15 August 2020 04:39
This Saturday evening (Aug. 15) in Las Vegas, reigning heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic once again locks horns with the inimitable Daniel Cormier in an effort to determine the baddest man on the planet. Meanwhile, a full 130 pounds south, "Sugar" Sean O'Malley attempts to cement his mixed martial arts (MMA) superstar status against Marlon "Chito" Vera, who's ended eight Octagon bouts inside the distance and never once been dropped in the process. The PPV main card also features two of the heaviest-handed men in the sport trading leather as Junior Dos Santos and Jairzinho Rozenstruik attempt to rebound from recent defeats at one another's expense, plus inhuman takedown machine Merab Dvalishvili in an intriguing stylistic clash against John Dodson. Unfortunately, the main card opener between Magomed Ankalaev and Ion Cutelaba fell through after "The Hulk" tested positive for COVID; that fight is now scheduled for August 29th, leaving former "Prelims" contest between Herbert Burns and Daniel Pineda to take its place. Daniel Cormier isn't wrong when he says that he's spent the majority of his shared Octagon time with Stipe Miocic in firm control.
While that basic adjustment isn't a magic bullet, it forms a clear basis for a winning gameplan, and I fully expect Miocic to commit to the body from the opening bell this time around. Now that his slick head defense isn't enough to save him, all he can hope is that Miocic reverts back to the bad habits that plagued him early on. With Miocic's huge reach advantage allowing him to control the fight at range and his body attack short-circuiting Cormier's infighting, "DC's" prospects look grim. He could very well find the mark with that right hand again, but the likelier outcome sees Miocic punish the body early and ultimately put him away with another heavy flurry. Prediction: Miocic via second-round technical knockout That's not to say that Vera's necessarily doomed; while he's outgunned in height, reach, variety, and power, his ridiculous durability gives him a potential avenue to victory. Neither John Lineker nor Douglas Andrade managed to put a dent in "Chito" despite packing unreasonable destructive potential in their punches, meaning he's likely to survive anything O'Malley can dish out short of a flush shin to the face. Once it's clear the early finish isn't there for O'Malley, things will get interesting. Though we've seen O'Malley go three rounds before, he's not done so since returning from USADA jail with a freshly shredded physique. If his cardio ends up failing him, Vera is more than capable of erasing any amount of impressive early work with a comeback submission or knockout. Prediction: O'Malley via unanimous decision As a Junior Dos Santos fan since I watched him crush Gilbert Yvel in my first-ever UFC pay-per-view, the last few years have been rough. Even the fights he's won haven't been heartening; Tai Tuivasa and Derrick Lewis, both the sort of lumbering slugger that a prime "Cigano" would have turned into mincemeat, managed to repeatedly tag the Brazilian legend before ultimately succumbing to his power. The heartbreaking part of this writeup is that Dos Santos has the tools to win this fight comfortably. If he unleashed the wrestling he occasionally showed off in the past or the crushing leg kicks that, by Stipe Miocic's own admission, had the latter partially compromised after just half a round, he'd have a real chance of scoring a career-saving upset. Prediction: Rozenstruik via first-round knockout 145 lbs.: Herbert "The Blaze" Burns (11-2) vs. Daniel "The Pit" Pineda (26-12) Herbert Burns (11-2) — two fights removed from consecutive losses in ONE FC — dazzled on "Contender Series" with an impressive triangle finish of Darrick Minner, earning himself a contract in the process. "The Blaze" will have two inches of height and four inches of reach on Daniel Pineda (26-13). "The Pit" left UFC in 2014 in the midst of a 1-4 stretch, then went on to win eight of his next 10 bouts. Though "The Pit" is always dangerous, he's not the caliber of wrestler that's troubled Burns in the past and isn't quite lethal enough on the feet to make up for that. Burns ensures Pineda's UFC career picks up where it left off with another one-sided defeat. Prediction: Burns via first-round submission 135 lbs.: John "The Magician" Dodson (21-11) vs. It's hard to name a single dimension he's added to his game since his low-volume, one-handed offense proved insufficient to take out Demetrious Johnson. The wrestling-savvy but brawl-happy Dvalishvili is unquestionably far more frantic than Dodson, but leaves himself open for a game-changing counter in the process. "The Machine" has yet to face someone with the power to decisively punish his wild, rampant aggression, and Dodson fits that bill perfectly. While he's waiting for one of those golden opportunities, however, he'll be dealing with a nonstop frenzy of takedown attempts, and even his notoriously stout defensive wrestling and scrambling abilities aren't up to the task of dissuading Dvalishvili from constantly getting in on his hips. Dodson simply can't keep up with this sort of attack for 15 minutes; if he can't find the knockout, he's not winning the decision. Prediction: Dvalishvili via unanimous decision