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. 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

UFC on ESPN 14: Whittaker vs Till - Picks & Predictions

Whittaker vs Till: Whitaker has done something Till hasn't: he faced Romero twice and came away the victor. The larger question is what effect did that have on him long term. Till for his own part was stopped by Masvidal and Woodley (both welterweights) and fought a cautious fight against Gastelum. For all his bluster, Till doesn't always fight as the aggressive juggernaut he claims to be. His fight with Stephen Thompson and the Woodley fight show that he is largely unable and unwilling to lead. Whitaker isn't afraid to lead (he had to do so with Romero who looks to conserve energy over the course of the fight and blitz his way to success intermittently. The question is how intelligently does Whittaker lead the dance and the answer is probably just fine. Romero is as dangerous a fight as there is in any division on the feet due to his willingness to fight and ugly, boring fight but also blitz with a flying knee or whatever after lulling you into boredom for most of a round. I'm concerned about the damage toll of those 5 round fights with Romero but also suspect that Whittaker is smart enough to navigate the counter-striking of Till and if Woodley and Masvidal can put Till away, I have no doubt that Whittaker can hurt him and finish him as well. Whittaker's only semi recent loss other than Adesanya is to Wonderboy Thompson back in 2014 but given the number of strikers and heavy hitters he's faced since then I don't think Till can use that fight as an indicator of expected outcome. I pick Whittaker by TKO in round 3.

Lil Nog vs Shogun: God knows how this fight will go as both guys having such wildly intermittent success and loss in the UFC. Lil Nog has fought 8 times since 2011 compiling a record of 4-4 with wins over Tito Ortiz (yep), Rashad Evans, Cummins, and Alvey and dropping losses to Spann, Bader, Rua, and Rumble Johnson. Shogun has 13 times since late 2011 and compiled a record of 5-7-1. Shogun has fought most of the people of any era in any promotion worth fighting. Shogun has wins over Dan Henderson, Pedro, Lil Nog, Te Huna, Anderson and has dropped fights to Gustaffson, Anthony Smith, OSP, Dan Henderson etc.

Shogun and Lil Nog alike both have the ability to stop and be stopped by one another. This fight is a pick 'em to me as both guys are still dangerous and crafty as veteran professional fighters but their mileage is the likely determinant in the outcome of this fight. I will go with Lil Nog due to less accumulated damange since their initial fight.

Gustaffson vs Werdum: Interesting. Seeing Werdum fade against the plodding march you down style of Oleinik (I say that as a huge fan of Oleinik) doesn't bode well for a fleet of foot Gustaffson who can work off his jab and we know fight for 5 rounds. How well Gustaffson carries extra weight for 3 rounds could have him looking like OSP in that fight awhile back, but I don't think that's the case. I think Gustaffson jabs his way to a decision over the course of 3 rounds.

UFC Fight Night 172: Figueiredo Becomes Flyweight King, Gastelum Taps, al

What a night of finishes: we had a heel hook, a kneebar counter to a calf-slicer, a TKO, a guillotine, and a triangle amongst a solid night of fights.

Hermannson showed by the basics of leg lock defense still matter, the women's flyweight match-up produced one of the most serious kneebar finishes I've seen in MMA, and Figueiredo showed that he's a flyweight who can stop even the very best at flyweight in exciting fashion (that critique of flyweights we often hear).

Askarov utilized wash/rinse/repeat takedowns and forward pressure to take a decision even though Pantoja got to his back in two of the rounds. I suspect that third round was the dealbreaker but I was bummed to see Pantoja not given credit for his continual submission attacks throughout the fight.

Moreno is the obvious title defense for Figueiredo with Perez lagging close behind. All of these top 5 flyweights are exciting to be honest, and I honestly don't care who gets first crack at Figueiredo as they'll all produce exciting fights.

Arman Tsarukyan picked up a win over Davi Ramos as an increasingly frustrated Ramos proved unable to deal with the footwork and work rate of Arman. Ramos tried the sticking his chin out and the dropping his hands, but even when Arman would dart into range, Ramos proved largely unable to cleanly tag his opponent, nor was he willing to shoot many if any meaningful takedowns at range. It's hard to side with an upset fighter that did the same thing for  rounds against a guy who you knew would likely engage in this gameplan, but also, Arman put Ramos on his back in the first round, and actually stayed down with Ramos so Ramos had an early going opportunity to do his thing without the accumulated sweat of multiple rounds, and was largely ineffective.

Hermannson is 7-3 in his previous 10 UFC fights with losses only to Feirera, Thiago Santos, and Jarod Cannonier. Gastelum is by far his biggest win to date but has also notched wins over Jacare, Leites, Meerschaert, and others. I still worry as to his chances against the dangerous strikers of which there are several in this division.