The first UFC card of 2015 is a big one. After one of the most entertaining preambles in UFC history, UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones defends his belt against #2 Daniel Cormier.
That was a weird Jones-Cormier weigh-in face-off, wasn’t it?
Welcome back to The Crossfire.
MMA Crossfire Expert Cassie Wiseman checks in with her thoughts on the card.
UFC FIGHT PASS EARLY PRELIMS (7PM ET/4PM PT)
ALEXIS “SNEAKY ZEBRA” DUFRESNE (5-1-0) VS MARION “BELLZEAN BRUISER” RENEAU (4-1-0)
Wiseman: Something these ladies have in common is that they don’t mess around when inside the cage. The majority of their fights have been over within the first round. What I’m saying is, don’t blink. They will come out swinging. Due to the fact that it’s Reneau’s UFC debut, I see her rushing in and making a mistake. Dufresne will be looking for that mistake and ready to transition into a submission attempt. Dufresne is a submission queen, so any limb left out will be taken home.
Wiseman Prediction: Alexis “Sneaky Zebra” Dufresne via submission.
OMARI “LAKEC” AKHMEDOV (13-2-0) VS MATS NILSSON (11-3-1)
Wiseman: Both fighters are coming off losses, but this will be Nilsson’s debut at welterweight. Definitely the right weight class for him. Akhmedov is a Sambo fighter, but Nilsson is a grappler with black belts in Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). Akhmedov is going to have his hands full. He will not be able to throw around Nilsson, but in fact will want to keep distance. As soon as the gap closes, Nilsson will grapple, score a takedown with a Judo throw, transition into a submission, and then it’s game over.
Wiseman Prediction: Mats Nilsson via submission.
UFC FIGHT PASS PRELIMS (8PM ET /5PM PT)
EVAN DUNHAM (14-6-0) VS RODRIGO DAMM (12-8-0)
Wiseman: Dunham is coming off three losses, but it’s all against top-5 fighters in the division. Damm has the edge on the ground, but is inconsistent, and doesn’t have the level of competition to blame for it. Dunham can take a beating, a dangerous striker, with a black belt in BJJ. Damm has a 50% submission rate, but also 50% KO loss rate. That’s a load of times to be seeing stars. With that said, Damm has an adequate level of wrestling to put things on the mat, which is where he will want to keep the action.
Wiseman Prediction: Rodrigo Damm via submission.
SHAWN “THE SAVAGE” JORDAN (16-6-0) VS JARED “THE KILLA GORILLA” CANNONIER (7-0-0)
Wiseman: Jordan is a beast. He has fought the top in the heavyweight division, has takedown defence and KO power. Cannonnier is a striker who is going to forget his name against Jordan. Cannonnier won’t be able to take Jordan down and he certainly won’t be able to stand and bang with him. Cannonnier is just toast.
Wiseman Prediction: Shawn Jordan via TKO.
MARCUS “THE BAMA BEAST” BRIMAGE (7-3-0) VS CODY “NO LOVE” GARBRANDT (5-0-0)
Wiseman: Brimage is coming into this fight having just left the octagon less than two months ago. Seriously?! It was a headkick knockout yes, but where was the break? There was none, so that is something to consider, over-training. Another thing to think about is the fact that he is a striker who is going against a powerful striker. Garbrandt comes out fast and swings with bad intentions. He is precise and can end a night fast. His average time in five fights is 3:31. That’s wild! Sure this is his UFC debut, but he’s going against a fighter who doesn’t bring anything extra to the table. They will both come to the center of the octagon and fire bombs. Garbrandt is the more powerful bomb.
Wiseman Prediction: Cody “No Love” Garbrandt via TKO.
DANNY “LAST CALL” CASTILLO (17-7-0) VS PAUL “THE IRISH DRAGON” FELDER (9-0-0)
Wiseman: Felder is undefeated going against an inconsistent Castillo. Castillo trains out of Team Alpha Male, so he is used to fighting against the best in the business. Felder has KO power, so Castillo will be looking to get things to the mat. Castillo trains with the likes of Urijah Faber and TJ Dillashaw, so wrestling and guillotine chokes are what they are known for. Felder was training for a different opponent for UFN59, but stepped into this fight due to the ranking of Castillo. I don’t see this being a good choice for him.
Wiseman Prediction: Danny “Last Call” Castillo via submission.
MAIN CARD (10PM ET/7PM PT)
#6 HECTOR “SHOWEATHER” LOMBARD (34-3-1, 1NC) VS JOSH “THE PEOPLE’S WARRIOR” BURKMAN (27-10-0)
Wiseman: Lombard is a tank with Judo and wild power. Burkman is making his debut into the UFC, for the second time. The first time in the UFC he had a 4-5 record. Clearly he was cut. Since then, he has be fighting with WSOF, so he has the UFC attention once again. Really? Lombard is coming off wins over Shields and Marquardt, he currently ranked #6 in the welterweight division, with a record of 34-3-1 1NC. Are you kidding me? This fight is a joke. This is the year of the underdog, but this would just be insanity if Burkman won. I have Lombard either knocking Burkman out early, or getting a crazy Judo throw for a submission win. Lombard wins this fight regardless of what Burkman throws at him.
Wiseman Prediction: Hector “Showeather” Lombard via TKO.
#11 KYOJI HORIGUCHI (14-1-0) VS LOUIS “GOODNIGHT” GAUDINOT (7-3-0)
Wiseman: Horiguchi has a karate stance which tends to throws opponents for a loop. He has kicks and disguises them well, throwing them randomly. The problem with Horiguichi’s style is that he tends to wait far too long simply for counters. He is constantly circling on the outside and shows fantastic lateral movement which adds to his unpredictability. However, Gaudinot has a guillotine choke, is aggressive, and will force Horiguchi on the defence. Horiguchi also has weak takedown defence which will only play into Gaudinot’s game.
Wiseman Prediction: Louis “Goodnight” Gaudinot via submission.
#15 BRAD TAVARES (12-4-0) VS NATE “THE GREAT” MARQUARDT (36-13-2)
Wiseman: Tavares is in a bad place, he is coming off two losses which means this is a must win for him. Marquardt isn’t consistent, but at least he is coming off a win, even if there are three losses prior to that win. Marquardt is a submission wrestler, but the take down defence of Tavares will make Marquardt work. With that said, Marquardt is a high-level wrestler with a submission game. Tavares will be looking for a KO in the striking department, Marquardt will be persistent with his takedown attempts until he can finish one. Tavares will end up on his back at some point in the match and that will either make for a quick or boring fight. Marquardt will score a quick takedown and get a submission, or work for the takedown, grind against the cage, then lay-and-pray for a decision win.
Wiseman Prediction: Nate Marquardt via unanimous decision.
#4 DONALD “COWBOY” CERRONE (25-6-0, 1 NC) VS #8 MYLES “FURY” JURY (15-0-0)
Wiseman: Jury is someone who is climbing the ladder fast. He is undefeated, but going against Cerrone is too much of a jump. Especially the Cerrone of late. Jury is long and uses his length to put together precise combinations. Cerrone does that too. Jury hasn’t faced someone who is going to test him in the standup like Cerrone will. Diego Sanchez and Takanori Gomi are both veterans of the sport, but both move straight forward with fists flying or straight backwards. That isn’t Cerrone. He moves laterally like Jury, but experience wise, Cerrone is ready for battle. Off his back, Cowboy is a monster and has takedown defence. Regardless of where this fight goes, it’s headed towards Cerrone having his hand raised.
Wiseman Prediction: “Cowboy” Donald Cerrone via submission.
JON “BONES” JONES (20-1-0) VS #2 DANIEL “DC” CORMIER (15-0-0)
Wiseman: Cormier is a wrestler who likes to grind. He is giving up a load of range to the champ and will look to close the gap immediately to bring things to the mat, then ground-and-pound. It’s predictable, but has worked for him thus far in his career. He’s been able to enforce his game plan, and limit any action by simply grinding out his opponents. Very few kicks are thrown, and strikes are thrown only when pushing forward to close the gap. Jones is completely unpredictable. From his range, to his kicks, elbows, wrestling, submission game, etc., Jones is simply the complete package. Jones has only been tested once thus far in his career and that was by someone who has range and striking like him. Cormier just doesn’t have what it takes to dominate Jones.
Wiseman Prediction: Jones via TKO (stoppage via elbows)
Sarah Kaufman: I’m a teammate of Jon Jones and I think that is a tough fight for him. Cormier is a beast on the striking and his wrestling is out of this world. The combination of that I think is going to be a tough fight. But John really rises to the occasion every fight. Hopefully he does so again, but I can see DC being able to kinda control him with the wrestling.
Kaufman Prediction: Daniel Cormier via unanimous decision.
Randa Markos: Jon Jones. He has such a unique style, I really feel he’s going to dominate.Knockout, maybe third round?
Markos Prediction: Jon Jones via TKO.