If you didn’t get enough UFC action from UFC Fight Night 102 in Albany, then you’re in luck! In less than 24 hours from the end of UFC Albany, the UFC makes the trek to Toronto, Canada for UFC 206. Originally, the card was supposed to feature a Light Heavyweight title fight between Champion Daniel Cormier and challenger Anthony Johnson. Unfortunately, Cormier suffered an injury and the fight was scrapped. Promoted to the main event however is a spectacular fight between former UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis and Max Holloway. The stakes for the fight are raised (I guess), as it’s for the Interim Featherweight title and an immediate fight against Undisputed Champion Jose Aldo. And the reason for the Interim title fight and why Jose Aldo is the Undisputed UFC Featherweight champion is because the UFC decided to strip Conor McGregor of the title.
Co-Headlining the card is a battle between two exciting welterweights in Donald Cerrone and Matt Brown. Both are pure entertainment when they grace the octagon and I can’t honestly see this one needing any judges. Both men are dangerous strikers and I expect this one to be contested mostly on the feet.
Some other fun fights are Doo Ho Choi vs. Cub Swanson, Tim Kenndedy vs. Kelvin Gastelum, Jordan Mein vs. Emil Meek…so for anyone calling this card crap is crazy… Anyways, let’s get to the predictions!
UFC 206 PPV main card (10 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis for Interim featherweight Title – This was an amazing fight when announced and still is, but I feel as it’s been dampened due to the surrounding factors. For one, the fight was elevated to the Main event after Daniel Cormier dropped out of his title fight against Anthony Johnson. That’s fine, but the UFC didn’t think it was strong enough to headline a PPV that they stripped Conor McGregor of his title, made Jose Aldo the undisputed Featherweight Champion and made this fight for the Interim Featherweight Championship. And even sillier enough, Pettis missed weight and only Max Holloway can win the Interim Featherweight Championship.
Anyways, this should be an excellent fight between two strikers. Pettis, the former UFC Lightweight Champion recently made a successful Flyweight debut by defeating top contender Charles Oliveira via submission. Pettis is an excellent striker, who’s got a diverse range of attacks. If you haven’t seen the “Showtime kick”, then I don’t know what to tell you. Pettis also has slick submissions from his back – I mean that’s how he won the UFC Lightweight title. As for Holloway, he’s a star. His striking is amazing and he uses the right amount of distance and aggression. His grappling and take down defense is superb. In other words, he’s a complete mixed martial artist, who’s riding on a ridiculous nine-fight win streak at the tender age of 25. If anyone deserves an opportunity at winning a belt, it’s Max Holloway.
As for a prediction, Holloway all day. Pettis missing weight, is a scary thought when considering that this is obviously a five round fight. Holloway has cardio for days, is durable as hell and is going to put away the former UFC Lightweight Champion at some point. While this might be a fun striking affair, eventually Pettis will wilt and with that, I got Holloway winning this via a 4th round TKO!
170 lbs.: Donald Cerrone vs. Matt Brown – This fight has pure violence written all over it, as both men are pure mixed martial art entertainers. I’d be dumb not to say that this one has Fight of the Night written all over it, although I do think it ends in the very first round. And I believe that “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone gets it done.
Cerrone just has a ridiculous arsenal of strikes, as well as very underutilized but superior grappling abilities. Brown is a good striker too, but he relies on his toughness and ability to wear you down. Cerrone has amazing cardio and is going to put a clinic on Matt Brown in this fight. I could very well see a TKO victory via body kick, something that Matt Brown has been dropped by several times. Actually that’s my prediction…Cerrone via TKO!
145 lbs.: Cub Swanson vs. Doo Ho Choi – This is a what I call a changing of the guard fight, as Doo Ho Choi has an opportunity to catapult himself into the top five in the division with a victory over the veteran Swanson. Both men are strikers, but Swanson is an excellent grappler and could use that route to neutralize Choi. However, since Swanson has come back from his mini-layoff, he hasn’t quite impressed me. Against Tatsuya Kawajiri, a fight he could of very well lost, he was taken down several times and even was out grappled. Also Kawajiri and Hacran Dias (Opponents since the mini-layoff) are both grapplers with limited striking, which stylistically favors Swanson.
As for a prediction, I’m siding with Choi. He’s an unbelievable striker, who’s technical and precise. He also happens to have heavy hands… Actually he really reminds me of Conor McGregor in a sense (I know I’m reaching…maybe). I believe that his take down defense is stout and when he keeps this on the feet, Swanson’s going to be in the same trouble he was against Max Holloway. So with that, I have Choi via KO!
185 lbs.: Tim Kennedy vs. Kelvin Gastelum – This is an excellent fight, but there’s no way I’m not picking Tim Kennedy. Gastelum is really a 170 pounder who just can’t make the weight. He’s an excellent well rounded fighter, who has overcome being an underdog his entire career. And arguably he could of very well been given the nod over current UFC Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley when they fought at UFC 183.
Anyways, Tim Kennedy is huge for the weight class and has superior grappling abilities. And if there’s one knock on Gastelum, it’s his defensive wrestling. If you recall in his fight against Neil Magny, he was taken down over and over with relative ease. I expect Kennedy to do the same, except that once Gastelum’s back hits the ground, he won’t be getting up unless the round ends or the ref stops the fight. So with that, I have Kennedy via a dominant submission victory
170 lbs.: Jordan Mein vs. Emil Meek – Jordan Mein is 27 years old, has 39 fights and is coming out of retirement nearly 2 years later. The layoff could potentially of been a good thing, as he’s allowed his body to recharge from all the punishment it’s taken in such a short time. His opponent Meek, is 28 years old, has only 10 fights and is coming a huge upset knockout victory over Rousimar Palhares. Both men are strikers…vicious strikers. Mein throws excellent standing elbows, while Meek has pure thunder in his hands.
As for a prediction, I want to pick Mein because I believe that he’s got the better arsenal on the feet, but I’m going to side with Meek. He’s riding high right now with a knockout victory over Rousimar Palhares, which earned him the UFC invite. I have a feeling he’s not going to disappoint and his his UFC debut, he’s going to add a knockout victory over Jordan Mein to his highlight real.
UFC 206 “Prelims” on FOX Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Misha Cirkunov vs. Nikita Krylov – What a great fight, with big implications for the winner. The Light Heavyweight division while top heavy, is one of thinnest divisions in the UFC. I mean, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira is ranked #10 and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is #7.
Anyways, I can’t pick against Nikita Krylov here. He’s got a huge advantage on the feet and he’s a sneaky solid scrambler. Cirkunov is super strong and would like to take this one to the mat, where he can where you down with his weight and attempt submissions. However, Krylov has dealt with big powerful fighters when he was fighting in the Heavyweight division. I mean, Soa Palelei cuts down to get to 265 lbs… So with that, Krylov continues his improbable run and knocks off the prospect via late TKO!
155 lbs.: Drew Dober vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier – This is an evenly contested fight, but I’m going to slightly edge OAB. I believe that his grappling is the only definite advantage between the two. On the feet, I expected OAB to progress, but he hasn’t. I will admit that Dober has though and as a fighter in general. Again though, this is a close one, but I got OAB via decision.
115 lbs.: Valerie Letourneau vs. Viviane Pereira – No idea who Viviane Pereira is, but Letourneau is one of the top Strawweights in the division. She’s really a Flyweight, but the UFC has not added that division yet. I see Pereira is an undefeated Brazilian, but a huge red flag is that she’s only 5′ foot tall and has a 63 inch reach. Letourneau is 5’7 with a 68.5 inch reach and is a solid striker. This one doesn’t seem like it’s going to be pretty…Letourneau via decision!
135 lbs.: Mitch Gagnon vs. Matthew Lopez – Never heard of Matthew Lopez, but Gagnon has been around in the UFC for awhile now. His last fight almost two years ago, but it was against the former Bantamweight kingpin Renan Barao. A fight in which he fared rather well in up until the third round finish. Again, I don’t know Lopez…so I got Gagnon via decision.
UFC 206 “Prelims” on Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Lando Vannata vs. John Makdessi – This fight is going to be groovy (Hint, Hint). We got two solid strikers, with Makdessi being technical and Vannata being unpredictable. It’s certain that this fight is going to take place on the feet and it has potential to be an early contender for the Fight of the Night. Makdessi, when he entered the UFC I was super high on. And while he’s been rather successful, it’s been at a mid-tier level. He hasn’t been able to crack the top ten and while he did fight Donald Cerrone on short notice, he also got his jaw broken in that fight. As for Vannata, I couldn’t of been more impressed with him in his fight on short notice against Tony Ferguson. He dropped Ferguson several times and was nearly able to pull off the improbable upset. For Vannata to look that good against one of the best fighters in the Lightweight division is a huge nod. As for a prediction, obviously I’m siding with Lando “Groovy” Vannata. Makdessi is a technical striker who’s not aggressive, but rather likes to counter his opponents. Vannata is super aggressive and is so unpredictable with his striking, that I believe he’s going to have a field day against Makdessi. I’m expecting a first round KO!
155 lbs.: Rustam Khabilov vs. Jason Saggo – In all fairness, this is actually an underrated fight. I think it’s because Saggo is relatively unknown, but he’s 3-1 in the UFC, with his only loss coming via split decision to Paul Felder. His victories however, have come against three opponents no longer in the UFC. That’s not to discredit him, but to say that this is his toughest fight to date. As for Khabilov, the once highly regarded Lightweight is slowly starting to get himself back to top ten fights. He’s won three in a row, using his excellent grappling to aid him. Saggo, while pretty well rounded, noticeably isn’t the greatest defensive wrestler. And that’s something that Khabilov is going to attack and often, as he’s a grinder. I expect this one to be close, but I’m siding with Khabilov’s grappling to earn him the decision victory.
125 lbs.: Zach Makovsky vs. Dustin Ortiz – An important fight for both men, as they enter this contest loser’s of two straight and three of their last four fights. In a growing division, a win is a must not only to keep their jobs, but stay relevant in the division. As of late, I think Ortiz has fell from grace the most. After beating Ray Borg and Justin Scoggins, he built momentum to be a potential and worthy challenger in the Flyweight division. However, he’s since lost that steam and his last few fights has been thoroughly dominated. It seems like his bread and butter which is grappling, just isn’t on par with the top ten in the division. As for Makovsky, despite his losing streak, he’s been competitive in his fights. He’s also faced arguably the top five in the division in John Dodson (since moved to Bantamweight), Joseph Benavidez and Jussier Formiga.
As for a prediction, I’m siding with Makovsky. He’s an accomplished wrestler and will hold his own grappling against Ortiz. His striking has come leaps and bounds, as he was able to go toe to toe with John Dodson for the most part. Ortiz has no striking and if he can’t put Makovsky on his back, it’s going to be a long night. So with that, I have Makovsky winning this by decision.