As Bruce Buffer would say, “It’s Time”. The trilogy to settle the score and notion of “Greatest Heavyweight of All-Time, as Champion Stipe Miocic defends his title against Daniel Cormier. The first fight saw Cormier knockout Miocic, thus becoming simultaneously the Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion. The second fight saw Cormier yet again getting the better of Miocic for three rounds, until Miocic made adjustments, attacked the body and finished Cormier. If there is anything certain about this fight, it’s that these are two of the very best in not only the Heavyweight division, but in mixed martial arts. So don’t blink!
UFC 252 PPV Main Card on ESPN+ (10 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic vs. Daniel Cormier – This matchup is just so good, we get to see a third time. I can honestly say, this fight is just so hard to predict. Miocic is an animal, with great striking, legit power and excellent offensive wrestling. He truly is one of the greatest, if not the greatest Heavyweight of all-time. Another great is Daniel Cormier, the simultaneous two division champion. While he was finished in the 4th round and lost his Heavyweight strap to Miocic, you can’t discredit how dominate he was looking. Cormier was throughly out-striking Miocic, landing a total of 181 strikes of the 263 thrown. The problem Cormier ran into was not using his wrestling and obviously Miocic’s adjustment to attack the body. Ultimately that’s what changed the course of the fight.
As for a prediction, I’m going with Cormier. I expect him to mix in his excellent volume striking with wrestling. I also expect Cormier to make it a point not to stand in front of Miocic as much as he did. If Cormier can neutralize that aspect of Miocic and keep him on his back, the less of a threat of getting hurt and finished again. While this is Cormier’s last fight, don’t think he’s got one foot out the door. Think that he’s motivated as ever to end on a high note. So with that, give me Cormier to ride into the sunset with belt via submission.
135 lbs.: Sean O’Malley vs. Marlon Vera – This fight is going to tell me what I need to see in O’Malley. Vera is an excellent fighter, whom is well rounded and a capable finisher on the feet and the ground. Vera is also extremely durable, having never been knocked out or knocked down for the matter. Vera also is vastly experienced in the UFC, having fought fourteen times compared to O’Malley’s four. Now, this isn’t discrediting Vera because I think he’s a surefire top fifteen Bantamweight. However, his biggest win to date is probably Brad Pickett or Brian Kelleher. I feel that O’Malley having just disposed of Eddie Wineland in his fourth UFC fight equals or takes the cake on best win.
In the end, I’m going with that piston right and O’Malley to land some hard shots and piece of Vera. By round the end of round two, O’Malley closes the show on a battered Vera via TKO.
265 lbs.: Junior dos Santos vs. Jairzinho Rozenstruik – This fight is a crap shoot. JDS looks physically in the best shape he’s ever been in, but durability is always a concern. Rozenstruik is coming off his first professional loss to Francis Ngannou, which isn’t anything new when fighting the “Predator”.
While I can see Rozenstruik finishing JDS with one punch, I also could see JDS staying on the outside and using his boxing to hurt Rozenstruik. I mean, Rozenstruik doesn’t throw strikes with volume, so it’s possible for JDS to avoid it. I also should credit JDS for having somewhat striking defense. Rozenstruik gets hit way too often with no real concern. I would like to also add, JDS has sneaky good wrestling and could mix in takedowns on a rather untested Rozenstruik. In the end, I’m siding with the former champ dos Santos to get this done via knockout.
145 lbs.: Herbert Burns vs. Daniel Pineda – I don’t like that Burns missed weight badly, but this is a fight he should win. While Pineda is a wild man, that is is downfall in some ways. Then again, Burns cardio and missed weight cut don’t bold well the longer this fight goes. If Burns can’t get it done early, he’s going to get beat up. However, I’m going with Burns to get it done via submission,
135 lbs.: John Dodson vs. Merab Dvalishvili – I cant decide in this fight. On one hand, I believe Dodson’s cardio, takedown defense, speed and power could all lead to an upset victory. I especially could see the later the fight goes, the better it will be for him to strike and land something. On the other hand, Dvalishvili truly is a machine. The main can chain wrestle like no other. I mean, he’s fought six times in the UFC and has landed 52 takedowns. Think about this, if Dvalishvili lands 8 takedowns in this fight, he becomes 9th all-time in UFC history in just seven fights. That would be more than Khabib Nurmagomedov and Curtis Blaydes.
As for a prediction, I’ll go with Dvalishvili on the strength of two relentless rounds of takedowns and control. In the end, give me Dvalishvili via decision.
UFC 252 ‘Prelims’ Card on ESPN/ESPN+ (8 p.m. ET):
155 lbs.: Jim Miller vs. Vinc Pichel – With this bout, Miller will have the most bouts in the UFC octagon at 36. He is a legitimate badass and a true Ironman in this sport. As for predicting this fight, I have Pichel winning. While Miller is always a threat, with his toughness and excellent submission prowess, I feel that Pichel is severely underrated. I understand though, as his age and inactivity don’t exactly help his cause. I also understand also that his takedown defense is at a mere 22% in the Octagon. However, that number is overblown given Rustam Khabilov took him down 19 times and Gregor Gillespie added 7 of his own too.
While I’m not going to say Pichel has good takedown defense, I don’t think it’s terrible, especially given his ability to pop right back up. Given that, I’m expecting most of this fight taking place on the feet. While Miller can strike, Pichel is the better of the two. Pichel offers power, which I feel like is going to be the difference. In the end, I smell a knockout victory from Hell Pichel.
115 lbs.: Felice Herrig vs. Virna Jandiroba – Herrig has fought some of the best and has faired well. She has good boxing and decent wrestling abilities. However, she’s lost two straight fights and has been out for nearly two years. I see this return fight as not ideal. Jandiroba is an excellent grappler with legit top control and submissions. I believe she will get this fight to mat and control Herrig. I don’t foresee a finish given the toughness and submission defense of Herrig. So with that, give me Jandiroba via decision.
145 lbs.: T.J. Brown vs. Danny Chavez – I was back and forth with this prediction, but ultimately I’m siding with Chavez. While I was impressed with the wrestling attack Brown showed against Jordan Griffin, his cardio suspect chin remains problematic. On the regional scene, Brown proved to be a finisher, but of his 14 wins, only four of those have come against fighters with an above .500 record. Chavez’s resume to me is slightly better, but what I like more is his cardio and knockout power. I’m foreseeing Brown coming out strong, but Chavez taking over the later this fight goes and ultimately winning via knock out.
115 lbs.: Livinha Souza vs. Ashley Yoder – I was excited when Souza made the jump from Invicta FC to the UFC. However, she’s been a mixed bag. She was given a gimme in her debut, and then another stepping stone, but edged that one out via split decision. Then, Brianna Van Buren throughly controlled and dominated Souza. In other words, I’m going with Yoder. She’s a well rounded fighter with a great bottom game, should she taken down. Yoder has good striking, but doesn’t offer volume. Where she wins this fight is by landing the cleaner shots and by controlling Souza against the cage. So with that, give me Yoder via decision.
UFC 252 ‘Prelims’ Card on ESPN/ESPN+ (7 p.m. ET):
265 lbs.: Chris Daukaus vs. Parker Porter – This is a tough call, as this really could go either. Daukaus is a one round fighter, with legit knockout power. Poor takedown defense and shoddy cardio have been his downfall. Porter, whom has fought Jon Jones and Gabriel Gonzaga finally makes his UFC debut at the age of 35. While Porter isn’t a cardio machine himself, he does offer a more well rounded skill set that includes a ground game. Of his nine wins, 4 of have come via submission. As for a prediction, Daukaus resume coming in is less than thrilling, as his nine victories have to opponents that combine for a 21-18 record. Porter’s resume isn’t anything special, but the competition has been better. So with that, I’ll take Porter via submission.
145 lbs.: Kai Kamaka III vs. Tony Kelley – Kamaka beat Rick James. That’s enough for me to be convinced he takes this fight via decision.