UFC 184 may have had more than its fair share of issues with the cancellations of great fights like Weidman vs. Belfort and Jacare vs. Romero, but this Los Angeles fight card can still redeem itself with some great contests including a possible number one contender matchup between Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington, and the women’s bantamweight title fight between two undefeated female athletes in Ronda Rousey and Cat Zingano, so without further ado, here are our picks for Saturdays night of MMA action.
Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano
Ronda Rousey is without a doubt one of the biggest stars MMA has ever seen, and it’s not just her good looks and charisma that has the fans coming, but she’s also a completely dominant mixed martial artist. Running through the entire women’s bantamweight division, with four UFC wins/title defences all by stoppage and three of which in the first round, Rousey is truly a force to be reckoned with when the cage door shuts.
Despite being a judo Olympian with 8 armbar finishes in MMA, its Rousey’s meteoric rise in striking that is the most noteworthy part of her game today. Yes, her boxing is not at the level of her takedowns and submissions yet, but with her last two fights ending by KO in a combined 1 minute and 22 seconds, Ronda has shown she has technique and power in the stand-up department.
In her last fight, Rousey simply starched tough veteran Alexis Davis with an overhand, knee and takedown finishing the fight in just 16 seconds, and upon watching the contest it was clear to see Davis was already out before she even hit the ground courtesy of one punch. This type of power is like nothing we have seen in the UFC women’s bantamweight division before and Cat will need to stay away from the crisp boxing of Rousey if she hopes to have a chance in this one.
Cat Zingano is a 9-0 mixed martial artist with 8 finishes and 2 UFC wins to her name. The 32-year-old mother has shown she is the toughest woman in the UFC putting on two sensational performances in the UFC and winning both by TKO.
In her last contest, Zingano came off a 17 month layoff against KO striker Amanda Nunes. Despite Nunes starting strong in the first round, it was Zingano’s never say die attitude that won the day coming back in the next two rounds with pressure striking some awe inspiring throws and brutal ground and pound to pick up the stoppage win the final round.
To have a chance in this fight Zingano needs to use Dillashaw-style footwork to stay away from Ronda’s best two weapons her boxing and clinch throws. Zingano needs to make Rousey aware of her kicks, and punish her aggression with a stiff jab. Cat should look for a takedown but only when very possible of completion, you don’t want Rousey sprawled on top of you where she can work her armbar magic. Zingano should look for ground and pound when on the ground for her best chance to stop the champion and take the belt.
Rousey is arguably the best fighter on the planet in clinch range, with her ever improving boxing and unbeatable judo throws, she has become women’s MMA’s Anderson Silva, GSP and Fedor all rolled into one. Rousey needs to do what has brought her to this position to win the fight, she needs to come forward quickly, aggressively and unrelentingly throwing sharp boxing combos and look for the clinch. When a hold of Cat, Rousey will throw her like a rag doll and look for the submission on the ground.
This fight should be the toughest test for both women in their careers, and is possibly the most exciting match up in women’s bantamweight history. Both women have the skills and drive of a champion, but we see Rousey being just that much better than Zingano and either picking up a hard fought decision win, or a later on in the fight finish by submission.
Our pick: Rousey
Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington
Holly Holm and Raquel Pennington is a matchup with possible title shot implications, with Pennington coming off a slick submission win and an exciting stint on The Ultimate Fighter, and Holm being an undefeated 7-0 mma fighter also holding a 33-2-3 boxing record, either woman could earn a title shot on Saturday night with an exciting performance.
Don’t let Pennington’s 5-4 record fool you; she is one of the best 135lb female competitors in the world. Being a stand out on The Ultimate Fighter and an exciting finisher both on the feet and on the mat, Pennington is a contender for fight of the night every time she steps foot in the octagon.
In this fight Pennington needs to be either on top of Holm on the mat or riding her in the clinch, both of these places will nullify Holms striking and reach advantage and give Pennington the chance to outwork the UFC newcomer Holm and grind out a win
Holly Holm has been heralded as the biggest threat to Ronda Rousey’s throne and she gets the chance to prove that at UFC 184. Holm is a boxing expert and has obvious KO power in each hand, but what surprise most is of her 6 MMA KO wins, 5 come from kicks. Holm is definitely not a one dimensional fighter using beautiful hand and foot combos to destroy all her opponents so far, and to win on Saturday she needs to do the same again. Holm has a significant striking skill, height and reach advantage over Raquel and needs to use this to stay out of Pennington’s range but still in her own kicking range.
We see Holm picking up this win by KO in the first or second round by frustrating Pennington with kicks until she makes a mistake and Holly takes the KO.
Our pick: Holm
Josh Koscheck vs. Jake Ellenberger
Josh Koscheck versus Jake Ellenberger is possibly a loser leaves town match up with both coming off 3 fight losing streaks, and nothing makes for a better match up than two guys with their careers on the line.
Koscheck is a 10 year, 23 fight UFC veteran facing a who’s who of UFC welterweight legends. To the cage Koscheck brings KO power in both hands, Division 1 level wrestling and a pretty decent BJJ game meaning when you fight him there are no safe spots to be in. to win on Saturday, Koscheck needs to re-claim the ferocity he has lost in recent years and bring it to the sometimes slow starter Ellenberger early. Koscheck is a much more qualified wrestler than Jake and should be able to take him down, on the mat Koscheck needs to work his ground and pound and look for the TKO or open up a submission.
Jake Ellenberger is a one hit knockout fighter with plenty of them on his extensive resume to prove it. With 18 career KO’s, Jake has the striking advantage in this match up by quite a long way and he needs to use that against his strong foe. Ellenberger needs to show the boxing skills he has developed training with Edmond Tarverdyan and wear Josh out in the first round with jabs and body shots. Ellenberger has the skills to defend Koscheck’s takedowns and counter with strikes. This should pay dividend for Jake in later rounds and give him the win
This in some ways is a classic striker versus grappler match up, and we see the striker winning this either with a very quick KO, or a last round TKO finish
Our pick: Ellenberger
Richard Walsh vs. Alan Jouban
This is a contest between two welterweights who need to do something great on Saturday night to impose themselves in quite a stacked division.
Walsh is an Ultimate Fighter veteran who has shown a very well rounded game and some strong striking in his short UFC tenure so far, although only having two UFC fights and going 1-1 it’s hard to describe his style yet. Not having a UFC finish as of yet and losing his last fight by close split decision, Walsh needs to be impressive in this fight to make sure fans and the UFC brass start taking notice.
Alan Jouban went from an extremely exciting debut where he won by KO and earned fight of the night honours to fighting an undefeated Ultimate Fighter winner in his sophomore match in the UFC. This match up as arguably too big of a step up for Jouban, but he still made a great impression taking Warlley Alves to the final bell but coming up short losing a unanimous decision. Like his UFC 184 opponent, Jouban is 1-1 in the UFC and needs an impressive win to stay relevant. Holding KO power and strong heart and will, Jouban is a tough match up every outing.
We see Jouban overwhelming Walsh early with superior stand up and picking up a TKO win.
Our pick: Jouban
Tony Ferguson vs. Gleison Tibau
This is definitely a fight to watch on this card between two lightweights knocking on the door of the UFC top fifteen.
Ultimate Fighter winner Ferguson has been on an absolute tear in recent fights notching up 4 straight wins, most recently coming from a behind to finish former top 15 fighter Abel Trujillo. Ferguson has great power on his feet and a slick BJJ game training with Eddie Bravo, look for Tony to set up takedowns with strikes and look for the submission win.
You will never find a bigger lightweight than Gleison Tibau. Looking bigger than most welterweights, Tibau is a 24 fight UFC vet and has never been as close to the top of the division as he is now. Coming off three decision wins, Tibau really needs a finish to stake his claim as one of the top 155lb fighters in the world. Tibau likes to use his size and strength to take his opponents down and smother them for three rounds, occasionally picking up a submission win.
We see Tony Fergusons skills being too much for Tibau in this fight, with Ferguson wearing down his Brazilian foe and taking a decision or late stoppage win
Our pick: Ferguson
Mark Munoz vs. Roan Carneiro
Our pick: Munoz
Roman Salazar vs. Norifumi Yamamoto
Our pick: Yamamoto
Dhiego Lima vs. Tim Means
Our pick: Lima
Derrick Lewis vs. Ruan Potts
Our pick: Lewis
James Krause vs. Valmir Lazaro
Our pick: Krause
Alexander Torres vs. Masio Fullen
Our pick: Fullen