The biggest fight week in the UFC’s history is nearly upon us. Three days, three stacked cards. It all kicks off on the 7th of July with Rafael Dos Anjos defending his lightweight belt against Eddie Alvarez in the main event, the next night brings a climax to the heated rivalry between the women’s Strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzekczyk and Claudia Gadelha and finally, on Saturday the 9th of July, the spectacle that is UFC 200 will be headlined by the highly anticipated rematch between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier for the light-heavy weight belt. Of course, they are only the main events, there is still another 32 bouts spread across 72 hours for us to enjoy. Littered across the three events are classic match ups in the making. Before the returning Brock Lesnar even steps foot in the Octagon again, we will have been treated to two title fights and two new winners of The Ultimate Fighter. But before I get too ahead of myself, I’ll focus on breaking down each event individually, starting with UFC Fight Night 90.
On July 7th the greatest three days in the UFC’s history kicks off with a lightweight title fight between the champion; Rafael Dos Anjos and former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez. RDA is making his comeback from injury, having broken his foot back in February while preparing for a duel with Conor McGregor. That injury proved to be good news for Alvarez, as with McGregor losing to Nate Diaz, it left the void for a new challenger for the 155 pound belt. In the co-main event, two of the heavyweights heaviest hitters come face to face when Roy “Big Country” Nelson takes on Derrick Lewis, in what should be a “who connects first, wins” kind of fight. Elsewhere, Alan Jouban will be looking to move his way up the welterweight rankings as he takes on Belal Muhammad and Donegal native “Irish” Joe Duffy will be determined to erase the memories of his first loss under the UFC banner, as he tests himself against submission specialist Mitch Clarke.
As always, I will now break down all the main card fights, give my predictions and of course put my own “Armchair Expert” title on the line.
RAFAEL DOS ANJOS vs. EDDIE ALVAREZ
Since the champ dropped a decision loss to Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2014, he has been on a tear ever since, beating top talent such as; Benson Henderson, Nate Diaz and of course former champion Anthony Pettis. That loss seemed to change something in RDA, every fight thereafter he seemed to be evolving and getting better and better. When he fought Pettis for the title, he gave the best display yet of his new found skill set and desire as he picked apart “Showtime” for five rounds. He utilised his relentless pace and constantly threw combinations to grind out a decision victory. RDA has exceptional cardio and never stops pushing the fight. He will be looking to get in Alvarez’s face early and back him up against the cage, so he can unleash some vicious combos and nasty elbows but Alvarez is as tough as they come. He has plenty of championship experience and knows how to grind out a victory, having lost once in eleven fights while signed with Bellator, he made the transition to the UFC in 2014. On his promotional debut he lost a unanimous decision to “Cowboy” Cerrone but his two fights since have been more like the Alvarez of old; firstly grinding out a victory against Gilbert Melendez and most recently dominating Anthony Pettis. For Alvarez to walk away as champion he will need to keep RDA at jabs length, he can’t afford to let Dos Anjos block him against the cage. Alvarez’ game plan should be to keep the fight on the feet and pick the champ off with measured combinations. All this is easier said than done though, Don Anjos looks like a new beast, he is more driven than ever and he wants to display his dominance in the lightweight division. Dos Anjos will continually push the pace and when he sees the opportunity, he will take Alvarez down and ground and pound him. However, I don’t see a stoppage in this fight I think it will go the distance and I predict RDA hearing Bruce Buffer announce: “AND STILL”.
Dos Anjos by decision.
ROY NELSON vs. DERRICK LEWIS
My one bit of advice for this fight; don’t blink. With a total of 28 knockouts between them, it’s safe to say the money should be on a knockout. “Big Country” isn’t exactly setting the world alight of late, going 2-5 in his last seven outings, including a 3 fight losing streak over the course of a year. His fortunes seemed to change in his last fight, winning by decision over Jared Rosholt, although it wasn’t the most exciting victory. But at 40 years of age, maybe Nelson is beginning to slow down. The opposite can be said for Lewis, who has won his last three fights; two by TKO and one by KO. And at 9 years his junior, he may have more in the tank to put Nelson away. Lewis has performed well inside the Octagon, most notably in his last contest when defeating Gabriel Gonzaga, but he has a tendency to want to stand and trade and with an opponent as heavy handed as Nelson, it may not be the wisest of moves. Lewis should look to pick Nelson apart and wear him down before he looks to land the big haymaker. Nelsons best option to catch his opponent off guard, is to take the fight to the mat and use his black belt in Jiu-Jitsu to his advantage. Once Lewis stuffs the takedown attempts and doesn’t get drawn into a brawl, I believe he will have enough power to put “Big Country” to sleep.
Lewis by KO.
ALAN JOUBAN vs. BELAL MUHAMMAD
Belal “Remember the Name” Muhammad takes this fight on just 5 weeks’ notice, replacing the injured Nordine Taleb. Muhammad is currently undefeated, boasting a record of 9 straight wins, 3 of which came by TKO/KO. In his most recent outing he impressed in winning the vacant welterweight belt at Titan FC. Making his UFC debut he will want to put on a display that ensures fans remember his name. Welcoming him to the UFC is Alan Jouban, the experienced American will be looking to put him away early to try stake a claim in the stacked welterweight division. Jouban has 9 KO victories from his 13 wins and will be aiming to make it back to back stoppage successes. From what Muhammad has shown in his short MMA career he possess talent and creativity but I don’t know if he will have enough to trouble Jouban, who has enough weapons in his arsenal to control the fight wherever it takes place. The short preparation time, the nerves for a big promotional debut and an experienced fighter across from him, leads me to believe Belal Muhammad might buckle under the pressure and Jouban will swoop in and put him away.
Jouban by KO
JOESPH DUFFY vs. MITCH CLARKE
After bursting onto the scene with a pair of first round stoppage victories, “Irish Joe” then went onto lose a judge’s decision to Dustin Poirier in a brutal back and forth battle and he will be eager to get back into the win column. Duffy is a complete mixed martial artist, who looks comfortable wherever the fight takes place. He will use his crisp boxing to keep Clarke at bay as he looks to wear him down and then take him out, be it via knockout or submission. Mitch Clarke, like Duffy, isn’t a fan of going the distance; only 3 of his 11 wins have gone to the judge’s score cards. “Danger Zone” is somewhat of a submission specialist, always looking to lock in a choke, but this skill may count against him here, as Duffy is the type of fighter to look at an opponent’s strengths and try to outclass them. Duffy will more than likely find a home for his jab over and over until Clarke results to taking him to the ground; if he does Duffy will look for a choke of his own. But I don’t think Clarke will even have enough time to attempt a takedown as Duffy should find a way to end this fight early, more than likely a kick to the head early in the first.
Duffy by KO.
Best of the Rest.
Mike Pyle vs. Alberto Mina
Mina to win.
John Makdessi vs. Mehdi Baghdad
Makdessi to win.
Anthony Birchak vs. Dileno Lopes
Birchak to win.
Russell Doane vs. Pedro Munhoz
Munhoz to win.
Felipe Arantes vs. Jerrod Sanders
Arantes to win.
Gilbert Burns vs. Lukasz Sajewski
Burns to win.
Marco Beltran vs. Reginaldo Vieira
Vieira to win.
Vicente Luque vs. Alvaro Herrera
Luque to win.
Bet of the Day.
The adventurous bet: all 12 predictions is 190/1
The conservative bet: RDA to win on points is 7/2 or Derrick Lewis to win by KO or points is 6/5.
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