So for anyone who’s been followings my lil’ ramblings for a while now, I just want to first say thank you so much. It means the world to me that there are actually people on the other side of the screen that enjoy what I have to say (I know, the wonders of technology, right).
But some things are changing. First, the name is being changed to FilmFightFreaks. Hope y’all like it, but also I don’t care because I like it, so there ya go.
Second and probably the biggest change, I’m going to do MMA predictions, news, and whatever on here. I did a bit of writing for some MMA articles and enjoyed it, so I thought why not bring it on over here? Now I’m mostly going to be doing stuff for UFC events, which are now practically every weekend, thanks to ESPN. But maybe I’ll toss in some PFL and Bellator here and there if I wanna spice things up ;).
So without any further ado, my predictions for UFC 236.
Now this card is without a doubt the most stacked card I think I’ve ever seen. It’s two titles and two titles that could very much headline their own cards. Typically with this double title cards, we get Women’s or low weight (Flyweight, Bantamweight) that tend to not draw in as many viewers.
(Quick side note: anyone who thinks these events aren’t as good is just plain WRONG. Female MMA fighters are BADASS and so entertaining and the BW division is, in my opinion, the most stacked division right now.)
But here we have two titles that are at Welterweight (170) and Light Heavyweight (205). Not to mention the UFC debut of Ben Askren, up and comer Weili Zhang taking on Strawweight gatekeeper Tecia Torres, and the return of No Love.
UFC Fight Pass Prelims
Polyana Viana v. Hannah Cifers (SW)
Polyana Viana made headlines by beating the hell out of a guy during an attempted mugging, but before that, she was beating the hell out of girls over at Jungle Fight. “Dama de Ferro” made her UFC debut with a quick submission over Maia Kahaunalae-Stevenson, but lost a battle against the surging J.J. Aldrich. Viana is trying to put herself back on the winning track here by using her grappling based style to prove herself with a dominant performance against Cifers.
Hannah Cifers burst onto the scene by making her UFC debut against top prospect Maycee Barber, acting as a replacement and becoming a huge underdog. She was devastatingly dismantled against Barber, who ground-and-pounded her way to a second-round TKO. Cifers began her career 0-2, and another 2 fight losing streak would not be good at all. It is very possible the striker is looking at a mandatory victory if she wants to keep fighting in the Octagon.
The path to victory is clear for both fighters here. It’s a classic striker vs. grappler matchup. Cifers is going to want to keep this on the feet and use her power to pull a knockout. However, she’ll be giving up 6 inches in height and another 5 in reach to Viana. That’s not good for someone who relies on striking. Viana’s stand up game has seemed to have drastically improved and frankly, she’s going to look a whole weight class above Cifers out there. This fight is going to go straight to the clinch, with Viana looking for the takedown, or maybe even pulling guard to get Cifers on the mat with her. Cifers is going to need to get big shots in early to pull a win here and lean on her takedown defense to save her. Sadly for Cifers, she does not have that and the rangy Viana will be able to pull her to the ground whenever she wants. The second this hits the mat, it’s a done deal.
Take The Shot: Polyana Viana via Round 1 Submission
Marlon Vera vs. Frankie Saenz (BW)
Gina Mazany v. Macy Chiasson (BW)
If you didn’t see Macy Chiasson’s debut on TUF 28 Finale, you’re in for a treat. This girl swarmed her competition in the bracket and won in the finale in a dominant and entertaining performance. Looking at her record, you would expect her to be more of a ground fighter, but she hits HARD. Her record looks a little lean for my taste, but she is without a doubt UFC worthy. A Krav Maga fighter with 2 of her 3 wins coming by submission, she found less opportunity than she would have liked at Featherweight, so she’s hopping down to Bantamweight. Same champion, right? If you’re unfamiliar with Chiasson’s story, she was shot and almost died. My personal philosophy is that if you can take a bullet, you can take a punch.
Gina Mazany, on the other hand, has the advantage in experience, but with a 1-2 UFC record, I’m not positive that it’s good experience. She seems to be a well-rounded fighter, with a few 1st round KOs and a lone submission victory. However, she doesn’t seem to have the ground skill to match Chiasson’s superior size and grappling and certainly doesn’t measure up to her opponent’s Featherweight power. Her only path to victory seems to be a lucky shot.
Take The Shot: Macy Chiasson via Round 2 TKO
Edmen Shahbazyan v. Charles Byrd (MW)
So Edmen Shahbazyan came in with a split decision in TUF 28 Finale against Darren Stewart, but this was his only non-KO win. In fact, his 8-0 record has 7 knockouts all in the first round, with only 2 making it out of the first round. So yes, we have a heavy hitter here. However, he has some grappling prowess that was shown against Stewart, he’s just never really had the opportunity to showcase the grappling and submission ability. Although he seemed to be afraid of Stewart’s power at times, I rather see it as a high fight IQ, and an ability to see that “oh shit, I just got rocked” feeling that so many fighters can never seem to find.
Shahbazyan probably won’t, and shouldn’t, go to the ground against Charles Byrd. Kid Dynamite’s grappling ability will be his advantage here and will look to showcase that skill. A worry for me is the 14 year age gap that the much older Byrd will have to deal with, coming up against a younger and hungrier fighter. Byrd’s last fight was a loss against the aforementioned Darren Stewart in the second round, so to me, his chin is a concern here. While Shahbazyan’s ground game is by no means proven, I think he will be able to hold himself on the ground against Byrd, who does not seem to have extreme skill there, ala Charles Oliveira. I see Shahbazyan holding a heavy advantage on the feet and the ability to handle himself if it goes to the ground.
Take The Shot: Edmen Shahbazyan via Round 2 KO
Diego Sanchez v. Mickey Gall (WW)
It’s a huge testament to the quality of this card that this is the fight that is my least favorite. My pick for this one comes less from my faith in Mickey Gall and more in my lack of faith in Diego Sanchez. Most fight fans will know Gall as “the guy that got to beat C.M. Punk”, and honestly, Gall doesn’t offer a ton to me. He has a 5-1 record with every win by rear-naked choke. His stand-up game is sub-par and his wrestling doesn’t make him a world-beater. His game plan can be essentially boiled down to “grab the back and snatch the neck.”
Buuuuut, he’s fighting Diego Sanchez. Sanchez’s last non-decision win was in 2008 on the TUF 7 Finale and he hasn’t been that crazy since. He had some solid fights, but since around 2014 he’s gone downhill, which is to be expected for a 37-year-old. I think that eventually, Gall will find an opportunity to grab the back and snatch that choke he loves so much.
Take The Shot: Mickey Gall via Round 2 Submission
Cody Stamann v. Alejandro Perez (BW)
I’m surprised the line isn’t larger on this one. Stamann has better technical striking and much higher accuracy than Perez. He also has impressive wrestling skill, leading me to believe this fight will go wherever he chooses. I watched pretty much all the film I could find on Perez, but didn’t find anything that seemed to top Stamann. Cody should have the advantage everywhere over “Turbo” and outside of a freak occurrence, will wind up on top and leave it to the judges.
Take The Shot: Cody Stamann via Unanimous Decision
Misha Cirkunov v. Johnny Walker (LHW)
GOD DAMNNN! Johnny Walker had a HOT second half of 2018. I was anxiously awaiting his Octagon debut and let me tell you, he did not disappoint. Walker is an absolute manimal who rained hellbows down on Khalil Rountree and sent Justin Ledet back to the Stone Age. Johnny’s KO power is only bested by his dance moves and just going out there and having fun with it. However, he’s going to need to use his brain and not just his fists in this fight. Misha Cirkunov is one of the best grapplers at 205 with 8 of his 14 wins coming by submission. Without question, he’s going to need to utilize this advantage if he wants to come out victorious over the surging Walker.
Walker does have 2 wins by submission, by he will definitely want to keep this on the feet. His power and 6-inch reach advantage should give him a massive advantage on the feet and Cirkunov’s KO loss to Glover Texeira does not give me a lot of faith in his chin. He’s certainly been able to get rocked and I don’t think he will be able to do much to Walker on the feet. That puts it onto Cirkunov to get it to the ground and Walker’s superb takedown defense should keep him standing. I see Walker with another quick victory to send him even higher.
Take The Shot: Johnny Walker via Round 1 KO
Jeremy Stephens v. Zabit Magomedsharipov (FW)
And just like that, prelim ratings just shot way up. The second I saw this, I was grinning ear to ear. Jeremy Stephens pretty much brings the same thing to the table every time: the heaviest Featherweight hands. He will pretty much always have that advantage, but to pull an upset here, he’s going to need to fight reallll smart here. He has to stay on the feet and close the towering Dagestani range to deliver some heavy shots.
However, said towering Dagestani seems to wrap everyone up with his quick thinking and even quicker movement. Although he is a submission specialist, he does have a tendency to get pulled into brawls. Stephens is not someone he wants to do that against and Magomedsharipov should take this to the mat the first chance he gets. That being said, he has incredible technical boxing skills and surprising power. Not to mention he’s a giant as a 6’1″ 145er. Zabit will most likely mess around on the feet and pick Stephens apart at range before pulling him down and sealing the deal.
Take The Shot: Zabit Magomedsharipov via Round 2 Submission
PPV Main Card
Cody Garbrandt v. Pedro Munhoz (BW)
Cody Garbrandt’s past year hasn’t been the best. After losing his belt to TJ Dillashaw after an excellent performance against Dominick Cruz, Garbrandt got rocked again by Dillashaw and again by back surgery. Now he’s back though and looking to bring back the fire that pushed him to the top of the Bantamweight division. Garbrandt isn’t really well-rounded and essentially simple. He moves at hummingbird speed but with a gorilla punch behind it. But he knows that and is DAMN good at keeping his opponent right where he wants them.
Pedro Munhoz, on the other hand, is more of a wrestler. Get Cody to the mat and keep him there, and he should find himself with a high-level fight in the most stacked division. Easier said than done, however. Garbrandt moves too quick to be snatched easily by a single leg and has too much power in the pocket for Munhoz to hang there and wait for an opportunity. This looks like an opportunity for Garbrandt to remind the fans why he got that title shot in the first place with a dominant victory over “The Young Punisher”.
Take The Shot: Cody Garbrandt via Round 1 TKO
Tecia Torres v. Weili Zhang
Tecia Torres is coming off to back to back losses from Jessica Andrade and most recently, Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Although she came out on the bottom of unanimous decisions, her wrestling was her strong spot against Joanna and her cardio seems to only improve. Her willingness to trade cost her the win, but the fact remains that all of her 3 losses have come at the hands of the Strawweight top 3. “The Tiny Tornado” has gone to decision in all but one of her fights, in which she locked up a second round RNC in the TUF 25 Finale. She has incredible speed and has gone into a more thought out striking approach instead of swinging over and over using veins filled with Red Bull. Although Tecia’s explosive wrestling style does not lend her finishes, she is more than content to use her grit and heavy chin to take it to the judges.
Weili Zhang locked up this fight with a first sound submission over Jessica Aguilar. Well known in the Chinese regional circuit, she has submission potential, but her main strengths lie in her KO ability. The Strawweight division is not particularly known for its finishing skill and the finishes that do occur are typically from submissions. But “Magnum” burst onto the scene in an incredible fashion with two impressive finishes. Her style seems very hard to find holes in, however, she hasn’t spent a lot of time up against elite competition in the UFC. She’s an interesting matchup stylistically as a finisher going up against Torres, who always goes for the victory.
This matchup is so damn close for me. Torres has never been finished and has a higher experience level when it comes to competition, but it’s hard to not love Zhang’s entertaining style. At the end of the day, it comes down to chin for me. Torres has time and time again proved she can survive and I think that will be the case here. However, we are in for a very close fight, and I think the ground will be Torres’ advantage here, so long as she is able to stay on top and avoid submission attempts from Magnum.
Take The Shot: Tecia Torres via Split Decision
Robbie Lawler v. Ben Askren
Ladies and gentlemen, we got him.
Ben Askren finally makes his Octagon debut. For anyone who is unaware of the hype surrounding Askren, “Funky” was the reigning Bellator and ONE champion for a good long while, along with holding an undefeated record. An expert wrestler and long-time training partner and friend of Tyron Woodley, Ben is, in many people’s opinion, the greatest wrestler in MMA. Shots fired, Khabiby. If you’ve seen Nurmagomedov fight, you’ve essentially seen Askren. They have a remarkably similar style to the average eye but upon closer comparison, Askren seems to flow a bit better, though not having the same ability on the feet.
He will be dropped right into the field as he takes on former champion Robbie Lawler. Lawler, as many know, is a brutal knockout artist with impressive takedown defense and relentless pressure. He is essentially the hardest non-title fight, besides Usman, that the UFC could throw at him. What is concerning, however, is Lawler’s last fight against Rafael dos Anjos. Lawler did not have the same Ruthless spirit, and many jumped to the conclusion that he is running downhill. I personally don’t think that will be the case, and there is still a very real possibility Lawler can give Askren a rude awakening.
The problem here is that while Lawler has top-notch takedown defense and an extraordinary ability to keep it on the feet, Askren is the upper echelon, he’s as good as it gets for wrestling. After a hefty round for Robbie, Askren will find the takedown and Funky Ben will give Lawler a loooong night.
Take The Shot: Ben Askren via Unanimous Decision
Tyron Woodley v. Kamaru Usman
This was the hardest match for me to predict. Tyron Woodley will be looking for his fifth title defense against “The Nigerian Nightmare” who may just be his toughest. Woodley is a supreme wrestler with a hammer of a right hand and the counterpunching to aid it. He finished off Darren Till most recently in brutal fashion, dropping him with that right, and I saw that as a possible outcome as T-Wood has a skill in lulling his opponent to come crashing in, only to find his right hook there.
However, the line is a little far for my liking. Kamara Usman has been undefeated since his second fight with a 14-1 record. Usman will be the most capable wrestler Woodley has ever faced. As I said above, he and Askren train together, and I assume they’ve spent the past month with Askren shooting for takedowns and Woodley defending. The way I see it, their wrestling comes down to whoever is on top pressures for a long, boring round. Their wrestling abilities essentially cancel each other out, and that leaves their stand-up. And that’s where I give “The Chosen One” his advantage. Many have underestimated Woodley before, and I think his heavy hands stick around once again. Look for a few wrestling rounds to be followed with a reckless exchange, probably with Tyron left standing.
Take The Shot: Tyron Woodley by Round 4 TKO
Jon Jones v. Anthony Smith
Sorry Anderson Silva, but the GOAT came back into the Octagon December 28th against Alexander Gustaffson. After suspensions and drama, Jon Jones finally made his way back looking better than ever. He was well put together, seamlessly flowing and boxing, along with the timing and unique style that trademarks Jones. A 3rd round TKO gave Jones his belt back, and immediately he was looking for another fight, saying that he wants to make up for lost time. Yet this fight, like any Jon Jones fight, is not without drama, he is being tested twice weekly by USADA for the “pulsing” trace of picograms. Bones says bring it on, as he has been entirely open and trying to show every possible way that he is innocent. Listen to Rogan’s podcast with the head of UFC Anti-Doping, it will show you why Jones really is innocent this time around.
Anthony Smith, in his own words, doesn’t give a shit. He’ll fight Jones on steroids or without it. Since even before the Gustaffson fight, “Lionheart” was gunning for Jones, saying win or lose, he wants Jones next. Smith was the Middleweight gatekeeper, before stepping up to 205 after a war with Thiago Santos. Since then, he is 3-0 and has been brutal in his performances, demonstrating violent KO power along with submission ability. However, I would have liked to see another fight before this one, just to let Smith really prove himself.
Many have called this Jones’ easiest fight, and I’m gonna play devil’s advocate and disagree. Smith has a lot more elements to his game than people think. He has an incredibly high fight IQ and an impressive chin and even more impressive power since his move to LHW. Smith has more finishes than Jones has fights! That being said, Jones isn’t called the UFC’s best for no reason. He presents a danger, no matter where the fight goes. Although Smith certainly has a chance to win that I personally believe many are not giving him credit for, Jones will look to weather the early storm and then descend on Lionheart with all hell behind him.
Take The Shot: Jon Jones via Round 3 TKO
Now keeping in mind that these predictions are a fairly new thing, my goal is to get these out by Thursday each week, at the latest.
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Using this link adds $10 to your account with your first deposit of at least $10, while (full disclosure) also adding $10 to my account. No pressure though! Always remember to play smart and responsibly and most importantly, have some goddamn fun with it!
Regardless of the outcome, we have a damn good card ahead of us for Saturday. I’m excited to see how this all goes down and I’m already on the edge of my seat with anticipation. This will be a card to remember.
I’ll catch ya later, Freaks!