We’ve got three cards in less than 10 days … and that’s just from the UFC. Throw in Bellator on Fridays, as well as AXS TV, and this is a pretty loaded two weeks of fights. And at that point November will barely be half over. It’s an interesting time to be an MMA fan, that’s for sure. And as such it’s time to do some predicting for tonight’s card.
Joining me this week, but with much funnier titles than normal:
Adam Keyes, British provocateur
Daniel Sohn, Karate expert
Ryan Frederick, Packers fan
Tim Kennedy vs. Rafael Natal
Sawitz: Kennedy is a great test for someone like Natal. Whatever you’re bad at in MMA … Tim Kennedy will expose and then beat you with it. Look at the guys he’s lost to: no slouches there. And you could argue that of the four losses he’s had that at least one of them (Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza) could’ve gone his way. Kennedy’s a gatekeeper, perhaps, but he’s one of the highest order: if you can beat him you’re going to compete for some gold in the near future. Natal’s a tough out … but one Kennedy can make. Kennedy
Frederick:: I think this is really Kennedy’s fight to lose. Natal has been impressive, and kudos to him for stepping up on short notice to take a five-round bout as a replacement for Lyoto Machida. However, his wins have come against lower-ranked fighters, and Kennedy is accustomed to fighting tough opponents. Kennedy has also been in five-round fights before, going the distance with Luke Rockhold and Jacare Souza. This could be a lackluster fight, but with two tough guys it will be gritty. Kennedy
Sohn:: Natal hasn’t fought anyone as good as Kennedy in a good long while (maybe never). Kennedy is already a very tough out and fighting for the troops is going to give him an extra boost. Kennedy
Keyes:: Despite the change in opponent, I’ve still got to favour Kennedy in this one. While Natal has the capabilities to make this one interesting, I fully expect Kennedy to be able to negate any meaningful offence of Natal’s through effective grappling and clinch work.
Liz Carmouche vs. Alexis Davis
Sawitz: Carmouche and Davis are both exceptionally tough outs. Davis is a first rate grappler but the fight starts on the fight. Carmouche has too much firepower for her to handle. Carmouche
Frederick:: This one is tough to pick as both women are incredibly tough and want to get into a title fight. Both have good wrestling and decent striking but Davis may just be a little bit better when it comes to grappling and ground work. Carmouche looked excellent against Jessica Andrade and we all saw what Andrade is capable of. This one is a toss-up to me, and my gut tells me it will be Carmouche. Carmouche
Sohn:: Davis is a good fighter and very tough, and while she may have a small advantage in terms of BJJ, Carmouche is still the better overall fighter. Carmouche
Keyes:: This one is going to be close and whoever goes on to takes this will be in touching distance of a title shot due to the relatively shallow pool of contenders in the women’s bantamweight division. I’m going to favor Carmouche here, with her relentless, suffocating style to be just that bit too much for Davis to handle.
Ronny Markes vs. Yoel Romero
Sawitz: You know how good of a wrestler Yoel Romero is? He beat Cael Sanderson, perhaps the greatest college wrestler of all time and a Gold medalist at the Olympics, three times. He and Sara McMann are the only members of the UFC roster to earn an Olympic medal in wrestling, as well. Romero’s got big time power in his hands and world class wrestling credentials. Markes is significantly younger and a bit better balanced of a fighter as well. If Markes can stand and bang with Romero I think he can get the win. If he decides he wants to wrestle with the former Olympian … well … it could be trouble. Romero
Frederick:: This could be fast and explosive. Markes has been winning his fights by controlling the wrestling and using good ground-and-pound. He gets matched up with an experienced wrestler now in Romero. Romero has won a silver medal in the Olympics in wrestling, so Markes will not beat him there. Romero has shown explosive power and he has won all five of his fights by knockout, four of them in the first round. I see this being his fifth first-round knockout win. Romero
Sohn:: Palacio debuted in the UFC and opened the card he was fighting on with an incredible flying knee KO of Clifford Starks. It was devastating. Markes can win if he can neutralize Palacio’s explosiveness. I don’t think he can. Palacio
Keyes:: Markes has looked pretty solid since dropping down to the middleweight division and Romero looked superb in his middleweight debut last time out KO’ing Clifford Starks in memorable fashion. Both men are pretty well matched up but if I have to pick, I’m going to go for Romero. The guy is an Olympic-level wrestler that has shown in his few MMA fights that he can throw heat and should continue to show improvement up against Markes.
Jorge Masvidal vs. Rustam Khabilov
Sawitz: Khabilov is a tough, tough out and looks to be another version of Khabib Nurmagomedov. Masvidal needs to make this a boxing match and I don’t think he can. Khabliov.
Frederick:: A big test for both men, especially Khabilov. Masvidal is an excellent and well-rounded fighter, and he tends to be a little bit underrated as a contender at 155 pounds. He presents the toughest fight to date for Khabilov, who has made a reputation for himself as a suplex machine. Khabilov has had suplex slams lead to the end of both of his UFC fights but Masvidal is going to be tough to take down. It will come down to the standup and Masvidal is excellent on the feet. However, in a close bout, I favor Khabilov, but just barely. Khabilov
Sohn:: Masvidal is going to be the best fighter Khabilov has ever fought, a big step up in competition. He’s too smart and too capable to get ragdolled by Khabilov. Masvidal
Keyes:: Out of all the fights on this card, this is the one I am looking most forward to. Masvidal is as game as they come and in the two brief appearances that Khabilov has treated us to, suplexes an’ all, the Russian looks like a possible contender in the lightweight division. This fight carries significance for both men, as victory for Masvidal will likely see him make an assault on the top ten of the division and a victory for Khabilov will go a long way to dispelling any potential naysayers that feel he is somewhat of a one-trick pony. I’m plumping for Masvidal here, as I feel that he really has turned a corner in his career and is beginning to fully utilise the tools at his disposal.
Colton Smith vs. Michael Chiesa
Sawitz: Smith might wind up going down as the worst TUF winner in the show’s history when all is said and done. He’s a nice guy, and a decent fighter, but so far he hasn’t shown anything that doesn’t scream he’ll be out of the UFC by the middle of 2014 at the latest. It’s starting to look like the less we say about the sixteenth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” the better. The season before, where it was live, has had a ton of better prospects come out of it. Chiesa won a significantly tougher season and so far looks like he’s got enough talent to eventually make something of himself. He just needs a lot of time, and fights, to grow. He fought Jorge Masvidal tough and nearly had the win in a fight he should’ve taken much later in his career than he did. Look for the bearded one to choke out Smith in impressive fashion. Chiesa
Frederick:: I get why this bout is on the main card for this event as it’s a free event and both are former TUF winners, plus Smith is an active member of the military. However, neither are ready for main card status just yet. Chiesa has been good in his post-TUF run, and though he lost his last fight, he had Jorge Masvidal in trouble. Smith doesn’t quite have the experience to be at the UFC level just yet, and that showed in his loss to Robert Whittaker. I sense Chiesa scoring a submission win and getting back on track. Chiesa
Sohn:: Smith is the military guy here, but Chiesa, if he’s on his A-game, is the better and more versatile fighter. They both won TUF and they both are coming off of losses, but Chiesa walks away with the “W”. Chiesa
Keyes:: Smith is a rather one-dimensional fighter that is able to stifle an opponent’s chances with his smothering wrestling game if they are unable to stop him. Chiesa stops him. Prior to his fight with Masvidal, Chiesa had shown that he had come on leaps and bounds since his days on TUF and was looking like a real prospect in the division. I expect Chiesa to get back on the upward curve and send Smith packing. Chiesa.
Tags: Mixed Martial Arts, UFC Fight For The Troops 3