Oh, hey there. It’s another edition of “Who will 2ToN insult next?” It’s going to be a fun one this time around folks, as many of the fighters on the card may annoy you with their boring wraaaaaaaaaaasslin’ instead of fisticuffs like real men did back in the 1920s. Yes, that glorious time where if you had a cough, you were probably dead from a cold. It’s a wrestler heavy card, and while the main card pales in comparison for a typical UFC PPV, the main event is still an enticing rematch between champ Daniel Cormier and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. Rumble nearly broke DC’s head in the 1st round, but somehow DC was able to gather himself and stay alive enough to gas out Rumble and eventually sinking a submission in the 3rd round. Will things be different this time around? Probably not, as both men clearly know their keys to victories and won’t shy away from their gameplans. Rumble wants to kill DC with a single punch, and DC wants to get him to the ground and rub his belly on his face. No, not in that way. Alongside that main event rematch is…well, not much. Chris Weidman looks to bounce back from a devastating KO loss to Yoel Romero, but gets a tough test against Gegard Mousasi aka the Sassy Moose. Patrick Cote returns against Thiago Alves, who will come back up to welterweight, after getting brutally assaulted by Donald Cerrone. Will Brooks looks to make sure the UFC didn’t make a mistake by signing him away from Bellator as he battles Charles Oliveira, currently riding a 2 fight losing streak. Uh, and a fight between Cynthia Calvillo and….Pearl Gonzalez! I’m going to need more alcohol.
Jenel Lausa vs Magomed Bibulatov
Bibulatov is the former flyweight champion for WSOF and has an undefeated 13-0 record. He’s highly regarded as a top flyweight prospect and could some major noise if he plays his cards right. He’ll get a good test against the Demolition Man Jenel Lausa, coming off a solid win. Lausa’s nothing special and has had some cardio issues which popped up late in his UFC debut. Bibulatov is a legitimate flyweight contender with endless cardio and a plethora of tools at his disposal. I’m feeling a quick thrashing by Bibulatov’s elite offensive wrestling and landing easy ground transitions, maybe getting a submission since Lausa’s shown in the past he’s struggled to defend reactive take-downs and sometimes turns his back in an attempt to get back up. I don’t really have much to say since Bibulatov is really good and Lausa’s just okay. The odds speak for themselves.
Bibulatov via 1st round RNC
Irene Aldana vs Katlyn Chookagian
Irene Aldana was a substantial favorite over Leslie Smith, then proceeded to get repeatedly shelled by Smith’s right hand over and over en route to a decision loss. She’ll look to bounce back against Katlyn Chookagian who lost to Liz Carmouche on the same New York card as Chris Weidman. It’ll be a back and forth striking affair with little to no take-down attempts. Ah, what a breath of fresh air!
Aldana has some very clean, precise boxing combinations and generally utilizes footwork and movement to circle around and continually attack with the 1-2 combo. Against Leslie Smith, for whatever reason, Aldana just didn’t look defensively ready and kept eating counter-rights from Smith. Even if she landed 108 sig strikes, it was more or less due to Smith’s pace and output rather than by her own accord through offensive striking. Chookagian isn’t cut out from the same cloth as Smith, preferring to sit back at range and attack with long ranged attacks while spraying the jab as she backpedals away. That might be exactly what Aldana needs to get a win in the UFC, as Smith’s back-breaking pace and relentless offensive attack/pursuit seemed to bother Aldana more than anything. Aldana is usually defensively sound and finds counter windows in a split second, so Chookagian’s slow paced at range striking should be a perfect complement for Aldana’s offense. It’ll be Chookagian’s countering ability against Aldana’s numerous combinations and attacking with body shots, and I favor Aldana in that match-up provided that she actually learn to block a damn right hand. Upset pick! I don’t think Chookagian will offer too much upside for either to get 80+ sig strikes but stranger things have happened.
Aldana via unanimous decision
Desmond Green vs Josh Emmett
Desmond Green is a veteran of MMA, having fought in both Titan FC and Bellator. He’ll be making his UFC debut riding a 4 fight winning streak and a 19-5 record. Green will have 3-4 inches of height depending on who you ask on Emmett as well as a 4 inch reach advantage. That might be tough for Emmett to overcome, despite his undefeated 11-0 record that includes 2 wins in the UFC. They’re both guys with very good wrestling backgrounds, with Emmett being the physically stronger fighter and Green the quicker one. Green’s got a solid left straight and stays patient enough to lull his opponent to sleep then unload a flurry of punches on a blitz. He’s got a very good reactive/level change take-down game, dropping down on a dime in the middle of an exchange for the power take-down. Emmett is the opposite, preferring to use brute force to manhandle his opponents to the ground or by grabbing a kick and tossing them like a rag doll. My biggest worry about Emmett is his cardio, which dissipated quickly in both of his wins, especially against Holtzman when he just simply ran out of gas in the 3rd round due to all of the clinch battling, getting back up from Holtzman’s take-downs, and even gassing himself on his 8 successful take-down attempts. Holtzman doesn’t have the wrestling pedigree of Green, so it’s conceivable that Green could use the same gameplan Holtzman used to try and gas out Emmett. Green will have to avoid the power bombs from Emmett early on and continually fight off all the take-down attempts that surely will come. Both guys don’t really do much from top control and they both can get up quickly, so I could see both getting points just off take-downs alone. I’ll favor Green due to his quickness and reach advantage, as he’s got a good sense of when to stay back and time the counter-left. Emmett’s a little too wild on the feet for me to trust against a veteran like Green, so another upset pick!
Green via unanimous decision
Andrew Holbrook vs Gregor Gillespie
Gillespie proved from the start of his UFC debut that the hype around him was legit, as he was able to showcase his high octane wrestling skills against a much bigger opponent (5’9 vs 6’2!) against Glacio Franca. He was able to hit 5 take-downs along with 8 advances, and some of the advances were just textbook technique. He’ll get Andrew Holbrook, coming off one of the biggest upsets with a win over Jake Matthews as a +325 dog and at one point was even +444! Can Holbrook continue the underdog story with a dodgeball to the face of Gillespie? Probably not.
Gillespie has the kind of wrestling that isn’t just sticks and stones, depending on a single/double leg and sheer strength. Instead, Gillespie has nuances to his wrestling, able to pivot off a blocked take-down attempt into a different approach, essentially forcing the opponent to defend every move Gillespie makes. He’ll use torque on a single leg, and if that doesn’t work he’ll back off then immediately shoot in for another attempt. Gillespie is pretty much the wrestling version of an overly aggressive striker that just pushes the pace no matter what. Holbrook’s a weird fighter in the sense that he succeeds in chaos and actually is at his best when he’s on the losing end of a fight. I know, weird. Holbrook’s just a rangy guy who somehow finds a way out of a closed box, reversing his position on the ground and ending up in a dominant position. This was evident in the Ramsey Nijem fight, and it was also one of the reasons he was able to out-last Matthews. Gillespie’s a different animal though, as he has both the wrestling and grappling to prevent any escapes from Holbrook and punish him for even trying. Holbrook’s always been lax on his take-down defense, probably because he knows hes better off just squirming on the ground like a greased pig. With that said, I think a Gillespie win would be massive points with Holbrook willing to just fall down and get advanced on. I did think the same thing with Jake Matthews to a lesser extent, as I expected Matthews to just dominate him standing. He did not. This is MMA, folks. We’re just guessing at this point. Life is unpredictable, and so are my golf lineups. Eat Arby’s.
Gillespie via unanimous decision
Jan Blachowicz vs Patrick Cummins
Durkin is back! Patrick Cummins still works as a barista, and it’s probably a good choice since he can’t seem to take a punch or throw one. Blachowicz has a girly 1st name but doesn’t look like one. He also can punch but can’t wrestle. Striker vs WRAAAAASSLER!
Blachowicz has some pretty decent kicks and can sort of punch, but hasn’t been overly impressive in any win outside of his KO over Ilir Latifi that was more of a fluke occurrence than any indication of his talents. In almost every loss so far in the UFC, Blachowicz has simply been taken down and physically worn down/out-worked on the ground. Gustafsson landed 4 take-downs while Corey Anderson also got 4 take-downs but absolutely pulverized Blachowicz’s face on the ground to the tune of 84 sig strikes plus 6 advances. That’s great news for the striking-deficient Cummins, one of the better wrestlers in the division and has some great ground and pound/posturing. Cummins’ offensive wrestling is very solid as he can hit trips from the clinch, powerbomb his way to the ground, or land a level change on a whim. His biggest issue has been his striking, both offensively (has no idea how to throw a punch) and defensively (non-moving target and very flat footed). As a result of his terrible striking defense, he’s been knocked out in all 4 of his UFC losses, including back to back KO/TKO losses. So, you’ve got a very good wrestler with powerful ground and pound but zero chin or any sort of striking skills against an average striker who can be tentative and has zero take-down defense. This is gonna be fun. I’m going with Cummins just because he only needs one take-down to slow down Blachowicz and pummel him on the ground. The way Anderson thrashed Blachowicz on the ground with impunity and relative ease leads me to believe Cummins can do the exact same thing. Similar to the Kingsbury fight, as long as Cummins avoids any sort of clash on the feet, he should dominate with plenty of take-downs and sig strikes. Sadly, that really can be asking for a lot out of Cummins these days, and his face was even all bruised up despite a dominant win against Rafael Cavalcante and his amazing 23 sig strikes landed. Make me some coffee! And gimme that apple fritter.
Cummins via 2nd round TKO
Charles Rosa vs Shane Burgos
Rosa bounced back from his split decision loss to Yair Rodriguez with a 92 sig performance against Kyle Bochniak despite some early troubles when Bochniak dropped him in the 1st round. He’ll get a difficult test in Shane Burgos who eviscerated Tiago Trator in his UFC debut to the tune of 73 sig strikes and forced Trator to abandon the stand-up several times. Rosa is basically the worse, slower version of Stephen Thompson with his wide switch-stance striking and is very kick-centric. Burgos is more in a Muay Thai mold, pushing forward and trying to land fight ending counters and get into the clinch for devastating knees. Rosa’s a legitimate BJJ black belt with very fancy and slick transitions from either top or bottom on the ground, so Burgos should try keeping the fight standing. One of Rosa’s biggest weakness has been his cardio, which cost him the fight against Rodriguez when he could barely move in the 3rd round and also looked gassed against Bochniak. The main weakness I’m going to harp on isn’t his cardio, but rather how haphazardly he throws out his….whatever he calls his kick attempts. He often eats right hands while trying to attempt some sort of side kick/back kick and that’s how he got dropped by Bochniak. Burgos is good enough to continually punish Rosa’s sloppy stand-up and maybe get the late round finish. It’s a tough fight for me to pick despite the odds as Rosa could maybe sneak in a single/double leg and submit Burgos on the ground, but his lack of take-down setups could hurt him against a better striker who will be looking to defend the take-downs. Burgos is quicker, better at countering, and simply has to stay off the ground for the victory on paper. This is MMA though, and what might look on paper can end being a lie. The cake is a lie.
Burgos via unanimous decision
Kamaru Usman vs Sean Strickland
Usman’s been on a wrestling tear, while Strickland continues to improve exponentially as he just beat up a great prospect in Tom Breese. Strickland is 18-1 right now and will face his toughest test to date against the TUF ATT vs Blackzilians winner. Usman also dispatched another big time prospect in Warlley Alves, making quick work of him on the ground and proving that his win wasn’t a fluke. It’s a great match-up against two fighters on hot streaks and are bright spots in a division that’s suddenly losing contenders.
It’s yet another wrestler vs striker match-up, and it’ll be a really interesting one as Strickland has been pretty solid with his take-down defense. Strickland has been taken down before but his length and good ground defense usually allowed him to climb back up and get busy on the feet. Usman’s been a terror as a wrestler, landing beautiful take-down chains off his combinations and staying unpredictable on when he’s going to hit a reactive take-down. What separates Usman from other typical wrestlers is his positioning on the ground and ability to somehow get into a dominant position without actual dominant positions (full mount, back takes, crucifix, etc.). Usman has the strength and wits to turn any position on the ground into a great opportunity to land some ground and pound. That’s his game and it’s what helped him win on TUF and against Alves. Strickland will need to tighten up on his take-down defense and tone down on his aggression, which shouldn’t be a problem as he adapts to his opponents’ behavior as the fight goes on. He’s got a fantastic jab and good boxing counters, but none of that will matter if he can’t keep Usman off him. Strickland isn’t explosive or creative enough with his stand-up to get a one hit KO, and he has an annoying tendency of having his back close to the fence which is just inviting easy clinch take-downs for Usman. The physicality and chaining from Usman should be more than enough to get Strickland down on the ground, but can he finish there? Probably not, and Strickland’s the kind of fighter to not allow his opponents easy transitions or free take-downs so points may be limited there. At his price point, I won’t be using a ton of Usman but the upside is still there if he can manhandle Strickland early and advances into a dominant position. Don’t be surprised if he repeats his performance against Warlley Alves but with less sig strikes (71 sig, 1 TD, 2 ADV).
Usman via unanimous decision
Mike De La Torre vs Myles Jury
It’s been a while since we last saw Myles Jury fall victim to a Charles Oliveira guillotine choke, about a year and half ago. That was also after he embarrassed himself against Donald Cerrone by looking extremely tentative and literally getting his butt kicked by Cerrone near the end. Those back to back losses killed all the hype Jury was collecting prior to his 6 fight UFC win streak, including a dominant performance against Michael Johnson. He’ll get a good stylistic match-up for him against Mike De La Torre, who got submitted by Godofredo Pepey in his last fight. That would have been his 2nd UFC loss by submission had the Brian Ortega fight been overturned. Can Myles Jury put to use his famed JJJ (Jury Jiu Jitsu) skills against De La Torre who’s struggled against take-downs and defending submissions?
De La Torre’s a little bit of a scrappy fighter with no real strengths to his stand-up. He’s quick, assertive, and has some solid combinations to go with a right hand counter. He’s nothing special but can’t be overlooked as he’s accurate enough to test his opponents’ chins. Tiago Trator found that out the hard way, getting knocked out in the 1st round despite being a decently big betting favorite. He did get knocked out by Blanco but that was such a weird, random fight as is typical of most Maximo Blanco fights. The one issue that continues to plague De La Torre is he always ends up on the ground in one way or another. He just doesn’t put enough effort into being a defensive fighter, often allowing easy shoot-ins and not even defending with underhooks. Bad news against Jury and his effective offensive wrestling that’s set up by his crisp combinations especially if Jury starts landing the body kick. He mixes up his take-downs well, hitting singles and doubles with relative ease. Jury was always a complete fighter with some grappling skills and was generally a match-up nightmare since he could hold his own standing. Then came Cerrone, and then came the Oliveira submission loss. Who’s to say if Jury is still the same fighter that reeled off 6 straight wins and looked great doing it? I’m banking on De La Torre being unable to defend take-downs instead of worrying about Jury’s ring rust and bad back to back losses. Jury’s just too complete of a fighter not to put on a show for his fans in a good stylistic match-up.
Jury via 2nd round RNC
Charles Oliveira vs Will Brooks
DO BRONX! Unfortunately for Oliveira, he’s riding a 2 fight losing streak and looked out-matched against Ricardo Lamas, even getting submitted two fights in a row. That’s uncharacteristic for Oliveira, who’s a crazy creative BJJ black belt that somehow turns into a pretzel on the ground and pulls off insane submissions. It’s mostly due to his inability to maintain a consistent striking gameplan and lack of take-down setups that don’t involve just latching on his opponents like a leech. His UFC life doesn’t get any easier as he faces the former Bellator LW champion in Will Brooks, who’s looking to finally make the big splash the UFC looked for as a big FA signing. Brooks is a tremendous athlete and a great wrestler who wants to showcase his striking, but probably should stick to what he knows best.
While I had high hopes on Oliveira perfecting his stand-up and actually learning what offensive wrestling is, he just hasn’t shown any sort of consistency that made Oliveira one of the most dangerous grapplers in the division. He should have probably beaten Anthony Pettis but his lack of fighter IQ and incessant usage of ill-advised shoots eventually got him submitted by a guy with a world class guillotine. Brooks does not have such a guillotine nor is he really a grappler, but he will be bigger, stronger, and actually has both offensive and defensive wrestling. What will likely happen here is a battle of Brooks’ wrestling against Oliveira’s attempts to get the fight to the ground where he should have a massive grappling advantage. I don’t think Oliveira has the physical tools to do what the other Oliveira (Alex Oliveira) did against Brooks, not to mention Do Bronx is moving up from 145 while Alex Oliveira was moving down from 170. Big difference there. It’ll likely come down to whether or not Brooks can light up Oliveira on the feet, and I think he easily can with his quicker boxing combinations and overall athleticism. Maybe Do Bronx can get a lucky trip and contorts himself into a rear naked choke, but probably not. There’s also the off-chance that Brooks will engage Oliveira on the ground with his own take-downs, but that’d be a really questionable choice from an usually smart and cerebral Brooks. I could see a late round finish from Brooks as Oliveira desperately tries to go for the finish and exposes his historically weak chin. As a dog play at what I’d guess to be low ownership, Oliveira isn’t a bad stab at making an unique lineup to hit the nuts as he does have the skills to grab something for an incredible submission.
Brooks via 3rd round KO
Patrick Cote vs Thiago Alves
Both fighters are coming off losses while looking older and older at every passing moment. Cote got knocked out for the 1st time in his career against Cerrone, while Alves had a terrible lightweight debut against Jim Miller, getting repeatedly taken down and showing nothing of note. Alves will be moving back up to welterweight where he belongs, and maybe that’ll help ignite a late career comeback. It’ll be a wrestler vs striker match-up with Cote being the wrestler and Alves being the striker with no take-down defense. Fun!
This is pretty much up to Alves and his take-down defense, as Cote has always had the same gameplan for like 50 years – start a little bit of a brawl with right hand bombs and then dive ahead for the single/double leg take-down. Cote has no real ground offense and generally gets stalled from top control, but it’s enough to win the round for Cote. When he’s faced against fighters who can defend his take-downs somewhat, that’s when the fun begins as Cote will start brawling and actually making it an exciting fight. That’s what Alves needs to force Cote into doing, as his Muay Thai stand-up is his biggest advantage against Cote. Thigh shattering leg kicks, a good counter right hand, and oh my god STOP HITTING MY LEG!!! are the tools of Alves, but none of that matters if he can’t get off the ground. I just can’t see Alves suddenly becoming the next GSP and out-wrestling Cote to set up his brutal kicks, and honestly I wouldn’t be surprised if Cote just decided to hold Alves forever up the fence.
Cote via unanimous decision
Cynthia Calvillo vs Pearl Gonzalez
Calvillo made her UFC debut a mere month ago, obliterating Amanda Cooper on the ground after a take-down with a beautiful transition into a rear naked choke. It was something you’d only see elite grapplers pull off, so that’s a great sign for Calvillo’s future in the UFC. She’ll get another newcomer in Pearl Gonzalez, bringing a 6-1 record with 6 straight wins and 4 by armbar. She also has a armbar submission victory over current UFC fighter Cortney Casey, so Gonzalez is no slouch as far as competition. It’ll be a battle between two competent grapplers who are at their best on the ground.
Calvillo is the more pure wrestler of the two with better offensive wrestling and reactive take-downs, while Gonzalez is more of a clinch fighter, opting for trip take-downs and leveraging her way to the ground. Calvillo should be the stronger fighter, but will be at a disadvantage on the feet from an output standpoint as Gonzalez definitely brings the action right away with her pacing. Gonzalez’s got some boxing and Muay Thai background, so she’s got an aggressive mindset and loves to push forward with the right hand and landing the hard left kick to the body. Calvillo’s more of a patient counter-striker, so both fighters have opposite styles from a striking point of view. Here’s what will probably decide it all – their grappling. Gonzalez’s a purple belt in 10th planet JJ (Eddie Bravo’s BJJ disciple) and is the more aggressive submission hunter, especially if she can get into side control for the armbar attempt. Calvillo’s much more patient, and as evidenced by her win over Cooper, is experienced enough to utilize chokes in her favor. Gonzalez’s fight against Casey had her in perilous situations where it looked like she could get subbed, then scrambled out of it and turned them into dominant positions. That could be the case here against Calvillo’s wrestling and top control. Coupled with her higher striking output and aggression, Gonzalez makes for a good upset pick to me if Calvillo can’t control her on the ground and gets lit up on the feet. It might be a scrambling battle between the two and I think that favors Gonzalez more than Calvillo.
Gonzalez via unanimous decision
Chris Weidman vs Gegard Mousasi
The Chris vs the Sassy Moose! Weidman’s at a cross-roads in his MMA career, suffering back to back embarrassing losses and bringing up the question of whether or not Weidman’s got the juice anymore. Yes, his loss to Rockhold shouldn’t be considered a bad one, but he did get completely dominated on the ground and good ol’ Herb Dean allowed Rockhold to rain down hammer fists for way too long. Then came the Yoel flying knee KO that was the cherry on top of his poo sundae for his New York debut (his hometown). Weidman looked out of shape and lethargic against Romero, then rumors surfaced that he had a bad camp (yet again). Not good! Then you have the Sassy Moose, reeling off 4 straight victories (3 straight KO/TKO as well) and going 6-1 in his last 7 since his loss to Jacare Souza. He even dominated Uriah Hall as revenge for his freaky KO loss to Hall a year before. Mousasi has looked nothing short of a fantastic MW contender, living up to his hype generated from his StrikeForce days. It very well could be his last fight in the UFC as the fight against Weidman will be the final fight on his current contract. Savor the moment, Sassy Moose.
So, what’s the deal with Weidman? Well, the biggest takeaway from his last two losses is the surprising fact that despite his wrestling background and BJJ black belt, Weidman hasn’t actually been successful as a wrestler as he once was early in his UFC career. Remember when he showed Maia who the King of butts was? Remember when he elbowed the bejesus out of Munoz? Weidman just hasn’t been able to put together a consistent gameplan that relies on his physical talents and wrestling, and while he’s been able to get take-downs on basically everyone, he just hasn’t had that usual top control from the past outside of the Vitor Belfort fight (which doesn’t count since Belfort is like 100 years old). Then there’s that whole out of shape/bad camp thing. Weidman had some issues coming into the Rockhold fight as well, and his cardio issues haven’t gone away despite being an ex-champion. His stand-up hasn’t looked crisp either, barely putting a finger on Yoel Romero while being unable to keep the massive Cuban on the ground long enough to expose his ground deficiencies. Just bad all around! I may be a little too harsh on Weidman since he only really had one bad loss (Romero) and he did give Rockhold a good test before the stupid spinning kick that doomed him. It’s more of a combination of both Weidman looking awful against Romero and Mousasi looking like a legitimate top 5 middleweight.
All right, let’s get down to brass tacks. Mousasi’s been relying on his smooth combinations and octagon control to gain the edge on the feet by reading striking patterns and countering effectively while giving himself the opportunity to strike on any take-down attempts. The Sassy Moose is one of the more cerebral fighters in the UFC, learning his opponents’ strengths and weaknesses, finding the holes in their game and striking when the iron’s hot. Most notably, Mousasi’s found a way to incorporate the double leg take-down seamlessly into his combinations, allowing him to effectively choose when and where he wants the fight to be at. He probably won’t do that against Weidman, but he should have the upper hand regardless on the feet as well as the speed/technique advantage. His weakness has long been his inability to consistently defend against take-downs and getting stuck in the clinch. Therein lies the rub, as Weidman’s wrestling has been subpar lately while Mousasi has been on a tear, reinventing himself and finally utilizing every tool at his disposal. Essentially, you’re choosing between Weidman’s wrestling which can stymie Mousasi’s entire offense, or the much more complete fighter who can light up Weidman on the feet and won’t slow down in the later rounds. Easy decision for me. I’m feeling a Sassy Moose 3rd round beatdown against a gassed and unmotivated Weidman.
Mousasi via 3rd round TKO
Anthony Johnson vs Daniel Cormier
RUMBLEEEE!!!!! The rematch that the LHW division has been waiting for (outside of Jon Jones vs DC, of course) has finally arrived! Both men have been smashing the competition since that fated 1st meeting, and I honestly could say Rumble has looked better in his wins than DC in his. Maybe that’s due to his fighting style, which consists of knocking his victims into a coma. He’ll need to continue doing that against DC, as Rumble’s wrestling still hasn’t really been tested outside of a Ryan Bader hilariously predictable shoot-in take-down that basically gave Rumble a free pass at landing unblocked shots to his head. Terrible. This may be the shortest main event analysis as the match-up is extremely cut and dry.
DC is as good of a wrestler as they come in the UFC, even on a bum knee. He’s massive (fat? Yeah, fat) for a LHW despite his short stature at 5’11”, and he’s been showcasing his strength for a long time now, even dating back to his heavyweight days. The plan is simple for DC – feel things out in the early goings and pick/prod his way inside his opponent’s range, then get into the clinch where he’s most comfortable. He loves to bully his opponents from the fence, tiring them out as well as setting up the drop-down single/double leg take-down into his exhaustively heavy top control and underrated ground and pound. DC is capable of landing a reactive take-down, but mostly relies on his strength and ability to cut off the octagon in his favor. Rumble made life easier for DC in achieving clinch position by recklessly rushing into DC almost immediately. That plan nearly worked out for Rumble as he was able to drop DC with a thunderous right, but as many of you already know, it ain’t over till the ref says it is! DC eventually was able to bully Rumble in the clinch, hitting several take-downs and gassing him out in the process. Nothing should change from a gameplan perspective for DC in the rematch. Forget about his stand-up as he’s at such a massive disadvantage from a power, technique, and overall striking standpoint.
Rumble, Rumble, oh Rumble. What more can I say about this guy’s power? He has 5 KO/TKO victories since moving up to LHW in his last 7 LHW fights, going 6-1 in that span with the loss to you know who. He made Glover Teixeira quiver on the ground after a single punch, blasted Lil Nog’s head off with a vicious uppercut, and dropped DC with a single right hand and even landed a gorgeous head-kick in the 2nd round that somehow didn’t finish DC. Oh yeah, he also ruined Jimi Manuwa’s modeling career with a single blow. Well, not really but you get the gist. The guy’s a ferocious striker with a great kickboxing base, relying on his right hand that’s a combination of mind defying speed and power for such a large man and the quick reaction head-kick that’s largely ignored by the masses as a major tool in Rumble’s arsenal. Alas, his wrestling and cardio are still really bad, as none of the last 3 fights since the DC loss were able to pinpoint exactly where his levels were in those particular categories. Shame.
So basically, if DC is able to wrestle Rumble early on then he should win easily with plenty of points from take-downs and advances, likely ending in a 2nd/3rd round finish similar to the first fight. If Rumble can suppress his aggression and control the distance, he should be able to dictate the pace of the fight while pummeling everything Cormier tries to throw at him in an effort to get within range for the clinch-up. Rumble HAS to be vigilant on where he is relative to the fence as to avoid getting cut off and clinched up. I really want Rumble to win this one as he’s one of my favorite fighters and an absolute pleasure to watch as he satisfies my needs for violence with every strike he lands. Can he finally stop a wrestler that doesn’t shoot in from a mile away? Will he be the rightful champion (shut up already about Jon Jones) and shower his adoring fans with his victims’ blood? Am I secretly a Satanic follower? Probably. Cormier has one hell of a chin though, and not even absorbing the brunt of an all out Rumble right hand was able to render him unconscious. You win again, DC. You damned wrastler.