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Best 5 – February 2017 Fight Outlook



February 2017 is here. Time to look ahead to the five best fights the month has to offer in the world of MMA (in no particular order):

1. Derrick Lewis vs. Travis Browne (18-5-1) – UFC Fight Night 105 – Halifax – Feb. 19

There was a time when Travis Browne seemed like the heir apparent to the UFC title. He was on a tear, having gone 6-1 run between 2011 and 2013, which included five finishes and as many performance bonuses. After losing to Fabricio Werdum in April 2014, Browne left Jackson Wink to go train at the Glendale Fighting Club.  Since that loss, he’s gone an additional 2-3, his last loss coming once again to Werdum.  It has been reported that Browne is now training at Black House for this headline fight against Derrick Lewis. Coming off back to back losses against top 5 heavyweights, Browne will need a win against a fighter on the rise like Lewis in order to stay in the top 10 rankings and potentially to keep a spot in the promotion.

Lewis, on the other hand, has been steadily climbing the heavyweight ladder, however short it is at this moment, and has a ton of momentum going his way. Lewis is currently enjoying a five fight win streak, slowly graduating from less known names, like Viktor Pesta, to more veteran ones like Roy Nelson. His last bout was a main event headliner in which he got to see a fourth round for the first time, and even though his overall offensive output was lacking for most of the fight, his cardio stood up to the challenge of the extra rounds. Lewis is not only building a name for himself inside the cage, he is also building a following on social media, often sharing posts that are equal parts funny and NSFW. Browne is clearly his biggest hurdle to date. He will try to conquer it and continue to carve a path towards being in the title picture.

Current Feb. 1 Odds: Not available at this time

2. Angela Hill (6-2) vs. Jessica Andrade (15-2) – UFC Fight Night 104 – Houston – Feb. 4

Angela Hill’s MMA career has been a hell of a ride. Having started out as a pro Muay Thai fighter, Hill only had one professional MMA fight before she was cast in the Ultimate Fighter season that opened up the UFC’s strawweight division. In her only exhibition fight during the show, she lost to the eventual winner and first ever UFC strawweight champ, Carla Esparza. After winning one official UFC fight, she went on a two fight skid and was released by the promotion. Since then, she has won four in a row and claimed the Invicta FC strawweight belt. The UFC has now requested her services once again to open up the main card in Houston. It will be interesting to see her back in the big stage now that she has some more experience under her belt.

Jessica Andrade, meanwhile, will not be an easy welcome party for the returning Hill. After going 4-3 at bantamweight, Andrade is now 2-0 since moving down to strawweight last year. In this matchup she will have a size advantage and a significant advantage on the ground if she can take a predominant striker like Hill down to the mat. A Jiu Jitsu purple belt, Andrade, has seven of her 15 wins coming in the form of a submission.

Current Feb. 1 Odds: Hill +370 (underdog) / Andrade -465 (favorite)
3. Holly Holm (10-2) vs. Germaine de Randamie (6-3) – UFC 208 – Feb. 11

We can all say that the ‘let’s make Cyborg come down to 135 lbs.’ experiment has completely failed. Arguably the best 145 lbs. fighter,  Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino, almost had her wish of the UFC opening up a women’s featherweight division for her. They are starting the division, however, it’s potentially not going to involve Cyborg in it for a while. After turning down several offers claiming she would need more time to make weight after two grueling weight cuts to 140 lbs, Cyborg was flagged by USADA for a banned substance stemming from an out-of-competition drug test.

With Cyborg out for the foreseeable future, and the UFC already having the women’s featherweight wheels in motion, in comes Holm vs. de Randamie. A fight between competitors that have been fighting at bantamweight so far, but are now coming up a weight class to clash for its inaugural belt.  

The matchup is intriguing as both fighters are skilled strikers, Holm coming from the Boxing world and de Randamie from Kickboxing. If Holm can bait de Randamie to come forward, she will be able to use her counter-striking game like she did with Ronda Rousey. If de Randamie is able to to bait Holm to come in, she’ll have the ability to either counter or engage in her heavy use of a Muay Thai clinch. The key will be which of the two will have the patience and strategy to not rush in.

It will also be interesting to see what the UFC does with the division once it is established. Invicta’s interim champ, Megan Anderson, is already campaigning to challenge the winner. Current UFC bantamweight champ, Amanda Nunes has also thrown her name in the hat as well.

Current Feb. 1 Odds: de Randamie -120 (favorite) / +100 (even)

4. Fedor Emelianenko (36-4) vs. Matt Mitrione (11-5) – Bellator 172 – Feb. 18

OK, so this fight might not end up being the most technical affair. But…It’s Fedor. You have to tune in for that right?

So what if he’s way past his prime? So he almost lost (did lose…kind of lost) to an undersized Fabio Maldonado recently? He’s being thrown against a still very serviceable former UFC fighter like Matt Mitrione? Sure, why not?

It’s Bellator. They operate under a totally different and at times bizarre set of promotional rules and can get away with putting on these kind of fights. For now.

Current Feb. 1 Odds: Not available at this time

5. Dennis Bermudez (16-5) vs. Chang Sung Jung (14-4)  – UFC Fight Night 104 – Feb. 4

A lot of things can happen in three and a half years. That’s how long it will have been since the Korean Zombie last fought in the UFC when he next steps in the cage. He stepped away after a title fight loss to Jose Aldo in August of 2013 to serve in mandatory military service back in Korea. Jung’s last fight was only a couple of months after Conor McGregor’s first fight in the UFC. It was before the Reebok deal, before USADA, before the UFC sale. It’s clear to see that the UFC that he will be coming into is not the same environment that he was used to. It will be compelling to see if he has done enough training  in his off time to keep up with today’s game.

He isn’t getting a gimme fight in his comeback either. Dennis Bermudez, for the last couple of years, has been a top 10 featherweight with speed, accuracy and energetic scrambling ability. He’s 9-2 in his last 11 fights, one of those two losses being a number one contender fight against Ricardo Lamas. What Bermudez cannot underestimate, however, is that Jung is still only 29 years old and has had a lot of time to potentially shore up his deficiencies. If he’s overly confident he might end up in a twister, ala Leonard Garcia.

Current Feb. 1 Odds: -190 Bermudez (favorite) / +165 Jung (underdog)

Honorable Mentions:

Alexa Grasso vs. Felice Herrig – UFC Fight Night 104

Dustin Porier vs. Jim Miller – UFC 208

Jacare Souza vs. Tim Boetsch – UFC 208

Elias Theodorou vs. Cezar Ferreira – UFC Fight Night 105

James Vick vs. Abel Trujillo – UFC Fight Night 104

Liam McGeary vs. Chris Fields – Bellator 173

Marcus Edwards vs. Adam Townsend – LFA 5

Adam Piccolotti vs. Brent Primus – Bellator 172


This article comes to you via @GavelPro 

Richmond, VA by way of San Juan, Puerto Rico. A long time combat sports fan, Felix has spent years covering the regional Virginia amateur and pro MMA scene. He now shifts his focus to writing about national MMA.

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