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KC PREVIEWS STACKED FIGHT ISLAND CARD

PHOTO COURTESY OF SPORTS INTERACTION

UFC 251….. This card is fantastic.

Kamaru “Marty” Usman vs Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal for the 170lb belt
Simply put, Masvidal will be head hunting, Marty looking to sniff crotch. Masvidal is also a smaller 170 and that matters in this division. More skilled fighters at 170 can tend to be smaller (Jorge, RDA, Rory, Lima, Geoff Neal, Burns, Nate are all 155’ers that moved up), while the larger less skilled wrestlers who can cut weight better than anyone can thrive (Usman, Colby, Maia). I will mention Woodley, Wonderboy, Lawler, Nick Diaz as some of the all-around talents in the division that found success.

The Case for Masvidal: Fighting IQ/DNA through the roof (there are very few in the UFC you would want next to you in a firefight more than Gamebred). He’s the elite of the elite in all around mindset and toughness. Jorge changing his style to “baptizing” his opponents was his true evolution. He has more momentum than anyone since McGregor fought Alvarez for his second strap. And his infectious attitude can only help.
The Case against: Size – versus Usman is a worry. Payday – the UFC just cut the cheque for Jorge in a new 4yr deal I hear worth $20m – does this effect motivation? (he was making ~$25k per fight only 18 months ago I bet). Took this fight on 6 days notice (as did Usman – but Usman was ready for Gilbert just 2 weeks ago), half way around the world.

The Case for Usman: he’s 11-0 in the UFC. Even when not at his best, he never loses. He was a BlackZillian (the name alone was intimidating, but also with Anthony “Rumble” Johnson his teammate). His wrestling is superb (think Khabib good), and wrestling has historically been the number one skill in my mind. He puts the time in at the gym – he’s easily the most powerful 170’er ever.
The Case against: Boxing in general: His lack of head movement allows him to be hit a lot, and he’s more brute force/predictable, than overall skill in striking. He may be just a really strong wrestling bum (as Jorge likes to call him), like Colby. More than capable to beat the smaller specialists, but will lose to real talent.

The Question: Is Masvidal an elite talent or a Journeyman with 2 highlight reel KO’s over Darren Till (the “Gorilla” who is now flourishing up at 185!), and Ben Askren (whom Masvidal retired in 5 seconds), and a nice win in a fun overhyped BMF title against an overmatched fan favourite fresh in everyone’s brain? Because we know what Usman is.

My Prediction: Masvidal gets mostly abused early in the fight (in the clinch and on the mat) but taking only little damage. Then we get a fight. And Masvidal KO’s Usman with a knee, or a Till special (2 zaps and the floor finishes him off). Making one of the best championships runs in my lifetime. Jorge then KO’s McGregor, KO’s Nate, KO’s Wonderboy. Setting up a Colby match. Anyway…. Masvidal by KO is happening.

Odds: Usman should be a 5:1 favourite as it is very possible Usman just sits on Masvidal in an absolute stinker. And we are all reminded why these goon wrestlers have very few fans. But the UFC is an insane sport, and the mental edge of Jorge over Marty is a bridge too far.

My bet: Very small on Masvidal KO – there’s plenty more edge elsewhere on this card. (If you typically bet the chalk, Usman is great value).

Max “Blessed” Holloway vs Alex “I played FRONT ROW in Rugby LEAGUE at 214lbs” Volkanovski for the 145lb belt
Background: Fresh off taking Max’s belt in December, Volk actually asked for this rematch immediately and got it. Max, I guess, just … said yes? And now we are here. Mistake on Max’s part. Why not let Volk take on a few more killers and be patient? Max was already coming off a really bad loss (was a great fight) to Dustin Poirier only a year ago, and up at 155lbs! I think Max’s warrior spirit wrote a check his body can’t cash.
Facts: In their first match, they both had 300 strikes each. But Volkanovski had TWICE as many significant strikes. That says to me this is just a really bad matchup for Holloway.
My Prediction: Recall, Holloway fought and beat Jose Aldo twice. In the second fight Max switched directions on how he stalked Aldo – from counter clockwise (away from Aldo’s stronger hand) to clockwise (into it). Totally messed with him. THIS is an example of how good Max’s footwork and ability to fight equally from either side. My point: Max will adjust. But will it matter?….. Sadly I don’t think so. Rugby League is a different animal, even from Rugby Union. Volkanovski takes Max down again, and possibly by KO. With nowhere else to go, Max goes up to 155lbs and loses a few more. We all love Holloway, but he should not have taken this fight so soon.

Petr “No Mercy” Yan vs Jose Aldo for the vacant 135lb belt
For some pundits Aldo is one of the 5 greatest fighters of all time. Crazy, as I know him mostly for getting KO’d in 8 seconds by Conor, only to fight 7 times in 3 years, getting KO’d by Holloway twice, then moving down a division and taking another loss. Now he gets a 135lb title fight against a young killer in Yan? I don’t see this ending well. Petr Yan is from Dudinka, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russian and trains with Archangel in Thailand. Russian/Thai tough is way tougher than Brazilian ex-champ tough these days.
X Factor: They used to train together a bit, so are somewhat familiar. Still, I always make money on Aldo even the one time I bet ON him against Jeremy “who the fook is that guy” Stephens.
Keep the streak alive: YAN by finish.

Rose Namajunas 5’4” vs Jessica Andrade 5’1”
Thug Rose is an elite striker which is very uncommon in the women’s flyweight division. In their first match, Rose was dominating Andrade until she made a mistake holding onto an armbar too long, allowing Jessica to legally slam Namajunas on her head. Pretty scary actually… This time, that’s not happening again. Rose stays at distance, away from Andrade’s very small power window, and breezes. Rose’s fluid boxing is fun to watch, gets the win.

Leonardo Santos, 40 vs Roman Bogatov, 29 (Lightweight 155lb match)
Santos is a killer, let’s start there. A few highlights worth mentioning: 21 years ago he lost to Royler Gracie in a disputed Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament semi-final, and his first MMA match was against undefeated Japanese superstar Takanori Gomi, just to give you an idea of his ilk/experience. In his MMA Career he has lost ONCE since 2007. In 2013, he won an elimination fight to get into The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 2013 house and ended up winning it all at Welterweight (170lbs) with fights against Thiago “Marreta” Santos and Santiago Ponzinibbio (Fight of the season award). In the UFC he is 6-0-1 with a submission over Anthony Rocco Martin and first round Knockouts over Kevin Lee and Stevie Ray https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxc5umtZACE …. I mean, what else do you need to know? He didn’t fight a lot for a few years before returning in 2019 (unknown why) and few have any idea how he makes weight at 155 as he walks around so much larger… Roman Bogatov is 10-0 and an M-1 league Champion (not a ton of film on this grappler)… and doesn’t look like a guy I would mess with, but I wouldn’t not mess with him either.
My prediction: Santos by Finish. Thank me later.

Volkan Oezdemir vs Jiri Prochazka
Volkan has lost only to the elite of the elite at Light Heavyweight. Literally 3 of the last 4 number one contenders to Jon Jones (Cormier, Smith, Reyes) are his losses.  And I was front row in London for the Reyes fight, and Oezdemir was robbed.  Volkan won that fight.  And yes, Reyes nearly beat JBJ.  So- why is Oezdemir not getting the respect (odds wise) against Jiri Prochazka?  Because of Jiri’s late KO’s I’d imagine, and they are both enormous (1 punch),  but from what I have read, he was down on most of the fights and needed a miracle KO.
Volkan all day for my money. Likely by early stoppage.

Amanda Ribas vs Paige VanZant
Ribas is so good. Great attitude. Going places. Will fight for the belt soon, she’s fantastic. Paige on the other hand, is headed to Bellator for more money, and then the WWE.  Unfortunately, everyone and the Odds already know all this.
Ribas all day.

Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs Muslim Salikhov
Styles make fights right, and this one could be great.  Dos Santos, the Brazilian Capoeira’an vs the Dagestani “King of Kung Fu”????  Somebody is getting finished for sure. I’ll take Salikhov.  Why?  “A multiple Wushu Sanda world champion and along with Hossein Ojaghi, he is the only non-Chinese person who has won the Wushu Sanda King’s Cup.” Done and doner.  And although I can only guess what any of that actually means, we gotta believe in something. Also I somehow was on Elizeu “Molasses” dos Santos vs the superb Li Jingliang when the UFC first went to China last August  – and I will never make that mistake again (good comedy though – me on the other side of a blowout, with literally billions of people against me). Salikhov gets the finish.

Makwan “Mr Finland” Amirkhani vs Danny “Is he Scottish?” Henry
Both 31, both mostly 5 foot 10, both are entertaining, and both decent at best.  Amirkhani, a wrestling/submission specialist apparently worked on his boxing for well over a year before displaying it against Shane Burgos.  That ended very very badly for the Fin. So, let’s wheel him out one more time against the much lesser (than Burgos) Danny Henry. Coin flip here, but a good scrap – they both have a few decent wins, so the winner is back in the game – loser may be out of the company.  Small on Makwan by submission, get back to your roots kid.

Marcin Tybura vs Maxim Grishin
Grishin was a late substitution, and is coming up in weight.  I think Tybura gonna lay on top of him for an easy win. I will NOT be watching this one.

The Bet is a Parlay:
LEO SANTOS/OEZDEMIR/NAMAJUNAS pays 3:1

Enjoy…

Written by KC

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