We find ourselves on the cusp of the greatest event in the history of MMA. After years of hurdles and prejudice towards a sport that can divide opinion, the UFC finally got Mixed Martial Arts legalised within the state of New York.
This then led to the creation of a fight card that over shadows every other fight card before it. UFC 200 was billed as the greatest card in the history of the sport, however it didn’t live up to the hype. The question to ask, will this card fall at the same hurdle.
On a night where great fights line the card from the first to the last fight, with a former title holder and several Title challengers on the preliminary card, from up and coming prospects to long time veterans fighting to keep their relevance. There is also the fact that on the main card there are 6 fights, 3 of which could easily be title contender fights and the other 3 are title fights… Lets not forget the main event, which could well be a slice of history in the making, as the biggest draw in MMA history, Conor “The Notorious” McGregor attempts to become the first fighter in UFC history to become champion of 2 weight divisions, simultaneously, are the stars aligned to keep the Irishman’s astronomical rise going or will New York MMA Veteran Eddie Alvarez silence the horde of fans and put McGregor back to his own weight class?
Fight Pass Preliminary card:
Liz Carmouche (10-5) Vs Katlyn Chookagian (8-0)
Betting lines – +150 Vs -170
Thiago Alves (20-9) Vs Jim Miller (27-8)
Betting lines – -160 Vs +140
The Run Down:
on any other card, both of these fights would claim a spot high on the Prelims, but this isn’t any ordinary card…. we see Veteran of Womens MMA and the first woman to challenge Ronda Rousey within the UFC, Liz Carmouche take on undefeated Katlyn Chookagian.. although Carmouche holds veteran status in this bout, I feel the betting lines don’t lie in this and can see the striking of Chookagian edging her to a decision.
Thiago Alves Vs Jim Miller is a cracking bout and it is mad to think it is this low down the card, two long time UFC veterans, Alves posses some of the most crisp Muay Thai technical striking you will see and if he connects Miller could well be having an early nap, on the flip side Miller has a nasty ground game, if he can put Alves on his back, he could well end up submitting him. For me this fight stays standing, is an all out war, and Alves takes a late TKO.. with blood everywhere.
Pick of the Bunch: Thiago Alves Vs Jim Miller
Vincente Luque (10-5-1) Vs Belal Muhammad (10-1)
Betting lines – +125 Vs -160
Tim Boetsch (18-10) Vs Rafael Natal (21-6-1)
Betting lines – +135 Vs -155
Michael Johnson ( 17-10) Vs Khabib Nurmagomedov (23-0)
Betting lines – +240 Vs -280
Frankie Edgar (20-5-1) Vs Jeremy Stephens (25-12)
Betting lines – -340 Vs +280
The Run Down:
An incredible prelim card from top to bottom, indicated by the fact the Frankie Edgar is on the prelims. kicking off with Belal Muhammad vs Vincente Luque, this will be a great fight, Belal showed incredible heart stepping in to face Alan Jouban in all out war at his UFC debut. Vincente Luque has looked great after an impressive stint on the Ultimate fighter, very close fight both guys coming off KO’s i see it going the distance with Belal taking a Spilt over the blackzillian prospect.
Tim Boetsch vs Rafael Natal is another Veteran fight, with two fighters with the ability to end a fight, this fight depends on which version of each fighter turns up to Madison Square Garden. It is a hard one to call, I am leaning towards Boetsch via 2nd round TKO, The Barbarian has shown good wrestling, mix that with decent striking and the fact he is a pure brute of a man. This fight ends in the second, TKO For Boetsch.
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs Michael Johnson is a fight that is pivotal in the Lightweight division. Nurmagomedov has proven that when he is fit and healthy he is an absolute monster, O and he is a staggering 23-0. Michael Johnson has been a solid contender ever since getting off the ultimate fighter, this battle for a title shot is going to come down to can Michael Johnson use his good footwork and range boxing to keep Nurmagomedov out of grappling range, because if the Dagestan native gets you down you are in for a world of trouble, relentless, brutal trouble. I see this going down the route of Nurmagomedov outgrappling and ragdolling Johnson to take the Decision.
The Headliner of the Prelim card is a classic striker vs wrestler bout, as perenial contender and New Jersey Native Frankie Edgar takes on violent striker, Jeremy Stephens, Stephens has always looked scary on the feet and has wins over notable opponents including Dennis Bermudez and Renan Barao. However Edgar has proven people wrong time and time again, i feel his foot work and crisp hands will benefit him in this fight, mixed in with his well-timed wrestling game, he will frustrate the power game of Stephens, however it can’t be overlooked that Edgar has a bad habit of getting hurt and taking damage in his fights, Stephens has a habit of dishing out Pain and damage… Edgar has the tools to take this and looks incredible outside of title bouts, this wont be any different, prediction, Edgar will grind stephens down over 2 and a bit rounds before submitting or TKO in the 3rd round….
Pick of the Bunch: Vincente Luque Vs Belal Muhammad
Raquel Pennington (7-5) Vs Miesha Tate (18-6)
Betting lines – +155 Vs -175
Donald Cerrone (31-7) Vs Kelvin Gastelum (12-2)
Betting lines – 155 Vs +135
Yoel Romero (11-1) Vs Chris Weidman (13-1)
Betting lines – +145 Vs -165
Joanna Jedrzejczyk (12-2) (C) Vs Karolina Kowalkiewicz (10-0)
Betting lines – -410 Vs +330
Tyron Woodley (16-3) (C) Vs Stephen Thompson (13-1)
Betting lines – +170 Vs -200
Eddie Alvarez (28-4) (C) Vs Conor McGregor (20-3)
Betting lines – +140 Vs -160
The Run Down: Again, the most impressive main card you will see… Headlining bouts from the bottom to the top… starting with the fight kicking off the card, this bout has potential to steal the show, former Champ Miesha Tate takes on Raquel Pennington. Rocky has been on an impressive roll recently and has looked impressive in victory and defeat, Tate suffered a crushing loss to Nunes in her first title defense at UFC 200. Tate has struggled for consistency within her UFC career dropping losses in between great victories. Pennington doesn’t have the best record on paper, be looked beyond that and you find a very talented fighter. Neither fighter is ever in a boring fight and both come to bring it from start to finish. Tate looks shredded in the build up to this and will be wanting to rebound and earn redemption against Nunes. However Pennington has looked great recently and is constantly learning and improving. Go against the odds for this one and pick Pennington Via Split decision over the former champion..
*fight cancelled Due to Gastelum refusing to weigh in
Donald Cerrone makes his fourth step into the Welterweight pool after 3 exciting stoppages in a row. Gastelum, a former Ultimate Fighter winner has shown he is a top contender, When he makes weight, the big question here, (ignoring weight issues) is how will Gastelum break down the diverse striking of Cowboy, and even if he gets him to the ground, Cerrone has one of the most tricky and underated ground games in the UFC. This is going to be a hard night for Kelvin, the betting lines look to have it pegged, Cerrone will use his technical stand up, with good use of range to pick Gastelum apart before scoring a 2nd round TKO.
In the last of our non Title bouts, former Middleweight Champion Chris Weidman takes on Yoel Romero in a battle of Elite wrestlers, can Romero man handle Weidman in his back yard? Weidman has looked unstoppable before he got derailed by Luke Rockhold in their title matchup, he was also the first man in the UFC to make Anderson Silva look Mortal… Twice… In Romero you have a Cuban, Olympic Silver Medalist who is a true athletic specimen, with savage power. on paper this is a very close called fight, it really comes down to, can Weidman survive the wrestling attack and power of Romero, Weidman needs to use his higher cardio and work rate to wear the Cuban down. My Call is Weidman will do just that, keeping the pace high, thriving off the crowd in his home city, he will drag Romero into deep water, before finishing him late!
In the First of our Title bouts, it is a battle to be Queen of Poland, two great Polish female strikers with undefeated records. Joanna Jedrzejczyk is a massive favourite (biggest on the card). This is due to her ruthless edge over all the other women in this division. The champions striking is some of the best you will see, as good as Kowalkiewicz looks, dethroning the champion won’t be easy, Jedrzejczyk has beaten the challenger before in the amateur ranks. This title bout will be another highlight on the champions reel. Joanna will score frequently, getting a spectacular finish late in the fight.
The Co-Main Event sees Tyron Woodley defend his Welterweight strap for the first time, since he knocked out Robbie Lawler. The champion is an explosive powerhouse, both in wrestling and striking, but he takes on standup wizard Stephen Thompson. Wonder boy is a man who’s striking has looked nothing shy of phenomenal, proving to be a puzzle that none in the divison thus far can solve… This title bout comes down to how will Woodley solve the Wonderboy challenge, he has the power and speed to finish the challenger, but can he catch him to do so. The champ has a hard nights work ahead, in Lawler he had an opponent who doesn’t mind being hit, giving him the chance to land his shots, you don’t get that with Thompson. Thompson has looked like a world beater and the angles he strikes from are a nightmare for everyone, if he can avoid the power shots of Woodley and land his crisp counter striking, he will make short work of the champion scoring an early TKO.
The Main Event brings you the chance to be part of History, Conor McGregor fights in his 3rd division, challenging Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez. Will Mcgregor become the first man to hold two UFC title belts, at the same time, he has done it before in UK-based Cage Warriors. In Eddie Alvarez you get a Veteran of 32 fights who is a savage brawler. Alvarez is never one to shy away from an all out brawl, he frequently puts himself in harm’s way, showing he isn’t scared to get hurt to hurt his opponent, just look at this past few fights, what he did to RDA to earn the title was a brutal display of relentless violence. McGregor is a different striker and a man who exudes pure confidence in his abilities, ignoring his 2 fights with Nate Diaz, McGregor has looked unstoppable since joining the promotion, stylistically he is a bad matchup for Eddie, as long as he is wary not to get dragged into a brawl or wrestling match, which will be the New Yorkers plan… My prediction… ANNNNNND NEWWWWW.. McGregor will frustrate Alvarez, landing crisp shots from various angles, before getting an early finish, becoming the first two weight champion, and what a better stage to do it on, in a true Theatre of combat sports, Madison Square garden…
Pick of the Bunch: Obviously, Eddie Alvarez Vs Conor McGregor, other notables, Cerrone Vs Gastelum & Pennington Vs Tate!
Dont forget to Check out “The Final Round – Post Fight Breakdown” after UFC 205
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Author – Steve Brigg, Twitter @stevebrigg – drop me any comments!