UFC brings a ridiculously stacked card to Dallas, Texas on May 13. Topped off with two title fights with elite fighters scattered all the way down the card (including the Fight Pass Prelims)!
Stipe Miocic (c) vs. Junior “Cigano” dos Santos
Stipe gets the opportunity to get revenge on the last guy to beat him. Just over two years ago, these two men fought to a very close decision with JDS ultimately getting his hands raised after 5 rounds. At the time, I believe to have scored the fight for Stipe but by a very close margin. The fight played out with JDS keeping distance and landing strikes for three of the rounds but Miocic turned it into a war. He grinded on JDS, never giving him room to punch and tiring his arms out, and landing tons of dirty boxing. At the end of the fight, JSD’s face was beaten up way more than Miocic for what that’s worth.
Stipe is a great example of how crazy the heavyweight division is. UFC doesn’t love to advertise it but Miocic is still a full-time firefighter in Chicago. Despite that, he finds the time to train enough to be a world beater. Going for him is he is super athletic being a triple threat high school athlete and received interested in the minor leagues.
A lot can change in over 2 years though. Miocic has finished 4 opponents in a row to capture and defend his belt. Santos has only had two fights in that time span with one being a brutal KO.
Junior’s last fight was just over a year ago against Ben Rothwell. In a lot of ways, he is a worse version of Stipe so a very interesting measuring stick. Ben is primarily a boxer on the feet with big power but slow and lacks the offensive wrestling Miocic processes. JDS won that fight handily by the decision by outpointing Ben for 15 minutes. His chin should be very well healed up by now but I don’t think he can overcome Stipe’s confidence over 25 minutes this time.
Prediction: Miocic by TKO in the third to tie the heavyweight title defense record
Women's Strawweight Championship
Joanna Jędrzejczyk (c) vs. Jéssica Andrade
Joanna is probably most hardcore fight fan’s favorite champ right now. The way she blends technique, aggression, and volume in the cage is a thing of beauty to watch. There is a reason why this is her fourth defense and undefeated in MMA. Joanna came into MMA with an elite Muay Thai skill set with numerous world championships. She has leveraged her understanding of the clinch to keep the fight on the feet against most opponents. Obviously, her greatest strength is on the feet. She posts a very dutch style of kickboxing and excels at the micro movements in the pocket to counter with combos.
Andrade is basically a tiny Wanderlei Silva in all of the right ways. Jessica has spent most of her career at bantamweight fighting women much bigger with mixed results. She went 13-5 overall as a bantamweight and 4-3 in the UFC. At strawweight, she has been undefeated. At 5’ 2”, her bullying style is much better suited to women her relative size. She is going to still be at a height and reach disadvantage so she will have to really press forward and look to land in the clinch and work for some ground n’ pound.
Prediction: and still Champ by decision
Demian Maia vs. Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal
It is pretty easy to forget that Demian Maia once fought for the Middleweight Title (probably because it was a boring fight) or that he hit a lateral toss on Michael Sonnen right into a triangle. He was very impressive a weight class up where he was usually the smaller guy relying on his technique. At welterweight, he is a monster that has smooshed everyone outside of Rory MacDonald and Jake Shields in close decisions. His game plan is very simple, get the fight to the ground and squeeze the life out of you. Maia is one of the best pure grapplers to compete in MMA.
Jorge is a transformed backyard brawler to mixed martial artist. He trains in the same camp as the welterweight champ, American Top Team in Florida. Masvidal has extremely good boxing that he reminded everyone within his last bout getting the first round KO against Donald Cerrone. He is super well rounded and has been very difficult to get to the mat in recent fights. Similar to Robert Whittaker a couple weeks ago against Jacare, Jorge has a great chance of getting the finish if this stays on the feet.
While Jorge is looking really good as of late, he is historically a very hot and cold fighter.
Prediction: Maia by submission in the first round
Frankie Edgar vs. Yair Rodríguez
This is such an interesting fight! Frankie is the former multiple time lightweight champ and longtime featherweight contender. Yair is the young new prospect that is blowing through everyone.
Yair is a Mexican fighter with a high level of Taekwondo fighter with plenty of wrestling experience to mix it up like few other fighters have ever done before him. Still very young, his career has been brought along at a perfect pace with this being his biggest test to date by far. He is coming off his first headline event demolishing the two division champ, BJ Penn.
Frankie is no stranger to fighting BJ Penn, doing it three times throughout his career. Twice for the lightweight title! Edgar is a super legit only losing to Jose Aldo, Gray Maynard, and Benson Henderson. He is most known for his durability and chin but it's his boxing/head movement mixed with his wrestling that keeps most everyone guessing. Plus his gas tank is endless so expect him to continue at the same pace for 5 rounds if he needs to.
This fight comes down to how fell Yair can keep the distance for three rounds. I expect Frankie to continue to push a high pace, close the distance and create as many scrambles as possible. If Yair can get respect and continue to catch Edgar on the way in, he can totally win this one.
Prediction: Frankie by split decision
Henry Cejudo vs. Sergio Pettis
Cejudo is coming into this fight on a two fight loss skid. Granted, there is no shame in losing against Joseph Benavidez and Demetrious Johnson. This is a good style matchup to see where he Henry’s head is at.
At the time, he was the youngest American Olympic gold medalist in wrestling and has some amateur boxing experience he brought into MMA. He doesn’t train in a big gym nor does he have a bunch of good training partners readily available. This was pretty obvious in the lead-up and after challenge for the title. Their strategy was to work in the clinch where he quickly got finished by some beautiful knees. While he has seemed to fix his weight cutting issues, I feel it is still worth noting he has missed weight 3 times in his pro career or 25% of the fights he signed up for.
Sergio has been slowly developing and at 23 years old, will continue to grow as a fighter and into his body. His latest performance has shown huge improvement but against the bottom to middle of the division after a mediocre run in bantamweight. Pettis will have a significant height/reach advantage and will surely be looking to keep Henry at bay with his jab. Unlike his older brother, Sergio relies more on fundamental striking technique than jumping off the cage and better striking defenses.
Cejudo is going to be looking to close the distance with strikes and GnP Sergio into dust but Sergio will be patient on the outside trying to rack up points. I am sure Cejudo will get the fight to the ground but when in the round(s) and for how long will define this fight.
Prediction: Henry by decision