What a bummer Cormier got injured and had to pull out last second on his title defense with Anthony Johnson. Oh well, this is the fight game and shit happens. UFC stripped Conor McGregor of his Featherweight title to give it to from interim champ, Jose Aldo, so they can get more hype on the new event by calling it an interim title fight. While I am not a big fan of interim titles for promotion sake, it does all but guarantee who is fighting for the title next.
Featherweight Interim Title
Max “Blessed” Holloway vs. Anthony “Showtime” Pettis
Max Holloway has been doing work in the featherweight division with a nine fight win streak since losing to Conor McGregor by decision. Six of those wins were by a finish too! Max has the Hawaiian fighting spirit in him and showed it at the end of his last fight. After outclassing Lamas the entirety of the fight, he saw the frustration on his face. With 15-20 second left in the fight, Max stopped moving and invited Lamas to trade for the remainder of the fight. Trade they did. Max is a super slick striker, very though with some dangerous submission skills.
After a three fight skid, Pettis dropped to featherweight to try to get back into championship form. Winning his debut against the tough and versatile Charles Oliveira with a guillotine in the third round. Even with the finish, Anthony’s first foray in the 145 was pretty concerning. He looked like skeletor from He-Man and didn’t look to have the same cardio at the new weight. Showtime has a smart team behind him so would guess they make adjustments but are they enough? Max can keep a blistering pace for all 5 rounds.
In a lot of ways, Max and Anthony are very similar so it will me interesting to who win and where.
Prediction: Holloway by TKO in the 4th round
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs. Matt “Immortal” Brown
Let’s thank Kelvin Gastelum for being too fat to make weight at UFC 205 so Donald Cerrone got rebooked with this incredible fight even as it doesn’t make a ton of sense. A former lightweight title challenger, Cerrone has looked untouchable since moving up to welterweight. The way he KOed Patrick Cote and Rick Story (two very tough people to finish) was just incredible. Cerrone is known to be bit of a wild man in his free time but has some of the best kickboxing in the division. While he is known for his legit striking skills, don’t sleep on his wrestling or submission skills.
Matt Brown is on a two fight skid but against top level opponents. He has an excellent aggrize muay thai style that overwhelms most opponents. Matt is an inch shorter but has the longer arms and legs but he isn’t one to stay on the outside much. Brown has shown weakness to getting hit in the body and controlled on the ground. Two thing I think Cerrone will be able to do once the fight gets going.
Prediction: Cerrone by liver kick in the second
Tim Kennedy vs. Kelvin Gastelum
Tim Kennedy is legit killer as a current Special Forces operative, is finally back in the cage after nearly 2 years away to shot the History Channel show, Finding Hitler, and I’m sure other stuff. His last fight was a loss to Yoel Romero in the 3rd after the Yoel stool gated him into a longer break between round to regain enough energy to finish Tim. Fight before that he beat current champ Michael Bisping which shows how elite of a fighter he is. Very well rounded, he will need to be very strategic to win this one. Also, size and weight will be in his favor.
Kelvin is forced back to the weight class he won the Ultimate Fighter on because he couldn’t make weight. Too bac he can’t be professional enough to make the weight his frame is best suited for. At middleweight he will be the shorter man with a lightweights reach, not a great combo. Overall, Kelvin is a very tenacious Mexican fighter, solid wrestling and a good boxing game. Too bad Tim is all those things and a few more.
Prediction: Tim by decision
Cub Swanson vs. Dooho Choi
Cub Swanson was on the cusp of fighting for the title before Frankie Edgar and then Max Holloway destroyed it back to back. Sadly, at 33, I doubt he has enough left to make another run at it but more than enough to stay in the top 10 until he retires. Swanson is very creative striking specialist will to throw unconventional offbeat combination and uses his movement/head movement for defense more than a hands up shell defense. A veteran with 30 fight, he will have twice as much experience against much better opponent on the biggest stage in the world. So just another day in the office for Cub.
Dooho only has three fights in the UFC but all of them by first round T/KO. I don’t know much about his ground game but I don’t see that being a factor in this fight. That is obviously very good for Choi as this kid as some HUGE power in his punches. He is truely blessed with some out of this world power. When he touches people, they just go down almost like Conor McGregor’s left straight. You know when some people throw, you can tell that was a power shot. The combos he threw in his UFC wins looked very relaxed. Cub will be his most elusive and experienced opponent but if he can find the mark, nights over.
Prediction: Dooho Choi by upset TKO in the second
Nikita “the Miner” Krylov vs. Misha Cirkunov
Two top 15 light heavyweight you probably never heard of. This is what happens when you have a paper thin division. Nikita came to the UFC as a heavyweight but dropped down and has been on a five fight win streak since losing his debut to Ovince Saint Preux. All of the wins by finish too. As a Master of Sport in hand-to-hand combat, submission fighting and Kyokushin karate, he is pretty well rounded and very well experienced already at 24 years old with a 21-4 record in MMA.
Misha is a solid prospect in the 205 division with a 12-2 but this is his biggest test in the UFC so far. A BJJ black belt training at Xtreme Couture is will come very well prepared.
Tough fight to pick and not just because I can’t pronounce either of their names.
Prediction: Nikita by TKO in the second