Updated: Jul 2
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Coming off of a 5-0 UFC card, we enter the biggest card of the year on a high note. This card has fantastic prospects, fiesty veterans, and legends waiting to be crowned champion. We’re in for bangers from the early prelims all the way to our title fights, and I’m here to break down each and every one to give you my thoughts and betting analysis into the fights. Lets get it started!
Jessica-Rose Clark vs. Julija Stoliarenko (+129)
Jessica-Rose Clark has been exceptional since joining the UFC. She’s shown that she can win the fight wherever she chooses, though her top pressure on the mat isn’t exceptional. While she can get the opposition down there, she often sits on top without much action and accepts the current position. Her opposition, Stoliarenko, lives to be on her back. With 8 of her 9 wins by submission (and all by armbar) she is best when on her back looking for the arm to latch onto. Her issue is that she is so poor on the feet and her wins come against much lesser competition, so she should struggle to get anything going really against JRC, who should be well aware of the submission attempts on the ground.
Pick: Clark ML -150 (1u)
Chris Unger - Zuffa LLC
Brad Tavares vs. Dricus Du Plessis (-145)
Dricus Du Plessis is a fighter destined to contend for a bonus every team he enters the octagon. He’s a phenomenal boxer with accurate and measured combinations, and he utilizes leg kicks to all levels to keep fighters off-balance mentally when trying to diagnose what Du Plessis will do next. His achilles heel is his takedown defense, which shouldn’t be much off a problem here as Tavares rarely shoots, if ever. Tavares is now fighting in his 21st UFC fight, recording 14 wins so far and is tied with Neil Magny at 12 decision wins. His MO is that he beats fighters below him and loses to those above him consistently. He relies on his leg kicks, which shouldn’t be there often as Du Plessis loves to be light on his lead leg so that he can strike his own often. Expect the volume and versatility of Du Plessis to take over this fight and possibly lead to a late knockout.
Pick: Du Plessis -145 (1u)
Michael Biel - USA Today
Jessica Eye vs Maycee Barber (-290)
It’s sad to say, but Jessica Eye is well past her days of fighting for the title. Once heralded as a potential belt holder, the 35-year old has struggled mightily recently. She’s surprisingly only 5-9 in the UFC, though that may be misleading to some readers as she’s only fought people at the top of the 135 and 125 pound divisions. Her issue is that her game has never evolved, she’s always going to throw volume with looping shots mixed in, but neither hold much power. Maycee Barber, 11 years younger than Eye, has made her name off her versatility in the game. She’s recorded 10 wins, 5 of which by knockout and 2 by submission. She’s stronger than Eye and is fantastic in the clinch and taking down her opponents. Expect much of the same here as she looks to continue her ascension to the top against a reeling, and possibly retiring Eye.
Pick: Barber in R3 or Decision -150 (1u)
Esther Lin - MMAFighting.com
Uriah Hall vs. Andre Muniz (-335)
Uriah Hall enters his 8th pay-per-view off the back off a dominating loss to Sean Strickland, who we will talk about later. He’s had some incredible victories so far in his career, with wins over Anderson Silva and Thiago Santos, but also has also had devastating losses. He’s been finished by Derek Brunson, Gegard Mousasi, and Paulo Costa and while he has the damage in his hands to end anyone’s night, he never truly lets them go in his fights. The Strickland fight was a prime example as he just got annihilated for 5 rounds. Muniz is a top, top tier grappler who is on the fast track to the top. He can chain submission attempts and scramble quickly to get into better, more dominating positions. I think Muniz probably wins by taking down Hall and submitting him, but the veteran should be able to use his strength and experience against other top-tier grapplers to survive long enough to get this deep into the second round.
Pick: o1.5 +120 (1u)
Jim Miller vs. Donald Cerrone (+160)
I feel like I’ve written or picked a Donald Cerrone fight for the past 4 cards and none of them have gone through. One way or another, Cerrone and Lauzon never fought and so now we get Miller as his opponent. Miller is no slouch, fighting in his 40th UFC fight. Both of these fighters are tied for the most UFC wins at 24 and looking to break it, though one comes in on the back of a winning streak, while Cerrone has looked horrible lately. The difference at this stage in each’s career is that Miller can get rocked and recover, while Cerrone hasn’t. Miller tends to sit down on his punches and offers leg kicks, and I expect him to beat Cerrone with ease. I’m not going to guess whether it’s inside the distance or by decision, but I’m confident he wins and I’ll parlay him with the previous fight.
Pick: Miller & Muniz MLP -106 (1u)
Esther Lin - MMAFighting.com
Ian Garry vs. Gabriel Green (+146)
Ian Garry is someone who we just haven’t seen come to fruition yet. He talks a big game and wants to be like McGregor or Chael Sonnen, but it feels more forced than him just being his true self. Media aside, Garry is undefeated and has fantastic, pure striking to go along with phenomenal grappling. His mental side needs to be worked on, as he tends to go after opponents' strengths seemingly in an effort to prove that he’s better than what they are best at. It has caused him to get cracked and jeopardize much easier victories. Green recently had corrective eye surgery and since then has been on a different level. He’s got good power in his own hands, a crimson chin, and takedowns himself. I think Garry might get overly cocky and leave his chin up, causing him to get rocked and Green will jump on the opportunity.
Pick: Green +146 (1u)
Chris Unger - Zuffa LLC
Robbie Lawler vs. Bryan Barberena (+100)
Robbie Lawler is one of the baddest mother f’ers to ever exist in the octagon. He’s been in battles with some of the biggest names and has had some of the most legendary scraps. With 21 knockout wins and a body shot that makes you cringe as you watch, he will do whatever it takes to win his bouts. Barberena on the other side is in much of the same vein. This fight will take place on the feet, where both of them will slug it out. He’s coming off of a fight of the night victory against Matt Brown and is looking to entertain the fans once more by slugging it out with Lawler. He’s larger and has taken less damage in his career, and has shown he can take punishment and dish it too. Expect this to be an entertaining slugfest for as long as it lasts, considering they combine for 31 KO wins coming in. I’ll take the very slight dog to outlast the veteran standing on his last legs.
Pick: Barberena +100 (1u)
Alexander K. Lee - MMAfighting.com
Brad Riddell vs. Jalin Turner (-150)
Riddell is a decidedly shorter fighter in this matchup, giving up 8 inches in height and 6 in reach. That tends not to matter in his fights though, as he’s great at working in the dirty boxing and keeping the fight in close quarteers. He’ll have the advantage in close and Turner will try to slide to the side to get out of there which is where a looping hook could be dangerous to put Turner’s lights out. Turner has shown unbelievable power on the end of his technical and accurate strikes. He’s great in the open although his footwork could improve. I think Riddell will be able to close the distance in this fight and Turner will have to evolve to prove that he can deal with it and excel to win. I’m not so sure it happens, and I’ll play the dog in Riddell to get it done.
Pick: Riddell +123 (1u)
Pedro Munhoz vs. Sean O’Malley (-310)
Pedro Munhoz is 1-4 in his last five fights, though all have been great fights and you may question some decisions. One fight I like to hone in on was the Dominick Cruz fight where he was out-volumed and didn’t know how to adjust to it because that very well could be the case here against Sean O’Malley. O’Malley’s volume and speed will be the difference in this fight and allow him to cruise to victory. Pedro is famously slow, and he won’t be able to keep up with O’Malley using him like a target. Sean might not be able to knock him out, as Munhoz does have a great chin, but he will win decisively.
Pick: O’Malley in R3 or Decision +130 (1.5u)
Chris Unger - Luffa LLC
Sean Strickland vs. Alex Pereira (-110)
Alex Pereira may always be known as the man who knocked out Israel Adesanya, and if that’s the case is it that bad? He’s 34 and looking to take the fast route to the top and rematch the headliner of this card, but first he’s going to have to go through the clinically insane Sean Strickland. Sean invites damage and uses his boxing to get effect. He tends to impose his will on fights with pressure and his only losses were to other greats including Kamaru Usman. Pereira is a noted kickboxer with other-worldly power and is gigantic. Strickland has gone to decision in 4 of his last 5 fights, while Pereira has as well in 3 of his last 4. Expect more of the same as these two will go strike for strike and Strickland might include some wrestling to boot.
Pick: Strickland in R3 or Decision +215 (1u)
Alexander Volkanovski vs. Max Holloway (+168)
I wish this fight could be the main event, because that’s where it deserves to be. We’re guaranteed 25 minutes of top tier striking between the two greatest featherweights of all time and it will only be second to what might be another boring Adesanya title fight. With that said, these two have fought twice before with Volkanovski winning decidedly in the first and again by split decision in the second. Since that time, these two have both dominated their competition to the tune of destroying Ortega and the Korean Zombie for Volkanovski, and Holloway breaking records against Kattar then beating a stellar Yair Rodriguez in his most recent outing.
We know that this fight will largely take place on the feet as it has primarily in the past two fights, and it comes down to if Volkanovski’s leg kicks and boxing can continue to get through on Holloway’s low guard. In the second fight, Holloway was able to crack Volkanovski twice early, putting him down both times. We know that Volkanovski can be hit, but I’m not sure Holloway’s famously soft hands can do it. I do think that if Max is able to crack Volkanovski and notch a round or two due to it, he might be able to turn the tide in this series and notch a win and regain his belt. I don’t like the odds I’m getting for him here, and since we know how late this fight will go, I’ll take Holloway to win in R4, 5 or by decision.
Pick: Holloway R4, R5, or Decision +225 (1u)
Israel Adesanya vs Jared Cannonier (+350)
For as good as the Volkanovski Holloway fight is going to be, this fight is destined to be another vintage Adesanya snoozer. Cannonier possesses unbelievable knockout power with hands that still hit similar to when he was a heavyweight, but he also boasts great striking and takedown defense as well. The issue is that Adesanya possesses that same striking defense and has the arsenal to rack up points as the rounds go by getting some strikes in and slipping out of range of anything coming. Expect another slow-paced fight where Izzy can outlast his opponent and tire them out, possibly getting to them as we get later in the fight.
Pick: Adesanya in R4, R5, or by Decision -150 (1.5u)
Josh Hedges - Luffa LLC