The UFC showcases it’s second title fight in as many days tonight as UFC 218 offers up an absolutely monstrous fight card.
Headlined by a championship rematch between Max Holloway and Jose Aldo, the rest of the main card features bouts with title implications as no fighter is ranked lower than #6 in the UFC’s rankings.
If that wasn’t enough, the preliminary card is simply a must-watch too as it includes bouts such as Charles Oliveira vs Paul Felder and Alex Oliveira vs Yancy Medeiros while the UFC will also showcase some of it’s brightest prospects in Dominick Reyes and David Teymur and Drakkar Klose who compete against one another.
Max Holloway (18-3) vs Jose Aldo (26-3)
Both fighters appeared to really struggle to make the 145 lbs weight limit on Friday which has the potential to really alter the course of this fight.
In their first meeting at UFC 212, Aldo found success in the opening two rounds but Holloway quickly picked up tells after the 8-minute mark and grew in confidence in a Floyd Mayweather-esque manner.
Much has been made of Aldo’s intention to throw more leg kicks in this contest but to Holloway’s credit, he successfully checked those that Aldo did throw in their original clash.
For Aldo to win, he will surely have to keep the pace for five rounds as Holloway’s chin proved sturdy previously but with what looked to be such an arduous weight cut, there’s considerable doubt about the Brazilian’s gas tank.
Holloway meanwhile can afford to start slow as that plays into his wheelhouse and I think once the Hawaiian has already gone into Aldo’s backyard and snatched the title away from Aldo in such impressive fashion, there would have to be a ridiculous improvement from the former champion to take the gold back.
Pick: Max Holloway
Alistair Overeem (43-15, 1 NC) vs Francis Ngannou (10-1)
Alistair Overeem is a big step-up for Francis Ngannou.
While he has beaten a former champion already in Andrei Arlovski, Arlovski has always had a suspect chin and made out for smart matchmaking in Ngannou’s build towards the title.
In Overeem though, he is facing possibly the heavyweights best striking technician who will minimise his risk and look to frustrate Ngannou at every turn.
This fight could just as easily be Overeem picking his shots at range for three rounds or the heavyweight lottery where one power punch is all it needs.
It’s a much closer fight than the oddsmakers currently have it but with Overeem’s chin being questionable, I’ll gamble on Ngannou finding the Dutchman’s button within the first two rounds.
Pick: Francis Ngannou
Henry Cejudo (11-2) vs Sergio Pettis (16-2)
Cejudo was another fighter who looked to struggle with the weight cut on Friday and Sergio Pettis will no doubt be buoyed by that news.
Cejudo has the larger frame out of the two and holds a distinct wrestling advantage which has been a problem in Pettis’ history.
Pettis will most likely look to his footwork and be as elusive as he can to avoid Cejudo’s wrestling threat but with the bladed stance that Cejudo adopted in his last fight, it could prove to be a guessing game as to which style of fighter turns up.
If this were a five round fight, I think it would increase the intrigue exponentially in an already interesting bout but with Cejudo’s wrestling the quality it is, I think the open threat to change levels will give Cejudo enough on the scorecards by the end.
Pick: Henry Cejudo
Eddie Alvarez (28-5, 1 NC) vs Justin Gaethje (18-0)
I don’t know what’s going to happen…I don’t know and I’m not going to lie to the fans.
I will say this, it’s going to be f*****g nuts because I spent a great deal of this training camp working not giving a f**k myself and I’m getting better and better the less I care.
I don’t have a crystal ball but I can tell fans right now, they better have their popcorn and their soda ready for this fight because it’s going to be something special to watch. – Eddie Alvarez
This fight promises excitement and chaos and I for one couldn’t be happier.
Eddie Alvarez has possibly the biggest heart we’ve ever seen in MMA and he will never back down from a scrap while Justin Gaethje will always look to bite down on his mouth piece and go out on his sword.
Throwing all of the technical analysis out of the window, I expect Alvarez’s chin to give before Gaethje’s but for however long it lasts, this has all the makings for fight of the year.
Pick: Justin Gaethje
Tecia Torres (9-1) vs Michelle Waterson (14-5)
Torres is the more effective at asserting her gameplan as her pressure and well-rounded skill set can cause fits for any opponent.
Waterson meanwhile is offensively sharp with her karate kicks and is a talented scrambler on the mat which could cause hesitation in Torres’ takedowns. Defensively, however, Waterson does have trouble with absorbing strikes and I think Torres’ ability to keep Waterson on the back foot will give the ‘Tiny Tornado’ the edge at the end of the 15 minutes.
Pick: Tecia Torres
(Last Predictions: 2/4, Total: 97/159, 61% Success Rate)
(2016: 61% Success Rate)