January 2, 2016 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas Nevada
My second blog went slightly better than the first, compiling a 3-2 record bringing my overall record to 5-5 (to very good if I were a betting man.). UFC 194 saw the most anticipated fight in featherweight history end in the blink of an eye. These two photos I found (courtesy of USA Today) are the entire fight in still-frames, almost literally. It ended in 13 seconds.
We also saw the middleweight title change hands with a big upset by Luke Rockhold over Chris Weidman. I have been picking against Weidman for the last few years and the one time I pick him (over a guy I had no idea was that good!), he gets smashed. But Weidman himself said he needed that beat down. I do think that we will see a better version of Weidman when he enters the Octagon in 2016.
UFC 195 has none of the buildup that my first two blogs have had, but never the less if you are a little more than a mainstream fan the main event and the co-main event are two of the better fights that we may see the entire year. In a year that saw the UFC make 600 million in revenue for 2015, they will surely break that in 2016 with events like UFC 200 and a rumored event at a soccer stadium in Ireland that will surely be headlined by the Notorious Conor McGregor. UFC 195 is surely a good start for the UFC business in 2016.
The Fight Picks
With this fight being moved to the main card because of an injury to Kelvin Gastelum I admittedly don’t have much analysis because I don’t know much about Tony Sims. For someone who has missed maybe half-a-dozen UFC PPVs since UFC 52 in 2005, these lesser known guys who debut on the undercards or Fight Pass always seem to sneak up on me and I get in trouble with my predictions so here goes this one.
Tony Sims boasts a 12-3 professional record and he comes from the Elevation Fight Team out of Denver, CO which is now home to Batamweight Champion TJ Dillashaw and famed coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig. I am sure Sims is no slouch but his UFC records is 1-1 and his most recent fight against Aubin-Mercier resulted in a decision loss. Record-wise, Aubin-Mercier is certainly a better fight than Trujillo, but that doesn’t mean Trujillo isn’t a dangerous fighter. This fight will be tough for Sims to get back on the winning track.
Abel Trujillo is a tough brawler who has already faced 3 of the UFC’s best lightweights in Tibau, Ferguson and Nurmagomedov - all resulting in losses, but he as certainly fought the tougher opponents and that will prove to be valuable experience in the Octagon on Saturday night. Abel is an exciting fighter with 5 of his 12 wins coming by TKO/KO and is currently fighting a two fight losing streak. I am certainly looking for him to push the pace fight with urgency and look to end his skid.
I can see why this fight is on the main card, two fast-paced lightweights who will look for the finish. Sims is an up and comer from a famed camp, (Trujillo is also from a solid camp in the Blackzilians). I think the general public may be on Trujillo even though he is a slight underdog in the betting lines. Draft Kings, though does have Trujillo as the higher salary - $10,000 vs $9,400 for Sims. I’m with the DK crew on this one; Trujillo wins by second round TKO.
Diego is a experienced fighter out of the Jackson-Winklejohn Camp that has been around the fight scene for a long time, having 30 professional fights and winning two-thirds of them. Brando is a finisher with 16 of this 20 wins coming by stoppage. Currently riding at two-fight win streak after his KO loss Conor McGregor in 2014 Brandao looks to continue his climb back up the Featherweight rankings
Brian Ortega is an undefeated prospect, (currently 9-0) out of the Blackhouse gym in Torrance, CA. He is also 1-0-1 under the UFC banner with a no contest in 2014 and his first UFC victory over a veteran in Thiago Tavares earlier this year. Being an undefeated fighter on his first PPV card will carry some added pressure, it will be interesting to see how long he can carry that label in 2016.
I am clearly missing something here. Ortega could certainly be one of the prospects who are lesser known (to me anyway) and sneak up on me and cause me to make a terrible pick but I just don’t see it. Brandoa is the more experienced fighter and he’s been in there with tougher opponents. I have no problem with Brandoa being an underdog against an undefeated fighter but at better that 2-1, I will take those odds. Having your bell rung like he did against7 Conor can certainly change a fighter, but maybe more so at the end of a career. Brandao is only 28 and that wasn’t his last fight, he has two wins since then. I just don’t see it. Diego Brandoa wins by first round stoppage.
Lorenz Larkin is a former Strikeforce competitor who came over to the UFC when the Strikeforce contracts were bought. As a former title contender who has a win over Robbie Lawler he hasn’t seen the same amount of success in the Octagon. With a record of 3-4 in the UFC, and 16-4 overall, Larkin just hast been able to get much of a streak going under his new employer. He does currently have a two-fight win streak (but was preceded by 3 losses in a row). With an opponent like Tumenov, it will be hard to keep the streak going.
Albert Tumenov is one of a few Russian fighters who are going to be fun to watch in 2016. Tumenov is the exact opposite of Larkin, not having come over from a larger organization like Strikeforce but having a good deal of success since arriving in the UFC. He lost his first fight to Ildemar Alcantara via split decision but has since rattled off 4 wins in a row.
The question in this fight is who is going to keep their win-streak intact? This fight also seems similar to the Brandoa/Ortega fight. Larkin has more experience and has been in tougher fights. The odds makers seem to have this bout flip-flopped also. But this time I do think they have the right favorite, it just shouldn’t be at nearly 2.5-1. Larkin just hasn’t been the fighter he used to be and Tumenov is climbing the later to the upper ranks off the division. I have to look at Tumenov’s loss to Alcantara (even though some feel he won that fight anyway) as Octagon jitters. Albert Tumenov wins via decision.
I know that the main event in on this card is a title fight (prediction up next) in the welterweight division but I am most looking forward to this fight. This fight clearly sets up the next title contender after Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum do battle in February on the next Pay-Per-View. Title fights are exciting and all but everyone loves the heavyweights, one punch can change (or end) a fight!
Andrei Arlovski is a former UFC champion who left the UFC to join some of the other big organizations between 2008 and 2013. During that timeframe it looked like his career was on a decline, including a 4 fight losing streak between 2009-201l. But Arlovski battled back with 6 wins in 4 fights and rejoined the UFC in June of 2014. Since then he is 4-0, including an amazing fight with Travis Browne. That fight was a back and forth and ended in a first round KO, really put Arlovski back in the heavyweight mix.
Stipe Miocic entered the UFC in 2011 as a 6-0 prospect who was known as Mirko Cro-Cop’s protégé. He hasn’t disappointed either, compiling a 7-2 record that includes wins over Roy Nelson, Gabe Gonzaga, and Mark Hunt. Stipe has been in a tile eliminator fight before in a main event loss to Junior dos Santos at the end of 2014. Will this result prove to be different?
Stipe had a bad loss to Stefan Struve early in his UFC career, which was his first time stepping up against the middle level competition. Since that loss he has bounced back and shown that he can hang with top level talent (with the exception to the JDS loss). I think that maturity is the deciding factor for me. Arlovski has made this nice comeback run and has certainly fought the who’s who of the heavyweight division but that also means he’s been in so many wars. I love Arndrei and I certainly want to see him win but I think the “fight mileage” plays a role in this fight and is a major disadvantage in this fight. Stipe Miocic wins by 3rd round KO .
For Welterweight Title
Although this title fight hasn’t seen as much hype or push as that last two UFC main events, even though it is the first title fight of 2016 – it could very well finish as the Fight of the Year. Both Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit are well rounded fighters who have been in the fight game a long time, both have been “main eventers” and both have been champions. This fight will be nothing short of spectacular.
Robbie Lawler won the belt against Johny Hendricks in 2014 with a split decision victory and then defended it against Rory MacDonald in July in what I though was the Fight of the year for 2015. Robbie is a part of American Top Team, which finally has a champion in Lawler and might now be one of the better gyms in MMA. Lawler has one-punch knockout power that can end any fight, but will he be able to connect on Carlos Condit?
Carlos Condit is known as the “Natural Born Killer” and for good reason. Before the WEC was absorbed by the UFC Condit won 5 fights in a row and looked unbeatable as the WEC champion. Condit would propel that success (after a split decision loss to Martin Kampmann) to an interim-Championship and a fight with Georges St. Pierre, arguably the best welterweight of all time. But since that fight Condit is only 2-3 with his last fight being a dismantling of Thiago Alves in May. But a sub .500 record against the UFC’s best in the last 3+ years does he have what it takes to beat the Champion?
I had no idea where I was going in this fight and in writing these little intros you would think that Robbie Lawler would be the easy pick. After all Robbie beat Johny and Johny beat Carlos, so MMA math would tell you that Robbie will beat Carlos. But MMA math never computes. With two evenly matched fighter as these two are, I think camp and preparation will play a major role in this fight. Jackson-Winklejohn is the best camp in the business when it comes to developing a game plan (See Jon Jones and Holly Holm) and preparing fighters to become champions. With the best camp in his corner and GSP saying that he can beat Lawler, I am going with the “Natural Born Killer” I am taking Carlos Condit in a close decision.