Cat Zingano is the Next to Challenge Champ Ronda Rousey

The fight that was supposed to happen between “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey and “Alpha” Cat Zingano a year and a half ago is now finally going to happen on January 3rd, 2015.

Does Zingano have what it takes to unseat Rousey as bantamweight champ? To even consider challenging a well-rounded fighter like Rousey, you have to have something more than just exceptional striking and ground work, you have to have heart. In UFC 178’s fight versus Amanda “The Lioness” Nunez, Zingano showed the world that she has the heart of a champion.

Intimidation Clothing

It was a hard-earned win for Zingano after almost three brutal rounds, and a satisfied smile from Rousey watching in the stands says she wouldn’t want it any other way. Cat Zingano left little doubt that she’s the best contender for Ronda Rousey.  Many thought the ref would call the fight in the first round when Nunez gave Zingano a beating that left the 32 year old fighter barely defending, sitting on the mat and trying to coax Nunez into a ground battle, but Zingano wouldn’t give up. “I wasn’t done” she said of the first round in the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan. To the crowd’s amazement, she came back in the second round, seemingly uninjured even after an onslaught of head shots.   As Nunez’s energy and resolve waned, Zingano’s ramped up as she went for the ground and pound. The fight was stopped seconds after blood exploded from Nunez’s face under a flurry of heavy punches and Zingano stood to raise her arms in victory with an exhausted look.

She seemed nothing but eager in the post-fight interview, however, and that night UFC president Dana White announced, to the delight of UFC fans everywhere, that Zingano would be the next to challenge Rousey for the women’s bantamweight title in January.  Zingano was supposed to coach Ultimate Fighter 18 opposite Rousey but had to bow out due to a knee injury. Although disappointing, this allowed us to bask in the guilty pleasure that is the epic rivalry between Ronda Rousey and fellow MMA fighter Meisha Tate, who filled Zingano’s spot as the other coach.

After two losses for Tate against Rousey, Sarah McMann seemed the best contender to defeat the unstoppable armbar machine. She met her doom after 16 short seconds in the ring however, as Rousey showed the world that she can do more than just armbars and throws. Since then, the name Cyborg has been on every fan’s lips as the favorite to be next in line to take a shot at Rousey, that is until Zingano’s return was announced. Will Cat Zingano be a match for the champ? If it comes down to endurance and guts, yes.

As for the Lioness, Amanda Nunez has a bright future in MMA despite her loss. She showed us pure ferocity as well as technical skill in a fight that could have easily been scored in her favor right up until the end.

 

By Julie Ruddle
ProFightingFans.com & DFN Sports Staff Writer

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UFC 178 Preview and Predictions

UFC 178 features the first fight card in some time that I have been extremely excited to witness. From the main event down to the preliminaries, there are household names, champions, rivalries and more. Even with Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier being moved down the road, this card stacks up well on paper against any other in 2014.

 

The first fight on the main card pits the returning Cat Zingano against Amanda Nunes. Zingano was last seen in April of 2013 when she finished Miesha Tate in the clinch with knees and elbows. This clinch is going to be her key to victory in this fight. If Zingano can close the distance without being hit too often, then Nunes is going to be in a load of trouble. The pace that Zingano puts on can trouble the most conditioned of women in the bantamweight division. Nunes stands her best chance early in the fight if she can catch Zingano trying to tie her up. Perhaps an uppercut or short elbow would do the trick. In her losses, Nunes has faded and allowed her opponents to storm ahead. If she falters against Zingano, then she will be punished.

The pick: Zingano by 3rd round TKO.

 

Next up is a battle of middleweight contenders. Tim Kennedy is coming off the biggest win of his career when he decisioned Michael Bisping in April. A grinding wrestler with a sneaky power and submissions, Kennedy has primarily relied on his grappling and positioning to win him fights. On the other side, Yoel Romero is a flashy striker who is on a four-fight winning streak with three finishes. In fact, all but one of Romero’s eight wins are by some type of knockout. His game is based on landing thudding strikes and using the sprawl-and-brawl technique. It’s worth noting that Romero is also an Olympic silver medalist in freestyle wrestling. However, he has yet to face an opponent of Kennedy’s caliber in the octagon. I expect both men to have their moments in this very close fight, but Kennedy’s takedowns, ground-and-pound and submission attempt will win him the fight.

The pick: Kennedy by decision, and I wouldn’t be surprised in a split.

 

The middle fight of this card has been dubbed “The people’s main event” by Ariel Helwani and I would be tempted to agree. There hasn’t been so much hype around a fighter for years and that’s just the way Conor McGregor likes it. So far he’s talked about how he’s going to win fights and then goes out and proves himself correct. That’s the kind of hyping and trash talk I can get behind. These two men have been going at each other for some time and when the bell rings I expect both of them to start exchanging. When that happens, both men have a great chance to be successful. They throw a lot of different strikes at each other and are very diverse. If the fight hits the ground, I give an advantage to Dustin Poirer. McGregor’s two losses have been by submission and we’ve seen Poirer’s excellent scrambling game before. However, the fight starts on the feet, so McGregor has a great chance to land something big and hurt “The Diamond”.

The pick: McGregor by decision in a competitive, close bout.

 

A new addition to the UFC roster is looking to make an immediate impact against a UFC veteran on the best run of his career. Even though I sound like a broken record, this fight also looks to be a beat-em-up blast. Eddie Alvarez is coming to town and he’s looking for a title shot. First, he has to find a way through the slashing tornado of limbs that is Donald Cerrone’s arms and legs. “Cowboy” has alternated submission and knockout wins in his last four fights and this bout could continue the trend if Cerrone finds a way to submit Alvarez. That’s easier said than done though. Cerrone doesn’t shoot for takedowns often, but he fights very well off his back and has some of the best finishing instincts in the sport. However, hurting Alvarez is a different story altogether. Alvarez is an ex-champion who managed to regain his belt after losing to Michael Chandler in 2011. His drive and determination are second to none along with his boxing skills. This skills are the way that Alvarez can win this fight. Combinations and footwork are more of his strengths and they will have to be top notch to deal with the output of Cerrone.

The pick: Cerrone continues his alternating finish streak with a third round submission after hurting Alvarez.

 

I don’t understand the hate for Demetrious Johnson. He goes out and dominates fighters. Johnson reminds me slightly of Georges St-Pierre with his ability to make good fighters look average. Aside from a draw with Ian McCall (which was avenged) and a little bit of trouble against John Dodson, “Mighty Mouse” has looked phenomenal at flyweight, dispatching of each challenger with little trouble. Chris Cariaso looks to change that. Although he doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses, Cariaso also doesn’t have any outstanding strengths. There is no one skill that he has to threaten Johnson. Without a go-to weapon, I think Cariaso is going to look tentative and slow while he tries to adjust to Johnson’s speed advantage. Even if he does adjust, Cariaso is probably going to be down 20-18 or 30-27 and be forced to fight for a finish. That plays right into Johnson’s hands. “Mighty Mouse” can take advantage of over-aggression and mistakes better than anybody. Although Cariason doesn’t have much to lose and boasts and solid all-around game, the champion will retain his belt with another dominant performance.

The pick: Johnson submits Cariaso in the fourth round.

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UFC Fight Night 52 Main Event Preview: Mark Hunt vs. Roy Nelson

Every couple of months, a fight comes around that makes me glad that I became interested in this sport. Sometimes it’s a ground battle of superior submission artists. Sometimes it’s a five-round war between two unknown fighters that catapult their careers into the limelight. But this time it’s a clash of two men with rockets in their hands and brick-wall chins. I’ve guaranteed knockouts before and been wrong by a mile, but this fight has to end in a finish. It’s only right and fair and I would almost feel cheated if it didn’t because we all secretly want to see one of these fabled chins cracked.

Now I know that both of these fighters have been knocked out before, but the spectacle of seeing the heaviest-handed men in the largest division try and pummel each other to unconsciousness remains.

Mark Hunt’s situation is a little different than Roy Nelson’s. Hunt is coming off a fight of year contender with Antonio Silva where both men gave their best shots and took many in return. Before that, he was knocked out by a Junior Dos Santos hook kick after two rounds of bludgeoning. He’s on a decline. Hunt hasn’t had his chin tested this much during his career in such a short span of time. While Nelson has looked overmatched against Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miocic, his chin has held up in those contests. However, Hunt still holds an advantage over Nelson in the area where this fight is most likely to take place.

On the feet, Hunt has shown to have a much more diverse and effective striking game. He throws kicks to the legs and the head, which could surprise Nelson during the fight. Along with those are a multitude of hooks, jabs, straights and uppercuts. Hunt always looks comfortable while on his feet and if he uses this array of weapons, he can pick Nelson apart. However, he will have to watch out for the big overhand right of big country. Nelson has been knocking out contenders and pretenders with his right hand for years. and if Hunt gets lazy, Nelson will find his chin.

This brings me to my next point. Both men are extremely hittable. Junior Dos Santos can attest to that as he battered both men. In their losses, both fighters look overmatched against men who are quicker and more accurate. So if one man is able to use superior footwork and angles, I think that he would emerge victorious. Whoever moves straight back or stands flat-footed is going to get hit hard. I think that Hunt holds a slight advantage over Nelson in this department, but big county certainly has the skills to go toe to toe and win.

I’d like to mention that while there are fights between excellent stand-up fighters that become grappling battles, I don’t think this will become one. However, there is always a chance and I believe that the ground is where Roy Nelson has his best chance to win. It is often forgotten that Roy Nelson is a brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Renzo Gracie. Nelson won many fights in the early part of his career via submissions. He is surprisingly strong and can definitely take Mark Hunt down and put him in an arm-triangle choke. Hunt’s ground defense has definitely improved, but he hasn’t been forced to work and constantly defend off of his back. If Nelson looks to land ground and pound or a submission, then Mark Hunt might have a long night ahead of him.

Overall, I think that Hunt gets the job done on the feet and knocks out Nelson. Both men are pretty evenly matched on the feet but I believe the stubbornness of Nelson will prove his undoing.

The pick: Hunt by KO in the 2nd round.

 

By Andrew Jerrick
ProFightingFans & DFN Sports MMA Staff Writer

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UFC Fight Night Preview: Matt Brown vs. Erick Silva

When I was first becoming interested in MMA, I saw Chris Lytle submit Matt Brown with an impressive inverted triangle/straight armbar combination. From that, I got on the Lytle bandwagon and promptly forgot about Matt Brown. That was my fault. Brown eventually worked himself out of his funk and 18 months later began his current 6 fight win streak with a TKO victory against Chris Cope. Since then, he has continued to look impressive against consistently tougher opponents. His most recent victim was Mike Pyle in August of 2013. With that victory, he called out the champion at the time, Georges St-Pierre. Although he didn’t receive that title shot, he has received yet another step up in competition with Erick Silva.

While Silva is not on a winning streak like Brown, he is certainly Brown’s toughest opponent so far. Rebounding from an awkward knockout loss to Dong-Hyun Kim, Silva pounded out Takenori Sato in less than a minute. Since entering the UFC, Silva has been up and down. He has the skillset to blow by lower competition, but has struggled when his opponents sneak into the top 15 range. That isn’t to say that Silva couldn’t have won those fights. He nearly finished Jon Fitch and was winning the Kim fight until a spinning elbow and follow up punches ended his night.

When this fight was made, the bonus for “Fight of the Night” was virtually guaranteed. Both of these men go 100 percent in the octagon at all times. They’re not afraid to brawl or engage in a more technical battle on the feet. One of the main factors that will determine the winner is whoever sets the pace. From what we’ve seen, Brown enjoys stalking his opponents, constantly applying pressure and looking to make the fight dirty. This is going to be a problem for Silva who usually relies on short explosive bursts of offense that are easier to pull off when given some room to move. If Silva doesn’t improve his movement and gets stuck on the cage, he will most likely lose this fight. Brown’s clinch game is excellent. His elbows are lethal and a great tool that could make Silva’s night a short one.

However, if the fight goes to the ground, then the story is much different. Matt Brown has been submitted nine times in his career. Coincidentally, Silva has nine wins by submission in his career. His last one was against Jason High and was an inverted triangle armbar. Hmm, pretty similar to how Brown lost to Lytle. But, I’m not saying we’re going to see another crazy submission like that. Although the edge on the ground goes to Erick Silva, I think this fight will most likely be contested on the feet.

In all, this fight is going to be a fun one wherever it goes. There will be two guys who bring the action every second that they’re in the octagon. I think this is pretty much a dead even fight and if you’re a betting man, there might be money to put on Matt Brown, who is coming in as an underdog.

The pick: Brown by 3rd round TKO

 

By Andrew Jerrick
ProFightingFans.com & DFN Sports Staff Writer

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Jones vs Teixera Preview

The rise of Jon Jones has been of Cinderella quality. Starting by learning techniques from online videos to training with Greg Jackson at Jackson’s MMA, Jones has had a Hollywood career. The scariest part is that he still has room to grow. He’s 26 years old and already has made a case for best light-heavyweight in mma history and on his way to becoming one of the best fighters of all time. But the road doesn’t get any easier. Standing in his way is Glover Teixeira.

A man who has a record of 22-2 and a perfect 5-0 mark in the UFC, Teixeira is coming off of a knockout win against Ryan Bader back in September. In that fight, Teixeira was rocked and nearly finished by Bader before brutally ending his night early with a TKO victory. He probably won’t have those opportunities against Jones who is going to hold a substantial reach advantage. Teixeira’s best bet is to get inside and try and rough Jones up and hopefully catch him with an uppercut or one of those nasty hooks he landed against Bader or Fabio Maldonado. However, that plays into another strength of Jones: his clinch game.

We all remember the sight of Jones choking Lyoto Machida unconscious. Although a standing guillotine choke might not be the result of this fight, Jones will be able to control Teixeira in the clinch and can use his size and length to dictate where the fight goes. If he wants to utilize a sweep or throw, then he will. If he wants to land elbows or push away to put distance between them, he will.

Similar to all his other fights, Jones holds an advantage in virtually all important categories. However, coming off a tough decision win against Alexander Gustafsson in which he was finally threatened, Jones’ will and heart are going to be questioned. However, I think that these questions were answered in round four of that fight as he hurt Gustafsson with a spinning elbow and proceeded to win the final two rounds and the fight.

Jones will be the large favorite in this fight and with good reason. He’s good enough on the feet to keep Teixeira at bay. Jones’ leg kicks and teeps will annoy Teixeira and cause him to spend a large amount of energy throwing heavy punches and trying to close the distance. When he finally does get close enough, I think Jones will either circle out, or duck under and try for a takedown and work for a submission.

The only time Jones has been threatened on the ground was against Vitor Belfort when he was nearly armbarred from guard. But, he powered through and eventually submitted “The Phenom” with an americana. Even though Teixeira is a 2nd degree black belt, I don’t think he’s going to give Jones any problems with submissions or sweeps. When Jones has time to work, he produces results and he’s going to get another win under his belt on Saturday.

The pick: Jones by 3rd round submission

 

By Andy Jerrick
ProFightingFans.com Staff Writer

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TUF China Finale Preview: Dong Hyun Kim vs. John Hathaway

John Hathaway’s biggest win was against Diego Sanchez at UFC 114. That was almost four years ago. With that, Sanchez upped his worth in the Welterweight division and got a fight against Mike Pyle. However, that fight didn’t work out in his favor as he lost a unanimous decision. He was out-wrestled and outgunned by an underdog. This Saturday, he looks to mimic Pyle as he goes up against a confident and skilled Dong Hyun Kim.

Since his loss to Pyle, Hathaway has gone undefeated in the octagon, but his extended absences have made his stock suffer. This directly influences his octagon skills. There’s no doubt that he is an excellent fighter, but rust will always be a factor when only fights once a year. His last fight was in September of 2012.  Yes, it was a victory over John Maguire, but Kim has won three fights since then.

The largest problem that Hathaway will have is dealing with the size and wrestling ability of Kim. Mike Pyle out-wrestled him to a decision and the smart money would be that Kim will do the same. If the fight stays on the feet, I believe that Kim still has the advantage. He is more willing to experiment with his strikes and has a longer reach than Hathaway. Kim has also shown to be quite durable. He absorbed some bombs from Erick Silva and managed to land a hallelujah haymaker for the KO victory.

Now I don’t think that this fight is going to end with a knockout, but anything can happen. However, Kim is more likely to get a spectacular finish. But he has to look out for the lead knee of Hathaway. Diego Sanchez felt that knee in their fight and was nearly finished. If Kim doesn’t keep his head out of the way and charges in for a sloppy double-leg, he could get put down and out.

But this all comes full circle. Since Kim has been training nonstop for the last three years, he has improved. His wrestling is just as good as it has always been, and his judo is still top-notch. In addition to this, his punches and overall striking has been refined and in a state of constant upgrading. Hathaway has been dealing with one injury after another and hasn’t been able to get a rhythm together in his camps. This will be his undoing since he isn’t coming back to fight a “nobody”. He’s coming back to fight a fringe top-10 fighter who is a beast. Kim wins a unanimous decision due to his wrestling and judo.

 

By Andy Jerrick
ProFightingFans.com Staff Writer

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B.S. Predictions: UFC Fight Night 36

Thanks to Chris Weidman the UFC’s middleweight division is wide open for the first time in years.  That’s what makes UFC Fight Night 36 so interesting.  The final two bouts on Saturday night could very well determine the next man to challenge for the 185lb crown, when Lyoto Machida faces Gegard Mousasi and Ronaldo Souza meets Francis Carmont.  Depending on how they win, one of these four men will likely be the number one contender.  All in all there are 5 bouts on the main card and it promises to be a pretty entertaining event, so here are the predictions.

 

Andy Ogle vs. Charles Oliveira

I like Andy Ogle’s enthusiasm, but unfortunately that won’t help much when he steps into the cage with Charles Oliveira on Saturday night.  Oliveira looked pretty good in his last fight against Frankie Edgar, despite losing he was never completely out of the fight.  I think the Brazilian’s skillset is just too diverse for Ogle and I can’t see Oliveira losing.  Ogle will come out aggressive and that’s going to land him on the mat where Charles Oliveira will truly shine.

Prediction: Charles Oliveira via Submission Round One

 

Viscardi Andrade vs. Nicholas Musoke

I’ll be honest I don’t know much about Viscardi Andrade.  However, I do know that I really liked what I saw from Nicholas Musoke in his UFC debut when he submitted tough veteran Alessio Sakara.  He’s a huge welterweight and he should be able to get a win at UFC Fight Night 36.  It’s going to go the distance and Musoke will remain unbeaten inside the UFC octagon.

Prediction: Nicholas Musoke via Unanimous Decision

 

Takenori Sato vs. Erick Silva

It’s true that Erick Silva has never quite lived up to his potential since joining the UFC.  He’s been pretty inconsistent, especially in his last outing when he was brutally knocked out by Dong Hyun Kim.  That being said, this should be a pretty winnable bout for Silva and if he does end up losing, he should begin to rethink his strategy.  Sato is making his octagon debut and will be in over his head on Saturday night.

Prediction: Erick Silva via Submission Round Two

 

Francis Carmont vs. Ronaldo Souza

This is a very interesting matchup.  Carmont has bored fans with his grinding wrestling style, yet he remains unbeaten in the UFC.  Meanwhile, “Jacare” Souza has looked spectacular in his first two UFC fights, submitting Chris Camozzi and knocking out perennial middleweight contender Yushin Okami.  He was once known as a nasty submission fighter, but recently Souza has shown ever-improving striking skills.  The outcome of this fight really depends on where it is contested.  If Carmont can use his length to fight from a distance and turn it into a technical kickboxing affair I really like his chances.  But, if it’s a slugfest or a ground battle I am favoring Souza.  It’s kind of a toss-up and I’m going with Ronaldo Souza.  The win will get him another big fight and it’s possible that he’ll be competing for UFC gold by the end of the year.

Prediction: Ronaldo Souza via Submission Round Two

 

Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi

Yes, Gegard Mousasi is extremely talented.  However, I truly think he is underestimating Machida heading into this fight.  I expect Mousasi to take a lazy approach in this one and he’s going to be shocked when Machida is the aggressor early and often.  Machida may not be able to get a finish, but I do think he can do enough to outpoint his opponent for the unanimous decision victory.  It’s likely “The Dragon” will get the next crack at the UFC middleweight title.  He’ll just have to wait to see if he is going to face Chris Weidman or Vitor Belfort.  I’m taking Machida for the win on Saturday night!

Prediction: Lyoto Machida via Unanimous Decision

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Benson Henderson Finishes Last

With Aldo VS Pettis having being booked, Benson Henderson recently took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with the fight, calling it “horse manure.”  Henderson believes he deserves a shot at the 155 lb. title, and voices his opinion, while at the same time acting as Dana White’s squeaky, clean antithesis.

Benson Henderson has become the fighter that the fans love to hate for all of the painfully obvious reasons.  He tries as hard as possible to be a good Christian boy in a sport where we want to see knockouts, submissions, and fight of the night performances.  I think the fans would be much more willing to accept his “onward Christian soldier” attitude if he actually delivered on the excitement.  Whenever I see Benson Henderson do anything except fight, he reminds me of Rocky Maivia before turning heel and becoming The Rock.  He wanted to be liked so bad that it was actually revolting.

Turning back to his fight performances, Henderson may have gotten the job done to be considered a top challenger, but the fact of the matter is that he has not been winning in impressive fashion.  Three of his last four fights were won by controversial split-decision, even the unanimous decision victory over Frankie Edgar was called into question.

Now, being completely honest, one must ask themselves how much Henderson’s skill plays into getting a title shot and the realization is that it probably does not at all.  Is Henderson one of the very best at 155 lbs? Absolutely, but he is so uninteresting and painfully awkward in front of a microphone, that there are much better matchups to be made right now.  Henderson may be upset that one of the pound-for-pound best is moving up in weight to challenge for his former title, but I can reassure Mr. Henderson, that we the fans are not.

he best choice Benson could make would be to attend an acting class.  He auditioned for the Ultimate Fighter while in the WEC and was not selected.  Why would we want this guy challenging for the title when the UFC didn’t think he was interesting enough to be on a TV show about fighters?  It’s about as easy as it gets and somehow Benson makes it hard on himself.  It’s about time to turn heel, because nice guy Benson Henderson is finishing last.

Brian Johnson

Pro Fighting Fans Staff Writer

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Anthony Johnson Comeback Adds Intrigue To UFC 172

The 2014 calendar for UFC has already become a very interesting one because of the rather sudden absence of not just Georges St. Pierre, but Anderson Silva, too. The sport, to an extent, is reeling and anticipating what is likely an inevitable (if hopefully temporary) drop-off in popularity without its two most prominent fighters. Anthony Johnson UFCHowever, one of the early 2014 events that has been getting significant attention in the wake of the St. Pierre and Silva retirements is UFC 172, where Jon “Bones” Jones will seek to stake his claim as the biggest name in mixed martial arts.

The headline event at UFC 172 will feature Jones defending his light heavyweight title against Brazilian jiu jitsu natural and former Chuck Liddell trainee Glover Teixeira in what is being billed as a major fight. It’s an interesting headline bout, though a look at the actual odds on the fight makes things seem a bit less interesting. The Betfair news sports betting section has early odds on UFC 172 posted, and it has Jones listed as a fairly overwhelming favorite (at 1/5 backing odds) to win the fight. By contrast, the site offers 9/2 odds for Teixeira to pull off the upset, indicating perhaps a slightly wider gap between the fighters than some fans might expect.

However, for those thinking that UFC 172 may feature a lopsided bout at the top of the card, some intrigue was added this past week when it was announced that Anthony Johnson would be making a return to UFC, and was added to the card in a fight with Phil Davis.

While Johnson has not exactly put together a remarkable career in UFC, returns are always interesting, and he’s had a fairly convincing run in fights outside the octagon. MMA Junkie discusses that after Johnson was let go by UFC for failing to make weight one too many times, he’s essentially gone on an impressive winning spree with Titan Fighting Championships and WSOF.

Now on his way back to UFC, Johnson is actually a particularly entertaining fighter, having taken six of his seven UFC victories via knockout. His overall record is not that impressive (7-4 in UFC fights), and he’s by no means a definite favorite over Phil Davis, who is on a four match winning streak of his own (betting odds for the fight should emerge shortly). But in the end, this fight should add some excitement to a card that UFC is starting to depend on rather heavily in early 2014.

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B.S. Predictions: UFC 169

It’s a rarity when the UFC has two title fights on the same card, but it is Super Bowl weekend, so Dana White is going big with UFC 169.  A Jose Aldo fight always carries the potential for excitement, combine that with Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber and that potential becomes a guarantee.   B.S. Predictions has been on a serious roll for the last couple of UFC events.  Let’s see if we can keep it going.

Jamie Varner vs. Abel Trujillo

When Jamie Varner returned to the UFC and shocked Edson Barboza, it seemed like he would quickly establish himself as a contender in the UFC’s lightweight division.  Since then Varner has been somewhat inconsistent in his recent fights with Melvin Guillard and Gleison Tibau.  When he steps into the cage at UFC 169, opposite Abel Trujillo, there will be no room for inconsistency.  Trujillo is a massive lightweight with serious power in his hands and is capable of taking out anyone in the 155lb division.  If he doesn’t gas out I see Trujillo’s size being too much for Varner to handle.

Prediction: Abel Trujillo via TKO Round 2

 

Ali Bagautinov vs. John Lineker

At Friday’s UFC 169 weigh-ins all eyes were on John Lineker and surprise, surprise he once again failed to make weight on his initial attempt.  However, unlike in the past, this time Lineker was successful when he stepped on the scale 45 minutes later.  It’s a good thing Lineker did make weight, because his matchup with Ali Bagautinov will likely determine the next challenger for Demetrious Johnson’s UFC Flyweight title.  There is no doubt that the Brazilian is a legitimate knockout artist, but I think Bagautinov’s superior grappling skills will be the difference in this one.  I like Ali Bagautinov to grind out a three round decision.

Prediction: Ali Bagautinov via Unanimous Decision

 

Frank Mir vs. Alistair Overeem

Although a loss won’t necessarily force retirement for either of these heavyweights, the loser will likely have to continue their career outside of the UFC.  Neither Alistair Overeem nor Frank Mir has been super-impressive in any of their recent outings, which is why I’m not too excited for this fight.  Overeem should be able to dominate the stand-up exchanges; he just needs to be careful that he doesn’t get taken down.  If this fight does hit the mat all bets are off, because that is Frank Mir’s world and he is extremely dangerous from top position or off his back.  I just can’t see how Mir will get Overeem down to the ground before he gets knocked out.

Prediction: Alistair Overeem via TKO Round 2

 

Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas

In my opinion the closest Jose Aldo has come to losing since joining the UFC was in his promotional debut against Canadian Mark Hominick.  It was Aldo’s cardio that caused him to struggle in that fight.  In the later rounds when the Brazilian tired, Hominick was able to take advantage and get takedowns, which is where he did the most damage.  This is the same strategy Ricardo Lamas should go with at UFC 169.  If the “Bully” can withstand Aldo’s initial offensive onslaught, his wrestling could win him this fight.  However, that is one huge “if”, because Aldo is a striking master and can finish a fight at any time.  The only problem is I love an upset story and Lamas is going to get it done on Saturday night.

Prediction: Ricardo Lamas via Unanimous Decision

 

Renan Barao vs. Urijah Faber

Urijah Faber’s 2013 was quite impressive as he went 4-0, most recently submitting a very tough Michael McDonald in December.  That being said, on Saturday night he’ll be taking on the last man to beat him, Renan Barao, with less than 2 months’ notice.  If Faber couldn’t beat Barao with a full training camp, I don’t see anything changing this time around, especially when he’s taking this fight on such short notice.  The one thing that will change is how Barao gets the win.  In the first fight Renan Barao won a hard fought unanimous decision.  At UFC 169 I see him finishing Faber.  He’ll catch “The California Kid” with punches and then submit him on the ground.  Don’t ask me why I’m thinking this way.  I just have a feeling that’s all.

Prediction: Renan Barao via Submission Round 2

Brent Haugh

Pro Fighting Fans Staff Writer

 

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