The first UFC card of 2016 should be another great one, headlined by a Welterweight title fight between two all-action fighters in Carlos Condit and Robbie Lawler. The rest of the card lacks big names but the interesting stylistic match ups mean it should be a fascinating night of fights. Below is our UFC 195 preview and betting tips.
Lawler’s last title defence against Rory MacDonald was one of the best fights of 2015 and this fight has every chance of being one of the best of 2016. His opponent, Carlos Condit is violence personified and the bout promises to be an absolute barnburner. Lawler’s late career resurgence has been nothing short of spectacular. He hasn’t added many new wrinkles to his game but has sharpened all his existing tools. He is a striker with very effective striking defence and exceptional takedown defence. He uses very good movement and hand position to avoid strikes and if he is taken down he has a very effective butterfly guard to get the fight back standing.
Condit is a Muay Thai practitioner who can throw damaging strikes with his hands, elbows, knees and feet. He lacks Lawler’s power, but has a much more diverse and probably dangerous arsenal. His striking defence is flawed, but relies on his iron chin to absorb strikes. One thing that stood out from the Lawler/MacDonald fight was Lawler’s inability to block the head kicks and Condit has a sensational high kick so watch out for that. On the ground, Condit is very active but has a weak wrestling game. Condit also fights out of Jackson-Winklejohn which is one of the best camps in the business so I expect him to have a very good game plan to deal with Lawler’s strengths.
Prediction: This is a brilliant title fight and will no doubt be a violent back and forth war. I can make a strong case for either guy winning. Lawler has been able to neutralise all opponents’ striking games and is very good at controlling the distance. However Condit has the more diverse game and I think his superior cardio work rate will see him wear gold for the first time. Carlos Condit by 4th round TKO.
This fight will probably decide who is next in line to fight for the UFC heavyweight title. The Belarussian Arlovski won the heavyweight title back in 2005 and it will be a remarkable story if he is able to wear gold again. He has a pretty similar game to Lawler, relying on remarkable takedown defence to keep the fight on the feet and utilizes a punch-heavy striking game. In his second stint in the UFC he has been a lot more careful, looking to pick his spots on the feet and stay out of range to win decisions rather than the aggressive knockout artist he was in his younger days (except for his crazy one round war with Travis Browne).
Stipe Miocic is a very high level wrestler-boxer. He is a former golden gloves champion and NCAA division one wrestler. He throws in combinations and often ends the combinations with a takedown attempt. He is also very good at forcing his opponents up against the cage and using some dirty boxing. In his last fight, Miocic absolutely destroyed Mark Hunt in Adelaide by dirty boxing against the cage, getting a takedown and landing ground and pound. This is absolutely a game plan that could work against Arlovski, so it’s going to be an interesting battle between Miocic’s wrestling an Arlovski’s excellent takedown defence.
Prediction: Miocic will push forward and bring the fight to Arlovski much more than previous opponents which will force him out of his comfort zone. Both these guys have good striking defence, but Arlovski has shown a pretty suspect chin at times so I think Miocic has the far more likely chance of a knockout. Miocic is very top heavy so if he can get Arlovski down he should be able to win rounds that way. Stipe Miocic by 30-27 decision.
This is another striker versus striker matchup with guaranteed action. Larkin is a really good athlete with a vast array of fast and powerful strikes. He throws a lot of crazy techniques like a superman elbow which often leave him exposed to counters. Larkin can to be a bit hesitant on the feet and can lose rounds due to lack of output. He has a very good clinch game and defensive wrestling, but almost never shoots for takedowns of his own.
Tumenov is a less flashy, but incredibly technical and cerebral striker who I believe will fight for the welterweight title in the not too distant future. He uses feints very effectively to get his opponents in range and then unloads with devastating power and accuracy. He doesn’t throw many kicks but is excellent at countering them, so Larkin will have to be wary of that. He favours left-handed hooks and uppercuts. Like Larkin, he hasn’t shown off much offensive wrestling but his combat sambo background means he surely has some good takedowns.
Prediction: This fight should play out almost entirely on the feet. There you have the faster more explosive Larkin vs the technically exquisite Tumenov. Tumenov only needs to land one good strike to put you away and Larkins chin has looked suspect in the past. I lean towards a Tumenov KO here, but Larkin might just be skilled enough to avoid the big punches and force this one to the judges. Tumenov by 2nd round KO.
This fight is yet another interesting style matchup. Brandao is a dangerous striker and Ortega is an equally-dangerous submission artist. Brandao is known mainly for his knockout power and aggressive striking style, but he is actually a very well rounded fighter. He is an excellent wrestler and holds a BJJ black belt. However his Achilles heel is cardio and mindset. In previous fights he has completely shut down at about the one and half round mark and often seems to quit if his opponent is applying too much pressure.
Ortega is one of the rare fighters who are most dangerous when fighting off their back. He is a Gracie black belt in BJJ and utilizes a very active and exciting rubber guard. His striking is steadily improving, but will come into this fight with both a power and technique disadvantage. He is also a pretty poor wrestler, which means Brandao should be able to control where this fight takes place. Even is this fight does go to Ortega’s wheelhouse, Brandao is still a very competent grappler and Ortega will need to be very crafty to catch a submission.
Prediction: Brandao comes into this one as a pretty significant underdog and I think that line is a bit off. Brandao is one of the best one round fighters in the featherweight division and there’s a very good chance he gets an early knockout. But even if he can’t get the finish, his skill advantages still mean he’s a decent chance at winning on the judges’ cards. Diego Brandao by round 1 TKO.
This is a classic matchup between a wild brawler in Trujillo and a more technical striker in Sims. Both of these guys are predominantly boxers, with Trujillo having a significant power advantage but Sims having a higher output, better striking defence and better footwork. Trujillo likes to come forward winging hard punches and excels in the clinch and in the pocket. Unfortunately Tujillo has shown off some pretty terrible cardio and always slows down once the fight goes into the latter stages.
Sims is more of a counterpuncher which will be an advantage facing an aggressive striker like Trujillo. He is very active on the feet, constantly circling away and changing stanches which should frustrate his opponent. If this one goes to the floor I think Sims will have the grappling advantage but I expect it to play out primarily on the feet.
Prediction: The odds in this one are pretty much even and I agree it’s a really tough one to call. I expect it to go one of two ways, either Trujillo gets the early knockout or Sims is able to weather the storm and either get a late stoppage or win a decision. I’m siding with Sims here, he has a good fight IQ and he should come in with a game plan to avoid Trujillo’s power shots. Tony Sims by 29-28 decision.
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