UFC 218 PPV Main Card
Max Holloway vs. Jose Aldo
(Since this fight is a rematch, I will just dive right into my prediction because we know how their styles clash....)
Prediction: I see this fight being a war just like the first match was. Both fighters are so evenly matched, and both fighters will have success. Jose Aldo has had a lot of fights where he could get away with only using a few tools in his repertoire and still dominate. But when he had to go to war with Chad Mendes in their second fight he had to dig deep and through all of his technique out of the window. I don’t think Aldo has the cardio to get into wars and dominate them. That’s where Max Holloway is a bad match up for Aldo. He’s going to make Aldo work for the win. Aldo is going to have to open up and land big on Holloway to put him out. Jose Aldo does have the skill and the power to put Holloway out. But he cannot keep that up for 5 rounds. Holloway is willing to take the punishment early so he can punish Aldo at the end of the fight. And its proven that Aldo can’t handle the punishment at this point in his career. Max Holloway by TKO, Round 4.
Francis Ngannou vs. Alistair Overeem
Francis Ngannou looks like a monster of a human being. He has the power to match his looks. And in his last 2 fights he has shown that he has technique to compliment his power. He is patient with his strikes, which is what makes this guy so dangerous. He has good counters, and good takedown defense. The guy is definitely a problem for the older heavyweights that are in the top 10. I do think he has a lot to prove before he steps inside the cage with current Heavyweight Champion, Stipe Miocic. But I do see him staying as a top contender for years to come, if he doesn’t get exposed with a major flaw, whether it be his cardio, his chin, or his heart.
Alistair Overeem has been fighting professionally for almost 20 years. The guy has fought them all, and has seen it all when it comes to combat sports. He is still at the top of the world as a fighter, although he is coming down towards the end of his career. Since he got to the UFC, he had his poor chin durability exposed. And it took him a couple fights to adapt his fighting style around his fading chin. Once he started using a more cautious/elusive style, he has defeated some of the best power strikers in the top 10 of the division. So the guy does have skill, and he is successful against the scary guys in the division. He has a ground game that he rarely uses, but I think he will start to use that more and more in his career. I do think he has some big fights ahead of him for a few more years.
Prediction: Although the odds say Ngannou should definitely win this fight, I would say this fight is 50/50. If you were to bet on this fight, it would have to be a dog or pass situation. I think Overeem should not be counted out because he has the experience, power, and well rounded game to beat a guy like Ngannou. I expect to see Overeem running around to cage to keep his distance from a stalking Ngannou. Overeem could very well catch an off-guard Ngannou with a major bomb or a takedown. If Ngannou isn’t able to counter Overeem, I cannot see many other options for him to win. Due to Overeem have more options to win this fight with a cautious approach, I will have to go with him. Alistair Overeem by KO.
Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis
Henry Cejudo has been improving ever since his loss to the Champion, Demetrious Johnson. He came out swinging with the intent to kill against the longtime number 1 contender Joe Benevidez. Many thought he won that fight, including myself, but regardless he is improving into a beast of a fighter. I always considered him to have “pitter-patter” for stand-up. Where he would just move in and out and throw combinations with no purpose of finishing the fight behind them. His takedowns are average in the UFC, but his takedown defense is fantastic. I see this guy making his way back to Demetrious Johnson and giving him a 5 round war. Maybe he has a future in the 135 pound weight class, but for right night he has unfinished business as a Flyweight.
Sergio Pettis is really coming into his own as a fighter. He’s not the knockout artist like his brother, but he does have the craftiness. He likes to take a slow methodical approach to out strike his opponents. The problem is that he is too patient and he lets guys that aren’t as good of strikers hang with him on the feet. Pettis hasn’t shown much power on his feet, so it’s easy for his opponents trade strikes with him. His ground game is pretty good defensively, and he is continuing to evolve. As an all around mixed martial artist, Pettis, is taking the right steps to evolve and become a major threat in his division. I just think he needs about 2 more years to reach that full potential.
Prediction: This should be a good fight. Both guys are hard to finish, so I doubt this ends before the 15 minutes are up. I see Cejudo using his movement on the feet to get in and out with power shots. If he can back Pettis up against the cage, I see him using the clinch for some dirty boxing. Pettis should be able to keep this on the feet, and as the fight goes on I could see Pettis starting to have a little more success. Pettis doesn’t present any volume or firepower on the feet to beat a guy with many tools like Cejudo. Henry Cejudo by Decision.
Justin Gaethje vs. Eddie Alvarez
Justin Gaethje is pure entertainment. The guy refuses to be in a boring fight. He always presses forward, and is willing to go toe-to-toe with ANYONE. He has a great wrestling background, and if he chose to use it, he could have won a lot of his fights in his career without taking all of the damage that he has taken. The man just loves the chaos. Over the years he developed powerful leg kicks. He knows how to break a man down. 18-0 speaks for itself. As far as his future goes, the man isn’t preserving his brain damage for a long term fighting career. He has been getting rocked more and more as he fights guys higher up the totem pole, and it’s only a matter of time before someone shuts the lights out. He has addressed this in several interviews and is fully aware of his consequences. How can you not be a fan of this guy?
Eddie Alvarez is long time veteran of this sport. He’s won titles in the biggest promotions that exist today, and is a tough out for anyone. He gets rocked in fights, but his recovery is absolutely insane. He starts to brawl once he gets cracked hard, and normally finds more success at that point in his fights than he does when he’s not hurt. His grappling game is good. He’s strong in the clinch, but he does have a hard time actually getting takedowns. His clinch control has won him rounds in the past to win close decisions. As far as his future goes, I think he is coming down from the highest point of his career. I do not ever see him getting close to the title again.
Prediction: This fight is easily fight of the night. The only way that it won’t be is if the fight ends with a quick finish. Both guys are fantastic in brawl type of fights, and both cancel each other out in the wrestling department. The difference here is that I think Gaethje will have major success with his hard leg kicks. That, along with the forward pressure from Gaethje with break Alvarez down, and then the bombs should start flying. Alvarez should get rocked, but he does have a chance to land a huge hook of his own that could end the fight. But I think Gaethje will put Alvarez away without any problems in this fight. Gaethje by KO round 2.
Tecia Torres vs. Michelle Waterson
Tecia Torres wins fights by control. Whether it’s against the cage, on the ground, or pressing forward on the feet. Michelle Waterson welcomes that. She doesn’t mind being the matador when the bull is coming at her. I see this being very methodical and competitive on the feet, with Waterson being more active and successful with side-kicks. Torres has more power in her strikes, but I don’t think she will be able to land them until round 2 and 3. Torres is strong in the clinch and can kill the clock while being in control against the cage. Meanwhile, Waterson loves to go for the head and arm throw, which she is successful with in the past. I think Torres will be very aware of that specific move and will defend sufficiently. If this fight hits the mat I would give the advantage to Waterson. If Torres ends up on top, I think she has the strength to smother Waterson.
Prediction: This fight has the potential to be the most boring fight on the entire card. I don’t see much significant action happening, and it will come down to whoever can have the more dominant/controlling moments. Torres fits that bill. I think she can take the center of the octagon and land the more powerful strikes from time to time. I also think she will find success in the clinch against the cage. I do not see Torres dominating this fight, but just edging the rounds with small dominant moments. To me that’s the likely outcome, and I’m sticking to it. Tecia Torres by Decision.
UFC 218 Fox Sports 1 Fights
Yancy Modeiros vs. Alex Oliveira
Yancy Modeiros is one of those guys that loves to fight. He uses his range well to pick his opponents apart, and then he loves to get in your face with punches. For a guy that went up a weight class, he is pretty slow with his strikes. He has that similar punching style as a Diaz brother. He throws high volume, but he doesn’t put much on his punches every time. He also takes a lot of damage from leg kicks. One thing he is great at is capitalizing on a hurt opponent with a choke. I think Yancy is main stay in the UFC and has a lot of guys at welterweight that would make for great fights.
Alex Oliveira is a hard match up for any body. It seems like you have to catch him on a bad mental day to beat him. He loves to stay out of range, rush in with strikes, and get back out of range before his opponents can return strikes of their own. He has strong leg kicks that go nicely with his range and movement. Oliveira has a very strong clinch and a smothering ground game if he chooses to use it. He can get rocked, but I don’t think his chin is bad. I see him getting very close to a title shot by upsetting a top contender soon.
Prediction: I love both of these fighters. This would be the best fight on any card, except UFC 218. On the feet, I see two guys that like their range. Yancy could have a good opportunity to land punches if he can close the distance because Oliveira keeps his hands low. But I see Oliveira eating up Yancy’s lead leg with heavy kicks, and using a smothering clinch game against the cage. If Oliveira gets this to the ground, I don’t see it lasting too long. Alex Oliveira by Submission, Round 2.
Paul Felder vs. Charles Oliveira
Paul Felder is strong starter. He comes out hard looks to be a problem for any fighter in the first couple minutes. I just haven’t seen him keep up that pace for more than 1 round. He’s still good, but his opponents are able to have more success landing strikes, and controlling him in the grappling department. He has one hell of a chin, so don’t expect him to get KO’d. He also has one hell of a heart, and that’s why he has competitive fights against guys like Edson Barboza. He has been commentating, and it could be a distraction for a guy like Felder. I look forward to his future as a fighter, as well as his future as a commentator.
Charles Oliveira used to have problems absorbing damage on the feet. He would crumple after a hard shot, but over the years he has developed a decent stand up game. He can be competitive on the feet against top strikers. Lately, he has shown a great offensive wrestling game. He’s been taking down good wrestlers that want to avoid the ground game against him. His submissions are sneaky and quick, but as good as he is on the ground, he does get submitted himself. He has already had a long career in the UFC with 18 fights, and he has faced some high quality opponents. He keeps upping his game and I see him making a run for the title in the near future.
Prediction: You have one guy that is a brutal striker with pretty good takedown defense, and another guy that is very successful at finding ways to strangle his opponents very easily. This is a 50/50 fight to me, and it’s just a matter of who implements their game plan better. If it stays on the feet, I don’t see Paul Felder blowing Oliveira out of the waters though. He might be able to crack him hard enough to get Oliveira to crumble, but I see Oliveira being a handful for Felder. Oliveira has pretty good takedowns, and if he sets them up well he can get this fight to the floor. From there he should be able find a fight ending submission. It might take a couple rounds to find the submission, but he gets the job done. Charles Oliveira by Submission Round 3.
David Teymur vs. Drakkar Klose
David Teymur is shaping up to be a well-rounded fighter. Lately, he has looked sharp and very aware in his fights. He has shown great takedown defense, and times his own takedowns very well. In the clinch, he is active with hard elbows and knees. He likes to use his movement on the feet and counter, but he welcomes a brawl. The bad thing in his game is that he gets hit with big hooks from time to time. He has a great chin on him, but if the right punch lands, it could be over right then. He can fight a fast paced three rounds, and I see great promise in his evolution.
Drakkar Klose always comes out hard. I see him as a Rick Story type of fighter. He will be in your face the entire fight, and he’s going to attack from every position. He’s great at backing you up against the fence and throwing bombs before clinching against the cage. A big flaw that I see in his game is that he’s not great at getting fights to the floor. He also hasn’t shown a strong top game where he can keep his opponents down for long periods of time. He seems content to just win his fights by bum-rushing with big hooks and clinch control. So far it has worked for him, but his luck will run out very soon if he isn’t able to be more dominant with his wrestling.
Prediction: This fight is going to be close. No pun intended. Both men have opposite styles that clash. I see this fight being a brawl. The man that can make quick adjustments, and ongoing cardio should take this fight. Right now that man looks to be David Teymur. He has great footwork, great takedown defense, great cardio, and great clinch work. Drakkar Klose gives guys problems by pressuring them and it wins rounds in the judge’s eyes. He is a hard guy to beat if it goes to the hands of the judges. But Teymur has the skillset to outclass a very inexperienced Klose. This fight is close, but I think Teymur will be able to adjust mid-fight to take a decision. David Teymur by decision.
Felice Herrig vs. Cortney Casey
Felice Herrig is a well-rounded fighter. She can hold her own on the feet by keeping the distance with kicks and straight punches. Her strikes are nothing powerful, but they do score points. Her punches are very slow and can easily be countered if she were to fight a good striker. The best part of her game is the ground. She’s very good at wrapping her limbs around her opponents, and smothering them. She doesn’t give her opponent’s a lot of space to work back up to their feet and I think that breaks them. If she continues to have good game plans, she can compete with most of the top fighters in the division.
Cortney Casey should be a fan favorite for her fighting style. She is always going forward with punches in bunches, and is still offensive with strikes off of her back. Her big flaw is that she is too comfortable off of her back. She gets taken down, easily, in every fight. I think she could be a top contender if she would sprawl and brawl, and only use her attack off of her back when she actually does get taken down. If she doesn’t fix this problem, then she will always lose rounds. Losing rounds will always cost her in close fights against the best in the division.
Prediction: This fight is an excellent match-up for both fighters. Both are coming into this bout with a lot of confidence. Cortney Casey should have the better boxing on the feet and will press forward with high volume. Meanwhile, Herrig will use her footwork and kicks to keep her distance. If they exchange punches I expect Herrig to get tagged repeatedly. Herrig needs to get this fight to the ground and use her excellent top control to slow this fight down. Herrig getting takedowns should be inevitable because Casey’s takedown defense is almost non-existent. Herrig should be able to smother Casey to a decision, or a late submission. This is definitely a close fight and Casey could put on a beat down if this fight stays on the feet. But I’m going to say that Herrig knows what she has to do to win, and she will get the job done. Herrig wins by Decision.
UFC 218 Fight Pass Fights
Abdul Razak Alhassan vs. Sabah Homasi
Sabah Homasi is definitely a fighter. He has balls and fights with them. He took Tim Means on short notice for his UFC debut. Homasi went after Means with big punches and hardly driven takedowns. He gave it his all and gassed himself out. I’m not going to judge his gas tank or his game plan because he did take it on very short notice. He probably knew he only had 1 round of energy to take Tim Means out and he tried. Another thing he has going for him is one hell of a chin. He ate huge shots for almost 2 rounds and still stayed on his feet as the referee stepped in to stop the fight. He trains at a good camp, and has been out of the octagon for over a year. I expect to see a more seasoned fighter with a little more patience his next time out.
Abdul Razak Alhassan loves to get in his opponents face and trade hooks. He loves throwing his right hand almost too much. He’s very quick and has great footwork. His only weakness so far is his takedown defense, but he does a great job using the cage or butterfly hooks to get back to his feet quickly. I think he could learn a lot about himself with his last fight, a loss to Omari Akhmedov. If he can learn to stuff a couple takedowns, and continue to get back to his feet quickly like he has shown, then this guy is going to give a lot of mid-tier welterweights some problems.
Prediction: This fight isn’t the easiest to pick a clear winner. Sabah Homasi should know that the best way to win this fight is to get Alhassan down to the mat and control him there. I think Homasi has the skill to make that happen, but I think Homasi loves to trade punches as well. On the feet Alhassan should be able to back Homasi into the cage where he can let his hands go. Homasi will engage and I think he will get rocked before he decides to get this to the ground. I see Alhassan having his way with Homasi once he lands big. Homasi is tough, and I think he can survive to the final bell. Abdul Razak Alhassan by Decision.
Jeremy Kimball vs. Dominick Reyes
Jeremy Kimball is a pretty small guy for the Light Heavyweight division. He used to fight at middleweight for most of his career and had decent success there. He’s a gritty, durable fighter, and he can take a punch. He doesn’t have good defense when striking. He keeps a high pace on the feet but leaves his chin straight in the air to be countered. His only KO loss was his UFC debut, but that happened after he slipped and got stuck in a bad position against the cage. His chin still held up in that stoppage.
Dominick Reyes is a stud. He’s a tall southpaw that uses his range very well. He stalks his opponents and unloads with powerful kicks to the head and body, or lands heavy straight lefts often. As of right now, this guy is a problem in the Light Heavyweight division. The only thing against the guy is the quality of opponents that he’s been facing, and he has never seen the second round in his 7 fight career.
Prediction: This fight is going to have guaranteed fireworks on the feet. Reyes will be the bigger/stronger man. I don’t like the fact that Reyes has never been to the second or third rounds, but I don’t think Kimball has the defense on the feet to survive the onslaught from Reyes. I see, the southpaw, Reyes taking the center of the octagon and landing hard kicks to the liver, and then landing his straight left consistently to hurt Kimball. I think by landing the kicks to the body, Reyes will go to the head with a kick. This will be another first round stoppage for the much larger Reyes. Dominick Reyes by KO, 1st Round.
Angela Magana vs Amanda Cooper
Angela Magana is 34 years old with an 11-8 record. She is 0-2 in the UFC against 2 girls that are ranked #5 and #6. She could get some sympathy for having to fight such great talent, but her performances were nothing to write home about. She was a human punching bag/ragdoll against, both, Tecia Torres and Michelle Waterson. Magana’s stands straight up on the feet and doesn’t have much power on her straight punches, but her kicks and knees are strong when she throws them. Her best game is in the clinch and on the ground. She has strong control in grappling situations, but her cardio disappears very quickly. At 34 years old and coming off of a 2 year layoff, I can’t imagine seeing major improvements and I don’t see any upside to her future.
Amanda Cooper is a young prospect that only has 5 fights on her professional record, but she has a few more fights from being on The Ultimate Fighter series. Currently, Cooper is 1-2 in the UFC. Her 2 losses were to some great up and coming prospects that finished Cooper on the ground in the 1st round. Cooper is highly active with her boxing, and will go for submissions in any position. She commits to submissions that are hard to complete and then she ends up in a bad position when her opponents escape. She doesn’t have strong control when on the ground, so she usually gets out scrambled. I see some potential in her to tighten up her skillset, but I don’t see her being a girl that ever comes close to cracking the top 10. She’s still young, so she could stay on the UFC roster for years to come.
Prediction: This fight is between 2 girls with awful records. One of them being, a long time vet in the sport, and the other being, an up and comer. This fight is tricky because Cooper can easily be taken down and out scrambled. Magana’s best chance in this fight is to immediately clinch up with Cooper and get this fight to the ground where she can get on top and search for a submission. Cooper does have some submissions from her back, but Magana is pretty good at escaping deep submissions. On the feet, Cooper should be able to use a high volume of strikes to batter Magana. I expect this fight to have a wild/fast paced first round. If this fight makes it past the first round, Magana should gas out and Amanda Cooper should be able to use a high volume attack to win a decision. I cannot trust Cooper to defend the takedowns or submission attempts from Magana, and that is why this is a “pass” in terms for betting. Amanda Cooper via Decision.
Justin Willis vs. Allen Crowder
Justin Willis is fresh into his MMA career with a 5-1 record. He has a wrestling background and he trains at a super camp that transitions large wrestlers really well for MMA. His stand-up is improving and he has good fundamentals. Always keeps his hands up when his opponents are coming forward and he moves his head pretty well. He likes to keep a slow paced fight on the feet and the ground, and he is in no rush to get the fight to the ground. I think he’s a guy that can do good things if he is pushed along slowly in this shallow Heavyweight division.
Allen Crowder is built like an athlete. Not all heavyweights have the athletic shape to them. He seems very competent on the feet with crisp tight hooks. He does like to try to get fights to the ground, but he’s not the best at achieving the takedowns. He likes to push the pace and gets into scrambles, which doesn't always end up good for him. He has a decent record and has fought for many promotions, but I don’t see him having much success in the UFC heavyweight division. I see him getting out muscled and out worked by most of the roster.
Prediction: This is definitely a good match up for both up and coming Heavyweights. I do think that Justin Willis is the better skilled fighter due to his wrestling and by training at a gym like AKA in San Jose. Allen Crowder might have some success on the feet if he presses forward with his tight hooks, but he is not going to have much success trying to out grapple Willis. Crowder keeps his feet really close together and I see Willis having a field day with double leg takedowns. Once Willis gets on top it’s his world and I see him doing that for three consecutive rounds. Justin Willis by Decision.