The UFC is back in action, as the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts plays host to fantastic headliner. Former Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman moves up to Light Heavyweight to take on undefeated contender Dominick Reyes. Weidman has lost four of his last five fights and is in desperate need on a victory. Meanwhile, Reyes is a perfect 11-0, with 8 finishes. Most recently Reyes defeated former Light Heavyweight title challenger Volkan Oezdemir via decision. A win over Weidman could legitimately mean a title shot against Jon Jones.
UFC on ESPN 6 Main Card on ESPN2 (9 p.m. ET):
205 lbs.: Dominick Reyes vs. Chris Weidman – This is an excellent fight and I’m a little unsure of whom to pick. On one hand, you have the former Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman moving up 20 lbs. Given his tough weight cuts and already excellent cardio, the lack of weight cutting could result better performances and durability. I mention durability because Weidman has been finished in four of his last five fights. Most of the fights, he was winning and the second of the fight saw himself getting caught.
On the other hand, you have an undefeated stud in Dominick Reyes. A vicious striker, whom is the bigger fighter and has some wrestling chops. In a division which lacks real wrestlers, Weidman is a warm welcome. That might not be good enough though, as most Light Heavyweights can put out their opponents with one shot. Reyes is one of those opponents. Another tidbit about the former Stony Brook Seawolves safety is that he has a hell of a chin. That doesn’t bode well for Weidman chances of putting him away.
As for a prediction, given this is a five round fight, I’m going with Weidman. I feel like the lack of weight cutting will put his durability right back where it used to be. Though, the recent punishment is a real cause for a concern that it may not be the same. And Reyes has legit knockout power. However, I feel like Weidman is going to turn this into a wrestling match and sap Reyes’s cardio the later this fight goes. Weidman‘s got the cardio to go five rounds, I’m not sure Reyes does though. Then again, he was a football player whom conditioned himself accordingly. The more I think about this, the more I side with Reyes. But before I change my pick, I’ll just go with Weidman via decision,
145 lbs.: Yair Rodrigues vs. Jeremy Stephens – (This was my prediction for this fight in Mexico – I still feel the same way)
This is a tough fight to call and at first I leaned Rodriguez. The man’s such a dynamic striker and his durability aided with cardio make him one of the toughest opponents in the Featherweight division. The problem I see in this fight is that Stephens is the complete package. He can wrestle if necessary, which could be a big factor in this fight. We saw Rodriguez crumble to Frankie Edgar’s wrestling. Another factor is that Stephens is a pressure fighter with power. Now, he can very well walk into something against the crafty Rodriguez or he can completely neutralize Rodriguez’s kicks. I think the later. So with that, with cardio, pressure and a few takedowns I see Stephens taking this via decision.
265 lbs.: Greg Hardy vs. Ben Sosoli – Never heard of this dude, which probably makes sense given the UFC is slowly building up Hardy. So with that, I have Hardy winning via early knockout.
155 lbs.: Joe Lauzon vs. Jonathan Pearce – I love Lauzon, but when guys who aren’t known for their striking or power are putting you out – then I’m not sure what to make of you anymore. At this point, I just can’t trust Lauzon, even if the fight is in his backyard. So with that, I have Pearce winning via TKO.
125 lbs.: Maycee Barber vs. Gillian Robertson – This a fun fight, but I feel like Barber is just too big for most of the girls at this weight class. Robertson’s best chance at winning this fight is getting it to the mat and submitting Barber, which is possible. However like I said, Barber is just too big and I don’t think Robertson will get this fight to the mat. On the feet, Barber is dynamic and significantly better. I feel like it’s only a matter of time before Barber puts away Robertson via TKO.
185 lbs.: Deron Winn vs. Darren Stewart – Winn is a hell of a prospect. Albeit undersized like his mentor Daniel Cormier, Winn has been running through bigger foes. He’s a solid wrestler, but thus far in the UFC he’s really only kept fights on the feet. Given his small stature, his striking consist of getting inside the pocket. Make no mistake though, Winn’s got good striking and legit power.
Winn’s also shown a hell of chin. In this particular fight, he’s going to need it if he plans on striking. Stewart is a heavy hitter who head hunts. If he’s not being outmuscled to the ground, he’s usually putting people out. And quite frankly, given Winn’s neglect of using wrestling, I see him getting TKO’d in the later rounds. That’s tough to say, but Winn has shown his cardio isn’t all that up to snuff. He’s also shown poor striking defense. Unless Winn finally wrestles, I’m going with Stewart via TKO.
UFC on ESPN 6 Prelims Card on ESPN2 (6 p.m. ET):
145 lbs.: Manny Bermudez vs. Charles Rosa – I think Bermudez is a great prospect, with excellent grappling and a real prowess for submissions. However, I have a weird feeling that Rosa is going to make this fight ugly and his favor. While Rosa’s striking isn’t that great, he does provide volume. His grappling is good enough to hold his own and his cardio is excellent. I believe the later this fight goes, the more advantageous it gets for Rosa. I’m calling upset – Rosa wins via split decision.
125 lbs.: Diana Belbita vs. Molly McCann – Meatball looked great in her last fight! She used some wrestling and striking to thoroughly beatdown a good striker in Ariane Lipski. If I’m being honest, this fight is too soon for Belbita. I mean, let her get her feet wet against someone lesser. So with that, I’m going with Meatball via decision.
145 lbs.: Kyle Bochniak vs. Sean Woodson – This is a tough debut for Woodson. Bochniak is a dynamic striker, who throws plenty of volume. If needed, Bochniak has shown the ability to wrestle. Perhaps his biggest strengths though are his durability, pace and cardio. With the hometown crowd behind him, I see him breaking Woodson by the third round and winning via TKO.
135 lbs.: Randy Costa vs. Boston Salmon – Tough call, but I guess I’ll side with Costa. Salmon just got slept in his last fight and Costa is a wild man to start fights. I’m thinking Costa comes out firing and eventually finishes Salmon via knockout.
170 lbs.: Sean Brady vs. Court McGee – Other than being younger and having less wear, I know very little about Brady. On the strength of McGee’s durability, cardio and pace – I have the old veteran getting it done via a close decision.
185 lbs.: Kevin Holland vs. Brendan Allen – Don’t know much about Allen, but Holland is a talent whom has some fight IQ issues. Not all bad fight IQ, but he often puts himself in disadvantageous positions – only to get out of them all. He’s well rounded and extremely durable, and I’ve got him winning via decision.
265 lbs.: Daniel Spitz vs. Tanner Boser – Spitz has pretty rough striking defense and that’s enough for me to side with Boser via decision.