It’s finally time for Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor to show and prove. They were supposed to unify the belt at UFC 189, but Aldo sustained a rib injury. Now, at the stacked UFC 194, we get to see who will reign supreme.
Welcome back to The Crossfire.
MMA Crossfire Expert Cassie Wiseman shares her picks:
UFC FIGHT PASS EARLY PRELIMS (8PM ET/5PM PT)
COURT “THE CRUSHER” MCGEE (16-4-0) VS MARCIO “LYOTO” ALEXANDRE (13-2-0)
Wiseman: Alexandre has dangerous power, but when he isn’t able to line up that KO strike, that’s when things go wrong for him. To take on an experienced, well-rounded fighter like McGee, is not a good thing. Court is about to go anywhere with this fight, in any fight, and the funny thing is that his skill setting isn’t even his biggest asset, it’s his cardio. Court never gets tired, so the pace will be totally up to him. I see Court turning things into a clinch game and weighing down on Alexandre, striking in the pocket, weighing down some more. Ultimately, pressuring Alexandre to gas him then get the win.
Wiseman Prediction: Court McGee via submission
JOHN “THE BULL” MAKDESSI (12-4-0) VS YANCY MEDEIROS (11-3-0, 1NC)
Wiseman: Makdessi has the right nickname because he pushes straight forward and throws bombs. Medeiros though is the more powerful striker and has better movement. That’s a big deal when it comes to counters which is an area of opportunity that Medeiros will have. The next advantage that Medeiros has is the fact that he has a ground game. Makdessi needs to diversify and maybe we will see that in this fight because we haven’t seen it yet, but I see him learning that he needs to do that after this fight.
Wiseman Prediction: Yancy Medeiros via submission
JOE PROCTOR (11-3-0) VS MAGOMED MUSTAFAEV (12-1-0)
Wiseman: There are not many fights where the experience doesn’t necessarily give the advantage. However, this is one of those fights. Mustafaev is a beast! His wrestling and grappling is going to give him the advantage of putting the fight where he wants it, on the mat. Now, Proctor is strongest on the mat, except when paired against Mustafaev whose strength is also his ground game. And he is brutal. Not only will he take someone down to try for a submission, but he is going to try to cut you up. Proctor has been messed up before inside the octagon, but this one will be one for the photo album.
Wiseman Prediction: Magomed Mustafaev via TKO.
MAIN CARD (10PM ET/7PM PT)
LEONARDO SANTOS (14-4-1) VS KEVIN “THE MOTOWN PHENOM” LEE (11-1-0)
Wiseman: Lee is on a huge win-streak right now, so his confidence is at an all time high as it should be. Santos has been mixing things around, but really it comes down to the speed of Lee and how he mixes his levels. He is smooth with mixing levels, throwing kicks in there out of nowhere, then suddenly there’s a takedown attempt. He is a guy on the rise who is not getting enough hype, so I see him wanting to make a statement here against Santos. He wants to shut people up who are talking about Sage Northcutt, and start to get his name on the lips of UFC fans.
Wiseman Prediction: Kevin Lee via submission
WARLLEY ALVES (10-0-0) VS COLBY COVINGTON (8-0-0)
Wiseman: Two submission guys with power. Covington comes from a wrestling background, but he is going to struggle against Alves because his takedown defence is just perfect. I see that frustrating Covington and that mental struggle can really turn the tables. Alves has fought the guys in the TUF house which is tough for anyone, but he showed what he was made of while in the house. The power and maturity of Alves, matched with the takedown defence, I have him really throwing a new level of competition at Covington.
Wiseman Prediction: Warlley Alves via unanimous decision.
#5 TECIA “THE TINY TORNADO” TORRES (6-0-0) VS JOCELYN JONES-LYBARGER (6-1-0)
Wiseman: Torres is a complete fighter, but a decision fighter. The only lucky thing about her in this match is that Jones-Lybarger took this fight on short notice and it’s her debut. Techie’s experience and well-rounded skill setting though will be too much for Jones-Lybarger. TUF house, a MMA career that has made her a well-known name. I just see Torres using her striking to get takedowns and then pounding on Lybarger.
Wiseman Prediction: Tecia Torres via unanimous decision.
#4 URIJAH “THE CALIFORNIA KID” FABER (32-8-0) VS #13 FRANKIE SAENZ (11-2-0)
Wiseman: I don’t know how this fight happened. Faber is one of the most well-rounded guys out there and he has literally fought or trained everyone. Saenz? There is no comparing when the opponent is Faber. I see the speed of Faber being too much for Saenz. Faber will be pushing the pace from the very beginning, mixing up his strikes and enforcing his plan. Faber can win the fight anywere. Standing, wrestling with ground-and-pound, or submission. His transitions are that good and easy for him to make happen.
Wiseman Prediction: Urijah Faber via submission
#5 MAX “BLESSED” HOLLOWAY (14-3-0) VS #8 JEREMY “LIL’ HEATHEN” STEPHENS (24-11-0)
Wiseman: For me this isn’t even close. Holloway is on a seven-fight win-streak and that’s fighting the top guys. Stephens has always been around, but not someone that I can see really making a go at the title. Stephens depends on his power way too much. Holloway has power, but throws a load of combinations in his striking, and has a dangerous ground game. His size, long and lanky, will certainly help him do damage from a distance. However, he has a chin and incredible takedown defence, which will allow him to dictate where he wants the fight to go.
Wiseman Prediction: Max Holloway via submission.
#6 DEMIAN MAIA (21-6-0) VS #12 GUNNAR “GUNNI” NELSON (14-1-1)
Wiseman: This is going to be a BJJ match. The problem for Nelson is that he is fight someone in the top 5 now, which is the first time. The first time he cracks the top 5, he is going against someone who has the same strength as him, only better. You can’t go to the mat with Maia, I mean come on. Maia’s striking has also come a very long way, plus he has fought everyone. Most recently, Neil Magny who is a fantastic fighter. Maia will struggle with the stance of Nelson, but this will go to the ground 100%, then it’s all Maia.
Wiseman Prediction: Demian Maia via unanimous decision.
#2 RONALDO “JACARE” SOUZA (22-3-0, 1NC) VS #3 YOEL “SOLIDER OF GOD” ROMERO (10-1-0)
Wiseman: This fight is not only incredible, but will line someone up with the winner of Weidman vs. Rockhold. There are a few things that stand out to me when I look at these guys. It’s the experience, but also the versatility. They both have power and wrestling, but Souza won’t care about being on the mat because of his submission game. He is an 8-time gold medal champion in World BJJ competition. Romero doesn’t have that, nor has he gone against anyone who has that skill setting. When Romero fought against Tim Kennedy (a match I believe should have been called DQ), we saw Romero gassed and he needing time to recover, so when pressured his gas tank isn’t there. He is an Olympic Wrestler, but when pressured and not allowed to do his stoic pace to line up his power, things can get rough.
Wiseman Prediction: Ronaldo Souza via submission
(C) “THE ALL-AMERICAN” CHRIS WEIDMAN (13-0-0) VS #1 LUKE ROCKHOLD (14-2-0)
Wiseman: You know, I’m going to go against what some people think, I’m going to go with Rockhold. Weidman is a beast, certainly can’t take anything away from him and what he has done inside the octagon has been incredible. Rockhold though is a finishing machine, and not just top-10, but the top- 5 in the division which is a stacked division. A submission over Bisping, Machida, etc. Just finishing anyone that comes in there with him. In the same fashion, Weidman looked like a monster against Belfort in his last match. However, can anyone say they were surprised with how Belfort looked? The wrestling, submission game, power, and just instincts, I see Rockhold shaking things up for the winner of Souza vs. Romero.
Wiseman Prediction: Luke Rockhold via submission
(C) JOSE “JUNIOR” ALDO (25-1-0) VS #1 CONOR “THE NOTORIOUS” MCGREGOR (18-2-0)
Wiseman: When we take the hype-train away from McGregor, and the fact that I kind of like how entertaining the guy makes things, he hasn’t honestly fought anyone in the top-5. We can’t count Chad Mendes because he rolled off the couch on two weeks notice. Even if we do look at that fight, if it wasn’t for the fact that Mendes gassed, things may have been different. Mendes took McGregor down easily and keep him there for ground-and-pound. Everyone else that McGregor fought has been top-15 or lower. His movement and talent are obvious, but when looking at the monster that he is going up against, really? Aldo has been undefeated since 2005, and has fought the top ranked people every time. The kicks, ground game, etc of Aldo is just uncomparable to anyone else. Of course he is human, he can lose, but based on evidence, history, skill, I’m with Aldo all day.
Wiseman Prediction: Jose Aldo via unanimous decision.