Another week and another UFC card as UFC 170, headlined by Ronda Rousey’s third title defense of the UFC women’s bantamweight title, comes to you live and only on pay per view. The last thing to do before the card begins is to predict who’ll win on the main card.
Joining me this week are Ryan Frederick and Daniel Sohn.
Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann
Sawitz: When it comes down to it the one fighter people have spoken of as being a match for Rousey has been Sara McMann. I’ve always suggested Holly Holm, as Rousey’s striking has improved but isn’t as world class as her grappling. Since Holm is still outside the UFC, squashing nobodies for a substantial payday on AXS TV properties, McMann will have to do. Nothing I’ve seen out of McMann has shown that she’s ready for someone of Rousey’s caliber. She may have the physical tools, as everyone discusses how powerfully she’s built and how strong she is to grapple with, but trust your eyes in the cage. She doesn’t look ready to face Rousey. I could be shocked, as I said the same about Alex Gustafsson, but any result that isn’t Rousey by armbar early would be fairly surprising. Rousey by armbar.
Frederick: The popular pick is certainly Rousey, and while I ultimately am picking her, there are a lot of factors. First off, it is a quick turnaround for Rousey as she just fought on December 28. Conversely, McMann hasn’t fought since April, so that is a nearly ten-month layoff when all is said and done. Something kept McMann from fighting in August, and while the reason has never seemingly gotten out, speculation stems that there are some outside distractions for McMann. Perhaps there is, perhaps there isn’t and perhaps it won’t matter when the ladies step inside the Octagon. Rousey does tend to give up her back too easily trying to secure her judo throws, and a strong wrestler like McMann will exploit that. Personally, I’d have been much more interested in this fight a year from now when McMann had some more fights under her belt. I’d have like to seen Rousey fight Alexis Davis instead here, and put McMann against Jessica Eye, but we’re getting the fight we’re getting. Rousey by armbar. Rousey
Sohn: Might be the stiffest test of Rousey’s career so far in terms of clinching and takedowns, but the Tate rematch was her stiffest test up to date and Rousey beat her the same way she beat everyone else. Rousey is going to be the favorite against anyone she fights outside of Cris Cyborg. Until we see someone be as consistently dominant as her, it would be foolish to bet against her. Rousey
Daniel Cormier vs. Patrick Cummins
Sawitz: It’s hilarious that a big talking point about this fight is that Cummins made Cormier cry in a wrestling room once during training. Considering they competed once, and Cormier thumped Cummins fairly emphatically, tales from the gym about these two remind me of Jon Jones vs. Rashad Evans. Evans got the better of him training when they were partners … but Jones broke his foot off in Evans’ ass over five rounds. Cummins is a good prospect who was arguably a win away from being in the UFC anyways so it’s not like he’s some guy who talked his way into a fight. He’ll put up a way better fight than anyone thinks … especially considering this is Cormier’s first cut to 205 and fighters on their first cut don’t tend to fight as well as they do afterwards. We could see an upset here … and I’m predicting a close fight, as well. Cormier doesn’t have that killer instinct and Cummins might be able to make it close. Cormier.
Frederick: Major props to Patrick Cummins. He stepped up when almost no one else would. He lost his job. He has done the trash talking. He has shown personality. He will be around the UFC for a while. He is also in over his head. Cormier is a monster and will make quick work of Cummins. The only thing keeping this from being an utter thrashing is if the weight cut affects Cormier in a negative way. He is just too quick and elusive on his feet, and he is too strong in the clinch and in the wrestling for Cummins. Plus, while he has a strong wrestling background, Cummins hasn’t fought since 2012. Congrats to him on making a bunch of money, but his 4-0 record is going to now have a loss in that column. Cormier
Sohn: If this were the original Cormier vs. Evans match-up, making a pick would be much more difficult. Does Cummins have a chance to pull off the upset? Yes. Will he do it? No. He’s a sacrificial lamb here and this one’s for the fans more than anything else. It’s sort of a lose-lose for DC. Winning doesn’t really gain him anything. Cormier
Rory MacDonald vs. Demian Maia
Sawitz: Rory MacDonald cleaned up on a lot of subpar competition and then struggled when he fought a pair of guys who were elite (Robbie Lawler, Jake Ellenberger). He claims it’s more mental, yada yada, but perhaps we were thinking about it wrong. This is a fight to show us how high Rory’s ceiling really is in an odd way. I’m starting to think he might not be the next great champion after all … which is odd from a year ago at this time. Maia
Frederick: I get the sense this fight isn’t getting the recognition it deserves, and it is a solid piece of match-making. It also has the chance to be a boring fight as both are looking to avoid another loss that would send them permanently out of title contention for at least a year. MacDonald went through a battle with Robbie Lawler and came out on the losing end. The last time that happened, when he lost to Carlos Condit, he came back with a vengeance that made you think he was the champion in waiting. Maia looked good in his early bouts at 170 pounds, but looked uncomfortable against Jake Shields. He has the BJJ to neutralize MacDonald on the ground, and even dominate it, but MacDonald is better on the feet. MacDonald wins a close one. MacDonald
Sohn: MacDonald didn’t fight his typical fight against Robbie Lawler. Whatever the reason, he says he’s focused now and has that fire back. If that’s true, not many guys are going to beat him. Look for him to put on a show. MacDonald
Mike Pyle vs. T.J. Waldburger
Sawitz: This is going to be a nice, sloppy “JUST BLEED” type of brawl. It might be the fight I’m most looking forward to. I’ll go Pyle by a planking.
Frederick: This is a nice little scrap that gets the bump from the prelims to the main card due to fights falling apart as the result of injuries. Pyle is a hard-nosed veteran that has put together a nice little run as he closes in on turning 40. His only three losses since 2010 have come to Jake Ellenberger, Rory MacDonald and Matt Brown- a solid list of opponents. Waldburger is in much more need of a win, but if he isn’t submitting someone, he’s usually falling asleep. Pyle is going to be very hard to submit, and he has excellent power. Pyle by TKO. Pyle
Sohn: Pyle is the veteran here and should be the favorite, but I think his age is catching up to him. He was on a nice roll prior to that last loss to Brown, but that loss was a bad one. Waldburger will do just enough to get a tough decision.Waldburger
Robert Whittaker vs. Stephen Thompson
Sawitz: Whittaker was a great prospect from the Australia vs. Britain version of TUF; he was also the only legit prospect on that show. Thompson had a couple of stumbles but he’s also a really interesting prospect. I like this fight because whoever wins gets moved up into a fight to get into the Top 10. This is terrific match-making from Zuffa. I like Whittaker, mainly because I think he’s too hard headed for Thompson.
Frederick: Another interesting bout between two solid prospects at 170 pounds. Whittaker may be more polished as an MMA fighter, but Thompson has more experience overall as a fighter. Whittaker has good hands but Thompson has excellent kickboxing. Thompson does have a solid wrestling game and a decent jiu-jitsu game, and he has really shown flashes of awesomeness since suffering a loss to Matt Brown. Whittaker has looked good in the UFC but is coming off of a loss to Court McGee. Thompson has won two straight, and he will make it three in a row in a close fight. Thompson
Sohn: Whittaker is going to have problems against Thompson, especially if he fights the same fight he did against Court McGee. Thompson might be a tad more versatile overall and Whittaker will have to respond and have an answer for Thompson’s kicks. Thompson is going to win a close one. Thompson
Tags: Mixed Martial Arts, UFC 170