It’s a pretty nice looking main card, isn’t it? We’re getting 2 title fights, which doesn’t happen much anymore. It’d be interesting if, because so many of these Zuffa cards are already so diluted, they just decided to somehow sync up everyone’s fight schedule so that they could have an entire main card of title fights. Can you imagine? My head would explode.
Let’s get to it.
Francis Carmont vs. Costa Phillipou
This fight is a great example of just how many freaking guys the UFC has. Does anyone consider either of these men a potential contender? I doubt it. But both are on 5 fight winning streaks. Granted, neither guy has set anyone’s panties on fire or anything, but still. Francis Carmont and Costa Phillipou have won a combined 10 fights in a row in the best MMA promotion in the world. It’s kinda sorta ludicrous.
Out of the UFC gate, I was a Carmont backer. The dude smoked Chris Camozzi in a fun fight, then went out and submitted two decent guys in Magnus Cedenblad and Karlos “He Knows These Fights Are Three Rounds, Right?” Vemola. His last two fights, however, have seen him take his foot off of the gas pedal and basically defecate himself inside the octagon. Did he win those two fights according to the judges? Of course! I thought he took a round off of Tom Lawlor, but he owes Lorenz Larkin money. That one was bad.
Carmont could conceivably win this fight if he’s able to press Costa against the cage and suck the life out of every fan in the building, but based on what we’ve seen from these two recently, Costa is clearly a better fighter. He’s a good, hard hitting boxer with rock solid takedown defense. I’d like to see him punch in combination more, but he’s also good at finding that one big shot. Sounds like a guy that should beat Francis Carmont to me. Phillipou by decision.
Pat Healy vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Poor Pat Healy. The guy gets his pocket picked for a cool 130K because he toked some hippie lettuce a full beards’ growth away from his fight against Jimmy Miller, and the UFC rewards him with wrestling heel Khabib Nurmagomedov in his redemption fight. Life sucks sometimes.
These two are very similar in style. I give Healy an advantage on the feet, but I don’t see very much of this taking place on the feet. This fight is going to be a scramble fest, and it’s basically going to be really not fun for both guys. Healy is going to think to himself, “I’m being punished by being matched up with this guy after I dusted one of the best lightweights of the past 5 years”. Khabib is going to think to himself, “Dammit, this guy keeps hitting me and squirming out of my grasp. Where’s Abel Trujillo when you really need him?”
Khabib is a legit lightweight, and is already making a career out of making guys want to hang themselves in the octagon. I can’t pick against Healy based on how awesome he looked in his last fight, though. Give me Healy by tapout in the third.
Matt Mitrione vs. Brendan Schaub
Here we have the token “This fight shouldn’t be on the main card, WTF!!!!!!” bout, a staple of nearly every UFC pay per view. I’d rather see Myles Jury in this spot, but I guess the logic is that, hey, you know who these guys are from the Ultimate Fighter, the reality show that allegedly still matters! And also because that raspy loudmouth Bryan Callen can’t stop talking about how he hangs out with Brendan Schaub. That too.
Schaub wants to keep being employed by Zuffa, so I suspect we’ll see Wrestler Brendan Schaub here. It’s clear that Mitrione isn’t going to get too much better than he is now, but he’s still a pretty smooth striker for a man his size. Schaub is alot of things when he’s upright, but he’s definitely not smooth. Brandon Brennan Brendan Schaub by decision in a potential snoozer.
Renan Barao vs. Eddie Wineland
Renan Barao is a complete mixed martial artist. He can finish with any strike, but he also has an innate sense of how to win a round on points. He’s excellent on the ground, but he only fights there if he wants to. He’s good at coming forward with strikes without being reckless, but he can also succeed with counter hooks. He’s very difficult to hit, but he also has an excellent chin. What do you do with this guy?
These are all things people wouldn’t normally say about a guy that they believe to be beatable, which Barao is. Michael McDonald was able to get Barao in trouble by coming forward with technical, aggressive combinations, and this seemed to work in stretches of their fight in England. The key to having success against Barao on the feet seems to be twofold: You have to disrupt his rhythm, and you have to be aggressive. Barao isn’t the kind of striker that looks to kill you every second of every fight. He’s more of an opportunistic type, as he’ll stand there and pick at you if you don’t take the initiative. What I’m trying to say is that I love this fight for Eddie Wineland, as long as it takes place on the feet.
Unfortunately, this is MMA, where fights are allowed to take place on the ground. That pesky MMA, with it’s stupid ground fighting. Barao is miles ahead of Eddie on the floor, and I suspect he’ll want to take him down often and fish for submissions. The outcome of this fight looks something like this: Fireworks on the feet, and one guy being way better than the other guy on the ground. Barao will take Wineland down a few times and outpoint him on top. Barao by decision.
Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson
It’s going to be so refreshing and delightful to see Jon Jones fight an actual light heavyweight contender and not a top 10 middleweight. How ready Gustafsson is for this fight is a legitimate question after his damaging scratch from the Mousasi fight. I definitely would have liked to see Alex fight Gegard before he got this shot, but hell, there’s still nobody else out there that I’d like to see Jon Jones fight right now more than Alex.
During his last few fights, you can really see how training at Alliance has helped Gustafsson. He uses footwork more to set up his telephone pole jab, his wrestling is much stronger, and he takes a more methodical approach towards an opponent instead of going all Jared Hamman on dudes.
Jones is a more diverse striker, but Gustafsson should be able to find some measure of success with his hands and feet. He’s too talented and rangy to get blasted out of there right away. The key for Gustafsson in this fight is his wrestling. If he’s able to somehow stay off of his back here, I could actually see him being competitive in this fight.
Jones has a pretty big advantage in the clinch as well, as he’s able to muscle guys into throws, throw weird elbows, and cinch up evil chokes from a variety of angles.
My main curiosity with this fight is to see if Gustafsson can put Jon Jones on his back. Out of everyone Jones has fought, Alex seems to be the most likely to be able to do so.
Jones will win this fight, and maybe I’m giving Alex a bit too much credit. He might go out and get trashed. I think it’s more likely that he goes out, does a few things that get Jones haters all excited, and eventually gets choked out by one of Jones’ 32 different guillotine chokes. Jones by submission, round 2.
Last Event: 5-0
2013 Record: 27-7