Mike Swick vs. Matt Brown
For being out of the fight game for two years, Swick had a good performance against DaMarques Johnson. His weight cut and all around preparation will be substantially better in this fight. Brown is a decent striker, but he knows he will loose a stand up war against Swick, so he will look to initiate the ground game in this fight. Brown has been successful in shutting down quick strikers before, such as, Stephen Thompson. The difference is that Swick has better defense on the ground than Thompson, and Brown will not pose a greater threat on the ground than DaMarques Johnson. Swick was taken down by Johnson, and Brown does poses the ability to do the same, but it’s much more likely that Swick will damage Brown on the feet with his fast hands rather than Brown will take Swick down and hold him there for all three rounds. Swick caught DaMarques Johnson early in their fight several times, and since Swick has a history of quick first round knockouts, I betting on him to do the same against Brown.
B.J. Penn vs. Rory MacDonald
Like every one of Penn’s fights, his cardio will be in question. When word first spread that Penn was visibly out of shape so close to the fight, no question I was picking MacDonald to win. However, the fight was postponed for two and a half months, and Penn had plenty of time to improve on his conditioning. After MacDonald’s fight against Che Mills, I was surprised how tentative and feeble he looked with his striking. Realizing this, MacDonald looked to take Mills down and finished him on the ground via ground and pound. Penn is known for having excellent boxing and great takedown defense, which will be a deadly threat to MacDonald if he is unsuccessful in getting Penn to the ground. Even if he can get Penn down, Penn is crafty off his back so MacDonald will need to be cautious of armbars, triangles, and any other creative maneuver Penn will thrown at him. I was extremely close to picking Penn in this fight, but MacDonald gets better with every fight and proved that he can overcome being in a compromising situation. He trains with one of the best fighters known to the sport, Georges St-Pierre, and he is incredibly well rounded in his skills. In the end, I have to side with MacDonald based on his performances against high level competition, such as, Mike Pyle, Nate Diaz and Carlos Condit. I foresee Penn slowing down after the first round, and when he does, MacDonald will secure a takedown and control him as Jon Fitch and George St-Pierre were able to. Penn isn’t easy to finish, his fight with Nick Diaz is proof of that, so the fight will go the distance, but it’ll be MacDonald who will get the decision win.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Alexander Gustafsson
I don’t like Shogun’s chances in this fight, and the betting odds seem to agree with me. Gustafsson has been impressive in every one of his wins, while Shogun has been more “hit or miss“. In his defense, his last three losses have been at the hands of fighters who are all top five in the division, but cardio, aggression, and an all around good performance has been a wildcard for Shogun in the UFC. Shogun is a black belt in jiu-jitsu and most likely won‘t look to stand toe to toe with Gustafsson. However, he’s no specialist in executing the takedowns needed to get this fight to the ground, especially against such a physically strong light heavyweight like Gustafsson. I have the utmost confidence that Gustafsson will keep this fight standing and use his considerable reach advantage and boxing to control the fight. You’re only as good as your last fight, and I wasn’t too impressed with Shogun’s considering it was against Brandon Vera. Shogun’s chin isn’t as strong as Thiago Silva’s so I’m predicting Gustafsson to finish Shogun in similar fashion that Jon Jones was able to do
Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz
Too many fans of Diaz are overestimating his chances of winning in this fight. They over exaggerate his striking, and although Diaz posses good boxing skills, he rarely utilizes any kicks, a technique that is a large part of Henderson’s offense. It would appear in his recent fights that Diaz has improved on his wrestling and takedown defense, but it won’t be enough to stop Henderson from taking him down at will. Henderson has some of the best submission defense in all of MMA, and it’s certainly good enough for him to avoid be submitted while in top control. The best chance that Diaz has of winning is finding a way to submit Henderson, and I just don’t see that happening. I don’t see Henderson finishing Diaz, but he will win a unanimous decision and retain his belt.
Written by : Ryan “Fight Freek” Poli