Saturday, May 10th, 2017 in Dallas, Texas for UFC 211: “Miocic vs Dos Santos 2” by Daniel Tom

The opinions expressed in this free content are for entertainment purposes only, as my goal here is to provide analysis for those who enjoy the technical or gaming aspects of our sport. If you choose to gamble, I recommend doing so responsibly and legally as it is at your own risk. Enjoy the fights!

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Stipe Miocic (16-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 34 Weight: 246 lbs Reach: 80″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Alistair Overeem (9-10-16)
  • Camp: Strong Style Fight Team (Ohio)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Heavyweight Champion
+   Golden Gloves Winner
+   NCAA Div. 1 Wrestler
+   Regional MMA Title
+   13 KO victories
+   8 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Excellent footwork
+   Aggressive pace & pressure
+   Good sense inside the pocket
^   Pulls & returns well
+   Dangerous right hand
^   Counters well off inside parry
–    Head often upright in approach
+   Solid takedown transitions
^   Favors head-outside single
+   Good positional rides
^   Active ground striker

Junior Dos Santos (18-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 33 Weight: 241 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Ben Rothwell (4-10-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC Heavyweight Champion
+   BJJ Black Belt
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   13 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   4 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Accurate left hook
+   Active jab
+   Devastating right hand
+   Excellent counter wrestling
^   80% takedown defense
+   Underrated grappling ability
^   Solid positional awareness
+/-Heavily reliant on head movement
^   Low hands(especially off of breaks)
–    Takes damage in victory or defeat
^   Dropped/hurt in 4 of last 6 fights


The main event for UFC 211 features a rematch for the ages as Stipe Miocic and Junior Dos Santos do battle for the heavyweight title.

After losing a close decision to his Brazilian counterpart back in December of 2014, Stipe Miocic has since gone undefeated, stopping everyone in his path. Now, underrated no more, Miocic will attempt to defend his belt and exact his revenge.

Seemingly writing a resurgence of his own, Junior Dos Santos would remind us last April that he was still a top threat in the division as he turned back the clock against a streaking Ben Rothwell. Looking to have finally settled into his new camp of American Top Team, the former champion will now get his chance to take back the heavyweight throne.

Starting off on the feet, we will likely be privy to some of the most compelling boxing exchanges that our sport can currently offer. Not only does each fighter carry your traditional heavyweight power, but they apply their craft with the technics of a lighter-weight fighter, particularly the champion.

A Golden Gloves winner before he even began his MMA career, we have seen Miocic still make improvements to his striking. Although his athletic ability and background in wrestling add an undeniable dimension to his game, it is the work that Miocic does in small spaces that are so impressive. Moving his feet like the heavyweight version of Frankie Edgar, Miocic will work steadily behind a series of jabs and feints as he always steps slightly off angle in search of his counter shots.

Moving just as well laterally as he does in-and-out, Miocic shows a good sense of things inside the pocket as he almost preternaturally pulls & returns punches. Whether he is using his patent inside-parries or slick step-offs to the side, it is his battering ram right-hand that Dos Santos will be attempting to avoid.

That said, Dos Santos is no slouch when it comes to fighting at close range as he will present some problems of his own.

A crisp boxer through-and-through, Dos Santos does his best work when able to dictate the dance at his preferred range and rhythm. Working behind the pressure of his left hand and feints, Dos Santos will set up devastating right-handed overhands and uppercuts as those strikes comprise the majority of the former champion’s highlight reel.

Despite not being your traditional counter striker, I feel that Dos Santos will have a clear edge in this department as I see it being a key to his victory. Though Dos Santos’ right hand is often known as the cleanup hitter, his left hand is arguably more accurate and educated, particularly his hooks.

Often utilizing his hooks offensively off of his jabs and feints, Dos Santos does a deceptively good job of placing check hooks to cover his tracks and or feint-bait his opposition into running right into them.

Considering that left hooks have been a common culprit for Miocic for the bulk of his UFC career, this will be the shot worth watching for as it is the same shot that turned the tide of their last contest.

Nevertheless, the same volume and variety that get can get Miocic caught coming in, is also the reason why he is so effective at getting the last word on the way out of exchanges. We saw this play out especially well for him in his last bout with Dos Santos as Miocic was able to make him pay for his habitual low-hands off breaks.

Since then, Miocic’s offensive(and defensive) footwork and technics have only improved. Should the champion implement his patented pressure early, we could see Dos Santos steadily become overloaded in defense that it affects his overall game.

Though wrestling is surely a part of Miocic’s gameplan, I do wonder as to how much weight he will put into it considering Dos Santos’ renown takedown defense. Not only does Dos Santos carry an impressive 80% success rate in defending, but he thwarts single-leg variations especially well due to his balance and athleticism.

With the head-outside single being Miocic’s go-to takedown, it will also be interesting to see if Dos Santos attempts any Guillotines which could potentially scare off the champion from that pathway. As stated in my Miocic versus Overeem breakdown, Guillotines are Miocic’s most susceptible submission on paper given how he takes people down(head-outside single) and how gets back up to his feet(turtles out to stand).

Although Dos Santos typically elects for space in wrestling scrambles, I would not be entirely surprised to see him try and take advantage of openings as I see the former champ carrying a major wildcard in this area of the fight. That said, trends speak louder than possibilities as I feel the trends of each fighter favors the champion.

Despite coming up just short against Dos Santos years ago, Miocic, in my opinion, has made more improvements and adjustments to his game in subsequent time. And with rematches typically coming down those adjustments, I see the champion’s pace and pressure paying big dividends as this fight wears on, especially considering how Dos Santos traditionally deals with pressure fighters.

And even though Dos Santos’ damage trend has been troubling these past few years, I believe that the time off in between battles has served him well in the big picture. In fact, I feel that this fight will likely go the distance given each man’s durability and the importance at hand.

In a matchup where you can make legitimate arguments for each fighter winning in multiple ways, I ultimately suggest keeping your money away from your pick. Instead, crack open a cold one and let these two cap off what should be a glorious night of fights.

Official Pick: Miocic – Decision

Official Outcome: Miocic – KO (round 1)

Joanna Jedrzejczyk (13-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 29 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 65.5″
  • Last Fight: Dec win / Karolina Kowalkiewicz (11-12-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Strawweight Champion
+   5x Muay Thai Champ
+   4 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   1 first round finish
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Excellent footwork
^   Shifts, half-steps, pivots
+   Technical & heavy-handed striker
^   Rarely throws self out of position
+   Accurate jab & leg kicks
+   Superb defensive & offensive clinch
^   Solid head positioning & forearm framing
+   Underrated grappling IQ
+   Good get-up technique/urgency
+/-Head often on center
^   Counter availabilities

Jessica Andrade (16-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’2″ Age: 25 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 62″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Angela Hill (2-4-17)
  • Camp: Parana Vale Tudo (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   BJJ Blue Belt
+   Muay Thai Blue Belt
+   5 KO victories
+   7 Submission wins
+   7 first round finishes
+   Relentless pace & pressure
+   Heavy hands
+   Improved striking economy
^   Combinations & body work
+   Solid pressure against fence
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Trips, throws, high-crotch hoists
+   Strikes well off the breaks
+   Excellent top game
^   Pressures, postures, strikes, passes
+/-Willingness to exchange
^   Counter availabilities


The co-main event in Dallas comes with high promise as Joanna Jedrzejczyk is slated to defend her strawweight title against Jessica Andrade.

Considered amongst the top pound-for-pound fighters of today, Joanna Jedzejczyk has been actively fighting off her contemporaries since the division’s inception into the UFC. Now, tasked with what may be her biggest threat to date, Jedrzejczyk will attempt to defend her undefeated streak and cement her status as one of the greats.

Looking to spoil the party is Jessica Andrade, a former bantamweight who has cleaned house since making the transition to strawweight. Finally getting the fight she has been working for, Andrade will now look to upset the sitting champion and earn her first title.

Starting off on the feet, we essentially have a battle between a relentless pressure-fighter and a violently technical striker.

Consistently coming out like a bull in the China shop, Andrade is your quintessential pressure-fighter as I doubt any of her contemporaries can match her in this department.

An equivalent to the female version of John Lineker, Andrade is most optimal when able to push her opposition toward the cage. Once able to get her opponent in between the fence and inner black Octagon lines, Andrade will unleash in left-to-right continuums as she variates well to the body.

Given that Jedrzejczyk was caught & stifled in similar scenarios that involved pressure toward the fence in her last two outings(Kowalkiewicz & Gadelha), the path standing should be clear for the fast-starting Brazilian.

That said, defense will be something to watch for as Andrade does not seem to prioritize it heavily. Despite traditionally taking damage well, Andrade has been more than hittable in victory and defeat due to her aggression, which is why I see Jedrzejczyk’s jab playing a huge factor in this fight.

Throwing it actively and accurately, Jedrzejczyk’s development of her jab dates back to the beginning of her career as this has been a crucial tool for her success. Like many Muay Thai strikers transitioning into MMA, Jedrzejczyk also feared the takedown as she would subsequently avoid throwing kicks comfortably until her very first title defense.

Now that she has shown competency and confidence in her anti-grappling abilities, Jedrzejczyk will now use her jab more for setups rather than safety as I see it having success against Andrade. Subsequently, Jedrzejczyk’s right-hand could also be more live than usual in this matchup.

Despite Joanna Jedrzejczyk demonstrating devastating leg kicks, I suspect she will throw them sparingly against Andrade. Although Andrade has shown to be more than competent in catching and countering kicks, Jedrzejczyk has shown she is acutely aware of this technique.

In fact, Jedrzejczyk was admittedly reluctant to utilize her kicking game until her overall MMA game was up to par(Hence why we have only seen her kick recently in the UFC).

Even though Letourneau was able to have brief success in catching the champions kick and taking her down early, Jedrzejczyk has demonstrated fundamental defense when experiencing a caught leg. That said, I feel that Jedrzejczyk will likely limit her leg kicks to later in the fight, especially considering that takedowns are Andrade’s best shot at winning rounds, and possibly the fight.

In the spirit of kicks, Jedrzejczyk does have an effective teep-kick that could aide her in distancing or disrupting Andrade’s efforts. Ultimately, I feel that Jedrzejczyk’s best kicking opportunities may come off of clinch separations as the champion has shown a taste for left high-kicks off the break(something I feel is worth watching for here).

In my opinion, I believe that the key-junction in this fight will take place inside the clinch. Whether these ladies are defensively thwarting or offensively damaging, most of their opponents tend to break within this realm of the fight.

Although I feel that the clinch will favor Andrade(given the takedown dynamic of this matchup), Jedrzejczyk is the more technical fighter within these small spaces.

Whether she is inside the clinch or free to operate on the feet, seldom will you see Jedrzejczyk out of position or off balance. The champion is particularly diligent when it comes to head position, as that not only helps her disrupt grappling efforts but also makes her difficult to hit.

Assisting in this defensive wall is her subtle, but effective forearm framing. When getting ready to break off and strike, Jedrzejczyk will replace her forehead position with her forearms as devasting short-elbows tend to follow. That said, she will not be dealing with a willing dance partner as Andrade is persistent and dangerous when it comes to striking off the break.

If Jedrzejczyk is not able to significantly stun Andrade with her elbows on the way in or catch her with kicks on her way out, then I feel that Andrade will be the one punctuating exchanges more often than not. More importantly, it will allow Andrade to operate in the necessary space she needs to secure takedowns.

Despite Jedrezjczyk demonstrating solid defensive technics against the fence, her style of takedown defense may not be as effective against Andrade. Competent with many variations of the body-lock, the Brazilian does her best work from a head-outside single as this technique allows her strength to shine through, almost hoisting her opposition at will.

Should the Brazilian challenger ground the champion, I believe that Andrade will not only have an on-paper advantage–but also be able to do more than most given her style. A smash and pass stylist, Andrade has a keen sense of how to use strikes and pressure to open up passes and positions.

Although I usually champion Jedrzejczyk for her go-to choice of a single leg get-up, it may end up playing against her here given that Guillotines from this position is the sharpest submission that Andrade owns.

If Jedrzejczyk is not on point with her head and under-hook position, she will put herself at risk for Guillotines and other positionally crippling swings from the front-headlock. We saw Joanne Calderwood attempt this same get-up against Andrade as her slight deviation of head position cost her an early submission loss.

In a bull versus matador battle that spells fireworks, I believe that Andrade has the tools to stylistically pose problems for Jedrzejczyk, both standing and on the floor. The question for me, is—can she apply those tools in five rounds of rough weather?

I could certainly see a scenario where Jedrzejczyk outclasses Andrade with her jab and footwork, cutting her up inside with elbows, and then catching her with a head kick off of the break.

However, like the great Georges St. Pierre, Jedrzejczyk has also shown to take more and more damage as these five round wars continue. And if Andrade’s last fight taught us anything, it is that she has the gas tank to at least go three(hard) rounds regardless of blood or adversity.

Though I am sure that Andrade will test the current status of Jedrzejczyk’s chin, the champion has shown her ability to battle back and recover. For that reason, I suspect a bloody, back-and-forth decision where I see Andrade edging out three of the earlier rounds via pressure and takedowns.

Official Pick: Andrade – Decision

Official Outcome: Jedrzejczyk – Decision

Demian Maia (24-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 39 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Carlos Condit (8-27-16)
  • Camp: Demian Maia BJJ (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   2x BJJ World Champion
+   2007 ADCC Winner
+   11 Submission wins
+   10 first round finishes
+   18-2 w/at least 1 takedown scored
+   Excellent wrestling ability
^   Solid hips, under-hooks & takedowns
+   Crafty leg dexterity
^   Uses to pass guard/complete takedowns
+   Superb top game/control
^   86 passes in 24 fights
+   Steady & smooth transitions
^   Always looks for back
+   Improved striking
^   Underrated left hand
+   Deceptively strong in clinch
–    Propensity to fade late
^   Gas tank bares watching

Jorge Masvidal (32-11)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 32 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Donald Cerrone (1-28-17)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   AFC Welterweight Title
+   Undefeated in the streets
+   13 KO victories
+   2 Submission wins
+   7 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Slick boxing technique
^   Accurate shot selection
+   Improved kicking game
^   Defensively & offensively
+   Solid balance & footwork
+   Active transition & clinch game
^   Strikes well off the breaks
+   Excellent wrestling ability
^   80% takedown defense
+   Underrated submission acumen
^   Works well from font-headlock
+/-Often turtles to stand
^   Good get-up technics & urgency


Right in the middle of UFC 211’s main card is an intriguing fight at welterweight as Demian Maia dances with Jorge Masvidal.

A quintessential martial artist, Demian Maia is arguably showing his best form to date at 39 years of age. Considered by many to be the number one contender for the welterweight title, Maia will now seek to cement his status for a shot at gold.

Looking to crash the party is Jorge Masvidal, a veteran of the fight game who has steadily been on the rise as he is now burning brighter than ever. Walking into the theme from Scarface, Masvidal will once again embrace the bad guy role as he tries to take things to the next level.

Given the strengths of each fighter, the dynamic of this matchup is a clear one. The longer this fight remains on the feet, Masvidal will have a substantial edge in striking exchanges. And the longer this fight stays on the floor, Maia should be the one dictating the terms and winning the battles.

When you consider that Maia is 18-2 in the UFC when able to score a minimum of just 1-takedown, it is hard not to see a path for the Brazilian to take against Masvidal. However, numbers do not always tell the story in our sport as there are multiple takeaways here.

Although 86-passes in 24-fights looks impressive, it could also suggest that Maia can dominate from bell-to-bell(within his realm) and still not produce a finish.

Now, that is no critique on Maia as his style secures him rounds and is exciting for grappling fans such as myself to watch. That said, Maia’s style of grueling but steady pressure has gotten him in trouble late into fights where he could not find the finish.

Although those trends may be troubling, you cannot deny the mastery in which Maia operates. Most impressive are the evolutions of his wrestling, as the Brazilian has found a style that melds his MMA and Jiu-jitsu game into one solid sword.

Not only does Maia wield an improved reactive shot that serves him well against aggressive strikers, but it is his ability to produce results against the cage may come to light in this fight.

Deceptively strong inside the clinch, Maia demonstrates an excellent use of under-hooks and a preternatural ability to keep his hips in close. What is most fun to watch is the slick leg dexterity in which Maia utilizes to finish his takedowns, as his background in Judo and Karate show themselves in these spaces of sweeps & trips.

However, Maia will be facing one of the most underrated wrestlers in the division when he locks up with Jorge Masvidal.

For those who have not been following Masvidal’s career for the past decade, the first thing the former street fighter started to sharpen in MMA was his wrestling chops. A longtime member of American Top Team, Masvidal has had all the appropriate guidance and training partners as his technics translates into the cage.

Not only has Masvidal maintained consistent standings in both the lightweight and welterweight divisions for takedown defense ratings, but he also applies the fine detail in small spaces that often go unnoticed.

From the savviness of Masvidal’s hips to his intuition of when and how to circle out, you can see why he receives unanimous praise from those in the know at American Top Team.

Even when taken down, Masvidal has a persistent pop to his get-up game as he cleverly uses the cage and or defensive circling to avoid getting his back taken, a habit that can be life-saving against the likes of Demian Maia.

The reason why many, including myself(initially), feel that Masvidal is too willing or susceptible to play with fire, is likely because of the comfortability Masvidal exudes in his actions. Like many martial artists who are smaller than their contemporaries and forced to fight from a young age, Masvidal displays the technical savvy you often see fighters develop from those environments.

Though this comfortability inside the fight is what ultimately serves Masvidal well, we have also seen it cost him close(and often controversial) scorecards throughout his UFC career. Despite Masvidal knowing what positions he is and isn’t safe in, his willingness to play has often made his fights closer than they need to be. That said, we have seen a different iteration of Masvidal since his ascension up the welterweight division.

Now, pursuing much more aggressively, Masvidal will mix in his improved kicking game off of Thai-style marches. Working well off of his patent left-hand, Masvidal controls the centerline with authority, variating between straight punches and hooks.

What makes Masvidal such a sound stalker, is the fact that you will rarely catch him out of position. Not only does this keep Masvidal’s striking and countering arsenals open, but it also lends to his takedown defense as he consistently keeps balance in his form––something that could come in handy against a level-changing Demian Maia.

Should Maia fail on his initial shot attempts or get desperate, Masvidal will need to be aware of the potential tricks of his counterpart. Fitting a fighter profile that I like to classify as a “presenter,” Maia will present a positional situation as bait to gain ground in the bigger picture.

Against Matt Brown, Demian Maia demonstrated his presenting abilities by selling a scene of vulnerability off of failed takedowns. And though the Brazilian ate a shot or two for his troubles, he inevitably sucked Brown into his brand of quicksand, tricking him into grappling space.

Ultimately, I do believe that Maia has the skills to take down Masvidal, but if he does not gain serious ground nor find a finish by the second round, then I suspect Masvidal’s defensive grappling will start to pay dividends as he makes Maia pay with strikes off of the break.

I am not sure as to when this fight will end, but I do believe that Masvidal will be turning up his heat as the rounds close, a place where Maia traditionally tires. Either way, I do not see this battle making it to the final horn.

Official Pick: Masvidal – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Maia – Decision

Frankie Edgar (21-5-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 35 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 68″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Jeremy Stephens (11-12-16)
  • Camp: Ricardo Almeida BJJ (New Jersey)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC Lightweight Champion
+   4x Div. 1 All-American Wrestler
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   6 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   6 first round finishes
+   Consistent pace & pressure
^   High-volume striker
+   Excellent footwork
^   Enters & exits off angles
+   Superb timing & transitions
+   Effective chain wrestling
+   Relentless pace & pressure
^   Busy ground striker
–    Traditionally takes damage
^   Recovers well

Yair Rodriguez (10-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 24 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / BJ Penn (1-15-17)
  • Camp: Valle Flow Striking (Chicago, IL)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   TUF LATAM 1 winner
+   Tae Kwon Do Black Belt
+   4 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   3 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Athletic & explosive striker
+   Relentless pace & pressure
+   Dynamic kicking attacks
^   Variates stance & style
+   Underrated wrestling
^   Solid base, balance & hip awareness
+   Active & attacking guard
^   Excellent leg dexterity
+/-Will throw self out of position
^   Counter availabilities


In a fantastic matchup of Top-10 featherweights, Frankie Edgar will square off with Yair Rodriguez.

Coming off of a victory over Jeremy Stephens last November, Frankie Edgar will look to remind the division of his relevance as the former champion seems to have extra motivation heading into this contest.

Standing in Edgar’s path is Yair Rodriguez, one of the organization’s brightest, and most pushed talents as the Mexican prospect only continues to make statements each time out.

Starting off on the feet is a battle between a fundamentally sound technician and a dynamic, storm riding striker. A poster boy for potential, it can be hard to see the forest through the trees in regards to deciphering the values of flashiness versus effectiveness when talking about Yair Rodriguez.

Unabashedly translating his Tae Kwon Do base into the highest level of martial arts, Rodriguez displays the devastating level of attacks that may very well blemish Edgar’s record of never being knocked out. That said, there is a lot to look out for in this matchup as Rodriguez will be facing an experienced fighter who can exploit the developing areas outside of his kicking game.

As a Tae Kwon Do black belt myself, I can truly appreciate Rodriguez’s technique applications, but I also immediately noticed his lack of hand presence and habitual one-sided ways. Despite the constant stance switches and dazzling displays, Rodriguez seldom throws strikes from his left side.

This single-sided approach makes Rodriguez’s stance switching crucial, as it opens up options and gives the illusion of a dual-sided repertoire.

Criticisms of Rodriguez’s presence at boxing range aside, his age, as well as other intangibles, suggests that he may make larger leaps than usual in regards to fight-to-fight improvements. In fact, we saw an upgrade to his left-hand in his recent fight with Alex Caceres.

Throwing it with more conviction, Rodriguez was able to gain respect down the center lane, which in turn allowed the rest of his game to open up. Against BJ Penn, we saw Rodriguez continue to balance out his game with hard Thai kicks from his left side.

I suspect these improvements to Rodriguez’s arsenal can be attributed to his work with Mike Valle at Valle Flow Striking. Nevertheless, it is the defense of Rodriguez that typically screams ‘opening.’

Like many traditional based martial artists who leap in-and-out, Rodriguez tends to keep his head upright with his hands low. Although he demonstrated much-improved head movement in his last fight, Rodriguez still tends to get caught coming in as left hands have been the common culprit when facing opposition from either stance.

Considering that Edgar often punctuates combinations with left hooks or overhands, we could see the young lion taken to task if he is not careful.

Consistently circling and forcing his opposition to follow, Edgar will work his way in behind punches once finding an angle of approach to his liking. Exiting exchanges at angles that are different in which he came, Edgar has proven to be increasingly difficult to hit.

Subsequently, the more effort Edgar’s opposition exerts in trying to counter, the more available they make themselves to be taken down. Owning one of the best transition games in the business, Edgar seamlessly mixes in takedowns with his approach.

Implementing these weapons of constant volume, variety, and angles, Edgar often breaks his opposition down the longer the fight goes on. However, Despite displaying disciplined head movement, Edgar has the propensity to take damage in his fights due to the nature of his in-and-out approach.

Even though Edgar has been able to comeback from devastating shots throughout his career, Rodriguez could ultimately put a damper on that should he land in what I like to call “sweeping range,” as this is the space where he can generate circular, high-powered attacks.

Edgar’s ring generalship and defensive savvy aside, he will be at risk whenever crossing through this range of space.

Regardless of the arguments you can make for each man standing, this fight becomes much clearer when breaking down the potential of ground fighting.

When looking at Rodriguez’s ground game on paper, it is on the floor where I see him potentially getting caught speeding. Although his leg dexterity does him a lot of favors as far as translating his dynamics, the developing fighter still shows signs of a possible lack of awareness in some positions.

Even though Rodriguez has recently shown less of a propensity to get into leg entanglements(needlessly), he may get more than he bargains for if he fails to bail during the appropriate openings and overstays his welcome.

Considering Rodriguez is working with a high-level talent like Luiz Claudio, I can only imagine that he his coming in prepared as he has shown measurable improvements from topside.

In his fight with Andre Fili, we saw Rodriguez smartly apply the placement of his shin to pin down the lower extremity of Fili’s inner-thigh, which in turn allowed him to keep his opponent grounded. Rodriguez would continue to show similar upgrades to his top game in this next fight, as he would use his positional improvements to outwork Alex Caceres in regards to overall output.

However, if Rodriguez gets greedy in searching for a finish or falls into a scramble, his free-flowing approach may come at a high cost against a grappler the caliber of Edgar.

Ultimately, if Rodriguez is unable to control terms or significantly compromise Edgar, then I feel that the former champ will be punctuating the striking exchanges and dictating the grappling stanzas.

Although Rodriguez is a competitor who appears to thrive inside of chaos, we have seen brighter prospects have to pay their taxes at some point in this sport, as I suspect this battle will look similar to Erick Silva’s fight with Jon Fitch.

Official Pick: Edgar – Decision

Official Outcome: Edgar – TKO (Doctors stoppage in 2nd round)

Henry Cejudo (10-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 30 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: 64″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Joe Benavidez (12-3-16)
  • Camp: Fight Ready MMA (Phoenix, AZ)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Olympic Wrestling Gold Medalist (USA)
+   Bronze Boxing Gloves Champion
+   3 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   4 first round finishes
+   Solid pace & pressure
+   Improved overall striking
^   Favors L. hook—R. cross
+   Hard kicks & knees
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Solid grips/hand fighting
+   Excellent wrestling ability
^   100% takedown defense
+/-Sometimes struggles making limit
^    Gas tank bares watching

Sergio Pettis (15-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 23 Weight: 125 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / John Moraga (1-15-17)
  • Camp: Roufusport (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   RFA Flyweight Title
+   2nd Degree TKD Black Belt
+   3 KO Victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   5 first round finishes
+   Solid footwork
^   Switches stance well
+   Accurate jab & cross
^   Pulls & returns well
+   Dangerous head kicks
^   Strikes well off of the break
+   Improved wrestling ability
^   Good wrist controls & hip awareness
+   Active & attacking guard
^   Excellent leg dexterity


Kicking off the main card in Dallas is a fantastic flyweight fight as Henry Cejudo squares off with Sergio Pettis.

An Olympic gold medalist who has also tasted the top of the MMA ladder, Henry Cejudo continues to improve his craft as he gets deeper into the sport. Coming off a close and controversial loss last December, Cejudo will be seeking to make a clear statement and cement his status as a top contender.

Looking to upset the Olympian’s trajectory is Sergio Pettis, a rising talent who has steadily been coming into his own in recent years. Returning to the scene of his last loss, Pettis will attempt put the past behind him and let us know just how high his ceiling may be.

Starting off on the feet, we essentially have a matchup between a pressure fighter and a slick technician. Although Pettis will have the edge when it comes to striking, Cejudo is no slouch in that department as he has shown to prefer to fight upright in MMA.

Consistently demonstrating a stick-and-move curriculum, the former freestyle wrestler displays a surprising fluidity as he rarely throws himself out of position. Favoring left hook-right cross setups, he often finishes his combinations with hard kicks to the body.

In Cejudo’s last fight, we saw drastic improvements to his kicking and overall pressure game as the Olympian moved his camp to CSA in California for that bout with Benavidez. However, Cejudo has not returned since then as he is now back with his old camp in Arizona.

Regardless, I still suspect Cejudo should come in top form as he seems to have addressed issues that have traditionally plagued him during past fight preps(diet, weight cutting, etc.).

With Sergio Pettis coming in with an on-paper edge in striking, it will be interesting to see how he approaches an aggressive Cejudo.

Coming from a traditional Tae Kwon Do base, Sergio Pettis has, in my opinion, done a better job than his brother in regards to translating this style to the cage.

Although Sergio is not as flashy as his brother, nor does he have the highlight reel to compare, there is an economical flow to the way in which he mixes his punches and kicks, and he also works at a much more consistent pace.

Not only does he do a good job at mixing in his kicks seamlessly, but his point fighting style of footwork has translated well to his boxing as Pettis will use his heightened sense of range to fuel his pulls and returns. Even though he has accurate jab-cross continuums he works well from, Pettis will need to respect the power coming back at him.

As we saw in Pettis’ last trip to Dallas, power can beat technique if one is not careful. Subsequently, Pettis has improved his footwork since then, sharply mixing up angles intelligently and circling out when appropriate. If anything, I suspect that Cejudo will be the one who is more culpable for counters.

Often keeping his head slightly upright in both attack and retreat, right hands over the top and off of the counter seem to be the common culprit for Henry Cejudo. With that in mind, I expect to see Pettis celebrating right hands and high kicks off counters or clinch breaks as he starts to find his timing.

Although Cejudo shows more and more confidence in his striking, it is inside the clinch where he is truly most comfortable as I suspect he will take it here anytime he can.

Utilizing fundamental hand-fighting, Cejudo will subtly stifle his opposition’s offense inside as he delivers a healthy dose of hard knees. Even though I see Cejudo having his best advantages from this space, Pettis is seldom seen in the clinch outside of terms that behoove him.

Aside from his aforementioned footwork, Pettis can be difficult to pin down in a clinch due to his awareness of when to leave and when to stay. Demonstrating good posture to go along with his consistent hand-fighting and under-hook awareness, I think that Pettis could surprise many in this matchup.

Working with Izzy Style Wrestling for his past few camps, we have seen steady improvements to Pettis’ wrestling, especially in the transitional phases of his grappling. Already demonstrating crafty leg dexterity and wrist controls, Pettis now shows more process and understanding to his actions as he was able to successfully navigate out of some tight spots in his last couple of outings.

Despite Cejudo not typically being one to lean heavily upon his grappling, it will be interesting to see if the Olympian returns to his wrestling base in this fight, especially if he starts to take heavy fire.

Regardless if it is part of Cejudo’s gameplan or not, wrestling will likely serve him well for the sake of scorecards as well as momentum, which is something crucial to a rhythm fighter like Pettis. That said, being on top of Sergio Pettis is no picnic either as he has a knack for sweeping opponents and reversing position.

Should the Olympian end up on top, I suspect we will see him surprisingly tested as Cejudo himself has admitted to not dedicating a lot of time to groundwork in camps(until recently). If Pettis can successfully negate grappling stanzas, then I feel that this fight is much closer than what the odds let on.

Ultimately, I do not disagree with Cejudo being favored to win this matchup on paper. However, I do disagree with the betting lines as I feel this fight is much closer than meets the eye. And though I initially came in leaning toward Cejudo, my eyes, after analysis, tells me that Pettis’ pull & return precision earns him a hard-fought decision.

Official Pick: Pettis – Decision

Official Outcome: Bout scratched due to injury (Cejudo)

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Poirier def. Alvarez
  • Skelly def. Knight
  • Jotko def. Branch
  • Vick def. Reyes
  • Casey def. Aguilar
  • Gordon def. Quinones
  • Coulter def. Sherman
  • Benitez def. Barzola
  • Antigulov def. Christensen

Recommended Plays:

Props worth looking at(

-Masvidal – ITD +269 (1 Unit)
-Edgar – by Decision +128 (0.5 Unit)
-Poirier/Alvarez DNGTD -105 (0.5 Unit)

Playable favorites for your parlays:

-Gabriel Benitez
-Frankie Edgar

Fights to avoid:

-Skelly vs Knight
-Gordon vs Quinones
-Sherman vs Coulter

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