UFC Fight Night 63: Dude, it’s free!
Welcome to another lovely event of mass violence that will be free for all to watch on FS1. The main card features several high caliber strikers and wrestlers the UFC has to offer, Masvidal/Iaquinta being the strikers and Mendes/Lamas the wrestlers. Whether you are a fan of dudes getting smacked in the face and possibly in the leg, or watching someone constantly rag-doll around a grown ass man in the octagon as if he was a mere peasant, the main card has it all for you! Oh, and I guess there are some prelims and whatever. Possibly a retirement ceremony to boot! Let us begin our weekly complaining about a fighter not doing what they’re supposed to do.
Justin Jones (-130) vs. Ron Stallings (+110)
This is a tough one to break down, as Ron Stallings and Justin Jones don’t have a ton of film for me to watch their fights. From what I can gather from both men’s UFC debuts and whatever little scraps of video I could find, this should be a finish for either fighter.
Ron Stallings is coming off an unfortunate doctor’s stoppage loss vs. Uriah Hall where his eye got bloodied and cut up badly due to a vicious punch and elbows that followed. It’s no shame to lose to Uriah Hall, a rising contender in the middleweight division, but that fight didn’t really show me anything to note with Stallings other than he is a southpaw. In the few fights I could watch Stallings do his thing, I noticed he does not check kicks very much and is a bit passive at times standing, electing to wait for a counter rather than being aggressive and dictating the action. Against an expert counter striker in Uriah Hall, that strategy literally blew up in his face as Hall just obliterated him anytime Stallings decided to throw something out. Stallings also has mediocre striking defense to go with a very meh wrestling base and take-down defense, but he does hold a brown belt in BJJ. Stallings seems like just an average striker who has some power and speed but nothing extraordinary or even above average. I’d probably imagine Stallings trying to get the fight to the ground and taking advantage of Jones’ lack of experience on the mat, possibly getting in a quick sub.
Justin Jones took his last fight on short notice and had to move up a weight class from his usual 185 pounds to 205 pounds versus a natural light heavyweight wrestler. The result? Getting taken down 7x and completely gassing out in the 1st round. Despite all those shortcomings, he did show some flashes of excellent striking and power in his hands as well as showcasing his reach of 78 inches. That will be his biggest advantage vs. Stallings, who has a 75 inch reach. Justin Jones seems like the superior striker and naturally the bigger man, which could help Jones in taking Stallings down and get in some ground and pound work. I don’t think he will necessarily look to get the fight to the ground much as he should have a distinct power advantage over Stallings, being able to quickly counter any of Stallings strikes with booming left hooks. Not to mention I don’t think he wants to deal with Stallings on the ground and making the wrong transition that results in Jones getting choked out.
Between two fighters with little film work available and coming off unimpressive UFC debuts, this could end up being a coin toss. Jones is the bigger man with the reach and power advantage, while Stallings has the speed and BJJ advantage. I’m going with the power.
Jones by 2nd round TKO
Shamil Abdurahimov (-265) vs. Timothy Johnson (+225)
Both men are making their UFC debuts with Timothy Johnson most likely being the bigger man by at least 30 pounds come weigh in day. Both guys have one thing in common and that’s the lack of competitive opponents. Both guys’ records are littered with 35-40 year old has-beens/never-was with sub .500 records. Sure, Johnson defeated a guy in his last fight with a 73-20 record, but again…..means nothing. The guy is 37 years old now for cripe’s sake! Look, here’s the simple breakdown:
Abdurahimov is a Russian-based fighter with solid striking and decent power to go with very solid clinch offense as he utilizes his trips very well to gain top control on the ground. He is constantly moving up and down waiting to strike with quick one punch successions and doesn’t waste a lot of punches, so when he throws something it’s bound to hit something with decisive force. He doesn’t have much else in his game and facing old men doesn’t really give much insight in way of take-down defense or cardio since well…they’re old. His biggest weakness vs. Johnson is definitely going to be fending off Johnson’s strength with his quickness and lateral movement.
Johnson is your run of the mill heavyweight, having very simplistic striking that is mainly used to close the distance and get inside the opponent for a take-down. Johnson loves to bear hug his opponents up the cage and tire them out with his clinch game, using plenty of knees to soften them up. Johnson is just simply a classic lumbering fat guy with surprisingly good mat control, and his wrestling is adequate enough to annoy most heavyweights as he was a former NCAA All American wrestler for Minnesota State.
This is really just a classic striker vs. wrestler matchup between the two, pitting Shamil’s speed and quickness in avoiding the take-down versus Johnson’s brute strength and incessant take-down attempts. If Johnson is able to get Abdurahimov to the ground, it should be an easy decision win for Johnson if he doesn’t gas out by the 3rd round, perhaps even finishing Abdurahimov in the 1st round. If Johnson is unable to get his hands on Shamil, then it will be a long night for him as Abdurahimov plasters Johnson with efficient strikes and tires Johnson out for a decision win. It’s possible that Shamil could get in a trip from the clinch and maybe get in a sub over Johnson as I suspect Johnson is probably very bad on his back as most heavyweight wrestlers are as they start out their MMA careers. Johnson has the better chance for the finish though, and I can’t ignore the size disadvantage Abdurahimov is going to have against Johnson.
Johnson via unanimous decision
UPDATE – Abdurahimov came in at 255 pounds and looked bigger than usual, so I will be giving the edge to Abdurahimov since he shouldn’t have too much of a size disadvantage anymore. If he can get Johnson to the ground from clinch, it could be a finish for Shamil.
Abdurahimov via unanimous decision
Alexander Yakovlev (-125) vs. Gray Maynard (+105)
Gray Maynard should be retired. The man once had an iron chin and was fearless standing, willing to take damage in exchange for a take-down or just get in a vicious counter. Taking so much punishment over the years has caught up to Maynard, as his chin has eroded into peanut butter brittle. He has been knocked out his last three fights, and while he may have shown classic Maynard-style wrestling/striking in his past few fights, his chin is just simply gone. It’s a shame really, but that’s just the reality of MMA. Constant punishment in addition to old age has been a silent killer in the MMA ranks, snatching one victim after another out of thin air. Those who can weather the storm and still survive for years become legends of old. Gray Maynard is not one of them.
With that said, let’s go ahead and break this fight down to the basics, ignoring the fact that at any given time an erratic punch can uncork all those years of destruction upon Maynard’s chin for a flash KO win for Yakovlev. Gray Maynard is a very good wrestler with solid jabs and decent power in his hands, but as old age has caught up to Maynard, his speed has declined over the years. No longer the fearless, stout man he once was, Maynard is more tactical and careful of his surroundings as displayed vs. Ross Pearson before he got brutally knocked out. He went to his great wrestling base and notched a couple take-downs on the aforementioned Pearson, controlling him on the ground and being patient standing when Pearson got back to his feet. Maynard easily won the 1st round of that fight, but there are no moral victories inside the octagon, only wins and losses (and sometimes a draw). Oh and no contests! But I digress. Obviously, Maynard knows his chin is a lost cause, so he will most likely want to keep the fight on the ground where he can stay on top vs. Yakovlev as Maia had done to Yakovlev. Maynard is not on Maia’s level when it comes to being an expert ground technician, as Maia is hands down one of the best ground grapplers in the UFC. Still, Yakovlev looked very uncomfortable defending Maia’s take-downs and trying to get back on his feet despite being skilled in Sambo as well as being the bigger man. Look for Maynard to exploit that very same weakness Maia took advantage of.
Yakovlev is trained in the art of Sambo, a form of wrestling/grappling derived from Russia that is especially popular among majority of Russia-based fighters in MMA. Sambo mainly uses throws and sweeps as take-downs, using the fighter’s own strength to their advantage. Yakovlev was already a big welterweight, so moving down to 155 (gotta keep an eye on him weigh in day) will give Yakovlev signifcant weight and height advantage over Maynard, towering five inches taller than Maynard. Using his strength advantage Yakovlev would take down fighters to the ground and establish his dominance via ground and pound to soften up his opponent as he hunts for a submission attempt. That has usually been his recipe for winning in past history, but lately Yakovlev hasn’t been able to replicate his past success in the UFC, having to depend on his striking game to win fights. That hasn’t turned out well for Yakovlev, as his striking is raw and not as developed as one would hope for after 27 fights, but it can get the job done nevertheless especially vs. someone like Maynard who potentially could get knocked out on his way to the cage if the door hits him in the face. The drop down to 155 could also be a boon for Yakovlev, and it’s possible he could overwhelm Maynard with his Sambo and get full mount, finishing off Maynard via ground and pound. Yakovlev’s best chance to test Maynard’s mettle is to try and keep the aggressiveness inside him and be a patient man on the feet, waiting for the right moment to pounce on a misplaced strike by Maynard. Or he could also just go ahead and throw Maynard out of the cage. That would work either way.
I’d hope Yakovlev’s Sambo background and being the bigger man negates Maynard’s wrestling, but Yakovlev doesn’t seem like a very intelligent fighter thus far, having far too many blunders for a man experienced as he is. Maybe Maynard still has one more fight in him and can avoid the death blow that has plagued him in the past few fights. I really do hope he can notch a decision win and go out on top as he should, but Yakovlev is an aggressive fighter and swings wildly at times. It’s that very same reason that I am extremely cautious in rostering Maynard on any, ANY lineup. Thankfully, I can just predict a win for Maynard here and just keep him off my lineups. Job done!
Maynard via unanimous decision
Lauren Murphy (-105) vs. Liz Carmouche (-115)
Murphy’s hype train was quickly derailed when she made her UFC debut vs. essentially the bigger, stronger version of Murphy in Sara McMann. Murphy was completely dominated in a wrestling clinic by McMann, getting taken down 7x and singling out Murphy’s own relative inexperience in dealing with better polished fighters. She doesn’t get a break in her next fight as she faces yet another veteran of the women’s 135 pound division in Liz Carmouche.
Carmouche is a gritty veteran of women’s MMA, facing the majority of the top contenders in the division, including a quick submission loss to champion Ronda Rousey. But who hasn’t anyways? Carmouche brings with her a very wrestling centric fighting style that is both grinding and tiring, similar to what Lauren Murphy has done up to this point. She also holds a purple belt in BJJ, which might come in handy vs. the inexperienced Murphy as both women will most likely get this fight to the ground. Carmouche has the more polished and better striking techniques, which isn’t saying much as Murphy is extremely raw in that department, relying solely on her speed and athleticism as she moves forward to get in a single/double leg take-down and grind her way to a decision win. Murphy is very good in getting in single/double leg take-downs though, and I do think she should be able to get a couple of those on the smaller Carmouche. However, keeping Liz still on the ground is going to be a tough task for Murphy.
This might just end up being a deja-vu fight for Murphy, having to face a better, experienced wrestler. Granted, Murphy should be the stronger, bigger, and quicker fighter, but in this case I’m going to go with experience over talent. Either way the fight goes, it will probably be a wrestling seminar, which is no good on DraftKings as they dislike giving points to wrestlers as compared to Kountermove. I’d avoid this fight and only lean on Carmouche for the possible submission win.
Carmouche via unanimous decision
Diego Ferreira (+160) vs. Dustin Poirier (-185)
What an intriguing fight this may turn out to be. Diego Ferreira is a world class third degree BJJ black belt who has been working tremendously on his striking to be a viable threat in the lightweight division. His fight vs. Ramsey Nijem showcased his ever-improving striking, as he battered Nijem left and right with powerful hooks and also increased his footwork as well. Unfortunately, he ran into a buzzsaw that is Beneil Dariush, losing a tough decision to the fast rising prospect. He is facing a former contender in the featherweight division in Dustin Poirier, who is making the move up to his natural weight of 155 pounds. Most of Poirier’s MMA career had been fought at 155 pounds, but in the UFC he chose to move down to 145 pounds to have a size advantage versus most of the fighters. The weight cut took a toll on Poirier’s body with every weight cut, despite the fact that he was taking out the top prospects event after event and holding his own versus the premier featherweights. After his loss to the notorious Conor McGregor, Poirier decided enough was enough and the debilitating weight cutting wasn’t worth it anymore. His camp so far has been nothing but good news, as his training partners and coaches have all noted the subtle differences from the current training regimen to past ones. Poirier is supposedly faster, stronger, and more powerful since he does not have to worry about being on a strict diet and depleting his body weeks before the fight. He is absolutely going to need all the strength he can muster as he faces a phenom on the ground.
Carlos Diego Ferreira is a powerful, wild swinging BJJ specialist with average take-downs and world class submissions. He hasn’t faced the level of competition Poirier has, so predicting how Ferreira reacts to someone who is an excellent striker as Poirier is a little tough. Diego’s best test was Beneil Dariush, who dominated Ferreira with plenty of take-downs and constant top control, while standing was a bit of a wash as it was just mainly Dariush stifling Ferreira on the ground. Poirier probably won’t be trying to use the same gameplan as Dariush since he isn’t as strong as Dariush was nor does he have the same jiu-jitsu chops as Dariush’s. We may just get to see how improved Ferreira’s striking truly is, and if he has moved on from his usual wild swinging punches to a more tightly packed striking style to better implement his power.
Dustin Poirier has faced some stiff competition in his time at 145, including a tough loss to Cub Swanson and an impressive armbar win vs. the surging Max Holloway. Poirier is a very fast striker with tons of tools at his arsenal as he can hit all the angles with quick jabs in successions and finishing off the combinations with a leg kick out of his southpaw stance. Poirier uses plenty of clean combinations and switches it up enough to keep his opponents on their toes and constantly guessing, which helps sets up his take-downs. Poirier is a BJJ brown belt as well, and is an aggressive scrambler whenever the fight goes to the ground, capable of finishing the fight with great ground and pound or moving quickly with flawless passes to nab a submission win. One of Poirier’s weakness has been his chin, as he has been prone to getting rocked/knocked down in past fights. Perfect example would be his fight vs. Akira Corassani, where Corassani caught Poirier flush with a punch that brought Poirier to his knees momentarily. Thankfully, Poirier bounced back quickly, even almost attempting a successful Peruvian Necktie submission at the end of the 1st round. Eventually, Poirier finished off Corassani with his great usage of combinations and a nasty uppercut that finished off Corassani. Poirier has had several of those scary moments far too often in his fights, and he has to be mindful of his chin as he exchanges with Ferreira on the feet.
Thus far, Poirier hasn’t shown to be susceptible to submissions in most of his fights, being able to fend off attempt after attempt. In only one instance has he succumbed to a sub was versus the great Korean Zombie, Chan Sung Jung. That doesn’t necessarily mean Ferreira is incapable of submitting Poirier, but he is going to have to fight a flawless match in order to get Poirier down and be able to set up a submission. Poirier should have the big advantage standing with both technique, speed, and volume of strikes. As long as he can avoid getting taken down and allowing Ferreira’s BJJ to take over as well as the big power shots, Poirier should be able to cruise to victory, possibly being able to knock out Ferreira in the process. It’s too bad Dustin the Diamond doesn’t have a diamond chin otherwise he would be an absolute beast in the LW division.
Poirier via 2nd round TKO
Clay Guida (-250) vs. Robbie Peralta (+210)
The carpenter is ready to build another house! Clay Guida returns in all of his Caveman glory after a bad defeat by the hands of Dennis Bermudez, and will absolutely be looking to put himself back into the top 10 FW conversations as he faces Robbie Peralta. Guida actually left his usual training camp partners at Jackson-Winklejohn MMA to join up with Team Alpha Male, full of top wrestlers and several division contenders such as Chad Mendes, Urijah Faber, and the current BW champion TJ Dillashaw. What that move probably means is he is toning his wrestling/grappling skills and shedding off his usual Clay-maniac identity, throwing a barrage of punches while having absolutely no care in the world for his own well being as he eats punches left and right. That probably doesn’t bode well for Peralta, who has a tendency to let himself get taken down a little too easily.
Peralta is the much better striker of the two, boasting great power in his hands as well as quickness and solid footwork. He also holds a black belt in Taekwondo. Clay has always been known as the toughest guy around, eating overhands for lunch and taking uppercuts to the chin for dinner. Suffice to say, the chances of Peralta knocking out Clay is as slim as they come. Regardless, this fight should be a simple one as far as gameplans are concerned. Clay is going to get this fight down to the ground and either lay-n-pray his way to a decision win, maybe notching a late round RNC as Peralta gasses out. Peralta will be looking to keep this fight standing at all costs, while keeping Clay at bay with plenty of jabs and straights, hoping to invoke Clay’s alternate personality to nab some easy significant strikes points. As I said before, Peralta’s take-down defense leaves much to be desired, but his 2nd to last fight vs. Rony Jason, a guy who kept looking to get him down on the ground for a sub win, did showcase an improvement in that area. Unfortunately, the following fight after his win vs. Jason resulted in a 1st round submission loss to Thiago Tavares, once again highlighting Peralta’s glaring weakness in his game.
I’m not gonna pick against Caveman, not until he shows me otherwise. His wrestling is just too top notch and smoldering for Peralta to keep away from eating a caveman sandwich. CLAYMANIA’S COMING FOR YOU BROTHER!!!!
Guida via unanimous decision
Julianna Pena (-270) vs. Milana Dudieva (+230)
The long awaited return of the Venezuelan Vixen has finally arrived, as Julianna Pena is coming off a brutal knee injury where she tore her ACL/LCL/MCL as well has her meniscus in a bizarre training accident. Pena is UFC’s 1st female TUF winner, winning TUF 18 in a dominant fashion as she destroyed Jessica Rakoczy and all the rest of the competition she faced, including Shayna Baszler and Sarah Moras. If Pena shows no ill effects of the catastrophic knee injury she suffered 16 months ago, she has the potential to become a threat to all in the 135 pound division. She is facing a good test in her return, facing a solid prospect in Milana Dudieva hailing from Russia.
Julianna Pena is one of the premier grapplers in her weight class, as she has very strong top control to go with a good clinch game that she uses to get her opponents down on the ground. While she doesn’t transition much on the ground, she keeps top posture and will use efficient ground and pound to open up submission opportunities as she tires her opponents out. Striking wise, she has good power in her hands and solid boxing combinations while being decently aggressive, moving forward when she feels she can overpower with quick straights to push them up the cage and utilize the clinch. She is still relatively raw in that aspect, relying mainly on her strength and speed to get inside opponents. Coming off such a long layoff and a devastating injury, it will be interesting to see if she continues her aggressive pacing that she has shown in the past or she becomes more patient and mindful of her footwork as to not put too much stress on her knee.
Milana Dudieva is a very opportunistic fighter, relying mainly on her fast overhand right to quickly counter most exchanges. She doesn’t use a ton of combinations nor does she apply the jab much as she has a very short reach at 61.5 inches, but she has shown she can stay out of range versus most strikers and still be able to rain down the pain with her powerful punches to maximize her short reach. Once a small window opens up, she will gladly pursue it with a barrage of haymakers as she forcefully pushes forward her opponent, sometimes landing and rocking them, but it is mainly to get inside and use her Sambo background and trip/throw her opponents down to the ground. Once on the ground, Dudieva is incredibly vigorous with her passes and transitions as she hunts for any and all submission opportunities, resulting in loss of top control and favorable positions in exchange for a slick sub win. Dudieva also allows herself to be reversed and swept too easily in her pursuit for a submission, and that has cost her in past fights, especially vs. Jessica Andrade, a top grappler in the division. This is something to keep an eye on, as Pena should be able to take advantage of Dudieva’s reckless abandon while on the ground.
If Pena can bring back the mojo she had coming into the UFC after her TUF 18 win, she should be able to manhandle Dudieva with several take-downs, keeping top control and possibly taking advantage of Dudieva’s lack of submission defense. She shouldn’t take Dudieva lightly standing though, as Dudieva can absolutely notch it up a speed or two if the opportunity strikes itself, especially if Pena still has her usual push forward pacing style. After seeing how careless Dudieva really is on the ground, whether it be from top or bottom, I gotta think with Pena’s jiu-jitsu experience she should be able to get past Dudieva’s early possible onslaught of looping hooks and get it to the ground for a submission win.
Pena via 1st round arm triangle
Michael Chiesa (-350) vs. Mitch Clarke (-290)
Winner of UFC’s 1st live TUF season, Michael Chiesa is a wonderfully bearded man with very solid jiu-jitsu skills, owning a purple belt in BJJ. 8 of his 11 wins have come way of submission, including a RNC over Iaquinta to win TUF. A submission win over Iaquinta? That sounds familiar……oh yeah! Mitch Clarke has one of those too! Mitch Clarke is also a submission guy himself, holding a brown belt in BJJ, and 7 of his 11 wins have also came way of submission.
Both guys are similar fighters, having a mediocre striking game to go with great BJJ as well as being very capable on the ground from either top/bottom position in hunting for sub attempts. This really just about sums up both fighters, with Chiesa being the better fighter on the feet as he has been training on improving his foray of strikes for some time now and should be the quicker fighter. Clarke has shown a lack of take-down defense, which bodes well for Chiesa as he does have some solid wrestling credentials to go with good take-down offense.
Chiesa has a far better jab and wrestling while Clarke probably is the better BJJ specialist of the two, but that isn’t gonna help stop Chiesa’s take-downs or from Chiesa getting full mount and ending the fight his way. Clarke just isn’t that great of a fighter overall, mostly depending on his BJJ to win fights once he gets his opponents down on the ground. Chiesa being the bigger, more experienced fighter as well as having the better striking puts Clarke at a big disadvantage. If he does somehow get on top of Chiesa, he really could pull off the big upset with a submission win, but I wouldn’t hold my breath on that happening.
Chiesa via 2nd round TKO (strikes)
Al Iaquinta (+115) vs. Jorge Masvidal (-135)
What a great co-main event the UFC has put on the card! Ragin’ Al is one of my favorite fighters in the lightweight division as he packs real power to go with unrivaled boxing techniques/footwork. Jorge Masvidal is no slouch either standing, as he is also a very good technical boxer in his own right. While Masvidal is not as powerful as Iaquinta is, he is more well rounded of the two as he has very good take-down defense to go with his favorite submission move, the D’arce choke. The aforementioned sub may come into play in the matchup, as Iaquinta tends to leave himself open to sub opportunities for no reason at all. Hopefully this fight stays standing and both men trade blows until someone gets knocked out unconscious.
Iaquinta is one of the best when it comes to trading punches on the feet as he possess great hand speed and top notch footwork to go with vicious counters. One of his biggest weaknesses is his fight IQ. For all the smooth techniques he throws to go with accuracy and precision, he sometimes forgets that he is one of the best strikers in the division and will do something boneheaded to put himself in a bad position. Case in point, vs. Mitch Clarke he was dominating Clarke standing and actually rocked him in the second round, jumping on Clarke to try and finish it off with some ground and pound, and ended up giving up his neck to a brown belt in BJJ while he was in a dominant position. Iaquinta eventually submitted to a D’arce choke that Clarke got from bottom position, a hard sub to pull off for anyone. While it was a very slick submission, Iaquinta was in a great position, beating up a rocked and dazed opponent. He should have never allowed such an attempt to happen in that situation. Ragin’ Al also tried to take down Joe Lauzon, a renowned submission artist, even though he was clearly outclassing Lauzon standing. While he did eventually win by vicious second round TKO (actually amassing 59 significant strikes before the ref called it off) and had a huge score on DFS MMA sites, it’s the fact that he even tried to go for a take-down which opened up his neck and allowed a guillotine attempt to a guy known for his fantastic ability to sub anybody at any given time. That kind of stupidity cannot happen vs. Masvidal, who has one of the best D’arces in the UFC.
Jorge Masvidal considers himself a true street brawler, ready for anybody at any given time. He is one of the quicker fighters in the LW division to go with great fight IQ and a strong chin (only been KO’d once in 36 career pro fights). The man can take a punch and still churn out plenty of significant strikes while keeping a cool head. Daron Cruickshank, an extremely powerful striker, caught Masvidal with a booming right hand that put Masvidal on his ass, seemingly on his way to a flash KO win. Masvidal immediately shook off the cobwebs in his head, quickly got back up to his feet and continued on with the fight, eventually winning a close decision vs. Cruickshank. Only a true professional and gritty fighter could shake off a monstrous right hand and still stick to the gameplan. Masvidal has tremendous willpower and sheer ingenuity as he can instantly come up with the perfect move to finish the fight with a sub at the right timing, something Iaquinta absolutely has to keep in mind.
As great as this fight could turn out to be, I do have to make a prediction. Ragin’ Al is just an extremely good, clean striker who can overwhelm his opponents with his fast jab and volume of combinations he throws effortlessly. Masvidal may be a very good technician and definitely loves himself a fist fight, but Ragin’ Al might just be too savvy on the feet for Masvidal to win two rounds. A finish here that isn’t a sub by Masvidal will be very surprising to me, but I’m sticking to my guns and going Ragin’ Al Iaquinta and hoping he can crack Masvidal’s iron chin. Iaquianta has to keep his composure all throughout the fight though, as Masvidal will never let up at any point.
Iaquinta via unanimous decision
Chad Mendes (-440) vs. Ricardo Lamas (+350)
This should be a very fun main event between two fighters with similar fight styles, as both men are at the top of the food chain when it comes to wrestling prowess. Both men have been defeated by the hands of the current FW champion Jose Aldo, so in some ways this is a title contender elimination match. Chad Mendes came the closest to putting away the formidable champion Aldo, showcasing his immense power that is rare for a featherweight as well as his impressive cardio as is usual for Team Alpha Male members. After a bitter defeat, Mendes has been looking for a comeback match to keep his name in the top contender conversation, and facing yet another top contender in Lamas will certainly help pad his resume. It won’t be an easy fight for him at all, but I am definitely going to target either fighter as this may well go to the judges which equals plenty of fantasy points scoring opportunities for either fighter in a 5 round match. The fight may very well end up being a Hendricks vs. Lawler I type fight, where each guy basically shook off each other’s take-downs and kept it standing, leading to 150+ sig strikes for each fighter. Who has the best matchup of the two?
Lamas is a BJJ black belt, owning several submissions over several top 10 featherweights such as Dennis Bermudez and Cub Swanson. His rapidly improving striking has vaulted Lamas into top 3 contention in the featherweight division along with Chad Mendes. Lamas is going to have a significant reach advantage over Mendes, but Mendes’ short stature usually means he is at a reach disadvantage vs. most guys anyways. For what it’s worth, it is a 5 inch reach advantage for Lamas, which I think will come into play eventually as the match continues into the 4th/5th rounds if it reaches that point. Lamas has excellent footwork, always keeping himself out of range and moving his feet quickly to continue his pursuit of getting a take-down and putting his BJJ skills to work. As far as speed goes, Lamas has the distinct advantage vs. Mendes on the feet and on sprawls/reacting to take-downs. Lamas’ gameplan will very likely come down to how he can avoid the big punch vs. Mendes and find a way to hit Mendes’ lead leg then box his way inside for some take-down attempts to gain top control. Facing one of the best wrestlers in the division, looking to control him either up the cage or on the ground probably isn’t the best of options.
Mendes is a big dude even for his short height at 5’6 (which is generous), and while he isn’t slow at all, he just isn’t as quick as some of the top guys in the division. What he lacks in speed he more than makes up for it in power and strength, as he has bulldozed through just about every opponent he has faced with his suffocating wrestling and crisp, thunderous boxing. While Mendes doesn’t have a belt in BJJ, his ground transitions and defense are still good enough to get away from most BJJ specialists. Well, considering no one has even taken him down at this point in his UFC career, that probably helps too. That lack of real experience in dealing with a bad situation from bottom could end up costing Mendes in his fight vs. Lamas, as Lamas is just as adept of a wrestler as Mendes to go with a wide range of submissions. Early on in Mendes’ career, he was mainly a wrestler shooting in for the take-down and grinding out a win. He has evolved into a very good striker with knockout power to go with strong power take-downs and a killer instinct as he has finished his last 4 out of 5 opponents by KO/TKO before his rematch vs. Jose Aldo. Mendes’ own game-plan will probably involve some options dependent on what Lamas shows him early on, whether Lamas is going to try and get it to the ground or keep it standing and try to outpoint Mendes on the feet. If Lamas tries to get it on the ground, Mendes will be on the defensive and wait for his moment to land that one punch KO, trying to rock Lamas and end it quickly. If Lamas decides to keep it standing, I really think Mendes will just go ahead and try to squish Lamas up the cage and batter him senseless with his power straights, not caring about the threat of Lamas’ own take-downs.
I have no idea who is going to win the fight between two of the premier featherweights in the UFC, and I’d rather just enjoy the fight than stress out about it. Unfortunately, I don’t have that luxury being a degenerate myself, so screw it. LET’S GO MENDES WOOOOOOO!
Mendes via 3rd round KO
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