Saturday, July 30th, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia for UFC 201: “Lawler vs Woodley” by Daniel Tom

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UFC on FOX: Lawler v Voelker

Robbie Lawler (27-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 34 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Carlos Condit (1-2-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Welterweight Champion
+   Elite XC Middleweight Title
+   20 KO victories
+   12 first round finishes
+   1 Submission win
+   KO power
+   Devastating left hand
+   Deceptively accurate right hook
+   Superb outside foot awareness
+   Hard left Thai kicks
^   Variates well to the body & head
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   16 for 20 in takedown attempts
+   Good get-up urgency & technics
^   Excellent use of butterfly guard
+   Effective ground striker
–    Lackadaisical kick defense
–    Susceptible to activity lulls
–    Hurt/stunned in 3 of last 5-fights


Tyron Woodley (15-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 34 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Kelvin Gastelum (1-31-15)
  • Camp: ATT Evolution (Missouri)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   2x All-American Wrestler
+   Brown Belt BJJ
+   6 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   8 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Dangerous right hand
^   Off the counter and offensively
+   Heavy right leg kicks
+   Fast-twitch athlete
^   Closes distance quickly
+/-Strong but inactive in clinch
^   92% Takedown defense
+   Solid reactive shot
^   Favors power double takedown
+/-Often fights w/back to fence
–    Offensive in short bursts
^   Gas tank bares watching
–    1 fight in 2 years


The main event for UFC 201 is a welterweight war for the title as “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler defends his belt from Tyron “The Chosen One” Woodley.

Seemingly giving us memorable performances each time out, Robbie Lawler has firmly placed himself atop the feeding frenzy known as the welterweight division. Looking to extend his late-career resurgence, Lawler faces a stiff challenge in the American Top Team affiliate, Tyron Woodley. That said, Tyron has not had a history in training directly with Robbie as he has spent his last two camps training with Roufusport in Milwaukee. Despite only fighting one time in the past two years, the current state of the division has allowed the UFC to make good on their promise to grant Woodley a title-shot. Not one to waste an opportunity, Tyron will now attempt to dethrone welterweight’s current ruling warlord.

Whether we are talking about natural athleticism, knockout power, or his strong wrestling base, Tyron Woodley has all the tools to contend with the champion and everyone else in the Top-10. From his early days of embracing his wrestling base in fights, we have seen Tyron steadily evolve his striking game into a real threat at the high levels. Applying his fast-twitch athleticism to his growing understanding of technique, Tyron will explode forward at the drop of a dime as he closes the distance with destructive shots. For this reason, Woodley remains a constant threat as you will see his opposition often operate with slightly abnormal hesitancies.

That said, Tyron traditionally struggles to put his game together consistently as he will need to do so in this fight. Often criticized for his physique in regards to his output, Woodley tends to slow steadily as the fight prolongs. Speculation aside, this is a common trend that could re-appear given Tyron’s time in between fights. However, in fairness, Tyron appears to be working very hard in preparation for this bout as I assume he will be coming in top form. Should Tyron manage his output accordingly, he will be eligible to impact the middle rounds of this fight as Robbie traditionally gets caught taking time off there.

Regardless of each fighter’s liabilities of long-term activity lulls, I suspect the exchanges in the first round will be very telling of this fights trajectory. With many, as well as myself, suspecting Woodley to dust off his wrestling chops, the former All-American will still need to exchange successfully with Lawler to win this fight. Luckily for Tyron, his best weapon may find a home in this contest. Known for his destructive right hand, Woodley will have openings fundamentally given his southpaw opposition. Although not known for his right hand, we saw Carlos Condit have success finding his cross early and often in his fight with Lawler.

That said, Tyron will have right-handed liabilities of his own. Demonstrating a tendency to retract his left-hand low in exchanges, Tyron is most commonly caught by right hands. Though Lawler is known for his devastating left hands & kicks, his right hook is the quiet killer in exchanges as I feel that will be the punch to look for in this fight. Whether he is coming forward with it or throwing it as a check, Robbie’s right hook is deceptively accurate. Fueled by an excellent outside foot awareness, Lawler symbiotically moves his head defensively as his feet set up offensive onslaughts.

On paper, Woodley’s best strategies almost certainly require him to rely upon his wrestling. Tyron’s favored power-double should be more than enough to ground Lawler, despite the champions shown improvements of takedown defense. However, Woodley has mainly employed his takedowns in a reactionary fashion to combat pressure or buy himself time, so it will be interesting to see his approach here. That said, the grapplers who have traditionally given Robbie trouble were active top-players or submission artists. With Tyron not fitting the bill of either, I am not sure how success will be found or sustained when on the floor.

Lawler also has an underrated butterfly guard, as the champion has shown to be effective from many positions with it to create scrambles and stand-up opportunities. With Woodley preferring to operate in offensive bursts, a game plan based on ground control could turn into diminishing returns should Tyron fail to finish by the fight’s midpoint. A veteran of waiting out storms, we have seen Lawler time-and-time-again come back from the brink to control chaos. Where the road begins to split, in my opinion, is the space in which each man operates. More specifically, Woodley, as he tends to fall into a more predictable pattern.

Tyron will often come out willing to exchange during the initial “feeling out” portions of the first round. However, if not successful early, Woodley will relegate himself to fight from the outer edges of the Octagon. Although he will flash his right-hand and shoot reactive-doubles to afford himself space, Woodley will be at a handicap anytime he finds himself here as this is Lawler’s preferred kill zone. Whenever Robbie gets his opposition in between the inner-black Octagon lines and the cage, you can throw out all activity lulling accusations as Lawler attacks with impunity here. Although Woodley has more than a puncher’s chance being that Lawler has been hurt or stunned in 3 of his last 5-fights, I feel that the key-junctions in this contest favor Lawler as I see him finishing before the final horn.

Official Pick: Lawler – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Woodley – KO (round 1)


Rose Namajunas (5-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’5″ Age: 24 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 65″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Tecia Torres (4-16-16)
  • Camp: Grudge Training Center (Denver, CO)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt in Karate & TKD
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   TUF 20 Finalist
+   4 Submission wins
+   2 first round finishes
+   Good footwork
^   Manages distance well
+   Solid stance shifts
^   Moving forward & backward
+   Accurate left jab & hook
+   Counters well with right-hand
+   Excellent kicking variety
+   Improved wrestling ability
^   Favors body-lock transitions
+   Solid top-pressure & positional rides
^   Looks/floats toward back
+   Dangerous arm-bars
^   Explosive hips
–    Head sometimes stagnates
^   Counter availabilities


Karolina Kowalkiewicz (9-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’3″ Age: 30 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 65″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Heather Jo Clark (5-6-16)
  • Camp: Gracie Barra Lodz (Poland)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   KSW Strawweight Title
+   Muay Thai Accolades
+   2 Submission wins
+   1 KO victory
+   3 first round finishes
+   Active footwork
^   Moves well laterally
+   Grows in pace & pressure
+   High-volume striker
^   Fluid with combinations
+   Effective right hand
^   Variates angles of attack
+   Improved takedown defense
^   Cage & under-hook awareness
+   Underrated grappling ability
^   Floats & rides well on top
+/-Will turtle out to stand
^   Back taken in 3 of last 4-fights
+/-Aggressive in exchanges
^   Counter availabilities


The newly minted co-main event features a fantastic female scrap as “Thug” Rose Namajunas takes on the undefeated Karolina Kowalkiewicz for title contendership. Coming off a 3-0 run during her stint on TUF 20, there were high expectations placed upon Rose Namajunas. Suffering a sobering loss at the hands of former champion Carla Esparza, we have seen Rose steadily evolve into one of the more complete fighters in the division. Another Polish standout at strawweight, Karolina Kowalkiewicz has competed for Invicta and won a title in Poland’s own, KSW organization. No stranger to tough competition, Kowalkiewicz will look to remain undefeated and make a statement under the spotlight.

Standing on the feet is where Karolina particularly shines, as the Pole packs deceptive power behind relentless waves of offense. Consistently circling out to reset, Kowalkiewicz also works well laterally as she creates angles. Entering off a series of straight punches, Karolina fluidly puts together her combinations from left to right. With a steady mix of leg kicks usually suggesting Kowalkiewicz has found her flow, Karolina tends to put emphasis on the right hand as it primarily punctuates her combinations. Often doubling-up, Kowalkiewicz will usually throw her first right as a cross as she variates the follow-up from a different angle.

What is interesting is the manner in which Karolina achieves her angles on right-hands. Utilizing a lateral shift mid-combination, Kowalkiewicz will step off to her left in an almost southpaw stance. Not only does this make it easier for Karolina to get her head off center, but it also changes her angles of offense as her right cross now turns into a right hook. Considering that Namajunas sometimes stagnates her head position, these will likely be the strikes to look for from Karolina. However, Kowalkiewicz’s aggressive nature in exchanges often cost her counters as she gets caught squared while shifting.

Given that Rose throws a sharp right-hand counter, Karolina will have to be particularly careful when exchanging as her head tends to expose left off of combinations. Another weapon that may stifle the shifts of Kowalkiewicz is the improved jab of Namajunas. Amongst many of Rose’s improvements since coming off the show, has been her active and educated left hand. Mixing in left hooks off accurate jabs, Namajunas now has the crucial connecting piece for her well-versed & varied striking game. That said, she will need to be on point early & often with her output if she means to stop the surmounting momentum of her Polish opponent.

A consistent but slow burn, Kowalkiewicz tends to start a bit shaky as she steadily builds to her cruising altitude. Traditionally, this has costed Karolina the 1st-rounds of her fights as this has also been when she is most hittable. Although her undefeated record suggests that a slow start is not a condemnation, a well-rounded fighter like Rose is a tough enough challenge without the deficit. However, if Kowalkiewicz can get her game going and touch Rose early, we may see a surprising turn of odds as Karolina will easily be the most dangerous striker Rose has faced to date. Couple that with Karolina’s perceived speed & output advantages, Namajunas could find herself in a tight spot as far as the striking goes.

Where this fight’s road begins to split for me, is when I look at the grappling aspects of this matchup. Although I give Namajunas the overall advantage as she is more proven, Kowalkiewicz is no fish out of water on the floor. She floats well from the top and demonstrates a solid under-hook understanding, something I suspect she will need as the key-junctions of this contest will likely take place inside the clinch. Although Rose has a decent shot, she scores the majority of her takedowns from the body-lock which will make under-hooks even more crucial for Karolina. Once the Polish fighter establishes a solid under-hook, she does well with utilizing it reverse position and spin her opposition.

Another fold to Kowalkiewicz’s game is her ability to use offense in close to defend and discourage opponent’s attacks. Similarly to the Polish fighter who currently reigns over the division(Joanna Jedrzejczyk), Karolina also utilizes her forearms to frame as she closes the space she created with sharp and short elbows. Coupled with Karolina’s consistency in striking off breaks, Rose cannot afford to be caught speeding in close as she did in the first round of her last fight with Tecia Torres. That said, Rose has been able to take down every opponent she has faced under the UFC banner as she still shows fight-to-fight improvements.

Should Rose ground Karolina as most suspect she will try to do, the Polish fighter’s technics will certainly be taken to task. Rose also displays solid under-hook applications that could thwart Karolina’s get-ups, not to mention a shoulder pressure that she uses to pin opponents, or even persuade them to escape a particular way exposing their back. Considering that Kowalkiewicz has had her back taken in 3 of 4 of her last fights, this could spell trouble given that Rose has never lost a fight where she was able to achieve back mount. Between Rose’s proven takedown acumen and Karolina’s propensity to give her back when attempting to stand, I suspect this scenario will have plenty of play. For those reasons I am siding with Namajunas, Although I recommend caution in playing this one as I feel it is closer to a pick’em.

Official Pick: Namajunas – Decision

Official Outcome: Kowalkiewicz – Split Decision

Matt Brown, Mike Swick

Matt Brown (20-14)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 35 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight:Submission loss / Demian Maia (5-14-16)
  • Camp: Elevation Fight Team (Denver, CO)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+ TUF 7 Alum
+ Regional MMA Title
+ 13 KO victories
+ 7 Submission wins
+ 8 First round finishes
+ Relentless pace & pressure
+ Strong volume & variety
+ Deceptive fight IQ
^ Creates & capitalizes on chaos
+ Excellent clinch striker
^ Dangerous elbows
+ Improved wrestling
+ Active guard
^ Submissions & sweeps
+ Scrambles well
– Aggression allows for counters


Jake Ellenberger (30-11)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 31 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Tarec Saffiedine (1-30-16)
  • Camp: Kings MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+ Regional MMA Titles
+ Purple Belt BJJ
+ 20 KO victories
+ 13 first round finishes
+ 4 Submission wins
+ KO power/heavy hands
+ Aggressive power double takedown
+ Strong inside the clinch
^ Difficult to takedown/control
+ Underrated submission game
+ Effective ground striker
+ Devastating right hand
^ Favors overhands & hooks
– Often throws himself out of position
– Subject to activity lulls
– Won 1 fight in 3-years


In a battle of welterweights who have seen their fair share of wars, Matt Brown meets Jake Ellenberger. With his fan friendly fight stylings, Matt Brown has squared-off with many of the division’s contenders in recent years. Coming off of a tough fight against Demian Maia(as well as multiple Brazilian assailants), Matt Brown will attempt to return to the form that earned him a 7-fight win streak. Another veteran of the division, Jake Ellenberger will also look to right his ship in this main card showcase. Once praised for his predatory instincts, Ellenberger will attempt to earn that respect back with a solid performance here.

If this match were made 5-years prior, this fight would undoubtedly be the people’s main event. On paper, both fighters possess action enabling attributes that can produce finishes at the drop of a dime. An athletic powerhouse, Ellenberger has steadily developed his striking to accompany his grappling base. Working with many great trainers over his career, Jake’s most consistent weapon has been his right hand. Although not known as a counter striker, Jake may have ample opportunity to land given Brown’s willingness to trade.

Earning his self-proclaimed title as a “technical brawler”, Matt Brown has surprisingly gotten better as he’s continually walked through the fire in fights. Stalking forward with an open stance, Matt Brown likes to keep all his weapons at the ready as he finds appropriate spots to apply them. An improved boxing game connects his hard Thai kicks at range, although Brown does the best of his work inside the clinch. Brawling instincts may get Matt inside, but the Ohio native is an absolute technician when distributing damage in close.

Angling and executing devastating elbows, Brown also has slick trips and an underrated wrestling game he can apply. That said, Brown’s priorities of punishment over position may serve him well against a strong counter-grappler like Ellenberger. Although I give Brown the overall edge standing, he will need to respect the power of Ellenberger. Despite the fact that Brown has never been officially stopped, he has been dropped or visibly stunned 4 of this last 5-fights. Even though Ellenberger is not known for the body attacks that have traditionally hurt Matt, he has recently gotten back with one best striking coaches in the game, Rafael Cordeiro.

Ellenberger will also carry another important intangible into this fight, his wrestling ability. Despite never actually wrestling in college, Jake has shown the capabilities to take down and even grapple with the best of them. Considering that Brown is no stranger to being taken down in fights, this could be a solid plan B for Ellenberger if the striking exchanges start to go south. That said, Brown is no slouch on the floor as being dominated by Demian Maia is hardly a condemnation of his skill. Always a dangerous submission threat, it is Brown’s ability to get up that is most impressive.

Against a solid top player like Johny Hendricks, we saw Brown’s deceptive fight IQ at play from the bottom. Unable to get his guard going or get up in the traditional sense, Brown opted to transition for leg-lock attempts. Usually, these are discouraged in MMA as it can inherently leave you open for ground strikes. However, in properly attempting leg-locks like Brown did, we saw Matt force Johny to defend as the space created allowed for Brown to stand back up. Should this fight hit the floor, expect a high pace with little stalling.

Although both fighters bring the excitement on paper, one of them has been on a far worse trend than the other. Not only has Jake dropped 5 of his last 6-fights, but in my opinion, he has not looked the same since his fight with Nate Marquardt. Since then, Ellenberger has appeared gun-shy as he has clearly struggled with something outside of physical skill sets. For those reasons it is hard to be confident in an Ellenberger pick, as I feel Brown’s relentless pressure-fighting will create a sink-or-swim environment.

Official Pick: Brown – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Ellenberger – TKO (round 1)


Francisco Rivera (11-6-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 34 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Brad Pickett (2-27-16)
  • Camp: All In MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   8 KO victories
+   11 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   High strike output
^   3rd highest at Bantamweight
+   Devastating hooks & uppercuts
+   Heavy Thai kicks
^   Times well to the legs
–    Head often on center
^   Counter availabilities
+   Improved wrestling ability
^   Good get-up/defensive technics
+/-Propensity to brawl
^   Dropped/hurt in 4 of last 7
–    Gas tank bears watching


Erik Perez (15-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 26 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 68″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Taylor Lapilus (11-21-15)
  • Camp: Alliance MMA (San Diego, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   4 KO victories
+   10 first round finishes
+   7 Submission wins
+   High pace & pressure
^   Well conditioned
+   Consistent striking volume
^   Improved combinations
+   Underrated wrestling ability
+   Strong takedown game
^   Favors attempts against fence
+   Solid top pressure
^   Strikes and maintains position
+/-Propensity to brawl
–    Drops head in pocket
^   Uppercut/counter available


In a crossroads battle at bantamweight, Francisco Rivera faces off against Erik Perez. A favorite amongst hardcore fans, Francisco has struggled since dropping from the top-10 as he has lost 4 of his last 5-fights. Looking to take advantage of his main card slot, Rivera will attempt to keep this fight out of the judges hands as he seeks the upset. One of Mexico’s most promising prospects, Erik Perez has been able to pass all his tests south of the top-15. Now facing one of the tougher tests of his career, Perez will look to take the next step toward cementing himself as a contender.

An initially raw fighter who was very much developing, Erik Perez has seemingly stacked up seven fights under the UFC banner. A longtime member of Jackson-Wink MMA, the Mexican transplant has since moved shop to San Diego to train at Alliance MMA. Showing new folds to his game last November against Taylor Lapilus, it will be interesting to see what tools Erik brings to the table against Francisco Rivera. On the feet, Francisco is certainly the more technical and dangerous striker. A Muay Thai stylist, Rivera will steadily stalk his opponents as he feints forward looking to initiate and counter.

Although he possesses heavy leg kicks, I am not sure how much Francisco will go to them in this matchup. Perez, who has a base in Muay Thai himself, defends well from leg kicks as he has shown to catch them and or counter over the top(something we have seen Rivera’s opposition do as of late). That said, I feel Francisco will have success with his uppercuts. Variating his left-to-right hooking assaults, Rivera will mix in hard uppercuts and shovel hooks with great effect. Considering that Perez has a tendency to duck his head low and forward inside pocket exchanges, Rivera’s uppercuts will be the punches worth looking for in this contest. Fighters like Edwin Figueroa and Bryan Caraway caught onto this as they were able to land uppercuts in their fights.

That said, Perez possesses some solid weapons of his own that may come into play in this fight, particularly his patent right hook. Often shifting back to a southpaw stance as if to retreat, Perez will come over the top with a check right hook that catches oncoming opposition(as seen in his fight with Ken Stone). With Rivera’s aggression and often upright head position, this will be something the Southern Californian will need to be aware of moving forward. The challenge for Francisco in this fight will not only be the wrestling threats of Perez, but also the pace in which he operates. A non-stop action fighter, a lot of Perez’s takedowns are arguably opened up by the pressure he brings.

Favoring to force opponents to the fence, the Mexican-fighter is relentless in his work ethic as he shows real technical improvements in chain wrestling. Although Rivera has shown improvements in regards to his takedown defense, forcing Francisco to wrestle may pay huge dividends as the fight progresses. Despite being a life-long athlete and hard worker himself, Francisco has shown a propensity to fade in the later rounds of fights. Although Rivera is more than skillful enough on the floor to take it to Perez, I feel Francisco may be in trouble should he not establish himself by the midpoint of the fight. Unless Rivera can find a finish, then I suspect Perez’s work rate will earn him the right of way in this crossroads contest.

Official Pick: Perez – Decision

Official Outcome: Perez Decision


Ian McCall (13-5-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’5″ Age: 32 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: 64″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / John Lineker (1-31-15)
  • Camp: Team Oyama (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management:Good

Supplemental info:
+   TPF Flyweight Titles
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   4 KO victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   3 first round finishes
+   Excellent footwork
^   Manages distance well
+   Consistent pace & pressure
^   Good cardio & conditioning
+   Improved combination striker
+   Accurate leg kicks(both stances)
+   Superb takedown ability
^   Times & transitions well
+   Solid top control
^   Strong positional player
–    Inconsistent schedule/performances
^   2 fights in 3 years


Justin Scoggins (11-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 24 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: 66″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Ray Borg (2-6-16)
  • Camp: Revolution Martial Arts (South Carolina)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Karate
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt Kenpo Karate
+   Kickboxing Accolades
+   6 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   5 first round finishes
+   Excellent footwork & movements
^   Manages distance well
+   Accurate shot selection
^   Counters well w/left-hand
+   Solid kicking variety
^   Favors lead-leg side & front kicks
+   Superb defensive/positional awareness
^   Inside the pocket & in scrambles
+   Underrated takedown/wrestling ability
+   Smoothly floats & transitions
^   31 passes in 6-fight
–    Struggles fighting from back


Kicking off the main card is a fun flyweight fight as Ian McCall makes his return against Justin Scoggins. Despite once holding the top ranking in the flyweight division, Ian McCall has since struggled with consistency since his wars with Demetrious Johnson. Making a return to the Octagon after an 18-month layoff, the underground fan-favorite Ian McCall will attempt another run toward the top. Also making his ascension upward, Justin Scoggins has steadily stated his case as a contender. Being more vocal as of late, Scoggins will attempt to make himself known to the mainstream as he looks to crack the top-10.

It is hard to ignore McCall’s inconsistent activity and performances in this later chapter of his career, as his physical and mental states will undoubtedly be the intangibles for Ian heading in. Assuming Uncle Creepy is in top form, he will have his work cut out for him with the stylistic challenges Scoggins presents. Usually, we see McCall employ his advantages of movement, timing, and transitions as he circles the outside and looks to dictate action. The problem with playing the distance game with a Karate striker is not that they are better at it, but that they are operating on different terms as they subtly force traditional combat strikers from their games.

A Karate fighter cut from the same cloth as Stephen Thompson, Justin Scoggins bears the similar traits of stance switches and lateral shifts. When standing orthodox, we will see Scoggins employ more kickboxing based attacks. When standing southpaw, the South Carolinian favors lead-leg side & hook kick variations to keep his opponents honest. From Justin’s counter left cross he keeps at the ready, to his superb spatial awareness and reaction times, I suspect we may see McCall struggle in something that even he has seldom seen in his career.

Although Ian leaps in-and-out similarly to a point fighter, he does not apply the same acumen or show to possess the power to earn Scoggins respect early. However, McCall has very accurate leg kicks that may serve him well in this fight. Like many Karate strikers, Scoggins operates out of a bladed stance as his feet are spread wide. Although this style does carry benefits, it can also make you more susceptible to leg kicks. We saw Josh Sampo use them in his fight with Scoggins, as the wrestling based fighter used leg kicks to stifle portions of that contest. Should Ian apply his leg kicks effectively, he may be able to open up his game and establish a presence.

That said, Ian’s best chances to win this fight will most certainly be on the mat. Although he hasn’t leaned on his wrestling as much in recent years, McCall is one of the best wrestlers in the division as his strength and timing bring his transition game to life. Whether he is knee-tapping or hitting suplex’s, Ian does his best work from the clinch. What makes McCall’s grappling style effective in a division full of scramblers is his ability to kill momentum with top control. A solid positional player, we could see Ian sway the fight’s scorecards against Scoggins as we have seen Justin struggle here in the past(primarily against Dustin Ortiz).

However, Scoggins is not an easy striker to takedown as he has been wrestling since he was a small child. Not to mention that Scoggins is still young, as the South Carolina native is still showing fight-to-fight improvements. Utilizing his preternatural positional awareness, Scoggins can scramble with the best of them. Employing solid hand-fighting and head positioning, Scoggins displays the ability to shut down his opposition on a technical level. Not afraid to engage in takedowns of his own, Justin will seamlessly change his levels and transition. Carrying over his taste for transitions topside, Scoggins floats from position-to-position with impunity as the 32-takedowns & 31-passes in 6-fights would suggest.

If this fight were a few years earlier, I would say that McCall is one of the tougher stylistic matches for Scoggins. However, with Scoggins overall progressions and McCall’s recent state of uncertainty with the sport, it is hard to have the same confidence in Ian. Although I would like to see McCall do well here, coming back to face an unorthodox fighter on the upswing can make for a nightmare return. Ultimately, I feel that flyweight has itself another prospect on the rise in the form of Justin Scoggins.

Official Pick: Scoggins – Decision

Official Outcome: Bout cancelled – Scoggins health issue

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Krylov def. Herman
  • Masvidal def. Pearson
  • Hamilton def. Grabowski
  • Reis def. Sandoval
  • Graves def. Velickovic
  • Serrano def. Benoit
  • Arzamendia def. Brown

Recommended Plays:

Draft Kings recommended rosters:


Team #1: $49,800.00

-Matt Brown ($10,900.00)
-Robbie Lawler ($10,600.00)
-Nikita Krylov ($10,200.00)
-Anthony Hamilton ($9,400.00)
-Ross Pearson ($8,700.00)

Team Summary:

With a chalk filled card overall, I chose to only put out one Draft Kings lineup recommendation, as it is a doozy. For my high-tier favorites, I went with Matt Brown, Robbie Lawler, and Nikita Krylov. Matt Brown carries a 90% finish rate as he can finish from to floor or on the feet. In facing a fighter who has been susceptible to both, I like Brown’s chances against Jake Ellenberger, who has dropped 5 of his last 6-fights. As for the champion’s value, Robbie Lawler makes a great pick as the favored fighter in a 5-round main event. With a strong feel for the finish, I feel Lawler has a great chance to score big.

Nikita Krylov also comes in at a bargain for $10,200.00 as all but one of his victories have taken place in the 1st round. I’m a big fan of Ed Herman but with only 7-fights seeing the scorecards in 34-bouts, I feel Herman’s do-or-die mentality may hurt him against the Ukranian. For my low-tier dog picks, I went with Anthony Hamilton and Ross Pearson. Not only is Hamilton a heavyweight(a high-intangible division with a high-potency for upsets), but I like his chances against Damian Grabowski. Although Hamilton has yet to show his full potential according to his camp at Jackson-Wink, he has been more active against higher-level competition as of late. A heavyweight who’s accrued more miles and is coming off 1-fight in the last 2-years, Grabowski’s sink-or-swim style may cost him against the larger and more athletic Anthony Hamilton.

For my other underdog pick, I went with the Englishmen Ross Pearson. Although I picked Jorge Masvidal, I put this under my fights to avoid section due to the way these veterans line up. Both are crafty & slick boxers, who seldom score well with the judges as each man has the propensity to be in close fights. However, Ross does put out the more volume of the two, as Masvidal has shown a trend of being knocked down in both victory and defeat in recent years. Considering the lack of dog plays on this card, I feel these low-tier picks serve as solid choices to tack onto your high-priced favorites.

Props worth looking at(

-Rose Namajunas by Decision: +135 (.05 Unit)
-Robbie Lawler by TKO/KO: +145 (1 Unit)

Playable favorites for your parlays:

-Wilson Reis
-Matt Brown

Fights to avoid:

-Masvidal vs Pearson
-Arzamendia vs Brown
-Krylov vs Herman

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