UFC 241 will be held live from Anaheim in California this Sunday (AEST). Daniel Cormier and Stipe Miotic will headline the card in what should be a thrilling fight and our main man Gugabe Picks is back to preview all of the action below.
Nate Diaz has taken a break from his busy schedule of agitating for a McGregor rematch, meanmugging and public appearances in order to take his first fight in three years. Anthony Pettis has lost a lot of his shine since his streak to win the UFC title, gain a bunch of dynamic stoppages & appear on a Wheaties Box.
However, this match-up is one that’ll be defined by a consistent theme of Diaz’s career. The man has never had any particular facility in defending kicks, especially leg kicks, and will essentially be attempting to swarm through Pettis’ offense in order to either gas him out or cause an injury. Conor McGregor’s lack of stylistic flexibility was a great contributor to those wins for Nate Diaz, whilst Pettis is prepared to use his kicks and work to a game plan.
Manny Bermudez has, to be frank, a strange and opportunistic style. It’s one that has historically struggled to work in the UFC, but Bermudez has been able to persevere and turn a style of essentially pure grappling opportunism into success thus far in his UFC career.
Kenney may not be as ‘exciting’ a prospect, but is a hotbed of competence and fight IQ. He was most recently seen taking an ultra-dubious decision over Ray Borg on short notice, but a decision in which he acquitted himself well against one of the Bantamweight division’s premiere grapplers.
Bermudez’s skill set chiefly revolves around a combination of using his incredible size (he weighed in on fight day at 161 pounds for a fight at 135 pounds last time out) and grappling opportunism to bully opposition into submissions. However, his striking and cardio are both limited, and he can run out of ideas quickly if isolated on the feet.
Kenney has a well-developed skill set in grappling, with credentials in BJJ, Judo & Wrestling. His objective in this fight will essentially be to avoid entangling with Bermudez at all costs until such a point that Bermudez’ gas tank is depleted and he can take over the fight. It’s also very possible that he can float on top of Bermudez in the grappling through disciplined play.
This is a matchup between a streaky, hyped prospect with a great back story in Ian Heinisch, and a division mainstay in Derek Brunson. My feel is that Brunson has all the tools to take this fight at a high clip, but it is hard to entirely trust Brunson to pull the trigger and act consistently. Heinisch’s two-fight UFC win streak has involved him beating world-class BJJ black belts on the back of his incredible pace, tenacity and scrambling ability… but Brunson’s wrestle-boxing style is a different matter entirely.
It’s hard to trust Brunson at this point, obviously, but Heinisch's style is just not particularly functional. ACJ hit some very soft takedowns on him, Brunson's never really had too big an issue with cardio and is also very willing to be conservative with top control when he gets it.
Heinisch is also not particularly good with striking, so a more rush-orientated Brunson could take him out. I feel that it’s close to a 50% chance of a close, ugly, split decision, but I believe Brunson has the majority of the finishing/'dominant fight' upside. Long time tailers probably understand my passion for losing split decisions at +money, so this is probably a good candidate for that.
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