First off the bat, let’s talk about what went down at UFC Newark. You can check out last week’s picks to follow along, or not. It’s whatever.
This was a bad card. Not only was it the first week in months where we didn’t score at least 8 correct, but it was filled with bad judging, late stoppages, bad fight commentary, bad refs, and bad performances.
The most notable example being Gary Copeland’s ludicrous call about Darko Stosic’s accidental groin strike against Kennedy Nzechukwu. He took off a point twice after only one warning in a southpaw vs. orthodox match which are notoriously known for groin strikes. It just happens, Copeland, go back to ref school.
I mean the best fight was a clash between two Lightweight veterans Jim Miller and Clay Guida that had stunning strikes and brutal finishes. It’s disappointing when the best fight lasts under a minute.
Of course, this was all tapped off in a match where everyone’s least favorite fighter dominated fan favorite Robbie Lawler in obnoxious fashion, complete with the usual innapropriate Colby comment in the post-fight interview. Luckily, this card should be able to remedy all of that.
We have a terrific fight night card ahead of us. A record-breaking 14 fights all topped off with a title match… this will be a night to be remembered.
Valentina Shevchenko vs. Liz Carmouche 2 (FLW)
After an all out beating at UFC 238 over Jessica Eye, Valentina Shevchenko (17-3, 6-2 UFC) will be looking for a redemption for her only non-Nunes loss. “Bullet” is truly an incredible striking with punishing Muay Thai and battering kicks and punches. On top of that, she has wrestling, which I didn’t expect from here. In fact, she has more wins by submission than anything else. Shevchenko is truly an elite and losing two matches to Amanda Nunes is nothing to scoff at. She has a great jab to keep her opponent at bay and has looked the best of her career at 125 lbs.
Liz Carmouche (13-6, 5-3 UFC) won the first match with Shev outside of the UFC when Valentina’s corner refused to let her continue. “Girlrilla” likes to get things done with her wrestling in the cage and use her striking more based around her volume. She doesn’t have a ton of finishing potential, but her defense ties up the strings nicely, taking a low amount of strikes and not letting her opponent get off any takedowns.
Carmouche ran away with the first match with her top control and ground and pound. Shev’s ground game is now infinitely better and I don’t see her being at a disadvantage from any angle. The. Muay Thai and clinchwork of Shev is next level, able to dominate talented strikers like Joanna Jedrzejzyck and put away inferior ones like Jessica Eye. Even her grappling is second to none and has been a huge advantage against every opponent. Put simply, I just don’t see Carmouche having any advantages in this fight.
Volkan Oezdemir vs. Ilir Latifi (LHW)
Volkan Oezdemir (15-4, 3-3 UFC) got rushed into a title shot in an odd, albeit entertaining fashion. Oezdemir is an absolute monster in the pocket and has the power to put the lights out with one punch. His two knockouts over Manuwa and Cirkunov were both under a minute and displayed his absolutely insane power. You don’t get the nickname “No Time” for nothing. He can generate ridiculous power from what seems like the smallest of shots. Oezdemir’s struggle has always been his cardio but with his recent match with Dominick Reyes (which was a robbery), he has shown considerable improvement in that area.
The Sledgehammer Ilir Latifi (14-6, 7-4 UFC) has floated around the mid-tier of the 205-pound division for a few years now. The 5’8″ Latifi has shown struggles with the reach disadvantage he is almost always having to deal with but likes to get close using a flurry of punches. Latifi also has a great wrestling background and has shown a strength that Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier has remarked on being one of the strongest grapplers he has ever faced.
This feels like a bad stylistic matchup for Latifi. His huge disadvantage in the height and reach department has given him a style that excels when he can blast his way in close. He can either put his opponent out with a big shot or take them to the ground. The issue here is that is Oezdemir’s best spot. Although Volkan has serious problems in his ground game, Latifi’s takedown accuracy is not good enough to expose those issues. Look for Oezdemir to bring that No Time moniker back into play the first time Latifi tries to bring it in close.
Take the Shot: Volkan Oezdemir via Round 1 Knockout
Vicente Luque vs. Mike Perry (WW)
Vicente Luque (16-6, 9-2 UFC) is riding a five-fight win streak with every victory in finish. Luque is as well-rounded as they come with technical Muay Thai and expert jiu-jitsu, where he has six subs in various forms of arm chokes. Luque is a powerful striker when pressing forward but prefers to pick up his guard and take a few shots while looking for a heavy counter when he is on the back foot. He mixes up his shots well with leg kicks and body shots, along with mixing in his expert wrestling.
It’s hard to not love Platinum Mike Perry (13-4, 7-4 UFC). He has tremendous power in his boxing, a warring style, and one of the best chins in MMA, hanging until decision with power punchers Alan Jouban and Santiago Ponzinibbio. Perry looked tremendous in his last fight against Alex Oliveira, utilizing his boxing and really showing a dramatic change in his ground game. He defended almost every takedown and when he did find himself on the mat, he hopped up real quick. That’s the kind of change that makes Perry a real contender.
We have an amazing match here and I couldn’t have done it better myself. We should have a fight that will play out entirely on the feet, as Luque mainly goes for takedowns when he is hurt. On the feet, I have to give the volume to Luque but the power swings in the other direction. The biggest tell for this match I see being in the durability of both fighters. Perry can take the biggest shots and dish out even bigger ones, while the chin of Luque is becoming an increasingly dangerous problem, having been dropped in both of his 2019 fights. In fact, this will be third fight in only five months, which is a ridiculous pace to put when being hurt that bad. Eventually, Perry’s right hand will find its home and it comes down to if you can take it. After all those beatings and the pressure of Perry, I think Luque will fall.
Take the Shot: Mike Perry via Round 1 Knockout
Humberto Bandenay vs. Luiz Garagorri (FTW)
Humberto Bandenay (14-6, 1-2 UFC) came into the UFC strong with a knee knockout in under a minute, but was served some of his own medicine with a slam KO loss, followed up with a decision defeat to Austin Arnett. This will be his first fight in nine months. Bandenay is well-rounded with 5 KO wins and another 6 in sub, but has struggled on the feet, getting served brutally in volume. He uses a kicking heavy style from the outside, not with much power unless landing perfect. His ground game backs that up well, though, with good defense and some offensive wrestling to pair well.
Uruguay native, Uruguayan?. No, that’s not right. Uragui… no. It doesn’t matter. Luiz Garagorri (11-0) is coming from Uruguay for his Octagon debut. The undefeated fighter has a similar style to Bandenay on the fight, dishing out some heavy hands along with a dominant jiu-jitsu game. He has all sorts of subs padding his record, from arm triangles to RNCs to heel hooks, all resulting in only three fights making it past the first round.
I expect this to be a wild and entertaining fight for the first round and significantly slowing down if it makes it past that. I don’t see that happening, however. Bandenay is best when he can utilize his size and reach, but he will actually be on the downside of that in this match, if only by a hair. Garagorri has the technical boxing and striking to piece Bandenay up on the feet and while Bandenay has some ground cred, I think Luiz G is more live for a finish there, including a better wrestling game.
Take the Shot: Luiz Garagorri via Round 1 Knockout
Oskar Piechota vs. Rodolfo Vieira (MW)
After coming in with a lot of hype behind his name, Oskar Piechota showed out with two dominant performances but ultimately getting submitted by GM3 almost a year ago. Piechota is namely a grappler with amazing power to bolster that, but has struggled in the past against elite grapplers. Still, he has cannons for hands and although he isn’t the most technical in his standup, he has the power to close the show there and on the mat.
Rodolfo Vieira (5-0) is coming into the UFC with a lot of hype behind him. “The Black Belt Hunter” has ran through all of his MMA competition, tapping four opponents with a rear naked choke and finishing another with punches. The Team Nogueira trainee is coming in with every win in the regional scene and showing out in dominant style, although they were all against low-level opposition. In the one match extended past the first round, Vieira showed some serious lapses in cardio, with which his overall game fell.
In a match with two incredible grapplers, we are sure to see some great technique before the night is through. Vieira is the fighter with better wrestling, an area easily exploited against the defensively deficient Piechota, along with the better tactical submissions. However, Piechota has serious power in his hands and although his standup still has a ways to go, that will be a weapon against Vieira. The issue with Vieira is there are so many unknowns, but I am tentatively going with him based off of Piechota’s struggles in the wrestling department.
Take the Shot: Rodolfo Vieira via Round 1 Submission
Cyril Gane vs. Raphael Pessoa (HW)
So we have another brutal double debut, this time in our main card.
Cyril Gane (3-0) has been tearing up the Heavyweight scene in Quebec in MMA after transitioning from professional Muay Thai. “Bon Gamin” has speed, power, and incredible technique, but a lack of experience in MMA. There are a lot of unknowns about him, but I have loved what I have seen, as he utilizes all eight striking points, attacks the head and body, and does expert combinations.
Evolucao rep Raphael Pessoa (9-0) is another Muay Thai fighter. He has more fight experience, especially in the later rounds and offers that Heavyweight power, too. He has a serious hole in his game, being his striking defense. He leaves his hands super low and fires his shots from his hips. While that builds power and increases your endurance in the later rounds (those arm muscles get tired… try holding your hands in high guard for fifteen minutes), it leaves you open to a lot of shots.
This should play out entirely on the feet and I give Gane the edge in power, speed and technique, but there are a lot of variables with a fighter with so little experience. None of his fights have ever gone past the second round, at least in MMA. I’m going to look at that as an advantage considering that his cardio has played out before and he isn’t one of those entirely shredded guys (they tend to gas faster). The striking match should end early when Pessoa drops his hands and Gane can land a bomb.
Take the Shot: Cyril Gane via Round 1 Knockout
Enrique Barzola vs. Bobby Moffett (FTW)
Enrique Barzola (15-4, 5-2 UFC) was on a four-fight win streak before falling to Kevin Aguilar in late March. Barzola is a wrestler, using his takedowns and top control to dominate position and utilize his strength en route to decision. His striking is serviceable and with a dominant volume and good defense, but he can be picked apart by more talented boxers in there.
Someone Barzola won’t have to worry about the boxing with is Bobby Moffett (14-4, 1-1 UFC). Moffett is a submission expert who can pull a brabo choke out from anywhere when he can establish top control. However, we saw him fall in an elite grappling exchange to Bryce Mitchell most recently, where he lacked the submission expertise off his back.
On the feet, Barzola can take it home with a decision, but neither fighter really wants to keep it in that area. Barzola will be looking to establish position while the Wolfman will want to close the show early. Striking is dicey, but the volume of Barzola may be outdone against the larger fighter in Moffett who can keep range well. I haven’t loved what I have seen from Moffett’s takedown defense, with him really truggling off his back.
Take the Shot: Enrique Barzola via Unanimous Decision
Check out our prelims pics right here!
Until next time, Freaks!