Another stacked UFC card loses one of its headlining fights in an all too familiar trend in 2018…
The nightmare returns for the UFC and fight fans, seeing yet another headlining fight get canceled a mere days out from another big PPV event in 2018. News broke this week that Featherweight title holder Max Holloway went to the hospital and got subsequently pulled from his co-headlining title defense against Brian Ortega for Saturday’s UFC 226 card featuring Stipe Miocic vs Daniel Cormier main event. The main concern is ensuring Holloway’s long-term health for him and his family, he joins a list of fighter’s part of a growing epidemic the sport now faces, with many of its cards main events being ruined the week of the event. The lunacy of these massive weight cuts and fighters attempting to return from brutal concussions too soon requires immediate action from all MMA promotions to make sure the sport’s sustainability but also protect its product: the fighters. Changes must come to make sure not only their health leading up to these events but also limit any long-term damage after their careers are over. It bums me out to have to focus my lead in to a really good fight card about a fight that will not occur but the above needs to get restated by all in the MMA community (fighters, press, and promoters) until a real change occurs.
UFC 226 may have had its fight week tarnished by losing its co-main event but it still has the makings of a really fun card and while it may not draw as many casual fans Saturday night I think it’s still worth PPV dollars if you love quality MMA. There are lots of guys who like to bang on this card and I envision at least two or three stoppages on the main card which is always a fun viewing experience. I bring back the Burger-meter to get fans ready for the tastiest fights on the card. The Burger meter will look at the fight matchup (how good is it, how important, how entertaining) and associate it with its hamburger equivalent. I’ll breakdown the main card by relating it to its “burger form” and offer some fight predictions to hopefully help your bank accounts. Let’s get to the card:
(100% Imported Kobe Beef Burger): Ridiculously luxurious & best of the best
(None) (*Holloway vs Ortega would have been here if it was not canceled)
(In& Out): Lives up to the Hype & always worth it
Heavyweight Title Fight
Stipe Miocic (Champion) vs Daniel “DC” Cormier (Champion) (Heavyweight)
Preview: This isn’t a “Super fight” as the UFC promotions department would like you to believe; but it’s still a damn great one. I understand the need to ‘hype’ fights but I’ll never get lying to the public that is smarter than promoters sometimes give them credit for. Jon Jones is the Light Heavyweight champion of the world, anyone who follows the sport knows this. He may not officially hold the strap due to the UFC suspending & striping him of that title due to multiple failed tests. According to U.S. Anti-Doping Association (USADA) Jones is a habitual drug user who’s failed multiple drug tests for a variety of banned substances. However, Jones still “IS” the best 205lbs fighter in the MMA world. Jon Jones vs Stipe is a super fight; Daniel Cormier who is without a doubt the 2nd best 205lbs fighter in the world vs the Heavyweight champ is a “really good” fight; hence it’s a ‘4 burger fight’. The fight is marketable but trying to sell fans on it being a mythical ‘super fight’ like a GSP vs McGregor or even Dillashaw vs Johnson (real champion vs real champion) makes it feel phony. I like Daniel Cormier, he is personable, is a dedicated professional, and is game to fight anyone. Unfortunately, I think his path to victory vs Stipe is an old-school ugly ground and pound type fight that will not win him any new fans. He’s got to find a way to bypass Stipe’s nasty jab and get the heavyweight champion to the mat with his superior wrestling abilities. I worry about Cormier’s age as he approaches 40 and whether or not his stamina & skills are still sharp enough to defeat a monster like Stipe. Cormier cannot attempt to bang with Stipe or he will go to sleep; he has to fight smart & use his take downs to tire the champ out if he has any chance of getting the upset. Stipe’s game plan is simple, do not get taken down and he likely wins the fight via stoppage or wide decision. His massive 8 inch reach advantage should allow him to pop his jab into DC’s face all night, preventing the smaller challenger the ability to close the distance and secure takedowns. If DC cannot take Stipe down in the first round or two, this fight could get ugly very quickly.
Odds: Miocic (-235) vs Cormier (+200)
Prediction: I will take the guy who continues to get underrated in every one of his fights despite beating the crap out of the biggest men in the world. Reach advantages sometimes get over hyped in both boxing and MMA. However, with the style of Stipe a long quick powerful striker vs a slower smaller wrestler, I think the reach disadvantage will make all the difference in this fight. I see DC getting frustrated early after he eats several Stipe jabs and cannot secure an early takedown. Frustration leads to wild attempts, wild attempts lead to knockouts. The real champ retains his real belt.
(Miocic by KO or TKO (-235))
Francis “The Predator” Ngannou (#1) vs Derrick “The Black Beast” Lewis (#5) (Heavyweight)
Preview: Two men formerly hyped as the next heir to the heavyweight throne find themselves fighting each other for a chance to get a future shot at the heavyweight champion. Both men have monstrous power, questionable gas tanks, and even iffier ground games so fans can expect a fireworks show for however long these men can stay conscious and standing. Ngannou gets to see if he learned anything since his first defeat earlier this year after getting pummeled by the current champ Stipe Miocic. While Derrick Lewis hopes to continue building off his comeback win against Marcin Tybura in February. The game plan for both men is simple: hit the other man first before he hits you. Ngannou possesses a little more technical skill and after fighting a men like Stipe & Overeem has arguably faced the tougher opposition of the two men. However, Lewis’s power and wild style have a tendency to draw fighters into trading with him which is where he wants them. Ngannou and Lewis get hit a lot and they trust their chins & power to carry them vs anyone in the world. Only one of them is right Saturday night.
Odds: Ngannou (-355) vs Lewis (+290)
Prediction: Most people think Ngannou is younger and better version of Derrick Lewis, and it’s understandable why they may think that. Ngannou bigger, his body appears fitter, and he’s fought tougher opponents. However, Lewis always seems to find ways to land his huge blows and Ngannou’s defense has not improved in any of his recent fights. He’s there to destroy and he doesn’t appear to think he needs to get better defensively which makes me like getting near 3-1 odds on a very game Lewis. “The Black Beast” can absolutely turn Ngannou’s lights off if he hits him clean, as can Ngannou do to Lewis if he connects. I think Ngannou is slightly better but not enough to justify laying these kind of odds. I think Lewis can catch Ngannou in a wild exchange and if he does he’s pulling off the upset. Take the + odds and enjoy this fireworks display for however long it lasts.
(Lewis by KO/TKO (+290))
(Home Cooked Burger): Solid, reliable, and hits the spot
Michael “Maverick” Chiesa (9th) vs Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (12th) (Lightweight 155lbs)
Preview: The last time we saw Michael Chiesa he had blood streaming down his face after being one of the collateral damage victims in the now ‘infamous’ McGregor bus attack video at UFC 223 media day. Prior to that Chiesa got put to sleep by Kevin Lee in a fight he claims he did not lose and thought the ref stopped prematurely. Chiesa is a really good fighter who uses his cardio, great scrambles and underrated submission game to overwhelm opponents. His biggest weakness if you have to point one out is his inability to have an ‘elite’ skill set, which separates the really good fighters from the potential champions. Chiesa will get his chance to start climbing back towards a top 5 ranking if he can get by Anthony Pettis who now appears to have settled into the 155lbs weight class as his permanent home. The former champion and one time Phenom has seen his career take wild ups and downs since he appeared on that Wheaties box several years ago. Unlike Chiesa he does have an elite skill set with his creative striking; however he does not do well against high pressure, crafty ground and pound fighters which describes Chiesa’s perfectly. Pettis during his losses has had a tendency to go into his shell if he isn’t successful early on in the fight allowing him to get into a rhythm with his striking. He must earn Chiesa’s respect from the opening bell to keep himself off the cage and the mat, where Chiesa hopes to up him. Who wins round 1 I think will go a long way into determining who wins this fight.
Odds: Chiesa (-158) vs Pettis (+138)
Prediction: If I had to pick a fighter to have skills that are Anthony Pettis’s kryptonite I would pick all the ones Michael Chiesa has in his tool kit. Guys like Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier who gave Pettis all kinds of trouble in their wins over him give Chiesa a blueprint he’s capable of following. I expect Chiesa to close the distance, put Pettis against the cage, wear him and while dragging him to the mat. Once on the mat Chiesa can methodically inflict damage on Pettis who does not like to fight in close quarters and would prefer to stay standing so he can strike in space. I think Chiesa’s size and weight advantage are too much for Pettis to keep him off him and lead to a dominant but grinding victory for Chiesa.
(Chiesa via unanimous decision (-158))
Gokhan “The Rebel” Saki vs Khalil Rountree Jr. (Light Heavyweight 205lbs)
Preview: This is another possible fireworks display for fans of strikers looking to knock their opponent out. Gokhan Saki while he is new to the UFC is a kick boxing legend. He will fight a man in Khalil Rountree Jr who does one of two things; wins by spectacular first round knockout or loses. Saki will welcome the challenge as he attempts to knockout Rountree who has never been knocked out; while Rountree may look to use some sneaky jiu-jitsu if he doesn’t think his striking is on par with the kickboxing master. However, I expect Rountree Jr to at least test his striking power vs Saki which may prevent any second game plan if either man connects with a big shot early in this fight.
Odds: Saki (-132) vs Rountree Jr. (+112)
Prediction: Rountree Jr. may not have the name Saki has but he’s not outclassed in this fight. Saki is extremely dangerous on his feet but he’s a one-dimensional fighter, who Roundtree Jr knows won’t try to take him to the mat. Not having to worry about getting taken down will allow Rountree Jr the freedom to fight wherever he thinks he has the best chance to win. I know I said I think this will end up being a fireworks show but I also would not be surprised to see a late submission win by Rountree Jr if Saki cannot connect early in this fight. Rountree Jr I think offers value in a fight that could go either way.
(Rountree Jr vs Submission (+112))
Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder (14th) vs Mike “Platinum” Perry (Welterweight 170lbs)
Preview: This fight got moved to the main card after Holloway’s fight got canceled. It’s a great undercard fight, but as a main card PPV fight it’s just decent. This has less to do with the action because fans will get some amazing exchanges between these two power strikers. However, I just don’t know how far either man can go in the welterweight division which lessens the significance of the fight on a main card PPV. Felder and Perry can both crack, Perry likes to use his fists and Felder his feet so the chances of a highlight reel KO are high. The game plan for Felder is if you can avoid Perry’s big shots and get him to the mat or against the cage he’s a little one dimensional as seen by his last two decision losses. Perry knows Felder likes to come forward and pressure his opponents so if he can just time his big shots correctly he could catch “The Irish Dragon” coming towards him with a massive counter and end the fight. The fans win with this fight, even if it won’t matter much in the grand scheme of the 170lbs division.
Odds: Felder (-155) vs Perry (+135)
Prediction: I like Perry to spring a minor upset against Felder. He’s coming off two striaght losses but the guy is fearless and won’t hesitate to throw massive shots down the pipe at Felder. Felder’s kicks are very good but he has a tendency to rush in during his attacks which could lead him into a massive Perry right hand or uppercut. In reality this is a 50/50 with guys who have similar skill sets so I’ll take the plus odds and hope I chose right.
(Perry via KO/TKO +135)
(Waffle House Burger): It won’t kill you but high quality it is not
(Gas Station Burger): Hello darkness my old friend
Prediction Record since 2016 to Date (68-44-1) (+$1510.50)
- Record & predictions based on Win vs Loss predictions only. Unless specified otherwise I use increments of $100 (for + odds predictions) & $110 (for – odds bets) as hypothetical wagers for each prediction.
- Predictions & Records are for entertainment value only
- Stats provided from http://UFC.COM & http://www.fightmetric.com/
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