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UFC 198 DFS Picks: It’s WERDUM TIME!

UFC 198 DFS Picks: It’s WERDUM TIME!
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UFC 198 DFS Picks: It’s WERDUM TIME!

One of the more stacked PPV cards of the year, UFC 198 has a ton of promise and the potential to be one of the biggest draws post Rousey/McGregor (since he kinda, sorta retired, but not really….I think?). Why is that? The main card contains some of the biggest names in the sport, including the long awaited debut of Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, long thought as the most dominant WMMA fighter in the world. Yes, even more dominant than Ronda Rousey was before Holly Holm shocked the world. Alongside with Cyborg is a match between the Sage Northcutt slayer Bryan Barberena and Warlley Alves, an insanely aggressive fighter currently undefeated (Northcutt was undefeated at the time vs Barberena as well), and the return of Curitiba’s own Shogun Rua against Corey Anderson. Oh yeah, there’s that heavyweight championship fight between Fabricio Werdum and Stipe Miocic. Let us pray.

Small note – I am going to be switching up the format of this breakdown due to DraftKings finally getting their head out of their asses and posting a real GPP for MMA. More words, but easier to understand. Does that make sense? Probably not. Also, won’t be using odds as that shouldn’t be a real factor in steering yourself on whether or not to roster a certain fighter. Stop it!

Renato Moicano vs Zubaira Tukhugov

BJJ black belt grappler versus an explosive, angle oriented striker. That’s all I need to say here.

RENATO MOICANO
Record: 9-0-1, 5 wins by submission
Height: 5’11       Reach: 72”

OFFENSE

Striking – Solid kickboxing fundamentals, fast snap on his kicks and decent boxing. Not going to wow you with power or fancy kicks, but it gets the job done. Will use his length and attack from range with low kicks and circle in and out with jab/straight combinations. His kickboxing is a means to end though, as most of his damage come through take-downs, but it’s something Moicano can definitely improve on and actually start relying on his stand-up in the near future

Takedown – Quick and fleet footed, ducks and shoots with good force behind them, commits to the single/double leg take-down and won’t give up on it. Capable of dragging opponents to the ground if initial burst is unsuccessful. Relies on being reactive against strikes to gain more traction and leverage on take-downs and level changes

Ground – Takes his time in finding the best way to get into a dominant position, little usage of GnP. Can be too methodical at times, but at least he tries to get a submission out of it. Has a killer choke and can squeeze the life out of anyone if he gets a chance to put his mitts on a neck

Clinch – Decent, if not inspiring cage holding with short bursts of punches and finding ways to get a single/double leg out of the clinch. Prefers to stay from range and go from there.

Cardio – Good gas tank thus far. Doesn’t overcommit on offense and seems well-suited for his take-down heavy fighting style

DEFENSE

Striking – Good kickboxing base and length with decent movement keeps Moicano elusive to a point. Once he gets going on take-downs, can be hittable but not a big concern. Keeps his strikes short and sweet, stays compact and won’t overcommit to a counter. May struggle against diverse strikers with take-down defense, as Moicano’s offense is fairly basic

Takedown – Excellent, postures up and leans on take-down attempts, quick to react on level changes. Moicano’s at range striking keeps himself ready to engage defensively. Capable of turning a take-down attempt into a scramble for a back take/RNC finish

Ground – Rarely saw himself on the ground, but I’d assume his guard is solid as well. Needs more fights under his belt for a better judgment

Cardio – Seems good defensively, but again, needs more fights under his belt especially against someone who can push the pace and make it a dirty fight via wall and stalls or constant pressure through take-downs

Chin – Didn’t seem to eat too many power shots, never been knocked out (well, he’s never lost up to this point soooooo yeah), so probably solid chin

ZUBAIRA TUKHUGOV
Record: 18-3, 6 wins by KO/TKO and 1 other by submission
Height: 5’8       Reach: 68”

OFFENSE

Striking – Heavy movement/footwork oriented striker, likes to glide around the cage and attack forward with a lunging attack of some sort, usually a right straight or a spinning kick. Similar to Kyoji Horiguchi in that aspect, but way less exciting. Not a guy to string together combos, but will have his moments of flurries especially if he can cut off angles. Wide array of strikes at his disposal, but being a one hit striker can be limiting somewhat. Seems content to wait it out and let opponents come to him for counter opportunities

Takedown – Good wrestling skills, likes to shoot after an entry attack and slam it home. Can be persistent in hunting the legs and trying to sweep them under

Ground – Thus far in the UFC, Tukhugov has been pretty mundane from top, not advancing positions enough and with not a ton of GnP offense behind his take-downs. Too passive and content to hold and control from top rather than attack and punish

Clinch – Prone to moments of holding opponents up the fence for way too long. Known wall and staller. Still has tricks up his sleeves with body lock slams and sweep attempts

Cardio – Excellent, as is necessary for a fighter who relies on movement as much as Tukhugov does

DEFENSE

Striking – Very elusive due to constant movement and darting in and out of striking range. Rarely gets caught by counters and avoids the big blows for the most part. Uses wrestling to negate pressure and will quickly circle out as well

Takedown – Depends on his elusiveness to stymie take-down attempts and make himself a difficult moving target to pounce on. Has the defensive wrestling to stay tight and stabilize himself against successful attempts, and has the strength to ward off deep attempts near the fence

Ground – Tries to scramble back up quickly if taken to the ground, sometimes will give up his back in an effort to turn inside and crawl to the fence. That can open up back take attempts, but otherwise not enough film to see how his ground defense is. Does have a RNC loss back in 2010

Cardio – Still excellent, has the gas tank to work both his offensive and defensive skills

Chin – Got knocked out by a headkick in 1 of his 3 losses, but octagon movement and limited counter windows keeps Tukhugov’s chin out of trouble. Moicano isn’t known for his power either

This could go either way. Tukhugov has the speed, power, and lateral quickness to punish anything Moicano throws out while keeping himself elusive and away from take-down range. Moicano on the other hand does have a significant reach advantage and could attack Tukhugov from range with his kicks and force him to get closer. If Moicano is unable to close the gap against Tukhugov to set up his take-downs, it might be an ugly fight with a couple wall and stalls by Tukhugov. If Moicano is able to penetrate Tukhugov’s take-down defense, he can dominate him on the ground, even if he gets no points from it. There’s no knowing how Tukhugov could react if he gets stuck on the ground from bottom, and with Moicano’s solid grappling skills, he could punish any and all mistakes of Tukhugov’s. I favor Tukhugov’s fighting style against Moicano just due to his annoying movement. Maybe he cracks Moicano early and GnPs him.

Tukhugov via unanimous decision

Sergio Moraes vs Luan Chagas

Moras was slated to face TUF 21 winner Kamaru Usman, before an injury forced Usman to pull out. In his absence will be 22 year old Luan Chagas, one of Curitiba’s own. I got nothing else to say. Shrug.

SERGIO MORAES
Record: 10-2, 7 wins by submission and 1 other by KO/TKO
Height: 6’0       Reach: 72”

OFFENSE

Striking – Relies mostly on one hit punches, especially the overhand. Can move around a little bit and land a jab/kick combo but otherwise overly reliant on the overhand and not much else

Takedown – Basic double leg take-downs and the occasional level change, not very overpowering and struggles to power through failed attempts. Depends on catching opponent off guard to be effective on take-downs

Ground – Very methodical yet aggressive with his guard passes, will apply pressure via submission set-ups to create ground offense. Willing to land some punches/elbows if necessary, but prefers to hunt submissions

Clinch – Decent, can land knees and attempt some trips, but nothing of note

Cardio – Age is a factor for Moraes’ cardio, but keeping a level head and not blowing his gas tank early with sloppy striking and incessant take-down attempts have helped keep his cardio intact in recent fights

DEFENSE

Striking – Mediocre, lack of a striking arsenal beyond the overhand and the low kicks make Moraes a predictable opponent on the feet

Takedown – Average, probably doesn’t care enough to really stop the garden variety take-downs due to great guard and confidence that if it hits the ground, Moraes is going to win the battle from either side

Ground – Strong guard, willing to aggressively pursue submissions off his back. Does not allow easy transitions and will punish early mistakes with a quick reversal

Cardio – Will tire quickly if overwhelmed by a better striker or someone who can consistently pressure Moraes, forcing ill advised take-down attempts to further deplete his gas tank

Chin – Very questionable, has been rocked before in several wins, was knocked down several times vs Cezar Ferreira and KO’d by Brett Cooper in his other loss

LUAN CHAGAS
Record: 14-1, all wins by KO/TKO (6) or submission (8)
Height: 6’0        Reach: 75”

OFFENSE

Striking – Karate background, but not your typical karateka as Chagas prefers to have an orthodox stance (will switch stances though) and is predominately a counter-striker. Hard low kicks and will target the liver with body kicks, but not extremely explosive. Not going to string together impressive combinations or throw a ton of kicks. Likes to lunge forward with wild overhands and winging hooks, very sloppy at times. Seems to rely on bad opponents getting hit by his overhands rather than his own striking skills

Takedown – Average, will go for the single leg after a lunging overhand, but not really any great take-down offense outside of that tactic

Ground – Black belt in BJJ and very aggressive from top, will crush with GnP and get back takes whenever possible. Likes to hunt for the rear naked choke. Creates good offense as he advances into better positions, very good ground offense

Clinch – Will try to drag opponents down or try a trip but otherwise not great from the clinch

Cardio – Some issues with gas tank as he gassed badly in sole loss, short notice fight probably doesn’t help and does expend too much energy going for the swinging shots

DEFENSE

Striking – Mediocre, seems lethargic at times defending against strikes. Will just keep coming forward and doesn’t cover himself on kicks. Sloppy punches can lead to wide open counter opportunities, but so far hasn’t hurt Chagas. Lack of competition helps with that

Takedown – Mediocre if it’s not a predictable take-down. Gets caught on level changes and struggles versus double leg take-downs. Doesn’t recognize take-downs fast enough to be able to use the guillotine or grab for a headlock

Ground – Very dangerous guard, likes to bait opponents into one of his traps. Looks to lock up the triangle or get in an armbar attempt from guard. Sometimes can be overly aggressive instead of holding positions and waiting for the next move. Can reverse his way out from bottom and scramble back up

Cardio – I’m guessing his lack of any real combos and bad take-down defense could possibly take a toll on Chagas, as Moraes will probably try to get it to the ground. Short notice!

Chin – Never been knocked out, despite mediocre striking defense. Can take a punch and keep on pushing forward

A short notice fight against a seasoned BJJ vet could be bad news for Chagas. He’ll have to keep the fight standing and use his length and speed to take advantage of Moraes’ weak chin. Chagas has a propensity in trying to land the overhand and his other terrible lunging attacks, and well….Moraes isn’t exactly a defensive savant. So, there’s a decent chance Chagas could land home one of those overhands and clip Moraes for the win. Mostly likely it’ll be a battle on the ground between a dangerous but rather inexperienced Chagas and an extremely experienced, world class grappler in Moraes. It wouldn’t surprise me if Moraes was able to get Chagas to overcommit from bottom and turn it into an advantageous position for the submission victory. I have a feeling it’ll be 2 gassed men in the 3rd round swinging wildly without abandon. Shrug.

Moraes via unanimous decision

Francisco Trinaldo vs Yancy Medeiros

Trinaldo has been on a recent tear, racking up a 5 fight winning streak while showcasing improved striking and slightly better cardio as well. He’ll get a difficult test against Yancy Medeiros, despite Medeiros’ unflattering UFC record of 3-3 and a no contest. Medeiros is a prototypical Diaz type fighter, using his length and rangy attacks with good defensive grappling skills and the ability to latch a submission if taken down. It’s no wonder he’s often referred as the Third Diaz Brother. Can he follow in his brother’s footsteps and get the upset over Trinaldo ala Nate Diaz vs McGregor? Not that Trinaldo is anything close to McGregor, but you get the gist.

FRANCISCO TRINALDO
Record: 19-4, 6 wins by KO/TKO and 5 by submission
Height: 5’9        Reach: 70”

OFFENSE

Striking – Big, hulking southpaw with obvious power but lacks refined striking techniques, though it has gotten much cleaner as of recent. Loves to throw swinging hooks and overhands against any kind of pressure and land a hard kick here and there. Relies on power shots rather than quick combinations and finding a home for the left bomb as a counter-strike

Takedown – Power blasts and double legs lead the way, willing to power through most take-downs and has the immense strength to pick up anyone as if they were weightless. Knows when he is outmatched on the feet and will drop quickly with several level changes and force scrambles

Ground – Brown belt in BJJ, but not really known for his submission grappling, prefers to stay heavy from top and land bombs  through ground and pound. Doesn’t make an effort to transition and force mistakes to get better positional advantage, simply wants to smash their face in. Still has the jiu-jitsu chops to notch on a choke if opportunity presents itself

Clinch – Decent mostly due to his strength, not much in way of clinch offense as most of Trinaldo’s battles in the clinch result in wall and stalls up the fence, with the occasional drop down into a take-down attempt

Cardio – As a general rule of thumb, hulking/mass muscled fighters generally will almost always lack full fight cardio due to lactic acid build up and the same can be said for Trinaldo, but will still have enough cardio for two strong offensive rounds. Seems to have just a little more left in his gas tank for final rounds lately if he doesn’t tire himself quickly with his take-down offense

DEFENSE

Striking – Never really had anything above just average striking defense, aggressive style of countering and willingness to land power shots against pressure lead to wide open striking windows against Trinaldo. Doesn’t have the speed or movement to consistently avoid quick combinations against longer, speedier strikers

Takedown – Relies on his size and strength to thwart most take-downs, but those who can push through the initial attempt can take advantage of Trinaldo’s lack of technical take-down defense

Ground – While Trinaldo does know how to escape from bottom and is still capable of landing a triangle or a reversal, for the most part Trinaldo will stay passive in his guard and simply hold on. Prevents guard passes just by holding on rather than applying pressure through his guard attacks

Cardio – As said before, due to his build Trinaldo generally almost always gasses near the end of fights, which greatly diminishes his defensive skills. Striking defense erodes like pouring water on a sand castle, but Trinaldo will still often pursue a take-down and still possesses his freakish strength

Chin – About right at the average for a typical fighter, can be hurt and rocked but won’t fall apart

YANCY MEDEIROS
Record: 12-3, 6 wins by KO/TKO and 3 by submission
Height: 5’10       Reach: 75”

OFFENSE

Striking – Utilizes his length with at range attacks led by the usual jab/straight combination, sprinkles in kicks of the spinning variety. Adds in aggressiveness with his at range attacks to throw opponents off balance, loves to corner near the fence and attack the body while landing uppercuts

Takedown – Has a pretty nice double leg take-down, but otherwise prefers to keep it standing

Ground – Relentless attack from top control, love to hunt for any submission but willing to land ground and pound to soften up their ground defense. Aggressive with transitions and will apply pressure via guard pass attempts

Clinch – Not a guy to get into the clinch for offensive purposes, doesn’t like to wall and stall but

Cardio – Good cardio for his fighting style, can go 3 rounds without breaking a sweat and can pour it on with strikes at any time

DEFENSE

Striking – Average, not going to lose due to striking defense but won’t stifle offensive pressure with his counters. Needs to move around more to promote striking defense, gets caught up in brawls too often. Head movement is minimal, which allows for easier landing of power bombs which is what Dustin Poirier was able to do vs Medeiros

Takedown – Has a dangerous guillotine to take advantage of reckless take-down attempts, but smart wrestlers can avoid the choke and get a power take-down. Knows how to use leverage and underhooks otherwise, but stronger guys just simply overwhelm Medeiros

Ground – Not enough fights against UFC caliber fighters that went to the ground to really say, Jim Miller was able to quickly get Medeiros’ back for the RNC win, but that’s Miller and Medeiros was just simply in a bad position at the time

Cardio – Good long term cardio helps Medeiros to be able to use his length and keep his aggressive mindset intact, but certain defensive woes will still be there regardless of cardio

Chin – Excellent chin, literally took a smashing against Poirier that the ref had to stop it despite Medeiros still standing and “alive” in a way. Ate 100+ significant strikes against Makdessi and still was able to win a split decision

This could be the fight that tests Medeiros’ ground defense against the hulking Trinaldo and his power take-downs. Yancy will obviously have both a height and reach advantage on the smaller Trinaldo to help boost his at range fighting style, which will be Medeiros’ best course of action against him. Medeiros must be able to paint Trinaldo’s face with liberal usage of the jab/straight, moving away from the power bombs that certainly will come from Trinaldo in an effort to gas out the behemoth. The problem with that is Medeiros is almost too aggressive for his own good and lacks consistent footwork to be able to quickly escape pressure. Trinaldo can feasibly land a level change or a power blast and throw Medeiros down like a rag doll. From there, who knows? I like both the chin and cardio of Medeiros, so I think he’s got a good chance to pull off the upset as long as he isn’t plastered on the ground for 3 rounds. Good chance that Yancy can hit 100+ sig strikes if his gameplan works out.

Medeiros via unanimous decision

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs Patrick Cummins

Antonio Rogerio Nogueira is the younger twin brother of the renowned Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, one of the best BJJ specialists the world has ever seen. He should be retired, but alas. He takes on a guy with zero stand-up but a ferocious ground and pounder with constant posturing and relentless take-downs in Patrick Cummins. Yes, that’s his name. He’s also a barista. Fun!

ANTONIO ROGERIO NOGUEIRA
Record: 21-7, 6 wins by KO/TKO and submission
Height: 6’2        Reach: 75”

OFFENSE

Striking – Southpaw boxer with big emphasis on utilizing the jab in any of his combinations, likes to have space to operate and force opponents to lunge at him for counter opportunities. Even at his advanced age (39!), Lil Nog still has enough power to put away anyone

Takedown – None

Ground – Much like his big twin bro, Nogueira has the renowned jiu-jitsu chops to end it with any submission, but Lil Nog almost always gets top position through a knock-down which usually ends on a TKO win with ground and pound after the fact

Clinch – Has some dirty boxing in him, but not really known for clinch fighting. Capable of landing some uppercuts and attack the body, but most clinch battles usually has Lil Nog on the losing side with take-downs from the fence

Cardio – The guy is 39 years old! It really depends on the flow of the fight, but realistically he has one full round of a good offensive showing

DEFENSE

Striking – Struggles against pressure, even though Lil Nog knows how to circle away and has the defensive boxing to keep himself upright, but age has stolen his speed and quickness

Takedown – Not very good against almost any take-down, majority of losses outside of a straight up knockout have been to wrestlers who were able to take Lil Nog down with relative ease. Phil Davis – 4 take-downs and completely smothered him. Ryan Bader – 5 take-downs and same thing as Davis. Even a gassed, hurt Shogun Rua was able to get 2 take-downs against Lil Nog, and he’s not even known for his take-down offense!

Ground – Still has a dangerous guard against inexperienced grapplers or those who are too lax with their ground movements, but anyone with any sort of experience can stifle Lil Nog from top and extinguish his BJJ black belt, causing Lil Nog to be fairly passive and open to punishment

Cardio – HE’S 39 YEARS OLD!!!!! Take-downs will completely sap his energy and well, everything just goes to hell in a handbasket

Chin – None. Very brittle chin and can be knocked out by a good counter, or a fast straight that Lil Nog doesn’t anticipate

PATRICK CUMMINS
Record: 8-3, 4 wins by KO/TKO and 2 by submission
Height: 6’2        Reach: 76”

OFFENSE

Striking – None. I’m sorry, but Cummins has easily one of the worst  offensive striking I have seen in the UFC. He looks very awkward on the feet and as much as he tries to string together a combination, it just doesn’t look good. Cummins can at the very least keep himself composed and will land low kicks from range to stay busy

Takedown – One of the better take-down offenses in the UFC, not just the LHW division alone. Mixes up level changes and closing the gap with a lunging attack, no matter how pathetic it may look, into a single/double leg take-down. Loves to clinch up, but more on that later. Has the strength and quickness to turn any take-down into a successful one, NCAA wrestling pedigree is top notch as well

Ground – Postures up early and often, one of the best ground and pounders in the UFC. Very methodical in landing several blows without putting himself in danger of either losing his position or getting trapped in a submission, knows how to get positional advantage without having to do too much through transitions. Almost all of his KO/TKO wins have come through vicious GnP

Clinch – Cummins usually seems himself in the clinch quite often during most fights, so it makes sense that his clinch offense is strong. Trip take-down attempts, drop downs from the fence, and short elbows during wall and stalls lead the way for Cummins

Cardio – For a big man, his cardio is rather impressive especially with all the energy he pours in through take-down attempts and his ground and pound attacks

DEFENSE

Striking – Lack of any real striking offense hurts Cummins’ defensive skills, as he is unable to punish mistakes or be a threat through counter-attacks. Staying composed and keeping his opponents in front of him helps minimize his bad striking defense long enough to allow his take-down offense take over

Takedown – It would seem silly to try and take-down a very strong wrestler with a great NCAA wrestling pedigree, right? So, let’s just ignore this for now

Ground – Never really been tested on the ground since no one tries to take him down, outside of a Carlos Junior take-down that Cummins was able to quickly get out of

Cardio – No matter how many take-down attempts Cummins lands or fails on, his cardio remains intact for the full fight, so nothing really changes for him defensively

Chin – Not good, has been knocked out in 3 of his UFC losses (Cormier, Teixeira, and St Preux), lack of any striking O and needing to lunge forward to close the gaps led to those knockouts

Pretty self-explanatory fight here. Lil Nog has to avoid getting thrown to the ground, or he will get brutalized by Cummins’ ground and pound. Cummins has to avoid running into Lil Nog’s hands and getting knocked out. I wouldn’t worry about Cummins getting caught in a submission against Lil Nog, as he’s too experienced and too smart with his postures to allow such a thing to happen. As bad as Cummins’ striking offense is, he still can pretty much bull rush Lil Nog with his quickness (probably on a level change) and get the take-down. From there, it’s all Cummins as he drains Lil Nog’s gas tank and makes minced meat out of his face. Just don’t run into his hands Cummins! From a DFS perspective, Cummins scores unusual amount of points due to his high take-down succession rate and being able to land plenty of sig strikes through GnP. Even if he doesn’t finish, a good showing can still nab 70+ points for Cummins.

Cummins via 1st round TKO

John Lineker vs Rob Font

Someone’s gonna die. No, seriously. Someone’s getting knocked the (expletive) out. Probably Font. Or maybe Lineker? Nah, it’s Font. Screw you New Times Roman!

JOHN LINEKER
Record: 26-7, 12 wins by KO/TKO and 4 by submission
Height:  5’3        Reach: 67”

OFFENSE

Striking – Attacks like a lion, scours his prey and waits for his moment to pounce with blistering straights and overhands, vicious left hook as a counter have left men unconscious. Has the speed and power to be an elite counter-striker, though his accuracy can be off at times. Likes to attack the body if he is unable to ignite a brawl. If you want an absolute treat, watch the GIF below of Lineker vs Rivera in what could be a glimpse of things to come against Font

Takedown – Doesn’t really go for take-downs, but when he does they are your garden variety single/doubles

Ground – Aggressive from top with both GnP and submission attempts, doesn’t really focus on making guard passes as he just prefers to destroy immediately when he gets top position. Can stay heavy from top if gassed though, which seemed to happen early in his flyweight days

Clinch – No clinch offense to speak of outside of some wall and stalls, short stature and love for physical violence has Lineker preferring to stand and bang at all times

Cardio – Really uses every single bit of gas in his tank, swings with reckless abandon even when gassed so even if he has 0 energy left, Lineker is still going to swing for the fences

DEFENSE

Striking – While I wouldn’t say his striking defense is bad from a strict defensive standpoint, his brawling fight style usually opens up multiple counter opportunities against Lineker, but if Lineker stays disciplined, he can strike and move with the best of them and force the issue to create a brawl

Takedown – Has struggled against competent and aggressive wrestlers, gets caught on level changes trying to throw a power shot randomly or during a brawl as seen in the above GIF. Though Lineker was able to slap on a guillotine choke against Rivera, that is not typical of Lineker

Ground – Passive off his back, but won’t get completely dominated on the ground and will wait to try to escape or for a ref stand-up. Has a bad habit of turning and exposing his back during escape attempts, not a threat for anything off his back

Cardio – If Lineker gets plastered on the ground early and often, gas tank gets depleted pretty quickly which hurts his offensive output and opens himself to even easier take-down attempts. Same thing can be said if his early offensive output that resembles the GIF above doesn’t result in a knockout

Chin – Very good, can take the punishment as he tries to dole out his own in the process and is willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good if it results in a knockout victory

ROB FONT
Record: 12-1, 5 wins by KO/TKO and 3 by submission
Height: 5’8        Reach: 71”

OFFENSE

Striking – Uses length to his advantage, good footwork and movement as he steps side to side using front kick to gauge his range. Switches between a counter-striker with typical cross combinations and a hard overhand, and attacking from range with a good jab and a variety of short kicks. Has good power in hands but mostly prefers to stay at range and collect significant strikes without getting into brawls.

Takedown – Mixes up take-downs well after a lunging attack, good double leg take-down, but if gets stopped on initial attempt, will revert back to clinch control up the fence. Does not power through and doesn’t really use take-downs as a means to keep it on the ground, but rather as a mix-up to keep opponents off balance

Ground – Decent GnP and will go for the submission if it’s right there, but otherwise not a difficult person to push away from bottom. Allows opponents to get back up and seems to prefer to keep it standing either way

Clinch – Not really his forte, typically just uses clinch control to keep opponents in front of him and readies himself for another entry attack after releasing from clinch. Will try to drag opponents down with body lock take-downs but doesn’t stick with it for long

Cardio – Good stamina, offensive style won’t affect gas tank and doesn’t waste energy

DEFENSE

Striking – Has solid defensive striking skills, uses footwork to escape punches and can slip them then land a counter of his own. Bad habit of leaning back against a flurry instead of moving away from pressure. Doesn’t get hit a bunch, but leaning back to slip punches is never a good thing

Takedown – Decent scrambling ability, can stay high on take-downs to make it harder, but mostly relies on being able to react on level changes. Struggles to stop bigger guys from taking him down due to stringy frame

Ground – Seems capable of getting back up on his feet due to long length, long legs help with Font’s guard but not really a threat off his back. Can hold on and prevent further damage, but seasoned BJJ grapplers probably can overwhelm Font

Cardio – Has the gas tank to stay active on defense, and doesn’t get caught in firefights that could sap his energy

Chin – Doesn’t get hit often to determine chin health, but he probably can take a punch. Lineker certainly will be his biggest test to date

Font will have an immense size/reach advantage on Lineker, and with his good defensive skills and solid range control, he could run away with the fight just by stick and moving against Lineker. The problem with that is Font has a tendency to try and lean back in an effort to slip punches, and Lineker is not a guy you want to give a chance to hit you cleanly. Lineker just might be too short armed to really damage Font on counters, so he’ll have to be very aggressive and force mistakes from Font. If Font for whatever reason decides to lunge at Lineker, it might be over for him in an instant. There’s also the chance that Font plays it safe with quick take-downs and simply control Lineker up the fence as well. I originally thought Lineker would knock out Font or that it’d be one hell of a brawl, but Font just doesn’t seem the type to get swallowed up in a brawl. Lineker has to be able to close the distance and land several glancing blows to give himself the best chance for success.

Font via unanimous decision

Thiago Santos vs Nate Marquardt

Thiago Santos, better known as Marreta, is a very powerful Muay Thai striker who had one of the nastiest head-kick knockouts in recent memory, putting Steve Bosse in an early grave. He gets another chance to do the exact same against one of the long time veterans in MMA, and who should honestly be retired at this point in his career. That person is Nate Marquardt, coming off a surprising win over CB Dollaway that thwarted a 2 fight losing streak for the Great Nate. I smell violence!

THIAGO SANTOS
Record: 12-3, 7 wins by KO/TKO and 1 other by submission
Height: 6’0        Reach: 76”

OFFENSE

Striking – Southpaw Muay Thai specialist, brutal leg kicks that Santos mixes between a body and a headkick that is difficult to recognize, good boxing skills that is mostly used as counter-strikes and to lead into a kick finisher. Controls space with great timing on his kicks, and has the speed to keep up with the quicker strikers

Takedown – None

Ground – Rarely goes to the ground and if does get top control, it’s off a knock-down. Santos will GnP in that case

Clinch – Brutal knees from the clinch and short elbows, attacks the body with liver shots and knees, will explode for a headkick or a liver kick

Cardio – Most fights don’t go the full 3 rounds, but would say has above average cardio, doesn’t rely on offensive volume so never in danger of depleting gas tank

DEFENSE

Striking – Above average, disciplined in his attacks and keeps his chin protected during kicks. Accurate with his strikes lessens chances of getting countered, and doesn’t put himself out on a limb during combinations

Takedown – Average. Usually quick to react on predicable take-downs and knows how to lean on with a wide base to make it a difficult attempt, but doesn’t possess the strength to fend off bigger opponents. High usage of kicks opens Santos to reactive take-downs and the chance of a caught kick into a sweep

Ground – Not very experienced off his back, seems lost at times and can be caught in a submission without even realizing it. If Santos is unable to scurry back up to his feet or get his back up the fence, it’s probably a lost round

Cardio – Take-downs don’t seem to deplete his tank, and his offensive output is calculated enough that there is no worry about defensive issues via cardio

Chin – Questionable, was rocked badly by Cezar Ferreira (hey, it’s him again!) but otherwise hasn’t really been hit cleanly enough to tell whether Santos has a wobbly chin or not, which tells everything you need to know about his striking defense

NATE MARQUARDT
Record: 34-15-2, 16 wins by submission and 10 by KO/TKO
Height: 6’0          Reach: 74”

OFFENSE

Striking – Diverse array of attacks at his disposal, but age and diminished speed has made Marquardt unable to pick and choose his weapon of choice. Depends mostly on one hit combos with a lead right and the occasional kick. Prefers to be a counter-striker while backing up and swaying left/right across the octagon

Takedown – Strong wrestling base and a plethora of take-downs, seems to depend on level changes and trying to get the double leg take-down or powering through failed attempts

Ground – Very dangerous from top, concentrated effort on weaving through guard with timely passes and drags into dominant positions. Extremely experienced with his jiu-jitsu, can make anything happen from any position, dangerous submission grappling and good GnP usage

Clinch – Goes for trip take-downs or tosses from the clinch, willing to land some knees but generally gets involved in wall and stalls if unable to create a take-down out of a clinch

Cardio – Very little cardio left at this point in his career, has to be careful in his offensive output as to not gas himself, can’t recklessly go for take-downs as he used to be able to

DEFENSE

Striking – Diminished speed and tendency to back up against pressure bad traits for Marquardt, wilts against fast paced strikers who can push away his take-down attempts. Has to be proactive in his movement and choosing when to attack

Takedown – Decent for the most part, knows the ins and outs of how a take-down works, will make opponents work for it but at his age and lack of cardio, it’s simply a waiting game on tiring out Marquardt.

Ground – One thing that has been a constant throughout Marquardt’s career has been his guard defense, which can be a source of offense for him as well. Always looks to attack with his guard and apply pressure to force mistakes for a reversal. Likes to attack with heel hooks and kneebars as well

Cardio – It just seems like anyone who can force Marquardt to constantly be on defensive and expend energy consistently throughout the 1st round are able to take over in the later rounds for the win as Marquardt gasses out

Chin – His chin has just completely deteriorated throughout the years, a good clean strike will badly hurt Marquardt or leave him unconscious

For all of Marquardt’s accomplishments both in and outside of the UFC, you just can’t escape Father Time no matter what you do. Marquardt does not have the gas tank or the chin to be able to be anything outside of a can crusher versus lower level competition. Thiago Santos is not that. He’s a legitimate striker with tremendous power in his kicks and the speed to dominate Marquardt. Santos can batter Marquardt with hard low kicks and target his body in an effort to tire him out. Marquardt has to force the issue to the ground, where he has a superior advantage over Marreta. I just don’t think Marquardt has the ability to close the gap against Marreta, due to the calculated offensive striking of Marreta. He should be able to see any take-down attempt coming from a mile away and act accordingly.

Santos via 1st round KO

Demian Maia vs Matt Brown

Maia has been gunning for a title shot in the welterweight division for some time now, racking up a 4 fight winning streak since his last loss to Rory MacDonald. An impressive win over Matt Brown could be the stepping stone Maia needs to really put him over the other potential contenders, but that certainly won’t be an easy battle for the elder statesman. Brown was basically one fight away from a shocking turnaround of his career from exciting but ultimately average WW to a legitimate contender. Then he met Robbie Lawler. And Johny Hendricks. Shame. A win for either guy puts them right back into the top 5 WW discussion. Wraaaaaslin’ with nasty grappling versus hellacious forward pressure and sickening hellbows! I am drunk on violence right now.

DEMIAN MAIA
Record: 22-6, 10 wins by submission and 3 by KO/TKO
Height: 6’1       Reach: 72”

OFFENSE

Striking – Not really known for his striking offense, southpaw with a decent jab and good usage of low kicks but not much else. Low tier hand/foot speed and lack of combinations causes Maia to be a below average striker, but at least he doesn’t pretend to be a striker and won’t try to stand too long

Takedown – One of the best and more polished take-down offenses in the entire UFC, with creative angles and enough power to make any take-down attempt work. Has the reaction time and footwork to make all of his level changes very difficult to stop. Has an uncanny ability to drag opponents to the ground by taking their legs out, has the strength to land a slam or two as well

Ground – Probably has the best jiu-jitsu/grappling period in the UFC, has such a methodical way of creating guard passes and transitions, yet it is impossible to stop Maia from getting to any dominant positions he wants. Finds himself in full mount in almost every fight that has Maia on the ground, forces many mistakes and capitalizes on it with excellent back takes and chaining a submission. Not really a GnP’er, but will do it from full mount at times to create submission opportunities

Clinch – Fighting style has Maia in the clinch numerous times throughout the fight, and that’s just fine with Maia. Loves to initiate trips and leverage his way into making his opponents fall down, will drop down and power slam his way to the ground

Cardio – Bad gas tank, but Maia knows this and won’t push himself unless necessary, doesn’t overpursue on the ground and won’t waste energy with short punches from top. Can go 2 full rounds with no problems and consistently land take-downs, the latter rounds is when Maia can get into trouble with no energy left

DEFENSE

Striking – Never really had good striking defense due to bad offensive striking and lack of speed, but Maia almost never lets the fight stay too long standing, doesn’t over extend himself trying to go for the counter-strike.

Takedown – Who in their right mind would try to take down Maia and have to deal with his guillotine or worse, his guard? Chris Weidman, that’s who. Outside of Weidman, not many have attempted to take Maia down, but those who did were able to do so rather effortlessly, but his guard is so dangerous it’s a moot point

Ground – Speaking of his guard, Maia is such a world class grappler that he can make something happen out of nothing, even if he gets full mounted. Maia isn’t a guy who applies pressure through submission attempts or trying to grab something for a reversal/sweep, but rather capitalizes on mistakes and will explode on them for either an escape or a submission attempt

Cardio – As said before, Maia has known cardio issues and usually has about 2 rounds before it becomes a real problem. Striking defense turns into dust while gassed, and that’s usually when Maia starts to lose his fights

Chin – Good, doesn’t really get hurt or knocked out, only 1 KO loss and that was back in ’09 against…..Nate Marquardt! Main issue is cardio in later rounds, can get struck multiple times without defending them, causing the ref to have to stop the fight even if Maia is still standing

MATT BROWN
Record: 20-13, 12 by KO/TKO and 6 by submission
Height: 6’3       Reach: 75”

OFFENSE

Striking – Aggressive, fast paced striker who looks to finish the fight at all times. Has great power in his hands and enough speed to string together strong combinations. Switches between the aggressor with hard straights and body kicks, to being a counter-striker with uppercuts and landing elbows even from range. Brown has some nasty elbow attacks from anywhere, and it’s a staple of his.

Takedown – Will sprinkle in some double leg take-downs, but usually keeps it standing but is willing to mix it up from up close

Ground – Has the grappling to take advantage from top control for a submission, but aggressive mindset usually means elbows, elbows, and more elbows from Brown. Not one to make guard passes, will stick to one position and go from there, quick to get a back take during scrambles for a RNC chance

Clinch – The clinch is Brown’s bread and butter, with absolutely vicious knees and short elbows (MORE ELBOWS!!!), likes to pour it on when he has opponent cornered since Brown knows he’s a beast from the clinch. Can get fight to the ground with a trip from clinch, but generally utilizes the clinch for offensive striking purposes

Cardio – Can go all day despite fast pacing and pressure-based fighting style

DEFENSE

Striking – Average, sacrifices defense in favor of offensive output, as is usually the norm for pressure-based strikers. Specifiable to body attacks, has crumbled to body shots in past fights and been slowed down dramatically by it.

Takedown – Below average, gets overwhelmed and gets legs taken out too easily. Overextends himself during striking exchanges which can result in a quick take-down by an experienced wrestler, one of Brown’s biggest weaknesses

Ground – Despite being a capable grappler, Brown seems to be ineffective off his back, and is at the mercy of the person on top. Has been submitted in 9 of 13 career losses, including 4 of his 7 UFC losses, while 2 other decision losses were to strong wrestlers

Cardio – Take-downs don’t seem to slow down Brown, but landing consistent body shots are the best way to drain Brown’s stamina in the long run

Chin – Excellent, has never been knocked out and rarely gets hurt even if he gets countered mercilessly (as Robbie Lawler did to him). If you can survive Ruthless Robbie Lawler, you can survive anything

This is a really difficult match-up, as both men are excellent from the clinch, even if they both employ different strategies while in it. Brown is the much better striker and will certainly be the aggressor, while Maia will bide his time for the right moment to get a take-down and end it on the ground. If Brown was smart, he’d continuously pressure Maia and keep him running back, giving him no space to have a realistic shot on a well-timed take-down or level change. Brown could potentially break down Maia from the clinch and maybe get a late round finish against a gassed Maia. Unfortunately for Brown, I just think Maia is too wily of a veteran and will go for the take-down immediately, then get into the full mount for whatever he wants. The issue with that is, can he finish Brown before the 3rd round? Absolutely, especially with how bad Brown has looked off his back and fending against a monster like Maia is just asking for trouble.

Maia via 2nd round armbar

Warlley Alves vs Bryan Barberena

The always hyper and exciting Warlley Alves looks to continue smashing through his opponents and padding his undefeated record. He gets the Sage Northcutt hype train derailer in Bryan Barberena, who looks like he eats a lot of cheese. And meat. And blood. I am a feared.

WARLLEY ALVES
Record: 10-0, 6 wins by submission and 1 other by KO/TKO
Height: 5’11       Reach: 72”

OFFENSE

Striking – Hyperactive, pressure busts pipes fighting style with several blitzing combinations and the occasional kick follow-up. Has a great mix of speed and power in all of his strikes, great movement and footwork to get the most power out of his punches. Forces corner traps just off movement and rushes in with a blitz, will pick apart with at range kicks if can’t get opponent to stay still

Takedown – Similar to Matt Brown, uses his own aggression and pressure to help mix up take-downs to keep opponents off balance, but usually keeps it standing

Ground – Has a nose for submission finishes from top control, will land copious amount of ground and pound from whatever position he is in. Goes for side control most of the time to land elbows and bash their faces in, willing to apply even more pressure by chaining together submission attempts

Clinch – Ferocious from the clinch with heavy knees and nasty dirty boxing, corner traps or cutting off their angles help Alves get into the clinch early and often

Cardio – His kamikaze style of striking can take a toll on Alves, but if recent fights are a sign of things to come, it seems Alves focuses more on controlled bursts of anger and volatility in an effort to keep his stamina at a competitive level

DEFENSE

Striking – Good striking defense despite his blitzing attacking style, keeps head low and utilizes good movement to continuously find striking angles while keeping himself away from being countered

Takedown – Has a deadly guillotine choke that helps defend and deter take-downs, understands leverage and when to use underhooks. Even if he gets taken down, he is able to jump back on his feet quickly just by good hand placement. Reactive on scrambles and looks for the choke especially if he can get a front headlock

Ground – The few times Alves did end up on his back, he seemed passive and mostly held on, waiting for the right moment to explode out of the position and back up on the feet. A smart wrestler would be able to take advantage of such antics, but I don’t anticipate Barberena having the discipline or patience to punish Alves

Cardio – Take-downs do take a toll on Alves, but due to his great hand placement and dangerous guillotine choke, it’s probably better to avoid giving Alves any chance to latch on their neck

Chin – Got hit hard by Jouban, but otherwise hasn’t really been tested thus far in the UFC

BRYAN BARBERENA
Record: 11-3, 8 wins by KO/TKO and 2 by submission
Height: 6’0      Reach: 72”

OFFENSE

Striking – Not athletically gifted or quick, Barberena makes up for the lack of those traits by being a walking demolition machine. Absorbing punishment as he walks through strikes to deal punishment of his own with staggering right/left crosses and a power bomb of an overhand. Barberena will throw in some low kicks for good measure, but his bread and butter are his power punch combinations. Should learn to move around better instead of being static and stuck in one place, but it works for him at the moment

Takedown – Nothing of note, basic take-downs that don’t gain much traction

Ground – Nasty ground and pound from top, has several GnP TKOs on record, but those usually come after a knock-down or a quick take-down during an exchange

Clinch – Likes to get in some dirty boxing and try to gas out his opponents with wall and stalls, nothing out of the ordinary

Cardio – Excellent cardio and has the stamina to go 5 rounds if necessary which helps keep Barberena in any fight with his brawler’s mentality

DEFENSE

Striking – Below average, may be due to his brawling style and willingness to walk through punches or maybe Barberena just isn’t quick or reactive enough to avoid getting hit. Whatever the reason, opponents have plenty of chances to hit Barberena early and often, but must respect his power on counters nonetheless

Takedown – Average, gets overextended on throwing bombs and can get taken down due to that. MMA Lab camp with Benson Henderson probably has helped Barberena be a little more disciplined and more emphasis on underhooks against take-downs

Ground – Below average ground defense, can get stuck in a bad position for too long without doing anything, sometimes will turtle up instead of turning inside and getting wrist control

Cardio – Nothing seems to slow this guy down, cardio for days

Chin – Fits in the zombie chin category, it is crazy the amount of power shots Barberena can take and still walk through them all

This could be a case of Barberena weathering the storm that is Hurricane Alves, then roaring back for a late round win or even a split decision as Alves gasses out. The problem with that is Alves is such a dynamically aggressive striker that even with Barberena’s zombie chin probably being able to hold up, Alves can land enough strikes in quick succession to potentially force the ref to stop the fight if he can hurt Barberena enough times. There’s also that nasty guillotine choke of Alves. Granted, I doubt Barberena even comes close to giving his neck to Alves on anything, but it’s still something to keep in the back of the mind. I think Barberena is durable enough to withstand Alves’ punishment to last 3 rounds, but will still give up a ton of significant strikes in the process. Tough fight for him.

Alves via unanimous decision

Mauricio Rua vs Corey Anderson

Another guy who should be retired! Granted, it is Shogun Rua, and he’s such a fan favorite I can’t even make a joke about him. He’s freakin’ Pride Rua! Unfortunately for him, he faces the bane of my existence in Corey Anderson and his stupid nickname. What is it, you say? It’s “Beastin’ 25/8”. YES, THAT’S HIS NICKNAME. I KNOW!!!!!! UGHHHHHHHH!!!!!

MAURICIO RUA
Record: 23-10, 19 wins by KO/TKO and 1 other by submission
Height: 6’1         Reach: 76”

OFFENSE

Striking – This is Shogun Rua, and he’s been the same striker for many, many years. Hard kicks to the legs/body with a powerful right straight and a counter-left that have put people to sleep for years. There’s also that lunging overhand that can overwhelm even the stingiest striking defense. Mainly a counter-striker while staying busy with hard kicks and sliding around his opponents, waiting for those counter windows to pop up

Takedown – Mixes in some power blasts and double legs, but at his age and cardio issues, prefers to keep it standing unless absolutely necessary

Ground – Tends to stay heavy on top especially after a take-down, will land some elbows here and there but doesn’t stay busy enough to keep it on the ground. Not a big threat with submissions, but if given the chance to land some gruesome ground and pound, Rua will gladly take it

Clinch – Loves to pour on the knees and land uppercuts from the clinch, adds some short elbows as well. Sometimes wall and stalls too much when Rua should be looking for more offensive output instead of hand battling

Cardio – The narrative with Rua over the past few years has been the same time and time again. “We swear it’s a different Rua! A new camp will have a brand new, revitalized Shogun! He will not gas out as quickly anymore!”. And each time the opposite turns out true. Rua just simply does not have the gas tank to go 3 full rounds, but as long as he doesn’t get too overconfident on the feet, Rua can pace himself somewhat

DEFENSE

Striking – Darn that Father Time. Rua doesn’t have the inane ability to counter-strike everything in sight due to diminished hand/foot speed, which is why you may have seen a sometimes passive Rua on the feet or seeing more calculated combos. He can’t handle quicker strikers the same way he has done in the past, and has to stay disciplined more often than not

Takedown – Average if Rua can see it coming, otherwise he often hits the deck against bigger, stronger wrestlers or those who can duck under Rua’s punches for the take-down.

Ground – Still has a serviceable defensive guard, but not a big threat off his back with submissions. Won’t be an easy guy to move on, but tends to open himself up to GnP by holding on too long instead of trying to get back up on his feet

Cardio – Take-downs can destroy Rua’s stamina in an instant, as well as constant pressure that keeps Rua on his toes all fight

Chin – Not very good as of recently, got knocked out by Dan Henderson, Ovince St Preux, and almost knocked out by Antonio Rogerio Nogueira before his comeback victory. Gets rocked too often by clean strikes

COREY ANDERSON
Record: 8-1, 3 wins by KO/TKO
Height: 6’3        Reach: 79”

OFFENSE

Striking – High volume oriented striker, paint by numbers with jab/straight combinations and several low kicks in quick succession. Will try to hit the counter-right as often as possible. Flat footed at times and lacks movement to be a more dynamic striker, also fairly predictable with his punches

Takedown – Big, athletic wrestler with impressive quickness for a LHW, can hit a sudden level change or hunt for a double leg which is his bread and butter. Knows how to use his lanky frame to his advantage, being able to close the gap since he can cover so much ground quickly. Still has the strength to push through and slam it home against anyone

Ground – Has a little Patrick Cummins to his ground offense, posturing up or standing up and driving down punches on the way down. Doesn’t stay in on position too long and always stays busy with ground and pound. Not a threat with submissions

Clinch – Not really known for his clinch offense, but is capable of landing a take-down from the clinch since he usually finds himself up the fence

Cardio – I’m not really sure what to make of his cardio as he faded against Gian Villante but was still pouring on the sig strikes, and was able to land several take-downs/GnP his past few fights without looking visibly gassed. I’ll say it’s probably above average until further notice

DEFENSE

Striking – None. Lack of head movement/overall movement impedes Anderson’s ability to avoid getting hit in the head, doesn’t check leg kicks to a point where you might yell at the TV in frustration. Eats the right counter way too damn much. Tries to minimize his sheer lack of defense by utilizing his wrestling and keeping it on the ground

Takedown – Rarely gets taken down, but knows how to defend and uses his length to stay heavy on opponents’ backs during take-downs to make it even more difficult.

Ground – Questionable ground defense, hasn’t been exposed as of yet since the few successful take-downs on Anderson did not last long on the ground, but I think it’s probably not very good

Cardio – Hasn’t faced enough unique fighting styles to determine what could tire him out other than himself, so probably still good either way

Chin – Meh. Bad striking defense doesn’t help but he can take a punch or two. Was dazed by Villante late in the 3rd but was still standing before the ref stoppage, even if he didn’t know what his name was at the time

If Anderson doesn’t make this a wrestling exhibition match, he’s a fool. His lack of striking defense and propensity in getting hit by counter-rights spells doom for him against Rua, even if Rua is 100 years old. Rua’s lack of any real take-down defense is obviously the biggest concern in the match-up, but if he can stalk Anderson around the octagon and blast away Anderson’s lead leg with his hard kicks, he’s got a chance at a counter knockout victory. Otherwise, it’s probably gonna be a rough day at the office for Rua if Anderson stops being an idiot and gets the fight to the ground. Which he has done in recent fights despite his low fight IQ. Rua likes to get hit in the head on the ground, and Anderson likes to constantly ground and pound from any position. Seems like a good recipe for a safe cash play.

Anderson via unanimous decision

Cristiane Justino vs Leslie Smith

Poor Leslie Smith. Poor, poor girl. You may have the demeanor of the bossman Nick Diaz and the chin to withstand a nuclear bomb, but this just isn’t the match for you, Leslie. Cyborg is a massive, massive “bantamweight”, since she still hasn’t officially made the 135 pound threshold (the fight is at a catchweight of 140 pounds). Cyborg packs probably the biggest punch of any WMMA fighter on record, but it’s not like that’s all she can do. She’s also ridiculously strong and has a brown belt in BJJ. Cyborg has not lost since her professional debut, which was a submission loss back in 2005, stacking up 15 straight wins with 13 of those by KO/TKO. Yikes. That poor, poor Leslie Smith.

CRISTIANE JUSTINO
Record: 15-1, 13 wins by KO/TKO
Height: 5’8        Reach: 69”

OFFENSE

Striking – One of the most, if not the strongest, powerful women’s 135-145 lbs strikers of our generation. 13 of 15 wins by KO/TKO and some were brutal one punch knockouts. Only has one gear standing, and that’s to kill. Lightning quick hooks and a vicious overhand lead the way for Cyborg, but uses feints and a little movement to ignite exchanges and become the deadliest counter-striker WMMA has ever seen. Mixes in some kicks as well but plain and simple will mow down her opponents with endless overhands and a very, very stiff jab

Takedown – Doesn’t go for ordinary take-downs, does most of her damage from clinch

Ground – Oh boy. Her GnP is just as brutalizing as her stand-up is, looking to break faces early and often especially when she postures up. Looks to end fights with the GnP even in dominant positions rather than the submissions, which equals more fantasy points (sig strikes, duh). Doesn’t really do guard passes, as she uses her own strength to basically make any position a dominant one.

Clinch – Forward pacing and relentless overhands usually has Cyborg meeting her opponents in the clinch sooner or later (and it’s usually sooner). Looks for the hip toss or the backwards trip take-down. Sometimes will hold up the fence to tire them out then break out the overhands shortly after. Knee follow-ups sprinkled in

Cardio – Tricky one, as most of her fights don’t go past the 1st round and she does swing pretty damn hard. It’s probably average at best if it goes past 2 rounds.

DEFENSE

Striking – Does a good job with feints to discourage predicting her attacks, and has the accuracy to land more power shots than missing them. As much as she swings, she actually doesn’t really overextend herself much. Granted, she hasn’t faced any real competition lately but her fighting style usually has Cyborg in opponents’ faces rather than defending against them.

Takedown – So strong she can easily shove away take-down attempts or force it into the clinch. Occasionally will fail on a toss and end up on her back, but that’s about the only time you’ll see Cyborg on her back

Ground – Has a strong guard and will try for heel hooks if in danger off her back and escape. Just too strong to consistently hold on the ground even on failed clinch throw attempts by Cyborg

Cardio – There’s a chance Smith could take a page out of Nate Diaz’s plan vs McGregor against Cyborg. Let Cyborg tire herself out by smashing Smith all around the cage, start landing at range attacks and keep on the pressure on Cyborg when she is gassed, and hope for either a late round stoppage or an ill advised take-down into a submission. Smith would have to survive Cyborg’s early onslaught, and I don’t think that’s possible

Chin – Good, not enough competition to judge her chin just yet, but she can take a punch

LESLIE SMITH
Record: 8-6-1, 4 wins by KO/TKO
Height: 5’9        Reach: 66”

OFFENSE

Striking – Long, rangy striker with a no fucks given mentality, will push the pace and try to land constant jab/straight combos with a headkick follow-up. Will counter everything in sight and try to get a corner trap so she can blitz with whatever she wants, but the jab/straight is the go-to attack for Smith

Takedown – None

Ground – None, mostly because the majority of her fights stay standing or with Smith on her back. Or in one occasion, a doctor’s stoppage due to Smith’s ear literally falling off. Gross

Clinch – Lands knees and will elbow her way through the clinch, loves to get in some dirty boxing but will often push out of it and get it back to the center of the octagon

Cardio – Endless

DEFENSE

Striking – None. Her mentality is survival of the fittest, eat or be eaten. Give her an inch and she will go all out with it. Problem with that is she eats a ton of punishment, and she’s facing someone with incredible and unfathomable power for the division (granted, it’s at 140 lbs but you get my point)

Takedown – None, relies on her guard to basically defend against take-downs

Ground – Great guard, able to attack with triangles and has a flexible guard to morph herself into strange positions and get a reversal or escape. Difficult to keep on the ground for long, and is willing to punch back from bottom as well. Feisty!

Cardio – ENDLESS

Chin – Zombie chin, granted it’s not many 135ers in the division with game changing power, but man can Leslie take damage like a champ

Look, if Smith can outlast Cyborg into the deep end of the 2nd round and beyond, she’s got a chance to MAYBE get a split decision with tons of significant strikes against a gassed Cyborg. It’s unlikely she’d be able to submit even a gassed Cyborg, but crazier things have happened. The most likely scenario is Cyborg pummels Smith into oblivion with her ridiculously fast and powerful overhands. If it does go to a decision, I think Cyborg scores enough points to still justify being a safe cash play. Smith’s only value is if she can last to a decision as she should be able to get sig strikes in the process.

Justino via 1st round KO

Ronaldo Souza vs Vitor Belfort

I don’t really understand the match-up from a divisional perspective (Belfort lost badly to Weidman, has not looked the same since TRT ban, and fought the same guy twice in his last 3 fights), while Jacare Souza was legitimately one fight away from a real title shot before his questionable split decision loss to Yoel Romero. He probably should have gotten someone else like a Michael Bisping or even a rematch with Yoel Romero. Instead, they pitted two Brazilian fan favorites against each other, while Jacare is sort of stuck between a rock and a hard place. If he beats Belfort, it won’t be a win that gets Jacare a title shot as he’s expected to make quick work of the older, almost washed up Belfort, and if he does lose to Belfort? There goes any chance he had of a potential title shot. Well, whatever gets the PPV buys I guess?

RONALDO SOUZA
Record: 22-4, 16 wins by submission and 2 by KO/TKO
Height: 6’1        Reach: 72”

OFFENSE

Striking – Heavily reliant on the power overhand right, but will stay at range and wait for the right moment to pounce on a take-down or close the gap with a lunging straight. Occasional kicks here and there, but usually if it stays standing Jacare uses almost exclusively power shots of any kind, especially the left hook

Takedown – Diverse array of take-downs, mostly of the power variety. Enjoys constant level changes and trying to pick up his opponents and splattering them on the mat. Will use a duck and shoot to quickly get into the clinch and…well, just look further down

Ground – Probably the only guy who can rival Maia’s jiu-jitsu/grappling ability, but with a bigger emphasis on submission hunting. So strong and powerful in his transitions, Jacare can literally overwhelm opponents from any positions with his own strength, pushing himself into dominant positions and landing a slick submission. Jacare puts so much pressure on chaining a submission that he will actually attempt a submission, force a mistake that leads to a better submission opportunity. There was even an instance where he walked across the fence into full mount, then stringed together an impressive armbar submission. Chaos!

Clinch – As I was saying before, the clinch is where Jacare feels all nice and secure, able to use his strength and Judo background to get his opponents off balance with hip tosses, leg trips/sweeps, and sometimes even just throwing them out of the cage. Oh, and there’s knees involved too. Growl

Cardio – A little questionable beyond the 2nd round if Jacare does a ton of work on the ground without a finish, but nothing too worrisome

DEFENSE

Striking – Could use better head movement, but stays compact and is proactive on his wild swings in order to avoid getting countered. Has an innate ability to somehow duck under counters for the take-down, which obviously helps hide his chin during exchanges. Quicker strikers with take-down defense will still be able to crack Jacare’s chin due to lack of ancillary strikes (that means he doesn’t have other options outside of power bombs….read a dictionary!)

Takedown – You would have to be a fool to try and get Jacare down to the ground, where he reigns supreme. Not to mention he’s got a buttload of front headlock moves. STAY AWAY

Ground – WHAT DID I JUST SAY???? Still, to the fools who do take him down successfully, good luck keeping him there. Nasty guard, nasty reversals and sweeps. Just nastiness

Cardio – Stop his take-downs and force the issue on the feet with quick combinations and constant movement, forcing Jacare to be on the defensive can deplete his stamina near the end. That’s a tall task though, and only Luke Rockhold was really able to do that….for five rounds to boot!

Chin – Questionable, got knocked down against Yoel Romero and never seemed to be able to recover till the end. Can be caught slipping during exchanges or on a bad take-down attempt and dropped, but not outright knocked out

VITOR BELFORT
Record: 25-11, 18 wins by KO/TKO and 3 by submission
Height: 6’0        Reach: 74”

OFFENSE

Striking – Had long been known as one of the most dangerous strikers in the UFC. That was before TRT use was banned. Vitor is still a pretty powerful striker, but not even close to what he used to be. Counter-striking southpaw with power everywhere, typically relies on one hit counters via left straight/roundhouse to do most of his damage, but will sometimes try to blitz with 1-2 combinations. Goes for fancy spinning kicks and stuff, but dang, TRT-less Vitor just ain’t the same without his roided up speed and reaction time

Takedown – None, well I guess he can kinda, sorta maybe try a level change or two….but probably not if ever at all

Ground – Will try to finish with GnP off a knock-down, but rarely sees time from top control either way

Clinch – Tries to end people’s lives from the clinch with uppercuts, power punching from up close, and….well that’s really it. Prefers to stay at range and pick apart through counters

Cardio – He’s off TRT and is 39 years old. It’s safe to say he has one round MAYBE two of offensive action left in him at this point in his career

DEFENSE

Striking – Strong striking defense aided by counter-striking style and staying at a controlled range, doesn’t run into hands and lets action flow into him. Knows when to circle out and backpedal away from danger. While his striking speed isn’t the same, he’s still a dangerous striker and can’t be rushed against recklessly

Takedown – Average, maybe below average now since Belfort can’t depend on his roidedness (is that a word? Probably not) to stifle take-down attempts. Gets his legs taken under him versus bigger wrestlers (Weidman was able to do this effortlessly) but still has a solid guillotine choke. That’s fool’s gold though and no experienced vet will get caught in it

Ground – At one time Belfort used to have a semi-dangerous guard, willing to attack on a whim when presented with the opportunity (ask Jon Jones), but nowadays he is basically a dead horse on the ground. Just beat him up and let the ref decide his fate

Cardio – Will get exhausted if taken down repeatedly, but not too sure about his cardio if it stays a battle on the feet. Either way, he’s 39 years old!!!!!

Chin – Hmm, I’d say it’s average at best. While he hasn’t been knocked out since the infamous Anderson Silva snapkick KO, his defensive striking skills and keeping himself at range certainly helps hide his chin. Was TKO’d by Weidman 2 fights ago, so there’s that.

This is really Jacare’s fight to lose. He should be able to avoid the counters of Belfort just by simply closing off Belfort’s movement and shooting in for the take-down. From there, it shouldn’t be difficult for the Brazilian jiu-jitsu savant to finish it with a submission, or follow in Weidman’s footsteps and get a TKO from full mount. With how great Belfort’s countering skills used to be, there’s still a small chance (20% I’d say) that Vitor can faceplant Jacare with a well-timed left straight or, as he did to Dan Henderson, a headkick into a GnP finish. I’ll take Jacare against just about anyone in the middleweight division though, and he should be able to show why.

Souza via 1st round kimura

Fabricio Werdum vs Stipe Miocic

HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT!!!!! WERDUM FACE!!!!! A GUY WITH THE LAST NAME MIOCIC!!!!! FAAAAAANTASTIC!

FABRICIO WERDUM
Record: 20-5, 10 wins by submission and 6 by KO/TKO
Height: 6’4        Reach: 77”

OFFENSE

Striking – Has turned himself from primarily a BJJ guy who butt scooted his way around the octagon to a very good striking heavyweight with all the BJJ chops to destroy anyone on the ground anywhere. Muay Thai base with a slow but relaxed approach, quick 1-2 combinations and liberal use of hard kicks to the body/head. Clean, effect striking techniques and landing more combos while improving countering skills. Was able to land 96 sig strikes vs Velasquez and 121 against Travis Browne (both 5 round fights, 3rd round guillotine vs Velasquez and decision win over Browne)

Takedown – Likes to duck and shoot from range, slow approach usually means Werdum can jump into a take-down if opponents lunges forward. Will go for single/double legs or anything if he can grab on a leg and drag to the ground. Not the prettiest but he gets it done. Does most of his take-downs from the clinch

Ground – Yet another guy who has a legitimacy for the best jiu-jitsu/grappling in the entire UFC. The most dangerous man on the ground in the HW division, Werdum just simply knows how to end it on the ground from any position, with Demian Maia-esque guard passes and having Jacare’s strength to overwhelm when being held. Werdum’s submissions are more visceral than Jacare’s, putting the onus on defending at all costs with constant pressure on all limbs, then sneak in some tough GnP. Very instinctive, creates a chess match on the ground

Clinch – Employs the Muay Thai clinch as much as possible, heavy knees, dirty boxing, elbows, uppercuts, sweeps, trips, whatever you can think of Werdum does it in the clinch. This is how he was able to overwhelm Velasquez and tire him out as well as land copious amount of sig strikes. Black belt in Judo a big aid in leveraging his way inside the clinch for the take-downs or to just simply hold the fort and land more attacks

Cardio – Was clearly the fresher fighter against Velasquez, a known cardio machine, so I’d have to say it’s pretty damn good. Went full 5 rounds against Browne with plenty of strikes landed and looked just fine.

DEFENSE

Striking – Careful approach allows Werdum to stay at range and react to exchanges, is able to stay out of trouble against slower, power-oriented strikers. Speedy strikers who utilize the jab/straight and can pressure a little bit are usually the type that Werdum struggles against, since he doesn’t have the speed to match and lacks head movement. Depends on the clinch and take-downs to neutralize pressure and quicker strikers, but lack of diverse take-downs from range troubling at times. Will sometimes drop down or pull guard in an attempt to goad opponents to get to the ground with him. It usually doesn’t work. Example

Takedown – Foolish to get anywhere near Werdum on any take-down, he has a world class guillotine and a take-down would lead to tangling with Werdum on the ground. Not ideal. Velasquez is an experienced wrestler who had never been submitted, until he tried to take Werdum down and instantly got guillotined. Silly

Ground – Extremely dangerous and wily guard, knows how to escape and will actually try to hold opponents in his guard to prevent their escape as to gain more time in setting up submissions. That’s pure confidence right there in his jiu-jitsu skills. Stay away from the ground!

Cardio – I’d like to see how Werdum lasts against someone who can out-strike him but avoid getting planted to the ground, something Miocic could easily do. Until then, I’d have to say it’s very good

Chin – Now here’s the part that could change the entire fight. Werdum has been known as a trickster and has been “knocked” down, but seemingly unharmed immediately after. He’s definitely been straight up knocked out before and certainly has been rocked/knocked down legitimately, but there are some strange circumstances when Werdum seemed to get knocked down but actually was trying to get them to commit going to the ground. It’s hard to say with a definitive answer, but I’d say it’s borderline a wobbly chin.

STIPE MIOCIC
Record: 14-2, 10 wins by KO/TKO and 1 other by submission
Height: 6’4        Reach: 80”

OFFENSE

Striking – Big, powerful boxer with surprising speed in his hands and quickness in footwork. Improved overall movement has made Miocic a very good boxer inside the octagon, with lateral movement on his jab/straights and a great counter-right. Mixes in hard low kicks and body punches as he paints his opponents with plenty of punch combinations. Looks for the right cross for the knockout, and has the power for it and the speed to string together a number of combinations without hesitation. Finished Arlovski and Fabio Maldonaldo early with the cross

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Takedown – Has a wrestling background and the size to get low for the single/double leg take-down. Knows when opponents are at a disadvantage off their back, and when they are better than Miocic. More about size than technique for Miocic

Ground – Brutal ground and pound, will punish escape attempts with free punches to the face. Utilizes his own strength to hold down opponents from half guard/side control, not a guy to make guard passes. Could be a wash against Werdum, but if Miocic can get outside of Werdum’s guard, may be able to GnP his way to victory

Clinch – Tries to stay out of the clinch, prefers to dictate flow of the fight from center of octagon

Cardio – Hard to say exactly where his stamina levels are at, as he gassed considerably against Stefan Struve, gassed against JDS but that was a monstrous fight full of fight ending blows, and usually looks fresh against most opponents. Probably needs to be more aware of cage movement as to not tire himself out, but should have 2 rounds of unaffected offense at the very least

DEFENSE

Striking – Usually stout striking defense using footwork to move laterally and create countering windows while still keeping a stiff jab. Prone to moments of no head movement and staying flat footed, eating a hard overhand. Struggles with back near the fence, needs to be in front of opponent and controlling the distance. Not sure how Miocic handles low/body kicks, as he’s never really faced anyone who consistently could kick or tried to kick Miocic

Takedown – Strong take-down defense, uses his size and leans on opponents or stops take-downs outright by dropping down and winning the scramble. Rare instances that had Miocic on the ground, he was quickly able to get back up.

Ground – This is where Werdum may be able to win the fight, taking advantage of Miocic’s lack of experience off his back. Only one person with a BJJ black belt that got Miocic to the ground was Gabriel Gonzaga, and it lasted for about 2 seconds. I don’t think Miocic will have any clue on what to do off his back if Werdum is able to get top position, and it could be over instantly with a submission from Werdum. Taking Miocic to the ground is a tough feat though, but it’s definitely something Werdum will try to do

Cardio – I think if Miocic gets drawn into a brawl or a striking battle, he may lose some of his gas tank in the later rounds as he did against JDS and to a lesser extent against Struve in the 2nd round. Werdum was able to tire out Velasquez with his clinch offense, and Miocic does struggle with his back to the fence, so conceivably the same gameplan Werdum had against Cain could work vs Miocic

Chin – Zombie chin, was hit hard as HELL by JDS who is one of the hardest hitting heavyweights, and ate a ton of punches from Struve while gassed that forced the ref to stop it standing. Example of both Miocic’s zombie chin and tendency to eat overhands

This is such a tough fight to figure out. Miocic has the boxing and power to knock out Werdum, but has many questions regarding what he can or can’t do on the ground. He’s also got possible cardio issues and struggles from the clinch/back of the fence. Werdum obliterates anywhere on the ground, but probably lacks the take-down offense to take down Miocic outside of clinch throws. He’s also going to be at a speed disadvantage against Stipe, but if Werdum’s last fight is of any indication, Werdum definitely knows how to gameplan and will find ways to highlight his strengths rather than his weaknesses. As long as Werdum stays away from Miocic’s overhand/cross and is able to corner Miocic, I think Werdum should be able to batter with plenty of strikes and kicks to the body from the clinch. Werdum probably won’t be able to finish Miocic unless he gets it to the ground someway. Landing 90+ sig strikes in 3 rounds and 123 sig strikes in 5 rounds against Browne are good signs that Werdum doesn’t need a finish to score fantasy points. Roster both of these heavyweights and build around them. Someone’s gonna get points.

Werdum via unanimous decision

MMA

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