The first UFC card of 2017 with a mix of some really old school talent and the newest breed of fighters. Going down in Phoenix on January 15, a Sunday so lets's get into the fights.
Yair “El Pantera” Rodríguez vs. B.J. “Prodigy” Penn
Yair has a ton of hype behind him as the first Latin TUF winner and then that skyrockets to new levels when he flying switch kick Andre Fili unconscious nine months ago. UFC is really hoping for a strong Mexican contender to further break into that market so this is his second main event in a row.
A Mexican fighter with a traditional martial arts background, Yair had a flair for his kicking game on the feet. His last fight showed he is susceptible to a good boxer in the later rounds. His ground game has yet to be tested as few have been able to get him horizontal long enough to sink any submissions.
The last time BJ fought was two and half years ago and was on a 1-5-1 shit streak prior to his “retirement”. Once the welterweight champion and king of the lightweight division, Penn was once a fearless technician that would starch everyone. Now he is older and slower and lost that intangible thing that allowed him to demolish Diego Sanchez amongst others.
Prediction: Yair by decision
Joe “J-Lau” Lauzon vs. Marcin “The Polish Prodigy” Held
Lauzon has been alternating wins with losses for the past couple of years. The human bonus machine has a history of wild finishes. Stylistically, this fight favors the hard hitting J-Lau.
I’m a huge fan of the throwback style of Marcin. He is a leg lock submission specialist and relentlessly attacks the legs when giving the opportunity. His striking continues to get better but will be a disadvantage on the feet.
Joe should be able to avoid the takedowns and guard pull to wins on the feet.
Prediction: J-Lau by decision
Court “The Crusher” McGee vs. Ben “Killa B” Saunders
McGee is a grinder by all accounts. He will get in your face a grind you against the cage or on top until the referee pulls him off or the final bell rings.
How do you not love a guy that loves to beat the hit out people on the feet and can submit you with omoplatas? The answer is you can’t, it is too awesome that you must like Saunders. His willingness to attack submission off his back will be the reason he wins or loses this fight.
Prediction: Saunders by submission in the first
Bryan “Kid Lightning” Caraway vs. Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera
The long time boyfriend of former champ Miesha Tate, Bryan is back in the cage to try to continue his win streak to a title fight. Not very well liked by other fighters; maybe due to jealous, maybe he is a douche, maybe because of his shitty nickname. I don’t know for certain but he rubs me the wrong way all the same.
Kid Lighting isn’t very fast on the feet but has some elite level grappling skills. His key to victory has always been to out grapple and get the submission. Not sure he will get the takedown enough to win the rounds but could catch a submission in a scramble. He does have a pattern of losing after two wins in the UFC and he is on a two-fight win streak . . .
Jimmie is coming off his biggest win, Urijah Faber, in his last fight in a pretty impressive decision win. The win sticks out because how he was able to outclass such a seasoned vet for 15 minutes. 70% of his wins are by decision though so don’t expect a spectacular finish from him.
Prediction: Jimmie by decision
Jussier “Formiga” Da Silva vs. Sergio “The Phenom” Pettis
A classic striker versus the grappler battle. Formiga is the grappler and Sergio are the striker. Neither wants to be in the other’s world for any extended period. Baby Pettis has had a difficult time putting everything together. He is still young enough that he can show the huge improvement from fight to fight.
I feel Jussier’s top level experience is going to allow him to land some clutch takedowns. Once he grabs a hold of Pettis, that will be the round or fight. He should be able to do that two out of three rounds while not getting finished.
Prediction: Formiga by decision