More Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) action is coming to Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 this weekend (Fri., Dec. 30, 2016) when UFC 207: “Rousey vs. Nunes” storms T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg continues the UFC 207 “Prelims” party with the second (and final) installment of a two-part undercard preview series.
She’s back! And there’s a helluva welcome party waiting for her …
After 13 months away from mixed martial arts (MMA) competition, former women’s Bantamweight champion, Ronda Rousey, returns to the Octagon this Friday evening (Dec. 30, 2016), taking on current 135-pound queenpin, Amanda Nunes, in the main event of UFC 207, which takes place inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The two ladies will headline a five-fight pay-per-view (PPV) card that will close out the year for the world’s MMA leader.
In the other Bantamweight division, Dominick Cruz and Cody Garbrandt will settle their grudge with the title on the line, while T.J. Dillashaw will lock horns with John Lineker to potentially decide the winner’s next challenge.
UFC 207 features four FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard matches on tap before then, though (check out the Fight Pass portion — and Tarec Saffiedine vs. Dong Hyun Kim, which will air on FOX Sports 1 — here), so let’s not delay:
170 lbs.: Johny Hendricks vs. Neil Magny
Johny Hendricks (17-5) hasn’t enjoyed a smooth road since losing his Welterweight title to Robbie Lawler and bouncing back with a decision over Matt Brown. “Bigg Rigg” started by eating himself out of a fight with Tyron Woodley, then went on to suffer a career-first knockout loss to Stephen Thompson and subsequently miss weight in a decision loss to Kelvin Gastelum.
Eight of his 17 wins have come by knockout.
A 1-2 start for Neil Magny’s (18-5) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) tenure gave way to a 10-1 run that included victories over the aforementioned Gastelum and Hector Lombard. His last time out, he faced former Strikeforce standout Lorenz Larkin and suffered the first (technical) knockout loss of his professional career.
He is six inches taller than Hendricks and, according to UFC’s website, will have an 11-inch reach advantage.
We’re long past the point where I can have any confidence in Hendricks. “Bigg Rigg’s” repeated struggles with weight and tepid performance against Gastelum have sapped any momentum the former champion once possessed. Neither his takedowns nor his once-fearsome left hand have posed any danger to his recent opposition.
Even at the best of times, he’d struggle with the incredibly rangy Magny. Now, when he looks weaker than ever, he’s in for a rough night. Magny’s sheer length precludes Hendricks’ surprisingly-solid combination punching and low kicks while simultaneously turning the lunging left the Oklahoman is fond of into a dangerous gambit.
Barring residual trauma from the Larkin fight, Magny’s ever-improving wrestling defense and ability to get stronger as the fight progresses should carry him to a striking-heavy decision.
Prediction: Magny via unanimous decision
185 lbs.: Antonio Carlos Jr. vs. Marvin Vettori
Antonio Carlos Jr. (6-2) won The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): “Brazil 3” as a Heavyweight before returning to 205 pounds and, after a loss to Patrick Cummins, dropping further to 185 pounds. “Cara de Sapato” has gone 2-1 with one “No Contest” in the division with wins over Eddie Gordon and Leonardo “Leleco,” the fourth and fifth submission wins of his career.
He will have two inches of height and five inches of reach on Marvin Vettori (11-2).
The 23-year-old Vettori cranked out five consecutive victories to earn a shot in UFC, including a guillotine submission of Igor Araujo in Venator. In his debut, he out-grappled Brazil’s Alberto “Uda” and ultimately locked up another guillotine late in the first.
He has eight wins by submission and two by (technical) knockout … all in the first round.
Vettori’s a skilled, scrappy kid, but Carlos seems all wrong for him. The Brazilian’s power gives him the edge on the feet and his literally world-class Brazilian jiu-jitsu skills spell disaster for Vettori if the Italian goes for his usual takedown-heavy onslaught.
The only real question in this fight is whether Carlos’ cardio will fail him again as it did against Daniel Kelly. Luckily, his strong performance against “Leleco” demonstrated a solid gas tank. Vettori’s aggressiveness costs him as Carlos locks up a choke in transition.
Prediction: Carlos via first-round submission
170 lbs.: Mike Pyle vs. Alex Garcia
Mike Pyle (27-12-1) — who turned 41 this past September — looked ageless in his February war with Sean Spencer, battering “Black Magic” into submission in the fifteenth minute. The comeback wasn’t there next time against Alberto Mina, who knocked “Quicksand” cold with a flying knee in July.
He has 16 submission wins among his 23 finishes.
Alex Garcia (13-3) opened his UFC career 3-1, including a brutal knockout of Ben Wall and a very close decision loss to Magny. He last fought in February against Sean Strickland and suffered his first UFC stoppage defeat in Pittsburgh.
“Dominican Nightmare” will give up four inches of height to the 6’1″ Pyle.
Two or three fights ago, I would have picked Pyle in a heartbeat. Garcia’s the exact sort of free-swinging, cardio-deficient slugger whom Pyle has built his recent career out of knocking out in the clinch after a rough start. After that Mina fight, though, I can’t pick “Quicksand” with any confidence.
It’s not the fact that Pyle got knocked out — Lord knows that happens often enough. It’s the fact that he threw practically nothing before eating the flying knee. Pyle always starts slow, sure, but not that slow and not for that long.
Garcia’s too limited to ever crack the Top 15, but his power is too much for Pyle — first-round knockout for the Dominican.
Prediction: Garcia via first-round knockout
There are worse ways to end a crappy year. See you Friday, Maniacs!
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 207 fight card right here, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.
Current UFC “Prelims” Prediction Record 2016: 170-106-5
Source:: mma mania