wrestling accomplishments to go with his freakish physique and overall explosiveness. If Souza is able to get the ridiculously muscled Romero down to the ground and quickly submit him, he’ll finally get his wish for an immediate title shot against the winner of the Weidman/Rockhold duel. In a sense, the main card of UFC 194 is basically a middleweight tournament, with the winners likely to face each other for the next title match and the losers probably fighting each other for their next fight. Goosebumps!

Yeah, there’s other fights as well, but really, all we care about is McGregor right? Right???? GET CRAZY!!!! Okay, settle down. Urijah Faber fights on the card as well as the possible next future champion in Max Holloway, looking to continue his sizzling 7 fight winning streak. Fights, fights, and more fights! UFC 194 will be the 3rd UFC event in as many days, and I love it! You should too. Go win some money already!

Court McGee (-170) vs Marcio Alexandre Jr. (+160)

Whoa, even Court McGee is on the card? McGee hasn’t fought under the UFC banner in nearly 2 years since his loss to Ryan LaFlare. The hard hitting judge faces off against a guy people like to call the “Fake Machida” in Marcio Alexandre Jr. Let’s actually stick with that nickname. Fake Machida recently lost a split decision to Tim Means after losing the TUF Brazil 3 Finale fight against Warlley Alves. Before all of that, Fake Machida was 11-0 with every fight ending in a finish, mostly by KO/TKO. Can he return back to the old Fake Machida form that was just one fight away from a six figure contract? Or will he get a lifetime sentence from Court McGee’s gavel? By gavel, I mean his hand. BANG!

COURT MCGEE

Strengths

• Purple belt in BJJ and black stripe red belt in Shin Toshi Karate, black belt in Hawaiian Kempo whatever that is, 17-4 record with 7 submissions wins and 3 others by KO/TKO
• Has fought at middleweight before but is more of a lanky welterweight with a strike 1st, finish later mentality
• Uses lead jab to set up almost all of his combinations, will even use it as a body shot, quick 1-2 combinations lead the way alongside his midsection left kick and uppercuts
• Has decent movement to circle around and prod with the jab, can erupt and string together 3-4 combinations in a row – landed 166 sig strikes vs Josh Neer, 88 versus Robert Whittaker, and 108 against Nick Ring
• Likes to use level changes mid combo for the quick take-down, but otherwise doesn’t have many set ups for his other take-downs, mostly a grinder on such attempts
• Smart and effective top control, not prone to mistakes and will stick to opponents like glue if he gets a successful take-down
• Opportunistic submission hunter, not going to get aggressive on sub attempts but he’s quick enough to react when a chance appears

Weaknesses

• Struggles badly against power strikes to his left side, for whatever reason he gets hit a ton by overhands and left hooks by southpaws
• Back pedals against pressure and goes for ducking hooks way too much, too many counters landed on McGee
• Average take-down offense means if he gets dominated standing and can’t slow down the bleeding, he’s in for a long fight
• Needs to better defend himself on his body kicks, again biggest issue is getting countered in general

MARCIO ALEXANDRE JR

Strengths

• Black belt in Karate with a 11-2 record, 10 wins by KO/TKO and 1 other by submission
• Your prototypical Karateka, uses his space and kick heavy offense to dominate opponents with timely counter-strikes and picking apart by predicting opponents’ attacks
• Much like the real Lyoto Machida, Fake Machida will circle around and bide his time for the one punch/kick fatality, and sometimes will rush in for a quick flurry of punches and end it with a headkick of some sort
• Acrobatic kicks that land with precision is what you should expect from a typical Karateka, but Fake Machida does have some pretty nice body kicks as well
• Decent from the clinch if he can get in front of the cage, will use sweeps to get the fight to the ground but that’s more of a last resort type of move

Weaknesses

• SPACE, SPACE, SPACE! If Fake Machida has no space or time to operate in the cage, he struggles big time against any kind of pressure
• Way too hesitant on the feet, needs an engaging striker to really put his striking arsenal to use
• Gets bullied up the cage and in the clinch against stronger fighters, mediocre take-down defense unlike the real Machida
• Level of opponents before entering the UFC was laughable, struggled to win on TUF and has lost his last 2 in the UFC

If Court McGee is able to keep advancing forward against Fake Machida and use his lead jab to frustrate him, McGee should run away with the fight, possibly landing many sig strikes in the process. If he’s foolish enough to give Fake Machida the time and space to do his karate, McGee will probably get finished on a vicious counter since that’s what he typically struggles against. I wouldn’t be surprised if McGee also decided to just get the fight to the ground and take advantage of Fake Machida’s bad ground defense. I think McGee is good enough on the feet to put together a pressure-based striking gameplan and punch his way inside Fake Machida’s range. From there, it’ll be up to him if he wants to be a DFS golden pick.

McGee via unanimous decision


John Makdessi (-160) vs Yancy Medeiros (+150)

Makdessi met an unfortunate demise against the current challenger to the LW champion in “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone, getting his jaw broken in the process. He gets a little bit of a tough test in Yancy Medeiros, sometimes known as the third Diaz brother. Both men are quick strikers who like to mix up their attacks on the feet, with Yancy having the advantage in grappling and anything on the ground in general, but is mostly a stand-up fighter. I wouldn’t be surprised if this ended up giving both fighters tons of significant strikes as they’re both tough guys to break and have high volume striking output.

JOHN MAKDESSI

Strengths

• Black belt in Shotokan Karate and Taekwondo, 13 wins with 9 by KO/TKO
• Wide stance with heavy emphasis on his lead leg, uses constant movement and circles around the cage to set up his combinations
• Loves to use the lead jab to poke and prod his way during exchanges, then land the hard right straight
• Will land body kicks with right leg, and try to land surprise headkicks from left side, mixes his attacks well
• What really makes Makdessi such a difficult opponent is his technical prowess, always landing clean and crisp combinations without putting himself at risk of a counter, slides out of danger with feet movement
• Countering ability is so-so, mostly relies on quick change combinations and high volume output, can land a ton of sig strikes if given chance to
• Has pretty good take-down defense as well, aided by his cage movement and overall mistake-free striking

Weaknesses

• Don’t be fooled by his 9 KO/TKO wins on record, Makdessi isn’t really known for his KO power, is mostly a defensive striker than offensive
• Needs space to operate, struggles against pressure-based strikers and if cage is cut off from Makdessi, doesn’t have a solid gameplan to escape out of pressure
• Doesn’t check leg kicks and if his lead leg gets bruised, it hurts Makdessi’s overall performance
• Not great off his back, may struggle if stuck under top control against a wrestler/grappler that gets him down
• Last 2 fights showed a lack of discipline from Makdessi in terms of his striking defense, which is usually rock solid, so that’s something to watch against Medeiros

YANCY MEDEIROS

Strengths

• 11-3 record with 9 finishes including 5 in the 1st round, 6 by KO/TKO and 3 by submission
• Lanky striker with underrated jiu-jitsu skills who prefers to stand and bang on the feet
• Little bit of a push forward pace fighter with some unpredictability in his stand-up
• Paints the octagon with his jab combination set-ups and try to land the left hook, and will mix in spinning body kicks as well
• Does what I continue to preach to anyone that has quick hands and a strong lead jab – BODY BODY BODY PUNCHES!!!!!
• Has a killer instinct if he gets opponent rocked or on the run, will try to get the submission to finish it off
• Decent take-downs but it’s nothing to write home about, grappling is pretty good to the point that he can turn the tables during posturing up the cage or on scramble drills
• Has one HELL of a chin though, which could keep this fight going and going and going for Makdessi (and Medeiros as well I guess for the comeback win?)

Weaknesses

• Not the best striking defense that you’d like to see out of a stand and bang striker, gets hit quite a bit and was obliterated by Dustin Poirier on the feet
• Some cardio issues related to his weight cut, has missed weight before
• Prone to mistakes both on the feet and on the ground, gave up his back to Jim Miller which subsequently resulted in a RNC loss for Medeiros

Makdessi is better all round when it comes to striking against Medeiros, and has good enough take-down defense to keep himself upright. If Makdessi can get back to his usual flawless technical striking and close those defensive striking windows during exchanges, Makdessi should be able to run away with this fight to the tune of 80+ sig strikes. Of course, this is a “what have you done for me lately?” sport, and recent history tells us Makdessi has been struggling a little bit with his striking defense. Against a guy who is a willing trader on the feet and will push the pace, that can be dangerous. I mean, I still think Makdessi holds his own anyways against the third Diaz brother and shuts down Medeiros jabs, but don’t dismiss Medeiros as an underdog. This fight has all the warning signs of a high volume of significant strikes landed for both men. TriStar > Diazes though.

Makdessi via unanimous decision


Joe Proctor (+320) vs Magomed Mustafaev (-355)

Coming off a injury TKO win over Piotr Hallmann, Mustafaev will be looking to continue his hype train as he puts the clutches on Joe Proctor with his Sambo wrestling. Proctor is primarily a stand-up guy with training under Joe Lauzon for his submission skills, but isn’t too great off his back. Mustafaev has some holes in his stand-up game that Proctor could take advantage of, so it’ll likely come down to both men’s offensive and defensive wrestling. Who wins in that match-up?

JOE PROCTOR

Strengths

• 11-3 record with 2 by KO/TKO and 5 by submission, trains out of Lauzon MMA under Joe Lauzon’s expertise
• Gritty striker with good submission skills, but nothing extraordinary
• Looks to land jab/straight combinations as he circles around, not much of a counter-striker unless he finds a pattern and lands consistent hooks
• Relies on landing high strike output and overwhelm his opponents, can land a power shot or two but not his game
• Dangerous guillotine choke that can slow down undisciplined take-down attempts
• Good scrambling ability, can take opponent’s back quickly during skirmishes on the ground and quickly latch on for the RNC

Weaknesses

• Once you get past his guillotine choke, can be taken down at will and controlled on the ground, not a huge threat off his back submission/reversal wise
• Mediocre striking defense, can be hurt badly if put on his heels via pressure
• Doesn’t have many tools in his striking arsenal, can be a tad predictable at times which then opens up his bad striking defense
• Very basic take-down offense, so can’t really take advantage of his solid top control submission game

MAGOMED MUSTAFAEV

Strengths

• Sambo expert with a 12-1 record, 8 by TKO/KO and 4 by submission
• Wrestler-striker with a very good grappling game, doesn’t throw many combinations consistently but has enough accuracy to make his one shot power shots count
• Diverse take-down offense that also includes working out of the clinch and a strong trip game, seems to time his level changes well during striking exchanges
• Real threat of Mustafaev is his top control submission game, as he performs quick transitions on the ground while keeping an eye on his opponent in order to gauge what submissions to hunt for
• Can apply the pressure from top with well-timed ground and pound, very active top control unlike most guys that utilize Sambo

Weaknesses

• While I wouldn’t say his stand-up is mediocre, it’s not his strongest suit, mostly relies on power shots and being able to counter quickly – need more fights under his belt to better gauge his striking aptitude
• Great offensive take-downs but not necessarily strong for his weight class, can’t overpower bigger fighters and can sometimes overpursue a take-down and get reversed into a bad position on the ground
• I suspect a little bit of a cardio issue for Mustafaev, as he’s never gone the distance in any of his fights and showed some gas tank issues against Hallmann

It should be pretty straightforward to see why Mustafaev is a fairly big favorite over Proctor, as his offensive wrestling should be able to overwhelm Proctor’s take-down defense. Sure, Proctor’s got a dangerous guillotine choke, but Mustafaev is no fool with his take-down attempts, and once he gets Proctor on the ground, he will have ample opportunities to finish on the ground, whether by vicious GnP or a submission. There is a small chance Mustafaev gasses mid second round and starts to fade badly, giving Proctor a chance to batter Magomed’s face on the feet with quick jab/straights combinations. Outside of that? It’ll be tough for Proctor to pull the win out against a better fighter.

Mustafaev via 2nd round TKO


Kevin Lee (-660) vs Leonardo Santos (+540)

Kevin Lee has really surprised a lot of people with his talent, going from mainly a wrestler-striker who seemed incapable of finishing his opponents, to a cold blooded killer on the ground and adding more variety in his striking. Lee gets to test his grappling skills against a 3rd degree black belt in Leonardo Santos, but I’d think Lee would want to keep the fight standing since his striking has vastly improved and should be an advantage against Santos. Let’s see how they both match-up against each other.

KEVIN LEE

Strengths

• Strong and athletic wrestler with a 11-1 record, 5 wins by submission
• Has been coming strong as of late with his vast improvement in striking to complement his already superb wrestling
• Added more jab/straight combinations and has implemented more kicks as well, opening up his offensive gameplan more and more as he gets more fights under his belt
• Obviously, biggest strength is his offensive wrestling and the take-downs that go with it, excellent double leg take-downs and seeing more trips lately as well
• Lee is also very quick and speedy for a guy his size and uses that edge to the fullest, relentless with his take-downs even with his improved stand-up helping close the distance
• Grappling has also improved over the last few fights, seems to be getting better at back-takes, making more guard passes and landing more ground and pound to open up submission opportunities

Weaknesses

• Can be a little risky at times with his stand-up especially when he starts being too in love with his kicks, opens himself to power counters and striking defense begins to erode
• Had a tendency to be a little lax when in top control, seems to have added more of a killer instinct in recent fights
• Not a ton of power behind his attacks, still can pour it on with quick jab/straights

LEONARDO SANTOS

Strengths

• 3rd degree BJJ black belt, 14-3 record with 9 wins by submission
• Tall for a lightweight at 6’1” with a 75 inch reach, but will be at a 2 inch disadvantage against the shorter but longer reach Lee
• Has very good jiu-jitsu obviously and makes great ground passes/sets up traps from top control with ease, biggest strength for Santos against anybody
• Rudimentary stand-up mostly consisting of trying to land the right straight off a simple jab set up, occasional knee to the body
• Majority of take-down attempts are from the clinch or up the cage via trip take-downs or sweeps
• Good cardio

Weaknesses

• Underwhelming as a fighter, very basic stand-up that’s very predictable and doesn’t have anything going for him in that department in terms of power and speed
• Relies heavily on gaining top control for his submission grappling game, which he does excel at
• No real take-down offense outside of trip take-downs from the clinch or up the cage, no threat of any level changes or even a single leg take-down
• Mediocre striking and take-down defense, can get taken down at will and since his guard isn’t what you’d expect out of a 3rd degree black belt, can be controlled on the ground with no threat of a reversal/submission attempt – probably why Kevin Lee is such a huge favorite

At first, I was surprised at how big of a favorite Kevin Lee was against a great jiu-jitsu practitioner. Then as I did more research and watched more of Santos’ fights, I now understand why. Sure, Santos is clearly much more advanced than half of the people in the lightweight division when it comes to his ground offense from top, but he has to actually gain top control through some sort of means. That would include getting take-down attempts, pressure-based striking to close the striking gap and attack from the clinch, something. Santos doesn’t have any kind of set up to get the fight to the ground outside of predictable and easily defensible sweeps and body lock take-downs. Kevin Lee isn’t going to fall for such amateur tricks, and should be able to bully around Santos both standing and with his take-downs. Will it be a finish for Lee? Probably not, but I think Lee will garner enough points to be a safe pick in cash games.

Lee via unanimous decision


Colby Covington (-115) vs Warlley Alves (+105)

A couple of youngsters with great potential and undefeated records square off against each other, which is kinda interesting since the UFC generally don’t put two blue chip prospects against each other much less ones with undefeated records! Either way, Colby Covington’s a power wrestler with some pretty good things about his stand-up, most notably his body kicks, but it’s nothing like what Warlley Alves can bring to the table. Alongside his uber aggression and breakneck pace, Alves has serious power to go with his unpredictable attacks on the feet. His jiu-jitsu isn’t too shabby either, with a guillotine win over Nordine Taleb. It’s a little surprising to see Alves as the underdog, but that should tell you how much both men are intriguing prospects in their own right. Which style will win out in the match-up? Power wrestling or relentless banzai themed striking? You be the judge.

COLBY COVINGTON

Strengths

• NCAA Division I wrestler, undefeated 8-0 record with 5 submission wins
• Strong and quick wrestler with great level changes and a killer double leg take-down, likes to keep his distance and wait for his moment to strike
• Southpaw stance with a strong left body kick and well-timed left straights as he bides his time, likes to read opponents and plan accordingly, keeps his attacks compact and clean as to minimize counter windows
• Clear gameplan is to get a take-down of some sort and pulverize their faces when applicable, break an arm or two if needed
• Very strong top control, makes smart and concentrated transitions in order to continue physically holding down opponents, thereby gassing them out and opening up more submission chances

Weaknesses

• Despite his wrestling strengths and actual strength advantages, Covington can be a little tentative from top control, staying in one position for too long instead of being more active
• Stand-up is more about landing that accurate one power shot to hurt them and then quickly jump into a take-down, may struggle against quicker, more aggressive strikers such as Alves
• Also want to see how Covington fares against a guy like Alves who is willing to go for the guillotine choke and has good scrambling skills, see how Covington responds to it since Mike Pyle damn near got an upset submission on Covington during a scramble for position on the ground

WARLLEY ALVES

Strengths

• Winner of TUF Brazil 3 as a middleweight, Alves has an undefeated record of 9-0, with 1 by KO/TKO and 5 others by submission
• Hyper aggressive fighting style, runs towards his opponents and opens a can of whoop ass right from the start – has a if you don’t survive that’s too damn bad mentality
• Even though he can appear out of control, he’s surprisingly fairly polished enough to land his power hooks without opening himself to counters and has enough quickness to be able to jump back on defense
• Throwing out his aggressive fighting style, Alves possesses pretty damn good boxing/counters and nice usage of quick and effective kicks, including some headkicks combo finishers
• Due to his aggressive fighting style, Alves usually finds himself in the clinch quite a bit, and as a result, he’s a beast from there with thunderous knees and brutal dirty boxing
• Strong top control with a FINISH HIM mentality on submissions, he’s going for the kill whenever he can and will aggressively pursue guard passes – tangled with a skilled BJJ practitioner in Jouban and came out fine despite getting trapped in his rubber guard
• Showed some good defensive wrestling against Nordine Taleb, including the fight winning guillotine choke on a failed take-down attempt by Taleb.
• Also a fairly big welterweight for the division, and knows how to use it to his advantage especially from the clinch

Weaknesses

• Despite his young age (24 years old), his wild banshee fighting style destroys his gas tank if he can’t get the finish in the 1st round, which renders his defensive skills useless as evidenced in his fight against Jouban
• Usually when he’s gassed, he resorts to holding his opponents up the cage, which is curious since that would gas him out even further – Covington would appreciate such efforts since it brings Alves that much closer to him for the potential of a take-down
• May struggle against strong wrestlers, but seemed to handle himself just fine against Nordine Taleb, who was much bigger than Colby Covington albeit not as great of an offensive wrestler as Covington can be

As I said before, I’m a little surprised Warlley Alves is the slight underdog against Covington, mostly because I have no idea how Covington is going to handle Alves’ hyper aggression. Obviously, with Alves’ cardio issues and Covington’s great wrestling, Covington has all the tools to keep the fight on the ground and douse Alves’ fiery offense. I’m not so sure he can consistently do that against Alves since Covington isn’t gonna have a strength advantage over Warlley, and Alves is just as dangerous on the ground as he is off it. The flow of the fight will ultimately decide the winner, whether Covington can get several take-downs and gas out Alves, rendering him useless to utilize his wild banshee fighting style to overtake Covington on the feet, or Alves just completely overwhelms Covington on the feet for an impressive 1st round knockout win. I’m siding with Alves until I see more out of Covington.

Alves via 1st round knockout


Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger (+280) vs Tecia Torres (-310)

Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger, or JJL as we’ll call her for short, is taking the fight on short notice after an injury to Michelle Waterson forced her to drop out against Tecia Torres. The injury to the “Karate Hottie” was an unfortunate one, as the battle between the two strawweights likely was an important one for either women in their hunt for a title shot. This should be an easy fight for Torres to dominate and control the fight her way, but can she finish ol’ JJL? I mean, that’s why you’re reading this, right? Scroll down!

JOCELYN JONES-LYBARGER

Strengths

• 6-1 record with pretty much all decisions
• Tall strawweight at 5’7”, and will have 6 inches of height on Torres and a big reach advantage
• Athletic, smart boxer who uses her size to bully around her opponents up the cage
• Quick jab/straight combinations, mixes in uppercuts and body shots well and can be a good consistent counter-striker due to her length
• Stand and reach boxer with good head movement and can circle away from pressure
• Majority of defensive wrestling is based on her height and athleticism more than technique and actual wrestling skills, interesting to see how that plays out against Torres
• Effective from the clinch with knees and uppercuts, but nothing fancy
• Can scramble quickly and seems to have a good defensive guard so she’s not at a terrible disadvantage if taken down

Weaknesses

• As I said above, defensive wrestling is predicated on being the bigger, taller strawweight rather than actual wrestling, so JLL may have her issues against a competent wrestler
• Short notice fight against a potentially top 5 strawweight opponent is a tall task (heh) for JLL, even with her giant height advantage (heheh)
• Has pretty no kicks and is strictly a boxer, seems to have issues checking kicks and defending them in general, big issue against a very good kicker in Torres

TECIA TORRES

Strengths

⁃ Black belt in Karate and Taekwondo, undefeated record of 6-0 with all decision wins including a win over Paige VanZant and Rose Namajunas
⁃ Possibly the most complete fighter in the division, despite her extreme short height and reach at 5’1” and 61 inch reach
⁃ Very technical, sound boxing with excellent usage of powerful kicks that she mixes up well as she switches stances
⁃ Can overwhelm with strikes and starts landing heavy kicks from range, 96 sig strikes in her UFC debut vs Angela Magana
⁃ Great defensive wrestling, low center of gravity obviously a big help for Torres but reaction time and movement also help
⁃ Can switch gears from being patient to aggressive combinations whenever she smells blood
⁃ Excellent countering ability, top in the division as far as speed and quickness goes, very explosive combinations and sound technique especially on her kicks
⁃ Octagon control and overall movement is some of the best in the division, very elusive and smart with her movement in setting up for her take-down attempts and level changes
⁃ Tough top control that’s positional based rather than going for simple GnP or submissions, will stay heavy on top and grind out the round

Weaknesses

⁃ While it doesn’t happen often, once taken down she can be controlled from top control and doesn’t really have a great guard to get out of it- Carla Esparza and Randa Markos were successful in cracking her take-down defense and exposed her inability to get back up off her back
⁃ While Torres definitely has power, she has no finishes on record and has had ample opportunities to get one, needs to develop that killer instinct
⁃ Not a weakness but more of an annoyance, stays stuck in one position on the ground after a successful take-down, needs to really get more active ground offense to be a legitimate threat for the title

Short notice against a feisty opponent in Tecia Torres, who’s already defeated Rose Namajunas and Paige VanZant? Yikes. Sure, JLL will have a very sizable height and reach advantage against the short-stature Torres, but can she stop Torres’ kick offense and take-down attempts? I don’t think so, since she doesn’t really have any wrestling skills and is mostly a stand and react boxer. For JLL to realistically pull off the upset, she’s gotta use her length for the entirety of the 3 round battle, landing clean and crisp 1-2 combinations and using her uppercuts to stifle Torres’ forward movement. Torres is just simply too good of a strawweight for me to pick against, and it won’t be a finish either since JLL has pretty solid ground defense. It’ll look like the last Torres fight against Angela Hill, power blast take-downs and grinding top control for the easy decision win. Get a killer instinct already Torres!

Torres via unanimous decision


Frankie Saenz (+510) vs Urijah Faber (-615)

While Faber hasn’t been his old self lately, he’s still the “California Kid” with a fantastic resume and all the skills intact that’s continually made Faber a top 10 opponent every single year. Frankie Saenz has been on a little bit of an improbable run, defeating Iuri Alcantara and Sirwan Kakai, two guys thought to be much better than the smaller Saenz, but you can’t discount heart in this sport! Faber is the heavy favorite, and for good reason, since Faber is basically better than Frankie in every category imaginable. So what the heck can Frankie Saenz do to continue his winning streak? Well, he could…..hey! You won’t fool me that easily! Use that mouse of yours! Or arrow key, if you’re a disgusting human being.

FRANKIE SAENZ

Strengths

• NCAA Division I wrestler with a 11-2 record, mostly by decisions and 2 submission wins
• Light footed wrestler with a knack at landing several combinations at once and can land some hard leg kicks
• Moves around and uses basic 1-2 combinations to try and set up his take-down attempts, which mostly consists of your garden variety single/double leg take-downs
• Good usage of ground and pound, will go for the submission if it’s clearly there but not really his forte, mostly uses positional advantage to win rounds while on the ground
• If he gets into rhythm, mixture of attacks and Saenz’s quick feet allows him to continually flush out his opponent on the feet – landed 80 sig strikes in his last fight against Sirwan Kakai
• Not the best of take-down defense, but difficult to keep on the ground as Saenz can escape from bad situations effectively and can quickly scramble back up to his feet

Weaknesses

• He’s a bit of a tweener, too small to really be an effective bantamweight (though he did defeat Alcantara who was about 2 sizes bigger than Saenz) and not big enough to be a real threat at flyweight
• Little bit basic with his combinations and overall striking, not the best of striking defense and doesn’t have enough power to get away with predictable attacks
• While Saenz definitely knows how to get out of a bad predicament on the ground, I have a feeling that Saenz is going to make a mistake or two against Faber and get his back taken/choked out since Saenz tends to take chances trying to get back up on his feet

URIJAH FABER

Strengths

• Longtime UFC/MMA veteran with a storied history in several weight classes but could never get over the hump in the main events, Brown belt in BJJ with a 32-8 record including an 8-4 record in UFC – 19 wins by submission and 7 others by KO/TKO
• Faber is what he is, a movement centric quick striker with tons of wrestling talent and skills and one of the best guillotine chokes in the business
• Wide stance with lead leg in front, likes to utilize the jab and lunge strategy and land counter right hands while keeping aware of when to duck under for a take-down attempt
• Goes for quick duck under single/double leg take-downs and will go for a quick trip if he can cut off the cage, low center of gravity also enables Faber to keep on digging for the take-down against the cage
• Expert grappling on the ground, excellent at back-takes and will vigorously hunt for the RNC
• Take-down defense is solid but the threat of Faber’s guillotine is really the basis of his take-down defense – anyone remember his guillotine choke over Michael McDonald? I do

Weaknesses

• Faber has faced so many tough opponents and been involved in plenty of title fights that it’s fairly obvious to see what his weaknesses are and what type of opponents tend to frustrate him
• Above average/expert strikers who can beat Faber to the punch and land plenty of leg kicks to the lead leg seem to really give Faber a hard time, since he’s so reliant on having a wide stance
• Lunging fighting style also opens up Faber to counters, which got him knocked out against Renan Barao
• If he can’t get his take-down offense going, you can really sense Faber’s frustrations during the fight as he starts just winging it on the feet and jumping at any chance for a single/double leg take-down

Urijah Faber should be able to handle Frankie Saenz with ease, since his wrestling is much better than Saenz and has the superior grappling skills. Saenz has been the big underdog before and won, but that was because he used his sole strength to defeat Iuri Alcantara. I don’t see a strength of Saenz’s that can muster the upset over Faber, so it’s really about whether or not Faber can finish Saenz. I say yes, due to Saenz’s competitive nature and never give up mentality that will give Faber enough opportunities to try and lock in a submission at some point of the fight. I’ll say it takes a while for Faber to do it though, so maybe think twice about paying the hefty price tag for Faber, but as far as safe plays goes, he’s an easy pick.

Faber via 3rd round RNC


Jeremy Stephens (+450) vs Max Holloway (-525)

Jeremy Stephens had one incredible battle and comeback win against Dennis Bermudez his last time out, knocking down the tough Bermudez several times in the 1st and 2nd round, gassing out badly and looking on the verge of yet another loss. Then came the flying backwards knee to knock out Bermudez for good. Incredible stuff, if you’ve never seen the fight I suggest you take the time to do so. Unfortunately for Stephens, he’s probably on his way to a loss against the badass Max Holloway, riding a 7 win streak since his loss to the McGOATest of all McGOATs, Conor McGregor. Both men were injured in that fight, so I’d toss that L aside and focus on his 7 wins since. He completely dominated Cub Swanson in what was by far Swanson’s worst performance in some time, and had a freak injury win over Charles Oliveira. That win was disappointing, since it happened barely 2 minutes into the action and didn’t really showcase how vastly improved Holloway has been in the last 2 years. Well, I guess Stephens will just have to be Holloway’s punching bag. TO THE MAX!

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
• Primarily a counter-striker, waits for his opponents to start exchanges and catch them with a right hand or a headkick, mixes in some hooks as well and has decent accuracy
• 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, but not much to write about his take-down offense
• Good usage of kicks, won’t stand still for too long but he’s mostly a power puncher with enough KO power to be a legit threat for the 1 round or two that he’s got enough energy for

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 and against Bermudez in the end before the comeback victory
• 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

MAX HOLLOWAY

Strengths

• Currently riding a 7 fight winning streak, bringing his record to 14-3 with 6 KO/TKO and 2 submission wins
• Long and lanky featherweight at 5’11 with a 70 inch reach and long legs that Holloway excels at using to stay at range
• Heavy on using combinations, relies heavily on his ability to control the space in front of him with technical striking and attacking any attempts at rushing Holloway
• Very technical and fast boxing, utilizes jabs and low kicks to stay at range and pick apart his opponents, never seems to make a mistake standing and has excellent footwork/cage movement
• Adept at landing a plethora of kicks if allowed space to do so, lands spinning body kicks and random headkicks when he starts feeling it and gets into a rhythm
• Excels at landing the body punch that many strikers seem to ignore using it as a tool, adds up over duration of the fight
• High volume oriented striking also helps Holloway’s fantasy prospects as he can land copious amount of sig strikes even in 3 rounds, here are Holloway’s sig strike numbers in some of his 12 UFC fights…. – 82 sig and a 3rd round finish vs Swanson, 31 sig and a 1st round finish against Corassani, 124 sig against Collard, 74 sig and a 2nd round finish against Chope, 75 sig in a loss vs Bermudez, 120 sig against Garcia, and 118 sig against Schilling…..YEAH THAT’S ALOT OF SIG STRIKES!!!!!!!!!!
• May be a blue belt in BJJ but man if he gets a chance to be on top on the ground, he’s just as deadly as a black belt with plenty of nasty choke holds and other submission attempts – won’t go for the take-down though
• Great defensive wrestling and just overall defense, very difficult to hurt Holloway both standing and on take-downs – he’s usually ready for everything and seems to find counters quickly, scrambles back up to his feet effortlessly

Weaknesses

• Very few holes in his game but if I had to think of one, it would possibly be that he’s not that great off his back even though he’s got a serviceable guard
• May struggle versus bigger/stronger wrestlers as he did versus Dennis Bermudez, but that was long ago and he’s improved tremendously in every department – due to freak injury to Oliveira during fight against Holloway we were unable to see if Holloway could defend several take-down attempts and see how his defense was off his back
• Same thing goes for his submission loss to Dustin Poirier in his 1st UFC fight, and I don’t think Stephens has that kind of dangerous submission ability or even be able to get Holloway down to the ground

Man, this kid Max Holloway is legit. Just take him. Don’t worry about Stephens’ power punching, he won’t even come close to touching Holloway if Max has anything to say about it. Stephens is one tough guy to break though, so I could easily see a 3 round battering by Holloway to the tune of 100+ sig strikes and maybe a late 3rd round finish. Holloway’s the real deal.

Holloway via 3rd round TKO


Demian Maia (-110) vs Gunnar Nelson (+100)

The world class BJJ black belt and surging as of late Demian Maia has been on a strong run, racking up 3 straight wins including a submission victory over apparent unstoppable force in Neil Magny. He’s got a roadblock in front of him by the name of Gunnar Nelson, the Jay Cutler of the welterweight division. I mean, the guy is so apathetic he doesn’t even seem interested during interviews and fights as if he’s perpetually bored by his opponents’ interactions with Nelson. Anyways, Nelson is one of the better grapplers so far in the division with an unique striking style that best resembles a crab with his awkward sideways stance. Maia isn’t the greatest of strikers, but has a plethora of take-downs and an extremely formidable, almost unstoppable ground game. This really is going to be a true chess match between two masters, especially after Nelson seems to have righted the ship after his great win over towering 6’3” Brandon Thatch. Here are some of the moves both men will try to employ during the fight.

DEMIAN MAIA

Strengths

• 21-8 record with 10 submission wins
• World class black belt BJJ practitioner, one of the best grapplers in the world, period
• Has grown his take-down offense over the years to become a dangerous man as his ability to get the fight to the ground has been on display over the years
• One of the best if not the best take-down offenses in the division, has so many ways to get the fight to the ground
• By whatever method he uses to get the fight to the ground, once he’s on top it’s probably over for them or at the very least a lost round
• Beautiful ground passes and leg weaves allows Maia to use his superior submission skills to set up whatever he wants, as he can get into dominant positions quickly and with relative ease
• Having been a middleweight before also helps Maia keep his strength advantage over most in the welterweight division, which is why Maia is one of the most dangerous ground fighters in the entire UFC

Weaknesses

• Gas tank is a big problem for Maia, almost gave away the fight against LaFlare despite dominating him for 3.5 rounds of a 5 round fight
• Average at best stand-up, if he doesn’t get the take-down he can be bullied on the feet due to his lack of speed and no real combos
• It’s a weird thing to say but Maia has an annoying tendency to get into dominant positions (back control/full mount) then simply chooses to stay in that spot without threatening with a submission or using ground and pound – as a DFS player I want the damn finish so don’t toy with my heart Maia!

GUNNAR NELSON

Strengths

• Black belt in Goju-Ryu Karate and BJJ, 14-1 record with 10 submission and 3 KO/TKO wins – recently lost for the 1st time against Rick Story
• 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
• One punch striker, looking to land his right hand as a hard counter to most attacks coming his way
• 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 with 10 wins by submission, 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 – though his knockdown of Brandon Thatch was truly impressive

Hmm. Two guys with unquestionable fantastic grappling and submission skills, but with two totally different fighting styles. Demian Maia is all about his take-down offense and getting the fight to the ground as soon and as much as possible to put use his incomparable top control. Gunnar Nelson prefers to stand and be a counter-striker, and if he so happens to land something solid and gets a knockdown or a woozy opponent, Nelson then jumps on them for the submission finish. He rarely goes for the take-down, and if he does it’s usually from the clinch on a trip take-down. Maia will be at a big disadvantage if the fight stays standing, as he just doesn’t have the speed nor the combinations to get around Nelson’s crab fighting style without getting countered into oblivion. He does have enough strength and savvy to get Nelson to the ground…..but then what? Can he really control Nelson with his own jiu-jitsu? It’s something that’s never happened to Nelson, but if anyone can control him on the ground, it’s the elder statesman Maia. Sigh. IDK which way to lean in this one, but you just can’t doubt the veteran. Please don’t get knocked out.

Maia via 3rd round arm triangle


Ronaldo Souza (-135) vs Yoel Romero (+125)

And so it begins. The next 3 fights are the backbone of the star studded card, and it starts with the rise of Ronaldo Souza, better known as simply Jacare. Out of his 22 wins, 16 have come way of submission for Jacare, and he’s just getting hot at the right time. Jacare will most likely get a title shot if he can overcome the fast rising behemoth in Yoel Romero, fresh off an upset TKO victory over perennial top 5 LHW/MW Lyoto Machida. Romero also brings his world class wrestling chops in order to stifle Jacare’s take-down offense and to keep himself upright. What he lacks in striking variety, Romero more than makes up for it with sheer athleticism and raw power, as flying knees and spinning stuff is the norm for Yoel Romero. Some have questioned Romero’s wrestling skills since he hasn’t really been able to utilize it effectively for both offensive and defensive purposes, but that’s why they take these fights. To prove themselves! Jacare vs Yoel! Only one man will walk out of that cage! Well, I guess they both would probably walk out, but you get my point.

RONALDO SOUZA

Strengths

• World class black belt in BJJ and Judo, 22-3 record with 16 submission wins and 3 by KO/TKO
• Big, physical middleweight with true power in his hands but obviously focuses on his biggest strength in his grappling and vicious ground game
• Stand-up is pretty straightforward and simple, going for heavy overhands and pushes forward to close the distance for some sort of take-down – sometimes can land a power hook but otherwise it’s overhand spam
• Has simplistic single/double leg take-downs that’s all about powering through it and using Jacare’s strength to slam opponents down, but he does have some impressive trip/sweep take-downs from the clinch and up the cage thanks to Judo background
• Once it hits the ground, it’s pretty much all over as Jacare is just impossible to escape his top control – makes Demian Maia level ground passes and weaves into favorable positions for submissions
• Speaking of submissions, Jacare can turn any limb into a weapon for himself, snapping it in half or using it as a foothold to push himself into a dominant position – he even used the cage to walk himself into full mount against Camozzi! Incredible!
• SUBMISSIONS, SUBMISSIONS, AND MORE SUBMISSIONS!!!!!!! Oh, I guess he has some ground and pound too, can’t forget about that

Weaknesses

• Biggest gripe about Jacare is his lack of variety in his stand-up, as his overhand spam can get really predictable, but Jacare does enough with his take-downs to get away with it for the most part – was punished by Luke Rockhold repeatedly on the feet after each unsuccessful take-down attempt
• Cardio can be an issue for Jacare in the waning moments of the fight, but this is a 3 round fight so I wouldn’t worry about it too much
• I dunno…..man, Jacare’s a beast! One take-down and it’s over

YOEL ROMERO

Strengths

• Olympian wrestler with plenty of wrestling accomplishments, 10-1 record with 9 wins by KO/TKO
• Huge physical freak with explosiveness everywhere and enough power to light a keg on fire
• Southpaw stance with a stalker mentality, will chase after his prey and try to land some one punch/knee knockout whether by intention or from a counter-punch
• His favorite thing to do on the feet is to come forward and fake a pick (wrestling move) then either go for a flying knee or a super-powered left straight – sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t but he’s explosive enough to pull it off consistently
• Here’s the issue when it comes to Romero’s wrestling, he’s clearly on a different level with his offensive wrestling skills than most in the division but hasn’t seemed to translate into the octagon fully yet to really put a definitive measurement on his skill-set
• Only one fight that has really showcased Romero’s wrestling and take-downs, and that was against Brad Tavares who got absolutely rag-dolled by Romero to the point I thought Tavares must have had weighed 150 pounds or something the way Romero was tossing him around
• Anyways, Romero’s primarily an explosive one hit and quit striker with immense wrestling ability that he hasn’t unlocked just yet – he did get a successful quick take-down against Lyoto Machida and promptly put Machida on IR with hellbows 1 short second after

Weaknesses

• Romero is very hittable and has a questionable chin, has been knocked down or rocked in several of his wins and got his clock cleaned in StrikeForce against Rafael Cavalcante
• Offensive wrestling probably isn’t an issue for Romero, but his defensive wrestling seems to be lacking as Derek Brunson and Ronny Markes were able to get Romero down several times
• More to that point, no one really knows how Yoel Romero could possibly fare on his back against someone of Jacare’s level and reputation, since the aforementioned fighters were only able to really control Yoel for a short period of time and aren’t known for their ground offense
• It’s probably not a big deal against Jacare, but Yoel really lacks a consistent stand-up game, no real combinations of note and heavily relies on that one hit knockout to win his fights rather than his superior wrestling

Yoel Romero could in time become the future middleweight champion, but he’s just really one dimensional with his striking, hunting for that one explosive and unbelievable knockout punch or knee. He still hasn’t put together a consistent gameplan on utilizing his obvious strength in his wrestling and vicious GnP, but somehow he’s put himself into a position to land a title shot with a win over Jacare Souza. If Romero is able to keep himself upright, he’s a good chance to get the upset over Jacare, but looking at his past fights tells me another story. His defense against most take-down is average at best, and mostly relies on his physique to push away evil-doers from getting Romero down to the ground which is made out of hot lava. DON’T STEP ON THE LAVA!!! Jacare may also have a rudimentary stand-up but has enough take-down offense and can work out of the clinch to get Romero down to the ground. Once it’s there, I’m fairly certain it’ll be curtains for Romero as Jacare completely dismantles whatever ground defense Romero may have. Jacare for President!

Souza via 1st round anaconda choke


Chris Weidman (-125) vs Luke Rockhold (+115)

Both men are the best of the best the middleweight division has to offer, with Weidman having several successful title defenses already under his championship belt, including two wins over legendary Anderson Silva. Luke Rockhold will be Weidman’s biggest test to date though, and it’s a legitimate statement to say. Rockhold possibly will have a size advantage on Weidman as well as several technical advantages over Weidman, including his rock-solid wrestling. Heh. Both men are equally adept in the grappling department, and both are equal threats to get a submission on the ground with their respective BJJ black belts. Rockhold may also hold a striking advantage over Weidman, especially if his southpaw stance gives a little bit of trouble to begin with. I could go on and on about both men’s strengths and weaknesses, but….well, wait a minute! I am doing just that! BANZAI!

CHRIS WEIDMAN

Strengths

• Undefeated record at 13-0 and current MW champion, 6 by KO/TKO and 3 by submission – black belt in BJJ and NCAA Division I wrestler
• Wrestler-striker with a pretty solid lead jab and can mix in several jab/straight combinations as he closes the distance to land his take-downs
• Uses low kicks to find his range and keep opponents in front of him, will land counter-hooks during exchanges and can hold his own somewhat standing even against an elite striker
• What’s made Weidman a champion has been his persistent wrestling and unstoppable double leg take-down that’s victimized even the best of the best
• Along with his great double leg take-down is Weidman’s work out of the clinch, with dirty boxing and plenty of trip attempts
• On the ground is where Weidman does most of his damage, with great usage of ground and pound in combination with strong ground transitions and constant guard pass attempts – full mounted Vitor Belfort while hardly breaking a sweat and TKO’ing him in the 1st round
• Also has some underrated BJJ and can be a threat from anywhere for a submission finish, though there is one part of his game that’s still an unknown, but we’ll talk about that later
• Has been working on his footwork and overall movement to be less hittable as his striking defense is pretty meh, quicker level changes has also helped
• Has a blockhead, can absorb damage like nothing and probably has a zombie chin, which could be a huge advantage against Rockhold in the long run

Weaknesses

• It always seems like Weidman never has a good camp and struggles with his cardio after the 3rd round, apparently is in better shape this time around and less “out of shape” but we’ll see
• Vitor Belfort seemed to hurt Weidman in the early going during their brief striking exchange, and Machida was able to get the better of a gassed Weidman in the later rounds, which tells me Weidman still has shoddy striking defense despite his improvements with his stand-up
• Biggest possible weakness for Weidman may be his ground defense off his back if he’s somehow taken down by Rockhold, no one really knows how effective his guard is or if he can tangle against someone with just as good wrestling as Weidman’s

LUKE ROCKHOLD

Strengths

• 14-2 record with 9 wins by submission and 3 others by KO/TKO, also a BJJ black belt plus trains out of the AKA camp which includes sparring against Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier
• Long and lanky southpaw striker with a very complete overall skill-set, can do everything at an above average/elite level
• Very skilled stand-up fighter working out of the southpaw stance, mixes in jab/straights with his left body kick that could be a problem for Weidman similar to how Machida almost came back in the waning moments
• Also mixes in body shots and uppercuts as well, and can land plenty of headkicks without much effort, very strong striking arsenal/kick game and has the power to land one punch knockouts
• Very good take-down defense and overall defensive wrestling, uses underhooks and knows how to use leverage to his advantage thanks to his height at 6’3”
• Has enough wrestling experience and has shown great defensive wrestling to presumably say he has good take-down offense, but never really goes into that well since his stand-up is already elite enough to break all of his opponents
• Another dangerous element to Rockhold’s game is his jiu-jitsu skills, especially his guard which could be an equalizer for Rockhold if he gets taken down by Weidman’s super double leg take-down, was taken down by Boetsch and quickly ensnared the tubby Boetsch in a double submission attempt
• Excellent top control the few times he gets the chance to, good at back-takes and very smart with his submission opportunities – knocked down Michael Bisping and quickly jumped into a guillotine choke attempt, and did the same to Machida before taking his back and locking in the RNC
• Another huge strength of Rockhold’s is going to be cardio against Weidman’s, as Rockhold has endless energy and can go 5 rounds with ease

Weaknesses

• Biggest weakness may possibly by Rockhold’s chin, as he only has 2 losses on record with his 1st one being 8 years ago and his most recent one to a roided up Vitor Belfort spinning headkick, but it’s a relative unknown since Rockhold does such a good job at closing counter windows and moving around the cage
• Hasn’t faced a stronger and competent wrestler on the level of Weidman’s, and while his guard is undeniably good, Weidman is no amateur and can match tit for tat from top control versus Rockhold’s various guard traps
• Those are the two biggest question marks that Rockhold should be able to answer against Weidman, but only time will tell if Rockhold has any other known weaknesses

These two men are truly the best of the best the middleweight division has to offer, with the exception being maybe Jacare Souza if he puts away Yoel Romero quickly. Chris Weidman hasn’t faced an elite striker on the level of Rockhold since Anderson Silva, and well, we all have our opinions on that fight. Rockhold also hasn’t fought against a legitimate wrestler who can match his size like Weidman can, so this is a very tricky fight to predict. I have a feeling Rockhold’s southpaw stance and high kick output frustrates Weidman early in the going, then the inevitable battle of Weidman’s take-downs against Rockhold’s defensive wrestling. Does Rockhold have enough take-down defense to shut down everything that Weidman has? I really don’t know. I’m leaning towards Rockhold for the upset just off the fact that I think he has a really good guard and already should be able to edge out Weidman on the feet to get out on a big lead early on. Will it be a finish? Probably not unless Rockhold lands something ridiculous like a Holly Holm-esque headkick or gets in a triangle submission off his back. It’s five rounds, so you probably should have either guy in your lineups.

Rockhold via unanimous decision


Conor McGregor (-110) vs Jose Aldo (+100)

I don’t even wanna say anything about this fight. Just get in the damn cage and fight! GO AWAY INJURY BUG!!!!!

CONOR MCGREGOR

Strengths

• Interim featherweight champion with a 18-2 record, 16 wins by KO/TKO
• Has TKO’d his opponents in 5 of his 6 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 to control his opponent’s movement within the cage
• 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 with great precision

• Also has his own ridiculously long uppercut that McGregor seems to land at least once a round, mixes on body shots but mostly goes for the knockout
• His speed and quickness is tops in the division, foot movement/overall movement is unpredictable and truly his own style and is what makes McGregor such a difficult opponent to prepare against
• 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)
• Can take over a striking battle by using his own movement to hinder certain attacks against McGregor, knows how to play the stance game and utilizes his southpaw stance extremely effectively
• Big and tall for a featherweight, may end up moving to lightweight if he ends up beating Aldo
• McGregor also has one heck of a chin and it could very well help McGregor survive against Aldo’s speedy but powerful striking and try to outlast Aldo in the later rounds

Weaknesses

• Very bad take-down defense, was taken down at will against Chad Mendes
• While he has a brown belt in BJJ, McGregor’s grappling is pretty average and his ground defense overall is full of holes, gives up guard passes too easily and has 2 career submission losses and almost got stuck in a submission against Mendes
• Cardio also is a possible issue since he seemed gassed against Mendes following a supposedly bad weight cut, Mendes fight was a weird situation though so I’m gonna have to wait and see against Aldo
• 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, has a “you can’t knock me out but I’ll give you a free punch to my chin” mentality
• Does not care for your leg kicks, refuses to check them and will eat the damage

JOSE ALDO

Strengths

• 25-1 record, hasn’t lost since 2006 and officially has 7 successful title defenses under the UFC banner – Black belt in BJJ and Luta Livre Esportiva with 14 KO/TKO wins and 2 others by submission
• Has been one of the absolute best fighters in the MMA world, has defeated many of the top opponents including Mendes twice, Frankie Edgar, Urijah Faber, and Ricardo Lamas
• Truly one of the most complete fighters on the roster, has extremely fast and technical boxing with tremendous power and hard leg kicks that Aldo mixes in superbly as he sits back at range
• Very strong boxing with great timing and execution on his combinations, intuitive counter-striker aided by Aldo’s quick hand speed and can land any punch he desires plus the kick finishers

• Has fantastic head and foot movement, very elusive and great at getting out of pressure and just great overall defensive skills

• Striking is just phenomenal with Aldo’s hand-eye coordination and reaction time as you can see above, but what really sets Aldo apart is how hard he is to get down – always has underhooks ready and uses leverage/reaction time to escape any take-down attempts especially level changes – will quickly take opponents’ backs on failed attempts and finish it there
• Jiu-Jitsu skills are on par with the elite, but never really uses it in most fights, prefers to stand and win with speed, quickness, and destroying opponent’s pitiful attempts at attacking Aldo
• Ditto for Aldo’s take-down offense, has a really good double leg take-down but again, simply wants to stand and bang
• Not to sound like a broken record, but Aldo also has a great guard and overall ground defense, but it usually never comes down to anything on the ground

Weaknesses

• Cardio has been an issue for Aldo in almost every fight, and since he’s always involved in 5 round championship fights, can’t use that excuse either – always seems to fade in the 4th-5th round which would explain why Aldo has never won all 5 rounds in any decision he’s been involved in
• Against Chad Mendes, Aldo was hesitant at times due to Mendes’ take-down attempts and close range striking, struggling to defend against Mendes’ angles that cut off the cage and essentially made Aldo fight in a phone booth – was hurt several times by Mendes’ left hook
• As you would expect out of a long time champion, Aldo doesn’t have many holes in his game and it’s very difficult to see his inherent weaknesses apart from his cardio and possible struggles against fighters who can control the cage and get the advantage on Aldo via striking angles (something McGregor excels at)

Whew. That seemed long, didn’t it? As you can clearly see, Aldo is almost unstoppable as a striker, with both technical boxing and great usage of leg kicks helping Aldo completely shut down other fighters’ gameplans, whatever it may be. Aldo’s impenetrable take-down defense has also been a big advantage since he can continually keep it standing while also putting himself in position to finish the fight on the ground with his grappling skills on failed take-down attempts. McGregor isn’t going to go for any take-downs though, and he’s obviously most interested in a stand-up war and completely knock out Aldo to put himself in the history books. McGregor has all the tools and the length to really frustrate Aldo, since he possesses a great chin to be able to get inside Aldo’s range and use his own movement to limit Aldo’s attack choices. It’s quite conceivable that McGregor can knock out Aldo by using a combination of striking angles and pressure, something Chad Mendes was sometimes successful with in the rematch.

Here’s the biggest question I have in this fight, and it’s actually quite a simple proposition: is Aldo going to go for the take-down? If Aldo decides to take the fight to the ground at any point during the battle, it’s probably over as Aldo is 100x the grappler that Mendes is, and Chad Mendes was able to put himself in a position to submit McGregor. Aldo might be too inclined to prove a point to everyone around the world, especially to Dana White, that McGregor is vastly overrated and will try to knock McGregor out while ignoring his true strength against Conor.

Ugh, I don’t know! My brain says Aldo because he’s just so unbelievably good standing with his reaction time and impressive counter-strikes in addition to his elusiveness, and he very well could just end it with one take-down. My heart says McGregor finds a way to get inside Aldo’s head and successfully lands several power shots to put away Aldo after trapping him by cutting off the cage. Brazil or Ireland? Technique or aggression? Even keeled or batshit crazy? THE HEART WANTS WHAT THE HEART WANTS!

McGregor via 4th round knockout

See you heathens on Saturday while I count my winnings! Just kidding, we all know Florida hates violence. Unless it involves old people, then game on! Don’t forget to check out Kountermove’s selection of games including their triple header game and all of their deposit bonuses! GO GET EM!

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