Here we are only a 7 days away from the biggest UFC card of the year and I am FINALLY making my triumphant return to outlandish MMA prognostications! With every major media outlet ramping up their UFC coverage, I thought I would bless my loyal followers with some highfalutin combat sports knowledge. Hit the jump to read my words!
What is that? Are those crickets I hear?!? Have all my followers moved on to bigger and better MMA bloggers since I haven’t provided them with any prodigious insight since the last time Conor McGregor entered the cage? Who cares! I’m back and bolder than ever, let us preview UFC 194!
The whole freaking weekend leading up to UFC 194 is any MMA fan’s dream. We have the Sage Van Zant show going down on Thursday and then some high-level violence scheduled between Frankie Edgar and Chad Mendes on Friday. With the lackluster UFC schedule as of late, either of those fights would make the typical hardcore fan salivate, but just wait! UFC 194 is the Merriam Webster’s definition of STACKED. I’m only going to break down the Main Card for you, but rest assured, the homie Urijah Faber will earn himself another W in the nights “featured prelim” on Fox Sports 1. (Yes, Urijah friggin’ Faber is on the prelims, that’s the level of STACKED we are dealing with.)
Max Halloway (-550) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+375)
Ooooh. This is how you start yourself a Pay-Per-View, eh?
Thought 1: I love how the UFC has silently built in some serious Featherweight contingency plans with this fight and the Mendes/Edgar scrap just in case Jose Aldo pulls a Jose Aldo.
Thought 2: I DID NOT see this resurgency coming from Jeremy Stephens when he dropped down to 145. After his legal issues, I thought this was a last grasp effort and boy, was I wrong. He has hung with the best the division has to offer and shown off that skull-cracking power he has always possessed.
That said, Max Halloway is the better fighter here. He is still super young (23 to be exact) and is skyrocketing towards the top of the division. He can finish fighters on the feet or the mat and will welcome Stephens’ brawling style. I like Max by submission in the 2nd.
Demian Maia (-155) vs. Gunnar Nelson (+125)
This is every jiu-jitsu nerd‘s dream. Maia absolutely schooled Neil Magny in his last contest, while Nelson derailed the Brandon Thatch hype train with a slick RNC in July. Two of the best grapplers in the division will now match wits in the Octagon. Cool beans! I doubt this looks anything like an all-world BJJ match, and more like a crafty kickboxing matchup. We’ll see these two on the feet WAY more than we want. Though, rest assured, any and all scrambles will provide moments of sheer brilliance.
As seen above, Vegas slightly favors Maia and that his likely due to his last performance and his vast wealth of experience. That said I tend to lean towards Mr. Nelson here. He’s shown serious improvement in his striking by constantly evolving the angles of his standing attack. Most of this fight will take place on the feet and the younger, quicker Nelson will win the majority of the exchanges. Gunnar Nelson by Unanimous Decision.
Jacare Souza (-160) vs. Yoel Romero (+130)
OH BOY. Of the damn near 50 fights taking place in Vegas next week, THIS is the single bout that has me the most amped up. After watching Jacare’s genius in person last year against Gegard Mousasi, I have been piloting his hype-mobile.
This clash is the classic unstoppable force vs. immovable object paradox. Romero possesses more unbridled power than any other fighter in the sport. His stoppage of Machida was clinical and ferocious. Jacare is the most fluid fighter I have ever seen. He is in constant control of position and can unleash bombastic power whenever necessary.
Truth be told, I don’t have a clear vision as to how this one goes down. Once it starts, I will never want it to end. This fight is the perfect sandwich, every bite will get better, but once you start devouring the last few scraps, sadness will overcome your soul. Yes, I enjoy a good sandwich…
Vegas digs Jacare, and that is where I would lean if I had to. He has experience against better fighters and has shown the ability to finish with ferocity. If anything, Romero has shown some reluctance to engage in the past and that may hurt him in the eyes of the judges. Give me 3 rounds of spectacular savagery here and I’ll be a happy fan. If I have to call it, Jacare by split decision.
Champion Chris Weidman (-165) vs. Luke Rockhold (+135)
On another night, this is the crown jewel of any UFC card. It will play 2nd fiddle on the 12th, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that this is the biggest Middleweight championship in the history of the sport (not involving Anderson Silva…).
The only time I have seen Weidman tested during his reign was during the later rounds of the Machida fight. Other than that, he has utterly dominated his opponents. When talking about domination, Luke Rockhold may be on an ever more damaging streak. Since losing to ViToR BelforT, Rockhold has DECIMATED his foes. Tossing out submissions you have never seen and delivering kicks that still hurt my insides today.
These two will battle five rounds. They are two of the most skilled and well-rounded athletes to ever grace the division. Each have masterminds in their corner with championship experience. Who comes out on top with the gold? Who wants it more?
I am a New York guy, so this one hurts, but Luke Rockhold will be your new Middleweight Champion at the end of the night. Weidman isn’t a gifted striker at distance, he does his damage at close range. There is no doubt Luke Rockhold will use a bevy of kicks to keep the tank that is Weidman far, far away from him. If Weidman becomes frustrated with the distance created by Luke’s striking, he goes for the takedown, where Luke’s game is just as solid. His submissions are killer and there is no doubt his wrasslin’ cronies Danny Cormier and Cain Velasquez have taught him a thing or two about obtaining advantageous position from the bottom.
I don’t see a finish, just an all-around masterful performance by Rockhold to become the new 185 pound king. Luke Rockhold by unanimous decision.
Fedderweight Championship Unification Bout
Champion Jose Aldo vs. Interim Champion Conor McGregor
This is it. The one we have all been waiting for. This matchup has lost a little bit of steam since the media blitz prior to UFC 189, but that’s just fine. Any MMA fan worth his salt knows this is the most important combat sports contest in the last 5 years. No fight should garner more hype than this, no fight should sell more PPVs than this. In an ideal world, this fight blows Mayweather/Pac out of the water and makes a Ronda Rousey show look like a non-event.
Though everyone cant grasp what is at stake here. The greatest fighter of the last 5 years (Aldo) versus an utter phenomenon (McGregor). It is a true clash of the titans.
It is obvious I am one of the biggest McGregor fans out there. I love everything he brings to the table from the microphone, to the Twittersphere, to the cage. He has it all.
Does he win this fight against Jose Aldo who hasn’t suffered a loss in 10 years? I believe he does.
What scares me is the leg kick. Aldo DEVASTATES opponents’ lead legs with that snap kick. McGregor’s wide stance and injury history scares me a ton. Every other facet of the fight I believe favors McGregor:
- Activity: Aldo hasn’t seen the cage since his win over Mendes in October of 2015
- Size: Conor is a HUGE fedderweight. His reach and size bode well for his striking attack against Aldo.
- Anger: Aldo seems to be legitimately peeved at Conor’s antics heading into this thing. Can he keep it level-headed when McGregor starts barking at him in the cage. Will this force him to step forward against McGregor’s lethal counterattack? Yes, yes it will.
I only see this thing going one way. I have dreams about it. It’s a knockout for Conor McGregor. He feints to avoid a kick, Aldo charges, a right hand puts the only 145 lb. champion the UFC has ever know to sleep. Say 2nd round. Conor McGregor by TKO.