Vitor Belfort vs Lyoto Machida
I never thought these two fighters would ever meet in the octagon. This battle will serve as Vitor’s retirement fight. Originally I wanted to pick Vitor to win. After seeing Belfort in a bath robe and pajama pants at media day, I have my doubts. To me he’s already retired and isn’t taking this seriously. Lyoto Machida is going to KO Vitor in the second round.
John Lineker vs Brian Kelleher
This fight could be a barn burner. Kelleher is way too content to stand in the pocket and exchange. If he does that against ‘hands of stone’ he’ll go down fast. 10 out of 10 times John Lineker wins a fire fight. This will be a John Lineker KO win in the first round.
Mackenzie Dern vs Amanda Cooper
This is my favorite fight on the main card. Also, I may possibly be in love with Mackenzie Dern. Her Jiu-Jitsu is world class, and she is a 21x Jiu-Jitsu gold medalist. Her striking is very amateur but shows improvement every fight. Amanda Cooper is simply a scrapper. She gets in, makes the fight dirty and gets the win. Not this time though. Mackenzie Dern is going to tap out Cooper in the 3rd round.
Ronaldo Souza vs Kelvin Gastelum
I am the biggest ‘Jacare’ Souza fan you can find. I literally have an alligator (jacare in Portuguese) tattooed on my arm. But I can’t ignore the fact he is 38 years old and out of his prime. I thought he was the next champ until Robert Whitaker TKO’d him last year. Kelvin has made a habit of beating these older vets (Tim Kennedy, Michael Bisping, and Vitor Belfort), stopping all of them by TKO.
This might be picking with my heart over my head, but I’m taking ‘Jacare’ by first round submission. He has to get this down early and work his world class Jiu-Jitsu. He cannot stand with Kelvin or he’s going to suffer the same fate as the others before him.
Amanda Nunes vs Raquel Pennington
Everyone is sleeping on this fight, but more importantly they are sleeping on Raquel. I get it, Amanda Nunes is the champ, and she has been destroying everyone. With the exception of Valentina Shevchenko, she went to decision in both fights with her. If I could find a fighter that closely resembles Shevchenko it would be Pennington.
Raquel is bigger than Valentina, and doesn’t have the Muay-Thai that Shevchenko has. But her boxing skills are on par. Amanda Nunes has been known to slow down in fights if you can apply pressure and push her back. The champ Nunes has devastating power, but with every passing minute that power gets lower and lower. Raquel has one path to victory here, apply pressure, use her boxing to maintain distance and avoid the power and the ground.
It won’t be the most exciting bout, but it’s a strategy that will win her the UFC women’s bantamweight title.
Amanda just needs to be herself, and use her striking and power to close the distance and look for the KO. She has a tendency to slow down in the later rounds if there is activity throughout the entire fight. If you sit back and let ‘The Lioness’ dictate the pace she will pick you apart and eventually finish you. Amanda needs to press forward and land punches early and often in order to retain her title.
This fight pick is similar to the Souza/Gastelum fight as far as emotions. Raquel Pennington is my favorite female bantamweight. She could win the title, but there’s a slim chance she pulls this upset off. I want her to win with everything I have. Unfortunately, I’m going to use my head and pick Amanda Nunes by 2nd round TKO to retain the championship. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Raquel wins, and I hope it happens.
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