UFC is wrapping up 2016 with a solid card including a couple of title fights and four former champions battling it out. We can really see the changes the new ownership is making by condensing the main event to only 4 fights for better or worse. The new UFC owners are Going down Friday, December 30 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

 

Women's Bantamweight Championship

Amanda Nunes (c) vs. Ronda Rousey

This is a fight of two unstoppable forces as both fighters are an early finisher. Nunes blasted Meisha to set up the rear naked choked in the first round to become the current belt that has kept changing hands since Ronda lost it. Amanda brings the thunder in the first couple of rounds like no other female fighter. Only one of her 13 wins have come via decision. She is very strong and super aggressive looking for the big shots.

This is Ronda’s first fight back in the UFC cage since her devastating KO loss to Holly Holms about a year ago. That is the biggest X-factor to Ronda right now. Where is her head at and can she bounce back? She has shown to always be a very emotional person so can she fight like the 12-0 fighter knowing she has a kink in her armor.

I am curious to see if either chooses a different strategy than come out like a raging bull. If so, that should favor Amanda as the more active fighter recently with power/accurate strikes. Ronda could have filled in the gaps of her game to be able to close the distance and throw Nunes into an armbar like most of her opponents. Ronda has made comments that make be believe she will be very patient hoping to turn in on at the end of the second round. Since I am hoping to see the crazy action packed first round, it will be the first lady to make a mistake to lose.

Prediction: Nunes by TKO in the first


Bantamweight Championship

Dominick Cruz (c) vs. Cody “No Love” Garbrandt

After what seemed like an eternity repairing his knees a few times over, Dominick is back to being the champion. Cruz has one of the highest fight IQ’s in the game that he likes to show off in the analyst position or talking MAD trash. That skill really shines in the cage as he is able to adapt to what his opponent is doing on the fly. Cruz is known for his high movement striking style (some call it matrix style) where he seldom gets hit. He mixes in his wrestling to keep his opponent honest and score points. Historically, Dom is a decision machine but wouldn’t be surprised to see him put Cody away in the championship rounds with a submission.

Cody is undefeated, tons of KOs and has talked a ton of shit on Cruz to get this title fight. Training with Team Alpha Male, he is the next generation of the champ’s long time rival. He is a boxing specialist with some big power and legit tattoos. Anything is possible and if Cody touches him it can be all over. The bad news is he is the shorter guy with less reach.

Prediction: . . . and still champ Cruz by decision

Heavyweight

Fabrício Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez

Oh how interesting only a few months can make. This is a rematch of a title fight from just over a year ago. Werdum has been the more active of the two but the extra fight was one he lost the belt he won from Cain. In the first time around, Werdum dictated the pass and tagged Cain up until a sloppy shot in the second where he sunk in a beautiful guillotine. In Fabricio’s last fight, he didn’t look as good as Cain did against the same opponent and they fought that guy two months apart favoring Werdum. His head seems to be on other things right now as he continues to voice his displeasure of the UFC.

Most believe Cain took the insanely high elevation of Mexico City too lightly and gassed out early. Now we get to see what a “sea-level” Cain can do. He demolished Travis Brown and is looking back to form. The big X-factor with him or anyone training at AKA is what injuries will he have coming into the fight. Even if he is a little banged up, he probably won’t have to keep it together for very long.

Prediction: Cain by TKO in the second


Bantamweight

T.J. Dillashaw vs. John “Hands of Stone” Lineker

TUF winner and former champ, TJ is an all around threat that starts out as a pure wrestler and has really developed into a solid striker under the tutelage of Duane Ludwig. With the winner of this fight most likely getting the next crack at the title, I am sure Dillashaw will be super hungry and come out very smart. He should be able to use his movement and cardio to pick Lineker apart for most of the three rounds. If he does get hurt, should be able to wrestle him to the ground.

Lineker has this uncanny ability to get guys to fight his fight and his fight is to fight in the phone booth until someone falls over. This really suits his unbreakable chin, short reach, and crazy power. He just walks dudes down until they trade punches with him. Super fun to watch but makes no sense that only two people in the UFC have figured out this easy puzzle.

Prediction: TJ by decision



Fox Sports 1 Prelims


Welterweight

Johny “Big Rigg” Hendricks vs. Neil Magny

Neil has proven to be an elite welterweight going 10-2 in his last 12. Coming off a disappointing loss, I bet he wants to come back with a big win over former champ and possibly biggest name under his win column. Magny is six inches taller with 11 more inches of reach. He will be using both of those numbers to his full advantage on the feet. Both are good grapplers so that could be interesting if it does go there.

I love to hate on Johny but this is getting a little sad now. He is a shell of what he once was. I never thought he was technically that good or put it together very well but on he kept winning. That was then and this is now. Hendricks is on a rough 2-4 skid in his last six and just doesn't look to be the same fighter. He is going through a lot of personal issues and has contemplated retiring already. He will need to pull out his championship form and determination to close the distance and make a fight out of this. Otherwise, he is going to get jabbed for 15 minutes.

Prediction: Neil by decision


Welterweight

Dong Hyun “The Stun Gun” Kim vs. Tarec “Sponge” Saffiedine

The Stun Gun is like an Asian lead blanket. He utilizes his elite Judo background to its fullest by something people in the clinch and ground. Don’t sleep on this kid striking as he has spectacularly KOed Erick Silva.

Tarec is super well rounded and very tough to finish losing mostly by decision. Despite his well-rounded skills, he usually wins by decision.

Dong will be able to dictate the pace of this fight and where it is taking place. Saffiedine will be in the fight at all times but losing on the scorecard.

Prediction: Dong Hyun Kim by decision


Welterweight

Mike “Quicksand” Pyle vs. Alex “The Dominican Nightmare” Garcia

Mike is a seasoned veteran at 41 years old and 40 fights into his professional career. He was once a nightmare for any welterweight to face. With his age, his chin has left him making Quicksand a very easy opponent to finish with half of his losses coming via T/KO. Now he is a very hit and miss fighter but still showing moments of brilliance.

Garcia fights out of Tristar in Canada and is coming in with a good record of 13-3. He has faulted against top level fighters like Neil Magny.

Quicksand is far from elite anymore but will test Garcia to see where in the welterweight division he belongs.

Prediction; Alex by TKO in the second


Flyweight

Louis “Da Last Samurai” Smolka vs. Ray “The Tazmexican Devil” Borg

There are some bad nicknames but these two are just the worst. Smolka’s nickname sounds like a straight to DVD hood remake of Tom Cruise’s Last Samurai movie. This is a great time to remind you, Smolka is Hawaiian.  Ray Borg decided a terrible pun is the best way to get people to remember him. Now that I have that out of my system, let talk about this fight.

Both men are ranked just outside of the top ten. Ray Borg has a ton of RNC finished on his record beating the lesser flyweights on the regional scene and in the UFC. The two times he fought an opponent with a name, Borg has lost.

Smolka is super well rounded and is rocking an 82% finish rate! He has faced the better opponents and been more active as of recently. He is going to come out hungry want to erase the quick submission loss two months ago.

Prediction: Smolka by decision

 

UFC Fight Pass Exclusive Prelims

Welterweight

Tim “The Dirty Bird” Means vs. Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira

The Dirty Bird is a nasty Muay Thai practitioner, throwing night ending elbows in the clinch. He has a full throttle striking style that sees him get a T/KO in 70% of his wins.

Brazilian Cowboy (not to be confused with American cowboy Donald Cerrone), is coming off the biggest win of his career over Will Brooks at lightweight. Too bad it will forever be tainted because he missed weight by 5.5 lbs. He has fought several times at welterweight but will likely be forced to stay in this division. A former, bull rider, Alex is a wild man on the feet. Oliveira will need to get this fight to the ground or land a huge shot early to win this one.

Prediction: Tim Means by KO in the second


Middleweight

Antônio “Cara de Sapato” Carlos Júnior vs. Marvin Vettori

Antonio’s nickname translate to shoe face. That is pretty hilarious! He is gigantic and a solid prospect.  Marvin is an Italian submissions specialist. This is a terrible style match up for the Italian.

Prediction: Carlos Jr by TKO in the first


Welterweight

Brandon Thatch vs. Niko “The Hybrid” Price

Thatch is a stone cold killer on the feet when he isn’t worried about the takedown. Niko is a late replacement that likes to strike. Get ready for a sweet highlight reel finish by Thatch.

Prediction: Thatch by TKO in the first

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