Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Tony Ferguson (Ferguson injured and Holloway steps in)
MMA is all about evolution and if Mark Coleman is ‘The Father of Ground and Pound’ then Khabib Nurmagomedov is its ultimate evolution. In my opinion the best lightweight in the world and he should prove it here against Tony Ferguson. He’s a 29 years old, 5’10 Russian wrestling machine. He’s had issues with his weigh and injuries in the past but hopefully that’s all behind him. See how you get some dudes who are really good grapplers who think, hey I want to box? Not Khabib, he knows where his strengths are and he’s relentless. He gets the takedown, secures top position then makes his opponent’s night miserable. The game plan is the same but no-one so far has been able to stop him and he makes it look easy against top class opposition. That’s not to say he can’t be beaten but I think it would have to be by a great grappler with real KO power and good timing, so basically Tony Ferguson with Conor McGregor’s left hand. Will just Tony be enough? Let’s find out.
If Nurmagomedov is the best lightweight in the world, then Tony Ferguson is right behind him. Tony is 34, 5’11 with a record of 23 wins and 3 losses. He is the current interim UFC lightweight champion, since Conor McGregor is afraid of defending belts for some reason. He a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and has the record for the longest win streak in the lightweight division. As far as skills go Tony is the more well rounded of the two. Has great boxing and great Jiu Jitsu, very good in scrambles and very athletic. Personally I don’t like his attitude that much but who gives a fuck what I think? It’s a fight not a charm contest.
This fight, we were promised was for the undisputed Title. Then you hear Joe Rogan say that it’s for the right to fight Conor later in the summer! What the fuck, whoever wins this is the real champ.
So we know what each guy wants to do right? Khabib wants to close the distance and get the takedown and Tony wants to make him pay any time he tries. Tony is a very fluid and unpredictable striker but that’s because he doesn’t really give a fuck about people trying to take him down. Will he be more conservative here or is that just not in his nature? Ferguson is very good on the outside as well as the inside using his knees and elbows well but he doesn’t have real KO power and Nurmagomedov is an animal going for that takedown and I think he gets it. Tony is good at scrambling but Khabib has excellent top control. Ferguson will have to work from the bottom but will that open him up for Khabib? And cardio has never been an issue for either man but being under Khabib for 5 rounds will be hellish. Its hard to see how Tony beats Khabib because no-one has yet but Ferguson could write the blueprint here but I think more likely Nurmagomedov gets the win, by decision or late stoppage. I’ll say TKO for the hell of it.
Prediction : Nurmagomedov by TKO
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Max Holloway – CANCELLED
The thing that sticks out about this fight now is 6 days notice! Holloway has taken this fight, against probably the best in the world at a weight division above him on six days notice. Fucking balls of steel.
Max is a great boxer with fast and very accurate punches and has great takedown defence and he wants his legacy. That said he’s in the same position as everyone else, he’s probably going to be taken down and need to work from the bottom the problem is can he do it for 5 rounds without being very prepared. This fights going 1 of 2 ways, either Max catches Khabib and stops him in the first or Nurmagomedov mauls Holloway and the ref saves him in the third or fourth. I’m going with the later.
Prediction : Nurmagomedov by TKO
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Al Iaquinta
Same game plan for Khabib in that he will look to take Al down and punish him. Al does have decent power but don’t think he’s at that level. I was picking Felder to beat him and I’m sure as fuck picking Khabib.
Prediction : Nurmagomedov by TKO
Result : Nurmagomedov by decision
Rose Namajunas vs Joanna Jedrzejczyk
When she made Joanna tap, Rose Namajunas shocked the world. The biggest upset of the year, and now she gets the chance to prove it wasn’t a fluke. Rose is still only 25 years old with a record of 8 wins and 3 losses. Rose is aggressive, good striker, good counter puncher, good grappler with good submissions. And being only 25 she seems to improve every time out. Honestly though it feels like the fans are reacting to Rose the same way they did to Holly when she beat Ronda ‘I told you, she’s the best ever…… She’s the GOAT…… JJ doesn’t have a chance in the rematch’. Hopefully it pans out differently for her.
Before she fought Rose Namajunas, Joanna was considered the best female fighter in the world. She was terrifying, aggressive, fast, accurate and technically great. It was hard to see anyone in the contender who would be able to beat her. Then she met Rose Namajunas! Few people gave Rose much of a chance and Joanna was as much as a -600 favourite some places. Rose didn’t do the impossible but she did the unlikely and not only did she beat her but she made the champion tap out to strikes. Mental, has this affected Joanna? Well she hasn’t had a Rousey style meltdown and she seems to be focused and ready but appearances can be deceiving. Oh and Jedrzejczyk is the betting favourite again.
On the feet I still give the advantage to Joanna, yes I know how the last fight went. Yes Rose has power, she can crack, and she’s good but technically Joanna is better. Rose has the advantage on the ground but Joanna has excellent use of distance and movement. On the feet Rose knows she can hurt her… but Joanna knows this as well this time, in case she underestimated her the first time. I think this time again Rose will be aggressive but Joanna will be more cautious, counter striking and trying different angles. In the third and forth round Jedrzejczyk will get her confidence really going and she will open up more and I think Joanna gets the decision.
Prediction : Jedrzejczyk by decision
Result : Namajunas by decision
Renato Moicano vs Calvin Kattar
So after 4 fights in the UFC Moicano won his first 2, then beat Jeremy Stephens in what must be a high point in his career, then got submitted by Ortega in a fight he was probably winning. We’ll see if he can bounce back from his first loss here. He’s 28 years old, 5’11 with a record of 11 wins 1 loss and 1 draw. He’s a good striker and has a very good submission game. What I also like about him is that he changes styles significantly depending on the opposition. I know a lot of people say they do this but don’t actually. For example against Stephens he would primarily throw single shots and keep his defence up where against other guys he is more loose and let’s it flow. It’s a good skill to have.
Calvin Kattar was very impressive in his UFC debut against Andre Fili I still picked Burgos over him, I underestimated him and I think people have done that a lot. He’s 31 years old, 5,10 with a record of 18 and 2 and is on a 10 fight win streak including 2 in the UFC. Very tough and very durable and a very good counter puncher.
This could easily be fight of the night, easily. Both of these guys like to bang and both of them are decent prospects. They are pretty evenly matched on the feet while Moicano probably has the advantage on the ground but he will have trouble getting Kattar down. They both have good striking but slightly different. Kattar has good accurate straight punches and very good counters while Moicano has probably faster hands and if he hits you with something he’s going to follow it up with another 2 or 3. I really think this could go either way but I think it probably going to be played out mostly on the feet and I’ll give the edge to Kattar because I think he hits harder.
Prediction : Kattar by TKO
Result : Moicano by decision
Michael Chiesa vs Anthony Pettis – CANCELLED
Michael Chiesa got everyone’s attention whenn he won The Ultimate Fighter Live in 2012 and he did it in pretty impressive style as well submitting Al Iaquinta in the final. Since then he’s done OK, he’s won most of his fights but he’s coming off a loss to Kevin Lee that some say was controversial. He was caught deep in a choke and the referee stopped it but Chiesa didn’t tap nor was he out so people are complaining and I guess that’s the fighters mindset and maybe he’s right, but I don’t see how he was escaping but nevermind. So he’s 30 years old and 6’1 and has a record of 14 wins and 3 losses with 10 of the wins by submission. Obviously he’s long and has good reach for the weight division, good boxer and of course a very good grappler. Big feather in his cap if he can beat Pettis here.
Anthony Pettis came the the UFC as the last WEC lightweight champion before it got shut down. He lost his first fight to Clay Guida but I thought it was just one of those things. He had looked great mostly in the WEC. Then he beat Stephens, Lauzon, Cerrone, Henderson and Melendez, finishing 4 of the 5 and winning the UFC lightweight title along the way. If someone told you then that he would only win 2 of his next 7 you would have laughed in their face, but here we are. Something changed, sure he’s fighting the best guys but something is different. Maybe people just figured out how to beat him, but there is no aura anymore. He 31 years old, 5’10 with a record of 20 wins and 7 losses.
Interesting fight right? Although Pettis has had some losses recently he has generally been fighting the very best guys and I’m not sure if Chiesa can get it done. Obviously Pettis probably has the advantage on the feet at distance and Chiesa is better on the ground but that’s being too obvious. Chiesa can hang on the feet and Pettis is no slouch at grappling at all. A lot of the losses Pettis has suffered has been from guys who have really pushed the pace and gave him no breathing space, broke him mentally. Think this fight can come down to the first round. If Pettis can find his groove early and get his timing and distance, he can get comfortable. If Chiesa gets a lot of clinches and takedown that will set the pace for the whole fight. Whoever wins first round wins the fight (don’t necessarily mean they will win every round though). All week I’ve been thinking Chiesa would take this but I changed my mind.
Prediction : Pettis by decision
Al Iaquinta vs Paul Felder – CANCELLED
I think the first time I noticed Paul Felder was when he knocked out Danny Castillo with a spinning backfist. He’s done pretty good since then with 5 wins and 3 losses and he’s currently on a 3 fight winning streak, stopping his opponent in all 3. He’s 33 years old and 5’11 solid built. He has decent hands and a good clinch with excellent use of elbows and knees. On the ground he’s very good on top, again dangerous with the elbows.
Al Iaquinta is one of those guys that, although he’s a very good fighter, has realised that personality sells. And his outbursts against authority probably haven’t done him any damage in the long term (apart from the bonus thing). Iaquinta is 30 years old and 5’9. His record is 13 wins and 3 losses and he’s currently on a 5 fight win streak, let’s face it though most people thought he lost to Masvidal although I rewatched it and it was closer than I thought. He’s a Serra-Longo guy so he has good grappling and good boxing fundamentals, usually keeping his hands and shoulders up.
Another well matched fight between two guys who have been doing very well lately. Both have good stand up, with Iaquinta more boxing based but with the good habit of following up combinations with leg kicks while Felder uses more of his arsenal with very good knees and elbows as I said before as well as punches and kicks. Felder also likes the clinch and he’s good in it and he can use this to slow down and wear down Iaquinta. Over the course of the three round I think Felder will do more damage and get the decision (although wouldn’t be the first time that Iaquinta has got a controversial win)
Prediction : Felder by decision
Rest of the Card
Karolina Kowalkiewicz vs Felice Herring
Felice will be trying to move forward throwing hooks but I feel that Karolina is the more cultured striker and should be able to win a decision.
Prediction : Kowalkiewicz
Result : Kowalkiewicz
Ray Borg vs Brandon Moreno – CANCELLED
Could be the closest fight on the card, has decision written all over it but I fancy Moreno to catch something.
Prediction : Moreno
Joe Lauzon vs Chris Gruetzemacher
Promoted to main card.
Both coming off of two losses. After a long career its time to see what Joe has left. Can Lauzon fight smart enough to get the win here? Can he rack up points early before he fades? I think so.
Prediction : Lauzon by decision
Result : Gruetzemacher by TKO(corner)
Evan Dunham vs Olivier Aubin-Mercier
I feel Aubin-Mercier is a little bit underrated. This will be a close fight but I think Olivier out points Dunham.
Prediction : Aubin-Mercier
Result : Aubin-Mercier
Alex Caceres vs Artem LOBOV – CANCELLED
Lobov is pretty much a one trick pony and everyone knows the trick. Although Lobov is tough and he hits hard, Caceres movement should be enough to win a decision.
Predictions : Caceres
Bec Rawlings vs Ashley Evans-Smith
Tossing a fucking coin here
Prediction : Rawlings
Result : Evans-Smith
Devin Clark vs Michael Rodriguez
Mike Rodriguez has finished ever pro win and he has won his last 4 by stoppage in the first round. Of course Clark can try to wrestle-fuck him but I’m backing Rodriguez to keep the streak going.
Prediction : Rodriguez
Result : Clark
Zabit Magomedsharipov vs Kyle Bochniak
Promoted to man card
Magomedsharipov is just good everywhere. Punching, kicking, spinning shit, grappling, trips, throws. Although Bochniak is a good solid fighter I think Zabit will be too much for him.
Prediction : Magomedsharipov by submission
Result : Magomedsharipov by decision
Prediction results 4/9