In what is becoming a trademark feature of a Jon Jones fight week, UFC 232 has been plagued by controversy already.
Due to an ‘atypical finding’ in a Jones drug test, the UFC’s last show of 2018 has been moved from Las Vegas to California on a weeks notice so its main event can continue.
With Jones set to vie for the now vacated light heavyweight title against Alexander Gustafsson for the second time in the headline act, the co-main event sees two of the greatest women fighters of all time in Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino and Amanda Nunes contest for the featherweight title in a champion vs. champion bout.
UFC 232 is also filled from top to bottom with intriguing bouts so make sure to tune in and enjoy the final UFC fights of the year.
Jon Jones (22-1, 1 NC) vs. Alexander Gustafsson (18-4)
Much like their first meeting, Alexander Gustafsson’s physical similarities to Jones put him in good stead for this fight.
He can match Jones for size and range and I think that does give Jones a problem in his ability to dictate the fight.
Gustafsson also holds the technical striking ability to string together meaningful combinations and his wrestling his more than enough to hold its own.
Jones, however, is a special talent regardless of his drug history.
He is a marvel on the feet, a talented submission artist and has barely been rocked.
It should be a decently contested fight, but Jones is simply a better version of Gustafsson.
Pick: Jon Jones
Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino (20-1, 1 NC) vs. Amanda Nunes (16-4)
This bout will mainly be decided on how Amanda Nunes handles the size of ‘Cyborg’.
If the fight is dictated in a standard kickboxing range, Cyborg’s power and improved boxing ability should see her earn a routine win as under the tutelage of Jason Parillo, her striking has become sharp and technically superb.
While the smaller champion should hold the speed advantage in the stand-up exchanges, Cyborg’s weaknesses have come in the clinch and her ability to have her back taken in the scramble.
While I think this will be a fun fight, I just can’t see Nunes being big enough to capitalise on the few mistakes that Cyborg does make.
Pick: Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino
Carlos Condit (30-12) vs. Michael Chiesa (13-4)
Carlos Condit has simply not looked good since his return to the Octagon in 2017.
While the Condit of old threw a high volume of strikes from a wide range of angles and techniques, Condit now looks hesitant on the feet while his inability to stop the takedown has been retained.
With Michael Chiesa making his welterweight debut here and fighting against someone who he has openly idolised, there should be some pause as to how well he can handle the circumstances surrounding the fight itself.
Ultimately though, this fight does stylistically benefit Chiesa due to his superior grappling ability.
If Chiesa gets the takedown as easily as Condit usually gives them up, he should win this fight.
Pick: Michael Chiesa
Ilir Latifi (14-5, 1 NC) vs. Corey Anderson (11-4)
Picking fights outside of the very slim bracket of elite light heavyweights have seemingly devolved into as big a lottery as the heavyweight division down to the simple fact that no one has any consistency in the cage.
While both Latifi and Anderson enter this bout on decent two-fight winning streaks, either man could easily put in the worst performance of their career and it wouldn’t even be a talking point as that has become par for the course.
Despite Anderson’s range advantage here, I think Latifi’s power combined with Anderson’s porous striking defence will see him earn a stoppage victory as both men’s wrestling should nullify one another.
Pick: Ilir Latifi
Chad Mendes (18-4) vs. Alexander Volkanovski (18-1)
This bout is a very hard fight to call as we simply don’t know where Chad Mendes is in his career.
While he returned with a bang following a near three-year absence in July, we don’t know how his chin has held up after back-to-back knockouts.
Volkanovski meanwhile has developed into a near replica of Mendes in his absence as he has shown to be a powerful wrestle-boxer with a relentless work rate.
It’s a tough call but I’ll have to side with the more experienced and tested Mendes until we have more reason to question where he stands in the featherweight division.
Pick: Chad Mendes
(Last Predictions: 2/4, Total: 111/189, 59% Success Rate)
(2017: 60% Success Rate)