TUF:Redemption Finale and UFC 213 Predictions and Story lines

With UFC International Fight Week coming up quickly and two action-packed events planned for Friday and Saturday we can expect to see some quality battles, incredible submissions and brutal knockouts.

International Fight Week 2016 was a complete and utter disaster. Don’t get me wrong, there were two incredible championship fights that weekend in Eddie Alvarez vs. Rafael dos Anjos and Joanna Champion vs. Claudia Gadelha but the underwhelming event of UFC 200, which was supposed to be the “Best card of all time” will always be remembered as a dud because the Pay-Per-View was a disaster. The main event of Jon Jones vs. Daniel Cormier was scrapped two days before the event because Jones popped for dick pills. They had to resort to adding WWE Universal Champion and former UFC World Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar to sell enough pay-per-views to convince the potentially incoming UFC buyers to purchase the company. Finally, Jose Aldo rose from the dead after having his career ruined by Conor McGregor to grind out an unimpressive victory against Frankie Edgar. This International Fight week is turning into a much more stable week than last years thankfully.

The Main event of TUF: Redemption is a Lightweight fight between UFC Veteran Michael Johnson and former WSOF Lightweight Champion Justin Gaethje. When I heard the UFC signed Gaethje I was so excited. Gaethje is an incredibly exciting fighter who always moves forward and utilizes a whole bunch of crazy moves into his striking. In the WSOF, the 17-0 Gaethje has defended his lightweight title 5 times against some tough competition, However, none of that competition comes close to the talent level that Johnson has. Number 6 ranked Michael Johnson has a Record of 18-11 and has 16 UFC fights under his belt and holds wins over quality opponents such as Tony Ferguson and Edson Barboza. Back at the UFC Summer Kickoff Press Conference, Johnson said to Gaethje “Listen, Justin, you had wars in (WSOF). But when you come over to the UFC, you won’t have a war with me man. We’re going to bang, don’t get it wrong, but you’re out of your league on this one, buddy.”

I love Gaethje’s violent and unconventional fighting style, but I have to agree with Johnson. In Gaethje’s last fight with WSOF he was losing the first two rounds against Luis Firmino and only won because of a Doctor Stoppage due to swelling on Firmino’s eye. Gaethje is in too deep for his first UFC fight, I think a matchup with someone ranked 12-20 would have been better for Gaethje to get the UFC debut nerves out of his system. I think someone like Will Brooks or Francisco Trinaldo would’ve been a better first UFC clash. On friday, I think Johnson will take the victory in what will most likely be the fight of the night. Pre: Michael Johnson Def. Justin Gaethje 

I became a fan of MMA through stumbling upon an episode of The Ultimate Fighter a few years ago. The fact that there has been 25 seasons of this show is just crazy to me. This Season, the two finalists we will see battle it out for a UFC contract are Dhiego Lima, who lost in the finale of TUF:19 and Jesse Taylor who had all but won TUF:7 before getting kicked out of the finale after he had a tumultuous night on the Vegas Strip. He is what the UFC wanted to promote this season: a true redemption story. Pre: Jesse Taylor Def Dhiego Lima

Also on Friday, we will see the biggest UK-made prospect since Michael Bisping in Marc Diakiese enter the octagon. Diakiese has had three UFC fights in his 9 months under UFC contract beating Lukasz Sajewski, Frankie Perez and Teemu Packalen. Diakiese’s opponent is Drakkar Klose fighting out of Michigan. Klose dominated his opponent Devin Powell in his first and only UFC fight to date. I love both of these two as prospects but I’m also genuinely torn on who to pick. Klose dominated an over-matched opponent, and Diakiese fought people who were coming off a year or more away from competition and were probably effected by ring rust. With all this being said, Diakiese has the one punch power to keep Klose from attacking efficiently. Prediction: Marc Diakiese Def. Drakkar Klose 

Other Predictions from TUF: Redemption Finale

Jared Cannonier Def. Nick Roehrick 

Elias Theodorou Def. Brad Tavares

Jordan Johnson Def. Marcel Fortuna

Angela Hill Def. Ashley Yoder

James Krause Def. Tom Galicchio

Ed Herman Def. CB Dollaway

Jessica Eye Def. Aspen Ladd

Teruto Ishihara Def. Gray Maynard

Tecia Torres Def. Juliana Lima

At UFC 213 we have arguably the most stacked fight card of the year with two title fights going down along with two heavyweight tilts that will prove to have explosive endings.

Starting out, the first fight on the main card is a Lightweight fight between former UFC Lightweight Champion Anthony Pettis and veteran Jim Miller. At first glance, this fight looks like it was made to get Pettis out of his own funk. Since losing the title in 2015 to Rafael dos Anjos, Pettis has gone 1-3 with his only victory being against Charles Oliveira at Featherweight. I think that he is having some mental-preparation problems and he probably has been since losing the belt. Jim Miller represents a fighter that has been around the block more than a few times but also a fighter that seems to be on his way out of the sport. Miller is the perfect opponent to match Pettis against if the UFC wants to see Anthony succeed (Which they do because of his easily recognizable name). Pre: Anthony Pettis Def. Jim Miller

This Heavyweight division is much more black and white when compared to other weight-classes. Champion Stipe Miocic has been taking each and every fight the UFC matchmakers have been handing him and he has dismantled his last four opponents all by KO within the first frame, Two of those four opponents are competing against each other on Saturday night when we see the trilogy fight between Heavyweight dynamos Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum. Former Champion Werdum is looking to get a shot at winning back his title and I believe that a win over Overeem will get him that shot especially when you take into account his impressive run before the belt changed hands at UFC 198. Overeem’s path back to title contention seems a bit longer, he lost in his last title shot back at UFC 203 in Cleveland and if he wins on Saturday, I can see the UFC trying to create a matchup between Miocic and Cain Velasquez. I loved watching the replays of the first two fights between Werdum and Overeem and I expect this fight to produce fireworks. Pre: Fabricio Werdum Def. Alistair Overeem

Daniel Omielanczuk and Curtis Blaydes are both looking to gain more notoriety in the talent stacked Heavyweight division.  I think Blaydes is a good prospect but I haven’t seen him do anything too special (Save for an epic annihilation of domestic abuser Cody East), Maybe a good performance against a proven veteran heavyweight on this platform will help propel him into the rankings. The whole reason these heavyweight fights are incredibly fun to watch is because one punch knockouts are much more common than in other divisions and those finishes are always incredibly electric. Now, do I expect either of these competitors to blow my socks off? No. Honestly this fight shouldn’t be on the pay-per-view in my opinion. Pre: Curtis Blaydes Def. Daniel Omielanczuk

The most exciting fight of the night is Robert Whittaker vs Yoel Romero. I am so happy that Middleweight Champion Michael Bisping decided to be a money-hungry coward so this matchup could occur. Romero is a Olympic Silver Medalist who fights out of Miami by way of Cuba, on top of that he is also a dirty cheater. I cannot count the amount of times that his cornermen stalled between the second and third rounds of his fights, and coincidentally he always seems finish his opponents in the third round. In his fight against Tim Kennedy he stayed on his stool much later than the allotted time of a minute and also his cornermen were blatantly taking their time getting out of the cage. Romero went on to finish Kennedy in that battle. While Romero seems to represent the cheat of the middleweight division, “Bobby Knuckles” seems to represent the next wave of talent. The Australian Whittaker is finally coming into his own. I’ve seen the growth over the years of him winning TUF:Smashes to having some tough battles against Court McGee and Stephen Thompson to winning seven straight against quality opponents such as Jacare Souza. I certainly want to see Whittaker win this fight and I honestly believe that he will do so. Back in 2015, Jacare Souza and Yoel Romero fought to a split decision in a tilt that went Romero’s way. Just three months ago Whittaker impressively defeated and finished Souza. Robert Whittaker I believe will win this fight and then go on to defeat Michael Bisping in a title unification fight and become the first Aussie UFC superstar. Pre: Robert Whittaker Def. Yoel Romero

In the Main Event of the evening we have Amanda Nunes defending her Women’s Bantamweight Championship against Muay Thai specialist Valentina Shevchenko. Valentina Shevchenko received this title fight against Amanda Nunes after defeating Holly Holm and Julianna Pena. It just so happens that Shevchenko has the ability to get revenge for a decision loss at the hands of Nunes while also fighting for the most notorious title in women’s MMA. I believe that Amanda Nunes is the most polished Women’s Mixed Martial Artist in the world right now. While many fighters have their certain disciplines that they are masters of (Jedrzejczyk and Shevchenko – Muay Thai, Rousey – Judo, Holm – Boxing) Nunes shows to be a jack of all trades in the field. I believe that Nunes’ superior wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu will keep the striking of Shevchenko at bay. Pre: Amanda Nunes Def. Valentina Shevchenko

Other Predictions from UFC 213

Oleksiy Oliynyk Def. Travis Browne

Chad Laprise Def. Brian Camozzi

Gerald Meerschaert Def. Thiago Santos

Belal Muhammad Def. Jordan Mein

Rob Font Def. Douglas Silva de Andrade

Get ready for a kick ass weekend of fighting on tap. Follow UFC expert for The Sports Tank on Twitter: @foleypz16

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