Remember that time I played both sides of McGregor/Diaz II? Yeah, me neither. This time however, I’m laying it all out on the line for my predictions on Saturday’s title fights for Unpopular Predictions: UFC 205 Edition!
Since we’re keeping it lean this week, let’s just jump right into it.
Joanna Judge-hate-kick? Jedi-dread-fick? Champion vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz
Thought twice about throwing in a mispronunciation gag on that one. Ah, screw it. Karolina Kawasaki-wicz. …What? Don’t make that face, they can’t all be gold.
Everyone’s favourite Polish pulveriser locks horns with the girl who beat real life Furiosa Rose Namajunas in a hotly contested decision earlier this year. For those paying attention, I’ve predicted Joanna’s loss, just not to Kowalkiewicz in 2016. For all intents and purposes, this will be a fun, rock’em, sock’em kickboxing fight to see just how far Kawasalty takes the champion until a violent stoppage turns into yet another Jedrzejczyk title defense.
After an odd decision to pack up her life and head stateside to change home base (a strange move seldom performed by fighters on winnings streaks, although I imagine American Top Team won’t complain) it would seem that now would be the perfect time for Kolakiewicz to strike at the champion- banking on the idea that there may be an exploitable adjustment period in such a dramatic change of scenery. Not a bad idea, considering that this looks to be a torrid striking affair that would require a high amount of focus from Jedrzejczyk.
Neither of these fighters would prefer a grappling contest (can anyone actually imagine what a Joanna arm bar looks like at this point?), and at their level it’s easy to see a first round finish via KO, but that just screams of being a cop-out pick. Someone’s going to eat their first sleeping pill via leather-knuckled sandwich so I’m going to back the champ defending her belt with a dramatic third round TKO.
Tyron Woodley vs. Stephen Thompson
It has returneth! Karate is officially the most effective art in mixed martial—Blerrg. Before we jump into why we’re all secretly rooting for Thompson, can we all just take a minute to soak in how legitimately good Tyron Woodley is? I mean, the guy planted Robbie Lawler on the canvas like a child into a corner- No small feat considering that he’s a wrestler.
Now that we’re done giving Woodley his due daps, let’s discuss Thompson’s unique striking. It’s not as if we haven’t seen this sort of attempt at wedging point-fighting karate into the MMA classroom before, it’s just that we’ve never seen it work – yes, yes, I see you Lyoto. Please put your hand down.
Thompson’s got one of those approaches that’s reminiscent of a time in MMA where people struggled to dismantle the BJJ guard. With no natural predators remotely adept at hunting him, it appears that he’ll have run of the division until he’s shut down by Rory MacDonald another crafty striker, or maybe a Johny Hendricks decorated wrestler with heavy hands. Woodley, however, is a gifted but predictable athlete who, –while still improving- brings nothing new to the table. Judging by the way all but the most steel-headed fighters have handled him, he may be champion for quite a while.
Calling it as a Thompson decision to a cacophony of mixed reactions. In any case, he’s totally going to jump in the air and freeze frame after collecting the strap much like everyone’s favourite Karate Kid movie.
Conor McGregor vs. Eddie Alvarez
Let’s get real for a moment. Eddie has great boxing from MMA but likes to trade in the pocket, leaving him exposed and in some very damaging positions. Conor McGregor has a devastating left hand and the late round gas tank of either an asthmatic walrus or a Diaz brother during a post-fight media scrum.
Both these checks and balances are guaranteed to make this fight an interesting conflict. Will Alvarez’s smotheringly adequate wrestling grind down Conor’s celebrated fence pressure? I should think so. Interestingly enough, it appears Alvarez isn’t interested in a wrestling competition (a department in which Conor finds himself woefully exposed). ‘Mystic’ Alvarez has apparently called this fight ending via a ‘Big shot’ followed by a submission, but just how he intends to do so after dealing with the heavy handed counterstriking of McGregor remains a mystery.
The real war begins up against the cage, where the combatant with dominant position is likely to change in a manner and frequency resembling a carousel. The victory goes to the man willing to get dirtiest the longest with their opponent sandwiched against the fence gasping for air. Should this prove to be McGregor, we’ll all be treated to a series of flashy striking as Alvarez fades into the obscurities of the lightweight rankings in the first five minutes. Should Alvarez push the pace however, this fight goes somewhere into the third round where McGregor inevitably drowns in the apparent ocean of lactic acid his muscles produce.
While we’ll be treated to a no doubt bloody affair, it’s easy to see Eddie exposing the lack of takedown defense Conor has revealed in the past.
Alvarez, should he make it out of the first round, by TKO in the third.