UFC Fight Night: Poirier vs. Hooker Main Card Predictions

Last night’s events were a little rough, as I went just 2-3, but with the great showings that both Lyman Good and Shane Burgos had in defeat, I’m not too upset by it.

Let’s get back in the green.

This week, the Octagon is staying at the APEX again, for a decent card with one killer main event. Dustin Poirier is making his first appearance since his failed title unification bout against Khabib last September, while Dan Hooker has been on a meteoric rise.

They will throw down for what may very well be the next shot at the Lightweight title, while fan-favorite Mike Perry will throw down against the CM Punk-killing Mickey Gall in our co-main event.


Dustin Poirier vs. Dan Hooker (LW)

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Dustin Poirier (25-6, 17-4 UFC) finally secured Lightweight gold at UFC 236 last year, only to lose his shot at the top once again in a unification bout with Khabib.  “The Diamond” has been practically unkillable since his move to Lightweight, amounting an impressive 9-2 record at the weight class. He has ridiculous power at that weight, a nice gas tank, and a heavily underrated submission game. In his FOTN back in April 2019 against Max Holloway, he demonstrated his ability to handle five rounds as well as dish out the necessary volume to secure victory. His greatest weapon in this match will be his veteranship and boxing technique, both of which are second to none.

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Dan Hooker (20-8, 10-4 UFC) returned from a brutal beating to Edson Barboza to outwork Raging Al Iaquinta to a decision I thought Al wouldn’t last to. “The Hangman” was on a four-fight tear before Barboza, finishing each win over equally dangerous competitors like Gilbert Burns and Jim Miller, but has now asserted himself at the top of the Lightweight division on a three fight winning streak. The lanky Kiwi loves his knees against wrestlers and packs some good power, along with bringing an arsenal of defensive submissions to play with. Despite looking lanky (which he is), Hooker has incredible power and precision to absolutely dust people, making great and efficient work off of his range.

This matchup seems to be a battle of tides, the winner being the fighter who can survive his opponent’s storm. Dan Hooker is an offensive machine, utilizing footwork and a clean jab to deliver power strikes and punish any fighter who dares stand and trade in the pocket with him. Of course, Dustin’s two knockout defeats came from that exact reason against Michael Johnson and Conor McGregor. On the other side of the equation, Hooker’s output and footwork go out the window once he sustains two much damage, as his offense slowly fell throughout his bouts against Paul Felder and Edson Barboza, both of whom capitalized on his weakness to leg kicks. In short, Poirier has openings for Hooker to land the power shots he needs to close the show, especially in the early goings when his output and movement is at a higher rate. However, if Hooker can’t swing the finish early, Dustin will easily take control and use his power or submission skills to batter the Kiwi out of the bout. I’m banking on the former, since Poirier’s activity levels and movement look primed for the long straight KO blows from Hooker.

Take the Shot: Dan Hooker via Round 2 Knockout


Mike Perry vs. Mickey Gall (WW)

UFC's Mike Perry claims he only has '$6' in bank account

It’s hard to not love Platinum Mike Perry (13-6, 7-6 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 recent efforts against Alex Oliveira and even his defeat to divisional powerhouse Vicente Luque, utilizing his boxing and really showing a dramatic improvement in his ground game. He defended almost every takedown and when he did find himself on the mat, he hopped up real quick. Perry will never be a top contender but you know exactly what you’re going to get and it’s always gonna be fun.

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As of right now, the biggest claim to fame for Mickey Gall (6-2, 5-2 UFC) is still just “that guy that beat CM Punk”. All but one win by Gall has come through in a rear-naked choke and he recently received his jiu-jitsu black belt. Still, he is certainly talented in that one facet of his game and wastes no time trying to get the fight to the mat. The reasoning for that being that his striking is pure garbage, through and through. He has poor accuracy, volume, power and some of the worst striking defense I have seen. He is certainly a one-trick pony, but the type of pony without the best takedown skills.

Mike Perry is in a weird spot right now, recently posting to social media several cuts on his face and hands, while stating he is still fighting. Not to mention that he is refusing a corner of coaches in favor of his new girlfriend, who to my knowledge does not have any MMA training. Still, this is a matchup that benefits the sprawl-and-brawler a great deal. Gall has no answer for the aggression of Perry, a weakness clearly displayed against Diego Sanchez, the 2018 version of Diego Sanchez, to be precise. While Gall essentially has a sort of “puncher’s chance” in how adept he is at taking the back once the fight is on the mat, his ineptitude in striking and poor durability should right Perry’s losing streak.

Take the Shot: Mike Perry via Round 2 Knockout


Note: the following fight has been cancelled, as Aspen Ladd suffered an ACL and MCL tear.

Aspen Ladd vs. Sara McMann (BW)

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The surging Aspen Ladd (9-1, 4-1 UFC) will look to secure the next title shot in the Bantamweight here with another win. Ladd is coming off a TKO victory of Yana Kunitskaya after a questionable stoppage against GDR. Ladd’s aim of the game is to use her wrestling, secure position, and unleash an onslaught of ground and pound. Ladd’s top game is unparalleled and she can dish out an otherworldly amount of damage once she is on top of her opponent. On the feet, she is not lost, but certainly prefers to get the match to the ground and go to work.

Sara McMann (12-5, 5-5 UFC) recently outworked Lina Lansberg over three rounds to secure victory in January 2020 after nearly two years away from the Octagon. McMann is a talented boxer and judoka who has picked up some extremely polished skills from top control. She is great at setting up arm triangles as well as angling her body perfectly for position, but can be lost when she finds herself on her back. That issue against the offensive pummeling of Ladd’s wrestling is too great a concern and at 39 years old, McMann’s threshold for improvement is decreasing.

Take the Shot: Aspen Ladd via Unanimous Decision


Maurice Greene vs. Gian Villante (HW)

Maurice Greene (8-4, 3-2 UFC) was riding a three-fight UFC win streak before getting finished in his next two bouts. Greene is a massive man standing at 6’7, granting him four-inch advantages in height and reach in this match. Those lanky arms have allowed him to capture four wins by triangle, but Greene can also get the job done with his striking. “The Crochet Boss” showed off that technical boxing in his decision over Hughes and KO of Albini, whose base is entirely boxing.

Since his KO over Saparbeg Safarov back in 2015, Gian Villante (17-11, 7-8 UFC) has gone just 2-4, with both victories by way of split decision. The aging version of Villante simply doesn’t have the aggression and defense of his younger self, but he still puts out over four significant strikes per minute and has striking knockout ability in his hands. Villante’s skills in the grappling department are mainly used to keep him on his feet spot he can stand and bang, but he has the option of takedowns in a pinch.

For all of Greene’s submission savvy, he hasn’t proven any of the wrestling ability to get it there, so I don’t see this match going to the mat. I don’t like Villante’s move up to Heavyweight, as his weight cut isn’t to blame for his mounting defensive holes and criminal inconsistency. Taking away what is typically a size advantage won’t help matters either, and unless Villante can reduce this match to pocket boxing and bring back some of his aggression, he won’t be able to outpoint this one.

Take the Shot: Maurice Greene via Unanimous Decision


Brendan Allen vs. Kyle Daukaus (MW)

If you’re a fan of high level jiu-jitsu, this is the fight for you.

A first-round submission on the Contender Series gave way to a UFC contract for Brendan Allen (14-3, 2-0 UFC), with which he received another submission victory, this time over Contender Series vet Kevin Holland. Despite only being a jiu-jitsu brown belt, Allen has morphed BJJ beautifully into his MMA game and much prefers to get the fight to the ground. For good reason, too. Although he has scored 5 knockouts in his 16-fight career, there are still a great many unknowns about his striking, although he has displayed some pretty poor defense when striking, so he prefers to roll on the mat using his top-notch scrambling ability and reversals to find his way to the finish.

Kyle Daukaus (9-0) will be making his Octagon debut as a late replacement, but if the name sounds familiar, he won his fight on the Contender Series by decision, which was not enough for a contract in Dana’s eyes. He snatched up two more submission wins and joins the UFC now, instead. Daukaus has surprisingly crisp striking, using a lot of Muay Thai kicks and pressure, as he has no fear of the takedown. He’s a plain killer on the mat, who can throw D’Arce chokes and very uncommon submissions out of nowhere. His striking defense is his biggest hole right now, but his 6’3 height helps him gain some range on most of his opposition to fire off his kicks.

I don’t see a reason either fighter really wants to stay on the feet, but if anyone would prefer that, it would be Allen. He has some real power when he chooses to plant his feet, but often ends up searching for the takedown. All the better though, as his scrambling technique and chess match positioning of his limbs give him the higher likelihood of establishing top position, as neither fighter is what I would call a takedown artist. I am unconvinced of Daukaus’ grappling skills off his back, and while I am sure he has the skills available to avoid a submission, those hammers of Allen’s ground and pound should find their way before too long.

Take the Shot: Brendan Allen via Round 2 Knockout


Update: With the Ladd-McMann fight off the docket, I’m taking another fight up from the prelims to predict.

Luis Pena vs. Khama Worthy (LW)

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Luis Pena (8-2, 4-2 UFC) has gotten some good work done since adjusting to the stacked UFC Lightweight division. The 6’3 fighter tried to cut down to 145 in 2019 and failed the cut miserably, along with a somewhat underwhelming performance. Aside from dumb weight cut decisions, Pena is a seriously impressive fighter. He looked impressive on the Ultimate FIghter’s 27th season before pulling out to injury, but now is coming off a decision victory after a split loss to Matt Frevola. “Violent Bob Ross” has 4 of his wins by submission and uses his long and incredibly flexible frame to secure submissions in some of the weirdest ways you’ll ever see. In terms of striking, Pena has crisp boxing and a fair bit of power, but doesn’t always take full advantage of combinations and kicks, although his game is evolving.

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A late replacement bout worked wonders for Khama Worthy (15-6, 1-0 UFC), who unleashed a brutal first round KO over Devonte Smith, despite coming in as a massive underdog. Worthy prefers to live or die by the sword in his fights, with nine of his fifteen victories and five of his six losses coming by form of knockout. Worthy does not have much of a ground game, preferring to war out his fights on the feet. He puts out a nice striking output as well as 44% accuracy, although he shown concerns of being countered against higher level opposition. Now riding a six-fight win streak, it seems like “The Deathstar” has found his niche and he will try to make a claim to that here.

I would not be a bit surprised if Worthy was to try to go for broke in this match due to his style and comparative skillset here. It’s not a bad plan, as he is certainly the fighter will the more stopping power in his hands. The issue remains that if he is to do that, Worthy will have to get inside the pocket against a lanky striker with a dangerous clinch game. Pena is the more well-rounded fighter with the threat of wrestling and submissions, as well as the range management and footwork to deny Worthy his power strikes.

Take the Shot: Luis Pena via Unanimous Decision


 

We are lined up for some definite finishes and true barn burners tonight!

And really do check out Chris Carpenter’s work on the prelims, he’s got some sneaky picks lined up this week!

Until next time, Freaks!

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