March 5, 2016 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas Nevada
UFC 195 seemed so long ago with the changing of the original UFC 196 to a Fight Night card that featured a main event bout between welterweights Johny Hendricks and Stephen Thompson, in which Thompson won in the first round. With injuries to both main event fighters the UFC was not able to find suitable replacements and had no choice but to remove it from their PPV line up. This was clearly the worst Super Bowl card since Randy Couture defeated Mark Coleman at UFC 109 back in 2010.
All was not lost because of a bad Super Bowl card however. We as fans got to see another free card (aside from paying for cable), I saved $40 by not heading out to my local Buffalo Wild Wings, and the UFC brass are now able to hold 1 official pay-per-view each month leading up to the iconic UFC 200 in July.
My predictions for UFC 195 were the same as 194 back in December I went 3-2, bringing my overall record to above .500 at 8-7. That is not a very good record, especially if you are using my picks to bet the Las Vegas line. You are probably down a few bucks, good thing these predictions are for entertainment only. I have been holding steady with my Draft Kings account; however the last two Fight Nights have killed me. I usually finish in the money for the pay-per-views, so hopefully this event will get me back on track. If you would like to play against me this weekend simply look for my appropriately named handle – JustMax. Let’s get to the picks.
The Fight Picks
Amanda Nunes -145 vs. Valentina Shevchenko +105
Amanda Nunes made her UFC promotional debut back in 2013 with a win over Sheila Gaff, since then she has fought the who’s who of the women’s bantamweight division. With an 11-4 professional record, Nunes currently sits in 6th in the latest USA Today / MMA Junkie Rankings. With a victory Saturday Nunes will be looking to solidify her spot near the top of the Women’s Bantamweight division and campaign for the next title shot.
Valentina “The bullet” Shevchenko certainly has the coolest nickname in the Women’s Bantamweight division, along with an impressive 12-1 professional record she is definitely one of the prospects to watch in 2016. Shevchenko made her UFC debut this past December with a split decision victory over the very game, Sarah Kaufman. It was a very close fight and could have gone either way (I guess that’s why it was a split decision), but now to reward her efforts for that victory Shevchenko will battle Nunes for the opportunity to move up the mountain in the Women’s Bantamweight division.
Prediction: “The Bullet” certainly learned some valuable experience in her octagon debut and a 12-1 record is certainly nothing to sneeze at but I think Amanda Nunes out classes her in every way in this match up. Nunes has been in the UFC since the start of the division and has fought the tougher opponents as a whole. Shevchenko learns more valuable lessons that help further her MMA career, but this time she doesn’t pick up the victory. Amanda Nunes wins by unanimous decision.
Corey Anderson -290 vs. Tom Lawlor +210
Corey “Beastin’ 25/8” began his rise in MMA as the Ultimate Fighter Season 19 winner, and has compiled a 7-1 professional record to this point (4-1 in the UFC). Anderson has one of the more interesting nicknames in the MMA game (my buddy thinks its lame), many casual observers struggle to understand its meaning. Beastin’ comes from the term Beast Mode, which is to enter a Super Hero like state of being. The 25/8 is a spinoff of the term 24/7, meaning that one can go all day (has the energy to do what is necessary 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Anderson’s 25/8 is one up of that basically saying that he can presumably out work anyone. The former college wrestler will certainly have to out work and grind his way to a victory over “Filthy” Tom Lawlor.
“Filthy” Tom Lawlor also joined the UFC landscape as an Ultimate Fighter Alum. Tom was as a member of season 8, Team Nogueira vs. Team Mir. Lawlor has had mixed results in the UFC, compiling only a 4-4 record before his current two fight win streak. Lawlor’s most recent victory at UFC on Fox 16 was a second round TKO over Gian Villante – The one man to beat Corey Anderson at this point in his career.
Prediction: Even though Corey Anderson is a former college wrestler, and I’ve always said that I prefer former college wrestlers (unless a fighter is Brazilian with jujitsu) I also like the Filthy one. I like Lawlor simply because of his WWE style antics (where he comes to the Octagon as some type of entertaining character. Even though it never works, I am going with “MMA Math” here. Lawlor holds a victory over Villante and Villante beat Anderson. Therefore Lawlor beats Anderson, Filthy Tom Lawlor by second round TKO.
Ilir Latifi -230 vs. Gian Villante +170
Ilir Latifi is a Swedish sledgehammer and is an up and coming light heavyweight that made quick work of his last two opponents with total Octagon time of less than a minute and a half. A quick night seems to Latifi’s mo., only 4 of his 15 professional fights have gone the distance.
Gian Villante also seems to favor quick nights in the Octagon. With 20 professional fights only 6 have gone the distance for Gian (3 wins and 3 losses). Villante was able to bounce back from his previous mentioned loss to Tom Lawlor with a win over Australian gatekeeper Anthony Perosh in hostile territory at UFC 193. Can he start a win streak with a victory over Latifi?
Prediction: Whichever side you choose, I don’t see any way this fight goes to decision. This makes for a great DraftKings bout, because if you win you will score a lot of points. Villante has more experience in terms of fights, but I have to take Latifi here because he seems to have the tougher fights to this point in their careers. Ilir Latifi by First Round KO.
Holly Holm -400 vs. Miesha Tate +310 for Women's Bantamweight Title
In any other event that doesn’t involve Conor McGregor, this would clearly be a main event fight. Holly Holm is coming off one of the biggest upsets in MMA history with her at UFC 193 victory over seemly invincible Ronda Rousey (I had picked Ronda to win by first round armbar). Holly had the perfect game plan for Ronda and for someone who seemed invincible Ronda was never even in the fight. Will his be the beginning of a long title reign for Holly?
Miesha “Cupcake” Tate is one of the pioneers of women’s MMA and if Ronda Rousey was the first woman signed by the UFC, Miesha was probably the second. Until the loss to Holly, Miesha was the only fighter to take Ronda past the first round in any organization. As a state champion wrestler I think Miesha will have a skill set that could give Holly Holm trouble in the later rounds of the fight.
Prediction: The old cliché in mixed martial arts is that styles make fights. And that couldn’t be truer with this fight. Holly continues to be a mystery as we haven’t seen all of her skills yet. She completely dominated Ronda on her feet and displayer her word-class striking. She completely neutralized her Judo, but can she defend a wrestling takedown from a state champion? Wrestling is a different type of takedown from judo and can be reached from a distance further away. This fight seems too much like Ronda vs Holly, except that Holly is now the invincible one. No one is invincible! Miesha wins via unanimous decision and sets up a strange trilogy with Ronda in her return fight.
Conor McGregor -500 vs. Nate Diaz +360
Conor McGregor is the Ronda Rousey of the men’s division and would have been the first fighter to claim a championship in two weight classes should he have been victorious in the original main event against Rafael Dos Anjos. Conor has only been to decision once in his 7 UFC fights and is 7-0.I just stated in the previous in prediction that no one is invincible but Conor hasn’t shown any holes yet. Perhaps simply going up two weight classes to take this fight will be the only hole needed?
First off, thank you to Nate for taking this fight! The press conferences to this point have been highly entertaining, I would actually much rather see this fight then the original main event with Dos Anjos. Diaz has been around the game a long time and certainly feels that he deserves this fight but he has never been much of a company guy to earn these types of fights. Nate says what he wants and does what he wants so I think that has held him back to this point. To get this fight he opened his mouth and started a feud with Conor and was offered this fight after Dos Anjos broke his foot and other fighters like Aldo and Frankie Edgar turned it down on only two weeks’ notice. Diaz may not play the corporate game, but he’s always willing to take a fight. Nate is coming off his most impressive performance to date with a decision victory over Michael Johnson. Can he parlay that into a winning streak and quite possibly the third biggest upset in UFC history?
Prediction: I have seen other blogs and MMA reports say that Conor has been the luckiest guy in MMA. This past July he fought Chad Mendes on two weeks’ notice after Aldo felt out with a rib injury. And then in the unification bout with Aldo in December, he finished him in 13 seconds with one-punch right on the button! Conor again gets an opponent on short notice, and against an opponent whose work ethic could be questioned. This seems like it will be a walk in the park for McGregor but I am intrigued for three reasons; 1. McGregor is moving two weight classes so Diaz will be the much bigger fighter. 2. McGregor’s two losses prior to the UFC were both by submission and Diaz has world glass Jujitsu skills courtesy of the Gracie’s (pioneers of Brazilian Jujitsu). 3. In the previous fight with Mendes (a great wrestler), McGregor was taken down at will. Mendes simply ran out of gas and while going for a submission, slipped and McGregor was able to capitalize and get the finish in the second round. Diaz will give McGregor fits but I think the super short fight camp hinders him just like it did Mendes. It is “Red Panty Night” as Conor would say as he cashes another check. Conor wins by third round TKO.