In April of 2016, mixed martial arts finally became legal in New York. The UFC quickly booked their first event in November of 2016, pitting Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez against Conor McGregor. The event would break several Madison Square Garden records including live gate, in which saw Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield’s 1999 fight that brought in 13.5 million shattered. In the UFC’s first ever event in New York, they brought in a live gate of 17.7 million. The market clearly was starving for mixed martial arts.
With seven fight cards in New York in the books, the UFC embarks on their eight at Madison Square Garden. Headlining the card, is a late addition, as Daniel Cormier puts up his Heavyweight title against Derrick Lewis. In what has been an entertaining build-up, more so comedically, we have ourselves an unlikely, yet fun fight. Cormier returns to the octagon since defeating Stipe Miocic for the UFC Heavyweight Championship in July. Nursing a hand injury, Cormier clearly see’s this as a stylistically favorable matchup. As for Lewis, the “Black Beast” has won three straight fights and nine of his last ten. His most recent victory was a comeback for the ages, as he knocked out Volkov with eleven seconds left in the fight, after being down on the scorecards for entirety of the fight. His post fight antics equal his fighting excitement, thus prompting him the opportunity of a lifetime.
Anyway, to the predictions!
UFC 230 PPV Main Card (10 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier vs. Derrick Lewis – I appreciate both men for stepping up and garnering us with this fight. However stylistically, this is a bad fight for Lewis. It’s the main reason Cormier took this fight. He’s better everywhere but one aspect, power. Lewis has a puncher’s chance to land that knockout punch, but so did Anthony Johnson. And Cormier not only handled Johnson’s power once, but twice in victories. Cormier is going to dictate this fight and the later it goes, the quicker Lewis is going to fade, as his cardio is not good. So without further adu, I have Cormier retaining his Heavyweight Championship via submission.
185 lbs.: Chris Weidman vs. Ronaldo Souza – This is a fight I believe UFC fans have been waiting for a long time. Weidman, hasn’t fought in over a year due to a thumb injury, which slowed down the momentum on his big submission victory over Kelvin Gastelum. Souza, is coming split decision loss to Kelvin Gastelum, which perhaps cost him a title shot given Gastelum is fighting for the belt.
Stylistically this is a fun fight. Weidman is a formidable striker with excellent cardio and wrestling. His top control and ground and pound are among the elite. Souza too is a formidable striker with perhaps the best jui-jitsu in all of mixed martial arts. His cardio has been suspect however of late, which is perhaps due to age and fight mileage. Given that reason alone, I feel like early on Jacare looks good, but Weidman’s pace and cardio eventually breaks Jacare. In a closely contested fight, it’s Weidman who edges out Souza via decison.
185 lbs.: David Branch vs. Jared Cannonier – While everyone see’s Branch steamrolling Cannonier with his wrestling, I see Branch looking to once again prove his striking chops like in his last fight against Thiago Santos. This time however, I believe the short notice foe in Cannonier cracks Branch early and upsets him. So with that, I got Cannonier winning via knockout.
185 lbs.: Jack Marshman vs. Karl Roberson – Marshman is too willing to brawl for me to believe he will withstand the power of Roberson. Make no mistake about it though, Roberson is still green, but I think his power alone gets it done here via knockout.
185 lbs.: Israel Adesanya vs. Derek Brunson – This is a hell of a way to start any PPV card, especially given the bad blood between the two. In what should be an exciting fight, it’s Adesanya I see coming out on top. I believe that Brunson is the more complete mixed martial artist, especially with his power on the feet and excellent wrestling. However, this fight has gotten so emotional, I can see Brunson abandoning his route to winning in wrestling and going back to his old aggressive rush striking style. Given Adesanya’s striking background, this will make a counter strike all that much easier. So with that, I have Adesanya remaining undefeated via a knockout victory.
UFC 230 “Prelims” on FS1 (8 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Jason Knight vs. Jordan Rinaldi – I’m not quite sure what happened to Knight, but with his skill set, I can’t see him losing four straight fights. Rinaldi is the perfect foe to get back on track. So with that, I have Knight winning via submission.
125 lbs.: Roxanne Modafferi vs. Sijara Eubanks – Even with Eubanks missing weight, I don’t see that stopping an inevitable beatdown of Modafferi. She’s just a brute force with way better striking. So with that, I have Eubanks winning via knockout
145 lbs.: Julio Arce vs. Sheymon Moraes – Arce has looked really solid since stepping foot in the octagon and I don’t believe his momentum stops here. I mean, Moraes is a legitimate foe and he’s capable of edging this one out. His cardio though has been suspect though of late and Arce’s hasn’t. So with that, I have Arce winning via decision.
170 lbs.: Ben Saunders vs. Lyman Good – Saunders can’t take a punch anymore and Good not only has a solid chin, but some legit power. I believe Good gets it done early via knockout.
UFC 230 “Prelims” on Fight Pass (6:30 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Matt Frevola vs. Lando Vannata – While Vannata hasn’t really impressed since his exhilarating short-notice debut against Tony Ferguson, he’s still a hell of lot better than Frevola. I say, Vannata gets this done via early knockout.
145 lbs.: Shane Burgos vs. Kurt Holobaugh – This should be an exciting fight that heavily remains on the feet. Both men are formidable strikers, but it’s Burgos who’s more technical and precise in approach. Burgos also has excellent head movement, which should only aide him in a unanimous decision victory.
265 lbs.: Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Adam Wieczorek – For a curtain jerker, this should awaken the crowd right off the bat. Due to cardio issues, De Lima is an absolute storm for the first round. After that, he’s a sitting duck. As for Wieczorek, the Polish brawler has certainly showed potential thus far, winning his first two UFC bouts. However, for whatever reason I think De Lima will land a clean shot in his early storm that puts Wieczorek to sleep.