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UFC 196 MMA DFS Picks: The Stockton Slap

UFC 196 MMA DFS Picks: The Stockton Slap
DAILY FANTASY RUNDOWN
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UFC 196 MMA DFS Picks: The Stockton Slap

Been a while since I did a breakdown, huh? Sorry about that, as getting over the flu and UFC having some slow weekends were factors among other things. DraftKings also bought out KounterMove, which was another blow to my wallet since DK still hasn’t really improved their MMA product. Yeah, I’m firing shots at them, deal with it. Anyways, all of that nonsense is behind me and we have a gigantic card for our viewing pleasure. Why is it gigantic? Well, the main event has two of the most polarizing figures in the MMA culture today and are both accomplished shit talkers who can back it up. They are, of course, Conor McGregor and Nick’s little brother. Wait, I mean Nate Diaz! McGregor was originally slated to battle for the lightweight belt against the current champion, Rafael Dos Anjos, to try and hold two titles (LW and FW championships), but RDA suffered a foot injury a couple weeks ago and had to pull out as a result. Responding to the foot injury in his own way that only he could, McGregor pretty much called RDA a vagina and that his foot injury was only a bruise. Classic Conor. There were several fighters willing to step up against McGregor on a short notice fight, but Nate Diaz made the most sense as far as name recognizability and fighting style. It certainly helps that he can match McGregor word for word on the mic as well. It’s going to be some damn fine fisticuffs.

Holly Holm (the girl who KO’d Ronda Rousey in case you didn’t know) is also on the card as the co-main, defending for the 1st time as the bantamweight champion against Miesha Tate. Brandon Thatch looks to rebound after his loss to Gunnar Nelson in a big way against veteran Siyar Bahjdkencbhjjewbdujedkl, and there’s that fight that involves he-who-shall-not-be-named versus Tom Lawlor. And uh….well, who cares? It’s McGOATer time baby!

Julian Erosa (-193) vs Teruto Ishihara (+170)

It’s two guys who aren’t really memorable to anybody but silly writers like me who have to talk about them. Erosa got to the semis of McGregor’s TUF show and lost to Lobov via KO, so that’s not good already. Ishihara at least had a very entertaining brawl versus some other guy who looks like him, which ended in a majority draw. That almost never happens! Blah, blah, blah, fighters are this, fighters are that,who cares just scroll down. There’s also this nifty GIF of Ishihara trying to hit on a ring girl at the weigh ins.

JULIAN EROSA

Strengths

  • 15-3 record with 8 submissions and 5 others by KO/TKO
  • Counter-striker who likes to back up near the fence and let opponents come to him
  • Striking mostly consists of one hit counter-combination barrages, relying on his instincts to deal damage
  • Moves laterally and stays composed in front of his opponents which causes them to have to engage him more often than not, perfect for his fighting style
  • Main strength of Erosa’s is his submissions skills, or rather, his aggressiveness utilizing the guillotine and the D’Arce chokes
  • Uses the guillotine as a threat against take-down attempts, can scramble quickly and use the guillotine to flip over opponent or get into side control, where he can set up armbars or the D’Arce
  • Very dangerous top control if he is able to get it, which is why most of his wins are by submission
  • Average take-downs, mostly does wall-n-stalls but does have some back trips which could be key against Ishihara in the later rounds

Weaknesses

  • Tendency to keep hands low and chin high, gets hit by quicker, more intuitive strikers often – was KO”d by Artem Lobov on the TUF show and was hurt by Marcin Wrzosek several times in his last fight
  • Kinda average stand-up, not enough combinations and speed to really be an effective counter-striker
  • Lack of take-downs and wrestling doesn’t help against guys who are either bigger or have actual take-down defense, resulting in more wall-n-stalls and preventing Erosa from utilizing his biggest strength – his submissions

TERUTO ISHIHARA

Strengths

  • 7-2 record with 6 wins by KO/TKO
  • Fleet footed southpaw who likes to bounce around the came and focuses on his quick left straight/kick as his main source for striking
  • Quick, speedy straights that Ishihara will throw early and often, sometimes ducking into a looping hook in the process, will throw the left headkick instantly as a follow-up and as a poke
  • Very twitchy and fast, elusiveness is a big part of Ishihara’s fighting style which allows him to use his movement to avoid take-downs and pressure early in the fights
  • Has enough power to complement his hand-foot speed as evidenced by his 6 KO/TKO wins, will be his core strength against Erosa

Weaknesses

  • Cardio issues past the 1st/2nd round if he stays busy on the feet, faded badly against Mizuto Hirota despite getting several knockdowns early in the fight
  • As gas tanks starts getting depleted, all aspects of Ishihara’s game erode as well, including his speed and striking defense, and stopping take-downs become very difficult since he is unable to stay elusive
  • Mediocre off his back, can be punished with no blowback and is susceptible to submissions – probably biggest reason why Erosa opened up as a slightly big favorite

I’m a little surprised the odds aren’t closer than they are, as I don’t think Erosa is anything spectacular and Ishihara definitely has tools to be a very serviceable fighter. Ishihara has the speed and quickness to be a deterrent to the majority of the guys he faces, so long as his cardio stays intact. That’s a big if though, as Ishihara’s entire game revolves on him staying busy on the feet and bouncing around the cage to keep up his elusiveness. That elusiveness is what sets up his blitzes of left straights and headkicks. When Ishihara loses that advantage, everything suffers as a result. That’s where Erosa presumably comes into play, notching a take-down of some sort and finishing it on the ground with a submission. I don’t think Erosa can survive long enough to be able to do that though, as his hands staying low and chin staying high just bothers me too much. Plus, Lobov KO’d him! That’s terrible.

Ishihara via 2nd round TKO

Jason Saggo (-187) vs Justin Salas (+165)

Listen, I’m not gonna gloss over this fight too much. Saggo’s a wrestler who gasses badly and Justin Salas is a power puncher with not much else. It’s a whatever fight on Fight Pass, soooooooooo…I dunno. Read for yourself if you want to involve either one in your lineups. I’m probably gonna pass on this fight for the most part.

JASON SAGGO

Strengths

  • 10-2 record with all wins by finish, 8 by submission and 2 by KO/TKO, black belt in BJJ
  • Primarily a wrestler/ground based fighter who utilizes a decent jab and low kicks to find his range then set up quick level changes or push into the clinch
  • Strong clinch work, will work his opponents up the fence and either drag them down, set up a double leg take-down, or try a trip take-down – very persistent and methodical with take-down attempts
  • Top control is very difficult to get out of, tries for many passes as possible and will use a submission to advance further into their guard
  • Jiu-Jitsu is very solid, capable of setting up traps or winning scrambles back into advantageous positions for a submission setup
  • Just a very stubborn, persistent guy with his take-downs and will be relentless in trying to get the fight to the ground and stick to his opponents like glue

Weaknesses

  • No real stand-up game to speak of outside of his basic jab/low kick stuff, has to get into close range or dive towards opponents in order to be an effective fighter
  • Gas tank issues when he can’t finish it in the 1st round due to his exhausting physical wrestling style, majority of his fights were finished early so that’ll likely still be an issue in the UFC
  • While he is very persistent with take-down attempts and is good at sticking close to his opponents in close proximity, he’s not necessarily a big threat on the ground with his GnP, so opponents can simply try to hold on and wait it out for an escape – Paul Felder did a great job of doing this

JUSTIN SALAS

Strengths

  • 12-6 record with 4 by KO/TKO and 3 others by submission, has alternated wins and losses since joining the UFC (3-3 record, currently on a 1 fight losing streak WINK WINK)
  • Southpaw with good power in his hands, moves around effectively and likes to land quick left straights with the occasional body kick/headkick
  • Primarily a counter-striker but will engage with a straight here and there to get some exchanges going
  • Switches from at range striker to push forward/dive for a single leg take-down/wall-n-stall, effective when in a rhythm and figures out his range
  • Decent from top control, can either use GnP or transition into a submission, but mostly stays in one position and ground ’em out
  • Can read take-down attempts and sprawl quickly, strong enough to hold his own against wall-n-stalls/clinch work

Weaknesses

  • Has been finished in all of his losses (3 sub, 3 KO/TKO), and that’s mostly due to his sometimes brawling style since his striking defense isn’t the best – won’t be an issue against Saggo’s pitiful striking
  • 3 other losses by submission due to getting caught on level changes during a strike (something Saggo can do), and being put into a bad position early (gave up back against Tavares for the RNC loss), also got caught in a triangle choke early in career
  • More on his take-down defense, if he sees them coming Salas can stop them in their tracks or if up by the wall, but if caught off guard or gets legs taken out, can be difficult for Salas to get back on his feet
  • Just really average everywhere, can have moments of good, solid striking with quick combinations then suddenly get countered out of nowhere and dropped, biggest weakness against Saggo will be how he defends the take-downs

Salas could clobber Saggo on the feet with his left straight and kicks, but considering Saggo isn’t the type to sit around and act as a human punching bag, it’s very, very likely this will be fought up the fence or  on the mat. It’ll be Salas’ take-down defense/sprawl/scrambling ability against Saggo’s persistence and diversity of take-downs. I understand that both men have history on their sides in terms of finishes (Saggo all wins by finish, Salas all losses by finish), but I’m having a hard time seeing a finish outside of a Saggo submission, if he doesn’t gas himself in the process. Saggo’s also a tough nut to crack as he can eat power shots for breakfast. I wouldn’t be surprised if Salas just denied all of Saggo’s take-down attempts and wins by wall and stall. Bleh. Take Saggo as a low owned play and hope for a submission.

Saggo via unanimous decision

Diego Sanchez (+120) vs Jim Miller (-135)

It’s a shame this fight is the main event of the Fight Pass prelims, but it is what it is. Diego Sanchez is still that crazy guy who attacks ferociously on the feet with no regard for his well being, but as time has dwindled by Sanchez, so has his skills. Still, he’ll always give an entertaining fight to whoever he fights, even if he gets an undeserved decision win. Jim Miller is still a savant on the ground with his jiu-jitsu skills, but his speed and chin just haven’t been the same since Cerrone destroyed him. Miller’s still a dangerous fight regardless, and Sanchez shouldn’t take him lightly.

DIEGO SANCHEZ

Strengths

  • Longtime UFC vet, 25-11 record (14-6 in the UFC across 3 divisions) with 6 wins by KO/TKO and 9 by submission – Black belt in BJJ and Gaidojitsu
  • Early career Sanchez was very aggressive and loved to push the pace and get into brawls while relying on his grappling to win scrambles and get quick submissions on the ground, but alas, this isn’t early career Diego
  • More composed and less reckless with his stand-up, mostly due to some chin health concerns and declined hand/feet speed, but will still methodically push forward
  • Will still gladly stand and bang if given a chance to, but primarily a southpaw counter-striker who will use the body kick from range to try and setup some counter opportunities
  • Will wing hooks and land overhands in close range or during brawls, which can be either good or very bad for Sanchez (mostly bad but that’s what makes him a fan favorite)

Weaknesses

  • After such a long and sort of storied UFC career being THAT CRAZY GUY and always being involved in a brawl, Sanchez’s chin has diminished quite a bit, causing some moments of hesitation and the classic “OH SHIT I’M HURT I BETTER SWING HARRRRRRD!!!!” rocked moments
  • Cardio is and probably will always be an issue for Sanchez, if forced to have to defend against multiple take-down attempts and repeated scrambling, Sanchez will be very gassed by the 3rd round
  • Being a diverse striker was never a trait of Sanchez’s, and it’s probably one of the bigger reasons why he never could get past the hump of being a good fighter instead of a great one – very predictable at times and easily countered/kept away
  • Struggles against at range strikers who can box him out with jabs or low kicks, needs those counter windows to be effective
  • As he gets older, Sanchez’s take-down defense has diminished, not as quick to react or stop take-down attempts from materializing

JIM MILLER

Strengths

  • Always one of the more underrated lightweights in the division despite being a long time veteran with one of the best BJJ/grappling skills – owns 13 submission wins and a 25-7 record
  • Elite BJJ black belt and also has a black belt in Taekwondo but not a typical Taekwondo fighter
  • Quick succession striker with a ton of fast jabs and low kicks mixed in with well timed take-downs – has solid counter-hooks as well
  • Goes with the flow of the fight, if he’s having success standing he will keep it going and rack up the sig strikes, if he struggles on the feet then he will pour on the take-downs and level changes, even rolling into kneebars
  • Has a good wrestling pedigree, very stubborn when he sets his mind on taking the fight to the ground, will use any method such as single/double leg, trips, rolling into kneebars, jumping on their back, slap their face and make them mad (OK maybe not that)
  • On the ground is where Miller truly shines, with impressive passes that look easy as pie, sets up armbars, leg locks, and has quick back takes into RNC that he sets up beautifully if given the chance to – his brother has a killer guillotine that he’s passed on to Miller as well
  • Has good movement, moves laterally for majority of the fight standing and doesn’t usually stay in one spot, hard to consistently punish Miller without consistent pressure and accuracy

Weaknesses

  • Not the biggest lightweight, can be dominated by physical wrestlers
  • While he’s not bad striking and is pretty solid in his own right, when he faces someone who knows range and mixes up their attacks well while still being able to put pressure on Miller, he can struggle at times during exchanges and gets countered trying to counter their counter! Hmm….that doesn’t sound right
  • Miller does go for some risky submissions, and versus a strong grappler such as Beneil Dariush, that puts Miller in dangerous spots to get himself submitted – Sanchez has enough jiu-jitsu chops to take advantage of such situations
  • As time has passed on by Miller, so has his striking defense and a tendency to over-reach on the counter hook that Miller loves to throw out, leading to big exchanges with Miller on the losing side of it – that’s Sanchez’s favorite territory

Jim Miller has the tools to play keepaway against Diego Sanchez, and the BJJ to still be a threat on the ground if Sanchez somehow tries to get a take-down or hold Miller up the fence. Both men have had their chins exposed as of late along with their striking defense, with a bigger spotlight on Miller and his bad tendency to overreact against pressure. That’s something Sanchez has to take full advantage of, trying to push forward and goad Miller into throwing out random counters and land that big one that puts Miller to sleep. The problem with that is, Sanchez just isn’t the same. Miller may be older, but he’s still significantly quicker than Sanchez and should be able to use his movement to stay out of harm’s way. Sanchez always seems to make me hold my breath in the 3rd round of fights he’s clearly losing in, as he ramps up his volume and pressure in a desperate effort to land that one big, fight-ending punch. Not this time though.

Miller via unanimous decision

Chas Skelly (-152) vs Darren Elkins (+135)

I’ll admit that at first I wasn’t a big fan of Skelly after he tried to win in a terrible, boring way against my dude Mirsad Bektic, but since that loss Skelly has been on a tear with 4 straight wins while finishing in 3 of those 4 wins, proving himself to be a very entertaining and scrappy fighter. I mean, the dude got knocked out cold for a split second against Kevin Souza and rallied back to win with a 2nd round submission! He’s got a ton of heart and a finishing mentality, which is great news as he faces a guy who really tries his best to make his matches unbearable to watch in Darren Elkins. Nothing against Elkins, as his wrestling is solid and he’s decent on the feet, but man….his fights can be excruciating to watch. Here’s to hoping Skelly makes this a fun affair instead of being sucked into the wrestling vortex of Elkins’.

CHAS SKELLY

Strengths

  • 15-1 record with 8 wins by submission and 3 by KO/TKO
  • Grinding wrestler-striker who heavily relies on hustle and scrambling ability to turn take-downs into advantageous positions – really good at attempting a take-down and suddenly turning it into a back take via scrambles
  • Lanky featherweight with an awkward striking style that’s improving in every fight, relentless attack and pressure with overhands, straights, level changes, what have you
  • Huge heart, will never give up even if extremely gassed or rocked – knocked out cold momentarily by Kevin Souza and bounced back to win by 2nd round RNC, extremely gassed versus Jim Alers and won by KO
  • Take-down offense isn’t very technical, but relentless attack and fighting for scrambles makes Skelly a very difficult wrestler to prepare for especially with his level changes
  • Very opportunistic submission seeker, loves to get back takes to set up RNC opportunities, strong top control and will land some GnP if necessary but prefers to wait on mistakes

Weaknesses

  • Cardio issue (may be related to short notice fights that he’s had, but still) due to his engaging style and pursuing scramble 50/50s
  • While his stand-up can hurt and he’s got some solid overhands/straights, it’s very inconsistent and not clean/technical, gets countered often and leaves himself open
  • Did get knocked out for a quick second against Kevin Souza, so maybe his bad striking defense rears its ugly head again
  • A downside to his scrambling mentality is if he loses the 50/50s, he gets put into a bad position which can be a death sentence against a competent wrestler/top control fighter such as Darren Elkins

DARREN ELKINS

Strengths

  • 19-5 record with 7 wins by KO/TKO and 3 others by submission, brown belt in BJJ
  • Wrestler-striker who keeps his strikes short and compact, with quick 1-2 jab/straight or overhand combinations as Elkins tries to keep himself outside their range
  • Crux of Elkins’ gameplan is to either get the duck and shoot/level change and get the fight to the ground where he can use top control and hold his positions
  • Majority of his take-downs are from duck and shoots off feints or a level change into a single leg take-down where he will try to sweep the other leg or slam them down
  • Uh….that’s it! Sorry.

Weaknesses

  • HE’S BORINGGGGGG!!!!!!
  • Okay, his stand-up is very, very basic with predictable attacks as his 2 hit combinations literally consists of a jab/straight or a jab/overhand and nothing more, nothing less – can be countered as a result (was KO’d by Chad Mendes)
  • While he is a grinder and goes for the take-downs often, the type of take-downs he does is pretty mediocre to those with take-down defense or good sprawls – it’s pretty predictable and easy to stop with underhooks or a quick sprawl
  • Not a finisher despite having 10 finishes on record, only has 2 finishes in 9 career UFC victories, and one was an injury TKO!
  • Can be caught into submissions or reversed on scrambles off his annoying duck and shoot take-downs, something I think (and hope, for the sake of the fans watching) Skelly should be able to take advantage of during the fight
  • BORING!!!!!

Skelly has turned from an Elkins into an exciting and fun to watch scrappy fighter, but unfortunately, he gets to fight an Elkins. The Elkins-est of them all, Darren Elkins! Sure, Skelly should be able to land some easy counters on Elkins’ pathetically simple combinations, and out-scramble Elkins on whatever Elkins tries to attempt. There will be ample opportunities for Skelly to get top control in a dominant position and try to work his way into a submission, but again…..it’s Elkins. He’s a decisionator and he knows it. I’ll still have some Skellys on my teams just because he’ll have said opportunities to get a finish in the fight, but as long as Elkins is around to make a fight boring, we’re all doomed. DOOMED I TELL YA!

Skelly via unanimous decision

Marcelo Guimaraes (+240) vs Vitor Miranda (-277)

Vitor Miranda looks like Lex Luthor (so does JDS!). Marcelo Guimaraes hasn’t fought in almost 2 years! Someone’s gotta win, and I gotta tell ya who! THE WINNER IS….

MARCELO GUIMARAES

Strengths

  • 9-1-1 record with 1 win by KO/TKO and 2 others by submission, BJJ black belt
  • Read and react striker with big overhands and hooks as counter-punches, occasional headkick but mainly a swinger
  • Will duck and shoot for the take-down or force the fight to the fence and power his way through into a slam
  • Strong top control with heavy emphasis on controlling opponent’s movement on the ground, not a risk taker
  • Will jump on a submission opportunity if it arises, but isn’t going to force the issue, stifling top game with occasional GnP main source of damage on the ground

Weaknesses

  • Hasn’t fought in almost two years, fight before that was 3 years ago! That was a KO, by the way
  • Does not have the speed or stand-up to consistently be a read and react striker, gets pummeled by the right hand due to terrible striking defense – literally rolls into the punches and gets staggered at times
  • While he’s pretty strong and has power, his strikes are woefully simplistic and predictable, if he misses a winging hook or overhand, he’s going to get hit hard
  • Lack of submission threats a big damper for Guimaraes’ fighting hopes, has to put more effort into creating submissions so he can evolve as a fighter since his stand-up isn’t gonna cut it
  • Average take-downs, he can get a slam and has a pretty decent double-leg take-down, but puts all his eggs in the basket on the duck and shoots/level changes that often materializes into….nothing but heartache

VITOR MIRANDA

Strengths

  • 11-4 record, 8 by KO/TKO and 2 by submission
  • Accolades in several fighting styles – Black prajied in Muay Thai, black Sash in Sanda, brown belt in kickboxing, green belt in Judo, and silver glove in Savate
  • High arcing, quick snap headkicks lead the way for Miranda, along with timely body kicks and has a plethora of other kicks he can mix in
  • Powerful 1-2 combos that can catch up during the length of the fight
  • Solid countering skills, will pick apart opponents that are too slow or too predictable
  • Good out of the clinch as he can land knees/hellbows and destroy the body – knocked out Hester in this fashion

Weaknesses

  • Can be stationary at times and chooses to cover up rather than try to circle out or stop pressure fighters, mediocre striking defense
  • Has no take-down defense at all, can be taken down at will over and over
  • Gets overwhelmed against top control fighters and gets his head caved in on ground and pounds if he doesn’t wrap up
  • For all of his accolades in several styles, he’s not that great of a boxer and mostly depends on his kicks to do his most damage which 1. opens up his chin to punishment and 2. allows for easy take-downs on telegraphed/caught kicks
  • Not a threat for take-downs

Guimaraes has some of the worst striking defense I’ve seen, looks lost at times against a simple jab/straight combo, and almost seems like he’s actually running into the punches themselves. He’s definitely got some power and loves to spam the overhand right, but outside of that? Rudimentary stand-up and reaction time. His biggest strength and the most likely way that Guimaraes can actually win is his level changes/duck and shoots to get Miranda on the ground. As I’ve said above, Miranda has very bad take-down defense, so even a lethargic attempt by Guimaraes could still turn into a win for him. Miranda can also simply end it in 10 seconds with his much better stand-up and countering ability. I’m leaning towards the latter, as Guimaraes just looks bad on the feet. LEX LUTHOR BABY!

Miranda via 1st round KO

Erick Silva (-205) vs Nordine Taleb (+180)

Ah, the always frustratingly talented Erick Silva appears again. Will I be fooled by his boyish charms and sizzling bowl haircut? Probably. Erick Silva has the power and speed and….whatever. I don’t even wanna say anything anymore. Nordine Taleb is a huge welterweight with the skills to take down and smother Silva on the ground, inevitably breaking my already broken heart. I can already see it! Erick Silva drops Taleb in the 1st, gets a back take and lays on Taleb’s back for the entirety of the round without so much of a submission attempt, gasses out badly, and gets laid on for the last two rounds to lose a split decision. Damn, Erick.

ERICK SILVA

Strengths

  • 18-6 record with 4 KO/TKOs and 11 submissions, BJJ black belt
  • Extremely aggressive and fast paced southpaw striker, majority of his wins are over in the 1st round
  • Wide array of attacks and high arcing kicks that can be landed with good precision, but seems to like using body kicks and trying to set up and land his speedy left straight
  • Also fantastic on the ground with persistent guard passes, aggressive in hunting for submissions
  • Take-down offense could use some work but his pressure generally helps Silva notch a take-down or two – was able to take down Jon Fitch which is solid in its own right
  • Can be incredibly unpredictable standing to the point where he’s just such a dangerous opponent to face in the 1st round if caught off guard by his aggression

Weaknesses

  • Has a pretty bad gas tank that always seems to get emptied in the 1st round so if it goes past the 1st then everything goes out of the window
  • Also has a very questionable chin that’s been exposed in some fights and always gives me a scare whenever he’s involved in a heated exchange
  • Weak take-down defense, always seems to lose the scrambles and once his guard is passed, not a big threat to get a reversal or a sweep
  • More to the point of his gas tank, he will gas out even with a dominant position for most of the 1st round – see his back mount versus Matt Brown that somehow completely gassed him out to allow Brown’s comeback victory
  • Little tidbit that may or may not matter, but his last fight vs Neil Magny, Silva looked significantly smaller in his physique than in the past – may be a reoccurring trend for some fighters since the arrival of USADA testing

NORDINE TALEB

Strengths

  • 11-3 record with 5 by KO/TKO, brown belt in BJJ
  • Big for a welterweight, strong physique with a wrestling background and good power in his hands
  • Powerful overhand right that he normally doesn’t set up but does have a decent jab behind it as is typical of TriStar products, and an excellent left body kick
  • Generally prefers to be a counter-striker due to his hulking physique, allowing Taleb to pick and choose his moments to strike or switch into wrestling mode
  • Good mixture of level changes and finding the right moment to push through to the fence and get in some trips from clinch
  • Heavy top control, difficult to get out and back on the feet with Taleb on top, refuses to give up his top position – definition of a grinder
  • Oh, his brown belt in BJJ? Well, he has some decent submission skills, but he’s mostly a grinder and gets majority of his finishes by knockout or by ground strikes in full mount

Weaknesses

  • Can be passive on the feet instead of being an aggressor, not very combo heavy and too dependent on the body kick to set up anything
  • The last time he fought an aggressive striker (Warlley Alves) Taleb struggled to win any striking exchanges due to lack of combinations, but was able to use his wrestling somewhat before a guillotine choke on a take-down attempt did him in
  • Grinding style is not pleasing for the fans, and can be annoyingly passive on the ground by staying in one position when he should advance and CRUSH his opponents via GnP

Erick Silva could easily destroy Taleb on the feet with his speed and diverse array of attacks, but we don’t live in a perfect world. Taleb will be considerably bigger and stronger than Silva, and has all the tools to just be a total killjoy to those who roster Silva. Alves was able to sneak in a guillotine choke on an ill advised take-down attempt, which is something Silva absolutely could do. It’s pretty much going to come down to whether or not Silva can overwhelm Taleb in the 1st round and either soften him up for a 2nd round knockout or forces Taleb to make a mistake and capitalize on it for a submission. If Silva is unable to do that, it should be easy sailing for Taleb with his wrestling and annoyingly tiring top control shenanigans. I’m already miserable. Wanna join in my pain?

Silva via 2nd round TKO

Brandon Thatch (-284) vs Siyar Bahadurzada (+245)

I was very disappointed in Thatch’s last outing against Gunnar Nelson, getting dropped by the uncreative striker and later subbed for the loss. He’s a towering welterweight with immense power and a great kickboxing game, with strong top control and a decent guard. His biggest weakness seems to be his cardio, which erodes badly as the rounds go on, killing his take-down defense in the process. He gets an okay litmus test against Siyar Bahadurzada, who should be willing to stand and bang against Thatch. That’s why hes a considerable favorite despite coming off two losses in a row. There’s a real good chance of a finish in the fight, with a heavy lean on Thatch. Here’s why.

BRANDON THATCH

Strengths

  • 11-3 record and currently riding a 2 fight losing streak
  • One of the biggest welterweights in the UFC at 6’2” but could easily be a middleweight
  • Has finished all 11 of his wins in the 1st round….yes, you read that right
  • Has some serious power in both hands and feet, learned karate at an early age and trained heavily in kickboxing which shows in his fighting style
  • Switches stances often but fights out of southpaw to start fights, has an innate ability to find a landing spot for almost all of his kicks – rarely misses his target
  • Mixes his punches well, never goes to the same set-up more than two times in a row, good blend of being a stalker and still being aggressive enough to spark some striking exchanges
  • Uses his size as his take-down defense and can overpower opponents on the ground off his back with his strength – reversed several guys just off that alone
  • If Thatch is on top of an opponent, chances are he’s going to find a way to take your back and slam home the RNC win – has 3 submission wins by RNC
  • Vicious and strong in the clinch, body knees are his forte and will be a bull up the fence and land heavy blows

Weaknesses

  • I don’t know if it was hometown jitters or he just made some mistakes, but his fight against Ben Henderson showed some glaring holes in Thatch’s ground game off his back, giving up his back too easily and getting out-maneuvered `on the ground
  • Also gassed badly after 2 rounds, could have been the altitude but considering Denver was his hometown and he fights there anyways, I think that’s unlikely and might be an issue in the future
  • Not to keep beating a dead horse, but Thatch seemed to lose his aggression at times against Bendo when he got the opportunity to seriously hurt him and finish the fight – maybe just showing respect or hometown jitters
  • Against Gunnar Nelson, he was outstruck by Nelson’s speed and got dropped by the right hand, which then led to the submission loss – points out two things to me, 1. his defense off his back is not very good against good BJJ people and 2. his size and physicality may mean speed kills him more than I thought (Bendo was quicker as well but wasn’t that effective striking damage wise)

SIYAR BAHADURZADA

Strengths

  • 21-6-1 record with 12 KO/TKOs and 5 submissions
  • At range striker who stays composed and will batter lead leg with hard leg kicks and some body kicks, sits behind his jab and lands straights/hooks as counters
  • Mixes between staying at range and picking apart with 1-2 combos and turning on the heat for a barrage of hooks, uppercuts, and headkick follow-ups
  • Likes to counter with his left hook and tries to stop pressure in its tracks by clubbing them to death, very patient on the feet
  • Good out of the clinch with body knees and some dirty boxing, usually puts on the pressure when up the fence and facing forward

Weaknesses

  • Hasn’t fought in 2 years and a half, last win was 4 years ago! Early career Siyar was more complete of  fighter with majority of his submissions in beginning of career
  • Still an effective striker and can hurt opponents, but speed and countering skills have diminished over the last 4 years, more susceptible to feints and gets hit during back pedals vs pressure
  • Seems content to allow fighters push him around and get the fight to the fence, prefers to grab on and decide what to do later rather than being proactive and circling out
  • Average take-down defense, mediocre off his back and allows passes pretty easily – got full mounted by John Howard without really defending anything
  • Will be at a 3 inch height disadvantage and 2 inch reach disadvantage against the much bigger Thatch

While Siyar hasn’t been knocked out or finished by punches, this is a good opportunity for Thatch to get back to his winning ways when he was finishing everyone in the 1st round. Thatch is bigger, stronger, more diverse of a striker than Siyar is, and as long as he doesn’t get sucked into a brawl vs Siyar, Thatch should be able to dictate the flow of the fight any way he wants. Take Siyar down and get some brutal GnP in? Sure. Batter him with succinct counter-punches and devastating body kicks? Why not? Hold Siyar up the fence for 3 rounds for no apparent reason? You bet!

Thatch via 2nd round RNC

Amanda Nunes (-129) vs Valentina Shevchenko (+115)

Amanda Nunes is probably the hardest hitting bantamweight in the division right now (until Cyborg actually fights for the UFC, of course), and she’s been dispatching her opponents left and right as she prepares for a potential title shot. Nunes won’t get an easy test however, as Valentina Shevchenko held her own extremely well on short notice against the always tough Sarah Kaufman, displaying her skills in the clinch and proving to the world that she’s not a pushover. It should be a very, very entertaining and wild fight on the feet between the technically sound and diverse striking of Shevchenko’s and the hard power punching/countering of Nunes’. I’m actually excited about this fight, and you should be too!

AMANDA NUNES

Strengths

  • 11-3 record with 9 by KO/TKO and 2 others by submission, BJJ black belt and brown belt in Judo
  • Probably the most powerful puncher in the division and has the boxing prowess to take full advantage of that distinction
  • Strong right hand followed by a good jab, usually stalks her prey and tries to find strong counter opportunities to blow away her opponents
  • Good mixture of punch combinations if no counter windows show early, won’t be too patient and sit around too long
  • Can land some good strong leg kicks as well, but prefers to solve her problems with her hands
  • Solid out of the clinch, judo background allows Nunes to quickly get a trip or a hip toss into side control, where she can utilize her brutal ground and pound

Weaknesses

  • Low cardio tank past the 2nd round or the 1st if facing against a wrestler, usually the case for the powerful punchers
  • Despite the BJJ black belt, not very good off her back and not a huge threat for submissions anywhere
  • Mediocre take-down defense if she can’t use her own strength as a neutralizer, against McMann she did look better and more focused on stopping take-downs but I need more fights before I change my view on her take-down defense
  • Was a brawler early in her career, which put her in some trouble as she doesn’t have an iron chin or superb striking defense, but has tightened up some in that regard, should be interesting to see how she fares against Shevchenko’s attacks

VALENTINA SHEVCHENKO

Strengths

  • 12-1 record with 5 submissions and 4 by KO/TKO, was a great kickboxer/Muay Thai with a 56-2 record, black belt in Taekwondo
  • Similar fighting style as Holly Holm, but with some distinct differences, even fights out of southpaw
  • Focuses more on her kicks which are very fast twitch and Shevchenko can lift up a headkick in a hurry
  • Primarily depends on the left straight and several 1-2 combinations for her boxing, prefers to follow-up with a kick of some sort
  • Switches between the aggressor and waiting on counter-windows, technique on kicks is fantastic and knows where to target the body with them
  • Very athletic, uses it to her advantage against take-downs and on scrambles – very quick to read and react then circle out of take-down attempts
  • Excellent from the clinch which isn’t surprising considering her Muay Thai background, heavy knees and loves using the clinch for sweeps and trips/tosses into top control
  • Solid GnP game from top control but doesn’t try to advance her position much, opportunistic with submissions but mostly relies on landing elbows and strikes

Weaknesses

  • Not very good off her back if eventually taken to the ground, allows easy transitions and guard passes into dominant positions, which can result in some easy GnP and submission attempts
  • Tends to be too upright on some of her punches, can have her chin up too high and I’ve noticed some counters hitting Shevchenko clean – against Nunes that’s a big no-no
  • Can be stuck in one position from top control, would like to see more guard passes

Nunes will have her hands full against a very competent, experienced Shevchenko, defending against Shevchenko’s numerous kicks and avoiding the left straight. Nunes has the power to put away Shevchenko on any ill advised strikes that leaves her chin exposed, but I’m not sure she has the speed to consistently be able to land those kind of damaging counters. Shevchenko is just as adept as Nunes on the feet and could wail on her repeatedly with 1-2 combos and well-timed body kicks, eventually setting up the finishing blow via headkick as Nunes gasses in the end. I don’t think either fighter will get too close to each other for a take-down attempt from the clinch, though Shevchenko can force the issue herself by pushing forward. It’s a tough fight to call, but I’m going with Nunes’ power over Shevchenko’s speed and technique.

Nunes via 2nd round TKO

Corey Anderson (-277) vs Tom Lawlor (+240)

Ughhhhhh….it’s Corey Anderson again. I swear he’s mocking me right now and he doesn’t even know what he did. Or maybe he does? Wrestler with improving striking and athleticism against an old guy with cardio and take-down issues but still has power in his hands in Tom Lawlor. Meh. Not much to write home about this particular fight, but here we are.

COREY ANDERSON

Strengths

  • 7-1 record with 3 by KO/TKO
  • 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, as his striking continue to improve with quicker combinations used to set up take-downs
  • 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
  • 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 – did so against Jan Blachowicz and Fabio Maldonaldo
  • GnP game is better than most, as he willingly postures up to rain down punches and still maintains top control – one of the fewer wrestlers who can still compile points and pay off his price points

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
  • Inexplicable gameplan of keeping it standing and not trying to get Villante on his back and take advantage of his bad ground defense, but was corrected in later fights – something to keep an eye one still
  • Striking may have improved twice-fold, but striking defense still leaves much to be desired if unable to get the fight to the ground
  • 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

TOM LAWLOR

Strengths

  • 10-5 record, 4 wins each by KO/TKO and submission, purple belt in BJJ
  • He works with FrontRowBrian, which makes him like totally cool and awesome
  • Likes to stay busy standing with jab/straight combinations with low leg kicks mixed in from southpaw stance before shooting in for the take-down
  • Majority of his fights are fought up the fence and in the clinch after Lawlor gets a feel for his range standing, will be very persistent in nabbing the double leg take-down in some way, shape, or form
  • Strong top control with timely GnP, doesn’t go for submissions unless opponent scrambles back up and ends up giving up his back – also an opportunistic guillotine choker
  • Had a huge knockout win over zombie chinned Gian Villante, which may mean Lawlor has retained more power fighting at LHW than he had before when he was usually a middleweight

Weaknesses

  • Likely at a size disadvantage, has fought mostly at middleweight and will be 3 inches shorter against a big LHW plus a 5 inch reach disadvantage
  • Does not do well if facing a better wrestler/someone with actual take-down defense, ends up on his back more often than not in grappling exchanges against better guys
  • Biggest question in the match-up will be his take-down defense against the bigger Anderson’s different take-down attempts and if his gas tank can survive the early onslaught

After watching Tom Lawlor kill Villante with a blitzer of a left hand, maybe Lawlor found his best fit at LHW. He gets a better test with Corey Anderson since Anderson has more ways to win the fight and has a distinct advantage over Lawlor. That would be his size and wrestling pedigree. If he doesn’t keep it standing for too long and battles Lawlor to the ground, Anderson should be able to employ his GnP gameplan and batter around Lawlor on the ground repeatedly. If it does stay standing more often than not, it’ll be interesting to see Anderson’s quick 1-2 combinations versus Lawlor’s power countering style. Since Anderson actually took down his last 2 opponents and proved himself to be a very good all around wrestler, it’s probably going to be a clinic for Anderson. Don’t forget Anderson actually scores points through his ground and pound plus several successful take-downs, so he’s not a bad option for a safe play. But hey, it’s still MMA! Only takes 1 punch to change the whole fight.

Anderson via unanimous decision

Gian Villante (+171) vs Ilir Latifi (-194)

Hey, it’s Gian Villante! It’s kinda funny he’s also on the card that Corey Anderson is on, since ya know….Villante was also kinda responsible for the heartache that Corey Anderson caused me with his late 3rd round knockout of Anderson. He also lost to the opponent Anderson is currently fighting via 1st round surprising knockout. That’s just MMA for ya! The former football player turned wrestler turned annoying leg kicker gets a stiff test against a hulking and streaking Ilir Latifi, currently riding a 2 fight streak and has 2 KOs and a TKO in his last 3 wins. Latifi is a powerful man with ill intent in his hands, but is a little on the slow side and struggles against strong wrestlers. Villante used to be in the zombie chin category until his 1st round KO loss against Lawlor, which raises my eyebrows a little bit considering he’s facing a way better puncher in Latifi. It’s enough to make me dig a little deeper into the match-up.

GIAN VILLANTE

Strengths

  • 14-6 record, 9 wins by KO/TKO and 2 others by submission
  • One of the feared “zombie chins” of the UFC, impossible to knock Villante out without breaking your hands and your soul (unless you’re Tom Lawlor)
  • Big physical LHW at 6’2” with athletic ability as he was a former football player/wrestler who’s been improving his striking over the last year especially with his low leg kicks
  • Utilizes the low kick early and often, leads with jabs and ends with powerful overhands
  • Combined with his zombie chin and improved striking, Villante lately has been involved in bare knuckle brawls with oodles of sig strikes landed on both sides and very little take-down attempts – seismic shift from early career Villante
  • Has average take-downs, mostly using his strength and size to bulldoze his opponents to the ground, where he can resemble a sloth at times on top but hey, it gets the job done
  • Due to his size, his take-down defense is pretty solid most of the time and can push away take-down attempts for the most part

Weaknesses

  • Has had serious gas tank issues, fades badly at the end of fights especially if he tries to wrestle his opponents early
  • Very, very bad off his back and looks lost at times on defending passes and getting back on his feet
  • Due to his zombie chin, Villante seems to disregard striking defense and head movement in favor of landing whatever the hell he wants – last 3 opponents before Lawlor and Perosh landed 100+ sig strikes!
  • It does seem to have gotten better, but his striking is nothing special, relies on a fairly quick jab/straight combination with the occasional hook/overhand that’s given me nightmares still to this day (don’t ask why….please don’t), gets countered easily due to being telegraphed and as Lawlor proved, the right punch can be enough to shatter a zombie chin

ILIR LATIFI

Strengths

  • 11-4 record with 5 KO/TKOs and 4 by submission, all wins in the UFC by finish (3 KOs, 1 submission)
  • Short, stocky but immensely powerful striker with sledgehammers for hands, hence his nickname of “The Sledgehammer”
  • Switches stances, but likes to fight out of southpaw, one hit striker but mixes up his attacks often – doesn’t become too predictable with any singular attack or method
  • Strongest choice of attack for Latifi is the overhand right, surprisingly quick for a stocky guy and actually has some blistering punches – I hate doing MMA math, but last fight against O”Connell was a 30 second KO for Latifi, while O”Connell fought Villante for 3 brutal rounds and both men landed 100+ sig strikes each! Difference of power!
  • Immense power in every strike he lands, including his powerful low leg kicks, will target the body as well with uppercuts and straights – excellent countering ability
  • Was on the national Polish wrestling team and has a stocky wrestler’s build, so he can fend off take-downs well and land some of his own on level changes – mostly a stand-up banger though
  • Underrated grappling game, very good from top control and can transition and weave his way through opponents’ guard for a submission attempt

Weaknesses

  • Will be at a huge height and reach disadvantage against Villante, 5’10” vs 6’3” and 73” reach versus Villante’s 76”
  • Doesn’t check kicks well, heavily dependent on a wide stance and front lead leg
  • Got dominated by Gegard Mousasi due to Mousasi’s speed and technical boxing, but that was his 1st UFC fight and on short notice, so I wouldn’t hold it against him
  • Mostly a DFS thing, but if Latifi doesn’t get a finish, he’s probably not going to get many points due to his one hit power fighting style – not going to land vast amounts of significant strikes

I’m really intrigued by this match-up. Gian Villante spams the low leg kick that can destroy Latifi’s lead leg and render his earth-shattering power useless, which could spell huge amount of sig strikes for Villante. On the other hand, Latifi is actually really quick and effective with the mixture of his one hit attacks, despite a lack of combinations. His countering could be key in defending against the leg kicks, and considering Lawlor just ended Villante with a power straight, there’s no reason not to think Latifi can’t do the same. Latifi could even take Villante down and slither his way through Villante’s porous guard defense for a submission victory. The height and reach difference is bothering me though, and I can see Latifi struggling to close the gap without recklessly rushing forward with an overhand right into a counter-strike by Villante. I will have both men on enough lineups since I think either one that wins will get plenty of points, with Villante scoring by amassing copious amounts of sig strikes and Latifi scoring by a finish of some sort, possibly evenin the 1st round. As for my prediction? I’m leaning Villante.

Villante via unanimous decision

Holly Holm (-334) vs Miesha Tate (+285)

Holly Holm’s 1st title defense as the brand new women’s bantamweight champion has finally arrived. Only this time, to everyone’s surprise (sorta), it won’t be a rematch against the ex-champ Ronda Rousey. Instead, it will be Miesha Tate, who has been at times underrated as a fighter despite clear improvement to her striking (added more power shots and actually starting to do real damage with her bombs) while still having a very strong wrestling game and jiu-jitsu. It will be Holm’s toughest test as Tate can actually try to penetrate Holm’s superior take-down defense as she isn’t a one trick pony like Rousey turned out to be. Tate’s got plenty of different types of take-downs in her arsenal, but the difference between Tate and Holm’s speed is pretty vast in my opinion. I wouldn’t be surprised if Holm makes Tate into her own personal punching bag as the rounds wear on Tate. I mean, she is the champion after all!

HOLLY HOLM

Strengths

  • Undefeated as a professional martial artist at 10-0, 7 by way of KO/TKO including the famous KO over ex-champ Ronda Rousey, had a successful boxing career with a record of 33-2-3 – longtime kickboxer with excellent boxing credentials
  • Will have a 3 inch reach advantage on Tate, which should help Holm play keep-away from Tate and utilize the same gameplan that won her the title
  • Southpaw stance and will almost always keep her distance from her opponents, loves the jab/push kick as a starter to set up left straights or follow up headkicks and is a great defensive striker
  • Excellent movement and circling out ability, knows where she is at all times and will pick/prod her way into opening up counter windows
  • Has a great jab/kick game, will continuously batter opponents’ body with midsection kicks and try to land some uppercuts – boxing background really shines through her jab usage
  • Excellent take-down defense, one of the best in the division and in women’s MMA in general, her fighting style helps Holm tremendously in snuffing out take-down attempts and not getting baited into being cornered or get jumped into the clinch
  • Her biggest strength as far as the match-up goes against Tate is her ability to keep opponents off her and defending against pressure – Holm has all the tools to frustrate Tate with leg kicks, jabs to keep Tate off balance, and the movement to constantly stay away from Tate’s take-down attempts and power bombs

Weaknesses

  • Can be too tentative to go for the finish especially when Holm has completely overmatched her opponents, not a risk taker
  • While she does have 7 KO/TKO wins on record, she’s not necessarily a power puncher and mostly depends on her headkicks to do most of the damage, which I suppose it did, eh?
  • Unknown ground defense as she very rarely gets taken down, which could be problematic for Holm if Tate is able to get the fight to the ground – obviously Rousey was unable to crack the code

MIESHA TATE

Strengths

  • Has long been one of the top women’s bantamweights beginning from her StrikeForce days, 17-5 record with 6 submission wins and 3 others by KO/TKO – BJJ purple belt
  • Decent stand-up with jabs and low kicks with a new addition in the power overhand, main strengths are her wrestling/grappling skills
  • Goes for different kind of take-downs, from power blasts to back trips/hip tosses that seem way too popular among the women in the UFC – good out of the clinch with trip set-ups and good usage of knees
  • Uses strong top control with timely guard passes, likes to set up the armbar and looks to get back mount quickly
  • Solid guard as Tate is fairly active off her back with triangle attempts and not allowing her opponents to gain any advantageous positions on her
  • Lately has been mixing up her combinations well, setting up the right hand to deal damage rather than the usual gameplan of jab, jab, kick, then level change

Weaknesses

  • Wants to prove her stand-up is just fine and dandy, when in reality it’s just mediocre at best due to her average striking defense – McMann was able to pierce Tate’s defense for a knockdown/almost finish in the 1st round and McMann isn’t exactly the best of strikers (did get the best of Jessica Eye on the feet)
  • While she is excellent on top (hush) and has a serviceable guard, she does struggle against better grapplers who can stifle her advance attempts and can get reversed/swept
  • Biggest issue for Tate is being able to close the distance against Holm without eating a headkick or constantly getting jabbed away, not going to beat Holm with speed or technique, but could be able to power her way into take-downs

This is an eerily similar fight for Holm against Tate as it was versus Rousey, with a couple differences. For one, Rousey needed to get into the clinch in order to really be a big threat to Holm, as her stand-up just wasn’t going to cut it despite all the “hype” about her supposed boxing skills. Tate doesn’t need to get into close range and clinch up vs Holm in order to be dangerous, as she has much more up her sleeve in terms of take-down attempts. Tate’s stand-up still isn’t the best despite looking better lately, so she will likely have to get the fight to the ground to gain any traction in the fight. That’s where Holm’s gameplan against Rousey comes into play, as the stick and move gameplan frustrated Rousey to the point where Holm was just picking her apart with anything she wanted. Tate isn’t an aggressor like Rousey was, so it’ll be less likely that Tate falls into the same trap that Rousey did on the feet, but it’s still an uphill climb for her. Holm has thus far shown that her take-down defense is for real, and she’ll need it against Tate if she wants to continue being the champion. I’m gonna roster Tate on some teams just because she actually has more tools to get the fight to the ground and I have a sneaking suspicion that Holm isn’t very good off her back, so there’s the chance for a potential submission/GnP TKO win. I wouldn’t bank on it though. A Holm decision win could also conceivably get 100+ sig strikes with the potential of a finish due to Tate’s brawling style at end of fights. I’m not going to use Holm too much since DK still won’t change their scoring on decisions beyond 3 rounds….#ShotsFired

Holm via unanimous decision

Conor McGregor (-458) vs Nate Diaz (+380)

Oh boy, what a match made for us fanboys! Two of the biggest shit talkers in the UFC with huge egos and fighting styles that should make for some fireworks inside the octagon. McGregor literally wiped away a legendary lightweight’s career in thirteen seconds against Jose Aldo, basically rendering him into a modern day Crying Jordan meme. He made Mendes look like a puny human turtle after his 2nd round knockout despite being in some trouble early on in the 1st round. The guy’s got it all going on right at the peak of his prime, and the only way that it can crash right now is by getting Stockton slapped. In case you didn’t know, Nate Diaz is from Stockton, and he won’t let you forget about that. The classic “Stockton Slap” comes from the fighting styles of the Diaz Brothers (Nick and Nate) as they are both high volume strikers with their striking predominantly based on their quick jabs and combinations that follow it, including a plethora of taunting behind the punches. It can get so bad that they can appear to be slapping their opponents simply because they can. Oh yeah, his jiu-jitsu is pretty darn good too. So, can Nick’s little brother really pull off the upset of the century? Wait, Holly Holm already did that and I predicted it! Heh.

CONOR MCGREGOR

Strengths

  • Featherweight champion with a 19-2 record, 17 wins by KO/TKO
  • Has TKO’d his opponents in 6 of his 7 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! EXAMPLE
  • 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. EXAMPLE
  • 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 fence, once he smells blood it’s all over (see Dennis Siver/Diego Brandao) and works tirelessly on his countering speed – that’s how he annihilated Jose Aldo with the quick left counter
  • 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
  • McGregor also has one heck of a chin and it could very well help McGregor survive against Diaz’s high octane jab striking style and try to outlast Diaz in the later rounds or just completely finish Diaz in the 2nd as per McGregor’s own prediction

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 (well, that lasted 13 seconds….)
  • 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
  • This is a fight at welterweight which is both McGregor and Nate Diaz’s natural walking weight, so I wouldn’t worry too much about it, but will lose his usual size advantage as Diaz is actually the taller fighter at 6 feet versus McGregor’s 5’9” and 2 inch reach disadvantage vs Diaz

NATE DIAZ

Strengths

  • 18-10 record with 11 submissions and 4 KO/TKO, black belt in BJJ under Cesar Gracie
  • Lanky lightweight, though the fight is at welterweight which Nate has fought before, with a very specific fight style that closely resembles big brother Nick Diaz’s
  • Southpaw with a big emphasis on boxing behind his speedy and lengthy jab followed by numerous left straight combinations, will use the right hook early and often especially as a counter
  • Good usage of his length and lanky frame, can play the stick and move game with his protruding jab and uppercuts – gets a ton of sig strikes in most of his fights that stay on the feet (153 sig in last fight! In 3 rounds!) EXAMPLE
  • As you can see, Diaz is also ferocious near the fence with unrelenting combinations and knees from clinch – if he smells blood, it’s going to be +30-40 sig strikes at least!
  • Very good on the ground whether from top or bottom, dangerous guard with triangles and reversal attempts – can finish fights quickly with guillotines or an armbar
  • Has a great chin and will pressure/push forward while taking damage for the sake of piling on numerous jab/straight combinations as his chin holds up through the barrage
  • Does not care for your antics, he wants a damn brawl and you better bring it to him or he will start taunting your ass Diaz Style EXAMPLE
  • Endless gas tank, can go 12 rounds if needed be which is another signature of the Diaz Bros. Along with the infamous Stockton Slap

Weaknesses

  • Pretty much no striking defense as Diaz just wants to land his signature Stockton Slap even at the risk of eating a ton of strikes in the process – Michael Johnson landed 100+ sig strikes in the loss last fight!
  • Doesn’t check leg kicks and can succumb to heavy damage due to kicks which renders Diaz’s boxing game useless if he is unable to use his lead leg to push off it
  • Inconsistent as a fighter, whether that’s due to injury or motivation is anyone’s guess, but Good Nate is a tough challenge for anybody while Bad Nate is just a pure punching bag
  • Yes, his chin is very good and he can take plenty of punishment, but that doesn’t mean Diaz can’t get finished – land enough times with enough power and he’ll go down quickly EXAMPLE
  • While his BJJ is very dangerous, he doesn’t have any wrestling or take-downs to take advantage of that fact – don’t be surprised if he does attempt a take-down vs McGregor to catch him off guard and try to get in the quick submission

What huge potential this fight has! Nate Diaz absolutely loves a brawl versus anybody, and has the cardio/chin to outlast the best of them. His fighting style is a gold mine for fantasy purposes, as he can rack up massive amounts of significant strikes as well as give his opponent some easy strikes to land right back. His biggest problem is when he’s clearly outclassed on the feet, it gets reaaaaaaaaally bad for Nate. He’ll have a size and reach advantage on McGregor, which could be really interesting since he could feasibly play the stick and move gameplan, frustrating McGregor into overcommiting with his left straight and allowing Diaz to land the right hook. McGregor is such a beast on the feet with his timing and movement that I don’t think Diaz’s length will bother McGregor too much. He’s also got enough power to put away Diaz early before any cardio issues start to rear its ugly head for McGregor. I don’t think you can go wrong with roster either or both of them in your lineups, as McGregor should be able to get at least 100+ sig strikes if it goes past 3 (or even right at 3 rounds) with a good chance at a finish, and Nate Diaz can get 100+ sig strikes as well if he stays upright for at least 3 rounds. Bring on Robbie Lawler!

McGregor via 4th round TKO

Until next time! Which will be uh….I dunno? UFC 197 I guess? Maybe a FOX card? Only one way to find out…..

Oh, and of course, the courtesy Conor McGregor Tink Like I Tink music video.

1 Comment

  1. Lu

    March 3, 2016 at 4:17 pm

    Brilliant.

MMA

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