Saturday, 2 December 2017

UFC 218 Picks

Someone, very puzzled, asked why it looked like UFC 218 was having trouble selling tickets when on paper it was a pretty good card. To me, it's not so complicated. The UFC has barely promoted the event at all. Instead we've gotten to hear all about Dana White is so excited to get into promoting boxing, right on the heels of him lashing out at Colin Cowherd for suggesting his fire for MMA was waning. I can't come up with a single MMA fan much interested in having boxing associated with the UFC but he has always deep down been a frustrated wannabe boxing promoter, in the same way that Conor McGregor turned to MMA after failing at amateur boxing.

Some people will say that the ridiculous antics of a guy like Colby Covington are therefore justified because you need to make a name for yourself. Heck no. The job of the promotion is literally to promote you. There are ways in which you can help yourself, for sure. I'll probably talk more about that before UFC 219. But the primary job of the fighter is to show up and fight. With the Ali Act Expansion hearings ongoing the UFC could find itself in a spot where their only job really will be to promote their cards if they actually want to make any money. Wasn't the point of WME coming in as the new owners that they would have the muscle in the industry to really market their product? It's almost as though they have no idea what the fuck they are doing.

Picks after the jump.

[C] Max Holloway vs [1] Jose Aldo

Aldo steps in on short notice for the injured Frankie Edgar although he was already training for a fight against Ricardo Lamas so he should not be lacking fitness. In the first fight he lacked his signature kicks, allegedly as a result of an injury. He had success early in that fight and with a full arsenal would look to build on that.

I don't think it will happen for him though. Once Holloway figured out the gameplan, he took over in Round 2 and finished it in Round 3. I think kicks or not, the same will happen this time - maybe even faster with it being a rematch. Maybe even faster than fast with Aldo almost missing weight and his known difficulties with conditioning.

Holloway is supremely skilled and will take some beating. That's why it was so frustrating that he edid not call Conor McGregor out after he won the title. Why? What does he have to lose? We know he has no problem with call outs after his cringeworthy "Jose Waldo" speech. Perhaps he's scared? Only he can prove that theory wrong.

[1] Alistair Overeem vs [4] Francis Ngannou

The UFC invented an arbitrary measure this week to prove that Francis Ngannou is the hardest puncher in the promotion or some such nonsense. The truth is that it's very difficult to tell how good he actually is because every guy he has fought so far is the scrubbiest of scrub imaginable. His signature win is an early stoppage TKO of Andrei Arlovski who had been finished by knockout or strikes in brutal fashion three straight times.

What is also true though is that he is a massive Heavyweight with explosive athleticism and power. There's not much left to say about Overeem, one of the most accomplished and experienced kickboxer turned Mixed Martial Artists to ever live. Although he is in the twilight of his career he is still eager for fights and has not mentioned retirement so his focus is clear.

Alistair returned to his old nickname of 'The Demoliton Man' for this fight. Not nearly as funky as "The Reem" but certainly a statement of intent. My heart says Overeem is too wily in a three round fight and schools this young pretender. But my head says his chin looked weak in his last fight against Werdum and all it takes is one against this powerhouse.

[2] Henry Cejudo vs [4] Sergio Pettis

Both of these guys have improved a lot over the course of the last year and a half. I still don't believe either is close to Demetrious Johnson but for now this is a good test and would be a good showcase if the UFC would have promoted this card at all.

At this point, I think Cejudo is further along as far as his complete game goes. He can control the pace with his wrestling and has the power to stand with Pettis without fear. I expect him to win by decision which should put him at the front of the queue for a rematch with the champion.

[4] Eddie Alvarez vs [5] Justin Gaethje

This fight, just based on the hype alone from fans ought to be the co-main event - what better way to get you amped for a title fight then all out brawl? Alvarez promises that's his 'game plan' going into this while Gaethje only fights at one speed - furious.

I didn't watch TUF this season, or any season for that matter, so I don't know how these two have interacted. Of course, as a veteran of 'the Bachelor' series I well know that all the interactions are phoney anyway so when Justin Buchholz saunters up to Duane Ludwig and mutters something about betrayal and so on it's because a producer told him to.

The dos Anjos fight aside, Eddie's run in the UFC has not actually been superbly impressive. He was dominated by Donald Cerrone and Conor McGregor. His bouts against Gilbert Melendez and Anthony Pettis in fights that were expected to be wild scuffles like this one but somewhat fizzled. I think this bout will more resemble his last one against Poirier though. That time both guys hurt each while swinging for the fences.

There's a certain mystique about unbeaten fighters with double digit wins but if there's any of them who look fallible it would certainly be Justin Gaethje. Fighting with reckless abandon he'll surely eventually fall, a victim of his own desire for contact. I think at this point in time though, the tread on him is less than that of Alvarez and he edges the most anticipated scrap of the night.

[5] Tecia Torres vs [6] Michelle Waterson

Michelle Waterson (Or 'Michell' apparently) follows in the footsteps of UFC superstar CM Punk by currently appearing on The Challenge: Champs vs Stars. Filming was in August so it shouldn't have interfered at all with her camp for this fight but I don't think that will make a big difference.

Tecia Torres is an expert game planner very adept at winning fights on points. She earned her first ever career finish in her last bout against Juliana Lima. Her only loss is against the new champion Rose Namajunas in a fight I thought was far closer than the unanimous decision that was awarded. Considering she also holds an earlier win over Rose, a win here would give her a good case for a title shot.

Waterson is undersized for the division - it didn't show in her main event against Paige VanZant who she was able to drag to the ground and put away early but it proved a huge disadvantage against Namajunas in April. Torres is short but very strong and I think will not be taken down easily. I expect Torres to have just enough to grind out a close decision.

I pick: Holloway, Ngannou, Cejudo, Gaethje, Torres

Chris picks: TBA

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