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UFC Fight Night 67: Natural Born Killers

UFC Fight Night 67: Natural Born Killers
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UFC Fight Night 67 DFS Picks: Natural Born Killers

Hey, another card in Brazil! I love those! All the crazy fights and upsets that seem to happen every damn time out in majestic Brazil! Actually, I really hate Brazil cards due to their unpredictability, but whatever, I must trod on. The main event of the card has a huge potential to be a Fight Of The Year candidate, as it features two of the most lethal strikers in the WW division in Carlos “The Natural Born Killer” Condit and Thiago “Pitbull” Alves. Now, Condit is coming off a brutal ACL tear suffered during his fight against Tyron Woodley, where both a take-down attempt and a follow-up inside kick to his right leg twisted his knee and throttled Condit to the mat screaming in pain. A torn ACL and partial meniscus tear was the prognosis, and Condit would be out for the year. The nation wept. Now, the long time veteran and beloved fan favorite gets to make his octagon return versus a man who just recently came back after a two year long hiatus due to injuries. Thiago Alves is also another UFC veteran and fan favorite, with a recent FOTN versus Seth Baczynski and a brutal body kick TKO win over Jordan Mein after being dominated in the 1st round. The NBK vs the Pitbull! As is usual for most Brazil cards, there are some young Brazilian prospects as well as fan favorites that can finish fights and give the crowd an entertaining back and forth affair. Just be forewarned, I got lucky in the last Brazil card, tying for 1st in the DK $27 GPP thanks to Godofredo Pepey’s big upset over Andre Fili and a staunch belief that Demain Maia would show up this time around versus Ryan LaFlare. Normally, I wouldn’t even roster Pepey, but for some reason certain Brazilians just get +100 to everything due to the home field advantage. Such a phenomena has always made me afraid to pick against the Brazilians, but life’s a dangerous journey anyways! LET’S GO!

Luiz Dutra (+155) vs Tom Breese (-175)

To kick off the Fight Pass prelims, we get an interesting fight between Luiz “Besouro” Dutra and Tom “Fearless” Breese, who is a towering 6’3” welterweight with the longest damn legs I’ve seen. Dutra is coming off a DQ loss when his opponent, Kiichi Kunimoto, went in for a take-down up the cage and got the back of his head battered with hellbows courtesy of Dutra, then predictably collapsed in agony due to you know….getting hit in the back of the head repeatedly. Not a great debut for the 33 year old Dutra. He gets another crack at his 1st UFC win against what could be an even tougher opponent than Kunimoto in Breese, who is also 10 years younger than Dutra. Breese has an undefeated record of 7-0, with 6 of those wins coming way of submission. His height and dangerous guard has helped Breese utilize his purple belt in BJJ to the fullest, hunting for submissions in any and every position. Can Dutra use his strength and top control wrestling to stifle Breese’s dangerous guard and keep his lanky frame from twisting Dutra’s limbs?

Luiz Dutra is a black belt in Luta Livre Esportiva, which is basically the little brother to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and is roughly translated into “free fighting”, whatever that means. It’s just another form of wrestling/submission grappling, much like Sambo and Judo, though they all have their clear differences. Anyways, Dutra isn’t really a guy I watch and go, “Damn, he’s good!” Often times I find myself thinking that he’s just an average wrestler who seems content in grinding out decisions rather than use his good striking and extensive Luta Livre background for some exciting submissions. His striking mostly consists of 1-2 combos and the occasional overhand and headkick, nothing fancy. He’s mostly a counter-striker who usually will just wait until his opponents come to him and get in an easy single/double leg take-down.

He does have a pretty good ground and pound game, even if he does sit in one position in top control for far too long. That’s how he wins most of his fights, get in a strong take-down and control the fight on the ground. If it stays standing, he just simply waits or will throw the 1-2 to start up exchanges and duck under for the take-down.

Tom Breese will be one of the tallest welterweights in the UFC once he makes his debut versus Dutra, and it’s clear his length has been a boon for his submission success. While he does have 6 of his 7 finishes via submission, I watched most of those sub wins. About 2-3 of those were RNCs after he rocked them or just got their back after a failed take-down attempt. Those are still great submission wins and shouldn’t be ignored, but what I really wanted to see was his grappling skills and his guard defense. It’s pretty impressive, setting up traps and counters into many various sub attempts, including the triangle that I think will be his biggest weapon on the ground and may discourage future opponents from taking him down. See for yourself.

That last one is what really makes Breese so dangerous on the ground. His impossibly long longs allow him to both defend GnP attempts and set up traps for whatever he decides to attempt. They also make for one hell of a body triangle that’s damn hard to get out if Breese gets his opponent’s back. Another reason why his RNC is deadly. Enough about his submissions! His striking is mostly at long range, where he is able to use his length to his advantage, with a stiff right jab out of his southpaw stance, and an excellent left body kick that is set up by his low kicks. He’s not going to overwhelm anybody with his striking, but it is effective and if Breese can use his long reach a little bit better, he can rise quickly in the WW ranks. He also has some nasty knees out of clinch that’s also aided in his length since he can just gently pull up a little and his knee hits his opponent’s head with ease. I could show you a GIF of a knee KO he had, but meh. His main weapon is his submissions and grappling on the ground, and since Dutra seems to like taking his opponents down, that’s what the match-up will be.

As I said before, there’s nothing special about Dutra that I could see. Sure, he’s beaten Fabricio Camoes, a BJJ black belt, with his top control and annoying take-downs. Camoes isn’t 6’3” with 7 foot long legs though. He could test the young Breese’s guard and prove himself to be a warrior on the ground, beating Breese’s face in with his strong GnP. Of course, I’d rather mitigate the risk with tangling a dangerous submission artist and keep it standing, but I’m not a coach! Dutra is the bigger (size wise, not height) and stronger guy with better wrestling and take-downs, so conceivably he could get a 30-27 decision over Breese who has a tendency to get taken down a little too easily (maybe on purpose?). Oh yeah, he’s Brazilian too! Breese has the better stand-up and can hit from long range effectively, but in the end it will be his traps from guard that decides who will emerge victorious.

Breese via 2nd round triangle

Ericka Almeida (+175) vs Juliana Lima (-210)

Hey, a battle between two Brazilians! Uh oh! Ericka Almeida has been a fast rising strawweight prospect with an undefeated record of 7-0, all finishes including 6 by way of sub. She is filling in for Jessica Penne, who received a title shot versus Joanna Jedrzejczyk, on close to a month’s notice. She gets a hefty test in Juliana Lima, one of the stronger and more technical wrestlers in the 115 lb division. “Ju Thai” may not have the best striking, but her wrestling and take-down offense is tops in the strawweight division and will certainly test Almeida’s capabilities on the ground. The strawweight division just keeps on getting better and better!

Ericka Almeida has improved her striking from the early beginnings that closely resembled Juliana Lima’s early career as well, going from wild overhands and sloppy boxing into crisper and cleaner combinations, with her overhand still being a powerful weapon for closing the distance. She doesn’t use enough footwork on the feet to be an elusive striker, forgetting to circle out at times and leaving herself open to take-down attempts or getting hit on fast combinations. She’s still young and learning, so that can be corrected in due time, but what she is really good at is getting her opponents down. She excels in getting the back trip from anywhere and quickly transitioning into a dominant positions to set up her submissions. Look at she uses her overhand to close the distance and get in the back trip here.

When she is on top she is quite adept in passing her opponent’s guard and getting into either side or full mount, where she will often set up the armbar or triangle. Here, she appeared to be going for an armbar from full mount, but switched to triangle that eventually gave her the sub win.

Another example of Almeida being excellent in the back trip, where she can force mistakes that allow her to take her opponent’s back, setting up the RNC or a TKO from back/full mount nicely.

Her guard is equally effective, though there isn’t enough film on it to really ascertain her degree of skill in utilizing it. Considering Lima is proficient in getting take-downs and staying in top control, Almeida will get enough opportunities to show off her guard defense.

Juliana Lima is big for a strawweight, using both her strength and great ability to feel danger and find an opening for a quick take-down. Her striking, while slightly improved in the last few fights, is substandard and is a big weakness in her game. She went from wild swinging hooks with no real rhyme or reason to them, to more controlled striking that is mostly one punch/kicks and spacing out to quickly barrel into a take-down. Her striking defense is still mediocre at best, but as I keep saying, her wrestling and take-down offense more than makes up for her deficiencies. Even when she gets hit a few times, she can still shoot in for the single leg take-down, as seen here.

Her persistence in getting the take-down at all costs has been both her strength and weakness, as it can both help confirm the take-down but greatly deplete her gas tank on failed attempts. Here, her persistence allowed Lima to get in a successful take-down that helped her win the round versus Nina Ansaroff.

Overall, Lima is a solid strawweight, with mediocre striking and average striking defense, but speedy and intuitive take-downs and a strong but sometimes boring top control game that can defeat just about anyone. While Lima has yet to be submitted in her pro career, her tendency to stay heavy on top and not make advances, opting to use some GnP while holding her opponents down, could be advantageous for Almeida and her submission skills. There’s also a chance this could happen between the two.

Slap fight!!!!!

Ericka Almeida has all the tools to be a challenge for anyone, as long she continues to improve her stand-up and learns not to be a statue on the feet. Her impressive submission grappling and good mixture of regular take-downs and trips can all be molded into a perennial contender. She should have the advantage on the feet, though it probably won’t stay long standing, and even if Lima does consistently get Almeida down over and over. Almeida will still have a chance to put away the tough Lima from bottom. The easy pick is Juliana Lima by decision due to her take-down offense and strong top control plus having never been submitted before, but I think Almeida surprises some people and gives Lima a tough battle. Can she finish Lima though? I think she can with a trip into an armbar!

Almeida via 1st round armbar

Lucas Martins (+375) vs Mirsad Bektic (-470)

Ah, Mirsad Bektic! One of my favorite true blue chip prospects of the past few years! He hasn’t lived up to his high potential and hype in his past two fights, even though he won both of them including a majority decision over fast rising youngster Chas Skelly. He was originally scheduled to fight Renato Moicano before injury forced the Brazilian phenom to pull out. Good thing I guess, as that was probably going to be a bad stylistic match-up, pitting Bektic’s vicious ground and pound game versus Moicano’s submission grappling. Instead, he gets the polar opposite in Lucas Martins, primarily a quick striker with good take-down defense and untested ground defense. Smells like a Bektic GnP victory…..or does it?

Lucas Martin was quietly on a 3 fight winning streak before his controversial split decision loss to Darren Elkins, who hugged him for most of the rounds to get the win. Martins had a tough UFC debut, taking a short notice fight versus the deadly Edson Barboza, getting outboxed and outstruck all of the 1st round, succumbing to a nasty left hook that put Martins to the floor. He was getting tagged by Barboza’s counter right hands, something that seems to happen with some regularity in Martins’ fights.

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That was his 1st career loss, and Elkins’ split decision win marked his 2nd career loss. He’s only 26 years old though, and has still shown improvement in his striking defense and countering ability, so those right hands tagging him happen less frequently. His Muay Thai background and good boxing techniques are his keys to victory alongside his very good take-down defense. Alex White was a great boxer and had many tools and tricks up his sleeves from his boxing days. He was consistently getting countered and beaten to punch by Martins, and even though Alex White took all the punishment for a couple rounds and even landed a few good shots himself, rocking Lucas Martins momentarily, he was unable to avoid the final blows by Martins that put him away in the 3rd round.

Lucas Martins Knockouts Alex White UFN Cerrone vs Miller

Good 1-2 combos, decent kicks, and improved counters with take-down defense has been Martins’ keys to winning his fights. He wants to stay away from the ground as much as possible, since his ground defense isn’t very good and he’s inexperienced there. While he does use underhooks and sprawls well, he’s facing one of the better prospects to come out in some time in Mirsad Bektic, who has some very strong take-down offense to go with an ungodly ground and pound game. Tough match-up.

Mirsad Bektic is a load at featherweight. A LOAD. He is immensely powerful and strong. He doesn’t do one thing better than the other when it comes to striking, wrestling, grappling, what have you. He’s a balanced, all around fighter with an absolutely brutal ground and pound game. That is his bread and butter. Sure, he can knock you out with his overhands, but what he really wants to do is pulverize his opponents into a paste.

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His striking consists of quick and powerful 1-2 combinations with some overhand follow-ups, in which he tries to keep his opponents close to him so he can rush them into the fence for some take-down attempts. He has some good trips and tosses that he can generate with great power just off his own brute strength aided by the fence cutting the opponents off. Small examples of that here.

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His grappling skills are still developing as you can see, but all the tools are there to be a legitimate contender. He’s even starting to learn how to attempt submissions! Yikes! As long as Bektic can continue to improve upon his striking and use his quick footwork to his advantage and utilizes his powerful wrestling/GnP, he’s going to be merciless.

Chas Skelly gave Bektic his toughest test to date, hurting him with an almost illegal knee up the cage and outworking him in some rounds, before Bektic decided enough was enough. He went back to his strong wrestling and hellbows through Skelly’s closed guard. That was enough for the judges to award Bektic with a majority decision. It is unknown at this time what his real weaknesses are, but I’d suspect it would be his stand-up and defending himself versus capable counter-strikers who could circle out to avoid Bektic’s attempts at closing the distance and being trapped by the fence. That’s most likely what Martins’ strategy will be versus the bruising Bosnian, but I don’t think he can play cat ant mouse long enough before Bektic gets in a take-down. From there, it could be all over.

Bektic via 2nd round GnP TKO

Elizeu Zaleski (+310) vs Nicolas Dalby (-370)

A pair of welterweights making their UFC debut in Brazil? Sounds wondrous! Elizeu “Capoeria” Zaleski is a heavy handed striker who can also, as you may have guessed, land some pretty kicks but is mostly an overhand-heavy puncher. He’s already faced some guys that got the call to the UFC in Viscarde Andrade and Guilherme “Bomba” Vasconcelos, both resulting in sub losses for Zaleski. He gets to face a long known WW prospect and karateka in Nicolas “Sharpshooter” Dalby, though at 30 years of age is he really still one? Anyways, this should have some exciting back and forth striking exchanges as both men can be aggressive and are excellent counter-strikers, with Dalby being the kicker and Zaleski the puncher. Are you getting goosebumps yet?

Elizeu Zaleski loves the overhand. Like, really loves it. I mean, I don’t blame him for spamming it. It’s deceptively quick and bone snattering, and is an excellent counter versus most kicks, an important attribute to remember in this match-up. Zaleski has some thunderous overhands and hooks that he can string together in a flurry in an instant whenever he feels like his opponent is in deep trouble.

The end result of that flurry was a KO win for Zaleski, after a left hook finished the job shortly thereafter. The overhand, as mentioned before, has been Zaleski’s staple for countering most kicks, leading to unblocked power shots for Zaleski. With his power and speed, you can imagine why those overhands can like…..really hurt.

Now, throwing the overhand a ton also has its weaknesses for Zaleski, as he can be overly aggressive going for the knockout blow and get taken down in the process. Watch as Andrade weathers the violent storm of Zaleski’s assault to secure a take-down that eventually led to the sub win.

Not good. Zaleski got RNC’d by Bomba despite the fact that he was consistently battering Bomba standing, hitting clean many times and rocking Bomba. That was due to bad take-down defense and putting himself in a bad position.

For all of his power and speedy punches, Zaleski just doesn’t have an off button during those type of exchanges. He also has average take-down defense and often puts himself in bad positions on the ground, leading to submission losses. Zaleski has to continue to improve upon his take-down defense if he wants to last long in the UFC and give what the fans want: VIOLENCE!

Nicolas Dalby is a green belt in Karate which, according to trusty Google, means he’s an intermediate level Karateka, and it certainly shows in his striking repertoire. Dalby has quick and effective kicks that he can throw with either leg, and while his punching still continues to improve, he has managed to get better at landing 1-2 combos to mix in with his kick-centric offense. Dalby has a good sense of spacing and his own range to be an effective counter-striker, though it seems he’s more comfortable starting the striking exchanges rather than sitting back. Here’s some examples of his kick-centric offense.

As you can see, he likes to throw the low kick to set up his headkicks, and will often finish whatever punch combo set up he uses with a kick of some kind. Now, that’s not all he is. He can also set up take-downs with his threat of landing a kick to the face, giving him simple single leg take-downs. Owning a purple belt in BJJ will be useful in the match-up versus Zaleski, mixing in his kicks with take-downs to take advantage of Zaleski’s mediocre take-down defense. Here’s a quick example of a simple take-down plus another one of his latest fight where you can see his improved punch combinations and a take-down attempt that was successful.

So, what’s his weaknesses? He leaves his hands low on kick attempts especially his headkicks, if you didn’t notice already. That can lead to damaging counters on caught kicks or just well-timed punches as he starts the kicking motion, something Zaleski is always looking for. Dalby has improved his boxing to be quicker and less susceptible to the counter, but still has the same issues on his kicks. That is realistically the best way for Zaleski to get the upset over the heavy favorite.

I’m surprised Zaleski is this much of an underdog considering his overwhelming power in his hands and being an excellent counter-striker. I understand that Dalby can take him down and sub him, but Dalby only has 3 career submissions and two were on rocked opponents that he just simply pounced on and finished. He’s mainly a striker who only really goes for take-downs if he’s losing a round. This should be a striking affair between the two, with Dalby being the quicker and more versatile striker and Zaleski the power counter-puncher who will wait on a kick to unleash his inner Kraken. I have a hard time not going Zaleski here via overhand KO, but Dalby is definitely an intriguing prospect with his fighting style. Maybe he’ll surprise me and take Zaleski down for a submission win, maybe not.

Zaleski via 3rd round KO

Jussier Formiga (-160) vs Wilson Reis (+140)

A battle between two of the better flyweights with similar styles, Jussier Formiga vs Wilson Reis could either end up being a BJJ exhibition match, or a snoozefest. Formiga had been a pretty damn good flyweight in his own right, before John Dodson and Joseph Benavidez knocked him out and dropped his ranking faster than Roy Nelson eating a cheeseburger. Both Formiga and Reis are BJJ black belts, with Formiga being the more aggressive submission hunter/grappler of the two. Reis is mostly a strength based wrestler, using his simple but strong take-downs to get the fight to the ground, while Formiga usually depends on his quick stand-up and trip/duck take-downs to get into a favorable position to pull off a sub. This could get interesting.

Jussier Formiga may be dangerous on the ground, but his striking has thus far been extremely underrated, only really losing exchanges to John Dodson and Joseph Benavidez, two of the more explosive and fastest strikers in the FFW division. Strong low kicks, quick and crisp boxing, and decent countering ability are the basis of Formiga’s striking, even if he doesn’t necessarily have the KO power to complement it. It’s flyweights, not many 125 pounders have real KO power anyways, which is why John Dodson is an absolute beast. Formiga has some very quick and strong low kicks that he will use to pepper the lead leg without a second thought. This often leads to his opponents becoming wary of the kick, forgetting to get their underhooks ready or fall asleep on a take-down attempt. Once he gets the fight to the ground, he’s very efficient in moving around and properly positioning himself for a chance at a sub. He doesn’t waste time as he passes through his opponent’s guard, rarely resorting to ground and pound. He wants that submission, and he wants it bad!

Much like Reis, his only losses have come by knockouts and a lone decision loss. He’s never been submitted before, and I don’t anticipate Reis giving Formiga his 1st sub loss. Formiga’s own knockouts aren’t bad, getting knee’d to the body by Benavidez and eating a Dodson left hand that’s ended many flyweights before him. He’s usually compact and smart when striking as not to open himself up to punishment. His already strong grappling game ensures Formiga will never be at a disadvantage wherever the fight goes. Just a really good complete fighter that just hasn’t transcended to the elite level he’s capable of.

Wilson Reis has some good potential to be a good flyweight capable of giving anyone a tough test. He’s quick, strong, and has persistent take-downs to go with good transition passes and a knack for getting his opponent’s back. While he isn’t an expert grappler and can often lose his positioning/hooks trying to advance into back mount, he’s still a dangerous fighter on the ground. Just ask Scott Jorgensen.

 

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While I wouldn’t say Reis is a mediocre striker, he tends to short arm his punches and swings for the fences too much. If he’s able to land those swings though, they have enough pop behind them to seriously hurt anyone. He can be beaten to the punch early and often despite those threats of wild swinging blows, especially low kicks to his lead leg. Quick examples of how sloppy Reis can be as he lunges for that big punch, but still can land that one punch that just hurts his opponent for the take-down.

Reis isn’t a world beater as a wrestler, nor does he have impressive take-down offense, mostly consisting of quick duck and shoots for the single leg take-down. He himself can get overpowered by better skilled grapplers and taken advantage of on the ground. Here’s a very small example of how Reis can get quickly taken down despite his strength advantage.

tumblr_mw6ab4wkko1ry1rm7o1_400Reis has not been submitted in his career, but he does have several KO losses and has been rocked badly before in fights. His lack of reach and sloppy striking has been big warts to Reis’s game, and upper echelon strikers have taken full advantage of Reis’s tendency to lunge out swinging overhands during exchanges. Formiga, while not as powerful as Reis, can still outpoint Reis on the feet and land some good punches. I doubt very much that Reis won’t look to get the fight to the ground as soon as possible regardless of Formiga’s own formidable submission grappling.

This is a tough fight to call, as either fighter could steamroll the other with their strengths, Reis being the stronger fighter and having a good top game to be able to stifle Formiga’s guard, and Formiga having the much better stand-up and a dangerous guard that even top wrestler Zach Makovsky couldn’t handle. I’ll go with Formiga just off the fact that he’s faced better competition and already fared better than most though versus Makovsky, plus has the big advantage with his superior camp in Nova Uniao. Can he give Reis his 1st career submission loss? It’s possible, but I think he has a better chance testing Reis’s chin than his submission defense. Potential for a finish but good chance for a decision for either one.

Formiga via unanimous decision

Damon Jackson (+165) vs Rony Jason (-190)

The match-up between Rony Bezerra, aka Rony Jason, and Damon “The Leech” Jackson will pit two of the better submission specialists in the featherweight division against each other, though Jason is infinitely better standing than Jackson. Jason has a black belt in kickboxing, with the power to complement his excellent submission grappling game. Jackson, while decent standing, makes his mark in his fights by being an aggressive, scrappy fighter lunging for take-downs or grabbing a leg for a heel hook. He is very much in the mold of Marcel Bandel and Ian Entwistle, both of whom have been clobbered to death on failed submission attempts at the UFC level. Jackson very well could join those two sub specialists after the fight.

Damon Jackson made his name under the Legacy banner, winning their FW championship before taking a short notice fight against the “Third Diaz Brother” in Yancy Medeiros. That fight did not go well for the Leech, getting blasted standing and succumbing to a reverse bulldog choke that had Jackson foaming at the mouth. Not an awful loss overall, but Jackson will get a full camp and have a better game plan this time around, though his opponent will be even more difficult to face against. As I said before, Jackson is going to go for the submissions at every second of every minute as much as possible using his take-downs. He mainly uses the duck single leg take-down as his go-to move, but isn’t just limited to that.

His stand-up is basic and rudimentary at best, mostly consisting of single overhands as a means to close the distance quickly. It’s on the ground where he shines. His transitions are aggressive, forcing the issue by trying to pass through the opponent’s guard and coercing an action from his opponents with some ground and pound. You can’t defend a pass and the GnP at the same time! He can sink in any submission from most positions, but what he seems to prefer is the RNC. Look at how Jackson went for the RNC but switched to the arm triangle choke flawlessly, even trying to get his legs out to move his hips out to get a tighter squeeze.

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His grappling skills isn’t elite by any means, but he is good enough to escape while in a bad position most times, reversing for the submission win!

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Rony Jason is excellent on the ground as well, so maybe it won’t be as easy for Jackson to escape from bottom this time around. His stand-up will be exposed as well, so realistically the best way for Jackson to beat Jason is to get in a surprise, tight submission such as a guillotine, heel hook, or even an armbar/triangle from bottom if he ends up there. Otherwise, it might be a long night for the Leech.

Rony Jason likes coming out on his walkout wearing the Jason Voorhees mask. I know, I know. He’s even broken his hand by smashing it against the wall in anger. Sigh. The often emotional Jason is still a great fighter, even if his emotions get to the best of him at times. His striking is both quick and powerful, but mostly consist of counters as Jason is a patient man on the feet. Too patient even, as he can be a victim of his own fight style at times. What he primarily looks for is the counter right hand to knock his opponents out or at the very least hurt them so he can finish it on the ground.

Steven Siler vs. Rony Jason

He’s very similar to Jackson with his GnP and being aggressive with his transitioning on the ground. He doesn’t duck and shoot for take-downs much unlike Jackson, but if he gets held or pushes his opponents up the fence, he loves to get in the hip trip into back mount or side mount. He almost got Peralta’s back here after a trip, but was just simply too high to keep his hooks in.

Most of his submissions come from either pouncing on a hurt opponent for a RNC, or using his excellent guard to pull off a triangle choke. He starts most of his fights off standing, daring his opponents to dance with him and eat his counter right hands. Even though he’s accomplished on the ground, he still can make small mistakes here and there, such as this reversal as he attempted to make another pass. Jackson better take notice.

Jason got the last laugh though, locking in the fight ending triangle submission after getting reversed. Don’t take note of that, Jackson.

His only real weakness is he can be too patient sometimes, inviting his opponents to attack him so he can thusly counter-strike right back with the overhand. That can get a little predictable. Damon Jackson is not a great striker, so I’m not too worried about this happening.

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Rony Jason is just a better version of Damon Jackson everywhere, bigger, stronger, better grappling, more power, and even a better guard. Jackson has to get a surprise submission over Jason, or try to grind this win out by controlling Jason on the ground and forcing a mistake, maybe get his back for the upset RNC/TKO by punches. I don’t see it happening though, and could very easily see a KO outright for Jason.

Jason via 1st round KO

Darren Till (+100) vs Wendell Oliveira (-120)

What the heck TJ Waldburger? First, you pass out just right before the weigh ins and get declared medically unable to fight. Then you cite back spasms as reason for pulling out a second time? Versus the same guy!!!! Damn it Waldburger! Darren Till will replace TJ Waldburger on less than two weeks’ notice against Wendell “Negao” Oliveira. It will also be his UFC debut. Uh oh! Wendell Oliveira is coming off a KO loss to Santiago Ponzinihbbio, but does have a win over Alex Oliveira and already faced some UFC fighters in Hernani Perpetuo and Guilherme Vasconcelos. He also owns 11 KO/TKO victories, and it’s easy to see why. He’s an hulking welterweight with bricks for hands. Darren Till’s got his work cut out for him, especially on a freaking UFC debut!

Darren Till has a strong Muay Thai base, using plenty of hard low kicks to go with his favorite kick in the left body kick out of southpaw stance. He lands that body kick with supreme accuracy and speed that it’s no surprise it’s long been a staple of his, even dating back to his earliest fights. While he is undefeated at 12-0, most of those wins were over dented cans, with his last couple wins coming over capable fighters. Till is primarily a counter-striker who stays at range, using his leg kicks to dictate his range and make his opponents run at him so Till can counter with the left hand. He won’t be throwing many punches if at all, mostly relying on his kicks to open up his opponents.

Till can mix up the body kicks with an occasional headkick to keep opponents honest, and as you can see, he doesn’t really punch unless they come right at him. His take-down defense is solid, and his submission game is all right, being a purple belt in Luta Livra, which is just basically another form of BJJ. He’s an at range striker, using his kicks to set up counter opportunities for his left straight, even becoming too reliant on instigating his opponents to come forward. It’s a classic problem many counter-strikers face, being too passive and needing their opponents to run at them to be an effective fighter. Besides that issue, Till also has a bad tendency to leave his hands down on kicks, opening himself to counter punches, as his opponent tried to do but failed in the last GIF. Till has to be mindful of Oliveira’s powerful boxing as he tries to get the liver kick KO.

Wendell Oliveira is a bad man standing…..when he doesn’t just sit there. With every swing he throws, it has bad intentions behind them. Oliveira is looking for the KO on every single punch and the rare kick. A physical specimen, Oliveira is at his best when he can be at range sitting back and picking apart his opponents with deadly counters. Now, what if his opponents aren’t as willing to engage Wendell on the feet? Well, Oliveira will just sit there then, throwing out hard one punch combos, or just do nothing at all. Damn it Wendell!

Ouch. Immense power in his hands is quite the understatement, but there are glaring weaknesses in Oliveira’s game that Till could take full advantage of. To start, Oliveira has a questionable chin. He’s 24-8 thus far, with 4 of those 8 losses coming way of KO/TKO where Wendell either was rocked badly or outright knocked flat out.

Granted, the last one was a pretty strong punch by Perpetuo, but that’s not the only time he’s been rocked like that. He also is pretty poor on his back, with 3 of his other 4 losses due to submissions. His take-down defense isn’t horrible, but being a counter-striker who can sometimes be plodding at times and doesn’t move his head or feet much during striking exchanges, he can be hit quickly and give up unwarranted take-down attempts. I don’t anticipate Till getting close into Oliveira’s range to attempt a take-down, so this very well could end up being a battle between who can counter better.

Even on less than 2 weeks notice and an UFC debut, Till is still a small underdog over Oliveira. That should tell you that Vegas thinks Oliveira’s chin and past struggles on the ground are major warts. I don’t agree with Vegas, and I think Wendell can hit Till more often than not, provided he doesn’t get suckered into a headkick. Till’s tendency to stay at range and not rush forward plus his affinity for throwing several body kicks that open his face to get plastered are all good signs for Oliveira. As long as Oliveira can keep himself upright and doesn’t recklessly rush forward, he should win this one either by decision with both men staring at each other or a highlight reel KO. I lean towards the decision because I already know Oliveira has a terrible habit of letting his counter boxing get to the better of him with being too reliant on opponents willing to engage him on the feet. Not to mention Till doesn’t seem the type to be foolhardy standing, but I could be wrong. Go with the Brazilian you fools!

Oliveira via unanimous decision

Francisco Trinaldo (+215) vs Norman Parke (-255)

The behemoth lightweight Francisco Trinaldo continued his winning ways with a dominant decision over Mr. Nipple himself, Akbarh Arreola. He gets quite the formidable opponent in “Stormin’” Norman Parke, who is looking to get himself into top 10 contention despite cruising to decisions too often instead of giving what the fans want. Trinaldo will be replacing BJJ phenom Gilbert Burns on a month’s notice, and considering his cardio issues in the past, this wasn’t a smart decision to take a short notice fight for Trinaldo, even if it is on a month’s notice. Parke is coming off a frustrating split decision loss over the always tough Gleison Tibau, breaking his 4 fight UFC winning streak that also includes a draw versus Leandro Santos. All but one of those wins were decisions. His last 16 wins before signing with the UFC? Only 1 decision. Damn it Parke!

Trinaldo is a big dude for 155 pounds, and I still think the weight cut contributes to his lack of a gas tank in the later fights. Still, he continues to fight at 155 without missing weight. Anyways, the Brazilian uses his physical wrestling and a brutal overhand to dominate the octagon, using his strong top game and sneaky BJJ (brown belt) to notch submissions. He hasn’t had a submission win in some time though, but that’s certainly still possible here. Trinaldo has been his own worst enemy, usually having a strong 1st round with powerful looping hooks and take-down slams where he uses his top heavy game to punish his opponents with his fairly strong ground and pound. After that? He’s usually exhausted and gets abused standing due to his lack of striking defense, being unable to defend himself properly and often giving up easy take-downs due to exhaustion. In his last fight vs Arreola, his gas tank didn’t seem to deplete as quickly as it had done in the past, so that’s an encouraging sign for the talented Brazilian. He is usually very energetic in the 1st round, willing to dole out punishment to those who accept his mercy. Then he will mix in some take-down attempts (or slams) and go from there.

Jesse_Ronson_vs._Francisco_Trinaldo_EXCHANE

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His GnP game is pretty good when compared to most guys who tend to stay heavy on top. As I said before, he hasn’t had a submission win in a while, and that’s mostly due to his lack of pursuing aggressive guard passes. He’s more than happy to pound his opponents into oblivion in their closed guard. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t pose a threat, and opponents can’t be reckless as they try to escape his GnP. Trinaldo’s lack of a gas tank is also a contributing factor to having few sub attempts, as you need some strength to pull off various chokes. It’s really his only weakness and something Parke could exploit in the later rounds with his much better cardio. The key for Parke is to keep his distance and let Trinaldo expend all of his energy going for the knockout shot in the 1st round.

Norman Parke is a black belt in judo, though you wouldn’t know it in his stint with the UFC. He’s been primarily an at range striker, using low kicks and a powerful left hand to discourage jumping in front of him on counters. He’s yet another fighter who can be a victim to his own fighting style, needing various striking exchanges for counter opportunities. Gosh, when will they learn combos???? He does have his moments where he can be aggressive and land several punches into a trip take-down. They are far and few in between, but they do happen!

He has a diverse array of strikes he can throw, but what he seems to favor is using his right leg for a variety of kicks, transitioning into each one seamlessly. Now, do they actually hit his opponents? Not usually, but it’s fun to watch! Parke’s right jab is a good way for him to get a feel for his range to set up his kicks and left straight.

He has some very good take-down offense, and a respectable GnP game to go along with it. He doesn’t have a submission win yet in the UFC, but before that he had 12 sub victories! It’s a different level fighting under the UFC banner than other promotions, so it’s not surprising to see his submission grappling hasn’t translated over to the UFC yet, as the caliber of fighters he faces are infinitely better and more aware. Trinaldo is a brown belt in BJJ, so that probably means Parke won’t even try to test his mettle on the ground, rather opting to go to the GnP route. As said before, he’s gonna want to deplete Trinaldo’s gas tank, and a fast pace in the 1st will aid Parke in the process.

There isn’t a real weakness I can see with Parke other than his bouts of inactivity and struggling with Tibau’s size. Trinaldo could certainly be a struggle for Parke with his size and strong take-downs provided he doesn’t gas out before then. Parke should be the quicker, more efficient striker than Trinaldo, and he doesn’t have bad striking defense so I don’t see Trinaldo’s bludgeoning overhands landing often. This will probably be a decision for either one of them, and I’d favor Parke in that regard with his better conditioning and solid GnP/trips. Yes, I’m picking against the Brazilian! I’m shocked too!

Parke via unanimous decision

Francimar Barroso (+230) vs Ryan Jimmo (-270)

Two of the more talented strikers in the LHW division that hasn’t lived up to their potential get ready to clash, with Barroso having a decidedly big advantage on the ground with his BJJ black belt and Ryan Jimmo looking like the more comfortable and quicker striker of the two. Jimmo has a black belt in Chito-ryu Karate, and it shows in his unorthodox fighting style. Barroso also has a black belt in kickboxing, though it’s not as flashy or unpredictable as Jimmo’s fight style. They are both coming off a loss, and both men have had bad habits of making fights last longer than they should, going to decision and angering all fans of violence. Both have great talent but are not in the prime of their careers and may not have enough time to become more consistent during their stint in the UFC. Jimmo is 33 turning 34, and Barroso is 35 years old! Oh well, hopefully this won’t turn out to be a snoozer.

Francimar Barroso has his own unique style much like Jimmo’s, but switches stances more frequently. His striking mostly consists of early onslaught of low/body kicks to open up his opponents so he can land the counter right. While he may not be as quick as Jimmo, his fighting style still has the same concepts as Jimmo’s, looking for the counter KO. Jimmo’s had more success in the UFC with his KO power, while Barroso can sometimes be content with taking his opponents down and laying on him rather than letting the fight stay standing. Whatever the case, he still has some very good striking for a man his size and is still capable in getting a flash KO. While his earlier fights do show some great knockouts, I wouldn’t read too much into those fights, rather looking at his last 2 fights in the UFC to get a better litmus on his skil-set. So, with that in mind let’s take a gander at his fight style versus Hans Stringer in his last fight.

See how he likes to use those kicks? He has the ability to push around UFC’s lower level LHWs with his power and good mixture of kicks and counter punches, but once he fights someone who can catch on what Barroso wants to do standing, he struggles mightily. He depends on that counter right way too much, despite the fact that he could be a good at range striker complemented with his take-down offense. As you may have noticed, he also backs up to the cage a lot, giving him less room to operate and escape out of exchanges. He also has some bad striking defense at times, getting tagged due to his chin being up too high. See how Stringer catches Barroso with an overhand.

That hurt Barroso badly, and Stringer laid on Barroso for most of that round, winning it easily. There were other occasions where his bad striking defense showed up, though he never did get hurt as badly as he did in the early going. Still, when facing an expert striker on the level of Jimmo, Barroso won’t be as lucky. Barroso also has the same issues as Jimmo regarding being controlled too easily up the cage, with one big difference. Barroso can do the exact same thing to others, and quite possibly could do so against Jimmo. Be forewarned, this could get ugly and boring if Barroso deems it so.

Ryan Jimmo has his very own unique karate style, standing with his hands out frozen like a robot, waiting for the chance to counter or jump in with a quick punch/kick. He has real power behind his attacks with enough speed to catch most LHWs sleeping. He has made his name with devastating counter knockouts such as his infamous 7 second knockout over Anthony “The Hippo” Perosh. It is tied for the fastest KO in UFC history. Here are some of his counter knockouts in the UFC.

Jeebus. You can even see Jimmo does the robot dance after that KO of Perosh. Hmm, maybe he is a robot? With that combination of speed and power, it’s strange to think that he can be passive at times. He isn’t going to string together many 2-3 punch/kick combos, relying mostly on one hit quitters. He does mix it up well despite that, with a fantastic body kick and a counter right that is deceptively long. Here’s a quick look at his karate style and how he stands there awaiting his chance to annihilate his opponent, willing to switch stances.

As you might gather, he does need his opponents to engage him on the feet to better utilize his strengths, as did those poor souls in the GIFs. His biggest weakness, and it’s still ongoing, is he can be controlled up the fence for majority of the rounds. For whatever reason, he is just really passive when held up the fence. He has quick instincts and can sprawl on take-down attempts, using both his athletic ability and strength to push away evil-doers. But grab him up the fence? That’s his kryptonite. Watch as Jimmo hurts Zak Cummings and tries to go for the kill only to be smothered up the fence, where he stood there for about….2 minutes. Sigh.

That was a 5 round fight if anyone was wondering. No, you don’t want to watch it. That has essentially been the game plan to defeat the great robot, hold and hug him at all costs. I don’t think he’ll ever learn to stop being so damn passive in that area and actually circle out. Still, you can’t ignore his impressive counter-striking fight style that could vault Jimmo into the top 10 of the division. If it wasn’t for a crazy Ovince St. Preux submission on Jimmo that broke his arm, we may be talking about Jimmo as a dark horse title contender. Knocking out Barroso will certainly help keep Jimmo fresh on our minds and help the top heavy division gain some traction.

Jimmo could easily get a 1st round KO over Barroso, taking advantage of Barroso’s tendency to corner himself by the cage and getting tagged a little too much than one would like. He has the kind of speed and power to land a damaging right hand to end the fight. Barroso could just hold Jimmo up the cage and call it day, using his back trips as well to get in some lay’n’pray action. I don’t think Barroso can keep up with Jimmo standing, and since both guys do like to throw one hit combos and have horrible tendencies to be passive up the cage, this could be a massive letdown. I’m trusting in the “Big Deal” though, and hoping Jimmo can break through with another victory robot dance.

Jimmo via 1st round KO

Alex Oliveira (-130) vs KJ Noons (+110)

Another injury replacement? Ugh. KJ Noons was supposed to face Yan Cabral before Cabral got stricken by the dengue fever and was unable to fight. Yikes. Alex Oliveira will be replacing Cabral on less than 2 week’s notice, much like Darren Till. He is coming off a loss versus legitimate blue chip prospect and potential LW contender in Gilbert Burns despite winning handily on the feet for two rounds before succumbing to the BJJ black belt in a 3rd round sub loss. That also was a late notice fight in which Oliveira performed admirably, right on the cusp of a great upset for his young career. Instead, he gets a tough challenge in the always entertaining KJ Noons, a black belt in Kempo Karate, though you wouldn’t know it from his fighting style. Noons is coming off a no contest after an accidental eye poke forced an early close in his match versus Daron Cruickshank. Shame. Nevertheless, Noons will be looking to continue improving on his technically 2 fight winning streak after a series of disappointing losses to Donald Cerrone and Josh Thomson. This should be a very exciting back and forth striking battle between two capable and aggressive strikers at welterweight. I REPEAT, DO YOU HAVE GOOSEBUMPS YET?????

Alex Oliveira has a Muay Thai background, but he most emulates Anderson Silva’s early fighting style, using hand movement and a stalking style to confuse his opponents standing. He will land several combinations at one time, usually finishing with a strong uppercut. Oliveira is a very adept long range striker who can quickly close the distance without putting himself at risk at counters. He has a 77 inch reach, which is pretty nuts for a welterweight/lightweight (fought Burns at LW) and you can tell Oliveira knows his strength is in his ability to find his range. Here’s some example of how Oliveira sets up his punches and uses his hand movements as feints.

Oliveira’s length and footwork/movement in keeping his range and exploding with quick combinations that left Burns stumped for most of the 1st and 2nd round. The 2nd GIF isn’t indicative of Oliveira’s ability to keep range and avoid counters, as he simply went banshee-wild which he does have a tendency to do at times. He’s just a long rangy striker with very good combinations, if a little sloppy at times. He also has a sneaky double leg take-down but doesn’t use it often. He won’t need to versus Noons anyways, and Noons won’t really test Oliveira’s average take-down defense either. Keep it standing gentlemen!

KJ Noons has always been on my radar, even as a casual fan turning the channel to Showtime’s MMA product in StrikeForce, with a beautiful head of hair and a strange fighting style that resembled an actual boxer fending off mixed martial artists in a cage instead of the ring. His duck and roll fighting style has long been a very difficult one to understand and take advantage of for most strikers, even if it looks like you could just knee him in the head and be done with it. He lands several hooks and straights as he ducks and rolls under counters, even at the cost of eating a punch to the head. He can also land a staggering amount of body shots that take its toll as the fight lingers on.

What a beautiful hunk of hair! Noons’ agonizing fighting style has stymied fighters to the point they just decided to take him down, as Noons leaves himself open to quick take-downs. He usually just kinds of fall down and tries to get back up quickly, which he is pretty good at doing. Still, that loses points in the eyes of the judges, and leaves Noons at a points disadvantage. Thankfully, Oliveira probably won’t try to take him down (I hope). You won’t see many kicks from Noons, but what his opponent might see is a head on collision with a counter right hand by Noons. Sam Stout never saw it coming, and actually tried to choke out the ref after getting stunned. Just watch it all the way through and laugh along with me.

Man, poor guy. That was Stout’s 1st career KO loss, and shortly thereafter that he got KO’d by Ross Pearson. I guess Noons broke Stout’s chin after all.

I don’t know who will get the better of the other in a striking battle, but Noons’ ability to duck and evade strikes while still landing plenty of his own should be a good advantage for him. Oliveira’s 5 inch reach advantage might be too much for Noons if he can’t jump inside Oliveira’s range for the counter hooks and body shots. Only one way to find out! WATCH THE DAMN FIGHT! I’ll stick with “King” KJ Noons with a 3 win streak! He’s also only been KO’d once in his career, and that was very early on. Potential for copious amount of sig strikes for both men.

KJ Noons via unanimous decision

Charles Oliveira (-280) vs Nik Lentz (+240)

The third Oliveira of the night faces off against fellow underrated top 10 featherweight Nik Lentz. This will be a “rematch” of sorts between the two, as Oliveira landed an illegal knee in their 1st match, resulting in a RNC sub win for Oliveira over a dazed Lentz. This was eventually overturned and declared a no contest. So what do both men bring to the table that has made them both top 10 featherweights? Well for once, Oliveira is one of the best BJJ black belts in the UFC already at age 25, and Lentz has long been one of the better wrestlers in both the lightweight and featherweight division. Seems like a stylistic nightmare for Lentz, huh? You bet your candy ass it is!

Charles “Do Bronx” Oliveira has quickly become one of the most dangerous grapplers in the division, armed with very good offensive take-downs that consist of quick single leg take-downs, trips from clinch, and using his own aggressiveness to get his hands on his opponents quickly much like Dong Hyun Kim. While his striking may be overshadowed by his submission skills, it is surprisingly adequate, with quick low/body kicks and good compact boxing that don’t have a ton of power but has enough speed and pop behind them to add up over time. It’s good enough for Oliveira to be able to stand and bang without being at a disadvantage versus most strikers. All that matter is how Oliveira can get the fight to the ground, whether on top or not. Both his top and bottom game are equally dangerous, as he can go for ankle locks, kneebars, transition into various chokes from top, and even switching from triangles into armbars if given the chance. Look at what he did to this poor fellow, with such intuition on the ground that he grabbed his back in order to put more pressure on his ankle.

Nasty! He also had one of the best grappling matches versus Hatsu Hioki, which went back and forth with both opponents locking each other in various subs, but Oliveira was just too damn slippery and switched into a guillotine choke after getting threatened by a RNC by Hioki. It was Hioki’s 1st submission loss of his career.

Once again, Oliveira’s transitions to submission are both smooth and beautiful to watch, even if I’m not as up to date on BJJ and the technical terms as I’d like to be. It’s just fairly obvious what he does is very difficult to master on an elite level, something most expert BJJ practitioners seem to struggle with once they get to the upper echelons of the MMA world, most notably during their UFC stints. There is a huge, huge glaring weakness that will plague Oliveira as he continues to trek his way through the featherweight division. His chin. It’s not AWFUL, but it’s pretty bad at times. Look at this strange KO by Cub Swanson. What the heck happened?

And another one, granted it’s “Cowboy” Cerrone and was at lightweight, but still….not good.

Whatever the case, as long as Oliveira improves his striking defense and gets most fights to the ground, his chin shouldn’t be a major issue going forward. He stifled Jeremy Stephens’ dangerous striking and outgrappled a tough veteran in Hatsu Hioki. In fact, he’s only last to some of the best in either division such as Cub Swanson, Jim Miller, Donald Cerrone, and Frankie Edgar. And he’s only 25!!!! DO BRONX!

Nik Lentz started out as a grinding wrestler, using his strength and technical wrestling to take over fights. His striking was mediocre at best and often put him at a disadvantage if he couldn’t get the fight down. Now, while it has its bad moments, Lentz’s striking is much more polished and diverse, mixing in good 1-2 combos with timely kicks. He may not have recorded many finishes during his time in the UFC, but he still has some power in his hands and has good submissions with his purple belt in BJJ. He’s just generally a top heavy control guy who will use some occasional ground and pound, but nothing that really stands out. He’s just an annoying wrestler whose striking has improved in every fight. Granted, he did get his ass handed to him by Chad Mendes, but he does that to everyone and almost did to current champ Jose Aldo. Lentz doesn’t have an imposing fighting style, relying mainly on his wrestling to win most fights alongside his top control which is tops in the division. Now, top control doesn’t just mean laying on top doing nothing. It means stopping all advances and not putting oneself in a bad position to get reversed/subbed, while still having a decent ground and pound attack. Lentz is extremely technical in this area, and even when Oliveira tried to trap him into various subs, Lentz defended most of them without getting into a bad position.

But an expert grappler on the level of Oliveira can still take advantage of failed submission attempts as he did here, reversing the positions.

Oliveira also rocked Lentz in the 1st round, so that’s something to keep in mind.

You can also see Oliveira’s attempt at a hip toss that failed. What a match-up!

This is just simply a stylistic nightmare for Lentz, even if his defensive grappling is excellent. Having to guard against the plethora of submissions Oliveira will attempt takes its toll and only takes one mistake to go right to sleep for Lentz. Both men want the fight to go to the ground, and Oliveira’s stand-up is quicker and more accurate than Lentz’s slow pacing but powerful striking. Oliveira just wins anywhere this fight goes, but that chin of his could be problematic if the fight lingers too long standing. I just think Oliveira is too slick of a grappler for any seasoned wrestler to handle, and while I won’t be surprised if he does get a 1st round submission on Lentz, I think this may be one of those back and forth battles with a 3rd round finish by Oliveira. Take him with confidence, as long as he doesn’t expose his chin!

Oliveira via 3rd round RNC

Carlos Condit (-270) vs Thiago Alves (+230)

OH GOD YES!!!!! THE GODS OF VIOLENCE HAS ANSWERED OUR PRAYERS! Two of the most devastating strikers the WW division has ever known, and two of the more beloved fan favorites will battle in a five round thriller. Both men will have gone through some injury adversity as of recent, with Condit coming off an ACL and Thiago Alves rebounding back from his irritating injuries that shelved him for two years and still even plagued him recently, having to pull out in his 1st meeting vs Jordan Mein in ’14. BUT THE TIME IS NIGH! These ferocious warriors will duke it out to skyrocket themselves into contention for a title shot against the winner of Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald. Just enjoy the fight for god’s sake! Who cares about the match-up? THEY’RE GONNA GET BLOODY!!!!

The Natural Born Killer has long been a dangerous and exciting striker, having bloody wars with Georges St. Pierre and getting highlight reel knockouts over Dong Hyun Kim and Dan Hardy, even rocking Rory MacDonald badly and finishing with a TKO win. Huh? You want to see them? Hey, I won’t deny violence to my fans!

This guy is just a fantastic striker, capable of stringing together endless combinations with anything. He can kick at any and all angles, land fast and crisp punches, and counter with the best of them. Here’s a short GIF of some of his various combos and kicks, including the punch that rocked MacDonald at the end.

Condit just has everything you want in a striker, great footwork, good circling out ability, speed and quickness, excellent usage of combos and mixing it up enough to be unpredictable, and the length to frustrate any opponents (he is 6’2” with a 76 inch reach, but his leg reach is huge). So, why isn’t he the champion? His take-down defense. It’s awful, and Condit at times seems perplexed that fighters continue to take him down rather than stand and bang with him. Hey bro, you’re too damn good standing! Why the hell would they stand and bang with you and get KTFO? Even though in almost every loss he’s been involed inhe’s been taken down over and over and over and…..yeah, he still has a pretty good guard using his long legs to get into the rubber guard. He can also get in various other submissions by letting himself get taken down easily so he can trap them into a submission or reverse them into full mount. The way he strikes and kicks, he leaves himself open to quick take-down attempts and caught kick take-downs, as well as some trips. Condit’s lanky length and good guard/rubber guard has generally kept fights on the ground a stalemate. Once again, that’s still not good in the eyes of the judges. Thiago Alves will not be looking to take him down, so forget about what I just said! MIND BLOWN.

Thiago Alves is a more powerful, miniature compact version of Carlos Condit. Powerful boxing and a freaking hard low kick are all staples of Alves’ striking, alongside some of the most brutal body kicks you will see. Before injuries caught up with Alves, he was primed for another title run, as he just throttled his competition left and right with his damn good Muay Thai and thunderous counters. He can land many significant strikes, and while his striking defense isn’t average, he can tend to get into brawls and lose his defensive composure. Seth Baczynski garnered 90 significant strikes through 3 rounds versus Alves, at the expense of getting his leg and body battered by Alves to the tune of 116 sig strikes for Alves! DAYUM! The one thing he is very good at is throttling the lead leg of his opponent’s into oblivion, turning their legs into meat. Just look for yourself, and try not to yell in pain.

Alves then mixes in the body kick once his opponents start checking the low kicks or being more mindful of it, and the end result usually looks something like this.

That’s versus Jordan Mein, his latest victim. Poor guy. Much like Condit, Alves also has a very good ability to land consecutive combos at a high clip and accuracy, but unlike Condit who tends to go a little haywire at times and leave himself exposed to take-downs, Alves is more compact and keeps everything tight.

His take-down defense is considerably better than Condit, and he also has a brown belt in BJJ, but hey, no one’s taking the other down SO WHO CARES? Now, not to be outdone by Condit’s flying knee KO of the Donger, here’s Alves’ flying knee KO of Matt Hughes and a vicious knee on Koscheck

GET YOUR POPCORN READY!!!!

Man, I don’t know who wins this phenomenal fight between two veteran strikers with similar but distinctly different fight styles. Condit has a wider array of strikes, searching for the kill more often than not and going for acrobatic finishes, while Thiago Alves is more composed and keeps everything quick and clean while mixing in the hard low kick. Alves will be at a height and reach disadvantage, as well as cardio which has been an issue in the past for Alves. Condit has a relentless attack and a gas tank to match, with energy that could rival that of the Energizer Bunny. Even if Condit is coming off a bad ACL tear, I don’t anticipate the injury affecting Condit too much, unless of course one of those Alves kicks shatters his knees and brings Condit down, writhing in pain. That would be a very, very sad sight to behold. This may very well become one of the greatest main events of all time, with both men landing 200 sig strikes each and being a bloody damn war. That’s what I hope for anyways. Condit probably as the advantage here with his length and ability to avoid damaging counters, while trying to gas out Alves. However…..here’s my shocking prediction, and it’s one that rarely ever happens. You ready for it?

Condit and Alves via DRAW! YEP YOU READ THAT RIGHT, A DRAW!!!!

Brazil, baby! Land of fine women and damn good fighters! Also the bane of my existence….

See y’all next time! Be sure to follow me at @4000Pounds and tweet scathing criticisms of my work!

How do you think the fights are going to go?

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