UFC 224

Amanda Nunes vs Raquel Pennington

Amanda Nunes is the reigning, undisputed womens bantamweight champion, and the only woman to defend that title apart from Ronda Rousey. After the last fight the talk was of her vs Cyborg but that didn’t come off so now Pennington has her shot. To be honest Nunes could be so dominant that she cleans out the division, I mean if she beats Pennington then who’s next? I guess Holly Holm but we can cross that bridge when we come to it. Nunes is 29 years old and 5’8″ with a record of 15 wins and 4 losses. She has a BJJ blackbelt but the game plan is usually to keep the fight standing where she hits harder than most girls. At her best the nickname ‘Lioness’ suits her well, stalking her opponent and pawing with the lead hand and leg kicks to try to set up the right. The reigning champ will be very hard to dethrone.

Raquel Pennington gets her shot at the title and rightly so I guess. She’s on a four fight winning streak with wins over Miesha Tate and Jessica Andrade in there. She’s 29 years old and 5,7″ and has a record of 9 wins and 5 losses. She’s a good boxer with good defensive grappling. Not sure if she has the power to really damage Nunes but could possibly get success with accumulation.

Although, like I said, Raquel Pennington is a good boxer I think that Nunes will be too much for her here. Nunes hits too hard and has better movement. Pennington would have to fight almost the perfect fight, keeping range and tagging Amanda for five rounds because I don’t think she has the power to stop her and that will be hard to make that plan work for five rounds. I think what’s going to happen is from about round 2 Nunes will stalk and begin to hurt Rocky and I can see her getting the stoppage at the end of round 3 or in Round 4.

Prediction : Nunes by KO/TKO

Result : Nunes by TKO

Ronaldo Souza vs Kelvin Gastelum

The term ‘world class’ is used a lot in mma, all sports really I suppose, but Jacare Souza has genuinely world class BJJ skills. I would list his accomplishments here but I don’t really have the time nor desire to do so but BJJ Heroes has you covered (https://www.bjjheroes.com/bjj-fighters/ronaldo-souza-jacare-fighter-wiki). As well as being phenomenonal on the ground he actually has decent stand up. He’s not quick or flashy but he has good timing and hits relatively hard. One minus point about Jacare is his age, 38 now, he wears it well though but still at some point age does catch up with you. So like I said he’s 38 and 6’1, 185lbs with a record of 25 wins and 5 losses with 17 submission wins. Jacare is also the former Strikefore middleweight champion and has wins over the likes of Robbie Lawler and Gérard Mousasi.

Gastelum first came to our attention on The Ultimate Fighter TV show in 2013 as an underdog, beating Uriah Hall in the final, actually breaking down the man who had been so impressive previously. It seemed that the sky was the limit for Gastelum and in reality it still is but issues with missing weight have forced him to fight at middleweight rather than his preferred Welterweight and truth be told, he is undersized against the bigger guys in this division. Despite that he has got himself into a position where a win here, especially impressively, put him in line for a title shot after knocking out Bisping in his last fight. Kelvin is 25 years old, 5’9 with a record of 14 wins and 3 losses.

A win for one of these two puts them right up there for title contention. Both guys are good strikers with Gastelum being quick with better movement and Jacare more methodical with very good timing. Clearly on the ground Jacare has a big advantage. I could see Souza getting takedowns every round and controlling Kelvin from top position and getting the decision like that but I think Gastelum’s youth and quickness win the day. I think he can avoid the majority of the ground work and can either win a decision or get the finish in the 3rd round.

Prediction : Gastelum by TKO

Result : Gastelum by Split Dec

Mackenzie Dern vs Amanda Cooper

Mackenzie Dern is one of the most decorated female grapples in the world. I would list her accomplishments, but fuck that. So her ground game is great and her striking game is not so great and she might like to get it up to scratch fast before we have Ronda mk2 before she’s even started. She’s 25 years old and 5’3, 115lbs with a record of 6 wins and no losses. She’s had weight issues in the past but hopefully she getting a grip of that now.

Not much to say about Amanda Cooper except maybe that she’s coming off a win, over Angela Magana, so there’s that. She’s 26 and 5’3, 115lbs with a record of 3 wins and 3 losses and all of her losses are by submission, that’s interesting isn’t it?

Here’s what we know, Dern is absolutely phenomenal on the ground and all 3 of Cooper’s losses have come by submission. While Dern’s striking can look clumsy while she’s trying to close the distance, I’m not sure if Cooper has the skills to really punish her for it and once it’s on the ground it’s Mackenzie’s world.

Prediction : Dern by submission

Result : Dern by submission

John Lineker vs Brian Kelleher

John Lineker is a tough fight for anyone in the division, except TJ Dillashaw maybe. He’s 27 years old and 5’3 with a record of 30 wins and 8 losses. He’s the former Jungle Fight bantam weight champion and is definitely making a reputation for himself in the UFC. He has had weight problems at flyweight and bantamweight and needs to get control of this if he’s looking at title contention in the future but as a fighter you always look out for him because win or lose its going to be fun.

Kelleher is a guy who seems to be getting better with age. At one point his record was a pretty unimpressive 9 wins and 6 losses but right now he’s sitting at 19 wins and 8 losses with 15 finishes, not bad. His last fight was a win over long time champion Renan Barao and a win over Lineker here will really get peoples attention. Kelleher is decent where ever the fight takes place he can strike and grapple and what I like about him is his gameness, he’s here for a fight and fuck it he’s gonna fight.

I think this will be the fight of the night. We got a guy with concrete in his fists in Lineker against a guy who will take it to him. Although I’m picking Lineker to win this, I wouldn’t be totally surprised if Kelleher pulled it off but he would need to fight a pretty perfect fight. Kelleher likes to be gung ho and just throw down and go for it but I think he may need to change a bit for this one, maybe fight a bit more going backwards and make Lineker miss and then counter him; winning rounds. I believe though that Kelleher’s nature will work against him and he will get caught up in trading with Lineker too much. Lineker can hurt him but I don’t think he will finish him.

Prediction : Lineker by decision

Result : Lineker by KO

Vitor Belfort vs Lyoto Machida

Both legends of the sport. Both former champions. Both Brazilian. Both southpaw. Both way past their prime.

Vitor is a legend no doubt about it, he maybe wouldn’t make the Mount Olympus of the sport but he wouldn’t be far off. The man has been fighting professionally for 22 fucking years and nearly all of it at the top level, except for maybe his stint in Cage Rage (dodging a drug ban as you do) but he won the Cage Rage belt so it’s all good. In that time he’s racked up a record of 26 wins and 13 losses. He won a UFC tournament as a teenager and won the UFC light heavyweight title and on a couple of different occasions was considered one of the most dangerous men in mma. Those time have passed now though and the monster that was TRT Vitor is gone and so is the fear that went with it but he’s still dangerous at the start of a fight and he has that experience that is priceless but let’s see if he can make the most of it.

Machida is another legend and veteran of the sport, being a professional for 15 years. Lyoto was another man who was considered very dangerous but mostly for his style, karate stance and distance control and timing were very hard to work out and at his best he was almost impossible to hit. Like Vitor though, age changes things and his speed, reflexes and chin ain’t what they used to be but still he got some skills left. Machida is 39 years old and 6’1 with a record of 23 wins and 8 losses and he is also a former UFC light heavyweight champion.

This could be a shit show but I think it could turn out pretty decent. I suppose it would be lazy and easy to say that whoever lands hard first wins but to an extent that maybe true, neither of these guys have the chin they used to but that’s what could be good about this fight though, the end could come at any time. They are both coming off wins, Machida against a hard hitter, so they are both still capable at times.

So recent history probably suggests that Vitor is most dangerous in the first minute or two of a fight and he can break mentally if things are not going his way, while Machida is a very patient fighter with still good distance control who waits to counter. The way I see it I would pick prime Machida over Belfort and I think its the same today, if Machida survives the first two minutes then he wins the fight although I’m not sure if he can put Vitor away it wouldn’t totally surprise me if Machida won by TKO and the end of the first but I think more likely a decision.

Prediction : Machida by decision

Result : Machida by KO

Rest of the Card

Cezar Ferreira vs Karl Roberson

Roberson has been impressive as fuck so far and I expect him to keep this up against Ferreira. Ferreira is usually good in the first round before he fades but then again Roberson hasn’t been out of the first round since his debut. Roberson will push the pace in this one and I think gets Ferreira out of there in the second round.

Prediction : Roberson

Result : Ferreira

Aleksei Olienik vs Junior Albini

Albini looked like shit against Arlovski and Olienik didn’t exactly cover himself in glory by faking being hurt against Blaydes. Olienik has had some good wins though and I take him to beat Albini here. Possibly by submission.

Prediction : Olienik

Result : Olienik

Davi Ramos vs Nick Hein

Neither man is a great striker but Hein will use movement and stay active trying to win rounds while Davi hits hard enough to get Nick’s respect. Obviously on the ground Ramos is a beast but Hein has a long judo background that could come into play. Ramos wins round 1 and Hein wins round 3, fight depends on what happens in the middle. I’ll go for Ramos, more aggressive and more unpredictable.

Prediction : Ramos

Result : Ramos

Elizue Zaleski Dos Santos vs Sean Strickland

To me this is a coin toss, whoever performs on the night wins. I actually did toss a coin and apparently Dos Santos wins.

Prediction : Dos Santos

Result : Dos Santos

Warlley Alves vs Sultan Aliev

Alves is just better. More well rounded and quicker with better movement. If Alves can stay off his back for most of the fight he will win.

Prediction : Alves

Result : Alves

Thales Leites vs Jack Hermansson

There’s a danger of this being a shite kickboxing match. Hopefully Hermansson just goes for it but Leites is a good enough defensive striker with heavy leg kicks and good enough punches to keep opponents at distance and slow things down. I don’t have high hopes for this one but I think Hermansson can at least be aggressive enough to do some damage and get some points over three rounds.

Prediction : Hermansson

Result : Hermansson

Alberto Mina vs Ramazan Emeev

Although I think Mina is technically better there will probably be a size and strength advantage for Emeev. Emeev looked good against Alvey or it could have been because Alvey was shit that night. In lots of space Mina might use quick strikes but I think the sambo man Emeev will use a lot of clinch work and close fighting and gets the decision.

Prediction : Emeev

Result : Emeev

Markus Perez vs James Bochnovic

Don’t even think this will even be a close fight, Perez gets the finish.

Prediction : Perez

Result : Perez

Correct predictions 12/13

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