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UFC 202 DFS Picks: Nate The McTerminator
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UFC 202 DFS Picks: Nate The McTerminator

UFC 201’s picks did not fare well in the last article, granted it did have several too-close-to-call fights and some crazy, crazy upsets. However, UFC 202 should be an easier card to analyze with less tight fights odds wise and easier match-ups. Of course, there’s that little teeny, tiny main event rematch between two of the biggest polarizing figures in the UFC (and the biggest needle movers) in Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor. The 1st fight went about as expected by the uneducated public, with McGregor seemingly getting the better of Diaz in the early goings of the 1st round. Then came the cardio issue for the significantly bigger than usual McGregor, and Diaz’s legendary chin and endless cardio also came into play. The 2nd round was almost a bloodbath for McGregor once he depleted the rest of what remained in his gas tank en route to a 2nd round submission loss that was a huge surprise to the betting public. But you know who wasn’t surprised? Stockton, TWO OH NINE! Now, after gathering himself and correcting (or so I’d think) his mistakes committed in the fight against Nate, McGregor won’t be taking Diaz lightly this time around, and perhaps we’ll actually see a true 5 round war that I had selfishly hoped for the 1st time around. Who knows though? Diaz has the tools to be able to frustrate McGregor yet once again, and the legendary chin/gas tank to take all of the inevitable power bombs and deft counters that surely will come from the rabid Irishman. Oh, look at me getting all lathered up about the rematch! There’s still several other fights to look forward on the card, including yet another riveting episode of “Whose Ass Is It Anyway?”, starring Donald Cerrone and his feet of justice searching for somebody’s ass to kick! That ass just may end up being Rick Story’s, but that’s for another time. Crack open another cerveza and enjoy the festivities of the Stockton Slap once again!

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Alberto Uda vs Marvin Vettori

Uda just recently lost his fight against Jake Collier to some brutal body kicks, despite the fact that Uda had broken Collier’s nose with a vicious knee. He’ll look to bounce back against newcomer Marvin Vettori, the welterweight champion of Venator FC, and it should be a pretty fun fight between two fighters who like to keep it a close quarters battle. Not to mention Uda will be dropping down from MW to WW, so he should be the bigger fighter. Size advantage!

ALBERTO UDA

Strengths

  • Long and lanky build with an aggressive pressure-based fighting style, which can be very sloppy at times but suits to Uda’s skill-set
  • Throws out rangy one hit strikes mostly of the kick variety and not many combinations, applies the spray’n’pray method and can land some flashy looking kicks
  • Basis of pressure-based striking is to try and get into the clinch and up the fence as effectively as possible, where Uda is at his best/most comfortable
  • Strong clinch game, has some vicious knees and has some Matt Brown-esque elbow attacks from clinch, will also land some excellent trips with a little bit of bodylock take-downs
  • Black belt in BJJ, has a great guard and is very aggressive with his submission attempts especially off his back where Uda seems to be at his best grappling wise, capable of negating offensive movement while creating ample submission opportunities
  • Has one hell of a chin, can take punishment which bodes well for Uda’s particular fighting style (I guess, but wouldn’t it be better to…ya know, not get hit?)

Weaknesses

  • Just not very polished on the feet, can be erratic and sloppy with a porous striking defense, lacks the hand/foot speed to ever be a dynamic striker
  • Not very good at keeping his position from top control, whether it’s due to a mediocre top game or his aggressive nature is unknown, but it’s worrisome that a BJJ black belt isn’t good at positional control
  • While having a great guard is an important attribute to have for a grappler, being too reliant on creating offense from his back can be a detriment for future success in the UFC for Uda and may end up costing Uda some rounds in the end

MARVIN VETTORI

Strengths

  • Southpaw with some decent power and mostly depends on rushing in with the left straight and either try to get a double leg or just simply get in the clinch
  • Much like Uda, Vettori excels from the clinch or just staying in close range, strong and quick enough to notch a take-down from clinch or stay busy from the fence with knees/elbows/dirty boxing
  • Loves to utilize headlock chokes during grappling/scrambles, very aggressive on the ground from top, hunts for leg/ankle locks
  • Has a knack of getting back takes as well, majority of damage is done from creating scrambles and winning the position battle

Weaknesses

  • Fighting style may help out Uda considering Vettori isn’t a technical striker and prefers to get up close and personal, which eventually will hit the ground with Uda on his back, something Uda actually prefers
  • Way over-eager/aggressive on submission attempts, even going for ill advised leg locks that exposes him to unblocked punches, and against a better grappler in Uda, that’s not going to end well for him
  • A little clunky at times standing, with not much variety of strikes, but Uda isn’t either so I wouldn’t worry about it too much

Uda is going to get another guy who is similar to Jake Collier, though not as polished or diverse of a striker as Collier is, and it just might be a great stylistic match-up for him. Vettori seems at his best when he gets in the clinch or goes for the double leg take-down/slam, then go to work from top control. Uda is at his best in the clinch and off his back on the ground, so now you have to wonder who has the actual advantage since both men’s striking should cancel each other out. Looking back on the Collier fight, Uda struggled with his length and striking variety especially to the body, which shouldn’t be the case against Vettori. I think Uda may just be too good off his back for Vettori to really punish him with GnP or hunt for a submission, and a triangle choke may be in the books for Uda.

Uda via 2nd round triangle choke

Colby Covington vs Max Griffin

Covington was a nice prospect (still is?) until his loss to crazy man Warlley Alves, and he bounced back from the loss with a 3rd round submission over Jonathan Meunier, who was undefeated at the time. He faces a pretty powerful and athletic fighter with some severe weaknesses in Max Griffin, who brings a 12-2 record with him and had his 6 fight win streak snapped in a split decision loss to now Bellator prospect in Chidi Njokuani. It’ll be a very tough test for Griffin considering Covington will be his best opponent to date. Let’s read further.

COLBY COVINGTON

Strengths

  • Strong and quick wrestler with great level changes and a killer double leg take-down, likes to keep his distance and wait for his moment to strike
  • Southpaw stance with a very technical left body kick and well-timed left straights as he bides his time, likes to read opponents and plan accordingly, keeps his attacks compact and clean as to minimize counter windows
  • Clear gameplan is to get a take-down of some sort and pulverize their faces with some tough GnP and jump on any submission opportunity
  • Very strong top control, makes smart and concentrated transitions in order to continue physically holding down opponents, thereby gassing them out and opening up more submission chances

Weaknesses 

  • Despite his wrestling edge and actual strength advantages, Covington can be a little tentative from top control, staying in one position for too long instead of being more active
  • Stand-up is more about landing that accurate one power shot to hurt them and then quickly jump into a take-down, can be predictable and telegraphed at times and be stagnant on the feet
  • Good at scrambles for the most part, but has been caught in bad positions against better grapplers, Pyle almost got the fight-ending submission and Alves was able to choke out Covington with his patented guillotine choke

MAX GRIFFIN

Strengths

  • Functional striking behind a good jab that Griffin will pick and prod often with, has the power to put away with one hit and it shows in his fights
  • Loves to spam the right hand, especially as a counter against forward pressure or while backing up
  • Not much in the way of actual offensive wrestling, relies on suddenness and strength to achieve take-downs and will often simply use a take-down as a way to push the fight up the fence and into the clinch
  • Capable of hitting a bodylock take-down and then staying strong in top control with methodical GnP

Weaknesses

  • Very little head movement, striking defense is pretty below average, got hit way too much against average strikers especially against overhands
  • Wrestling (both offensively and defensively) more about being the stronger guy than technique, facing a very good wrestler who can take advantage of the defensive holes of Griffin’s
  • Bad habit of turning his back to his opponents especially near the fence during fence holding, got his back taken several times in some fights – not a good sign against a persistent wrestler like Covington

I can already see how this fight is going to turn out. It’s gonna be a lot of fence holding and plenty of take-downs from Covington, some successful and some not, with Covington clinging on for dear life as Griffin tries to get out of it. Snore. There’s a good chance Covington can just simply out-grapple Griffin on the ground and pass his way into a submission, as he’s done in the past. As long as Covington stays away from the power right hand of Griffin’s, it should clear sailing for him. It’s either going to be a RNC due to Griffin’s tendency to turn his back, or a 3 round wrasslefest by Covington. Whatever.

Covington via unanimous decision

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Neil Magny vs Lorenz Larkin

Magny was slated to fight against the real Donger, Dong Hyun Kim, before an injury forced the Donger to pull out. Cough. Lorenz Larkin will be Magny’s new opponent, and he’s probably a harder test for the surging Magny, currently riding a 3 fight winning streak and an improbable comeback from utter demise at the hands of Hector Lombard. Larkin just recently fought to a decision win against always tough Jorge Masvidal, and has faced some of the better welterweights as of late, including the Russian savage Albert Tumenov and still sizzling Santiago Ponzinibbio. It’ll be a fairly entertaining striking affair between two high volume strikers with vastly different striking game plans and styles.

NEIL MAGNY

Strengths

  • 6’3” with a 80 inch reach, and it’s something that Magny utilizes well and has been a big reason for his resurgence over the last 2 years
  • Has an excellent jab that he uses profusely, likes to be a long range striker with some stance switching and good usage of range combination attacks to keep his distance
  • Good defensive wrestling and scrambling ability, being a long distance striker with the length to widen the gap between Magny and his opponents, thereby making it easier to react against take-down attempts
  • Movement and being able to circle out effectively also a big part of Magny’s skill-set, which makes him such a difficult opponent to close the distance against
  • Will occasionally try to muscle his way on a take-down or take advantage of being in the clinch for a quick take-down/gain top control, decent grappling skills and can position himself for submissions
  • Immeasurable heart and the will of a champion, has been in dangerous/precarious situations where it seemed like Magny was done for (knocked out/in a submission) only to come back from nowhere and win (Lombard/Hyun Gyu Lim/De Lima)

Weaknesses

  • Biggest weakness is dealing with pressure against someone who actually knows how to cut off the cage, or someone who can match Magny’s size/length much like Lim did (should have gotten the 1st round knockout)
  • Isn’t very good off his back as he tends to try and scramble back up while giving up his back, has a below average guard – Maia was able to dominate him easily for the submission (even if its the GOAT Maia) and Moraes instantly mounted him for the sub win as well
  • Wobbly chin, has been dropped in several of his fights but his chin is the type to always get tested but never completely knocked out – this is where Magny’s heart and will comes into play

LORENZ LARKIN

Strengths

  • Kick-centric, very technical striker with some unique attacks, including a mystifying spinning heel kick, very creative with his combinations and mixes up attacks well
  • Toes the line of pressuring/staying back and being a counter-striker well, has the hand/foot speed to excel in both areas and the reaction time/discipline to never over-reach or over-extend himself on majority of strikes
  • Good at stuffing take-down attempts and scrambling, has the quickness and speed to go toe to toe with the elite in the division
  • Just a very clean, effortless striker that adapts to the flow of the fight and still has the power to put away with one hit (see Ponzinibbio fight)

Weaknesses

  • Has always struggled against bigger opponents with strong offensive take-downs, can be passive off his back and stay stuck to the mat for extended periods of time
  • Usually stays elusive and has tight striking defense, but once he does get hit, has a tendency to get “shook” or dropped, which then changes the dynamic of the fight from there on
  • Has improved on it, but in past Larkin could be controlled via fence holding, granted it was when he was at an actual size disadvantage at heavier weight classes

This is a very good fight between two consistently technical strikers with quick, effective attacks that are more about output than straight power. Magny obviously will have the height/reach advantage over Larkin, but probably won’t have the speed or quickness advantage against the explosive Larkin. It’ll come down to whether or not Larkin can pressure Magny without eating 100 jabs at once trying to close the distance. Larkin does have more options to win the fight, including his wide array of leg kicks that can reach even the longest of range strikers, and it’s probably what Larkin will do for majority of the fight. I don’t see the fight going to the ground, so it should be a back and forth technical battle with a good chance of high sig strike output by both men. I’m not really sure who has the advantage since both fighters can counter either one’s strengths, but I think I’m gonna go with Larkin just because he’s more creative on offense and can win a points fight with his kicks. A finish here isn’t likely in my opinion.

Larkin via unanimous decision

Randa Markos vs Cortney Casey

Both women will be making a very quick turnaround after winning both of their last fights with Casey having fought a mere month ago, and two months for Markos. In Markos’ win, she out-landed Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger for the decision win, and Casey notched a much needed win by putting on a show against Cristine Stanciu for the 1st round TKO victory. Both women aren’t afraid to pour it on while on the feet, and neither one will back down against pressure as well. Markos needs the win more than Casey does in my opinion, considering she’s the ranked fighter and has been a little underwhelming despite some public support/hype. Yet another entertaining battle!

RANDA MARKOS

Strengths

  • Solid all around fighter but not above average in any aspect of her fighting game, can do a little bit of everything – Swiss Army Knife
  • Likes to land the quick jab-straight repeatedly, then back away for some counter opportunities, especially with the left hook
  • Where Markos seems to end up the most is up the grill of her opponents, applying pressure and trying to mix in the level change or clinch take-downs from the fence
  • As said before, just solid all around and that also includes her ground work, good top control with some GnP and obviously will jump on submission opportunities, but not a great grappler
  • One thing Markos does do well is her ability to get the trip take-down, especially when her pressure striking starts getting into a rhythm and forces a back-pedal
  • Also has a very strong chin and cardio

Weaknesses

  • Not an overwhelming striker, can be predictable at times especially if she thinks she’s down on the cards, seems to get frustrated by counter-strikers with a jab and can circle away from Markos’ pressure
  • Average take-down defense and on the ground, was taken down by Penne 4x and controlled, has been taken down by other women that aren’t really known for their take-downs
  • Still needs to tighten up her striking defense, especially if Markos is intent on pushing the pace at some point in every round, JJL was able to land 79 sig on Markos in their last fight

CORTNEY CASEY

Strengths

  • Likes to stay in the pocket and attack with the jab/straight, efficient with her straight punches and generally puts out a high volume of strikes thrown
  • Good snap on her punches and has some sneaky power behind them, had Joanna Calderwood hurt on several occasions and dropped Seo Hee Ham
  • Very solid counter-striker, has a nice first step as she leans into her straights and still gets back fast enough to get ready for more exchanges
  • Adept in the clinch, can hit the hip toss or a trip take-down then quickly jump into ground and pound mode
  • Surprisingly active off her back with relentless strikes and always trying to escape using her long limbs, will attempt to get leg locks and use it to escape
  • A heck of a chin

Weaknesses

  • Gas tank issues continue to plague her career, as she usually looks great and crisp in the 1st round, then falters in the later rounds as she expends her energy throwing out random flurries
  • Willing to brawl and get a little crazy on the feet, and while Casey can rack up the sig strikes, she also allows her opponents to hit back just as much as Casey – 71 sig to Seo Hee Ham and 90 sig to Calderwood
  • Main sticking point for me is how Casey attempts to block Markos’ take-down attempts, because if she gets stuck on the ground then that’s probably a losing proposition for her

I’m hoping we see a back and forth striking affair between two tough, willing to put it all out there fighters instead of a smart gameplan from Markos that consists of keep Casey up the fence and forcing her to defend numerous take-down attempts. That’s the best way for Markos to defeat Casey in my opinion, or it may turn out to be a similar fight Markos had against JLL, where JLL was able to get going late with plenty of stick and move punch combinations and being able to hit back on Markos’ counter attempts that fell short of their target. It’s something Casey seems to excel at, and with her length and good speed on her straights, it’s what I think ends up winning the fight for Casey. High sig strikes alert!

Casey via unanimous decision

Artem Lobov vs Chris Avila

This is quite literally a battle between two guys who just so happens to be friends/training partners of the people involved in the main event, with Lobov being McGregor’s friend and Avila being the other. They are both terrible, and honestly, this is just kinda of a “hey, you guys know Conor and Nate, do y’all wanna fight?” throw in fight. Lobov can hit hard and has many finishes, while Avila kinda, sorta looks like a Diaz but not that much. I mean….really UFC? You couldn’t just add in Nick Diaz? Not even GSP?

ARTEM LOBOV

Strengths

  • Likes to always push forward and stay as close to his opponent as possible, then play the counter game with his ducking right hand and equally powerful left hook
  • Throws every punch with all of his might, goes for the homerun knockout punch every chance he gets
  • Very tough, willing to fight 20 rounds if needed and doesn’t back down even if he’s hurt or rocked – one of the main reasons why he perseveres through his limited skill-set and gets wins just by sheer determination
  • That is literally all you need to know about Lobov,  he wants to get up in their face and just swing baby, swing!

Weaknesses

  • Short arms his punches quite often, and it’s not surprising considering his really, really short reach of 65 inches which is pretty bad for a featherweight (the site has him at 66 inches though, how nice of them) so guys who can just jab him away have a big advantage
  • Super one dimensional with his punches, everyone knows what he wants to do and while he’s got the speed and power, against basically anyone competent, it just doesn’t work
  • No take-down defense to speak of, really average ground defense and just not a great defensive wrestler overall

CHRIS AVILA

Strengths

  • Has a solid jab and a good right straight that Avila likes to try and roll over on incoming strikes, has the classic left hand slap that both Diazes have but to a lesser extent
  • When not pressured, Avila can employ the stick and move gameplan effectively enough to be a decent threat on the feet with his length and good boxing
  • Likes to try and attach himself to opponents’ back inside the clinch or up the fence, then drag/trip them into the ground for a back take opportunity
  • Will have a massive 7 inch reach advantage on Lobov, so if he’s able to stick and move, that’s going to be too much of an obstacle for Lobov
  • That’s it, like I said these guys are just not PPV card worthy

Weaknesses

  • Backpedals too much which is strange considering the Diazes are good at backing up against pressure and landing that signature left hook right over the top
  • Kinda susceptible to the counter, which bodes well for Lobov since that’s basically his style in addition to being a pressure guy
  • Doesn’t have much tricks up his sleeve if he can’t get the back of his opponents while standing, doesn’t finish his take-down attempts and can just simply fence hold

SNORE. I DON’T CARE ABOUT THIS FIGHT!!!! Lobov can knock out Avila just as easily as Avila can jab and run away from Lobov. Both guys have strengths that specifically can target either one’s weaknesses, so it’s really up to you on who you think is the better fighter. What? YOU’RE ASKING ME??????? FINE. I pick Avila because 2 0 9 ya mutha – SHUT YO MOUTH!

Avila via unanimous decision

Raquel Pennington vs Elizabeth Phillips

Pennington is coming off one of her bigger wins in the UFC with a split decision win over Bethe Correia, after she submitted Jessica Andrade the fight before. Surprisingly enough, Pennington gets a relatively low caliber opponent in Elizabeth Phillips, last seen barely escaping the clutches of woefully underwhelming Jessamyn Duke for the decision win a year ago. Nothing against Phillips, but she almost got submitted in the 3rd round against Duke, and she wasn’t exactly blowing Duke out either before that. Pennington is very underrated for the division and has faced actual competition compared to Phillips. It might be a complete dominance by “Rocky”, but let’s see the advantages anyways.

RAQUEL PENNINGTON

Strengths

  • Primarily a boxer who can either have an high striking output, or stay back and play the counter-striking game with some well-timed jab/straights and land some low kicks
  • Jab is the key for Pennington, and every combination starts with it, will finish with either a power hook or quick straight and circle out, see how opponents react to it and adjust accordingly
  • Targets the body with great accuracy, mixes up combinations enough to where Pennington can’t really be telegraphed
  • Has the movement to stay elusive and continuously keep a good wide base, ready to defend against take-downs
  • Surprisingly improved grappling over the last few fights, was able to crank out a bulldog choke against Ashlee Evans-Smith and pounced on Jessica Andrade for the RNC near the end of the 2nd round

Weaknesses

  • Average striking defense, though I’d say it’s improved somewhat over the last few fights to where Pennington seems to understand angles a little differently now
  • Biggest issue has always been defending take-downs on a consistent basis, since Pennington has below average ground defense and has to stay on her feet to win most of her fights
  • Struggles against those with strong clinch offenses and being able to push her around up the fence

ELIZABETH PHILLIPS

Strengths

  • Tries to get the jab/straight combo going early in fights, but generally stays in a countering role, has decent power in her hands
  • Decent usage of leg kicks, mostly goes for random headkicks here and there but main focus of her game is to keep moving to her left and swing for the homerun
  • Fairly strong, can hold her opponents up the fence and overwhelm them into take-downs – was able to get Dudieva’s back often and even reversed her on the ground
  • Once on top on the ground, she’s generally tough from top control, able to stifle most escapes and stay out of trouble submission wise, efficient usage of ground and pound

Weaknesses

  • Struggles against pressure, tries to be elusive and land the jab against those who don’t try to pressure, but against those who do she will swing wildly and get countered badly, can have a brawler’s mentality
  • Longer/lanky fighters who can reach her with jabs give Phillips fits as she generally short arms her punches – 65 inch reach will be a disadvantage in most of her fights
  • Doesn’t check leg kicks, got abused by Letourneau’s body kicks and even against Duke
  • While she seemed to do fine against Dudieva grappling wise with reverses, she was on her back a lot against her and was susceptible to the hip toss out of clinch – already has been submitted by Duke in ’12
  • Generally just average everywhere, stand-up isn’t polished and consists mostly of wild hooks/straights in an effort to knock them out if they push forward – will cover up and try for a take-down/push up the cage to stop the “bleeding

While Phillips isn’t the worst the division has to offer, she’s just an average fighter with some severe weaknesses, most notably her lack of reach and tendency to swing wild. She does have some power and can land that one big strike that changes the nature of the fight, but overall, she’s a little predictable and needs to use her own strength to control the pace of the fight. Pennington has more experience and has faced much better talent than Phillips, and has improved in her own right as she continues to be one of the more underrated bantanweights. All Pennington needs to do is to avoid getting held by the fence and stay away from Phillips’ attempts at power take-downs. Plus I mean, Phillips barely beat Duke for cripes’ sake! High sig strikes alert!

Pennington via unanimous decision

Cody Garbrandt vs Takeya Mizugaki

Yet another puzzling match-up by the UFC, considering Garbrandt is coming off his biggest win of his young career with a devastating 1st round KO over super duper hyper prospect Thomas Almeida. The Alpha Male product gets a wily veteran in Mizugaki instead of a potential title contender war against John Lineker or even John Dodson. Whatever the case may be, Garbrandt shouldn’t overlook the always tough, always game Mizugaki and look to put a mark on the bantamweight division that even the UFC can’t ignore. Neck tattoo alert!

CODY GARBRANDT

Strengths

  • Strong wrestling pedigree, trains with Team Alpha Male which is known for their top notch wrestling sparring partners and teachers, is a big/strong bantamweight for the division
  • Devastating counter-striker with true fight ending power, knocked out one of the best BW prospects in Almeida
  • Has a very fast and powerful right hand, which Garbrandt utilizes as both as a poke and a counter, was his biggest catalyst in the win over Almeida
  • Good foot work stemming from his days as an amateur boxer (32-1 record) and a very nice left hook
  • Likes to toss out right headkicks every now and then as a surprise attack so not just a straight up power puncher
  • If opponents get too close to him he will try for a quick take-down, usually a double leg or a Frankie Edgar-ensue trip take-down, but generally won’t attempt a take-down for most of the fight
  • Strong ground and pound once on top, continually stays active from whatever position on the ground
  • Great cardio as is evident for the majority of Team Alpha Male members

Weaknesses

  • May have a questionable chin, got dropped in some of his past fights – did rebound back for the TKO/KO wins on those occasions though, has an unrecorded KO loss
  • Doesn’t have the best head movement, leaves his chin pretty high which is strange considering his boxing background
  • Needs to be the aggressor, can be too passive at times and needing a counter-strike to be an effective punisher, heavily depends on counter-hooks – Almeida fight was a giant improvement on this weakness, so let’s see if he keeps it going
  • Will be his 1st test against someone who can pressure effectively, and someone who’s willing to brawl with anybody

TAKEYA MIZUGAKI

Strengths

  • Veteran of the UFC with a fighting style that hasn’t changed since his arrival to the UFC back in 2011
  • Boxer with some pressure-based striking to his game, combination of being an instigator and a counter-striker, as in he creates scenarios where he can win the counter battle through pressure or pushing the pace
  • Crisp, hard hooks and a nice jab/straight combination, doesn’t really prod with the jab as much since Mizugaki prefers to finish every strike with at least 2-3 behind every punch
  • Will target the body as well, would call Mizugaki Lineker-lite since he does love him some body hooks and is a willing brawler
  • Not much in the way of offensive wrestling outside of the occasional level change, but rarely holds top control for long

Weaknesses

  • Always a tough guy defensively with his wrestling, but Mizugaki’s biggest issue is he tends to get double legged easily and almost always tries to turn his back in an attempt to get back up on the feet or crawl to the fence – has been submitted or got his back taken due to this method
  • Willing to brawl may be a detriment to Mizugaki considering Garbrandt’s immense power and great countering skills, and it’s not like Mizugaki isn’t hittable
  • I worry that Garbrandt may just simply take Mizugaki down and GnP him into oblivion much like Dominick Cruz did (to a lesser extent, cuz Cruz is the best in the biz)

So it’s a fight between a ridiculously powerful counter-striker and a boxer with good, crisp technical boxing but has a tendency to get into brawls. Sounds like fireworks to me! Mizugaki must show the restraint needed to avoid going toe to toe against Garbrandt, instead choosing to time his punches wisely and work the angles around Garbrandt,  while testing his chin at the same time. Garbrandt could conceivably be the aggressor that he usually isn’t much like his gameplan against notoriously slow starter Almeida, but I doubt that works against a seasoned vet like Mizugaki. I’m thinking maybe we get to see Garbrandt’s wrestling put on display for once in the UFC, as Garbrandt grounds and pounds Mizugaki late in the fight. I don’t mind Mizugaki as a dog though, cuz if he can survive the power right of Garbrandt, it’ll be a dog fight indeed. See what I did there? You’re getting a glimpse of the genius that is….moi.

Garbrandt via 3rd round TKO

Sabah Homasi vs Tim Means

Means was supposed to fight Sean Strickland, coming off his best win of his career against then undefeated Tom Breese, until Strickland had to pull out due to injury. Instead, Means gets to maybe get an easy win against Sabah Homasi, a brawler with a 11-5 record who just recently defeated a lightweight fighting at WW. Yikes. A fight’s a fight though, and even Means can’t overlook Homasi, especially on short notice.

SABAH HOMASI

Strengths

  • With not many fights to go on film, this is the best I can guesstimate about Homasi – strong, physical guy with true knockout power and a good guillotine choke
  • Loves to lead with the 1-2 overhand combo over and over, and it’s actually pretty fast for a built guy like Homasi
  • Athletic and skilled enough to land consistent low kicks and mix in some spinning kicks, but predominantly will spam the 1-2 overhand
  • Has a solid guillotine choke that is pretty much his lone defense against take-downs, outside of his own strength
  • That’s all I got 🙁

Weaknesses

  • Seems like that all Homasi does is wait and try to land the 1-2 overhand as much as possible, very little setups outside of that and while it’s deceptively fast and powerful, that’s just too predictable
  • Over-extends himself quite a bit during those overhands, has actually fallen down from throwing with too much force which is kinda hilarious to me
  • Gas tank issues beyond 1st round, and mediocre take-down defense if guillotine gets bypassed, easy to dominate on the ground and majority of losses have happened while Homasi was on his back

TIM MEANS

Strengths

  • Excellent boxer, uses a crisp jab to set up his punishing straights and hooks while mixing it up and attacking the body
  • Surprisingly effective kicker, can land the headkick when opponent least expects it but isn’t a big part of his game, hits low kicks and has a solid body kick
  • Best part of Means’ boxing is how he uses his range and footwork to mix in jabs/straights then seamlessly transition into the clinch to land vicious knees and get in some dirty boxing
  • Circles out with ease, knows how to slip past opponents’ strikes to try and create more striking angles
  • Has a pretty sturdy chin, though he paid the iron price when he tried to out-elbow the elbow artist in his sub loss against Matt Brown
  • Solid wrestling, nothing fancy but if needed he can get a single leg take-down and grind his way from the clinch

Weaknesses

  • Can be stifled by wrestlers and often gets tangled up the cage for long periods of time, needs to work on widening his base against level changes
  • Can be a passive off his back, slow to recognize escape opportunities
  • Can get a little aggro and wild with his striking, but Means’ has toned it down as he gets more UFC fights under his belt and continues to improve, despite the loss to Matt Brown

dr_300x250_nflShort notice, facing a guy with top 15 welterweight skill, and a fighting style that usually ends in a knockout? Sounds like a tall order to me, especially since Means is tall at 6’2”. Heh. Perfect setup right there! Means should be able to utilize his length and reach to batter around Homasi as Homasi tries to swing for the fence early to secure the knockout upset, then gas out if he fails to do so. The problem I see with this match-up is Means may want to brawl with Homasi a little bit just to give the fans a show, as is his nature, which actually gives Homasi a puncher’s chance. Otherwise, look for Means to dictate the pace of the fight with technical striking and maybe a take-down or two to try and finish it on the ground. 1st round finish is entirely possible, but I think it’ll go at least 2 rounds.

Means via 2nd round TKO

Hyun Gyu Lim vs Mike Perry

Sultan Aliev was Lim’s original opponent before a wrist injury scrapped the fight, until Mike Perry accepted the short notice fight. Hyun Gyu Lim is a knockout artist with massive height for the division, standing at 6 foot 3 inches tall. That may pose a problem for the newcomer Perry, who will be putting his undefeated record on the line against Lim. Yadadada, stuff about Perry and Lim…whatever. Just gimme a knockout!

HYUN GYU LIM

Strengths

  • Massive for a welterweight, towering at 6 feet 3 inches with a 79 inch reach! Very long and lanky counter-striker with tons of long range attacks
  • Stalks his prey and is at his best when he can find his range and be an effective yet dangerous counter-striker with his 2-3 punch combinations, especially if he can connect on the left hook
  • Mixes in knees and body kicks from range to both discourage take-downs and create more striking exchanges
  • Big power in his hands, and due to his reach Lim can backpedal and still be able to land the straight with enough power for the KO – 10 of 13 career wins by KO/TKO
  • Rarely does get into the clinch, but as expected Lim’s length is a big mismatch against other smaller WWs who can’t avoid his knees and elbows while being bear-hugged by Lim
  • Opportunistic with his submissions, isn’t going to hunt for it but if he gets a knockdown, rest assured that he’ll find a way to finish it, whether by mauling through GnP or finding a headlock choke to finish it

Weaknesses

  • For being a long range counter-striker, Lim can be very static at times with both his foot and head movement, often getting hit by jabs and overhands due to being a still target
  • Limited UFC fights since injuries have decimated his returns over the years, but Lim may be very poor off his back, had Magny dead to rights and allowed him back up, then got taken down and quickly mounted then finished
  • Needs opponent to be the instigator on striking exchanges, otherwise Lim can have moments of just standing there and staring at the sky – struggles against defensive strikers who just simply jab and circle away

MIKE PERRY

Strengths

  • Very little film to discern exactly what Mike Perry is good or bad at, so I’ll just use his last fight (where for some reason, Perry looks to have a super wicked dark tan, or somehow morphed into Tan Hulk)
  • Very athletic and powerful, but very raw as a mixed martial artist, especially when it comes to wrestling and defensive fundamentals
  • Seems to prefer biding his time and landing the one strike power bomb at the right time, similar to Lim’s stalking style but much more methodical and less technical
  • Rare to see combinations unless it’s a flurry up the fence
  • Willing ground and pounder, but just not enough to tell how exactly his ground offense/defense looks like

Weaknesses

  • Short notice fight and hasn’t fought basically nobody, very raw as a fighter but has the frame and athleticism to build on his counter-power punching game
  • Actually got knocked out right at the end of the 1st round in last fight, was countered badly so that’s not…good
  • IDK man, this fight makes me queasy just trying to figure out what the hell Perry is gonna do, especially against a very good knockout artist like Lim….STAY AWAY!!!!

Lim by whatever he wants. The Tan Hulk should have lost his last fight but was literally saved by the bell. Just too raw of a fighter for me to think any further, even if the odds doesn’t add up. LIM LIM LIM!!!!

Lim via 1st round KO

Rick Story vs Donald Cerrone

Both men are rising through the welterweight division as they continue to pile up wins upon wins, with Story’s impressive win over Tarec Saffiedine after not fighting for almost 2 years since his win over Gunnar Nelson. Cerrone just completely manhandled Patrick Cote and handed him the ass-kicking of his life, giving Cote his 1st KO/TKO loss of his career (no, his knee injury vs Silva doesn’t count). Story has the size and wrestling to negate Cerrone’s insanely accurate Muay Thai striking, and Story will probably try to fence hold Cerrone which may or may not be a good thing considering Cerrone’s capabilities while in the clinch. It’s an interesting stylistic match-up, and I have no idea who will have the leg up on the other. It’s time for Cerrone, Texas Ranger to show how it’s done in Texas! Or well…I guess Nevada?

RICK STORY

Strengths

  • Has sort of transformed from a wrestler-striker with obvious strength advantages as a welterweight, to a well-rounded striker with a stifling fence/clinch game that can be physically and mentally exhausting for Story’s opponents
  • Southpaw with a quick and adept jab and strong straight follow-up, with improved head movement and overall footwork to stay active on the feet instead of relying on his wrestling
  • Speaking of wrestling, Story is one of the stronger guys in the division and has a very tough double leg take-down, though it seems as if Story prefers to leverage himself on most of his take-downs instead of just outright powering through
  • Also utilizes take-down attempts as a way of closing the distance and getting the fight to the fence, where Story can then go nutso with a ridiculous amount of hooks to the body and smashing his way through with dirty boxing
  • Once in top control from the ground, Story isn’t the kind of wrestler to simply stay in full guard, rather opting to either get out into half guard and try to hit his nasty arm triangle choke, or get some GnP in while maintaining positional advantage

Weaknesses

  • Always had trouble dealing with kicks of any nature, got his leg absolutely battered by Tarec Saffiedine despite doing his best to block all of them and avoid getting hit in the face
  • Hard to say if his striking did really improve since his best striking affair was against Gunnar Nelson back in ’14, then didn’t fight again until his last fight vs Saffiedine in May of this year
  • Story likes to get into the clinch and get up close and personal near the fence, and that might be a very, very bad idea against a skilled Muay Thai striker like Cerrone who can out-grapple Story as well

DONALD CERRONE

Strengths

  • Was on a 8 fight winning streak before his loss to then LW champion Rafael Dos Anjos, then decided to move up to welterweight and has been 2-0 in the division since
  • Excellent Muay Thai striker with a big focus on high strike output, especially through his hard low kicks that are both a combo of being silly fast, powerful, and pinpoint accurate
  • Main strengths of Cerrone’s striking is how he utilizes all of his leg kicks, starting first off with the classic push kick to both find his range and impede forward progress by his opponents, then mixes up beautifully between a hard low kick to a body/headkick variation with little to no tells on the direction his foot is headed towards
  • Underrated boxing, has a very good right straight and is a competent counter-striker, but of course everything begins and ends with the leg kicks
  • Heavy knees in the clinch and a slick take-down game as well, Cerrone has been focusing more on getting take-downs early against opponents with weak ground defenses and finishing them with a submission – oh yeah, he’s a BJJ brown belt as well with 16 submission wins
  • Has a very dangerous guard, makes it very difficult for opponents to create offense or transition from top control, and while he isn’t an aggressive submission hunter off his back, he’s still a very good grappler in his own right

Weaknesses

  • His few losses in the UFC have came against guys who could both pressure Cerrone and land strikes to Cerrone’s body (Pettis and RDA)
  • If Cerrone doesn’t get the space or time to operate and land his plethora of quick hitting leg kicks, then that eliminates Cerrone’s biggest threat to any opponent since he’s not the grinding type and can struggle against great wrestlers
  • Only true weaknesses in my opinion is just simply handling pressure and avoiding getting hit in the body too much (2nd RDA fight and Pettis) and not getting stalled either on the fence or on the ground on take-downs (original RDA fight)

I think it’s pretty clear on what Story has to do in order to dispatch the dangerous and surging Cerrone. He’s gotta make it a dirty and boring fight, staying close to Cerrone and never letting him have the space to land any kicks, push him around the fence, and maybe get in some gritty take-downs. The problem with that is, Cerrone just has looked absolutely fantastic since his loss to RDA, and that also includes his defensive wrestling and movement around the octagon as to avoid getting cornered. I mean, the guy absolutely dominated Patrick Cote like no one ever has (maybe Stephen Thompson). Story is a legitimate top 15 WW in his own right though, and should have the strength advantage over Cerrone, so it’s absolutely possible he can simply overwhelm Cerrone into the fence and even in the clinch, or from top control on a successful take-down. I just can’t ignore what Cerrone has done in his last 10 wins, and his speed/leg combinations may be too much for Story to handle. Cerrone always has a great chance of finishing no matter who it is, and has the sig strike output to make even a 3rd round finish a high scoring one, with 71 sig strikes landed in his 2nd round KO over Makdessi, and 73 in the 3rd against Cote. Whew.

Cerrone via 2nd round TKO

Anthony Johnson vs Glover Teixeira

This will be a finish, folks. Plain and simple. Two of the hardest hitting LHWs in the division with two of the more aggressive striking styles as well can only mean one thing. A head on collision where only one man will survive. Rumble Johnson has been brutalizing people left and right on his way to a title shot against Cormier. While Rumble did try his damnedest to punch Cormier’s head off, he sadly came up short and got submitted in the 3rd round. Now he’s likely one win away from getting a second shot at the title, but in his way is a very, very good opponent in Glover Teixeira. The bald guy is one tough hombre with 3 straight finishes during his 3 fight win streak, including a massive knockout victory over longtime contender Rashad Evans. Teixeira is an almost perfect blend of relentless aggression with precision boxing and some very good jiu-jitsu. He’s also had a shot at the title as well, getting annihilated by Jon Jones for five rounds. Not pretty. He’s a win away from getting a second shot as well, so suffice to say that this fight is kinda….important. Who will get their hand raised and have the opportunity to become the new LHW champion? LET’S GET READY TO RRRRRRRUUUUUUMBLEEEEEEEEEE!!!

ANTHONY JOHNSON

Strengths

  • One of the most ferocious, feared striker in the light-heavyweight division – 15 of 21 wins by KO/TKO across 3 divisions in welterweight, middleweight, and light-heavyweight!
  • Outrageous power in both hands, but has some pretty damn good boxing and sets up his death bomb right hand early and often with surprisingly quick combinations
  • Along with the power right hand, Johnson can land uppercuts and land some body shots when he corners his opponents or gets into the clinch
  • Has a kickboxer background, so Rumble is capable of landing clean headkicks with little effort and with some snap behind them
  • Likes to push forward against inferior opponents or if he feels he has the edge on the feet, general rule is if you last two minutes in the cage with him, you’re either D.O.A or just simply ran away from Rumble
  • Excellent counter-striker, has the speed and reaction time to clobber his foes, seems to know how to hit the right buttons at the right time
  • He’s also huge for a LHW despite the fact that he’s fought at 170 and 185 pounds in the past, an absolute brute of a man

Weaknesses

  • Gas tank issues dating all the way back to his WW days, essentially a 1 round or bust fighter unless he carefully calculates his output each round and doesn’t go overboard
  • Take-down defense is average unless he has a complete size advantage over his opponent or sees it a mile away, gas tank issues makes his take-down defense after the 1st round nonexistent
  • Pretty much doesn’t know what to do if he’s on his back on the ground, barely defends any passes or try to advance and get back up – 4 of 5 career losses by submission

GLOVER TEIXEIRA

Strengths

  • Veteran of the LHW division, 8-2 in the UFC with his 1st UFC loss to then champion Jon Jones, and 2nd loss following that versus Phil Davis
  • Similar to Anthony Johnson as far as nature, aggressive mindset and looks to end fights quickly, pushes the pace to try and force mistakes for the knockout counter opportunities
  • Almost exclusively throws power hooks and straights with ill intent behind them, can seem like a brawl sometimes but it’s surprisingly effective thanks to Glover’s accuracy
  • Mixes in well-timed kicks as well and again, much like Rumble, Teixeira is capable of hitting a headkick at a moment’s notice without breaking a sweat
  • What separates Teixeira from the other LHWs is not only his precision boxing, but the fact that he has the jiu-jitsu to put away anyone in the division, which lacks true grapplers to begin with
  • BJJ black belt with some great offensive take-downs, especially the classic double leg that Glover hits in what seems to be every fight, fantastic top control with brutal GnP and slick guard transitions into either full mount or hunting for a submission – 15 wins by KO/TKO and 7 by submission out of 25 wins

Weaknesses

  • Biggest issue for Teixeira is his chin woes, and while he’s never been knocked out in the UFC (yet), Teixeira has definitely been rocked or dropped in some of his wins (Ryan Bader anyone?)
  • I’m willing to toss out his loss versus Jones, considering Jones was just simply too fast and too long for Teixeira to be able to pressure effectively and had the wrestling to negate anything Glover threw out, but Glover looked absolutely awful versus Phil Davis, even getting destroyed wrestling wise and looked lost off his back
  • With that said, he’s definitely bounced back in a huge way over his 3 fight winning streak, but that’s still worrisome if Teixeira gets by Rumble and has to face Cormier, an elite wrestler

Two fists meet. One man falls down. The other will have its hand raised in victory. Who will it be? Will it be Rumble Johnson, the scariest man in the division with earth-shattering power and the speed of a middleweight? Or will it Glover Teixeira, completing his resurgence to the top of the division thanks in part to his precise counters and having the best jiu-jitsu? This is a very, very difficult one to choose, even though both fighters’ road to victory seems easy to predict. Rumble will throw something like really hard and if it lands, it just might crack Glover’s questionable chin for the KO victory. If Johnson is unable to clobber Teixeira early, he may either gas out or get caught in a double leg take-down and submitted by the much better grappler. The question then becomes, who do you trust more – Rumble’s right hand or Glover’s double-leg take-down? That’s not to say Glover can’t knock out rumble, because that’s very possible, just unlikely that Glover would get close enough to risk getting hit by Thor’s hammer. I’m biased when it comes to Rumble, so obviously I’m going to pick him by devastating knockout, but you’d be a fool not to hedge this fight. A FOOL I TELL YA!!!!

Johnson via 1st round KO

Nate Diaz vs Conor McGregor

And here we are, the main attraction of the evening! Two of the biggest, most accomplished shit talkers the UFC has ever seen, and they haven’t stopped chirping back and forth. Even McGregor has taken WWE by storm by claiming to call the entire “sport” a bunch of pussies and he would “slap their heads off their entire roster. And twice on Sundays”. What venom! What confidence! And he’s the loser of the original fight! Remarkable what whiskey can do to a man’s confidence. As I explained before, Nate Diaz does possess the tools to give McGregor fits for the entirety of the fight, but will McGregor come right back at Diaz with a different game plan? What exactly will McGregor even do in order to ensure the win and not have the entire UFC in a massive panic if Conor somehow loses again? Well, see. You gotta use your mouse or arrow keys to scroll down and find out. It’s really easy!

NATE DIAZ

Strengths

  • Lanky boxer 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 against Michael Johnson! In 3 rounds! And of course, 77 sig in 2 rounds against McGregor
  • Diaz is also ferocious near the fence with unrelenting combinations and knees from the clinch, one of the better corner pressure strikers
  • Has great jiu-jitsu, even if Diaz never goes for the take-down and usually has to use his jits off his back, fantastic guard and very, very dangerous if he can get a guillotine or gets a reversal on the ground into an armbar or a triangle choke
  • 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 – THE STOCKTON SLAP BABY!
  • Endless gas tank, can go 15 rounds if needed be which is another signature of the Diaz Bros. And was one of the biggest catalysts in his massive win over McGregor

Weaknesses

  • Pretty much no striking defense as Diaz just wants to land the straight repeatedly even at the risk of eating a ton of strikes in the process – Michael Johnson landed 100+ sig strikes in the loss and McGregor was still able to rack up 61 sig as well
  • 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 and move around effectively
  • 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 punching bag
  • What concerns me is how Diaz may respond to whatever McGregor’s gameplan may be (and I’m assuming here that it’s a different one than from last fight of course), because he may still just be the same Nate Diaz from last fight and that could be favorable for McGregor since Conor has already seen that version before

CONOR MCGREGOR

Strengths

  • 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, especially the power left/counter left that the world saw knock out Aldo in 13 seconds flat – 17 of 19 career wins by KO/TKO
  • Flashy and aggressive strikes from tornado kicks to superman punches and spinning roundhouses, even some Karate Kid style crane kicks
  • While he can be extremely flashy at times, McGregor does have some good technical boxing, using his speedy but powerful left straight early and often in addition to his kicks with great precision
  • Also has his own ridiculously long uppercut that McGregor seems to land at least once a round, mixes on body shots usually of the spinning kick variety
  • His footwork and 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
  • 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 – I left this one alone because it was almost a foreshadowing of what would come in the fight, since it was actually Nate who outlasted McGregor and finished him in the 2nd! OH THEIRONYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!

Weaknesses

  • Very bad take-down defense, was taken down at will against Chad Mendes
  • McGregor’s grappling is very average and his ground defense overall is full of holes, gives up guard passes too easily and has 3 career submission losses and almost got stuck in a submission against Mendes
  • Cardio also is one of the biggest issues McGregor will have to answer against Diaz, because if he slows down again, he’s not gonna be able to stay with Nate for too long before collapsing
  • Doesn’t have the best head movement, 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
  • Really struggled against Diaz’s relentless jab/straight combinations that never seems to slow down, so McGregor’s gonna have to play the counter game more instead of going toe to toe against Diaz, so we’ll see what happens there

NFL_FORUM_toolsMcGregor cannot just match punch by punch against Nate Diaz because he just simply doesn’t have the cardio of Diaz and won’t have the reach advantage to just simply pick him off with potshots repeatedly. It’s going to require a great counter-striking display from McGregor and utilizing his majestic corner traps to a T in order to cut off Diaz’s space to run around and spray his jabs. I still think McGregor can knock out Diaz if he gets Nate to run at him more instead of the other way around, especially since you could tell McGregor’s punches were losing their pop as the 1st round waned by, and Conor started to wilt away in the 2nd round. Conor essentially punched himself out of the fight and grossly underestimated the power of the Stockton Slap (among other things), and I seriously doubt he makes the same mistake twice. Now, it comes down to whether or not Diaz can get around McGregor’s countering game plan (again, assuming that’s what will happen), or just decides to continue not giving a f@#k and start pressuring McGregor and peppering away with his classic stretch left straight. I dunno. Maybe I’m a fool to believe that McGregor won’t repeat his past mistakes. Maybe I just want a trilogy. Whatever the case may be, I’m going to give McGOATer the benefit of the doubt, despite the 209 fan inside me slapping my brain, and I’m gonna predict a masterful 5 round performance by McGregor.

McGregor via unanimous decision

Until next time on UFC 203! May the Rumble be with you.

MMA

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