UFC 198 will take place in a packed soccer stadium in the Brazilian city of Curitiba and the UFC has stacked the card with just about every Brazilian legend available to them. The UFC heavyweight championship and title of baddest man on the planet headlines the card, but this one is full of must-see bouts - so don't miss our UFC 198 betting tips!
UFC Heavyweight title fight
Fabricio Werdum will defend his belt for the first time since winning the title as a big underdog against Cain Velasquez in June last year. His first defence was supposed to be a rematch with Velasquez, but due to an untimely injury that honour has fallen to Ohio firefighter Stipe Miocic. Werdum is the best heavyweight grappler ever; he holds submission wins over Velasquez, Fedor Emilenako and Big Nog. He has an incredibly dangerous guard and also excellent sweeps and passes. He does his best work in transitions; the way in which he cinched up the guillotine following Velasquez’s lazy takedown was technically perfect. Training out of Kings MMA has also revolutionised his striking, he can now be just as dangerous on the feet. He has a loose, crafty Muay Thai style and his ground acumen means he can strike without fear of the takedown. This allows him to be active with kicking and unorthodox strikes like flying knees. He has a stiff jab and damaging leg kicks. He also has a very dangerous Thai clinch, so is happy to fight on the inside or outside.
Stipe Miocic is the prototypical wrestle-boxer. He combines excellent technical boxing with the constant threat of a takedown and heavy top control. A former golden gloves boxer, Miocic has excellent boxing fundamentals and is great at using head movement and feints to cause openings and make opponents miss. He boxes well in combination mixing it up to the head and body, but his most damaging punches are powerful counters after slipping a punch. He is surprisingly agile for a man of his size and uses impressive footwork to maintain his preferred distance. A division 1 college wrestler, Miocic is proficient both offensively and defensively with takedowns. He tends to use single leg, high crotch takedowns which are much safer when fighting a BJJ expert than the traditional double leg. When on top he can rain down heavy ground and pound, usually from half guard which make him hard to sweep. Miocic always sets a high pace and this is where I think he might make Werdum struggle who prefers a cagier affair.
Prediction: Werdum has so many ways to win this fight; he can outpoint on the feet, land a crazy KO strike or roll Miocic up like a blanket on the ground. But I just can’t look past Miocic being the better technical striker and having the wrestling to control where the fight takes place. When this fight inevitably hits the mat, Miocic is going to need to stay very heavy on top but if he can do some damage with ground and pound it will be a significant physiological victory against Werdum who expects to dominate all grappling exchanges. Werdum is so dangerous and Miocic will have to fight to the best of his ability for the full 5 rounds, but I think he has the tools to dethrone the champ. Stipe Miocic by Unanimous decision.
This is a pivotal clash for the middleweight division and will probably determine who is next in line to fight for the title. Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza is coming off a controversial decision loss to the supremely talented Yoel Romero. In that fight he showed off an ability to avoid the big shots and control an Olympic silver medallist wrestler on the ground. Jacare is primarily known for his exceptional submission game. On the ground he combines flawless technique and pure athleticism, if he isn’t able to force a submission he absolutely dominates opponents on the mat. However, it has been the evolution of his striking which has seen him climb the middleweight ranks. Once a pure grappler, Jacare now has a slick offensive striking game and good power. He utilizes good footwork to cut off the cage and throws fast accurate combinations. Most of his work on the feet is to set up the takedown. He also has an impressive traditional wrestling game. Jacare will have a big advantage on the ground and is probably the better striker, but Belfort has one very clear path to victory and he’s been doing it his entire career.
Vitor Belfort is a bona fide legend of Brazilian MMA. He burst onto the UFC scene in 1997 and has been wowing fans with his special brand of violence ever since. Belfort might be the most dangerous first round fighter in the UFC. All 14 of his UFC victories have come inside the first round and a half and usually in brutal fashion. Belfort is an incredibly explosive striker who covers distance very well. He tends to stay tentative on the outside before blitzing in with a flurry. His offensive game is a combination of hooks, straights, uppercuts and more recently spinning kicks; but everything is thrown with fight-ending power. Despite having a BJJ blackbelt, Belfort can be susceptible defensively on the ground, particularly as he tires. He does have an effective submission game, but I would be shocked if he was able to submit Jacare. He is also notorious for gassing and tends to slow down in all his fights come the second round.
Prediction: Belfort can KO anyone on the UFC’s roster if given half a chance. So despite Jacare’s ever improving striking he will need to get this one to the ground quickly. However he will have to pick his spot smartly because if he gets lazy it will give Belfort a chance to land one of those signature strikes (Belfort by KO in rd 1 is paying a tempting $8.00). I expect Jacare to weather the early storm and get an impressive submission victory. Ronaldo Souza by 2nd round submission.
Forget Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm, Cristiano ‘Cyborg’ Santos is the most dangerous female fighter of the past 10 years. Unfortunately she has been unable to make the 135 pound cut off for the UFC’s bantamweight division, and the ease in which she has demolished her competition has left other promoters unable to find willing opponents. Finally the UFC have relented and allowed her to take this fight at 140 pounds and they’ve found a great first opponent for her in Leslie Smith. Cyborg has 14 KO’s on her record and hasn’t lost since her MMA debut in 2005. She has solid Muay Thai, but what sets her apart from other women is punching power. She swarms opponents with punches and has vicious knees from the clinch. Really strong offensive and defensive wrestling mean she is able to keep the fighting standing. But even if it does hit the ground; Cyborg has brutal ground and pound and a BJJ black belt. This will be the first time Cyborg has had to cut to 140 pounds, so how she looks on the scale will be important.
Leslie Smith is a tough, scrappy fighter out of team Alpha Male. Her unbelievable toughness was on display in her fight against Jessica Eye were she begged the doctor to let her continue despite a horrific ear injury. She is a standard brawler, throwing long loopy punches and the occasional headkick. She is aggressive and her willingness to engage often leaves her open to counters. She prefers to exchange in the pocket, which is exactly where Cyborg wants the fight.
Prediction: This is no doubt a showcase fight for Cyborg. She is being fed an opponent who will play right into her gameplan, standing in the middle of the octagon and throwing leather. I expect Cyborg to dominate, but she is coming up against a tougher than usual opponent. Smith has never been finished in her MMA career (other than a doctor’s stoppage) and I’m backing her to at least make it to the round and a half stage. Cyborg wins by TKO in round 3.
To open the card we have Curitiba’s own Maurico ‘Shogun’ Rua looking to wind back the clock against the surging Corey Anderson. Shogun is a former PRIDE and UFC champion and a future hall of famer. Even in the twilight of his career, Shogun is still a dangerous kickboxer who has more than enough power to end a fight. His reflexes have slowed, but technique and timing are still on point. He fights well at distance, but does most of his damage in close particularly in the clinch. Shogun is an aggressive and exciting BJJ practioner and will be threatening with submissions and sweeps whenever this fight hits the mat. Both this cardio and chin have deteriorated dramatically in recent bouts and you have to expect a continual decline.
Corey Anderson is an up and coming light heavyweight who has won 5 of his 6 UFC bouts and is currently riding a 3 fight win streak. He is a collegiate wrestler, who has shown solid fight-to-fight improvements, particularly in his striking. Despite the wrestling credentials, Anderson has a pretty low takedown accuracy. He tends to fire multiple attempts and use chain wrestling to drag his opponent to the mat. He is also quite hittable while attempting takedowns which will present openings for Shogun. When on top he is heavy and controlling, but rarely shows off submission offense. He is a still work in progress on the feet, and relies on jabs and leg kicks from the outside. As soon as his opponent closes the distance he looks for a level chain and takedown. He is a physically imposing fighter with good cardio, but he has been rocked often in fights.
Prediction: This is an unfortunate case of a young fighter on his way up meeting an aging legend. I will be pulling for Shogun to get it done in front of his home crowd and he certainly has the power to test Anderson’s suspect chin. But my money is on the stronger, younger fighter to wrestle his way to victory. Corey Anderson by Unanimous decision.
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Take note: Any of the tips in this article are simply the author’s opinion, so bet at your own risk and always gamble responsibly. Also be sure to check out the Before You Bet Twitter Page for all our thoughts in the lead up to bets! Happy punting!
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