Who should Jorge Masvidal Fight next? 5 Options

2019 was a breakout year for Jorge Masvidal; with an emphatic stoppage over Darren Till kicking things off, preceding the quickest knockout in UFC history over former Olympic wrestler Ben Askren and a stoppage for the BMF belt giving the veteran Miami Native a new level of fame. Masvidal was the Fighter of The Year in 2019 and as 2020 approaches he has multiple options for his next matchup. I’ve narrowed these options down to 5 possible opponents for “Gamebred” I will rate these possibilities out of ten in relation to how much sense they would make for Masvidal’s recently blossoming career.

Nate Diaz Rematch

Perhaps not the most discussed of the next options available to Masvidal right now; however it is worth remembering that Masvidal himself called for this rematch after the first fight ended in a disappointing stoppage due to the cut on Nate Diaz. This fight is a good idea in the respect of wanting to see a cleaner finish to the encounter; or potentially a better version of the younger Diaz brother. With this being said; and with Masvidal gaining respect from fans and pundits alike for his comments after the fight, a rematch is not the smartest idea for Masvidal. With the press conferences leading up to the first matchup not being as explosive as the anticipation suggested; and the fight not being the evenly contested war many expected, the second fight would likely do significantly worse at the box office. Combine this with the fact many think Diaz did not perform to the best of his ability that night; Masvidal risks facing a better version of Diaz than the one he dominated for 15 minutes at UFC 244. Overall a rematch would be good for the fans but it’s far from the best option for Masvidal

Rating: 4/10

Conor McGregor

The second option and the most popular in the eyes of many; “The Notorious” Conor McGregor must get through an always dangerous Donald Cerrone before any other fights can be seriously discussed. However it seems the UFC’s view is McGregor will win; as UFC President Dana White came out and discussed the possibility of a rematch between the Irishman and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Assuming McGregor stops “Cowboy” in the first 10 minutes of their fight, a bout between the sports biggest star and Jorge Masvidal would be appealing for a number of reasons. It would be a stand up fight between two of the most skilled MMA boxers of all time; in addition to this the UFC would most likely stage a press tour which would have potential to be a trash-talking phenomenon. This is could be an excellent option for Masvidal; granted if he were to lose his stock would drop significantly, however he would have a handsome pay check to look forward to whatever the result. In addition to this; Masvidal is bigger, most likely hits harder and has been more active as of late. If you put all of these factors together; this fight looks like a pretty decent idea for Jorge.

Rating: 8/10

Nick Diaz

Will the big brother attempt to do what the little brother could not? That is the narrative making rounds in the MMA community since Nick Diaz gave a bizarre interview with Ariel Helwani where he appeared to call out Jorge Masvidal. The Diaz brothers have both been linked with quite a few opponents in recent years; however Nick has not fought since January 2015; and that fight succeeded a near two year layoff from the sport. Out of all fights this article covers; this fight is probably the least likely to actually occur; and this is due to the elder Diaz’s inactivity and questionable willingness to fight as of late. Masvidal would likely be a heavy favourite due to these facts; however Nick Diaz is not the draw of his younger brother or indeed of Conor McGregor, so it’s hard to see the business appeal of fighting an unranked former contender who could turn into a dangerous fight. Whether or not Nick Diaz has been training since 2015 is unknown to the MMA community; and if he has he could be a very challenging fight for Masvidal. The fight would be an intriguing stylistic match up; and one which could easily grant Masvidal even greater acclaim amongst the hardcore MMA fanbase (many of whom know and love Nick Diaz). Woth this being said there are far better career options for Jorge Masvidal right now.

Rating: 6/10

Kamaru Usman

An obvious yet little talked-about option would be for Jorge Masvidal to fight for the Welterweight Championship as there are many who believe he is the rightful number one contender. The champion Kamaru Usman has emerged in the last 12 months as the man to beat in the division after a 5 round drubbing of former champion Tyron Woodley and a recent stoppage win over Masvidal’s teammate and former friend Colby Covington. Stylistically Usman is tough to beat for anybody; with technically sound striking, cardio for days and elite wrestling. These skills combined with the pressure Usman forces upon his opponents have created a tall order for Masvidal or anyone else to usurp him and take the Welterweight throne. Masvidal is probably the best boxer who weighs 170lbs in the UFC at this point in time; so him knocking out Usman to take the strap is well within the realms of possibility. However Usman is a rough night out for anyone; especially if he is able to back his opponents up against the fence. Objectively; this fight is high risk but possibly the highest reward fight, as if Masvidal takes the gold he will get a championship contract with extra PPV points every time he fights at a PPV event (which will most likely be every fight he has from this point). His star has risen from nowhere in the last 12 months; therefore having the belt would add to this; allowing him more media opportunities and endorsements. This could be the start of Jorge Masvidal becoming a Conor McGregor sized star; for that reason, this could be the best option of the bunch.

Rating: 9/10

Georges St-Pierre

This would certainly be a curve ball from the way the MMA landscape currently looks; but it is more possible than many may think. Georges St Pierre has not fought since November 2017 when he took the middleweight title from Michael Bisping. He did announce his retirement from the sport in February 2019 but sources close to GSP; namely Firas Zahabi have confirmed he is still training in a very professional capacity. GSP has often talked about stock recently; and there is nobody in the UFC who’s stock is currently rising faster than Jorge Masvidal. A fight between the two; whilst having only an outside chance of happening, would be extremely compelling. Additionally; if McGregor loses to Cerrone; McGregor won’t fight him, if Khabib loses to Tony Ferguson, Khabib vs GSP won’t happen, a scenario which would make GSP vs Masvidal one of the biggest fights in MMA. This is also GSP’s natural weight and the stylistic match up is intriguing; as it’s arguable GSP has never fought anyone as evolved an MMA skillset as Masvidal possesses with his ability to get in and out of distance and prolific anti-wrestling posing potential problems for one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. This has the making of a very tough fight for Masvidal; as GSP has not lost a fight in over a decade, but his advanced age and lack of cage activity in recent years could also be a decisive factor in a potential bout between the two. It may not be the most appealing fight on the list; but would certainly act as a pleasant surprise.

Rating: 7/10

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UFC Title Fight Triple Header Preview and Predictions

Yet another stacked weekend of fights approaches as we edge towards UFC 245. Three title fights sit at the top of the card, and I’m going to break all three down and give a (hopefully accurate) prediction on how it all goes down. The greatest female fighter of all time Amanda Nunes defends her Bantamweight championship against Germaine De Randamie in a battle of talented strikers. In the co main event; Max Holloway faces one of his more interesting challenges in former 200lbs Rugby player turned Featherweight ; no.1 contender Alexander Volkanovski. In the main event; newly crowned Welterweight king Kamaru Usman takes on the UFC’s resident pantomime villain in Donald Trump supporter Colby Covington in a battle of two men with very similar styles. Without further ado, let’s get into the breakdown.

Amanda Nunes (c) vs Germaine De Randamie

Germaine De Randamie has found herself back in the mix for the belts; winning two fights after vacating her then inaugural Featherweight belt. De Randamie perhaps finds herself as no.1 contender by default rather than merit here, as there is simply no-one for Nunes to fight. With this being said; De Randamie is a world class kickboxer who is a dangerous night out for any woman at Featherweight or Bantamweight in the UFC right now. Amanda Nunes is the unstoppable force who has failed to meet any kind of immovable object. It is hard to see any woman in the UFC (with the exception of an unlikely move back up to Bantamweight for Valentina Shevchenko) being able to defeat Nunes right now.

If De Randamie is able to keep a long jab in Nunes face and keep busy with leg kicks; she might be able to frustrate the champion and have success as the fight wears on, as Nunes’ savage power will be less of a factor the longer the fight goes. The two fought once previously; Nunes took De Randamie down and finished her with ground and pound inside the first frame. De Randamie will have to establish her striking early in order to keep Nunes off of her and avoid a repeat performance.

Nunes’ game has improved no end since the last time the two came face to face in 2013. Her boxing is more polished; she is more efficent with her energy, and her kicks are excellent. With all this being said; the path of least resistance will still be the same, take GDR down and don’t let her up. Nunes’ ground game is a long way ahead of GDR; and if she can take her down early, the fight is not likely to last long from that point. It’s hard to know what Nunes will decide to do though; as she just knocked out world class boxer and kickboxer Holly Holm via devastating head kick in July this year; so she may fancy her chances of outstriking her opponent as she would likely carry a significant speed and power advantage in the striking realm.

I predict there will be a tentative start to this fight as both women will be wary of the other’s ability. There will be a feeling out process with both women trying to find their range. Around half way through the round both fighters will start to exchange with both landing clean shots. At this point I believe Nunes lands a devastating combination which puts GDR on her back; Nunes will aggressively follow up and begin ground and pounding. After taking some punishment on the ground; GDR will give up her back allowing the champion to sink in a rear naked choke for her fourth defence of the Bantamweight strap.

Amanda Nunes via TKO (Round 1)

Max Holloway (c) vs Alexander Volkanovski

This is a very intriguing fight for a number of reasons; it is arguable Alexander Volkanovski is the most modern fighter Holloway will have faced during his reign as Featherweight champion; having only been fighting a total of six years. Volkanovski has a pressure heavy style; combining solid boxing and power strikes with a very physical wrestling game. A former Rugby player; he may be the strongest Featherweight Max Holloway has faced, and he likes to start fights fast, which should be an interesting contrast with Holloway’s slow starting cardio based style.

Alexander Volkanovski has established himself as a world class fighter in the last 12 months with impressive wins over all time greats in Jose Aldo and Chad Mendes. Whilst it’s arguable those two fighters are not what they once were; they were both dangerous and formidable opponents. He will look to add to this by defeating arguably the best Featherweight of all time in Max Holloway. Being the shorter fighter; Volkanovski will need to close the distance and rough up Holloway on the inside in order to avoid the superior range kickboxing of the Featherweight champ. With Holloway typically a slow starter; the challenger should look to put the pressure on early and either look for the finish or build a good lead going into the later rounds. We have seen Volkanovski is powerful; and Holloway for all of his qualities is able to be hit so I wouldn’t rule out a knockout win for the Australian. This being said; if he is unable to finish the fight; keeping pace with Holloway for 25 minutes is a significant challenge for a fighter who has never fought 5 rounds before.

Max Holloway rebounded from his loss at 155lbs to Dustin Poirier with a significant performance against Frankie Edgar. He was able to completely nullify Edgar’s wrestling whilst outstriking him at distance as he has done with the vast majority of his opponents. He looks to add another impressive name to his ever-growing resume and cement his status as the greatest to ever do it at 145lbs. Volkanovski will most likely bring an early storm; however if Holloway is able to come through the other side in one piece, his endurance and striking ability should allow him to pick apart the tough contender. What Holloway may not have seen is an opponent who will come at him as willingly as Volkanovski will and as with most of his fights in recent times, the big question is how much is this weight cut taking out of the champion? Will he move to Lightweight permanently? In spite of his unsuccessful foray against Dustin Poirier; there are often stories about how hard Holloway’s weight cuts are, is it taking a toll on his body?

As stated; I fully expect Volkanovski to start strongly here, using boxing on the inside an clinching against the cage where possible as he did against Jose Aldo. He will use his physical strength to wear down Holloway, who will be unable to find his range in the first frame. He will clip Holloway a few times however the Hawaiian’s chin will hold up. In the second Volkanovski will start off the same way; however he’ll eat a couple of shots coming in this time. Holloway will be able to nullify him in the clinch and will establish more distance to land his shots. In the third Holloway will start to take over; and will land combinations as Volkanovski starts to slow down as in so many of his performances. In the fourth Holloway will turn up the heat and tee off on Volkanovski; at this point the challenger will not be able to take anymore and the referee will pull Holloway off.

Max Holloway via TKO (Round 4)

Kamaru Usman (c) vs Colby Covington

The main event of the evening is a clash between two fighters with two of the best motors in the entire UFC. It is also a heated rivalry; with Colby Covington getting a lot of negative attention for his trash talk recently, regularly affirming his support for Donald Trump and making disparaging comments about a great number of UFC fighters; even UFC President Dana White has been in the line of fire. This has resulted in a lot of resentment from fans and fighters alike directed at Covington; and this may obscure the judgement of some relating to his fighting ability. Both these fighters are world class and their games are very similar; they are excellent wrestlers who set a great pace on the feet; which is why this fight may come down to striking technique.

Colby Covington has been on a tear as of late; with his seven fight win streak showing no signs of slowing up. He has been the 25 minute distance in his last two fights, dominant performances against Rafael Dos Anjos and Robbie Lawler respectively. Covington’s striking has come on leaps and bounds in these outings; and he has combined these skills with his NCAA Division I background to put a serious pace on his opponents; breaking a total strikes landed record over five rounds against Robbie Lawler. It is very possible he will not be able to outwrestle Usman. It is quite possible neither of them will be able to implement a wrestling heavy attack, due to each man’s skill in the area; so Covington’s best road to victory is to use long range kickboxing to utilise his technical striking advantage, and to take any opportunities to shoot on Usman.

Kamaru Usman has looked invulnerable in all of his UFC outings, the only loss on his MMA record was a submission defeat in his second fight. He is coming off an incredible victory over Tyron Woodley; where he put his pressure and wrestling together to dominate to hard-hitting american. Usman has decent striking; however his wrestling against the cage is where he has recently excelled. He is excellent in the clinch; and lands some sneaky elbows on clinch breaks, which could be a great weapon in this fight; as Covington and Usman are clinch heavy fighters, it’s reasonable to expect at least some of the fight will take place there. Once again; I don’t see either of these guys outwrestling each other; so they will need to resort to other skills. Whilst there is a narrative Usman has the power to KO Covington; it is hard to see this happening, as Usman has one KO win inside the octagon, and Covington has taken shots from multiple fighters who hit harder than Usman. It is possible to see either fighter winning using the correct gameplan.

I can see this fight being at a high pace; and being very competitive. It will be somewhat reminiscent of Johnny Hendricks vs GSP; save for the power shots landed by Hendricks. I feel this fight will go all five rounds; with both fighters having their fair share of the action. I feel they will both take each other down at points; however neither will be able to hold the other down for long. I can see Usman cutting Covington up with a couple of elbows in the clinch; but it won’t deter Covington’s attack. Covington will be the superior kickboxer; and this is what will get him the edge. Every round will be competitive and some will be razor thin; however I believe Colby Covington will land the cleaner shots, and this is what the judges will remember. And new…

Colby Covington via Split Decision

UFC 244 Main Card Predictions

It’s finally here! The highly anticipated BMF belt will be on the line, with one of the two eccentric, scintillating personalities of Jorge Masvidal and Nate Diaz walking out the official BMF of the UFC. There is also a stacked card behind this once in a lifetime encounter, so today I will be previewing and predicting the entire card.

Kevin Lee vs Gregor Gillespie

This is a matchup between two standout wrestlers with massively varying trajectories. Gregor Gillespie has been running through his opponents; but Kevin Lee will be by far the highest level opponent he has faced. His striking; whilst effective has been fairly rudimentary and he is now facing an opponent who he may not be able to outwrestle. Kevin Lee is in dire need of a win here; he is now training out of Tristar which he will be hoping can breathe new life into his career with a victory over the undefeated Gillespie.

I anticipate a striking match here; I do not expect either man to have a noticeable advantage in the wrestling department, and Kevin Lee is the more polished striker. Lee will use his superior movement and timing to frustrate Gillespie and hand the former collegiate wrestler his first professional loss. I am predicting he does this via stoppage after  barrage of strikes is too much for Gillespie.

Kevin Lee via TKO (Round 2)

Derrick Lewis vs Blagoy Ivanov

A strange matchup between one heavyweight with a surge of momentum in Ivanov and another heavyweight who is on a downward slide in Derrick Lewis. Lewis is on a two fight skid; albeit against world class competition. Ivanov is on a two fight streak with two decision wins, and he is the better grappler and possibly the better technical striker. However the x-factor is always Lewis’ power; it is a game changer in nearly all of Lewis’ fights and it is likely to be so again. Ivanov will do well in the first round; taking down Lewis and using good ground control, however holding the behemoth down will have a big affect of the gas tank of Ivanov. Look for Lewis to explode out towards the end of the first round and wobble Ivanov in the striking realm. In the second frame Lewis closes the deal by catching a fading Ivanov with a massive overhand right to put “The Black Beast” back in the win column.

Derrick Lewis via TKO (Round 2)

Stephen Thompson vs Vicente Luque

Stephen Thompson has not fought since being shockingly knocked out by an Anthony Pettis superman punch. This followed a close decision loss to scouse standout Darren Till; meaning “Wonderboy” has not registered a UFC win in just under two years. Vicente Luque is an exciting striker who has power; and as shown in his barnburner of a last fight against Mike Perry, he can take a punch as well. With six UFC wins in a row; it’s easy to favor Luque here, however that would be forgetting how good Thompson really is. Despite the initial appearance of their current trajectories, Luque’s brawling striking style is tailor made for the Karate genius of Stephen Thompson. Wonderboy outclasses him in a performance which typifies his tricky, elusive style. Wonderboy will keep his distance and chip away at Luque’s legs until Luque gets frustrated and starts to lunge in, at which point Wonderboy will put some punches together. Luque may be rocked in this fight; but he is too tough to be finished by Wonderboy, who will take safety over wreckless abandon every day.

Stephen Thompson via Unanimous Decision

Kelvin Gastelum vs Darren Till

There is an big unknown quantity in this fight; and that unknown quantity is Darren Till at middleweight. Till is coming off of the first two losses of his career; being finished in both fights; and the general consensus is he will do his best work at middleweight. Till has the potential to be a future world champion; however this is a very risky fight for his middleweight debut. As a thai boxer; Till is hoping to showcase speed at middleweight, however Kelvin Gastelum, one fight removed from an interim title opportunity, possesses excellent speed himself. Kelvin also possesses great timing and power. Gastelum can wrestle; but his recent encounters illustrate he prefers to strike and whilst Till is the better striker on paper, Gastelum always seems to find a way to connect. With Till’s chin slightly high in his stance; look for Gastelum to connect early and often, en route to a first round knockout.

Kelvin Gastelum via KO (Round 1)

Jorge Masvidal vs Nate Diaz

It’s finally here. The big one. This is going to be a war; there’s simply no way it won’t be and that’s because these two always enter battle the exact same way; with reckless abandon. These two both have excellent boxing skills; and this one is likely to remain standing for the most part. It will be a battle of Masvidal’s speed and power vs Diaz’s toughness and endurance.

Diaz has an excellent ground game; however getting Masvidal down will be no easy feat. Additionally; as seen against Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wizard Demain Maia; Masvidal is extremely hard to submit o the ground, so it does not seem like a particularly viable option for Diaz, who lacks the wrestling ability of Maia.

“Gamebred” will take control of the early going; using footwork to get in and out against his longer opponent, with Diaz struggling to get going. Masvidal will land power punches whilst slipping away from Diaz’s return shots to cap off a good first round for the Miami native. The second round will be closer; with Masvidal continuing to land, however Diaz will walk through his shots and start piecing Masvidal up a bit. Eventually Diaz will back up Masvidal and land at will to close out the round. The third round Diaz will start to take over; walking Masvidal down alternating between body punches at boxing range an elbows in the clinch.  The championship rounds is where Diaz will really take over; peppering Masvidal’s face and body with punches, with Masvidal too tired to implement his footwork to move out of Diaz’s range. Masvidal will still land the odd hard shot but Diaz takes a competitive but clear decision.  

Nate Diaz via Unanimous Decision

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Demian Maia vs Ben Askren Preview and Prediction

In this blog we will take a closer look at the main event of the UFC Fight Night 162 fight card on Saturday night between former Olympic freestyle wrestling competitor Ben Askren and former Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) grappling champion Demian Maia. This fight has a very unique feel with two top class grapplers from different disciplines competing against each other; with the consensus being we will either see a dynamic grappling match with ground scrambles and submission attempts or a sloppy striking match with both men being cautious on the ground.

At 41 years old; people have long been wondering when exactly Demian Maia will look to call it a career in MMA. Subsequent to his last fight, a win over Anthony Rocco Martin at UFC on ESPN 3; Maia spoke about having one more fight with his ideal opponent being Diego Sanchez in Brazil. This fight is not in Maia’s native Brazil which would lead one to believe it will not be Maia’s last fight. Additionally; whilst it is never a good thing when a fighter sticks around too long; you have to wonder whether a win over a name like Askren will cause Demian to stick around. After all; a win over Askren followed by a win over a top five opponent could lead to another opportunity for Maia to capture that ever elusive world championship.

Ben Askren has had a difficult start to life in the UFC. In his UFC debut against Robbie Lawler he was manhandled and rocked badly on the ground by Lawler. Somethig he does not get enough credit for is how well he recovered from that beatdown; as he was able to go right back to Lawler’s legs and take him down. The biggest talking point of the fight is the contentious finish; with Askren holding Lawler in a bulldog choke, with Lawler appearing to fall unconscious, however this was shown not to be the case when Lawler jumped straight back up to protest the stoppage. Following his debut, Askren was a victim of the quickest KO in UFC history; courtesy of Jorge Masvidal, which has elevated Masvidal to a unforeseeable level of stardom. A win over a top ten Welterweight staple in Maia would work wonders for Askren in getting his UFC career back on track and getting closer to the big fights he really wants within the promotion.

Keys to Victory – Demian Maia

Let his hands go:

For possibly the first time in his UFC career; Demian Maia enters a fight with a sizeable striking advantage. It would be very helpful for Maia if he could land a shot or two to make Askren respect his hands; which will make it more likely the former Olympian takes a bad shot out of desperation, something which could be suicidal in a fight against Maia. Furthermore; if this fight does turn into a sloppy kickboxing match, Maia will surely have the advantage.

Be first with wrestling:

Demian Maia has an excellent sweep game off of his back; and he is one of the only BJJ practitioners to be able to use the deep half guard effectively in MMA, however in this fight he is up against a different animal. Ben Askren has excellent top control and can set a high pace, so Maia may not want to find himself on bottom. To ensure this; he must use his superior striking to pressure Askren, and shoot on the legs before Askren can set up takedowns of his own. From top position, Maia is handful for any fighter in the world.

Look for the finish:

In his last few fights; Maia has been flagging later on, often losing the third round of his latest three round encounters. Whether this is down to age or just the pressure heavy style of Maia is hard to tell; what we do know is that against an athete with conditioning the calibre of Askren, it would be in Maia’s best interest to end the fight early. The longer the fight goes; the more Askren’s conditioning and ability to grind will come into play. Maia has the skills to catch Askren in transition as he tries to scramble out of something; he must use these skills.

Keys to Victory – Ben Askren

Use head movement

As mentioned; Demian Maia will have the confidence of a large striking advanage in this fight. Having suffered a brutal knockout in his last fight, Askren must make sure he is not vulnerable to being tagged by hard shots, whilst also moving forward to try and implement his own world class grappling game. The way he can do this is by taking his head off of the centre line as he moves forward; which will make it harder for Maia to time him. If he is able to shoot in on Maia’s legs unscathed; this is the first step in what will be a long and difficult victory for Askren.

Use the clinch:

Askren would walk into the cage with a conditioning advantage over the majority of opponents he could face at Welterweight; with the possible exception of Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman. He will most definitely have a conditioning advantage over Maia. The main example of a pure grappler doing well against Maia was Jake Shields; who used the clinch and top position to great effect against Maia. Ben Askren’s hand fighting ability will most likely be better than Maia’s; which means he should be able to take control of the fight in the clinch. In most of the fights Maia wins, he is the one moving forward, pressuring and using the clinch to secure takedowns. If Askren can use the clinch to wear Maia down against the cage, it greatly takes away from Maia’s momentum and forward pressure.

Use scrambles from top position:

In order to control this fight; Askren must use his style of grappling to trump Maia’s. He has a great scrambling style on top which allows him to use wrestling positions and principles; this is paramount to victory against Demian Maia. He cannot engage in BJJ positions; especially the deep half guard of Demian Maia. He must be wary of his opponents ability to sweep and take the back; as Maia’s back take and choke game is second to none in MMA. Askren must keep moving; land ground and pound where possible and try to ride Maia out; rather than getting into a BJJ chess match with him. If Askren can take Maia down; and use wrestling positioning, he will be able to make Maia tired and take control as the fight wears on.

Prediction:

I am of the opinion that both of these guys will try to outgrapple each other which means we will have the fight we want; rather than a subpar striking bout. Maia takes control early; he will use his striking, size and pressure to back Askren up and take him down, taking his preferred position of back control, threatening with the rear naked choke and controlling Askren for the first five minutes.

After taking the first round Maia will go for a rinse and repeat in the second round, which will work the same way for 3 minutes. After this; Askren will manage to wriggle out and create a scramble for position which after a fascinating exchange Askren will come out on top position. 

In the third round Askren will go straight to the clinch where he will push Maia against the cage where eventually he will drag the black belt to the ground. A battle of Maia’s BJJ vs Askren’s wrestling ensues where eventually secures deep half and sweeps Askren, however as Maia tries to take the back, Askren wriggles out and gets on top into Maia’s full guard.

In the fourth and fifth rounds, Askren will take advantage of a tired Maia to take him down and ride out positions on the ground; bloodying his face with ground and pound to run away with the fight and take a convincing decision.

Ben Askren via Unanimous Decision

 

Matches to Make for the entire UFC on ESPN 6 Main Card

On Friday night we saw a contender emerge victorious, an all out war, and a surprise inhaler. With UFC on ESPN 6 now firmly in the rear view let’s jump straight into some potential matchmaking opportunities for the main card.

Deron Winn – UFC Release

The middleweight wrestler was a perhaps a little unlucky to be on the wrong side of the decision after scoring several takedowns throughout the fight; however he missed weight and he appeared to fade late on. Plenty of potential here; but for now he should revisit some smaller promotions to improve his game, and he will surely be back in the future.

Darren Stewart vs Eryk Anders

Darren Stewart just about did enough on Friday night; it came down to the fact he was in slightly better shape than his opponent as he came on strong after a tough first round, however he was unable to find an answer for Winn’s takedowns. A good next match up would be Eryk Anders, who is coming off a split decision win of his own.

Gillian Robertson vs Roxanne Modaferri

Gillian Robertson may have to take some time off after the first round stoppage loss she suffered at the hands of Maycee Barber. However she is still a solid UFC level fighter; with a record of 4-2 in the promotion. Roxanne Modaferri is another constant in the UFC who has traded wins and losses in recent fights. providing timings line up, a fight between Modaferri and Robertson would allow one of the two women to rebuild some momentum.

Maycee Barber vs Lauren Murphy

Maycee Barber was ferocious even if a little wild in victory in her fight against Gillian Robertson. Unfortunately the women’s Flyweight division is not especially deep at this moment; therefore the best option for her is a quick turnaround fight against grizzled veteran of women’s MMA Lauren Murphy. Murphy possesses crisp technique and a well rounded game which should test Barber’s ability to stay disciplined with her offence inside the cage.

Jonathan Pearce vs Clay Guida

Jonathan Pearce did not enjoy the most pleasant UFC debut against Joe Lauzon, on the receiving end of some nasty ground and pound for a first round loss. However Lauzon is a wily veteran, with the wins Pearce built up prior to his debut, he should get one more chance in the promotion. Clay Guida’s best days are definitely behind him; however he has enough left to be a stern test for the youngster in his next outing.

Joe Lauzon vs Michael Johnson/Stevie Ray winner

Just when people thought he was done, 35 year old fight of the night specialist Joe Lauzon snaps a three fight skid with a vintage finish after a barrage of aggressive ground and pound. It would not however be sensible for him to take a top 15 opponent just yet; he should run it back with the winner of Johnson vs Ray at UFC Fight Night 162; either rematch would be an exciting scrap for a PPV undercard.

Ben Sosoli vs Tai Tuivasa

Sosoli has now had 2 no contests in his last 2 fights, through no fault of his own. However from an objective point of view; he clearly lost this fight, inhalers aside. He never got inside on Hardy and the best match up which immediately springs to mind is fellow slugger Tai Tuivasa, there would likely be some fireworks in this one, with both men being short heavyweights who like to throw hard hooks.

Greg Hardy vs Andrei Arlovski

It is time for Hardy to stop fighting barely UFC-calibre opposition. There was miscommunication between Hardy and the athletic commission which we’re led to believe caused the no contest; however we know Hardy won the fight, and it wasn’t entertaining enough for the UFC to want to run it back. Andrei Arlovski would be a good test for Hardy at this point. The former champion has enough technical skill to outbox Hardy quite comfortably. However the former NFL Lineman’s athleticism; along with Arlovski’s advanced age and questionable chin make the fight compelling, providing the latter gets past Jairzinho Rozenstruik at UFC 244.

Jeremy Stephens vs Renato Moicano

Stephens may have been defeated Friday night; however he proved he can still put on exciting matchups and showed excellent toughness whilst surviving the second round enslaught from Yair Rodriguez. This being said; he was a class below Rodriguez and has now lost three of his last five fights (the other being the no contest against Rodriguez). Another fan pleasing affair between Stephens and fellow top ten warrior in need of momentum Renato Moicano would be the order of the day right now.

Yair Rodriguez vs Zabit Magomedsharipov/Calvin Kattar winner

Yair Rodriguez is looking more and more like an elite fighter; this is what we learnt from his fight with Jeremy Stephens, a perennial contender who only loses to the very best the division has to offer. A fight between Yair Rodriguez and Zabit Magomedsharipov was mooted before, however for reasons unknown (it is widely suspected Rodriguez declined the fight) the fight never came to pass. Zabit is fighting Calvin Kattar next; who himself has only lost once in the UFC, either would be a fitting next opponent for Rodriguez should they come out on top.

Chris Weidman vs Luke Rockhold 2

In the immediate aftermath; it is being suggested that Chris Weidman should hang up the gloves, due to the number of knockout losses he has sustained recently. Despite this; his skills due seem in tact as he started well against Reyes, using his pressure and wrestling. The question remains his ability to take a shot; which seems to have been lost in his recent fights. Weidman needs to improve his defensive ability, he has a tendency to lunge in with some of his shots, leaving himself susceptible to big counters. Another in the same boat is Luke Rockhold; and a rematch of their middleweight championship fight from December 2015 makes a lot of sense, as one of them will be able to rebuild whilst the other will likely face the axe.

Dominick Reyes vs Jon Jones

Reyes was very impressive vs Chris Weidman; displaying greatly improved takedown defence and the punching power which we already knew he had. Ideally Reyes should not be getting a title shot after beating Chris Weidman, a debutant at 205; however Weidman is a big name and the situation at 205 is difficult to navigate. Jon Jones has already beaten several of the current top ten; so Reyes potentially losing to the likes of Anthony Smith or Glover Teixeira will do very little for the division in terms of establishing a fresh dance partner for Jon Jones. Can Reyes beat Jones? It seems unlikely; but with his array of strikes and his pressure, there is enough there for the most compelling light heavyweight match up available for the champion at this point.

Thank you for reading! Please let me know what you think in the comments section.

Yair Rodriguez vs Jeremy Stephens – Keys to Victory and Prediction

With UFC on ESPN 6 fast approaching; this blog will take a close look at the match between dynamic Featherweight strikers Jeremy Stephens and Yair Rodriguez competing in a rematch of their no contest last month.


After a disappointing fight which ended before it got started in Mexico, off the back of an unfortunate accidental eye poke by Rodriguez, both men enter the cage with a serious point to prove.

Prior to the fight with Stephens, Yair Rodriguez was coming off of a spectacular 5th round knockout over Chan Sung Jung at UFC Fight Night 139 in November 2018; albeit a fight in which most believe he was clearly losing on the scorecards. Another convincing victory over a long time contender in Stephens would work wonders for Rodriguez’s position within the division, and all but guarantee him a top five ranked opponent.

Jeremy Stephens; whilst facing the stiff competition of Jose Aldo and Zabit Magomedsharipov in his last two fights before Rodriguez, has not registered a win since February 2018, however his toughness is not up for debate, nor his power, ‘Lil Heathen’ still has the ability to sleep any 145er unlucky enough to get caught with his right hand. Stephens needs a win badly here in order to remain relevant in the top tier of the featherweight division as excluding the previous fight with Rodriguez, he would be 0-3 From his last three fights if he were to lose to Rodriguez this Friday.

Keys to Victory – Yair Rodriguez

Keep the distance:
This may be an obvious observation, nevertheless it’s an extremely important factor in this fight. In Stephens, Yair Rodriguez faces a fighter who’s power is not to be underestimated, and Rodriguez’s chances of coming out on top will greatly decrease if he catches one of those sledge hammer right hands from his opponent. Rodriguez must stay away from Stephens power and allow his kicks and speed advantage to come into play. Rodriguez could land strikes and even win the fight in a slugvest with Stephens, as he has finishing ability himself, however his chances are greatly improved if he opts to stick and move here

Stay off of the fence:
Something a lot easier said than done, however the more Rodriguez can stay in the centre of the octagon, the more space he will have to move. He will have to use effective footwork and lateral movement in order to avoid being backed up against the fence by Stephens. If he is trapped by Stephens and is unable to move, the chance of him being caught by Stephens dramatically increases; however, a kickboxing match in the centre of the octagon sure favours the speed and variety of Rodriguez.

Maintain a good volume:
Rodriguez needs to throw strikes on a very regular basis in order to keep Jeremy Stephens thinking. The more long distance strikes Rodriguez can pepper Stephens with, the harder it will be for the veteran to reset, plant his feet and throw haymakers with bad intentions as he likes to do. The more Rodriguez finds his mark, the more likely Stephens will get frustrated and start to swing without caution, making the fight easier for Rodriguez.

Keys to Victory – Jeremy Stephens

Cut off the octagon:
Perhaps the most important element of the fight is the control of the octagon. In order for Stephens to win the fight; being the more powerful but less elusive of the two, it would benefit him to be able to pin Rodriguez down so he can tee off on him. In order to do this he must move laterally to corner Rodriguez before letting his strikes go. If he allows Rodriguez to angle away from him while he throws, it could be a tough night for Stephens.

Leg Kicks:
With Jeremy Stephens savage punching power; it is easy to overlook his leg kicks, which some would argue are equally brutal. Look no further than his fight with Gilbert Melendez for proof of this. Stephens can kick Rodriguez’s legs, he can slow the latter down and potentially make him hesitant to use his own impressive variety of kicks. If Stephens can be successful with leg kicks, this in turn will render Rodriguez easier to hit and increase Stephen’s chance for success with his power strikes.

A strong start:
Jeremy Stephens must establish himself early in this fight; Yair Rodriguez is a very fluid fighter, and once he gets into a rhythm, it will be difficult to stop. Stephens must pressure Rodriguez early; mix up his strikes, and look for the knockout. If he allows Rodriguez to settle in the fight, he will have a hard time taking control of the fight back from the nimble Mexican.

Prediction:
With both fighters being dangerous knockout artists, this fight could end at any time. With this being said, I expect Stephens to have some early success, landing some big shots and throwing some leg kicks. However I believe towards the end of the round Rodriguez will get his licks in to end a close first frame. In the second I believe Rodriguez will find his rhythm and take over the fight, maintaining distance with effective kicks to the legs body and head. Stephens will come out swinging in the 3rd round, with a sense of urgency fuelled from being behind, this is where Yair Rodriguez lands a counter which signals the beginning of the end, as he follows up on a fallen Stephens to take the win.

Yair Rodriguez via TKO (Round 3)

Welcome to Final Bell MMA

Hello ladies and gentleman, welcome to my new Mixed Martial Arts blog.

My name is Nathaniel Pendle and Mixed Martial Arts has been a passion of mine for quite some time now. It all started in 2008 when at the time I was a fan of WWE (I was young) and I had heard Brock Lesnar had gone to try his hand in the UFC. Not knowing much about the sport; but knowing all about Lesnar’s size and amateur wrestling credentials, I didn’t give anyone much of a chance against the behemoth from South Dakota. What would transpire in the match between Lesnar and former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir at UFC 81 gave birth to a fascination which would last until this day. Lesnar took control as expected; taking Mir down and hammering his face with ground and pound. As Lesnar stood up to stack the guard; Mir swivelled and rolled beautifully into a knee bar which left the beastly Brock with a choice of either a life altering knee injury or submitting and losing the match, he of course chose the latter. This illustrated to me the amount of ways there were to win (or lose) a mixed martial arts match and the pure technique involved in the sport, even between two brutish heavyweights.

Fast forward to just over 10 years later and I cannot imagine my life without mixed martial arts. I love to train it, I love to watch it and I love to talk about it. This blog is a way to share my passion with others and hopefully provide a unique viewpoint to readers.

My blog will cover fight predictions for upcoming cards; reviews of fight cards, top ten lists and my take on the ever evolving landscape of the MMA world. I will never claim to be 100% unbiased in my writing; however I aim to be as objective as possible by encompassing all viewpoints. I aim to cover all areas of the game; from business and promotion to fans and fighters.

Most bloggers have a long term goal in mind when they start writing. I am no different in this way and I would love at some point to be involved in mixed martial arts in a professional capacity; however until that day comes, I’m content to broadcast my ramblings all over the internet.

Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoy my blog.