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Conor McGregor (19-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 27 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Jose Aldo (12-12-15)
  • Camp: SBG Ireland (Dublin, IE)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Featherweight Champion
+   Cage Warriors LW & FW Titles
+   17 KO victories
+   13 first round finishes
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   KO Power / heavy hands
+   Agile & Athletic movement
+   Excellent footwork
^   Deceptively dictates distance
+   Diverse kicking attacks
+   Accurately & deadly left cross
–    Low hands on engagements
+   Improved counter wrestling
?   Questionable overall ground skill


Nate Diaz (18-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 30 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Michael Johnson (12-19-15)
  • Camp: Cesar Gracie Fight Team (Stockton, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 8 Winner
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   5 KO victories
+   8 first round finishes
+   11 Submission wins
+   Good cardio & conditioning
^   Taking fight w/10 days notice
+   Volume & pressure striker
^   Accurate jab-cross
–    Struggles with leg kicks
–    Head high/low hands & retractions
+   Dangerous transition game
^   Deadly submission dexterities
+/-4-4 against UFC southpaws


Despite Conor Mcgregor’s two-title aspirations being altered by injury, UFC 196 has seemingly picked up more steam as it enters our atmosphere. Replacing the injured Rafael Dos Anjos is Stockton’s finest, as Nathan Diaz will look to crash the Irish King’s quest for gold. Fresh off his signature post-fight antics on FOX, Diaz will have his call-out of Conor granted sooner than expected. Taking this bout with a caveat of 10 days notice, Nate will finally get the big fight he has spent his career searching for.

Even though the Diaz brothers are known for their extra-curricular cardio & conditioning, ten days notice is a tall order for anyone in regards to high-level combat. Considering that Nate’s pace & pressure is largely predicated off his stamina, it will be interesting to see how his output is effected in this southpaw scrap. With speed and power arguably going to McGregor, Diaz’s ability to dictate distance and control the center striking lanes will be crucial. Firing jab-cross continuums with the snap of a coiled cobra, Nathan will off-set striking rhythms and even disrupt a fighter’s overall approach. Coupled with unabashed physical taunts and mental warfare, Stockton’s own can make things interesting should he establish himself early & often.

Despite being a pleasure to watch offensively, Diaz does things defensively that could play right into the hands of McGregor. With leg kicks being a common kryptonite for the Diaz brothers, most people are calling for Conor to expose that opening here. Although I feel McGregor has the kicking variety to pose problems, I see his punches having the most promise of placement. Particularly, with Nathan’s strike retractions, as he will tend to retract his punches low and slow. Leaning on his length and technical superiority, Diaz has been able to get away with this against most fighters. However, these habits could cost him with the reach and technical ability of McGregor.

Known for his devastating left hand, Conor will surely be looking to coat-tail his crosses behind the pulls of Nathan’s punches. Although Diaz keeps an upright head position that can aide over-the-top attacks, his defensive dips and slips could open him up to uppercuts. Whether he is dipping forward off his punches or leaning left in defense, Diaz could inadvertently run into McGregor’s underrated uppercut-hook combinations. As we saw in his debut against Marcus Brimage, Conor will dust off these techniques when facing fellow southpaws. With both men lacking orthodox dance partners to dissuade at a distance, McGregor’s ability to be effective at multiple ranges should make the difference standing.

Since Diaz holds a distinct advantage on the floor, it will be interesting to see what attempts are made to get it there. Although traditional wrestling shots are all but devoid of Diaz’s game, he does have some craftiness inside the clinch that could see the light of day. The utilization of an over-hook will be a key tell for grappling initiations. Not only will this setup Nate’s patent Uchi Mata(hip toss), but it will also open up trips and guard pulls should Diaz get desperate or tired. Deadly and proficient in transition, Nate only needs but a moment to shift the fights momentum. As long time fan of Nate Diaz, I cannot say I would be disappointed to see him spoil the party. But with Conor’s obvious physical advantages, to the psychological strikes he has already landed, it’s hard to bet against the streaking Irishmen.

Official Pick: McGregor – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Diaz – Submission (Round 2)


Holly Holm (10-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 34 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Ronda Rousey (11-14-15)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Excellent

Supplemental info:


Miesha Tate (17-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 29 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 66.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Jessica Eye (7-25-15)
  • Camp: Xtreme Couture MMA (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:

Stated Bias:

Due to professional ties with Miesha Tate through Bryan Caraway & Xtreme Couture, I have opted to not break this match down in order to maintain efficacy. Thankfully, Emma Challands from FightNewsAustralia.com & WomensWorldofSport.com was able to help me out on this one. Being one of the only writers to have officially taken Holm over Rousey, Emma shares her take on the evenings co-main event:


Conor McGregor may be headlining UFC 196 but there’s only one belt on the line on March 5th and that belongs to women’s bantamweight champion, Holly Holm.

Holly Holm became a household name, and the golden girl of the UFC when she knocked out the previously undefeated Ronda Rousey last year. In a fight where Holm was expected to be disposed of early on, the world stood to their feet with mouths gaping open in shock when she did the unthinkable and became the new bantamweight champion. While the UFC was reeling about what to do off the back of their biggest stars’ devastating loss, the fans relished the fact that the bantamweight division was blown wide open and competitive for the first time since its inception in 2013.

The ‘Preacher’s Daughter’ will be heading into her first title defence on a 10-0 win streak(3 in the UFC) and will be more confident than ever. One of the most accomplished athletes on the UFC’s roster, Holm is the only fighter to hold both a world title in boxing and in the UFC.

Holm is a master at technical application and has a world-class training camp to thank for that. Under the tutelage of MMA masterminds Greg Jackson & Mike Winklejohn, they continue to execute the perfect game plan for opponents.

There is no question that Holm’s stand up game is some of the best in the biz, male or female. Her use of range, crisp counter striking, and ability to stay cool, calm, and collected have all made her the incredible fighter she is today. What we haven’t seen from Holm, however, is just how good her ground game is.

Now we know that Holm is incredibly good at avoiding takedowns, in fact, the stats speak for themselves – 100% takedown defence since joining the UFC last year. However, her opponent, state-champion wrestler Miesha Tate, may have something to say about that.

With 6 submissions in her MMA career, Tate’s ground game is formidable as she will look to impose her will on the champ with a grinding, aggressive approach. Tate has a relentless work ethic and can overwhelm opponents with a high volume of striking akin to a swarm of bees around the honey pot. She can be susceptible to taking a beating but if there’s one thing that Tate has got in her favour, it’s a rock solid chin and a ton of heart. Tate’s come from behind victories are something to behold.

You’re probably thinking to yourself at this point that if Rousey couldn’t get Holm to the ground what makes you think Tate will? Well, Tate is a wrestler so she doesn’t necessarily need to strike to get into the clinch for the takedown. She can utilise a single or double leg takedown and essentially bum rush the champ, forcing her onto her back or at the very least getting her up against the cage where she can inflict some damage with knees and elbows.

Will Holm have a response for this? Of course, it’d be silly to think she won’t be prepared for Tate’s biggest weapon in this fight. But it’s about whether or not Tate can execute, and if her fight against Olympic medallist Sara McMann is anything to go by, the answer is a resounding yes.

Tate wins this fight if she gets it to the ground early and keeps it there.

Official Pick: Tate – Decision

Official Outcome: Tate – Submission (Round 5)


Gian Villante (14-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 30 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Anthony Perosh (11-14-15)
  • Camp: Bellmore Kickboxing Academy (NY)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   NY State Wrestling Champ
+   College Wrestling Exp.
+   9 KO victories
+   8 first round finishes
+   2 Submission wins
+   KO power
+   Hard leg kicks
+   Dangerous right-hand/uppercut
+   Accurate check left hooks
+/-Willinges to exchange
^   Hands low off retractions
+   89% takedown defense


Ilir Latifi (11-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 32 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Sean O’Connell (1-17-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   ADCC European Champion
+   Swedish National Wrestling Team
+   6 KO victories
+   8 first round finishes
+   4 submission wins
+   KO Power
+   Devastating right-hand
^   Thrown off entries & counters
+   Improved leg kicks
+   Solid takedown ability
^   Favors power double
?    Questionable in later rounds


In another fun light heavyweight tilt, Gian Villante draws the dangerous Ilir Latifi. Since his short notice debut in the organization, the powerful Swedish National has yet to see a second round. Moving shop to American Top Team in Florida, the ADCC European Champion will be looking to show the improvements to his game. A long time friend and training partner to Chris Weidman, Villante will seek to put together a win streak as he makes another ascension up the ranks. With the division in desperate need of contenders, both men will have ample opportunity to establish themselves here.

Starting off on the feet, Gian Villante should be the more technical striker. The Bellmore Kickboxing Academy protege throws a nice variety of strikes, as he maintains a high output for an athlete of his size. Deceptively accurate with his check hook, Villante’s right-hand wields bad intentions through the form of uppercuts and crosses. Gian also has an underrated leg kick game, although I am not sure how heavily he will lean upon it given Latifi’s looming takedown threats. Ilir also showed us in his fight with Hans Stringer, that he has the ability to catch kicks and counter effectively. Carrying a war hammer for a right hand, Latifi demonstrates little trouble in attaching it to takedown entries or utilizing it off the counter. In fact, I feel his right-hand in particular will be a key factor in this fight.

As impressive as Villante’s volume is, his willingness to exchange has traditionally made him hittable. In keeping a slightly-low left standing guard, Gian will also retract his hands low off strikes. These tendencies have often cost him right crosses and hooks from his opposition. Villante also favors a collar tie off his left hooks to the head. Establishing a loose clinch/head control from this technique, Gian uses his left-handed grip to guide his opposition into right hands. An instinctual habit for Villante could prove as a natural advantage for Latifi, as this method of dirty boxing exposes the New York native unfavorably. Allowing for right hooks & overhands to come around the blind-side, Villante’s collar tie is also an open invitation for body lock clinches. Although Ilir doesn’t show the eagerness he perhaps should in wrestling engagements, tempting the strongest suplex machine in the organization may not bode well for Gian.

However, Villante does boast an 89% takedown defense rate that’s fueled by his footwork. Subtly circling and moving, Gian makes it difficult for his opposition to set up their shots. Villante’s best chances in this fight will be using his measured aggression and movement to control the center of the Octagon. If he can show defensive adjustments to Latifi’s right hand, Gian’s pressure coupled with some body work could break down Ilir in the later rounds. As a fan of Villante since his early days in Strikeforce, it would be great to see him finally put his long expected potential together. But with being hurt or dropped in 4 out of 5 of his last fights, I am not sure I like the Long Islander’s chances of trading with the power puncher.

Official Pick: Latifi – Decision

Official Outcome: Latifi – Decision


Corey Anderson (7-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 26 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 79″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Fabio Maldonado (11-7-15)
  • Camp: Ricardo Almeida BJJ (New Jersey)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 19 Winner
+   2x All-American Wrestler
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   3 KO victories
+   3 first round finishes
+   Fight-to-fight improvements
^   Training w/Mark Henry & Co.
+   Consistent volume & pressure
^   Keeps a high pace
+   Good strike to takedown transitions
^   Favors double-leg takedowns
+   Active ground striker
+   Excellent footwork
^   Manages distance well


Tom Lawlor (10-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 32 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Gian Villante (7-25-15)
  • Camp: Syndicate MMA (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 8 Alum
+   3x National Collegiate Wrestling Champ
+   Purple Belt in BJJ
+   4 KO victories
+   6 first round finishes
+   4 submission wins
+   KO power / heavy hands
+   Favors check right hook
+   Hard straight left
^   Shows outside-foot-awareness
+   Dangerous Guillotine choke
+   Strong pressure against fence
^   Works takedowns/Double-legs
+   Solid chin/physically durable


In a battle of the bold, Corey “Beastin 25/8” Anderson takes on “Filthy” Tom Lawlor. A young prospect training with Mark Henry & Co. out of New Jersey, Anderson has showed consistent fight-to-fight improvements since winning season nine of The Ultimate Fighter. Putting together a win streak since his hiccup against Gian Villante, Corey will face one of his toughest tests to date. A long time fan favorite, Tom Lawlor will look to continue his winning ways and spoil Corey Anderson’s ascension.

Starting off on the feet, is where the fun begins in this battle of footwork and placement. In facing the first notable southpaw of his career, it will be interesting to see Anderson’s application of outside-foot-awareness in this fight. Demonstrating active footwork, Corey’s ability to move and control range is his strong suit as I feel distance management will be a key factor in this fight. In having an overall reach & length advantage, Anderson’s pace and variety of strikes should give him an edge in exchanges. However, Corey has shown to be hittable in his willingness to trade. It appears that Mark Henry has worked diligently with his prospect defensively, as Corey has shown an improvement in head movement and the fashion in which he exits exchanges.

That said, he will need to be careful with his shown tendencies to exit to the left. Although this will move him away from Tom’s power side, it will also put him right into the line of Lawlor’s check right hook. Even though Lawlor doesn’t present the widest array of stirkes, what he does throw he throws well. Showing excellent outside-foot-awareness, Tom favors a left cross to right hook setup. Working with John Wood at Syndicate MMA in Las Vegas, Lawlor has been busy in his time outside the Octagon making these technical refinements. Tom’s new found love and ability to counter will certainly be tested in this match.

Where this road begins to split for me, is in Anderson’s transitional game. Displaying excellent takedown chains off his strikes, Corey’s ability to change offensive terms at this weight class drowns most competitors. Although Lawlor is a solid wrestler with more than competent takedown defense, his aggressiveness and hunger for submissions have often cost him positions in fights. That said, Tom possesses an underrated Guillotine choke that could pose problems for Corey should he not mind his head placement on doubles. As a huge Tom Lawlor fan, I would love to see him upset the young lion. But unless he can catch Corey on the counter, he may have to face some unfavorable scorecards.

Official Pick: Anderson – Decision

Official Outcome: Anderson – Decision


Amanda Nunes (11-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 27 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Sara McMann (8-8-15)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   Brown Belt Judo
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   9 first round finishes
+   9 KO victories
+   2 submission wins
+   KO power / physically strong
+   Dangerous right-hand
+   Aggressive pace & pressure
^   Fades as fight progresses
+/-Propensity to brawl
^   Counter availabilities
+   Strong top game
+   Devastating ground striker
^   Hard elbows & punches

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Kaufman vs Shevchenko

Valentina Shevchenko (12-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’5″ Age: 27 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 65.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Sarah Kaufman (12-19-15)
  • Camp: Tiger Muay Thai (Thailand/Peru)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   17x Muay Thai & K-1 Champion
+   9x IFMA Champion (56-2 pro record)
+   2nd dan Black Belt Tae Kwon Do
+   6 first round finishes
+   2 KO victories
+   5 Submission wins
+   Excellent straight punches
+   Accurate check right hook
+   Hard left head & liver kicks
+   Competent & crafty clinch game
^   Underrated trips & takedowns
+   Good takedown defense
^   Strong & explosive hips
+   Solid from inside the guard
^   Hand fights & keeps position


Kicking off the main card in Las Vegas is a battle of budding bantamweight contenders as Amanda Nunes meets Valentina Shevchenko. A long time physical force in female MMA, Amanda has steadily sharpened her overall skill-sets. Being one of the few challengers to emerge during the Rousey reign, Nunes will look to state her case for a title shot against the co-main event’s winner. Born into a martial arts family, Shevchenko is no stranger to fighting as she has been competing since childhood. Although the Muay Thai champion is a relative newcomer to mainstream audiences, Valentina will be looking to prove she belongs amongst the organizations best.

With two different approaches to striking, the Muay Thai stylings of each fighter will start and likely shape this fight. A brawler by nature, Nunes has demonstrated dramatic adjustments in her technique since moving to American Top Team. Displaying improvements to her hand positioning and footwork, Amanda has shown to be a bit more measured in her execution. However, she still shows suspect to scraps as her aggression often puts her out of position. Usually parlaying said pressure into clinch situations, Nunes has largely been able to get away with her fundamental position and defense errors. However, in facing a technical counter striker like Shevchenko, the Brazilian might not be so lucky.

Utilizing deceptively subtle footwork, Valentina will shuffle just in-and-out of her opposition’s striking range. Maintaining a balanced position, Shevchenko can counter efficiently and with great effect. In fact, I believe Valentina’s ability to manage the distance will be a key factor in this fight. At range, Shevchenko should have a distinct arsenal advantage. Should she effectively exile Amanda at range, Valentina’s hard body, and head kicks could pay some serious dividends. Nunes could very well look to overwhelm Shevchenko with a blitzkrieg, but Valentina has an accurate check right hook that can pose problems for an eager Amanda.

Holding a clear on-paper advantage on the ground, forcing grappling exchanges will surely be Amanda’s best bet. However, this may be easier said than done for the BJJ Black Belt. With her game being devoid of traditional wrestling shots, Nunes heavily relies upon the clinch for her takedowns. Very underrated in this department, Valentina shows to have seamlessly translated her Thai clinch game into MMA. Demonstrating solid head positioning and under-hook awareness, Shevchenko’s natural strength & balance make her difficult to take down. Not afraid to initiate offensive wrestling of her own, Valentina will flow from clinch strikes to crafty trips and takedowns. Favoring to work from inside the opposition’s guard, Shevchenko shows intelligent hand fighting to help her keep the position.

Although lacking activity and largely conservative, safety should serve Shevchenko well in this fight. Where Valentina is most vulnerable, is her inability to get going from the bottom. Since Nunes is nothing short of terrifying on top, I expect Shevchenko to avoid being on her back at all costs. Should she find herself on the bottom, her guard retention and reversal attempts may not bode well against the aggressive ground striker. Given Amanda’s momentum and improvements, I can see why she is the slight favorite according to the odds. But if she fails to stop Shevchenko early, I feel the Brazilian’s propensity to brawl may exhaust her against the more technical striker.

Official Pick: Shevchenko – Decision

Official Outcome: Nunes – Decision

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Thatch def. Bahadurzada
  • Silva def. Taleb
  • Miranda def. Guimaraes
  • Skelly def. Elkins
  • Sanchez def. Miller
  • Saggo def. Salas
  • Erosa def. Ishihara

Recommended Plays

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Conor McGregor
-Erick Silva
-Alir Latifi

Low Tier Picks:

-Nate Diaz
-Valentina Schevchenko
-Miesha Tate

Pieces for your parlay:

-Vitor Miranda
-Brandon Thatch
-Chas Skelly

Props worth looking at(5Dimes):

-Silva/Taleb – Under +125
-Nunes/Schevchenko – Over +100
-Chas Skelly – inside the distance +234

Fights to avoid:

-Erosa vs Ishihara
-Holm vs Tate
-Latifi vs Villante

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

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