UFC fans around the world are in for the ultimate treat tonight as we get one of the most stacked cards of the year thus far. Two major Heavyweight bouts, one being for the title, and finally the octagon debut of former WWE superstar, CM Punk. I will be ordering this card just like many other people because the UFC gets it right where the WWE consistently falls short—this is must see television that undeniably captivates fans around the globe to gladly pull that $69.99 out of their pocket and stash it aside to pay for and enjoy an ultimate night of competition!
I would like to go on record with my predictions of the fights tonight because, for one, it gives me something to passionately write about and, secondly, I’m curious to see how much of an expert I may or may not be considering I’ve been avidly watching MMA for twelve years. Just like everyone else I have fighters I like and fighters I dislike, so I can easily throw a biased opinion out there for almost any fight but that is not my intention here. I am looking at the facts of these fights. Where is the fighter in their career? Are they in their prime or have they passed on from that pivotal point in their career? Are they riding a win streak or have they “dropped the ball” recently? Is it a must win fight for a particular competitor? Is a fighter going into the cage with something to prove or are they entering the battlefield nonchalantly? These are all things I will consider when making my predictions and are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to assessing a matchup or certain fighter. So, here we go…
Women’s Strawweight- Jessica Andrade vs. Joanne Calderwood
I have to be honest, I don’t know much about either of these fighters as I have never actually watched them fight. I have done some research into their careers and learned that Andrade is 2-2 in her last two fights, whereas Calderwood has only lost one professional fight over the course of her career in which she was submitted from an armbar in April of 2015. She has since bounced back with two consecutive victories in the octagon. To me, Jessica Andrade has a real tough fight in front of her against a highly technical striker in Calderwood who also boasts a 19-2 Muay Thai record prior to her mixed martial arts career. It is also important to note that Andrade has lost five professional fights in her career and was stopped in four of those defeats, two by submission and two more due to strikes. In my opinion, Calderwood has a distinct advantage in this fight.
My Prediction: Joanne Calderwood wins via KO/TKO in Round 2
Bantamweight- Urijah Faber vs. Jimmie Rivera
Let me start off by saying that I’ve been a huge fan of Urijah Faber’s for like ten years. He is by far one of the single toughest guys in the history of MMA. If you don’t understand that statement, then go back and watch the second fight Faber had against Mike Brown in the now defunct World Extreme Cagefighting. In this fight, Faber suffered from a broken right hand and a dislocated left thumb before the end of the second round. He continued to fight for another three rounds where he utilized kicks, elbows and slaps because of his injuries, but he never gave up! He did lose a close decision in that fight but he proved why he is one of the most resilient fighters in the world, and that has always been a lasting memory forever branded into my brain when I think of Faber. With all that being said, he is fighting an absolute killer in Jimmie Rivera. This man hasn’t lost a fight in over eight years and he is only twenty-seven years of age. This is a classic matchup of one man in the twilight of his career still trying to prove his stock and value as a fighter and proven commodity in the fight game, and the other is a young fighter with a vicious killer’s instinct. This is an extremely close fight and, as much as I love Faber, I think he will be outmatched and won’t be able to keep up with the younger, extremely technical fighter. Ouch, it pains me to say that!
My Prediction- Jimmie Rivera wins via unanimous decision
Welterweight- Mickey Gall vs. CM Punk
There isn’t much for me to say here because this is the fight everyone has been waiting for but still remains a huge mystery. This is the main event that’s not actually the main event. We all know that Gall has looked extremely impressive in the little bit that we have seen of his fighting. We know nothing of CM Punk’s fighting prowess other than the fact that he has trained for two years in preparation of this night at one of the very best fight camps on the entire planet, Roufusport MMA Academy, under the tutelage of Head Trainer Duke Roufus. Let’s look at what we do know for sure: CM Punk has trained his ass off for two years for this fight and clearly has the passion and dedication for this radical endeavor however, he has a very tough opponent in Mickey Gall. We also know that Punk would not be getting into the cage if his camp felt he wasn’t ready for it because his coaches and teammates are actually very confident he will ride out of Cleveland tonight on his high horse with his arms raised in glorious victory! The truth is that nobody knows what will happen or what type of skillset Punk will bring into the cage tonight. What I do know however, is that CM Punk has literally made a career out of proving people wrong and overcoming adversity, and I don’t see tonight being any different. The truth is this: All of the REAL pressure is on Gall and he is a young fighter that hasn’t had to deal with this type of heavy pressure. That is a very valid factor going into this fight. Most people think Gall will just walk right through Punk and that puts a lot of weight on the shoulders of a young man who isn’t comfortable with all the hype associated with this fight. To me, it’s much more difficult to win the fight that you’re “supposed to win” rather than walking into the cage with nothing to lose! I know my opinion probably won’t be well received and guess what, I couldn’t care less!
My Prediction- CM Punk wins via KO/TKO in Round 1
Heavyweight- Fabricio Werdum vs. Travis Browne
Fabricio Werdum has been around for a very long time and is coming off a first-round knockout loss to Stipe Miocic, who dethroned him of his UFC Heavyweight Championship in front of his home crowd in Brazil. Werdum had been on an absolute tier rattling off six consecutive victories since his UFC return in 2012. And then, one crisp counter punch from Miocic sent him to the canvas in slump of rubbery limbs and sleepy drool. This has always been my problem with Werdum—you have probably the best Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioner in the UFC’s Heavyweight division and arguably one of the best in the world at his craft, but the problem is that he will look excellent in one fight and look like he sat on his couch for six months in preparation of his next fight. I don’t know what his deal is to be honest but, if he knows what’s good for him he’d better have trained his ass off for Travis Browne. This is a rematch and a loss that Browne is absolutely determined to avenge! The Hawaiian native’s career has been a roller coaster in the last four years as he has gone 5-4 in the UFC during that time. Browne went 13-0-1 in the beginning of his career from 2009 to 2012, and then began to look not as sharp or promising over the next three years. Both of these men have something to prove, but I think Browne has much more to prove because he is avenging a loss. Also, it has to be difficult for Werdum to not look at Browne as someone he has already beaten and will have no problem doing so for a second time—BIG MISTAKE! Browne is a very dynamic fighter with comprehensive skills in all aspects of the fight game, and Werdum has shown that he is susceptible to the knockout so if he doesn’t keep his chin tucked he will be in big trouble.
My Prediction- Travis Browne wins via KO/TKO in Round 2
Heavyweight Championship- Stipe Miocic (C) vs. Alistair Overeem
This is such a riveting fight! You have a man, Miocic, that finally brought a championship home to Cleveland almost four months ago in what was a classic “cinderella story”, and then you have one of the most technical and intimidating forces in MMA with the challenger, Overeem. I’ll be the first to say that I’m a fan of both of these men because they are both excellent warriors in their own respect. Miocic has hit his stride in the last year and captured his lifelong dream of being champion however, Overeem is a journeyman who’s fought all around the world for more than ten years against some of the most formidable names in the sport. He has also won championships all over the world in MMA and kickboxing but has yet to capture a UFC championship. It is very difficult to pick a winner in this fight because it is such a close matchup. Miocic is a very technical boxer with a strong wrestling pedigree but, Overeem is an elite striker that is very skilled in all aspects of combat and has a much longer and broader wealth of experience and knowledge. This is about as close as any fight could get and I think it comes down to whoever implements their game-plan more effectively. If Miocic can avoid the devastating punches, kicks and knees from Alistair and get inside to utilize his crisp boxing, then I believe he will knock Overeem out. However, if Overeem can stay on the outside using his long limbs to systematically chop Stipe down and wear him out with strikes from all angles while avoiding the big shots and forward momentum of Miocic, then he will be the new champ. Regardless, I have to listen to my gut here and it’s telling me that it’s just Overeem’s time!
My Prediction- Alistair Overeem wins via KO/TKO in Round 1
So there you have it, The Gonzo Shark has spoken! I want to know what YOU think! Please tell me your thoughts in the comments below. Enjoy the fights everyone!
Follow me on Twitter: @GonzoShark1
Until next time, The Gonzo Shark checks out…