Friday, December 11, 2015

UFC 194 Predictions

A UFC predictions post?  Whaaaaa?!  What year is this?  It's a big card so I figured why not, let's dust off the ol' MMA prognostication hat.

* Chris Weidman over Luke Rockhold, TKO, R3
Our first of two title bouts puts the momentum-less champion against the technically-deserving challenger.  It’s hard to believe it’s been almost two and a half years since Weidman’s shock knockout of Anderson Silva, and almost two years since Silva flukishly broke his leg on Weidman’s shin in the rematch.  (Weidman claimed that he’d trained that specific kick-blocking technique and took credit for the Silva win but come on man, that was a fluke.  Everyone blocks kicks and 99.99% of them don’t end in horrific leg breaks.  Get over yourself.)  This is only Weidman’s third fight in all of 2014-15 due to a number of injuries, though it’s worth noting that he hasn’t exactly slowed down…he put down Lyoto Machida in a decision and then knocked out Vitor Belfort.  This brings us to Rockhold, who got his shot via four straight wins over, um, good competition?  Costa Philippou was a good win at the time, Tim Boetsch and Michael Bisping are career midcarders and Machida is over the hill.  These two have more or less the same fighting style so I’ll pick Weidman a) since he’s better at it and b) until someone actually beats Weidman, I’m hard-pressed to pick against him.  I have to roll my eyes at Rockhold even getting this shot since…

* Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza over Yoel Romero, decision
…Jacare is on a freakin’ eight-fight winning streak, six of which were in the UFC.  Granted, Souza’s last loss was indeed to Rockhold in Strikeforce, but even still, Weidman’s constant injuries have hurt Jacare the most.  There’s no question he would’ve gotten a title shot already had Weidman been more active, and since then he’s kind of just been spinning his wheels while the UFC lines up bigger-name ex-champs and Rockhold for the title shots.  The UFC also has a specific bone to pick with this Souza/Romero match since it’s already been rescheduled twice.  Admittedly, it should be a great fight, as Romero has himself been kicking ass and taking names at middleweight.  Presuming Weidman doesn’t slip on a banana peel on his way out of the cage, we should finally be able to get regular title defenses rolling in the middleweight division and Souza/Romero will face the champ next.  The challenge will be if the submission specialist Jacare can get Romero down, though I suspect he’ll be able to before Romero can land one of his bombs.

* Demian Maia over Gunnar Nelson, decision
Interesting fight here between a young up-and-comer the UFC would love to promote as a future star and a wizened veteran who the UFC may or may not would wish to kinda go away.  The old “submit you from anywhere” Maia hasn’t been seen in years, as he has a grand total of two subs in his last 10 victories.  Nelson, meanwhile, gets more of his victories via submission and yet I really can’t see him beating Maia at his own game.  Expect a semi-dull three-rounder here as Nelson isn’t quite ready yet.

* Max Holloway over Jeremy Stephens, decision
The UFC has an interesting set of options for its next featherweight challenger.  If Frankie Edgar beats Chad Mendes tonight, I would heartily assume Edgar gets the next shot — he’s a big name, he’s never faced McGregor and his previous shot at Aldo was a closely-contested decision loss almost three years ago.  If Mendes wins, however, the UFC may not want to book another Mendes/McGregor match so soon and they surely don’t want to book Mendes/Aldo a third time when Aldo has already beaten him twice.  So that could open the door for Holloway to get a title shot with a win over Stephens, as Mad Max has rather quietly rattled off seven straight wins.  It feels like this guy has been around forever but he’s still just 24 and maybe not even in his prime.  Holloway would be a good fresh face within a division that’s been stagnated by Aldo’s injuries and the UFC’s nonstop desire to push McGregor above everything.  Stephens could certainly win though he actually is a ‘been around forever’ guy who’s always been a step or two below the top tier.  He’s a prototypical gatekeeper and Holloway needs to bust through the gate to finally get his shot at the belt.

* Jose Aldo over Conor McGregor, TKO, R2
I honestly have no idea how this fight will play out given all of the external factors surrounding it.  Aldo hasn’t fought in over a year due to injuries, so I’m breaking my long-standing rule of never picking a guy coming off a long layoff.  McGregor, meanwhile, was himself allegedly hurt going into that Mendes fight, with a self-diagnosed “80% ACL tear” that can’t possibly be true since if it was, he’d still be on the shelf.  I’ve yet to really buy into the hype on McGregor since he so often wins with *just* enough question that I have to raise an eyebrow — the back-of-the-head punches on Dustin Poirier or the short-notice win over an untrained Mendes that I feel safe in discounting completely for either man.  McGregor obviously has a lot of talent and yet that weird Mendes ‘win’ aside, he’s yet to actually face any of the top featherweights.  In this arguably most stacked of all the UFC’s divisions, Conor got to the interim title without having to face Aldo, Edgar, Ricardo Lamas or Cub Swanson (he did beat Holloway in August 2013, which was also the last time Holloway lost).  It’s still an open question as to how good McGregor actually is.

We know how good Aldo is, as he’s beaten all comers to his title but there are still a couple of questions lingering around him as well.  Firstly, the 14-month layoff.  Secondly, McGregor has openly said he’ll stand and trade with Aldo, a strategy that most guys don’t even attempt for fear of getting KTFO, yet that’s McGregor’s only chance against Aldo — I doubt McGregor could even get Aldo to the ground, and if he did, he’s not nearly as accomplished at submissions.  The other catch with Aldo is that he’s a guy who’s had cardio issues even at his best, so after being out of the cage for a year, that’s going to be a bigger problem than usual.  This fight may well be a slugfest for the first 2-3 rounds and if it goes longer than that, I may favour McGregor on sheer stamina.  If McGregor can actually back up all his talk and hype here, I’ll eat my words, yet I have a feeling Aldo is going to erase all doubts as to who’s the real featherweight champ.

* Leonardo Santos over Kevin Lee, submission, R3
* Urijah Faber over Frankie Saenz, submission, R2…
surprisingly, this isn’t a late injury replacement.  Seriously, the best guy they can get for Faber is Frankie Saenz?  Frankie Saenz, relax.
* Tecia Torres over Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger, decision
* Warlley Alves vs. Colby Covington, decision….
I feel like guys names Warlley and Colby should be squaring off in a yachting match rather than an MMA fight, but still.
* Yancy Medeiros over John Makdessi, decision
* Marcio Alexandre Jr. over Court McGee, decision
* Magomed Mustafaev over Joe Proctor, TKO, R1

No comments: