Friday, 30 December 2016

UFC 207 picks

There was more WME-IMG inspired at UFC HQ this week as Mike "It takes a lot of energy to be a rock star" Goldberg got whacked. His final show will be tonight and I expect his next job to be MC at the county fair. It's fairly self-evident why he ultimately lost his job but I can't help feeling a twinge of regret and pity for the guy. As the rumors swirled and the pressure mounted over the last few weeks, he definitely broke with even more flubs than ever spilling from his mouth - I'll never forget that time he called Michelle Waterson "Michelle Waterman" right after the biggest win of her career or the other time he called this a body kick.

Something similar happened two years ago when the Jacksonville Jaguars moved their flagship radio station from WOKV to 1010XL. Play-by-play announcer Brian Sexton who had been with the team since their inception in 1994 was replaced by a resident 1010XL host and announcer. Sexton, like Goldberg, had his own unique style while also being error-prone and loathed by a section of home town fans. He attempted to branch out into other ventures around town as Goldberg attempted to do NFL games for FOX but nothing ever quite stuck. As Sexton's tenure with the team went on, he became more uptight when engaging with fans and seemed to adopt a "Don't you know who I am?" kind of attitude. Goldie is similarly known for his erratic behavior.

Sexton's replacement on the Jaguars broadcasts was Frank Frangie who is not a Jaguars fan and is also kinda terrible at the job. Similarly Goldberg's rumored replacement is Jim Rome, a guy who back in the day said that MMA was not a legitimate sport and the UFC would fail. I'm not sure how anyone thinks that would work - if your goal is to present yourself as the worldwide leader in your industry would you not attempt to fill your staff and roster with people who have experience in the field? Well, I guess not anymore. As far past his time as Goldberg was, this smacks of a power play by the new ownership, pulling the rug out from under and installing their own stooges in prominent positions - rarely if ever a good idea. The Jaguars have been in a soul destroying slump of losing since the change on ownership and in particular the new broadcast team. Let's hope the same will not be true of the UFC.

Picks after the jump.

[C] Amanda Nunes vs [1] Ronda Rousey

Four of the five fights on this card, or at least three since the weigh-ins are really difficult to pick and this might be the hardest. Rousey looks fit and fantastic from afar but from afar is as close as we'll get thanks to her incredibly petulant media boycott which in itself could be a clue as to her mental state. Emphasis on "could". In terms of gambling there is no question. Nunes opened as a 2/1 underdog, far too much value in a matchup where I would have thought she'd be the favorite.

Both women are fast, aggressive starters. Rousey's past success was built on overwhelming opponents with pressure - a ploy which failed spectacularly against a counterpuncher like Holly Holm but Nunes is different in her approach - more of a brawler who could get suckered in to Rowdy's power game the way Miesha Tate and Correia were. However, Nunes is bigger and more technically skilled than most of the girls Ronda decimated in the past and at her age in a top camp, you would expect her to be constantly improving those talents.

I don't think getting punched in the face will deter Ronda, at least not as long as she is in the cage -  even against Holm she continued to (unwisely) press forward and in this fight I think she will score a few in return. On Amanda's part, her weakness is conditioning and I've observed that it's a very difficult flaw to overcome because so much of it depends on diet and body composition. Chris thinks that Amanda's striking power will be just too much, she will knock Ronda down and eventually out. I can certainly envision that happening and it was greatly disheartening to once again seeing Edmond Tarverdyan acting as the Gary to Ronda's Selina Meyer but my feeling is that if Rousey can drag the fight into a second or third round and take it to the ground she can end it there and since we pretty much agree on the rest of the card, that's what I'll pick.

[C] Dominick Cruz vs [5] Cody Garbrandt

This is another hard one to pick because although Cruz is a top three pound-for-pound fighter in the world, an all time great and one of my favorite guys to watch in the cage, the world hates me so of course someone as dumb and obnoxious as Garbrandt would have an undefeated pro record, got to bang Paige VanZant and be on the verge of a world championship. He has the power to end the fight at any given moment with that power so picking against him is always a dangerous proposition.

Unlike another fight coming up though, I'm picking with both my heart and gut on this one. I believe we already saw this fight a couple of weeks ago when Alan Jouban beat Mike Perry by decision. While I think Garbrandt is better conditioned than Perry, Cruz is unrivaled in his ability to evade and pepper you with point-scoring strikes. Cruz by unanimous decision, pulling away in the championship rounds seems like the safest bet here.

[1] TJ Dillashaw vs [2] John Lineker

I'm not at all saying that John Lineker is a bad fighter but I think there is a gulf in quality between him and TJ Dillashaw. I scored him as losing to John Dodson so he does not really warrant a potential title eliminator fight to begin with. This will also be his fourth fight in the last eight months and at some point, especially for a guy who constantly has as much trouble making weight as this guy does, that has to wear on you. His last fight went five rounds and here I think he comes out swinging, tires quickly and gets outpointed in a comfortable unanimous decision win for Dillashaw.

[9] Dong Hyun Kim vs [12] Tarec Saffiedine

I would love for the winner here to be Stungun Kim obviously. For one thing, he is approximately seventeen times as handsome as Saffiedine but after the fight of the year disaster with Doo Ho Choi at UFC 206, I definitely know better. As mentioned above the world hates me so Saffiedine, the better striker, will definitely win either by clear and comfortable unanimous decision or embarrassing you dishonor me you dishonor your family TKO.

[12] Louis Smolka vs [13] Ray Borg

A battle of two of the most facepalmy nicknames in the UFC here as Da Last Samurai takes on the Tazmexican Devil. I was having trouble picking between the two, well matched at similar points in their career but then Ray Borg made it real easy for me when he missed weight by three and a half pounds. That hints at poor conditioning which when your main strength is your grappling as it is for Borg, tends to be really bad news. It's mitigated somewhat by the fact he's a flyweight but there's something just so plainly unprofessional about the whole business which restricts me from picking him.

The same goes for Johny Hendricks. If he loses, which I expect he will to Neil Magny, I think he will be in real danger of being cut. The conventional thinking is that he is too small to be a Middleweight (although it has worked out just fine so far for Gastelum) but others note that his problems really began post-USADA. Make of that what you will. It's off the card now but I would have picked Cain Velasquez to beat Fabricio Werdum in their rematch. Werdum has seemed ever more disgruntled with the promotion in recent times and for some reason those types of guys always seem to fade out the door.

I pick: Rousey, Cruz, Dillashaw, Saffiedine, Smolka

Chris picks: Nunes, Cruz, Dillashaw, Kim, Smolka

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