My Breakdown, thoughts and picks for UFC 215
This coming weekend on September 9th Demetrious Johnson will be defending his belt against Ray Borg; for the Co-Main Event Amanda Nunes will face off against Valentina Shevchenko for the UFC Women's Bantamweight Championship. These are my breakdowns and predictions for the fights:
(C) Demetrious Johnson vs. # 3 Ray Borg
Demetrious Johnson defends his Flyweight title for the historic Eleventh time; as he plans to pass Anderson Silva's record of ten title defenses and will continue to climb on top of the mountain of the Pound for Pound rankings now that Jon Jones's title win has been called into question. Johnson had a up and down summer with his feud against UFC President Dana White by threatening to close the Flyweight Division, to which DJ replied with "Go ahead and close the division." His career has flown under the radar of most main stream attention, even him winning ESPN's Fighter of the year, may not even help his marketability for this PPV; his biggest PPV buyrate was 205,000 and was a card he headlined under three weeks. Originally rumored to fight TJ Dillashaw, he now faces another rising contender in Ray Borg. Borg is on a two fight win streak, my only troubling issue with Borg is his weight issues. He's missed weight twice in his seven fights in the UFC, it's not an alarming issue but it's something to keep an eye on. His hand speed is good and has unorthodox boxing, his fight with Jussier Formiga was a great challenge to see where he stood with the best in the Flyweight Division but I believe it's too soon to throw him in with Demetrious Johnson. DJ has lightening fast hand speed and out wrestled Henry Cejudo who was Olympic Gold Medalist in the Rio Games.
Verdict : 2nd Round (TKO) Demetrious Johnson.
(C) Amanda Nunes vs. #1 Valentina Shevchenko
The fight we didn't get to see at UFC 213 after Nunes dropped out at the last minute with a sinus issue. Nunes controlled most of the first fight with her grappling and ground game but I believe was outclassed by Shevchenko in the striking department. Of course both women have grown a lot since the last time they fought, Nunes is now the Bantamweight champion after it was being hot potatoed. Shevchenko in her own right hasn't lost a fight since being beat by Nunes. Shevchenko has shown a vast improvement in her take downs and her ability to control a fight with her striking; that has always been at a world class range. The bigger question is the weight cut for Nunes; every time I've noticed her at weighin's her face and body look way to shrunk. This is going to be a challenge for her, because how is her cardio going to be able to handle the five rounds. Every time I have watched her, she fades around the middle of the 2nd round to even the beginning of the 3rd round. That will be the bigger problem for this fight, I expect Shevchenko to pressure her with constant leg kicks and her elite kickboxing.
Verdict: 4th Round (TKO) #1 Valentina Shevchenko
#6 Neil Magny vs #10 Rafael Dos Anjos
This fight is flying under everyone's radar in the ever exciting Welterweight division. I foresee this be more of grappling match then an actual MMA fight. Dos Anjos has really impressive boxing and pressure up against the cage to take you down and apply his world class grappling. He's looked better since his move to the already stacked Welterweight division and in my opinion is a dark horse for a future title shot. He wasn't the most polarizing Lightweight Champion, he missed out on a huge opportunity to fight McGregor, even though I believe he would have lost to him. Neil Magny on the other hand is coming off of an impressive win against the former champion, Johny Hendricks. His striking has vastly improved over time but the biggest thing that will help him against Dos Anjos is his grappling which is really underrated in my opinion. He will have to work Dos Anjos in the clinch and use his wrestling to keep him at bay and expend his gas tank. Other than that, I really think this fight will be mostly grappling.
Verdict: (Spilt Decision) #7 Neil Magny
#13 Ilir Latifi vs Tyson Pedro
The ever changing Light Heavyweight Division has another great fight on its hands, Latifi is coming back to the octagon after being KO'd by now the Bellator Light Heavyweight Champion Ryan Bader. Lafiti has looked good against unknown opponents that wouldn't sniff a title shot but has looked outclassed in every fight when he's given the opportunity to move up in the rankings. Granted he was a last minute opponent for Gegard Mousasi and that was how he was originally given a UFC contract. However, when I watch his old fights like against Gian Villante, Sean O'Connell, etc. He has some serious power in his right hand, and his wrestling is super good, he's just a strong individual that will control and push the pace of the fight. Tyson Pedro is a newcomer to the UFC, undefeated and looked great in his last fight against Paul Craig. None of his fights have left the 1st round at all either which shows how dominate he is capable of being, but it's also bad with him not being tested in deeper waters and I believe this fight will go past the 1st round.
Verdict : 2nd Round (Submission) Tyson Pedro
#8 Jeremy Stephens vs Gilbert Melendez
This is a make it or break it for both fighters, but I think someone is either getting cut or retiring. Jeremy Stephens is an elite fighter, who's seriously overlooked by people because of his record. Even though people do troll him after Conor McGregor's rebuttal at the UFC 205 press conference, he really is one of the hardest hitting featherweights in the division. He came so close to beating Frankie Edgar after dropping him in the 2nd round and was outpointed by Renato Moicano. Gilbert Melendez has had a rocky road towards the tail end of his career, he's had two opportunities to capture the Lightweight title but fell short both times. He should have gone to Bellator and became the Lightweight Champion there because he would have lighter competition and as well wouldn't have had the USADA issues after his failed drug tests. He's on a three fight losing streak and think his career is done if he doesn't somehow beat Stephens. I expect him to wrestle and grapple his way to a submission; if not I predict a rough night for Mr. Melendez.
Verdict: 1st Round (TKO) Jeremy Stephens