Sunday, June 25th, 2017 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for UFC Fight Night 112: “Chiesa vs Lee” 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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Michael Chiesa (14-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 29 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: Sub win / Beneil Dariush (4-16-16)
  • Camp: Sikjitsu (Spokane, WA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Amateur MMA Accolades
+   Highschool Wrestling Exp.
+   10 Submission wins
+   5 first round finishes
+   Relentless pace & pressure
^   Well-conditioned athlete
+   Improved striking ability
^   Works best coming forward
+   Deceptively strong in the clinch
^   Solid under-hook awareness
+   Good takedown ability
^   Hustles hard against fence
+   Excellent inside the clinch
+   Dangerous back taker
^   Slick controls & crafty chokes

Kevin Lee (15-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 24 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: Sub win / Francisco Trinaldo (3-11-17)
  • Camp: Xtreme Couture (Las Vegas)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Collegiate Wrestler (Division 2)
+   1 KO victory
+   7 Submission wins
+   4 first round finishes
+   Improved footwork & movement
+   Works well coming forward
^   Hard kicks & combos
+   Physically strong in clinch
^   Effective body-lock chains/takedowns
+   Superb base & balance
+   Intelligent transitional grappler
^   Positionally aware / fights hands
+   Excellent from back mount
^   Heavy-hips & crushing chokes
+   3-0 against UFC southpaws

Summary:

The main event in Oklahoma City features a grudge match between two lightweight prospects as Michael Chiesa meets Kevin Lee.

Winner of The Ultimate Fighter’s fifteenth season, Michael Chiesa has steadily fought his way to contention in what is traditionally the promotion’s deepest division. Coming off a year plus layoff, Chiesa will look to remind his contemporaries of his status by mixing business with pleasure.

However, he will have no easy comeback ahead as Chiesa draws Kevin Lee, a young talent who has been quietly killing off contenders on undercards in what has become an undeniable rise. Now, with his most dangerous opposition to date ahead of him, Lee will seek to make a statement in his first showcase spot.

Starting off on the feet, we have two strikers who are still developing their games––but showing improvements each time out.

Chiesa, who embodies a longer frame, also fights from the southpaw stance. And though I don’t feel the stance will be a factor—as Lee is 3-0 against UFC southpaws—Chiesa should have the on-paper advantage at range.

Working being his jab much better in recent years, Chiesa does a good job of measuring and checking distance, as well as mixing in the occasional front kick which could serve him well in this fight.

That said, both men counter well off of kicks and do their best work coming forward, as I imagine that will ultimately decide the flow of striking stanzas. And with both men likely bucking to play the role of the bull, I believe that Lee may be the better Matador.

Despite not being known for his counter game, Lee has quietly made most of his improvements in his footwork, demonstrating an understanding of defensive and offensive angles as his time spent at Mayweather’s gym seems to bear some influence.

Typically accompanying the advancements of footwork is head movement, as Lee has also displayed more discipline in rolling his head offline of his punches. Considering that Lee has gotten caught on occasion during his current ascension, this could be a wise development to his game.

Although I feel that Lee should have an edge at boxing range against Chiesa, that lean only strengthens when I being to think about Lee’s level-changing threat, that in my opinion, is much more potent and powerful than Chiesa’s as I see him possibly getting beaten to the punch.

Nevertheless, the weight of this fight’s outcome will likely hinder within the wrestling that takes place in clinch space, and the scrambles that come from it as each fighter models their success similarly.

Both men favor the double-leg defensively to thwart oncoming opponents, but also utilize it offensively when the opposition is near the fence. The difference, I feel, is that Lee’s on-paper accolades seem to translate seamlessly into his growing MMA game as he may be the quicker, stronger, and more polished wrestler.

Lee demonstrates an impressive base and balance—even on one leg—as opponents do their best to get him down. Offensively, Lee works particularly well from the body-lock as he is right up there with the best in the division from that position.

Despite Chiesa also getting most of his takedowns from the body-lock—as he has a good sense for under-hooks and leverage—Lee may still prove to be a bad fit stylistically should the TUF winner not establish his terms first.

However, Lee will need to mind overcommitting to his double-legs and body-locks against the fence, as Chiesa has shown a knack for hitting hip tosses on opponents who sellout in that position. At the very least, Chiesa could create a scramble, which often is all he needs to turn the tide of a contest.

A gritty fighter who does his best in a dogfight, Chiesa hustles like no other as I give him an edge against almost anyone in a scramble. Always looking for the back, Chiesa has begun to flirt with a “game over status” to his back mount as his slick controls lead to show-closing chokes.

Even though Lee demonstrates the hand-fighting and positional awareness to stay safe and defend, he will need to mind his propensity to tripod up to stand, as this traditionally gives way to back takes. But on that same note, Chiesa will also have the same liabilities as he too comes from a wrestling base.

And when you consider that Lee is no slouch in the scrambling department(as his time spent off of his back on the backs of others supports this), Chiesa’s back may be just as culpable in this matchup given his get-up tendencies.

Should Lee establish a back mount, we have seen how unforgivingly tight his technique is. Working with Robert Follis at Xtreme Couture, Lee has sharpened his tools and technics as his wrestling base and hips accentuate his pressure.

Parlaying these skills in recent outings—we have seen that Lee’s leverage understanding is enough to submit his foes—who do their best to protect their necks with no avail.

Given Chiesa’s year-plus layoff due to injury, I can understand the line currently listing him as a slight underdog. That said, he is a live dog who will have his spots in this fight the longer it goes on. Though Lee has not shown to gas out in fights before, the athletic-constitution of each fighter tells me that Chiesa is built to get stronger as the contest goes on.

Regardless of that possibility, I am not sure I see this one making it past three rounds as each man is playing for keeps from both a stylistic and emotional standpoint. Ultimately, I believe Lee will be the stronger wrestler in the clinch, as that will likely allow him to establish a back mount and eventually find the finish.

Official Pick: Lee – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Lee – Submission (round 1)


Tim Boetsch (20-11)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 36 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Sub loss / Ronaldo Souza (2-11-17)
  • Camp: Team Irish (Maine)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   NCAA Div. 1 Wrestler (LHU)
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   4x Wrestling State Champ
+   12 KO victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   8 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Dangerous right hand
^   Often doubles-up
+   Solid front kicks
+   Strong inside of the clinch
^   Trips, tosses, dirty boxes
–    Struggles from bottom
+   Transitions well on top
^   Devastating ground striker

Johny Hendricks (18-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 33 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Hector Lombard (2-19-17)
  • Camp:Johny Hendricks MMA (Texas)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC Welterweight Champion
+   4x Div. 1 All-American Wrestler
+   Div. 1 National Champ
+   8 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   5 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Dangerous left hand
^   Often doubles-up
+   Improved kicks & knees off combos
^   Sometimes throws self out of position
+   Strong clinch & body-lock
^   Favors takedowns along the fence
+   Solid top game / control
^   Underrated submission acumen

Summary:

The co-main event in Oklahoma City features a middleweight matchup between Tim Boetsch and Johny Hendricks.

A come-from-behind fighter and quintessential underdog, Tim Boetsch made many memorable moments inside of the Octagon. Now, tasked with a former world champion in front of him, Boetsch will seek to score his biggest scalp to date when he meets Johny Hendricks.

Born in Ada and bred an Oklahoma State Cowboy, it is safe to say that Johny Hendricks will likely be the crowd favorite going into Sunday’s scrap. Coming off of a successful debut at 185-pounds earlier this year, Hendricks will be testing the deeper waters of his newfound division when he locks up with a former light-heavyweight.

Starting off on the feet, we have two different striking stylists who are similar in spirt.

An accoladed wrestler who would storm onto the scene with a quick stoppage of Amir Saddolah at UFC 101, Johny Hendricks has since come a long way.

Gaining more confidence and traction in his striking technique as he accrued experience, Hendricks’ game would blossom after decimating Jon Fitch in the opening frame with a vicious left-hand. Despite that weapon serving him well for years to come, we have mysteriously not seen it’s vaunted power in quite some time.

Nonetheless, Hendricks has since added to his game since working with striking coach Steven Wright.

As we have seen in the subsequent years, Hendricks will now move more freely as he flows with his hooks and uppercuts, punctuating his combinations with leg kicks or knees when appropriate.

Since moving to middleweight, we have seen a rebirth in these attributes—which suffered toward the end of his welterweight run—as Hendricks displayed a consistent striking volume in his last outing.

Nevertheless, Hendricks will need to respect what is coming back at him as he will be playing with fire anytime he exchanges with his heavy-hitting opponent.

Don’t let Boetsch’s physique fool you as he can move deceptively well. Electing to stay light on his feet when playing at a distance, Boetsch has no problem planting himself in the pocket to deliver destructive shots.

The former light-heavyweight is also a fan of doubling-up on his power hand, as Boetsch will briefly shift to southpaw when coming forward or off of the counter, which could serve him well in this contest. In fact, his right-hands off the counter or clinch breaks may pay dividends given Hendricks’ propensity to trade.

For example, whether Hendricks is playing inside the pocket or not, he tends to start things off with his lead left hand as he will often double-up on it. Despite being effective with this in the past, the Texan typically retracts his strikes low as this has traditionally opened him up to right hands and head kicks(as seen in his fights with Condit, Thompson & Brown).

Regardless of any potential openings Boetsch may find, I still give a slight edge standing to Hendricks, who I feel will have a speed and volume advantage. More importantly, the Texan will have the wrestling and transition game that may help compensate for the size differential as I see the clinch battle being the deciding factor in this fight.

Favoring to work himself into clinch spaces, Boetsch is an effective dirty boxer as he will unleash uppercuts with impunity. And though he is more than capable of landing on Hendricks in these spots, I feel that the former OSU Cowboy’s threats and chains from the body-lock may put a wrench in Boetsch’s plans.

Strong and suffocating from the body-lock position, we have seen Hendricks ride, attrit, and punish his opposition through all phases of the grappling game. The question, however, is will he be able to get Boetsch down?

I believe Hendricks will, as I also think he can keep him grounded if he does. But if he does not, then he will have to mind hanging out in this space for too long.

Not only does Boetsch have a good sense for hitting trips and tosses on overcommitted opponents, but he also has proven that he has a comeback kind of punching power that carries late into fights.

Although I see Hendricks’ speed, transitions, and combinations paying off and becoming more apparent as the fight wears on, that does not mean that Boetsch is any less live as I caution anyone playing Hendricks in this spot. Despite siding with Hendricks to take a hard-fought decision after a few close scares, he is still not yet proven against a sizeable middleweight as he will be receiving one here.

Official Pick: Hendricks – Decision

Official Outcome: Boetsch – TKO (round 2)


Felice Herrig (12-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 32 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 66″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Alexa Grasso (2-4-17)
  • Camp: Team Curran (Illinois)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Multiple Kickboxing Accolades
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   1 KO victory
+   4 Submission wins
+   3 first round finishes
+   Improved boxing
+   Solid kicking variety
+   Physically strong in clinch
^   Good trips & knees
+   Underrate takedown ability
+   Transitions well from half-guard
+   Always looks for back
+   Deceptive guard
^   Excellent leg dexterity

Justine Kish (6-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’5″ Age: 29 Weight: 115 lbs Reach: 64″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Ashley Yoder (12-9-16)
  • Camp: Black House MMA (North Carolina)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Multiple Muay Thai Titles
+   North American Golden Gloves  Champ ’08
+   Black Belt Karate
+   Green belt Krav Maga
+   2 Submission wins
+   Relentless pace & pressure
^   High-volume / combination striker
+   Hard punches & leg kicks
+   Dangerous elbows & knees
^   Active clinch game
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   Works well from front headlock
+   Hustles positionally / scrambles well
^   Strong bridge & base

Summary:

In a showdown of strawweights who are knocking on the door of the division’s top-10, Felice Herrig will scrap it out with Justine Kish.

A pioneer for her efforts in marketing women’s mixed martial arts, it has only been until recently that we have since seen Felice Herrig at her arguable best. Now, with some momentum behind her, she will look to take on her second straight undefeated fighter.

An orphan who grew up fighting, Justine Kish has a plethora of accolades to represent her dedication to martial arts. Despite an injury denying her chances in the 20th season of The Ultimate Fighter, Kish has gone on to win twice in the organization, seeking to make a statement with a third win here.

Starting off on the feet, we have a potential Muay Thai maelstrom stylistically.

Herrig, who originally came from a Muay Thai and Kickboxing base, has recently made upgrades to her hands since taking a needed break back in 2015. Displaying a much more punch-friendly stance in her last two outings, Herring will now throw her punches more smoothly, variating levels in combination.

Showing an improved acumen to counter in her last fight, Herrig may have her chances to build upon that skill here, as she faces an aggressive on-comer in Kish.

Despite her titles in boxing and Muay Thai, Kish’s wild style often resembles marauding demon in nature, as the relentless looks and pressure she offers often breaks down her opposition. Whether she is using Thai-style marches or Dutch-style punch set ups, Kish will punish her opponent’s legs––mixing in spinning elbows to spice things up.

Given the success Grasso had at kicking Herrig’s legs, I would not be surprised to see Kish aim for the same. However, she will have to worry about her kicks being caught and countered, as Herrig has a knack for parlaying those opportunities into takedowns.

Herrig will also have potent kicking threats of her own that Kish will need to mind. Typically throwing Thai kicks to the legs and body, Herrig will also mix in a powerful teep kick as it is arguably her most effective weapon at range.

Considering that Kish’s straight forward blitzes have traditionally made her vulnerable to teeps, I suspect Herrig may be going to those kicks to keep her opponent at bay.

Regardless of how things go standing, I suspect the battles inside the clinch will tell us where this contest is going.

Both fighters prioritize offense over defense—which makes for a crapshoot striking—but in regards to grappling, I give Herrig a slight edge in this space given her physicality and recent wrestling improvements.

Should she show the ability to change gears when she needs to and ground Kish, we will likely see some wild scrambles. Although her jiu-jitsu technics are not anything to necessarily write home about, Kish is an underrated wrestler and transitional grappler.

Displaying an incredibly strong base and core, Kish possesses a superb bridging ability she uses to escape mount variations and side control positions. That said, it will be interesting to see how that approach stacks up against Herrig—who has an excellent half-guard game—that on paper could present some control problems to Kish.

In a fight that’s a near pick-em for both fans and oddsmakers alike, I suggest keeping your money away in regards to gaming or fantasy plays.

I am not sure how confident I am in Herrig to withstand the growing pressure of Kish, but I also feel that Herrig may have the style to catch the undefeated fighter speeding. Although I could see Kish’s pressure and volume earning her a tight scorecard, I feel that Herrig’s grappling threats are very potent—as I see her getting takedowns when she needs to—and possibly scoring a submission after forcing a few bad decisions.

Official Pick: Herrig – Decision

Official Outcome: Herrig – Decision


Joachim Christensen (14-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 38 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: Sub loss / G. Antigulov (5-13-17)
  • Camp: Arte Suave (Denmark)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   5 KO victories
+   5 Submission wins
+   7 first round finishes
+   Accurate jab
+   Solid clinch striker
^   Knees, uppercuts & elbows
–    Wrestling not a strong point
+   Transitions well on floor
^   Competent submission acumen

Dominick Reyes (6-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: N/A Weight: 205 lbs Reach: N/A”
  • Last Fight: KO win / Jordan Powell (6-2-17)
  • Camp: Cage Combat Academy (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Amateur MMA Experience
+   4 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   5 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Solid striking flow
^   Accurate left hand
+   Shows wrestling base & fundamentals
^   Transitions & rides well
+/-Short notice / quick turnaround

Summary:

In what looks to be filler on the main card, should produce action as Joachim Christensen welcomes Dominick Reyes to the UFC.

Hailing from Denmark and not touching down on the Octagon until age 37, Christensen has since gone 1-2 in the UFC, winning one by TKO and losing the other two by submission. Looking to redeem himself, Christensen will make a quick turnaround from his loss to Gazhimurad Antigulov last month.

Also making a quick return to action is Dominick Reyes, who is coming off of a highlight reel knockout earlier this month that went viral. That aside, there is a lot of potential upside to this prospect who is getting fast-tracked to the big show.

Starting off on the feet, we have an athletic, southpaw striker versus a Dutch-style kickboxer.

Christensen, who possesses a long, accurate jab, will steadily work behind it as he looks to set up his kicks and crosses. Often encountering opposition that tries to duck under him—as he is usually the taller man—Christensen demonstrates the wherewithal to time knees and uppercuts when appropriate.

However, the Danish fighter will not be the taller nor longer man in his matchup against Reyes, who carries an impressive frame into the division.

A former collegiate athlete(football) who apparently comes from a wrestling base, Reyes brings in a host of well-rounded, physical attributes to compliment his skills. Despite his background and or viral highlight of his head kick knockout, Reyes looks to be a natural striker.

Displaying a preternatural sense of range, Reyes will measure accurate left-hands going forward and backward. And though most of his fights have ended in the first round, Reyes seems more than happy in not rushing things, punishing his opposition at range, and waiting for the right time to swarm.

In my opinion, Christensen’s best chances in this fight may reside on the floor. With any recent footage of Reyes’ ground game being few-and-far-between, Christensen could look to test the skills and focus of the newcomer on the mat.

However, in looking at tape from Reyes’ earlier fights, the young lion’s wrestling base shines through as his transitions and rides translate well to MMA. Demonstrating positional awareness, Reyes seems to prefer striking from safe spots as opposed to selling out on submission attempts.

Splitting his time training with Heavyweight wrestler Curtis Blaydes and the crew at the former Elevation Fight Team in Denver, I suspect that Reyes has built upon these skills as they will likely serve him well against the crafty veteran.

Though a 3-to-1 favorite can be a bit steep for a short notice debutant, the quick turnaround should not be a huge issue for either man as I feel the oddsmakers got it right. Christensen is a competent threat in multiple areas, but I expect the speed and athletic differential to be too much, as Reyes may very well be a breath of fresh air to the division.

Official Pick: Reyes – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Reyes – KO (round 1)


Tim Means (26-8-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 33 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: Submission loss / Alex Oliveira (3-11-17)
  • Camp: Fit NHB (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   18 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Superb technical striker
^   Good footwork, angles, diversity
+   Accurate left hand
+   Deadly elbow acumen
+   Underrated grappler
+   Improved wrestling
^   Active get-up urgency
+   Good chin / never stopped

Alex Garcia (14-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 29 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 72″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Mike Pyle (12-30-16)
  • Camp: Trisatr Gym (Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Title
+   6 KO victories
+   5 Submission wins
+   10 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Dangerous right hand
+   Improved jab
+   Physically strong in clinch
^   Strong base & balance
+   Excellent takedown ability
^   Favors attempts against fence
+   Solid top game
–    Gas tank bares watching

Summary:

In a potential welterweight war, Tim Means squares off with Alex Garcia.

An underrated talent whose faced multiple hurdles inside-and-out of the Octagon, Tim Means will look to get back on the radar of both UFC matchmakers and the Top-10 of his division.

Standing in his way is Alex Garcia—a longtime prospect from the Tristar Gym—who is looking to finally fulfill expectations as he attempts to build off of his momentum from late last year.

Starting off standing, we have a matchup between a stance-switching technician and heavy-handed tactician.

Employing the more basic boxing arsenal, Alex Garcia will steadily feel his way forward on the feet as he works behind an improved jab. Initially relying on his powerful hooks and uppercuts upon entering the scene, Garcia has since adopted the jab technics of his Tristar stablemates.

Whether he is flicking his jab from odd angles or quark screwing it from a high-guard, Garcia will now do a much better job of setting up his power shots. But even though his offense has improved, it is the defense of Garcia that will be put to the test in this battle.

Equally dynamic as he is mean, Tim Means should be the more technical striker by a longshot. Proficient from both stances, Means primarily operates out of southpaw as I suspect he will do so here.

Not only does Means have a deeper arsenal to pull from, but the angles in which he creates makes it difficult for opponents to get a beat on his oncoming waves of pressure.

Despite Garcia’s ability to come back with power, Means demonstrates superb head-movement as he is within the top-5 at welterweight in regards to striking-defense.

Garcia’s best path to victory is a clear one as he will need to exercise his wrestling advantages. Although the Dominican comes from a Judo and Jiu-jitsu base, he excels in the takedown department as he can change levels in the open or operate from within the clinch.

Favoring to attempt his takedowns along the fence, Means will need to be mindful whenever fighting from these spaces. That said, Means has made marked improvements to his wrestling, particularly in his get-up ability.

Showing an urgency to turtle out and stand, Tim has been proven increasingly difficult to control. Even with being caught in this position in his last fight, Means typically does a good job of using the cage to pry opponents off of his back.

When Tim is on top, he is a terror as the Fit NHB fighter shows catch wrestling style controls and positional floats. From his top-pressure, submission setups, and unforgiving ground strikes, Tim Means is all-action all the time.

Off of his back, Means also shows an improved urgency as he quietly does a superb job of creating space with his butterfly insteps, or frames with his forearms as he looks to grab a wrist and stand.

Despite the line steadily growing to the 3-to-1 differential favoring Means, I have to agree with oddsmakers and public as the New Mexican native is one of my more confident picks on the card.

Though the best Alex Garcia may be able to take Tim Means down for two of three rounds, his conservative approach—coupled with a suspect gas tank—has proven to be less effective over recent years. If Garcia—who seldom sells out for anything—does not get something going, then I suspect Means will build off of his left crosses and front kicks, and eventually wear out Garcia down the stretch.

Official Pick: Means – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Means – Decision


BJ Penn (16-10-2)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 38 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / Yair Rodriguez (1-15-17)
  • Camp: Team BJ Penn (Hawaii)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Lightweight & Welterweight Titles
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   7 KO victories
+   6 Submission wins
+   6 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Good feints & footwork
+   Solid boxing technique
^   Superb jab
+   Accurate check hook & counter cross
+   Good base & balance
+   Underrated wrestling ability
+   Excellent transitional grappler
^   Effective back takes & passes
–    1 fight in 3 years

Dennis Siver (22-11-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 38 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 70″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Tatsuya Kawajiri (6-20-15)
  • Camp: Kiboju (Germany)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   German Kickboxing Champion
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   7 KO Victories
+   7 Submission wins
+   7 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Good footwork & movement
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Solid combination striker
^   Quick kicks off both sides
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   Good single-leg defense & scrambles
+   Deceptive grappling acumen
^   Will take backs in transit
–    1st fight in 2 years

Summary:

Kicking off the main card is a featherweight fight that features two veterans as BJ Penn meets Dennis Siver.

A man that needs no introduction, BJ Penn will go down as one of the most courageous and talented characters to ever step inside of a cage. One of the first multi-divisional champions and multiple weight-class competitors in the UFC, Penn broke the boundaries that most men abided by, and he did it for love–not money.

All that aside, it has not been smooth sailing for the Hawaiian in recent years as he has not won since 2010. Now, despite only fighting once in past three years, Penn will face the only other featherweight who is arguably more inactive than him when touches gloves with Dennis Siver.

Not seen in the Octagon since a rough 2015 that saw him lose to both Conor McGregor and Tatsuya Kawajiri, Dennis Siver has not recorded a win since 2014. And with being 38-years old––the same age as his counterpart, Siver will attempt one last shot at the spotlight as he looks to land a win over the legend.

Starting off on the feet, we have a heavy-hitting boxer versus a fleet-of-foot kickboxer.

Coming from a traditional martial arts base, Siver’s roots in Tae Kwon Do shine through as he keeps light on his feet, maintaining a slight bounce to his step. Teasing in and out of range, the Russian-born German will prod his opposition as he looks to set up his shots.

Working deceptively well off of his left side, Siver throws solid check hooks off the counter, as well as punctuates his combinations with kicks off of his lead foot. Should Siver find his rhythm undeterred, it could be a long night for his Hawaiian counterpart, whose defense is not what it once was.

Even though BJ Penn was long-regarded as having some of the best boxing in MMA, he did a lot of things defensively that would end up costing him later on in his career. Keeping a slightly low lead hand, Penn would subtly bait his opposition into exchanges with him as he relied heavily on his head movement to fuel his counter game.

Despite being able to out-strike many in this fashion, we have seen Penn become much more hittable as the opposition has gotten younger, and the strikes have come faster.

Nevertheless, Penn was still able to show some signs of life—despite being in an uncomfortable mismatch of talent—as the Hawaiian legend at the very least demonstrated his once upright stance was a thing of the past.

And though the Hawaiian’s speed is not the same, his triggers appear to be somewhat intact as he will have a chance to test his status against an appropriate opponent.

Once renown for one of the best jabs in the sport, I suspect Penn will attempt to use it in measuring fashion against his frequently moving foe. And with Siver having a bad habit of dipping to his right side, Penn’s left hook will likely serve him well as that is the quiet killer in his striking arsenal.

Even in a devastating defeat to Nick Diaz, Penn was able to disrupt and retaliate against the offensive rhythms from Stockton’s finest with his left jab and hook, as we would see the evidence of this written on Diaz’s right eye.

Coupled with an accurate counter right-hand(that he had brief success with in his last fight), and Penn could find his spots should he not turn out to be a complete shell of his former self.

Regardless of how the Hawaiian does in striking stanzas, I feel that his best chances of winning this fight are on the floor. An underrated wrestler, a grappling based gameplan from Penn would not surprise me in this matchup.

Although Siver—who defends single-legs in a fashion similar to Penn—also has underrated wrestling, the Russian-born German has traditionally struggled when it comes to thwarting double-legs off of the fence. And considering that those are Penn’s go-to takedowns(in which he’s grounded welterweights with), I suspect he will be looking to pull those same triggers here.

Should Siver end up on the bottom, his scrambling acumen may only land him in further quicksand, especially should Penn regain enough confidence to once again reach a cruising altitude.

Facing a fighter that will have better leg dexterity than his own, Siver could quickly find himself in trouble should he fall prey to leg weaves and chair-sits that fuels one of the best passing games in the sport.

From the notable arm traps in transit that Penn utilized to earn his lightweight title, to the improvisational transitions he used to mount Renzo Gracie, I still feel that the Prodigy can take Siver to school, even at this advanced stage of his career.

However, all this comes with the caveat of BJ Penn not being completely shot. And though he has long been one of my favorite fighters, I have to agree with the oddsmakers in making Siver the betting favorite in this matchup. Despite arguably being more inactive in recent years, Siver should sadly be able to outpoint Penn standing, especially given the Hawaiian’s shown retrogressions.

That said, the fan in me is admittedly vetoing the analyst call here, as part of me believes that grappling will be the last skill to go for Penn, who will give us one last rear-naked-choke finish for the photo album. Of course, this is a fools fantasy I speak of, as I suggest you don’t follow me off of the cliff known as BJ Penn fandom.

Official Pick: Penn – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Siver – Decision

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Koch def. Guida
  • Vettori def. Miranda
  • Esparza def. Moroz
  • Horcher def. Powell
  • Gordon def. Quinones
  • Case def. Martin
  • Stansbury def. Kimball

Dan’s Plays:

(*like my breakdowns, these are for your reference & entertainment)

Props worth looking at(@ 5Dimes.eu):

-Koch ITD +156 (0.5 Unit)
-Reyes by TKO +120 (0.5 Unit)
-Lee by submission +434 (.25 Unit)

Playable parlay pieces(My most confident favorites):

-Tim Means
-Erik Koch

*parlay prop piece* Lee-Chiesa “Fight doesn’t go the distance” -265

Fights to avoid(live dogs, inflated lines, & high intangibles):

-Penn vs Siver
-Herrig vs Kish
-Martin vs Case

For further technical and betting analysis, listen and subscribe to: The Protect Ya’ Neck Podcast and for future & past UFC breakdowns, stay tuned to: MixedMartialAnalyst.com


  • Muna F. Bear

    Might want to update Kevin Lee’s height, you’ve got him shorter than Mighty Mouse.

    • Dan Tom

      Typo fixed. Thanks Muna!


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