Saturday, December 12, 2015

Return of the Blog: UFC 194 preview


Hello again! I have returned with a single, fused blog and my picks for UFC 194.

Yeah, so the MMA blog is moving in with everything else, if only to make it easier to maintain. But enough talk, let's talk about the pair of title fights going on tonight.

I don't think it's possible for those who pay any attention to the fight game to not have heard about UFC World Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo's title defense against Conor McGregor. Brazil vs. Ireland may not be the national clash that comes to mind in the fight game, but needless to say, both nations will have their sights set on the MGM Grand Garden Arena tonight.

Aldo has not lost a fight in the time I've followed him, which dates back to my first viewing of a WEC event in the mid-2000s, so it's safe to say he's built up a Fedor-like aura of invincibility in the minds of many-a-fan.

This is not without good reason. Aldo's striking is known for quick finishes, as evidenced by the double flying knee he used to open a fight with a KO victory. But he also has a legitimate submission game and always has had the look of a man who should be at lightweight but instead chooses to dominate at 145.

And then there's the greatest fighter since Muhammad Ali in terms of both mouth and skill - or at least that's what McGregor and his handlers would have you believe. McGregor's ability to get people to pay attention to him has not been seen in MMA since Ronda Rousey talked her way into a Strikeforce title shot a mere three professional fights into her career.

But don't think for a minute that McGregor's mouth means he's all talk. He may well be a better striker than Aldo. His ability to angle himself perfectly for strikes and punishing power make him an incredible threat to the champion. His weakness is that he has yet to really be tested on the ground, and if he does prove to be too much for Aldo standing, that could be a location for the champion to rack up the points.

I'm not going to lie here - I REALLY want to see McGregor pull this out. An Irish champion with a mouth that can sell a million buys with minimal effort? Count me the heck in!

That said, I know what Aldo is capable of when he wants to win, and it's hard for me to take him as a failure on his biggest stage ever. I will pick Aldo by decision.

It's OK, UFC forgot this was on the card too.
In the other main event, Chris Weidman, most likely the second best in the world pound-for-pound, will defend against "I Really Am Not Interested In Watching" Luke Rockhold.

Yes, I made that nickname up, but can you blame me? The dude was about as bland as they came in his Strikeforce career (in spite of his title run near the end of the company's existence), and since then has come off as a fairly unlikable individual.

Weidman has a mouth, but he mostly lets his winning do the talking. This is the man who KO'ed Anderson Silva to win the title, then retained in the rematch by breaking Silva's leg with a shin-check.

From a match-up standpoint, I see Weidman as the clear superior. Rockhold's striking is legitimate, but Weidman's has been tested at the highest caliber. For wrestling, I'd also give Weidman the edge, and while Rockhold has looked solid on the ground, at best he's a match for Weidman.

I don't see this going the full five, and I'll take the World Middleweight Champion to retain via a 3rd-round KO.

Rest of the Main Card

Middleweight Bout: Jacare Souza (#2 MW) vs. Joel Romero (#3 MW) - Jacare by submission Round 2.

Welterweight Bout: Demian Maia (#6 WW) vs. Gunnar Nelson (#12 WW) - Nelson by decision

Featherweight Bout: Max Holloway (#5 FW) vs. Jeremy Stephens (#8 FW) - Stephens by decision

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