Hey fight fans, we’ve got once heck of a UFC card. UFC 188 is coming to us from Mexico City, starting with early prelims at 7:00 PM ET on Fight Pass. There are a ton of great fights to pick, so let’s dive into the predictions!
Important Standings of Note:
Jessica: 406-270-4 (60%)
Burnsy: 414-249-5 (62%)
Vince: 199-126-2 (61%)
Ryan: 10-5-1 (66%)
Danny: 161-77-1 (67%)
Spilled: 81-60-2 (57%)
Sydnie: 16-12 (57%)
Chris: 42-13-2 (75%)
NY Ric: 36-26-1 (57%)
Ghost: 6-7 (46%)
Seth: 32-15 (68%)
Biss: 41-39-1 (51%)
Jared: 58-33-1 (64%)
Melanie: 16-8 (67%)
Featherweight – Gabriel “Moggly” Benitez vs “Cassius” Clay Collard
Jessica: I’m mad at Collard for beating My Dude Alex White, but I figure he’s gotta be good to beat the Gas Man. Moggly, despite not being that weird, furry monster that taught kids French (That would be Muzzy), is okay, but I don’t think his competition has been that great. I’ll take Collard to punch out Benitez in the second. Collard wins with a second round TKO.
Jared: Have you guys seen Clay Collard’s Wikipage recently? DUDE DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A FIGHT RECORD ON IT LOLOLOL. That said, Wiki page beats no Wiki page 9 times out of 10.
Welterweight – Augusto “Dodger” Montano vs Cathal “The Punisher” Pendred
Jessica: Montano has only ever lost to Sam Alvey, who is secretly kind of great. Pendred should have lost his last fight, but LOL MMA JUDGES were in full effect in Boston. I’ll say that Montano knees off Pendred’s face in the very first round.
Vince: Pendred is possibly the least impressive 16-2 I’ve ever seen. Far as I can tell, his skills consist mainly of being kind of big, being a relentless but not particularly talented wrestler, and being able to win questionable decisions. I’m still hesitant to pick against him here, because I don’t know how Montano does against big wrestlers. I’m just going to pick Montano because Pendred bores me to tears and I love Mexicans.
Jared: Pendred gets a lot of unnecessary hate for coming out on the right side of a couple questionable decisions and/or being one of the sloppiest fighters in the UFC and/or riding the coattails of Conor McGregor. The man is 3-0 in the UFC, for God’s sake, so show him some damn respect!!
Montano via TKO.
Lightweight – Francisco “Sitkayan” Trevino vs Johnny “Hollywood” Case
Jessica: Both dudes had decent UFC debut performances and both guys feasted upon low-level competition on the regional scene. This might come down to a nickname fight. I’m not crazy about “Hollywood” for a dude out of Iowa, but I don’t even know what the heck a “Sitkayan” is, so I’ve got to go with Johnny “I Wish It Was Cage” Case. Case takes a decision.
Jared: Johnny Case is a stud, and is one letter away from being Johnny Cage. How you can bet against him based on that evidence is a mystery to me
Bantamweight – Alejandro “El Diablito” Perez vs Patrick “The Animal” Williams
Jessica: It’s no real shame to get put away by Chris Beal like Williams was, but that is affecting my pick here. I’m taking Perez to scrap out a decision. My reason for this prediction is simple: shut up.
Jared: It’s very rare that I’d pick a guy on the heels of a highlight reel KO loss, but Williams was getting the better of Chris Beal before he got flying knee’d and has exactly the kind of wrestling game to keep Perez at bay. Plus, I’m staunchly against picking anyone from TUF Latin America for the time being.
Lightweight – Efrain “Hecho en Mexico” Escudero vs Drew Dober
Jessica: Unless Eduardo Herdy mistakenly calls another submission that isn’t there, I don’t see Dober losing this one. I still contend that Escudero isn’t that good, and I fully expect Dober to beat him up and get a third round TKO victory.
Vince: Nothing against Escudero, but I’m going to need to see him beat someone I’ve heard of before I pick him. The first name I recognized in Escudero’s win column was Dan Lauzon, who I only know because of his brother, who Escudero beat in 2010. I’m not saying it can’t happen, but I need to see evidence of it first. Dober.
Jared: Dober. He’s the hungrier fighter and the UFC is basically Escudero’s kryptonite.
Flyweight – Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo vs Chico “The King” Camus
Jessica: Much like John Lineker, the question for Cejudo isn’t “will he win?” but “can he make weight?” I’ll say he hits the limit on the nose and then goes on to do the same to Camus. Cejudo wins a wrestley, ground and pound based second round TKO.
Chris: Henry Cejudo is going to put his stamp on Chico Camus. I know the Olympian isn’t perfectly polished, but I just can’t see his path to a Flyweight title fight being anything less than well curated. McGregor-eque, if you will.
I liked Cejudo’s swagger at the UFC 185 press conference, and believe that as each member of the Flyweight division appears a less and less likely challenger to DJ, we will see Cejudo challenge for the title in 2016.
Vince: I think I’ve already wasted all my best existentialist Camus jokes in past picks posts, so I’m just going to go ahead and pick the undefeated 10-1 favorite, Cejudo. I like his floppy hair.
Jared: Hmmm, the -1300 favorite Olympian, or the guy who looks like Robert Lasardo? The -1300 favorite Olympian, or the guy who looks like Robert Lasardo…
Strawweight – Tecia “The Tiny Tornado” Torres vs Angela “Overkill” Hill
Jessica: Torres is probably the better fighter, but Hill’s got good striking and solid finishing power, which is something Tecia lacks. If this stays on the feet, I think Hill’s got a very solid chance to win, but ultimately, I see Torres taking a decision here.
Chris: Remember Marc Stevens on TUF 12? How he got guillotined twice in the house, despite being a top pick. Torres had a similar go in the TUF house, albeit via decision losses, but the similarities stop there.
She’s a highly ranked fighter for a reason and isn’t going to stand in front of Angela Hill unnecessarily. Angela for all her enthusiasm, the beatdown she put on Emily Kagan, I just can’t bet against someone with so little training history.
Plus Torres has wins over UFC marketing dynamos PVZ and Thug Rose. She’s practically unkillable.
Vince: A lot of great fighters have boring personalities, and Tecia Torres may be the most boring human being on planet Earth. She’s going to slowly put Hill to sleep by dispassionately reciting interview clichés here.
Jared: I do loves me some Angela Hill, but the only way she beats Torres is by outgrappling her, and I really don’t see that happening.
Featherweight – Yair “El Pantera” Rodriguez vs Charles “Boston Strong” Rosa
Jessica: I think Rosa is just better overall. Rosa gets another third round submission.
Vince: I actually to do my homework for this fight. I watched Yair Rodriguez’s UFC debut, where he showed slick jitz and some fancy striking, thanks to his Tae Kwon Do black belt. Meaning Joe Rogan will be hanging from his balls the entire fight. Anyway, this will be interesting because Rosa is also a submission guy, having won 70% of his fights by sub, AND he’s a karate guy. They’re almost mirror images of each other. Putting a grinder against one of these quick, slick fancy striker/jitz guys would be an interesting, but that’s not happening here. I’m giving the edge to Rosa, on account of more experience against higher level guys, and because whereas Rodriguez’s submission game has *looked* slick, Rosa has actually finished a lot more people via sub. A choke in the hand is worth two in the bush or something. I dunno, ask yr mom.
Jared: Rosa via destruction. Remember that thing I said about TUF: Latin America guys?
Middleweight – Kelvin Gastelum vs Nate “The Great” Marquardt
Jessica: Kelvin beat Jake Ellenberger and lost to Tyron Woodley, while Marquardt lost to Jake and beat T-Wood, so suck it, MMAth! With this being a middleweight fight, Kelvin should have no issues with making weight and being too drained. If that’s the case, I think he’s too good for Marquardt. Kelvin will out-wrestle Nate and lock up a second round submission.
Chris: There is only room for one man in the UFC with awkwardly placed consonants in their names, and these two aim to settle up. Kelvin had some real steam for a minute. His surprise win against Uriah Hall was a pleasure to watch and the win streak that followed, even better. Success at a young age sometimes robs one of perspective, the banishment to Middleweight is a real litmus test as to where Kelvin’s head is at. I believe in his ability, but only if his maintains a professional mentality.
Marquardt is a perfect foil for Gastelum. I think the years have finally caught up to The Great one. Not that he is no longer a stellar athlete, but when it comes to fighting title challenger-level competition, those days may be gone. Aside from the Te Huna win, he has taken a serious amount of damage in four of his last 5 fights, getting knocked out twice and kicked to shit by Saffedine.
I think if Kelvin comes in both mentally and physically prepared, he can take this fight, possibly even stop Nate. But if either of those components are lacking, look for the veteran to stop the rising star.
Vince: I thought Marquardt was done, and then he shocked me when he armbarred James Te-Huna. Of course, that was also his only win since 2012, dropping three out of his last four fights, so it’s quite possible that he is done and Te-Huna was just the death rattle. Meanwhile, Gastelum went three rounds against Woodley after a battle cutting weight, so I’m going to say he comes out quicker and fresher this time around and puts it on Marquardt. Gastelum.
Jared: This is essentially a punishment fight for both fighters – Gastelum because he can’t seem to make weight at 170 and Marquardt because he’s fighting Kelvin Gastelum. However, Marquardt has looked like a shell of his former self lately and will bite the dirt early in this one
Lightweight – Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez vs Eddie “The Silent Assassin” Alvarez
Jessica: Holy cow, it took five years and both guys had to leave the B-league organizations they were the kings of, but we’ve finally got that Melendez vs Alvarez super fight everyone wanted Scott Coker and Bjorn Rebney to put together! Both guys are a vague wrestle-boxer style, but Alvarez is the better boxer and Melendez is the better wrestler. I’m disappointed this is only a three round fight since I believe it will be amazing, and I think that Alvarez takes a decision.
Chris: Good lord, did you see how tiny Eddie Alvarez looked next to Cowboy. Let’s remember that “A BIG LIGHTWEIGHT” is not part of Joe Rogan’s screamy Cowboy description. Melendez has been able to neutralize A BIG LIGHTWEIGHT in Bendo and bullied Pettis for a round before losing a striking exchange.
I’m picking Melendez by size alone. TKO
Vince: Both of these guys are amazing pretty much everywhere – striking, wrestling, subs, reliable drunk drivers (just guessing) – to the point that it’s hard to find the differences in their games. Even their records are similar. The way I see it, Alvarez is probably a little quicker, but Melendez is tougher. They both have skills, but of the two of them, Melendez seems like the guy who eats worms and headbutts rocks. Odd as it may sound after that last sentence, I also think he has the better fight IQ. Not to mention that I’m totally biased because Gil fights out of the Bay. Skrap Pak 4 Life, #DontBeScaredHomey. Melendez. I hear that if you pick against the Skrap Pack and lose, a pregnant pitbull sneaks into your room while you’re sleeping and gives birth on the floor.
Jared: If I ever did get involved in the Fight of the Night picks in these columns, this would be my clear frontrunner, as well as everyone else’s, I’m assuming. Both guys are former champions in smaller organizations who are as scrappy as they come, but Melendez can take a better shot and can always fall back on his superior grappling game if he gets in trouble, so I’ll take “el Nino” in a decision. Probably a split, because MMA judges have no idea what the f*ck they’re doing
Heavyweight Title – Cain Velasquez vs Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum
Jessica: This is a tough fight to pick. On one hand, Velasquez is usually the best heavyweight, but he’s been out of competition for two years. Werdum’s been on a good winning streak, and his striking has continued to get better. The last time a champ returned from a long layoff, Dom Cruz mauled Takeya Mizugaki, but Werdum’s a lot better than Takeya. I’ll go out on a very thin and fragile twig and say that Werdum submits Velasquez in the third.
Chris: This all comes down to what shape Cain is in. For all the talk about how little we’ve seen of Cain, the Fab one hasn’t really put much time in either.
Since 2012, Werdum has fought only one more time than Cain, and Cain has logged more Octagon time in those 4 fights than in Fabricio’s 5.
I understand that Werdum was carefully curating and pacing his way to a title shot, which is respectable. And Cain’s recuperation time is definitely time spent not training.
But at the end of the day, a healthy Cain is the wood chipper. People liked talking about Brock and Randy, but no one wonders about a fight between Cain & Fedor because it’s kind of gruesome thinking what The Brown One might do to our beloved Emperor.
Cain by mauling.
Vince: This one’s tough to pick. Obviously, you can never count out the guy who flying kneed Mark Hunt’s gigantic head into the fifth row or stand-and-bang’d a 6’7″ Hawaiian murderer into a living death like Werdum did. Those two wins are an epic tear and don’t let any son of a bitch tell you otherwise. Meanwhile, Cain Velasquez is the most dominant heavyweight champion the UFC has ever had, with one of the most well-rounded skill sets in the game. He can do pretty much anything, short of submit you off his back.
The conventional wisdom is that Cain is better, but ring rust. I don’t know that either of those things are a given. Having watched UFC Embedded, I’ll just say that Cain seems like one of the most boring champions the UFC has ever had, and remember what I said about fighters with boring personalities? Cain.
Jared: I was pretty split on this fight for a number of reasons – Cain’s potential ring rust, Werdum’s vastly improved striking and always elite jitz – that was, until Werdum decided to insult/question Cain’s Mexican-ness. You dun messed up, Fabricio! Cain via bloodbath.
Performance of the Night
Jessica: Gastelum, Collard
Vince: Rosa, Velasquez
Fight of the Night
Jessica: Coin flip between Torres/Hill and Alvarez/Melendez. I’m going with the strawweights.
Vince: Either Alvarez/Melendez or Rodriguez/Rosa. I’ll go Alvarez/Melendez.