Rewatching GSP vs. Penn I - Minute by Minute Scoring

With UFC 217 fast approaching, its time to revisit relevant bouts of each fighter.  Many fans tend to gloss over the first George St. Pierre vs. BJ Penn fight due to the dominance displayed in the rematch.  However, at UFC 58 a very green Pierre found himself on the wrong end of Penns boxing game.  How close was that fight?  I explore it in today's edition of "Minute by Minute Scoring".

The graphic below displays my notes and what minutes of each round I gave to which fighters.  Note that yellow shading indicates a minute that was particularly difficult to score.  Notes and analysis below.

penn_pierre.JPG

Notes and analysis after the rewatch:

  • Penn clearly takes the first round with a superior boxing game.  
  • GSP sustains an eye poke in the second minute
  • A BJ Penn uppercut in the first minute clips George's nose and causes heavy bleeding
  • Joe Rogan claims GSP is "Bleeding like a stuffed pig."
  • Rogan is heavily biased in favor of Penn in this fight.
  • GSP was a purple belt at the time.
  • GSP lands his first takedown at the very end of minute 6 and keeps Penn down for all of minute 7.
  • GSP lands his second takedown in the last 15 seconds of minute 10 (the end of Round 2).
  • Penn visibly tires at the end of round 2.
  • GSP lands his third takedown at minute 12 and lands a hard elbow, his best strike of the fight.
  • Penn actually lands a double leg takedown at minute 13, probably sensing he is losing the round.
  • GSP lands his fourth takedown in minute 15.
  • Penn moves to rubber guard and attempts an omaplata and then a gogoplata in the final seconds of the fight.
  • Eddie Bravo was scoring ring side and had the fight 19-19 at the end of two rounds.
  • I scored 9 minutes for Pierre and 6 for Penn, but 3 of those minutes were very close.
  • I actually remembered this fight being closer, and this rewatch clarified that.  This fight appears to be a relatively clean 2 rounds to 1 for Pierre.

How did you score it and what nuances do you recall on initial viewing?

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Episode 4 - UFC 216: Ferguson vs. Lee Preview and Breakdown

Tomorrow's Fights is back with episode 4 featuring the UFC 216 Breakdown! Get your UFC 216 predictions and previews here as we discuss the prelims, main card, and two title fights on the card. Tony Ferguson takes on Kevin Lee for the Interim Lightweight Belt, and Demetrious Johnson Defends his Flyweight title for a record 11th time against Ray Borg.

As always if you're looking for audio only we've got you covered on SoundCloud.

Direct download of the audio is available below as well.

Episode 3 - UFC 215: Johnson vs. Borg Preview and Breakdown

Tomorrow's Fights Podcast is back with Episode 3 previewing the upcoming UFC 215 pay per view card.  This is the first post may-mac Mixed Martial Arts event and we cover the following topics:

  • Overall card impressions
  • Prelim Standouts
  • Main Card Breakdown and Predictions
  • Who is WMMA's biggest star?
  • Why can't the UFC promote Mighty Mouse effectively?

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SnoopCast Recap 8: Hidden Gems

NOTE: These statements and quotes below do not reflect the opinions of myself or Tomorrow's Fights.  This is merely a recap of the SnoopCast for those who missed it and a discussion post for those who watched it.  

Crowder vs. Mayes

  • “He so tired he aint even throwin punches.  I wouldn’t even take him to a gang fight, just like nah man, you stay home” -Snoop
    • “Even for back up?” -Faber
      • “Nope” -Snoop
  • “They need to find a gas station, even the one with no signs on that highway in vegas”
  • “That’s where he threw the reverse copter slap”
  • “I’m not takin a picture with him after the fight”
  • “He’s just beatin the smithereens outa him”
  • “He looks like a badass” - Faber
    • “Like he rode a motorcycle right into the octagon” - Snoop
      • “He looks kinda like Tom Brady” -Faber
        • “Like a big, mean, Tom Brady”. -Snoop

 Mueller vs. Velasco

  • “She got her Snoop Dog ’95 braids in her hair, I like that”
  • “No applications, they went in there like pistacios, just crackin”
  • “Nice knee to the top of the head, she could open up the blood bank with those!”
  • “These are pretty girls, don’t get messed up too bad!  Yeah hit her in the arm, uh, hit her in the knee!”
  • “Respect to both of these ladies they squabbin”
  • “She brought her bicycle to the octagon – ‘Yo leave my bike outside the cage ima use it in the 3rd round’ “
  • “She pulled outa that choke easy, she pulled out like she was on a first date”
  • “Domestic dispute!  Shit!”

Kenny vs Antolin

  • “He got the crown goin like he on Jerry Springer”
  • “Adams 35, been around the game for a while, so I don’t wanna say this is his last chance but…” -Faber
    • “But its one of them.  If he was a cat he’d be on life 7” –Snoop
  • “Skinny Kenny comin in with the force and speed!  Shit I feel a lullaby comin on soon.  Where is my book of nursery rhymes?
  • “Ooh with the hood trip!”
  • “Ooo he threw a button hook”
  • “Damn with these kicks he gonna need a wheel chair soon!”
  • “Adam is like an old pitbull in the neighborhood, covered in scars and everything, don’t know how to quit” – Faber
    • “Got half an ear.  They call him adolf” -Snoop
      • “Yeah?” -Faber
        • “Yeah Ateoff, cause he got half his ear ate off” –Snoop

Urbina vs Lewis

  • “I wanna know what he listening to” - Snoop
    • “He’s prolly listening to some Snoop” - Faber
      • “Right” – Snoop
  • “Elias is a big tall mother fucker!”
  • “Bang on him cuz, long beach, BANG!”
  • “Roccck-a-bye baaaby on the tree top, here comes big john to make the fight stoppp”
  • “That motherfucker is so reminiscent of Jones”

*SNOOP FABER COSTUME CHANGE*

  • “You watching over your shoulder for McGregor?” –Faber
    • “Man if you’ve been working with me you know I tell the truth.  I was set to interview him before the fight and he blew me off.  Floyd didn’t though” -Snoop

Frevola vs. Flores

  • "He wastin' too much energy, look and then he got flipped on"
  • "Ooh a little Snoop helicopter kick" -Faber
    • "Yeah he didn't get any air though.  He need some elevation" -Snoop
  • "He got socked in his face cause he didn't listen" -
  • "Uh oh thats that one we was talkin about! (arm triangle joke)!"
  • "He drug his ass to the atlantic ocean!"
  • "Me and Urijah, we go back like babies in pacifiers!" - Snoop and Faber in unison

This wraps up the Contender Series for now and with it, the SnoopCast.  How do you feel about the SnoopCast?  Would you bring it back?

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Episode 2 - Mayweather vs. McGregor Breakdown and Analysis

Mayweather vs. McGregor is finally set to take place tomorrow with the last official hurtle being weigh ins today!  Tomorrow's Fights latest installment of the podcast focuses on the technical breakdown of the fight.

We cover:

  • What Mayweather does well

  • What McGregor does well

  • The path to victory for Mayweather

  • The path to victory for McGregor

  • X-factors

    • Age

    • Weight

    • Gloves size

    • Clinch

Get the audio only at Soundcloud here, or direct download to listen on the go.

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Rewatching McGregor vs. Diaz 2-Minute by Minute Scoring

With Mayweather McGregor fast approaching, its time to revisit relevant bouts of each fight.  McGregor's second performance against Diaz marks the change from his whirlwind of destruction wheel kicking style to his more recent incarnation of a patient counter striker. Most of McGregor's fights prior to the second Diaz fight involve so many kicks that they don't factor heavily in the analysis for this the upcoming boxing match.

The second McGregor Diaz fight was ruled a Majority Decision for McGregor, 48-47 x 2 and 47-47 x 1.  How did you see it?

MacDiaz.JPG

Notes:  Yellow represents close minutes that were difficult to score.  Orange represents dominant minutes for each fighter.

Takeaways from a second viewing:

  • Rogan's commentary was heavily bias toward diaz and over critical of McGregor cardio issues.  He essentially declares McGregor dead at the end of round 3 and has to eat his words a bit in round 4.
  • There was far more clinching in this fight than I remember.  Upon first viewing I recalled it being primarily a boxing fight, but on rewatch there was time spent in the clinch in 4 out of 5 rounds.
  • Nate's boxing technique really showed in this fight, as he threw a ton of body jabs.  Something very effective in pure boxing, but rarely seen in MMA.  Nate threw about 16 body punches compared to McGregors 7.
  • McGregor appears take round 3 off to rest and recover.
  • Nate Diaz appears to take round 4 off to do the same.  McGregor's offense was far more potent in round 4 than I remembered.  Quite a second wind indeed Joe.
  • Round 5 was not as dominant for Diaz as I had remembered.  Minutes 23 and 24 were particularly hard to score.  Rogan again is highlighting McGregor's fatigue, yet he is still landing successful combinations.  50% of these minutes are spent with Nate in clinch control, however Conor wins the exchanges in space.
  • McGregor throws a flying knee in minute 24.
  • McGregor lands a trip takedown in minute 25.
  • Diaz takedown in minute 25 is actually a trip/throw from an underhooked position.  For some reason I remembered it being a double leg off the fence.

How did you score it and what nuances do you recall on initial viewing?

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BREAKING: Jon Jones Fails UFC 214 Post Fight Drug Test

Jon Jones has failed his post fight drug test for his UFC 214 win over Daniel Cormier, USADA has informed.  TMZ first broke the news which was confirmed by Ariel Helwani of Mmafighting.com.

Capture.JPG

Initial reports indicate Jones has been stripped and Daniel Cormier is the new UFC Light heavyweight Champion, however Dana White has refuted that as of now.

As a repeat offender, Jones could face anywhere from a 2 to 4 year suspension.  

Follow @tomorrowsfights on twitter for updates.

Mayweather vs. McGregor Official Fight Card

Connor McGregor is set to take on Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a boxing match in only 4 days, and Tomorrow's Fights has your coverage all week.  Here's your official fight card with start times and how to watch.

MayweatherMcGregor.jpg

Main Card (PPV) - 9:00 PM EST

Light middleweight (154 lbs.) Floyd Mayweather Jr.vs. Conor McGregor
Super featherweight (130 lbs.) Gervonta Davis vs. Francisco Fonseca
Light heavyweight (175 lbs.) Nathan Cleverly vs. Badou Jack
Cruiserweight (200 lbs.) Andrew Tabiti vs. Steve Cunningham

Preliminary Card (FOX Prelims) - 7:00 PM EST

Welterweight (147 lbs.) Thomas Dulorme vs. Yordenis Ugás
Welterweight (147 lbs.) Juan Heraldez vs. Jose Miguel Borrego
Super middleweight (168 lbs.) Kevin Newman vs. Antonio Hernandez
Super middleweight (168 lbs.) Savannah Marshall vs. Sydney LeBlanc

Prefight Show (FOX) - 6:00 PM EST

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Episode 1 - Mayweather McGregor Preview and Timeline

Mayweather McGregor is only 6 days and its still hard to believe, so we've dissected exactly how we got to this point.  Episode 1 of Tomorrow's Fights covers the timeline of the fight manifesting, the Pauli Malignaggi Sparring Sessions, 8 oz gloves confirmed, and updates on the odds.  Check back for more updates as we'll be dropping content throughout the week with a full breakdown video before the fights Saturday.

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UFC Fight Night: Pettis vs. Moreno - Why Should We Care?

The UFC's 114th Fight Night installment is set to take off tomorrow night, and while it doesn't have the same glamour as UFC 214 there are a few reasons to be excited.

  • The fights take place at elevation in Mexico City, as high as 12,890 ft above sea level.  This can spell certain doom for some already cardio challenged fighters (I'm looking at you Rani Yahya).
     
  • If Pettis wins on Saturday he will have as many wins as his brother Anthony.  (Credit to Sean Sheehan)
     
  • The night will have a Game Of Thrones theme as the UFC has reanimated the corpse of Rashad Evans and dragged him over the wall to fight in Mexico City.
  • Joseph Morales vs. Roberto Sanchez is a prelim bout between two undefeated Flyweight Prospects.

  • Diego Rivas is an undefeated bantamweight who absolutely deleted Noah Lahat's face with a knee last fight.

  • Niko Price is an undefeated Welterweight who submitted Brandon Thatch and Knocked Out Albert Morales in his last two fights.  The latter was overturned to a No Contest after it was found that marijuana aided Price in concussing Morales with his fists.  Price is fighting Alan Jouban.

  • Brandon Moreno has not lost in 5 years.

UFC Fight Night: Pettis vs. Moreno airs Saturday August 5th, 7 PM EST on Fight Pass, 8 PM EST on FS1, and 10 PM EST on FS1.  Follow @TomorrowsFights on twitter for live updates and play by play and like us on Facebook!

UFC 214: Cormier vs. Jones - At A Glance

We are less than 24 hours away from what is widely considered the best card of 2017.  All fighters have made weight and the fights are now officially green lit.  Tomorrow's fights has a quick run down of how we got here and some things to look for in Tomorrow's Fights.  UFC 214 Cormier vs. Jones 2 airs live Saturday 6:30 PM EST on Fight Pass, 8:00 PM EST on FXX (not FS1) and 10:00 PM EST on PPV.  

Backround and Stats

  • UFC 214 takes place in Anaheim, California at the Honda Center.  This is the 7th time the UFC has gone to the Honda Center.
  • This is the third time the UFC has booked the Jones vs. Cormier rematch.  The first time was at UFC 197, but COrmier pulled out due to an injury which resulted in the Jones vs. St. Preux Interim fight.  Then at UFC 200, when Jones infamously pulled out at the last minute for the USADA violation, which he later claimed was due to Cialis.
  • UFC 214 features the top 3 highest rated fighters for takedown defense.  Renan Barao (at 100%), Tyron Woodley, and Jon Jones.
  • Jason Knight has moved to the favorite in his fight with Ricardo Lamas, a rare occurrence for a later replacement.
  • Cris Cyborg is the biggest favorite on the card at -1100.  That means you'd have bet $1100.00 just to win $100.

Injuries and Updates

  • Cyborg was slated to fight Megan Anderson (145 lb invicta champ) but she pulled out and is being replaced by Tonya Evinger (135 lb innvicta champ)
  • Ricardo Lamas was slated to fight Chan Sung Jung who blew his knee apart and pulled out, replaced by Jason Knight
  • Andre Fili was slated to fight Doo Hoo Choi, but Choi pulled out due to injury and was replaced by newcomer Calvin Kattar.
  • Sage Northcutt was slate to fight Claudio Puelles who pulled out due to injury and was replaced by John Makdessi. Northcutt and Makdessi later both pulled out due to injury and that fight is now scrapped.
  • Renan Barao vs Aljamain Sterling was slated for a bantamweight 135lb contest but the NSAC forced a catch weight of 140 lbs due to not having faith in Barao making the weight safely.

Check out our predictions thread and our other UFC 214 articles for more analysis as we edge closer and closer to Tomorrow's Fights!  UFC 214 Cormier vs. Jones 2 airs live Saturday 6:30 PM EST on Fight Pass, 8:00 PM EST on FXX (not FS1) and 10:00 PM EST on PPV.  

Rewatching Jones vs. Cormier 1 - Minute by Minute Scoring

As is tradition with most rematches, it becomes an obsession to pick apart the first fight.  Jones vs. Cormier 1 is particularly interesting in that sense.  Due to the time elapsed, media build up, and rivalry story line its easy to get lost i the narrative and have trouble recalling the facts.  

I remembered the first fight being competitive but could not recall whether it was close, so I decided to see for myself and score the bout minute by minute to determine roughly what portion of the fight each participant dominated.  Of course my OCD brain could only do this in excel with a table.

Takeaways:

  • This fight was not as competitive as I had remembered watching live.  I was generous on a few of those minutes with Cormier and Jones still won 68% of that fight.
  • Cormier's best round was clearly Round 2.  He landed more clean, effective strikes in the clinch using dirty boxing.  
  • Jone's threw a ton of body knees in this fight.  I didn't give these enough credit upon the live watch.  Even the clinch exchanges Cormier was winning in Round 2 were met with Jones body Knees.  These paid dividends in the Championship Rounds.
  • Cormier had virtually no offense in the 4th round.  This was the most dominant round for Jones and he spent more time on top of DC when it hit the ground than I recalled upon initial viewing.
  • Jones nullified Cormier's wrestling with smart use of over and underhooks and excellent scrambling ability.  
  • The closest Cormier got to a takedown was in Round 5.  In minute 24 he nearly landed a trip with double underhooks but Jones hipped out and recovered from his knees.  In Minute 25 Cormier spent what must have been his last bit of energy and picked Jones up with a high crotch single, only to have Jones quickly scramble back to his feet.

Cormier is in for a stiff test come Saturday, regardless of which Jon Jones shows up.  To use a cliche Roganism - if you had to engineer a fighter to beat Daniel Cormier, it would be Jon Jones.  Can Cormier and his team orchestrate a gameplan to beat Jones this time around?  Will Cormier spend as much time in the clinch?  

Check out our predictions thread and be on the look out for the podcast breaking down UFC 214: Cormier vs. Jones 2 on Friday Morning.

 

UFC 214: Cormier vs. Jones 2 - Predicitions

UFC 214: Cormier vs. Jones 2 is fast upon us, and its the best card of 2017.  Featuring 3 title fights and plenty of well matched and intriguing fights, UFC 214 has everything a fight fan can dream of.  Tomorrow's Fights has you covered with fighter previews and predictions below.  UFC 214 Cormier vs. Jones 2 airs live Saturday 6:30 PM EST on Fight Pass, 8:00 PM EST on FXX (not FS1) and 10:00 PM EST on PPV.  


MAIN CARD - 10 PM - PPV

Light Heavyweight Daniel Cormier © +195 vs. Jon Jones -250

Daniel Cormier is 38 years old and 19-1 in his Career.  He holds an 8-1 record in his UFC run with the lone loss coming from the challenger Jon Jones.  DC is well known for his Olympic Freestyle Wrestling credentials where he failed to medal, something he talks about often in his pre-fight interviews.  Cormier started his career as an undersized heavyweight, electing not to cut any weight due to past kidney issues.  He blew up the regional circuit capturing the XMMA and KOTC heavyweight belts before joining Strikeforce and running through their Heavyweight Grand Prix.  Cormier uses a good fundamental boxing game to set up his wrestling.  From there he will use a pressure top game until he can get to the back and finish.

LAST FIGHT W - Submission RNC Anthony Johnson

Jon Jones is 30 years old 22-1 in his career, 16-1 in the UFC.  With an incredible frame for the 205 division, Jones uses his unpredictable striking game to out point opponents and then overwhelm them with his strong wrestling and top game.  Jones had one of the most impressive runs through the light heavyweight divisions, winning the belt in 2011 by obliterating Mauricio Shogun Rua, then going on to defend it a record 8 times before being stripped.

LAST FIGHT W - Dec Ovince Saint Preux

VERDICT:  I was less excited than most when the initial rematch was announced at UFC 197.  Since their first fight however, Jones has only fought 1 time, winning a tepid decision over Ovince Saint Preux.  Cormier on the other hand, has fought 4 times since then.  I did not think the first fight was competitive past round 3 due to Cormier gassing and that was two years ago.  Even if the Jon Jones that fought Ovince Saint Preux shows up, I think that's enough to take 3 rounds off Daniel Cormier.  I only hope we get to see Jones on his back this time.  Jon Jones via Decision.

 

Welterweight Tyron Woodley © -210 vs. Demian Maia +170

Tyron Woodley is 35 years old with a 17-3-1 record and 7-2-1 in his UFC career.  Gaining notoriety as a boring wrestler coming up, he amassed 10-0 record in Strikforce before succumbing to a Nate Marquardt Tekken Combo.  Woodley broke that sterotype in his first UFC fight blasting a hole through Jay Hierons head, and has ever since utilized a powerful boxing game to score stoppage wins over Josh Koshcheck, Carlos Condit, Dong Hyun Kim, and Robbie Lawler to capture the title.

LAST FIGHT W - Dec Stephen Thompson

Demian Maia is 39 years old and 25-6 in his career with an impressive 19-6 UFC record.  Maia is a legit 4th Degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Fabio Gurgel and he shows it in the cage.  Joining the UFC in 2007 he submitted his first 5 opponents including a triangle win of Chael Sonnen after a beautiful lateral drop off the side of the cage.  Maia went through a rough period where he put too much faith in his kickboxing, perhaps feeling too pressured to become more well rounded, before reverting to his jiu jitsu roots.  Now he works to supplement his superior grappling with a powerful wrestling game designed to transition from a single leg straight to the back.

LAST FIGHT W - Dec Jorge Masvidal

VERDICT:  I’m having a tough time shaking the vision of Woodley possibly melting Maia as he comes into wrestle.  It’s totally possible this is a first round knockout for Woodley.  Giving me pause on that outcome is Woodley’s tendency to get caught with his back on the cage.  That's exactly where Maia likes to get his takedowns, driving in on a single leg almost never expecting to finish it.  Once on the cage, Maia looks to crawl onto your back, placing his first hook in.  Everyone knows it's going to happen, yet no one can stop it.  If Woodley gives Maia this opportunity over and over, there is a chance we can see a submission here, but if it goes into the 4th and 5th round I can’t see Maia's cardio lasting that long, especially with a shortened camp.  It pains me to say it, but the most likely outcome here is Woodley by KO.

 

Women's Featherweight Cristiane Justino -1000 vs. Tonya Evinger +650

Cris “Cyborg” Justino is 32 years old, 17-1-1 in her career and 2-0 in her UFC career. Cyborg has fought her career between 140 and 150 lbs, bursting onto the scene with her knockout of Gina Carano in 2009, ending Caranos interest in MMA.  Cyborg is a physical specimen, easily overpowering every woman she has fought in mixed martial arts.  She is a bully in the clinch and looks to end fights early with powerful boxing that has become more technical over the years.  She is a brown belt in brazilian jui jitsu and has experienced success in submission grappling competition, though it has never made an appearance in the cage.

LAST FIGHT W - TKO Lina Lansberg

Tonya Evinger is 35 years old, 19-5-1 in her career and making her UFC debut, filling in for Megan Anderson.  Evinger is the 135 lb invicta champ moving up in weight to fight Cyborg.  She's has a well rounded game with basic kickboxing and great top game grappling.  She started of her career with a paltry 9-5, losing to Carano, Alexis Davis twice, and Sara McMann before going on a 10 fight win streak to capture Invicta gold.

LAST FIGHT W - Submission RNC Yana Kunitskaya

VERDICT:  Cyborg is too big, too strong, and too effective of a striker for anyone to contend with, especially someone undersized like Evinger.  However, Evinger is tough as nails and has a better wrestling and top game than most of the recent challenges for Cyborg.  This won’t be competitive but it will be nice to see Cyborg have a tougher test than her last two opponents.  I think evinger is tough enough to make it to the 2nd round but that's where it ends.  Cyborg by TKO.

 

Welterweight Robbie Lawler -160 vs. Donald Cerrone +130

Robbie Lawler is 35 years old, 27-11-1 in his career and 11-5 in his UFC run (initial and return).  Lawler came out of the Militich fight camp in 2002 and was billed as a super prospect with great wrestling and heavy hands.  He was famously knocked out by Nick Diaz in 2004, then submitted by the Late Evan Tanner in his subsequent fight before exiting the UFC at 8-3. For the next 8 years Lawler fought for a myriad of promotions at weights as high as 195.  He found success in Elite XC but turned into sort of a journeymen fighter in Strikeforce, falling asleep in press conferences, fighting above his natural weight class, and turning in lackluster performances for a paycheck.  When Strikeforce was absorbed by the UFC Lawler immediately dropped to 170 and took fighting seriously again, rattling off 3 straight victories before fighting for the title in a close loss to Johnny Hendricks.  Lawler has developed into a modern sprawl and brawler with a tight combination boxing game and effect leg kicks.  His defensive wrestling is some of the best at Welterweight.

LAST FIGHT L - KO Tyron Woodley

Donald Cerrone is 34 years old, 32-8-1 in his career and 25-8-1 in the WEC/UFC.  Cerrone has a background in Kickboxing and Tae Kwon Do, and amassed a 28-0 kickboxing record before turning to MMA.  Cerrone has always looked to employ his rangy kickboxing game in fights, but somewhere along the way he developed a slick ground game as well.  To be a successful striker in MMA you either need excellent takedown defense or a threatening ground game.  Cerrone chooses the latter.

LAST FIGHT L - TKO Jorge Masvidal

VERDICT:  This is going to be an excellent tactical striking match up.  Lawler has an issue with volume, so it's possible Cerrone can put points on the board throughout 3 rounds to come up with a Decision.  I dont think that happens here though.  Cerrone has struggled with pressure boxers like Rafael Dos Anjos and Nate Diaz, and I would argue he hasn't looked good since his Rick Story fight a year ago.  I’m taking Lawler, assuming the time off has healed any injuries.  He is going to have significant size on Cerrone, and although he doesn't exactly fit the mold of the pressure boxers Cerrone struggles with, he should be able to impose a similar game.  Wildcard - does Cerrone try to wrestle here?  I don't think so.  Lawler by Dec.

 

Light Heavyweight Jimi Manuwa -205 vs. Volkan Oezdemir +165

Jimi Manuwa is 37 years old and 17-2 in his career, 6-2 in the UFC.  A British prospect that came up through the London regional circuit via UCMMA, Manuwa was offered a UFC contract in 2010 but famously turned it down to get more experience.  Like many successful fighters from England, Manuwa’s bread and butter is his striking.  He employs a powerful rangy boxing game.  He’s shown to be lacking in the wrestling department with subpar takedown defense and a mediocre jiu jitsu game.  Wikipedia says he's a purple belt but I haven't seen much evidence in the cage to suggest even thats true.

LAST FIGHT W - KO Corey Anderson

Volkan Oezdemir is 27 years old and 14-1 in his Career, 2-0 in the UFC.  He comes from a kickboxing background having a 5-0 record from fights in Switzerland.  Oezdemir likes to overwhelm his opponents with a powerful striking game and has 10 KO/TKO wins.  His lone loss came in Bellator to Kelly Anundson.  

LAST FIGHT W - Misha Cirkunov

Fun fact, Oezdemir fought 3 times at heavyweight, and fought 3 times in 1 night in 2013, at a tournament in Denmark.

VERDICT:  Oezdemir wont look to take Manuwa down here, and even if he does he has shown nothing to expect he has a competitive enough wrestling game to get past even Manuwas poor takedown defense.  Look for this fight to take place on the feet, with Manuwa getting the better of the exchanges en route to a KO.  Manuwa by KO.

 

PRELIMS 8 PM FXX

Featherweight Ricardo Lamas -135 vs. Jason Knight +105

This prelim card keeps on giving with unique, tough to pick, match ups.

Ricardo Lamas is 35 years old, 17-5 in his career, 12-5 in the WEC/UFC career.  Lamas is a tough top game grappler boasted by his NCAA D3 wrestling credentials and a legit Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black belt.  Lamas has developed a basic but effective muay thai game to supplement his brutal top game, but he still wants the fight on the ground.  He works some of the best elbows from the top since Jon Jones turned hammels face into ground beef.  His TKO win against Erik Koch was savage.  Go watch it.

LAST FIGHT W - Sub Guillotine Charles Oliviera

Jason Knight, 25 years old with a 20-2 record, 4-1 in the UFC.  Fights out of the Alan Belcher MMA club, he has a brown belt in brazilian jiu jitsu and likes to employ the rubber guard/mission control position.  He is a tough, durable fighter who has never been stopped. Knight got by on aggression and active jiu jitsu in his early career before debuting in the UFC against Tatsuya Kawajiri.  He lost that fight due to his comfortability on his back which is an issue for a lot traditional jiu jitsu fighters.  Kawajiri took him down whenever he wanted, and Knight could not submit him (though he had a few good triangle attempts).  Knight has fixed a few of his flaws and the best evidence of that is his Chas Skelly fight, which you should go watch right now if you haven't seen it.  Knight was not content to fight from his back, pushing the action with his awkward striking, and using his wrestling and jiu jitsu to stay on top, or sweep from the bottom to get back on top and score.

LAST FIGHT W - TKO Chas Skelly

VERDICT:  Knight is 10 years younger with a ton of momentum behind him.  You can bet it's better for the UFC if he gets a win here, as Lamas is trending towards the end of his career.  On one hand, its easy to say that Lamas can do the same things Kawajiri can to win this fight.  On the other, Knight has improved since that loss and fights with a different sense of urgency.  This is a great test for Knight, and the question here is do we get the Skelly fight, or the Kawajiri fight?  I’m going with the former and taking Knight by a semi-surprising TKO.  Knight via TKO.

 

Catchweight (140 lbs) Aljamain Sterling -135 vs. Renan Barão +105

Aljamain Sterling, 27 years old, 13-2 in his career, 5-2 in the UFC.  Another great nickname, The Funk Master Flex.  He has a background in wrestling and was a Two Time NCCA D3 all american.  Sterling looks to get you down and get to your back.

LAST FIGHT W - Dec Augusto Mendes

Renan Barao is 30 years old with a 34-4-1 record in his career and 11-3 in the WEC/UFC.  39 fights and only 30 years old, the guy has MILES on his body.  Barao came up through the Brazilian regional circuit which is known for padding fighters a bit like the american boxing scene.  His first 23 opponents don't have a wikipedia page sans Rony Jason.  Barao was deemed as the best P4P fighter by Dana White after clearing out the bantamweight division. With sharp muay thai and slick jiu jitsu it was tough to see what Barao's weakness was.  Enter TJ Dillashaw - a young, fast, athletic striker with power and good enough defensive wrestling to avoid Barao's lethal jiu jitsu.  Barao appears to be moving out of his prime quicker than most fighters due to the miles on his body.  He struggles with strong fast power punchers as we see in his loses to Dillawshaw and Stephens.

LAST FIGHT W - Dec Phillipe Nover

VERDICT.  Aljamain Sterling is not TJ Dillashow or Jeremy Stephens.  He doesn’t have the power striking to threaten Barao and unless Barao's jiu jitsu is far out of practice he should be in control of this fight.  Also to note, this fight is being contested at catchweight of 140 lbs which should favor the Brazilian. Barao by Decision.

 

Featherweight Brian Ortega +110 vs. Renato Moicano -140

Brian Ortega (T-City) is 26 years old, 11-0 in his career, 3-0-1 in the UFC, a brazilian jiu jitsu black belt training under Rorion Gracie with Ryron, Rener, and Ralek.  Love watching this guy’s ground game.  The way he slapped on the triangle on Diego Brandao and isnta tapped him was a thing of beauty.  He’s got an akward striking style but its effective.  His two knockout wins in the UFC come from him hurling elbows at a broken Thiago Taveres  and winging knees at Clay Guidas face.  He’s got a weird Yoel Romero tendency by finishing most of his fights in the 3rd round.  He also has issues imposing his game.  He was losing those Guida and Brandao fights until the finish which is concerning.  One of these days he isn't going to be so fortunate to snatch that 3rd round finish and he’s going to lose a decision, which I assume is why the odds makers favor Moicano.

LAST FIGHT W - KO Clay Guida

Renato Moicano, 28 years old, 11-0 in his career, 3-0 in the UFC.  Tall and long for the division, rangy striker with a solid submission game.  Has his flaws as a fighter but one thing is for sure, he is a winner.  He fought a tactical range kickboxing fight against Jeremy Stephens to get the win as a big underdog.  He will definitely be looking to do the same here as he isn't going to want to contest Ortega on the ground.  

LAST FIGHT W - Dec Jeremy Stephens

VERDICT:  This might be a bit of a heart pick, but i’m going Ortega by submission.  I trust his team to come up with a way to get this fight to the ground and stop Moicano from point fighting him to a decision like the Stephens fight.  However, if Ortega is content to give away rounds on the feet like the Guida and Brandao fight this could easily result in a boring decision against him.  Ortega by Submission.

 

Featherweight Andre Fili -335 vs. Calvin Kattar +255

Andre File is 27, 16-4 in his career, 4-3 in the UFC.  Fights out of team alpha male and has an effective game as wrestle boxer.  Fili strikes a little more than your average Alpha Male team member.  Points for an awesome nickname - Andre “touchy” Fili.  

LAST FIGHT - W Dec Hacran Dias

Calvin Kattar is 29 years old and 16-2 in his career, debuting in the UFC as a late replacement for Doo Hoo Choi.  He's made a career out of being a decent striker with good boxing fundamentals.  Most of his fights go to decision.  

LAST FIGHT - W Dec Chris Foster

VERDICT:  Calvin looks to be a decent prospect with a good record, but there is a reason he is still not in the UFC at 16-2.  Not exciting, nothing special, and two loses to mediocre talent. I'm also not impressed with his takedown defense, as he lets himself get backed up against the fence.  Andre Fili has had some mental laspses in the UFC with his up and down record but he is still improving and has more than enough in the tank to beat someone like Calvin.  Andre Fili by TKO after Kattar slowly realizes fili is better at everything he does well.  Fili by TKO.

 

PRELIMS - FIGHT PASS - 6:30 PM EST

Women's Strawweight Kailin Curran +120 vs. Alexandra Albu -150

Aleksandra Albu is 27 years old, 2-0 in her career and 1-0 in the UFC.  Has not fought since April of 2015!  She was nursing injuries and is in her last year of university writing her thesis.   Her background is in Karate (black belt) and Judo.  She claims she has 4 fights in Thailand that are unofficial because they were in sketchy tournaments that were unrecorded. Totally Possible.  She is an incredible athlete who bullies her opponents with a strong aggressive boxing game.  She has no problem planting her feet and swinging away.

LAST FIGHT - W Sub Guillotine Izabela Badurek

Fun fact:  UFC lists her at 6-0 but doesn't show her mysterious 4 Thailand fights on their website

Kailin Curran is 26 years old and 4-4 in her career but only 1-4 in her UFC run.  She has a background in kickboxing and wrestling and is billed as a good athlete.  She's an average all around fighter with less than stellar grappling.  Half of her losses come by way of submission.

LAST FIGHT - L Dec Jamie Moyle

VERDICT:  Albu hasn't fought in two years but shes still better everywhere than Kailin Curran. She's a better athlete, more powerful striker, and stronger in the clinch.  Albu by submission which probably gives curran her pink slip.  Albu via Submission.

 

Flyweight Eric Shelton +135 vs. Jarred Brooks -165

Brooks is 24, 12-0, this is his first UFC fight.  He has an awesome nickname - the monkey god. Brooks fights like a mini poor mans Chad Mendes.  Short, stocky, winging punches and ends some combinations with a double leg.  He is very aggressive.  It will be interesting to see if he is as reckless in his UFC debut.  Most beserker type fighters on the regional circuit come into the UFC a little more cautious and sometimes it hurts their style.  

LAST FIGHT W - KO Jun Nakamura

Eric Shelton is 26, 10-3, 0-1 in the UFC but went 2-1 on TUF losing a majority decision to future winner Tim Elliot.  Coached by Pete Spratt, very creative striker, good scrambler (as are most 125ers).  Great Athlete.

LAST FIGHT L - Split Dec Alexandre Pantoja

VERDICT:  This is a fight Eric Shelton should win on Paper.  Hes fought much MUCH better competition than Jared Brooks and has decent wrestling chops himself.  However, Shelton has a problem exposing his back in fights, and also has an issue sitting back and waiting too long to counter, giving long periods of rounds away.  Brook is a total unknown, but all his submission wins come by way of rear naked choke (with the exception of an arm triangle) which is a bad sign for Shelton who leaves his back open too much for my liking.  Even if Brooks can’t get the finish, i’ll take him to win on points due to his volume and aggression.  Brooks by Decision.

 

Lightweight Josh Burkman +230 vs. Drew Dober -300

Burkman is 37 years old, 28-15-1, but only 1-5-1 in his most recent UFC stint after going on an 8-1 tear on the regional circuit and famously choking out Jon Fitch in WSOF.  Wants to be on top working his wrestling and top game grappling.  Wrestled in highschool, 2nd place in state championships at 171 lbs.  Lots of choke wins, favors guillotines.

LAST FIGHT L - Dec Michel Prazeres

Drew Dober 29 years old 17-8-1 in his career going 3-4-1 in his UFC run.  He wants the fight on the feet due to his Muay Thai background (two time amateur world champion).  Wrestled in highschool and has a purple belt in BJJ, though  grappling is his weakness.   He trains at team elevate with Matt Brown.

LAST FIGHT L- Submission RNC by Olivier Aubin-Mercier

VERDICT - I'll bet this fight resembles the Burkman vs Paul Felder fight.  Burkman comes out strong and wins the first round, but gets tired.  He wont be able to take Dober down in rounds 2 and 3 and I see him getting picked apart and losing striking exchanges.  Dober did get choked out in his last fight but I don't think Burkman has quite the prowess on the ground as Mercier does.  Dober wins a fairly uneventful 3 round decision.  Dober by Decision.