UFC Fight Night 81: Dillashaw vs Cruz predictions

Invicta FC 15 is in the books. Now, we turn to the big show.

It’s clear former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz won the verbal pre-amble with current champ TJ Dillashaw.

And it wasn’t even close.

The $64,000 question is: Can he do it inside the octagon?

It’s been a rough 4 years for Cruz. But he can stake his claim as the best in the world with a win at UFC Fight Night 81.

Join our UFC Fight Night 81 live blog!

Welcome back to The Crossfire.

MMA Crossfire

MMA Crossfire Expert Cassie Wiseman checks in with her thoughts on the main card.

UFC Fight Night 81

Courtesy UFC/Zuffa LLC.

TSN 5 MAIN CARD (10PM ET/7PM PT)

ROSS PEARSON (20-9-0, 1NC) VS FRANCISCO TRINALDO (18-4-0)

UFC Fight Night 81

Opponents Ross Pearson of England and Francisco Trinaldo of Brazil face off during the UFC weigh-in at the Wang Theatre on January 16, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Wiseman: The amazing thing about Pearson is how consistent he is. I mean, looking at his record, you can consistently see, win, loss, win, loss, win, you see where I’m going. The last time he had two wins back-to-back was actually within two different years, so I’m not sure that even counts. It’s tragic because he is talented, entertaining, durable, etc. Problem is that he depends on his striking solely. When matched with someone who counters better, or puts together better combination, etc. he losses. Enter Trinaldo. Sure, Trinaldo moves pretty much either straight forward or straight backwards, but he only needs to connect with one shot. In his fight against Chad Laprise, we saw how Laprise had the game plan of pressuring Trinaldo, which limited his ability to attack with that overhand left. However, while Laprise was moving forward, Trinaldo threw that overhand left and connected. Things went downhill in a hurry after that. I see Pearson coming in with the same game plan and running into the same problems. Trinaldo may be up there in age, but Pearson has been knocked out a lot, and taken a lot of damage over the years.

Wiseman Prediction: Francisco Trinaldo via TKO

#6 TRAVIS BROWNE (17-3-1) VS #14 MATT MITRIONE (9-4-0)

UFC Fight Night 81

Opponents Travis Browne and Matt Mitrione face off during the UFC weigh-in at the Wang Theatre on January 16, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Wiseman: Well, if Browne had a submission game, this would be much easier. Fortunately for Mitrione, Browne will want to stand and throw hammers. The speed advantage I give to Mitrione, but this fight ultimately is going to be about who connects with their power shot first. Another plan might be for Browne to throw a flurry, and push the pressure on Mitrione. However, he doesn’t fight like that, never has. These guys will both go in there, trying to set up their power show as fast as possible. Based on how many times Browne has been rocked, and the fast movement of Mitrione, I have him turning out the lights for Browne in the first round.

Wiseman Prediction: Matt Mitrione via TKO

#1 ANTHONY PETTIS (18-3-0) VS EDDIE ALVAREZ (26-4-0)

UFC Fight Night 81

Opponents Anthony Pettis and Eddie Alvarez face off during the UFC weigh-in at the Wang Theatre on January 16, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Wiseman: This division is full of savages, but the only one who handled Pettis like he did was dos Anjos. Pettis, both in the WEC and in the UFC, dominated everyone else. Alvarez doesn’t do well with guys who can stuff takedowns or who have a ground game. Pettis can do both, plus he has a taekwondo stance with will force Eddie to throw a flurry just to get on the inside. Alvarez doesn’t have the power, speed, or ground game that Dos Anjos has, so Pettis will take this home.

Wiseman Prediction: Anthony Pettis via decision.

MAIN EVENT

(C) TJ DILLASHAW (13-2-0) VS DOMINICK CRUZ (20-1-0)

UFC Fight Night 81

Opponents TJ Dillashaw and Dominick Cruz face off during the UFC weigh-in at the Wang Theatre on January 16, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Wiseman: First, I have to say, everything I’m about to say is made under the assumption that Cruz makes it to the octagon. Dillashaw is an offensive fighter while Cruz is a defensive fighter. They both move the same, but Cruz was the one who started this kind of footwork. Cardio may be a question for Cruz has he has been out for so long and not forced to push a pace like a fight demands. There are many more things that can be said, but ultimately things come down to the first point I made, Cruz is defensive and Dillashaw is offensive. Dillashaw can have all the power in the world, but he is fighting a guy that no one can hit. Therefore, his strikes per minute and all those lovely stats are pointless. Takedowns, no one can throw a takedown like Cruz, from every possible angle imaginable. Then we have the game planning and head smarts. That’s Cruz all day. His job is to technically take apart fights. Let’s not forget to bring up the fact that Dillashaw doesn’t do well when pressured. We saw that against John Dodson. Sure, Dillashaw has grown a lot since then, however, Cruz is unlike any other beast he’s faced.

Wiseman Prediction: Dominick Cruz via unanimous decision.

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