UFC on Fox 26 marks the last UFC event before the holidays and this card will surely keep the ardent MMA fan warm with delight until UFC 219 on December 30th.
Headlined by a mouthwatering welterweight bout between two former champions, Robbie Lawler will be looking to cement his position as the number one contender to the man who took the title from his hands, Tyron Woodley, while Rafael dos Anjos will hope to slingshot himself towards the top of the 170 lbs division and go on to become a two-division champion.
The rest of the main card is filled with elite contenders within their respected divisions but if that weren’t enough, the whole preliminary cards are filled to the brim with what promise to be competitive match-ups.
UFC on Fox 26 promises to be one of the best cards of the year on paper so here are the ReadMMA predictions for just the second UFC event in Winnipeg, Canada:
Robbie Lawler (28-11, 1 NC) vs Rafael Dos Anjos (27-9)
Thank the MMA gods that this is a five round fight.
15 minutes just wouldn’t be enough to see these two duke it out and with the full 25, gameplans will be a lot harder to implement consistently.
For Rafael dos Anjos, the Brazilian will surely want to chop down at Lawler’s legs and be the aggressor to push Lawler on the back foot. RDA has shined in the past with his clinch striking and ability to secure the takedown but Lawler is just as adept in those situations and it will be interesting to see who comes out on top within the transitions.
Lawler meanwhile is as dangerous as he is experienced. ‘Ruthless’ Robbie packs some of the hardest punches at 170 lbs and will look to crack dos Anjos who has suffered knockouts at the lightweight limit. Lawler’s counters and combination work will also pose problems for his opponent as his underrated hand speed can catch any fighter off guard.
The big question of this fight, in my opinion, is whether Rafael dos Anjos can deal with the punishment that Lawler can dish out over 25 minutes. Lawler will willingly slow down and drop a round in order to conserve energy while ‘5th round Robbie’ is the stuff of legends if this fight reaches the final stanza.
It’s an exciting fight but I feel Robbie Lawler’s experience and ability to absorb and deal out damage at welterweight will prove the ultimate difference.
Pick: Robbie Lawler
Ricardo Lamas (18-5) vs Josh Emmett (12-1)
Josh Emmett comes into this fight as a late replacement, missed weight yesterday and is facing a big, big step-up in competition.
Ricardo Lamas is a truly elite fighter at featherweight and has only ever lost to those within that bracket since entering the UFC.
Emmett has shown strong wrestle-boxing credentials in his own UFC tenure thus far but Lamas is simply the better fighter.
Outside of a big strike catching Lamas off guard, I can’t see this fight not going in ‘The Bully’s’ favour.
Pick: Ricardo Lamas
Santiago Ponzinibbio (25-3) vs Mike Perry (11-1)
If someone doesn’t get knocked out in this fight, either something has gone terribly wrong or both men’s chins are made of granite.
Ponzinibbio and Perry are arguably the two hardest hitters at welterweight when given the opportunity and that can only create fireworks with Perry’s penchant for entering the trenches.
Ponzinibbio will no doubt have the more in-depth striking arsenal and won’t load up as much as Perry. The Argentinian will also have no doubt looked at the tape of Perry’s lone loss at the hands of Alan Jouban and will more than likely hope to replicate the patient and accurate gameplan employed on that day.
This fight could be a fight of the year contender if all of the ingredients mix the right way but Ponzinibbio’s jab and footwork may prove too smart for Perry although a finish either way would be no surprise.
Pick: Santiago Ponzinibbio
Glover Teixeira (26-6) vs Misha Cirkunov (13-3)
For whatever reason, I’ve never understood Glover Teixeira.
The most impressive win of his career is probably his knockout win over Ryan Bader but if Bader had varied his punches once he had the Brazilian hurt, the opening for Teixeira’s counter wouldn’t have been so blatant.
Outside of that victory, there’s little that stands out on Teixeira’s resume other than a submission win over Ovince Saint Preux. It is clear that Glover is a tidy boxer with a strong top game but there are holes to be exploited if light heavyweight had more consistent talent.
Cirkunov meanwhile is coming off of a knockout loss but with hindsight, there is no shame in how that knockout occurred – a punch behind the ears – and who inflicted the knockout – Volkan Oezdemir. Cirkunov is a talented submission artist but his southpaw boxing has come on a far way and I feel that the younger fighter can expose Teixeira’s defensive holes and his age.
Pick: Misha Cirkunov
(Last Predictions: 4/5, Total: 101/164, 62% Success Rate)
(2016: 61% Success Rate)