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Rose Namajunas (3-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’5″ Age: 23 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 65″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Angela Hill (10-3-15)
  • Camp: Grudge Training Center (Colorado)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: B

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 20 Finalist
+   Black Belt Karate
+   Black Belt Tae Kwon Do
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   3 first round finishes
+   Accurate shot selection
^   Variates her attacks
+   Good counter punching
+   Dangerous submission game
^   Explosive hips
+/-Will fight from bottom
–    Often succeeds position
+   Improved wrestling


Paige Vanzant (6-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 21 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 65″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Alex Chambers (9-5-15)
  • Camp: Team Alpha Male (Sacramento, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: B

Supplemental info:
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   Wrestling base
+   2 Submission wins
+   1 first round finish
+   Aggressive pace & pressure
+   Excellent scrambling ability
^   Always in motion
^   Rarely succeeds position
+   Solid top pressure
+   Effective ground striker
–    Lacks head movement
^   Open for counters
+   Improved submission game


For the main event of the evening, we are treated to a fun Straw-weight scrap as Rose Namajunas steps in to take on Paige Vanzant. This may very well be the first of many meetings considering the respective ages & stages of each woman’s career. This will be something to consider when looking at this match up, as this is generally the window were competitors show the most fight-to-fight improvements. As we were reminded in the Rousey vs Holm fight, the overall sample size of women’s MMA is still in it’s infancy and should be tempered as so. With those said intangibles aside, let’s attempt to jump into the technical action based on what we have seen from these ladies.

Starting off on the feet, both girls posses different striking styles but more importantly different approaches. Rose has the more refined technical kickboxing game, as she’ll stalk her opposition while measuring with variating kicks. Aside from keeping her hands up, Paige shows a borderline disdain for oncoming offense as she’ll come straight forward and establish her presence. Her consistent aggression, volume, and pace has largely fueled this one way traffic onslaught. Though Paige has yet to be rocked much less dropped with this approach, her lack of head movement could cost her against a striker like Rose.

Though not showing “single shot” stopping power, there are some subtle things Namajunas does really well and could potentially have play here. As her opposition comes forward in attack, Rose will often take one step back putting her in an opposite fighting stance by default. From here, Rose’s initial back step will give opponents the impression of retreat, as she’ll use this bait to draw them into check hooks. Now Paige may very well eat these for an appetizer before smiling and taking here down, but none the less this will be something to watch for in this fight. I don’t mean to discount the take down defense of Rose with that statement, as she showed improved wrestling in the short glimpse we saw in her last outing.

Namajunas does however tend to get upright in her stance, and has subsequently struggled when it comes to takedown defense as I see that being the key factor in this fight. Though Rose has wicked arm-bars powered by her explosive hips, her willingness to pull guard or fight from her back may hurt her in this match. Though showing more submission variety than Paige, she tends to operate from a very wide guard which could be trouble against a positional threat like Vanzant. With relentless top pressure, Paige stays busy from knee slide passes to her effective ground striking. Showing to struggle with this style in her fight with Carla Esparza, Roses best chances of containing Paige will be capitalizing on the 21 yr olds mistakes through aggression.

Counter strike availabilities aside, Paige will also give positional gifts as she’ll often expose her back trying for hip tosses & throws(As seen in round 1 in her fights with Curran & Herrig). Here the savvy Namajunas can steal this fight from Paige or at the very least sway it’s momentum. Should Rose make Paige fight on technical terms, we could see her take Vanzant back to school with an in-cage lesson or two. But if Namajunas can’t dictate the distance or momentum, then Vanzant should find her way to the clinch and proceed with her agenda from there. I encourage Fantasy plays but caution parlays as this is a coin flip fight that likely won’t see judges. I really love “Thug” Roses style and although I don’t consider her performance against Esparza a condemnation of her skills, I have to make my picks in accordance so what I see. And unless there’s a first round finish, then I expect Paige Vanzant to run away with this one.

Official Pick: Vanzant -Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Namajunas – Submission – round 5.


Jim Miller (25-6-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 27 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 75.5″
  • Last Fight: SD win / Danny Castillo (7-25-15)
  • Camp: Miller Bros MMA (New Jersey)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: B-

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   3 KO victories
+   9 first round finishes
+   14 Submission wins
+   Aggressive pressure & pace
+   Dangerous short elbows
+   Accurate right hooks
+   Good inside leg kicks
^   Sets up his combos
+   Dangerous transition game
^   Hunts subs from all positions
–    Gives position for submission
–    Struggles w/positional grinders
–    1-3 in Southpaws in the UFC

The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale: Chiesa v Iaquinta

Michael Chiesa (12-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 27 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 75.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Mitch Clarke (4-4-15)
  • Camp: Sikjitsu (Spokane, WA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate
  • Overall Fight Grade: C+

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 15 LW Winner
+   Amateur MMA Titles
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   5 first round finishes
+   5 Submission wins
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Good TD’s against cage
+   Excellent mount/back mount
^   Solid striking & controls
+   Improved stand up
^   Long & effective punches
–    Shells up & leans forward
^   Body shot & uppercut openings
–    Often backs up to cage
–    Lacks head movement


In the evenings Co-Main Event is a promising Lightweight battle of submission specialists, as Jim Miller takes on Michael Chiesa. With Jim trying to retain his Top 15 spot and Michael trying his best to break into it, we’ll likely be treated to a war of who wants it more. This fight may also be a measurement of each man’s respective career apexes, as one man looks ahead while the other is possibly looking in his rear view mirror. As one of the divisions long-time best, Jim Miller is well experienced in turning away his share of young lions. Michael Chiesa however, will posses problems that’s traditionally troubled Jim as he is a tall & rangy Southpaw(Miller being 1-3 against Southpaws in the UFC).

Though striking not being his strong suit, Chiesa has shown a steady improvement as he’s built on his accuracy & combinations. Primarily using his lead side attacks to gauge distance, Michael’s best shots come from his left side as he’s displayed solid crosses & kicks. Heavily reliant on his reach and height, Michael shows a lack of head movement and will have to mind the counters of Miller. Chiesa also will revert to a shell defense as he tends to lurch forward and lower his head. This traditionally opens up body shots and uppercuts, two things Jim dispenses in healthy amounts. Should Chiesa have shored up his defensive tendencies, he could frustrate or take Miller out of his game from range. But with Michaels propensity to close distance regardless of how of he’s doing, I suspect this fight to be decided in close.

Though known for his submission game, it’s Chiesa’s underrated clinch game that’s often the key to his success and in my opinion, the key factor in this fight. Despite having the on-paper advantage in Jiu-Jitsu, Jim Miller has shown to struggle with grinding grappling styles, especially in the clinch with bigger fighters(as seen in his bouts with Healy, Henderson, Diaz, and Dariush). In said clinch space is also where Michael is best at utilizing is length & frame as he’ll wear on opposition while attempting takedowns as they’re available. This will be Michael’s most tangible path to sway momentum his way in this fight. Favoring hip tosses with over-hooks up high, to looking for double-legs from down low, Chiesa is most dangerous when on top. He’s especially effective from mount, as his amazing base/controls allow him to ground strike and open up finishes.

If Chiesa means to direct this match toward his strengths, he’ll have to navigate treacherous waters to do so. Though Michael has the tools to beat Miller on the mat, the savvy grappler seems to be a hair behind when it comes to scrambles & transitions(as is sometimes common with long & lanky frames). Luckily for Miller, the transition game is where he makes his money as his offensively-minded stylings fuel his solid submission variety. Favoring the Guillotine, Jim may have ample opportunity given Chiesa’s tendency to lead with his head in ground exchanges. Despite Michaels shown defense & composure, I could see Jim jumping on a choke in transition if Chiesa’s not careful(or especially if he’s hurt).

Although it’s won him fights, Jim’s hunger for submissions at the cost of position has plagued him in his defeats. Like a kid taunted by a carny over a carnival game, Jim Miller can’t help but try his hand should you give him a body part to hold. That said, I see his style potentially paying off should the New Jersey native still show the same teeth. I’d caution parlay picks here as this should be a closely contested affair. However, Fantasy plays are reccomended as I don’t see this one going to distance in either direction. Though youth & career trends generally hold high value for me, I can’t deny what I’m seeing stylistically. Should Miller channel his “inner-savage“, I suspect we’ll see a submission finish.


Official Pick: Miller – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Chiesa – Submission – round 2.


Sage Northcutt (6-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 19 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 74.5″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Frank Trevino (10-8-15)
  • Camp: Gracie Barra (Katy, TX)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: B-

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt Tae Kwon Do
+   Black Belt Kajukenbo
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   5 first round finishes
+   100% finish rate
+   4 TKO victories
+   Good distance management
^   Fights all-the-way in or out
+   Strong in clinch
^   Looks of trips/TD’s
+   Active transition game
^   Always looks for back
+   Solide lead side-kick


Cody Pfister (12-4-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 25 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Yosdenis Cedeno (7-11-15)
  • Camp: Nick’s Fight Club (Texas)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate
  • Overall Fight Grade: D+

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   TUF 15 contestant
+   Wrestling Base
+   7 first round finishes
+   3 Submission wins
+   4 KO victories
+   Strong pressure against cage
^   Looks for double & single legs
+/-Heavy on lead foot
^   Leg kick vulnerability
–    Head upright in exchanges
+   Always looks for back
–    Struggles off his back


Since his debut at UFC 192, the Super-Star potential in Sage Northcutt has seemingly took storm of MMA conversations. However, with great hype comes great expectation as the 19yr old begins his UFC accention against Cody Pfister. A fellow Texas native, Pfister found his way from the wrestling mats to the regional MMA scene where he picked up multple titles. Relying heavily on his wrestling base, Cody primarily uses his punches to set up his shots. Often shooting from distance, Pfister will make way toward the fence where he’s most effective. Using a strong(and sometimes stalling) cage pressure, Cody will switch off from Double to Single-leg takedown attempts.

Though Pfisters straight forward approach is pretty rinse-wash-and-repeat, It will actually be his best strategy to contain(and for his sake control) the scrappy & explosive Karate striker. Heavily experienced in traditional martial arts competition, Sage has shown to integrate his skills into MMA with little issue. The key to Northcutt’s standing game(as is the key to most Karate based styles) is distance management as he’ll play from outside to inside ranges. His key tool to dictating this action is his lead leg kickings attacks. Primarily using his side-kick(thrown to the lead thigh & ribs), Sage also possesses solid body & leg kicks off the same foot. Leg kicks in particular will serve in him well in this fight given Pfister’s heavy lead-leg(and often flatfooted) stalking approach.

Giving the a clear advantage standing to Sage, Cody’s best chances to dictate this fight will certainly be in close. He will however have to be careful on his attempts as Northcutt shows to be strong in the clinch with solid under-hook awareness & defensive fundamentals. Sage also scores the majority of his takedowns off of his opponents failed attempts, which means Pfister can’t afford any weak penetrations. Should Northcutt get on top, the grappling edge pendulum should swing heavily in his favor. Though Sage’s ground striking pace is accurate & furious, the young gun tends to get a little overaggressive on submission attempts as he’ll often loose position. Against a solid scrambler like Pfister this could present problems, but looking at both mens skills-sets and operating speeds, I don’t suspect so.

It’s very hard to not come off as discounting the skills of Pfister or over-praising Sage here, but as easy as it is to criticize the matchmaking, the truth is Sage is still just 19 yrs old in the UFC deepest division. This is more than an appropriate fight to gain a better value on where he’s at, and how he fairs against a style he’ll likely see in his future. Unfortunately for Pfister, I don’t see a clear or tangible path to victory for him in this fight. Sage’s price will be that of a high favorite but more than worth it for your Fantasy MMA team.

Official Pick: Northcutt – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Northcutt – Submission – round 2.

UFC 185: Theodorou v Narvaez

Elias Theodorou (11-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 27 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Roger Narvaez (3-14-15)
  • Camp: Mecha MMA (Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good
  • Overall Fight Grade: C+

Supplemental info:
+   TUF Nations MW Winner
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   6 KO victories
+   2 first round finishes
+   This camp @ Serra-Longo
+   Very Athletic & Strong
+   Shows in-fight IQ
+   Consistent Movement & Pace
+   Powerful kicking game
^   Variates attack well
+   Accurate off-beat jab
^   Follow behind kicks
–    Hands low exiting range
+   Good TD’s against the cage
+   Intelligent ground striking
+   Solid positional/transition game
+   Excellent spacial awareness
^   Hand positioning to forearm framing


Thiago Santos (11-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 31 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Steve Bosse (6-27-15)
  • Camp: TATA Fight Team (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Moderate
  • Overall Fight Grade: C

Supplemental info:
+   TUF Brazil Alum
+   Muay Thai Titles
+   Jiu-Jitsu Accolades
+   6 first round finishes
+   7 KO victories
+   KO power
+   Powerful left Thai kicks
^   Thrown from Southpaw
+   This camp @ American Top Team
+   Consistent footwork & movement
^   Manages distance well
+   Hard right body kicks
+   Fast hand speed
^   Dangerous hooks
–    Head upright in exchanges
^   Counter availabilities
+/-Limited ground time in UFC fights
?   Questionable overall ground game


Kicking off the main card is another promising striking affair as Middleweights Elias Theodorou and Thiago Santos do battle. A Brazilian Army Paratrooper with a Muay Thai base, Santos has translated his skills into MMA nicely as he’s proven to be an always game competitor. Despite having more UFC fights than his opponent Theodorou, we’ve actually seen a lot less of Thiago as 4 of his last 5 fights have not made it out of the first round, not to mention a combined ground time of under 45 seconds in said bouts. Theodorou on the other hand, has given us a lot of looks at his all-around game in just 3 fights. The former Model has shown to translate his athleticism, passion, and intelligence into MMA as he’s consistently traveled & trained around the world in pursuit of improvement since winning TUF Nations.

Given both men’s stylings, I suspect this fight should be primarily contested standing. Starting off on the feet, Thiago will come out with a slightly more active footwork approach than most Muay-Thai practitioners(probably due to his background in Capoeira). Using his movement well to set up kicks, it’s his left kick to the body & head which is his best weapon. Though this is Santo’s most dangerous kick, it’s also his most predictable as he’ll often switch to Southpaw solely to throw it. These linear setups & attacks is where I see Theodorou capitalizing in this fight.Elias’s natural athleticism translates to consistent, but more importantly intelligent movement, as I see that being the key factor in the standing exchanges.

Managing and often dictating the distance, Theodorou shows excellent outside-foot-awareness and lateral movement as he’ll create angles to attack or exit. Elias also posses an accurate jab which he’ll throw in off-beat rythyms(against the grain of the perceived timing) as you’ll usually see him follow up his kicks with this technique. It’s when Theodorou exits range without his “safety-jab” that he’s most vulnerable as he tends to leave with his hands low. If Santos can pick up on this and time a counter, it will certainly be his best chances to sway the fight in his favor. Based on movement, I give the advantage standing to Theodorou and may have to side with him on the floor as well with limited ground footage on Santos.

Despite the regional Jiu Jitsu accomplishments of Thiago, I have to base my analysis on what I see/what is shown. And in this case I see Theodorou’s pressure style being able to navigate Santos to a cage-clinch position somewhere in this fight. From there he’s shown excellent take-downs from the fence as his strength supplements his shown natural understanding of the ground game & leverage. I also feel Elias will continue his trend of fight-to-fight improvements, as he’s spent this camp with the Serra-Longo fight team enjoying the likes of Chris Weidman for training partners. I don’t wanna discount Santos skills as he possesses all the tools as a fighter to get it done, but this is a bad styles match up for him as I’ll be siding with the promising Canadian prospect to come out topside.

Official Pick: Theodorou – Decision

Official Outcome: Santos – Decision.

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Tim Means def. John Howard
  • Omari Akhmedov def. Sergio Moraes
  • Kevin Casey def. Antonio Carlos Junior
  • Aljamain Sterling def. Johnny Eduardo
  • Santiago Ponzinibbio def. Andreas Stahl
  • Danny Roberts def. Nathan Coy
  • Zubaira Tukhugov def. Phillipe Nover
  • Kailin Curran def. Emily Kagan

Recommended Plays

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Sage Northcutt
-Tim Means
-Page Vanzant

Low Tier Picks:

-Jim Miller
-Thiago Santos
-Rose Namajunas

Pieces for your parlay:

-Tim Means
-Elias Theodorou
-Santiago Ponzinibbio

Props worth looking at:

-Tim Means – Inside the distance
-Jim Miller – by Submission
-Sage Northcutt – Inside the distance

Fights to avoid:

-Kevin Casey vs Antonio Carlos Junior
-Michael Chiesa vs Jim Miller
-Paige Vanzant vs Rose Namajunas

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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