In a time where the mediocre has become the norm, rare jewels like UFC 187 have become incredibly few and far between. An event stacked from bottom to top with tremendous fighters, and fights. Recently UFC undercards have resembled more who’s that, rather than who’s who of MMA. This card is different, and it’s going to be special.
Josh Sampo vs. Justin Scoggins – Alright, this isn’t one of the fights that make this card so special. It is however, the type of fight we’ve grown accustomed to on the UFC undercard. Scoggins is a good young fighter with a 9-2 record. Unfortunately for him, those two losses came in his last two fights. He faces another fighter coming off of two consecutive losses, and whoever loses this fight, could find himself sending his resume out to Bellator, WSOF and the like trying to seek work elsewhere. This certainly isn’t a fight that the fans are clamoring for, but it’s the kick off fight, and could be fun.
Leo Kuntz vs. Islam Makhachev – Leo “The Lion” Kuntz has an impressive 17-1 record, and fights out of American Top Team. He fights at Welterweight, so if he’s good, they probably could have used him on TUF this season. He matches up with Islam Makhachev who brings am undefeated 11-0 record into the affair. Both fighters are making their UFC debuts, so it’s difficult to know who to favor. The two of them have a combined 28-1 record, so you’d think the talent level should be pretty high. I’m expecting a good fight, despite the lack of star power.
Colby Covington vs. Mike Pyle – Colby “Chaos” Covington is a young undefeated fighter with one previous victory in the UFC. His specialty is the submission. He has won 5 of his 7 fights via submission, and he’ll be faced with a veteran in Mike Pyle (pictured) who has five times as many fights, and a deep submission game. Pyle has gone win, loss, win, loss in his last four. If you believe in pattern theory, expect Pyle to play spoiler and derail Colby’s trek up the ladder. It’s the third and final fight on the UFC Fight Pass app, it could be a really fun submission match.
Nina Ansaroff vs. Rose Namajunas – Ok, switch over to Fox Sports 1 to see this matchup of exciting female fighters. Right off the bat, you might think this is a mismatch as Rose is seen as a dynamic fighter who should handle this fight with relative ease. The truth is though; she’s lost two consecutive fights, to Carla Esparza and Tecia Torres. Nina Ansaroff is another fighter from American Top Team who has found her way to this card. She enjoys standing and trading, but she should be at a speed and technical disadvantage in this fight, and that could spell trouble relatively early for Nina. I like Rose to win this fight in a showcase performance, but there are no sure things in MMA.
Uriah Hall vs. Rafael Natal – Uriah Hall was a killer on TUF 17, but then struggled out of the gate post TUF. He has fired off three consecutive victories, and a win here would be pretty big for his career. Natal is 2-2 in his last four, but is on a 2 fight winning streak. Hall will likely look to strike and try and hurt Natal standing, while Natal will be happy to take the fight to the mat and play submission games with Hall. Uriah Hall really needs to win this fight to keep momentum building. He’s in no danger of being released clearly, but a loss here, and he’s back at the bottom of the division, looking up and a huge ladder. Hall should get off on his feet, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he won this fight early via TKO or KO.
Josh Burkman vs. Dong Hyun Kim – I love this fight! Kim is one of the most underrated fighters in the UFC in my opinion. He is coming off of a blistering loss at the hands of Tyron Woodley but had a four fight winning streak before that with wins over Paulo Thiago, Siyar Bahadurzada, Erick Silva and John Hathaway. He has excellent hands, and a well-rounded skillset. Josh Burkman is a grizzled veteran who was forced to leave the UFC and then earned his way back in. He has a solid MMA game and 37 career MMA fights. I love this fight, and I expect it to be a blast. In the end, I see Burkman getting battered and finished by Kim, but it’s going to be fun. Fight of the Night candidate for sure!
John Dodson vs. Zach Makovsky – “Funsize”, as Zach is known is 3-1 since coming to the UFC back in 2013 and he has speed, and is really slick on the ground. He will be facing however, the man I feel is second in the division to only champion, Demetrious Johnson. Dodson is good, really, good. He has only one loss in the last five years, and it was against Johnson in a championship clash. In that time, he’s also defeated TJ Dillashaw, the undisputed champion one weight class to the north. Zach is good, and he’ll battle, but in the end, I expect Dodson to take care of business here, and set up another clash with Mighty Mouse for the Flyweight Title.
Joseph Benavidez vs. John Moraga – If you want to see this, and the remainder of the fights, and trust me, you do, click on over and purchase the PPV. This fight should be non-stop action, as Joe Benavidez and John Moraga and top level fighters, the elite in their division. Mighty Mouse, Benavidez, Moraga and Dodson make up the best of the division, and these two squaring off, is a great indicator of who could be next in line for a shot at the belt. Moraga has only lost to two people on this planet, Demetrious Johnson and John Dodson. Benavidez has only lost to two people on this planet, Demetrious Johnson and Dominick Cruz.
Both of these fighters are of course well rounded. Benavidez comes from a wrestling background, and he’s won by KO, Submission and decision almost equally in his career. Moraga loves the submission, and he’s been a killer on the mat. If Joe takes John down, he will have to worry about John’s submissions from his back. Something tells me this will end up being a standup clash, with Moraga landing the quicker shots, and Benavidez landing the harder shots. I see this fight going to the distance, and I’d make Benavidez the favorite, but it could go either way, and should prove very entertaining. Love this fight. Great way to kick off the PPV.
Andrei Arlovski vs. Travis Browne – Arlovski has been around since candy bars cost a nickel. He’s a former UFC heavyweight champion, who has come back to the UFC and won consecutive fights over Brendan Schaub and most recently knocked out Antonio Silva in the first round of their clash. It was a vintage performance for Arlovski, who looked much more comfortable in the cage, than he did against Schaub.
He faces Travis Browne, a heavyweight known for knockout power and being very durable. He’s won four of five and will be looking to end this one early. He has heavy hands, and at six foot seven, he’s not always easy to hit. One thing is for 100 percent certain; this fight will not go the distance. I’d be shocked if they see their corner men more than once. Either in the first or second, someone is going to land the telling shot and get the huge win. When you know you have two guys who love to bang, and have cement in both their hands and heads, it’s going to be fun. Might not be poetry in motion, but will be vicious violent fun.
Donald Cerrone vs. John Makdessi – Donald Cerrone is on an absolute tear, and he does not have fights that aren’t awesome. So right off the bat you know it’s going to be fun. Pencil in John Makdessi, a replacement for Khabib Nurmagomedov, and you have a very willing opponent to battle it out. Cerrone has won seven fights in a row, and will put the streak on the line in this clash of punchers. Cerrone is known for being willing to fight anyone, at any time, just give him ten minutes to climb off of the bull, the bike, the board, or his parachute to open, and he’s your man. Put cold beer in his locker room and he’ll show up and save the night. Love that kid, he’s everything right with MMA.
On the other side of the Octagon is John Makdessi who is known as “The Bull”, and rightfully so. He has very heavy hands, and has won four of five coming into what is the biggest fight of his career. He can hurt Cerrone if he fights a perfect fight. He’ll have to Cerrone angles, as he doesn’t have his length or speed. Cerrone will be landing leg kicks, body kicks, jabs and crosses while Makdessi will look to plod forward and land heavy strikes. In the end, I think Cerrone picks him apart and finishes him, but Makdessi’s heavy hands and puncher’s chance make it interesting.
Chris Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort – Chris Weidman is the Middleweight Champion, and he will put the belt on the line against the ageless Vitor Belfort. Weidman won the title by knocking Anderson Silva out, and then defeating him again in the rematch when Anderson snapped his leg. Weidman earned the belt in those fights, but maybe didn’t earn respect until his victory over Lyoto Machida at UFC 175. It was a hard fought five round battle, and Weidman earned his stripes in that fight. He’s an undefeated champion, and he’ll be tested by Vitor.
Everyone knows Vitor has had a history of better body through science and this seems to be his first fight in a long time where he’s going to be coming into the Octagon clean. He’s lost size, but still looks to be in great shape, and he has fast hands, and a devastating head kick. Vitor is coming off of three consecutive KO victories over Luke Rockhold, Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping, in a combined time under ten minutes. That’s pretty compelling.
These two should go back and forth, and Weidman likely has more tools at his disposal, however Vitor can end the fight on a moment’s notice. This is a compelling fight, and it could go either way. The only unknown is how Vitor will complete without scientific assistance. I think in the end, the younger more talented Chris Weidman earns the victory, but he’ll need to weather the storm in doing so.
Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony Johnson – Don’t get me started on this being a championship fight. Jon Jones is the Light Heavyweight Champion, you don’t lose the title in the boardroom, you lose it in the cage. Unless Jon Jones has to go to prison and remains unable to defend the belt for a lengthy period of time, I don’t see any reason to steal the title from him. This is the interim championship at best. I mean, let’s be honest, Daniel Cormier is coming off of a loss, IN A TITLE FIGHT, so for him to get tossed back into a title fight seems a little disingenuous to me. If the UFC wanted to crown a new champion, why not make this fight a semifinal, then have Ryan Bader face Alexander Gustafsson and the winners can face off for the interim title. This fight just doesn’t seem like a title fight to me, at all.
Anthony Johnson has been an absolute killer since making his return at 205. The former Welterweight is now at home at Light Heavyweight and his knockout power is unmatched in the UFC. He battered Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and then followed that up with a vicious assault on Gustafsson that was absolute violence personified. He’s a straight up butcher, if he hits you, you will find yourself unconscious. It’s that simple.
Daniel Cormier threw Dan Henderson around like a lawn dart when they fought. That is when most people were like, ok, this guy’s wrestling isn’t like anyone else’s. Then he met Jon Jones, and Jon decided, DC was in fact beatable. It was the first loss of “DC”s career and unless he plants Anthony Johnson on his butt inside of the first minute of the first round, he’ll likely taste his second loss. DC isn’t afraid to stand, but if he goes that route this time, he’ll get knocked out. He has to wrestle, and wrestle, and wrestle his way to a less than exhilarating unanimous decision.
He won’t be able to though, Anthony Johnson will find his shot, and when he does, he will take what belongs to Jon Jones, and call it his own.
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