Jose Aldo (25-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 29 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Chad Mendes (10-25-14)
  • Camp: Nova Uniao (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Excellent
  • Overall Fight Grade: A+

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Featherweight Champion
+   WEC Featherweight Title
+   4x BJJ World Champion
+   11 first round finishes
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   14 KO victories
+   91% TD defense
+   KO power
+   Excellent fast-twitch striker
^   Superb reactive instincts
+   Dangerous kicks & knees
^   Devastating leg kicks
+   Accurate counter right hand
+   Good head movement
–    Seldom shows ground game
–    Faced 1 Southpaw in 7 yrs
^   Struggled with striking lanes


Conor McGregor (18-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 27 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Chad Mendes (7-11-15)
  • Camp: SBG Ireland (Dublin, IE)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: A-

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Interm FW Champion
+   Cage Warriors FW & LW Titles
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   12 first round finishes
+   16 KO victories
+   14 fight win streak
+   KO power/heavy hands
+   Agile & Athletic movement
+   Excellent footwork
^   Deceptively conducts distance
+   Diverse kicking attacks
+   Accurate left hand
^   Set up with right hand
–    low hands/counter available
+   Improved counter wrestling
?    Questionable overall ground-skill
+   Solid Chin


As we finally we make it to the weekends main course, Conor McGregor will get his chance to unify the Featherweight Championship against Jose Aldo. Coming off physical injury and an emotional build-up, expect a fully motivated Aldo to show as he attempts to restate his supremacy. With the mind games of McGregor being no coincidence, an underlying intangible leading up to this fight will certainly be the emotional narrative. Though this is not traditionally measurable, it could factor positively or negatively in terms of Aldo’s aggression & approach.

In the spirit of keeping our analysis technical and evidence-based, let’s look at each man’s striking style as I suspect this one will stay standing. An aggressive Muay Thai stylist known for his leg kicks, Aldo will march forward stalking opposition with a constant threat of counter offense. Standing squared to his opponents with his safety switched off, Jose’s fast-twitch reactive instincts has been a key intangible to his success. Though often feared offensively, it’s his said counter striking game that will serve him best in this fight.

Aldo particularly wields an accurate counter right hand that should have play given that McGregor has been hit with significant rights in 4 of his last 6 fights. That being said, Conor has also yet to be hurt or dropped as he’s displayed a rock hard chin. Despite the cost of low hands, Conor shows an evolving brilliance to his striking game that’s thus far allowed him to pay these bills with ease.

Operating out of a Traditional Martial Arts stance, McGregor intelligently conducts distance with agile lateral & lead-foot movement. Using deceptive feints and kicking attacks, McGregor will disrupt distance as he draws out reactions for counters. Showing to focus more on breaking opponents to the body(as seen in his fights with Siver & Mendes), Conor will variate kicks to the mid-section with accuracy & conviction. McGregor may however hold kicking liabilities of his own, particularly the inside leg kick which Conor’s heavy lead legged stance may feed into.

Though the possibilities of potential are difficult to grasp, this fight becomes more clear when watching Aldo’s match against Kenny Florian. With Kenny being the only Southpaw Aldo has faced in over 7 years, I referenced this heavily given its value. In that match we saw Jose primarily struggle to find  the appropriate striking lanes, as his output and effectiveness suffered greatly. With McGregor being a much more unique & dynamic threat than Florian standing, we could see Connor more effectively conduct traffic to gain advantage. Despite showing solid instinctual head movement, Aldo will also habitually(especially against Southpaws) hop back slightly out of range.

If Jose elects back-stepping as opposed to head-movement, it may play into Conor’s hand similarly to what we saw last July against Chad Mendes. Feinting & pawing at the lead hand, Conor will cleverly persuade movement as he accurately fires his long left to intercept. The unspoken intangible in this match will be Jose Aldo’s world class ground game should he decide to dust it off. But given Jose’s on-paper to emotional trends, I suspect Scarface will continue to make his money standing. With McGregors proven chin & said intangibles, expect high risk & at it’s highest reward as I predict a new King to be crowned.

Official Pick: McGregor – Inside the Distance

Official Outcome: McGregor – KO round 1.

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Chris Weidman (13-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 31 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 78″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Vitor Belfort (5-23-15)
  • Camp: Serra-Longo Fight Team (NY)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good
  • Overall Fight Grade: A+

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Middleweight Champion
+   2x Div.1 All-American Wrestler
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   6 first round finishes
+   6 KO victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   KO power/heavy hands
+   100% Takedown defense rate
+   Excellent TD entries
^   Times & adjusts well
+   Effective ground striker
+   Strong top game
+   Solid transitional Jiu-Jitsu
^   22 passes in 9 fights
+   Manages distance well
+   Dangerous L Hook & Elbows
+   Never out-struck by an opponent


Luke Rockhold (14-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 31 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Lyoto Machida (4-18-15)
  • Camp: American Kickboxing Academy (San Jose, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good
  • Overall Fight Grade: A

Supplemental info:
+   Strikeforce Middleweight Titles
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   10 first round finishes
+   4 KO victories
+   8 Submission wins
+   Good distance management
+   Solid kicking variety
^   Dangerous left liver kick
–    Head leans heavily left
+   Excellent top control
^   Technically aggressive
+   Dangerous in transition
^   Crafty submissions
+   Efective ground striking
+/-2 official TD’s in 14 fights
+   Consistent pace & pressure


For the evening’s co-main event, we are treated to the highest level of  Middleweight Title matches as Luke Rockhold looks to dethrone Chis Weidman. With both men possessing nearly every attribute you’d want in a Champion, we’re very lucky to see the first of possible many, as these two meet in their fighting primes. Tall and long for the weight class, Rockhold’s rangy frame supplements his Southpaw stylings standing. Using a varying kicking attack, Luke dictates the distance of exchanges as he consistently sticks and moves. Wielding a dangerous left power kick(primarily thrown to the liver), Rockhold may find his most success in this realm as Machida did when facing Weidman.

Though not playing a huge factor in that fight, Luke’s power kicks have shown to effect opponents even when blocked(as it damages arms and takes away punching pop). This  however will not be Chris Weidman’s first time partying with Southpaws, as 6 of his last 7 fights has come against some of the best lefty’s in the business. On the feet, Weidman wields a more subtle but effective pressure boxing style, as he’ll intelligently play distance and angles. Stalking just outside of range and disrupting space with his intercepting offense, Chris shows excellent distance management as I see that being the key standing.

Not only dangerous from kicking range, Luke also shows a good counter game as he favors an accurate check right hook. Weidman however, shows a natural knack for evading & rolling to his left setting up offensive angles and right hands. As seen in his fight with Lyoto Machida, Chris would consistently roll & angle off to his left while doubling-up on his right hands. This could be particularly effective in this fight given Rockholds tendency to slip his head heavily(and often unprotected) to his left. We saw Vitor Belfort pick up on this habit, as he continually went to his spinning wheel kick to intercept Luke’s hard movements left.

Despite Weidman’s Wrestling & ADCC Accolades, the MMA grappling is very close in this fight with Luke’s shown technics & abilities. However, Rockhold’s yet to face a wrestler or submission fighter to the caliber of Chirs in his career. From Weidmans subtly effective top pressure to Luke’s technical transition game, I believe wrestling will be the key factor in ground exchanges. I give the on-paper & in-fight advantage to Weidman in that category, but he’ll have to mind his belongings as Rockhold is sneaky & proficient in transit. As close as this fight certainly is, I feel Weidman holds the key skill-sets to dictate the terms of this fight.

Official Pick: Weidman – Decision

Official Outcome: Luke Rockhold – TKO round 4.


Jacare Souza (22-3-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 35 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Chris Camozzi (4-18-15)
  • Camp: X-Gym (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good
  • Overall Fight Grade: A-

Supplemental info:
+   Former Strikeforce MW Champ
+   BJJ & ADCC World Champion
+   BJJ & Judo Black Belt
+   15 first round finishes
+   13 Submission wins
+   5 TKO victories
+   Improved striking
+   Heavy right hand
^   Counters well well with it
+   Good head movement
+/-Heavily reliant on speed
^   Improved wrestling
+   Dangerous in transition
^   Always looks for back
–    Activity lulls standing


Yoel Romero (10-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 38 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Lyoto Machida (6-27-15)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw/Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: B+

Supplemental info:
+   Decorated Olympic Wrestler
+   Multiple Wrestling Accolades
+   9 KO victories
+   4 first round finishes
+   Incredible athletic & agile
+   KO power / heavy hand
+   Deceptive tempo changes
^   Explodes in entries
+   Variates attack levels
^   Favors flying knees
+   Dangerous late in fight
+/-Sometimes wild in exchanges
^   Counter availabilities
–    Inconsistent pace
^   Gas tank bares watching
+   Devastating ground striker


Leading perfectly into the Middleweight Title affair is an eliminator match to determine it’s next contender, as Yoel Romero touches down to meet “Jacare” Souza. This in my opinion being one of the most competitively contested bouts on paper, expect this one to come down to the inches & seconds that are either given or taken in close. Despite the heavy accolades carried by both men, this fight may still ultimately breakdown like many grappler vs grappler match ups and stay standing. Souza, who has steadily improved his striking over his career heavily relies upon his natural speed & athleticism.

Using head movement & feints, Jacare will looks to draw out reactions and create openings to attack. Though playing Matador can be dangerous against the explosive entires of Romero, his ability to powerfully hit counters may be his best bet standing. Yoel’s movement makes him very hard to hit, but he’s shown to expose himself as he’ll occasionally engage recklessly. Souza’s heavy right hand could have play here, especially should he use to it counter as he did in his fight with Derek Brunson(fellow UFC southpaw). Yoel will however pose the intangibles standing as his unorthodox yet dangerous style should sternly test Souza.

The little trouble Jacare has shown throughout his career has come against the likes of technical, athletic, or Southpaw fighters. Romero possesses a little of each as he amalgamates both the traits of technique & raw power. Using deceptive tempo changes, Yoel will lull the perceived rhythm standing only to explode offensively. Covering & closing distance at an insane speed, Romero may very well cancel out the athletic advantage Souza usually holds against opposition. Even if Souza finds himself ahead standing, he’ll still need to be careful as we’ve seen Yoel maintain fight finishing power even when hurt and tired.

On the floor, and more particularly in transition is where the “X-Gym” fighter holds the X-factor in this fight. Despite his renown Wrestling credentials, Yoel’s shown that he’s not above being taken down in MMA fights. Though he’ll still need to mind strong forward entries(due to Souza’s well time double-legs), Romero’s footwork & counter wrestling still largely dictate the Where & When of grappling exchanges. Though possessing solid get-up ability, Romero will have to be most careful when making way to his feet.

With a menacing transition game, Jacare shows a second to none ability to take backs, and may have ample opportunity as many wrestlers habitually give it when standing(in MMA). Yoel is still a bit suspect in his overall Jiu-Jitsu game, as we’ve seldom seen him operate from his back. Both these men are so talented as there’s little to criticize, however each man will occasionally lull standing-action with inconsistent activity making this even harder to sort. Admittedly coming into my analysis, I thought Souza carried the edge, but after reviewing footage my feelings have changed. Though I still agree that Jacare should be the on-paper favorite, Romero’s style will prove more than troublesome should he come in north of his average.

Official Pick: Romero – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Romero – Split Decision.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Maia vs LaFlare

Demian Maia (21-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 27 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: Sub win / Neil Magny (8-1-15)
  • Camp: Demian Maia BJJ (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate
  • Overall Fight Grade: B

Supplemental info:
+   2x BJJ World Champion
+   ADCC Champion 2007
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   10 first round finishes
+   10 Submission wins
+   Deceptively strong
+   Effective from clinch
^   Favors trips & double-legs
+   Underrated wrestling
^   Improved shots & entries
+   Excellent top game
^   74 passes in 21 fights
+   Always looks for back
+   Competent striking
–    Tends to fade in fights


Gunnar Nelson (14-1-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 27 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Brandon Thatch (7-11-15)
  • Camp: SBG Ireland (Iceland)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: B

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   Brown Belt Karate
+   11 first round finishes
+   9 Submission wins
+   Good distance management
^   Closes it quickly
+   Deceptive wrestling ability
^   Strong double-leg TD
–    Low hands standing
^   Counter strike liable
+   Accurate shot selection
^   Well timed cross
+   Excellent top pressure
^   Seemingly passes & transitions


In a fantastic match up of grappling greats, Demian Maia and Gunnar Nelson meet in the UFC’s stacked Welterweight division. With both men’s ground-game being the highlight of their skill-sets, many of us fantasize about a possible Jiu-Jitsu match with strikes. They both however carry similar stylings that could very well cancel each other out. Often seen in MMA when two wrestlers collide, the bout tends to progress and contest standing. Though Maia and Nelson aren’t “wrestlers” per say, they both have very underrated games as they favor similar entries and shots into clinch space.

Once in the clinch, both Fighters deceptive strength shine through as they’re hips turn into magnets, especially when pressing against the fence. With each man wielding creative chain wrestling to ground fights, their similarities also follow them to the floor. Showing a consummate understanding of the ground-game, Maia will effortlessly float and pass to dominate positions. Gunnar will also utilize a “floating-pressure style” when topside, as he displays no waste in movement wielding an all-incompasing limb dexterity to support his technical game.

Overall I have to give the on-paper advantage to Demian on the mat, especially with his shown extra gears from bottom(something with seen very little of Gunnar in his career). Though Maia showed a killer guard & triangle game in the Jiu-Jitsu world, he’s had limited success with being effective from here in the back half of his MMA career. Regardless of who gets grounded first, I assure you we’ll be in for a treat from butterfly guards to exciting passes. Where this road begins to split for me is the standing footwork movement of Nelson, which I see being a key factor in this fight.

With his consistent management of distance to his quick reaction speeds, I believe Nelson will be difficult for Maia to pin against the cage. Maia will also have to to navigate the deceptive distance closing of Gunnar, as Nelson shows impeccable timing & accuracy on his intercepting punches. Regardless of the success Maia may have, Gunnar’s durability & activity will likely make the Brazilian work hard in strikes, entries, and wrestling exchanges. Showing to consistently tire past round 2 since dropping to Welterweight, the fight momentum may sway should Maia not find success early against the composed and technically sound Nelson.

Official Pick: Nelson – Decision

Official Outcome: Maia – Decision.


Max Holloway (14-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 23 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Charles Oliveira (8-23-15)
  • Camp: Hawaii Elite MMA (Honolulu, HI)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Excellent
  • Overall Fight Grade: B+

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   3 first round finishes
+   6 KO victories
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Volume & variety striker
+   Excellent shot selection
^   Variates attack levels
+   Intelligent footwork
+   Effective strikes in space
+   Dangerous Guillotine
+   Solid TD defense (79%)
–    Susceptible to slow starts
+   Stronger down the stretch


Jeremy Stephens (24-11)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 29 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Dennis Bermudez (7-11-15)
  • Camp: Alliance MMA (San diego, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: B-

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   17 KO victories
+   13 first round finishes
+   KO power / heavy hands
+   Dangerous right hand
^   Always ready to counter
+   Underrated wrestling
^   Favors power double-legs
+   Improved submission defense
+/-Propensity to brawl
–    Hand tends to lower
^   Counter shot availabilities
+   Physically durable
+   Deadly late in fights


Kicking off the main card is a main event worthy match-up, as rising sensation Max Holloway draws the always deadly Jeremy Stephens. Holloway comes in riding a 7 fight win streak as he’s shown us incredible fight-to-fight improvements as of late. This momentum has seemingly made Max one of the more heavy favorites on the card, but don’t let the oddsmakers fool you as Jeremy Stephens has all the intangibles of a live dog. Showing improved technical striking and even moments of brilliance, Stephens has enjoyed the new lease on his career since moving to Alliance MMA.

With borderline hammers for fists, Jeremy will have the one-shot power advantage in this fight as he usually enjoys this over most of his opposition. With improved combinations and setups, Stephens will look to read where his opponents weight is as he looks to intercept them with force. Though very competent on his feet, Jeremy is ultimately more plotting in his movement which could hinder him in this fight. Holloway who possesses excellent movement, will present a limited availability for Stephen’s power, as I see footwork being a key factor in this fight. Early in the Hawaiian’s career we would see proactive movements, as he showed your general outside circling to feinting-forward setups.

Somewhere before his bout with Cub Swanson we saw Max’s movement evolve into something else, as he would now move less and actually be more affective by mixing in stance-switching. Not just by definition mind you, but by doing so intelligently through counter movement. With already attuned distance management tools, Holloway will use his movement to draw his opposition into a natural momentum. Once his opponents achieve a level of mid-motion, Max will then attack and usually catch his prey off guard. Incorporating Southpaw looks, Max has increased his arsenal as he’ll switch stances when opposition attempts to set. Creating this state of constant pressure & guessing, Holloway can potentially frustrate and chip away at Stephens.

With Max’s likely approach being to “Box the Brawler”, Jeremy’s best chances will be by making this a gritty & ugly affair. Though Max’s head movement & balance seldom put him out of position, Jeremy may have success countering his kicking game. Though Holloway a nice a variety of such attacks, Stephens has a knack for catching right kicks to the body and countering with a right of his own. This often leads him right into a takedown, which in my opinion is an unspoken intangible of this fight. Working a lot of Wrestling in his camp, Jeremy may very well surprise Max with it early or dust it off should he need it late.

Should Stephens fail in close, he’ll need to be careful when exiting space. The quiet X factor to Max’s striking is his ability to strike while breaking off the clinch/standing exchanges. Wielding killer instincts & accuracy here, Holloway can really look to sway the momentum as these counter opportunities have traditionally troubled Stephens(seen in his fight with Yves Edwards). Although I do not agree with the odds on either man, I do see Max as the justified favorite. I caution plays here as Stephens KO power carries late into fights, but I feel stylistically the Hawaiian will give us a show whether or not he finds the finish.

Official Pick: Holloway – Decision

Official Outcome: Holloway – Decision.

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Uriah Faber def. Frankie Saenz
  • Tecia Torres def. Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger
  • Colby Covington def. Warley Alves
  • Kevin Lee def. Leonardo Santos
  • Magomed Mustafaev def. Joe Proctor
  • Yancy Medeiros def. John Makdessi
  • Court McGee def. Marcio Alexandre Jr.

Recommended Plays

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Conor McGregor
-Urijah Faber
-Chris Weidman

Low Tier Picks:

-Yoel Romero
-Yancy Medeiros
-Jose Aldo

Pieces for your parlay:

-Kevin Lee
-Chris Weidman
-Tecia Torres

Props worth looking at:

-Yoel Romero – by KO/TKO
-Urijah Faber – by Submission
-Gunnar Nelson – by Decision

Fights to avoid:

-Max Holloway vs Jeremy Stephens
-Yoel Romero vs Jacare Souza
-Colby Covington vs Warley Alves

For the complete analysis of future & past UFC events visit and for future breakdowns & your latest in world-wide MMA news, stay tuned & follow @MMALatestnws

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