Sunday, August 16, 2020

UFC 252: Miocic Retains Title, Suga Show Unsweetened

What could turn into a long term problem came up again with a likely previous ankle/foot injury derailing Suga show who had been stumping for top 10 guys and more money.

It remains to be seen what happens. Vera was victim to some heavy leg kicks early on, but didn't bite on the feints as the round wore on. I predicted a competitive fight going the distance, and prior to the ankle buckling on O'Malley, I still think that was in the cards. If it's something serious and he needs surgery, will be interesting if this early in his career he has to work around a change in mobility and no longer rely on the diversity of kicks to ply the rang he prefers to set up the right hand.

Cormier suffered a torn cornea in the fight. I don't think it changed the outcome of a close fight in which he only landed one takedown (albeit briefly). I don't know if it was a fatigue/energy expenditure choice or what, but having brought in his previous wrestling coach, I had hoped it was for more than just hard work in camp, but Miocic smartly and correctly stymied Cormier in the clinch and shut down his dirty boxing while buying control/clinch time in several rounds. Cormier gave up the overhook/collar tie position he does but Miocic didn't take the bait as other guys naively have (and in fact he did in their first fight). Was a bummer to not see Cormier snatch single legs and chain together wrestling the way he does so efficiently and impressively at HW, and he knockdown/stumble that led to him being mounted briefly at the end of one of the rounds led to a 49-46 score from one of the judges which visibly distressed Cormier. He's done far more in the sport than most ever well, and especially at HW with winning the Strikeforce Grand Prix, and 2 weight classes in the UFC. He has the distinction of fighting a number of non-UFC HW's that rounds out an incredibly resume of men he beat in 2 divisions which aside from Stipe and Jon Jones, respectively, have been notoriously hard to defend and retain over the years.

I have no doubt DC still beats the vast majority of HW's out there, but to what end? He has a win over Stipe who is the consensus UFC HW Goat of all time, and bested many of the other notables of this generation.

Rozenstruik did what I expected which was go back to the way he fought against Overeem and ply his time until landing an odd angle shot and ending the fight savagely. He's in a tough position of having been blitzed by Ngannou who now likely faces Stipe (who battered him and dragged him to the mat for 5 rounds). That being said, Stipe looked much more tentative on the feet this time around and I like Ngannou's chances a bit better this time around as he looks only more impressive in his current run and Stipe last night looked tentative against DC, even on the feet and as the takedowns seemed not in play.

I think a fight against Volov makes sense, or Curtis Blaydes as Rozenstruik hasn't faced any UFC level wrestlers in his Octagon run and will likely have to piece together a couple more wins before fighting for the title (regardless of whether Stipe or Ngannou holds it by that time). 

Thursday, August 13, 2020

UFC 252: Miocic vs Cormier Trilogy & Suga vs Chito Show Picks & Predictions

Miocic vs Cormier - suspect Cormier won't go dropping his hands and showboating on Miocic and look for an early stoppage ala his first win, and not drag out the finish with his hands like he did that gave Miocic time to adjust and put him away late in the fight. Cormier by stoppage in the 3rd round and rides off into the sunset as the best HW of the UFC promotion.

O'Malley vs Vera - it's always hard to say if O'Malley has that kinda style that puts away lesser fighters impressively then falters the further up the food chain he goes (think Houston Alexander or many other fighters who have a crowd pleasing style that picks guys off outside the top 10). Vera is no slouch, he lacks a big notable win, but has also quietly picked up a number of stoppage wins (2 RNCs, 3 TKO's in his last 6 fights). I think the pick here is O'Malley by decision as Vera will be hard to put away, but the reach and movement of O'Malley will keep him out of harm's way for much of the fight. O'Malley but decision over 3 rounds with a variety of strikes, punches, kicks, and spins.

Jairzinho vs Dos Santos - had Jairzinho not come out the gate like a madman, I could see him having stopped Ngannou much akin to how he did Alistair. Jairzinho made it to the 5th round with one of the most accomplished strikers in MMA/Kickboxing of all time. So, he has the acumen and wherewithal to do so, but he blitzed Ngannou and got clipped. I should hope that was a learning moment and he'll adopt a smarter approach against the equally well-schooled veteran Dos Santos who we know can fight 5 rounds. Jairzinho has only gone do a decision 1 time, over in Rizin. Dos Santos is coming off 2 stoppage losses (Ngannou, and Blaydes). It's hard to say that at HW he's in the decline of his career just because he lost twice by stoppage as guys like Arlovski and Overeem can drop a fight or 2 or more and still come back to put together 3 and 4 fight win streaks later in the careers (amazing considering every single human in this weight class can feasibly knock the other out due to their sheer size and power). I think Jairzinho and his punches at odd angles and reach will prove problematic for Dos Santos and Jairzinho puts himself back on the fast track to some big names with a stoppage win here.

Burns vs Pineda - Herbert's sole losses came over in ONE FC. Otherwise has has 11 wins, 9 of which are stoppages. 8 of those are submissions. Pineda is coming in with the odd situation of having his last 2 wins overturned due to a positive steroid test in the PFL tournament. Pineda is being brought in to notch another HL win for Burns. Easy pick here. Burns by RNC.

Dodson vs Dvalishvili - can Dvalishvili put the brakes on Dodson's frenetic in and out and endless foot movement? Dvalishvili put on a masterful striking + takedown clinic in his last fight but Dodson is about as fleet of foot as they come. The gameplan to beating Dodson has been implemented by fighters with wins over him like Moraes, Rivera, Yan, & Lineker. Visually, to offset the movement and in and out style he utilizes, taking the center of the Octagon and not getting baited into running around after him is key. Chopping his legs with kicks or punching as he darts in are ways to not allow the judges to mistake you for being a plodding fighter getting picked off via movement and accuracy. Dodson will be extremely hard to get a hold of and hold down. I suspect Dvalishvili can do that at least one round, and pick up another round with his ever improving striking. If he can make it look like Dodson is fleeing and running away rather than coolly avoiding his forward movement, he can pick up a decision win.

Miller vs Pinchel  - consummate veteran Miller vs Pichel who slowed the hype train of Roosevelt Roberts recently. Gregor Gillespie did was Gillespie does to anyone not named Kevin Lee, which leads me to believe that Miller will get the submission win here. Pichel started his career with an impressive number of stoppage/striking wins but that has since petered out against stiffer competition and unless Miller gets caught with an errant strike I see Miller dragging him to the mat and submitting him.

Monday, August 10, 2020

UFC 252: Miocic vs Cormier 3 - Inside the Octagon Breakdown by Hardy/Gooden

UFC 252: Miocic vs Cormier Trilogy Countdown Episode, Suga Sean O'Malley, et al

UFC on ESPN 32+ Lewis vs Oleinik Results & Ramifications

Lewis vs Oleinik - As I was concerned, Lewis came out dangerous off the rip in the second round and the flying knee forced Oleinik to pull away and Lewis landed the right hand (all of his punches are dangerous if we're being honest) and put him away with Donkey Kong style hammer firsts. Oleinik looked good from bottom in the first round, reversing bottom position Demian Maia style not once but twice, and keeping Lewis down, but whereas other HW's look like a fish out of water, Lewis has always seemed to avoid submission threats well. DC had the wrestling chops to wear on him and batter him and force him to work and move, and Volkov pieced him up at range. Those two options are the blue print for beating Lewis. I was hoping we'd see a diaphragm choke win by the man Oleinik, but it was not to be.

Weidman vs Akhmedov - despite the usual concerns about his chin, Weidman pulled out the grappling when necessary and advanced position to threaten submissions until the end of the fight. He threatened single legs, chained passing attempts, and in the final round advanced to mount to stamp the win on the score cards. He's only lost to the very best in the division which is truly a murderer's row of guys like Romero, Rockhold, Souza and others. I'd be concerned to see him fight someone like Till who is light on his feet and sets up feints across the early rounds without staying close in range. We'll see what middleweight wants a crack at the former champ while Adesanya prepares for Costa in a bad blood match.

Dariush vs Holtzman - Despite missing weight, Dariush picked up what would've been another FOTN/stoppage bonus level win with his spinning back elbow walk off at the end of the first round. He really does have the skills to fight for the belt in this division. Great stand-up, range control, grappling, and submission threat. He's ranked 14th which is pretty comical as he's finished his last 4 opponents and has only dropped losses to Edson Barboza (a fight he was winning IMO) and Hernandez, Chiesa, and Nijem over a span of 6 years with 13 wins and a draw other than the 4 losses. He's a dangerous fight to take for a guy outside the top 10 and I doubt any of the guys ranked in the 5-10 spots of his division want the fight seeing his last 4 stoppage wins.

Stewart vs Pitolo - Stewart smartly locked up a guillotine as takedown defense, then switched grip after trapping Pitolo's leg that he was slow to clear and/or head post/hop over the legs to counter the guillotine. Pitolo seemed more hesitant than previous outings after the initial dust up of flurries in the first few seconds. Stewart has always talked a big game stoppage wise during interviews, so a stoppage win here can get him another main card spot on an upcoming event, especially after taking minimal damage in this fight.

Means vs Staropoli - Means weathered the danger and spinning back elbows of Staropoli to use his veteran skills to take the fight. Means has the tools and versatility to beat a lot of guys, even the younger crop of fighters coming into the UFC.

Kunitskaya vs Stoliarenko - when the articles describing the fight all use the word "grinded" you already know, fam. Kunitskaya came forward, locked hands and gave a more knee to the midsection head pressure version of what Usman did to Masvidal. The ref allowed this to go on for basically 10 mins of the the fight, then oddly enough restarted from closed guard after a bit of inaction. If you're going to watch a fighter lock hands and land knees to the midsection for 2 rounds standing up, why the rush to restart where there's actual submission threat from the fighter on the bottom? At any rate, it wasn't much of a win for Kunitskaya either to stump for a more ranked opponent as she anemically battered a who is 9-5-1. Kunitskaya is in a tough position as she's lost to Aspen Ladd, Tonya Evinger, and Cris Cyborg and also put on a dreadfully boring decision clinch fest against a fighter with a .65 ish record that was a UFC debut.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

UFC on ESPN 32: Oleinik vs Lewis Picks & Predictions

Lewis vs Oleinik
Much can be said about Derrick Lewis both as per his interview skills, social media savvy and his resume: the guy has wins over Browne, Volkov, Ngannou (worst fight ever, but anyhow), Gonzaga, Nelson, and his losses are Mark Hunt, Cormier, and Dos Santos. He ends fights violently be it in the first round or the very last, and avoids much trouble on the ground despite not having the most vaunted wrestling in this division. Oleinik has faced the likes of Blaydes, Browne, Werdum, Overeem, Hunt, CroCop, and Jeff Monson.

As much as I want to see Oleinik get a title shot, historically, Derrick Lewis is the kind of guy to tag him and put him away. Lewis much like Walt Harris or Overeem could catch him early and put him away. The pick, despite my desire for another grappling-centric HW champ is the pick by first round stoppage.

Weidman vs Akhmedov
Akhmedov hasn't stopped anyone in the UFC since 2015. He's dropped some stoppage losses in that time and picked up a number of decision wins. Weidman (other than that foray into the LHW division) has still only lost to the very best the MW division has to offer: Mousasi, Romero, & Rockhold. He has wins over Gastelum, Belfort, Machida, Anderson Silva (2x), Munoz, and Demian Maia.
Weidman via submission

Dariush vs Holtzman
Dariush is on a 4 fight win streak with wins over Moises, Klose, Camacho, and Dober. He has faced a bunch of dangerous strikers in his run in the UFC and it's been awhile since he was stopped (Hernandez & Barboza) or submitted (Chiesa). Holtzman is on a 2 fight win streak with wins over Dong Hyun Ma & Jim Miller. He dropped a decision to Nik Lentz which suggests that Dariush will control this fight as it suits him, and test him on the feet before potentially putting him on his back and pounding his way to forcing turtle and finishing by RNC.

Stewart vs Pitolo
Darren Stewart has always to hear him tell it been a violent striker with lethal power in his elbows et cetera, and I don't doubt that may have been the case outside the UFC, but his UFC resume tells a different tale: 2 decision wins, 2 stoppage wins, and 5 losses. Pitolo is 2-1 in the UFC, both wins by stoppage, and a decision loss. Stewart holds the advantage in UFC tenure, but I think Pitolo hurts him and puts him away here.

Means vs Staropoli
Means has always had an up and down UFC run with a win or 2 in a row then a loss and back and forth: he has wins over Alves, Rainey, Garcia, Howard and losses to Price, Moraes, Mohammed, and Matt Brown. I don't think Staropoli is the guy who hand him a loss here, Staropoli is 2-1 in the UFC with wins over Alves and Aldana and a loss to Salikhov. Means by decision.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

UFC Yaaaaaaas Fight Island 3 Results: Whitaker Edges, Werdum Werdums, et al

Whitaker looked nervous early on, but picked up the timing and found his jab, and edged out Till. Till was setting traps with his feints and distance control and streaking forward, but Whitaker didn't bite on any big feints, and found his range and workrate as the rounds wore on. It doesn't diminish Till's stock much at Middleweight as Whitaker is a former champ with wins over a Hall of Fame worthy resume, and if anything, fighting 5 rounds in his newfound weightclass I suspect is more of a net gain for his career and confidence as opposed to short sightedly seeing it as a loss or suggestive as an overall assessment of his place in the division as a whole.

Werdum snatched up a single leg, hit a trip, and despite some neary escapes by Gustaffson, the ADCC champ did as was expected once he had the back: transitioned to an armbar and took his time, working toward the wrist and extricating the arm to get a first round submission.

Shogun edged out Lil Nog over 3 rounds to make his record against him 3-0 in a fight that I guess was a legacy to pay Lil Nog one last time before he probably retires. He's something like 2-8 in his last 10 fights, and as much as I support paying legends money in the twilight of their career, watching these 2 hurt one another was at times hard for me watch. They're adults, and every fighter gets to do this as long as they'd like, but it's a fine line between consenting adults and cosigning shopworn fighters to pad a main event card.

Paul Craig did what he likes to do which is chain together submissions as soon as his back hits the mat. He briefly looked for a guillotine to counter a single leg takedown, locked up a Mir lock/keylock from open guard. He went to feet on hips, overhooking one arm and palm-posting on the bicep and shot his long ass legs up, with some adjustments, continued to cinch in the triangle from bottom, ultimately getting another submission to add to his record.

Chimaev came true to his word and picked up a second stoppage win inside of about 2 weeks. He had his hands locked around his opponent within 13 seconds, dragged him to the mat, used the Dagestani handcuff grip to transition between top, back, and mount while landing punches, ultimately leading to a TKO inside of round 1. Glad to see a prospect fast tracking himself with some quick stoppage wins in succession to get himself apart from the rest of the relatively unknown guys at his tier in the weight class.