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Rafael Dos Anjos (24-7)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 31 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Anthony Pettis (3-14-15)
  • Camp: KINGS MMA (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Good
  • Overall Fight Grade: A

Supplemental info:
+   UFC Lightweight Champion
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   4 KO victories
+   7 first round finishes
+   8 Submission wins
+   KO power / Heavy kicks
+   70% Striking defense rate
+   Hard & accurate left kicks
^   Favors body & inside leg kicks
+   Disciplined & active footwork
^   Aggressive but intelligent stalking
+   Improved Wrestling
+   Strong Top Game
^   Smashes & Passes effectively
+   Good elbows on top
+   Dangerous L. Hand-R. Hook
^   Variates well to the body
–    Struggles with wrestling pressure


Donald Cerrone (28-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 32 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 73″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / John Makdessi (5-23-15)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Muay Thai/li>
  • Risk Management: Moderate
  • Overall Fight Grade: A-

Supplemental info:
+   Muay Thai Accolades
+   28-0 as pro kickboxer
+   5 KO victories
+   12 first round finishes
+   15 Submission wins
+   KO Power/ Heavy kicks
+/-3-5 against Southpaws
+   Excellent Guard retention
^   Active from bottom
+   Dangerous in transition
^   Favors Triangle chokes
+   Underrated wrestling
+   Deadly kicking variety
^   Intelligent set-ups
+   Accurate intercepting knees
–    Head high & upright
^   Lacks movement / counter openings
–    Body shot availabilities


In a main event forecast of Muay Thai Maelstrom, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone gets his rematch against Rafael Dos Anjos for all the marbles. This is Rafael’s first title defense since defeating Anthony Pettis in March, where the Brazilian was able to dominate with an injured knee. Now taking the proper time to heal as Champion, Dos Anjos looks to be in great shape coming into this fight. Though not coming off injury, the always active Cowboy Cerrone has managed to patiently wait his turn, as it appears business as usual on his side of things.

Being that both men have fought eachother not so long ago, I feel this rematch will come down to who can make better adjustments. With “the loser” historically having more motivation & showing more results, Cerrone should firmly hold the equivalent intangible of surprise, especially hailing from the renown Jackson-Wink MMA camp. Possible game planning aside, I have to base my analysis off the trends and in-fight results actually seen. That’s what makes this fight so difficult(or easy depending on viewpoint) to gauge, as both fighters show little deviation of style prior-to, or post their first encounter.

Starting off on the feet is where I feel these trends will continue to favor the Champion. Despite Cowboys natural gifts of range & length he’s used to eat-up shorter opposition, Cerrone’s traditionally struggled getting-off against Southpaws(3-5 including a controversial win against Benson Henderson). Besides Southpaw stylings, another common thread amongst Cerrone’s losses was pressure striking. Luckily for Rafael Dos Anjos, this is something he strongly possesses as it’s largely the effective key to his striking.

Dos Anjos demonstrates aggressive discipline at it’s finest, as he’ll intelligently stalk based on his opposition’s lead foot placement. Showing a good outside-foot-awareness here, Rafael will attack at high percentage angles, often damaging said leg prior to entry. This movement was the silent killer in their last meeting, as Dos Anjos was able to consistently put his stamp on exchanges. Since then, One of Cowboys best improvements have been his accurate & momentum shifting knees. Though showing an excellent ability to intercept linear attacks, I’m not sure if his new toy will be effective given Dos Anjos said angles of approach.

I believe Cerrone’s best chances for success will be by dusting off his old tools instead. Often keeping his underrated wrestling game holstered, Cowboy wields an effective level changing double-leg. This could be used to counter the oncoming aggression of Dos Anjos, who’s shown to struggle when controlled on bottom and in close. Mixing in attempts could at the very least further his striking opportunities standing. However, Dos Anjos has made huge strides in his wrestling game as well, and could very likely find himself on top should he chose so(as we saw in their first fight). From there, Rafael was able to shutdown Donald’s triangle game with his smash & pass style top game.

Though the ground exchanges should be interesting as they are telling, I suspect this one will be decided standing. In watching a plethora of footage on each man, I could not stop seeing the upright head & body availabilities of Cerrone. Lacking head movement in pocket exchanges &  in retreat, Cowboy’s length advantage & tough chin has largely kept him in fights. This generally has shown to open him up to right hooks/hands, which could be costly given Dos Anjos’s dangerous right hook follow-ups. Cerrone aslo shows little adjustments in body defense(despite/as seen in his Pettis loss), which could also play into Rafael’s offense(hard left hands & body kicks). I’m actually a huge fan of Cowboy Cerrone’s style, and would not at all be surprised to see him take the Belt. But in looking closely at the in-fight trends, I have to side with the Brazilian to retain his title.

Official Pick: Dos Anjos – Decision

Official Outcome: Dos Anjos – TKO – round 1.


Junior Dos Santos (17-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 31 Weight: 242 lbs Reach: 77″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Stipe Miocic (12-13-14)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: A

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC HW Champion
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   11 first round finishes
+   13 KO victories
+   82% finish rate
+   80% takedown defense
+   KO power / heavy hands
+/-1 fight in 2 years
+   10 week camp at ATT
+   Devastating right hand
^   Deadly overhands & uppercuts
+   Accurate Jabs & Hooks
+   Underrated Counter Wrestling
+   Good head movement
+/-Reliant on reactive speed
–    Hands low(especially when exiting)
^   Overhand & hook availabilities
–    Takes damage in wins & losses


Alistair Overeem (39-14)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’5″ Age: 35 Weight: 257 lbs Reach: 80″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Roy Nelson (3-14-15)
  • Camp: Jackson-Wink MMA (New Mexico)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate
  • Overall Fight Grade: B

Supplemental info:
+   Former Strikeforce HW Champ
+   K-1 Grand Prix Champion
+   1st place ADCC (European)
+   31 first round finishes
+   18 KO victories
+   17 Submission wins
+   90% finish rate
+   KO power
+   Accurate Striker(landing at 74%)
+   Strong in clinch
^   Dangerous knees
+   Hard body kicks (Southpaw)
+   Underrated ground game
+   Effective ground striking
+   Good footwork & movement
^   Requires space to operate
–    Tends to drop hands
–    9 KO losses/Pro since 1999
^   Questionable overall state


Long anticipated and highly clamored for amongst hardcores, we’re finally treated to a Heavyweight showdown between Junior “Cigano” Dos Santos & Alistair “The Reem” Overeem. Although Alistair is Juniors elder in both years and fights, both men find themselves on similar grounds as they look to reestablish their presence in the division. As a potential factor heading into this fight, Junior moved shop to American Top Team for an extended camp. I’m banking this will be a positive change with ATT being such a high level & well-rounded facility for Dos Santos to fill his holes. Those intangibles aside, I’ll base my analysis off the shown in-fight tendencies & intents.

Though both men are underrated Grapplers, Junior’s shown foot movement and counter wrestling should keep this fight upright(not to mention his TD defense rate of 80%). Even if Alistair intends on pursuing takedowns(as he’s shown to do), I suspect the majority of this bout to contest and likely be decided standing. To the delight & hopes of fans watching, we’ll see “Cigano’s” aggressive counter boxing attack play out against “The Reem’s” evolving variety of in & out explosions. With huge changes to the sport & his own personal approach in past few years, Overeem’s shown inconsistencies in appearance & performance to say the least. However, since moving to Jackson-Wink MMA, Alistair has dedicated himself to finding new ways to deliver his best weapons.

Using movement & variety to misdirect, Overeem will look to set up and disguise his destructive kicks & knees in which he’ll accurately close distance with. Ultimately linear with his offense, Overeem’s attacks may play into the lateral movement & counterpunching of Dos Santos. I’m not sure what the official cage size that will be in Orlando, but Alistair’s style requires a lot o operating space that Cigano’s stalking pressure may not allow. Despite Overeem’s adjustments to not be stationary and take damage, he still displays low hands as he shows a tendency to stand in front of opposition longer than he needs to. Should Alistair get sloppy here or revert backwards into a  shell defense, this may entice & likely open up Juniors offense.

Dos Santos shows low hand vulnerabilities of his own, especially when circling off the cage or exiting exchanges. If Overeem can capitalize on these openings, he could very well sway the momentum of this fight. Though possessing good head movement, Junior is heavily reliant on his reactive speed which has shown to be a troubling trend in his last few fights. Overeem has more than the adequate tools offensively, but he’ll have to go against his shown tendencies and walk through the fire, as these weaknesses of Cigano are only exposed through aggressive pressure(as seen his bouts with Cain Velasquez). With 9 KO losses and a criticized chin, I’m not sure how Alistair will approach the pocket in this fight. That said, I generally favor lateral movement over linear, as I believe Dos Santos hasn’t quite hit his nine lives yet.


Official Pick: Dos Santos – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Overeem – TKO – round 2.


Michael Johnson (16-9)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 29 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: SD loss / Beniel Dariush (8-8-15)
  • Camp: Blackzillians (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good
  • Overall Fight Grade: B

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 12 Finalist
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   7 KO victories
+   7 first round finishes
+   KO power / heavy hands
+   Accurate straight left
+   Good footwork & movement
^   Manages distance well
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Wrestling base
^   81% Takedown defense
–    Struggles on bottom
^   Sub defense & get-ups
+   Aggressive counter puncher
+   Good chin / never been stopped
+/- 1-2 against UFC Southpaws


Nate Diaz (17-10)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 30 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 76″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Rafael Dos Anjos (12-13-14)
  • Camp: Cesare Gracie Jiu-Jitsu (Stockton, CA)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair
  • Overall Fight Grade: B

Supplemental info:
+   TUF 5 Winner
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   8 first round finishes
+   11 Submission wins
+   88% finish rate
+   Excellent cardio & conditioning
+/-1 fight in 2 years
+   Volume & pressure striker
^   Accurate Jab-Cross
+   Deceptive stopping power
+   Dangerous transition game
^   Deadly Submission dexterities
–    Struggle with leg kicks
–    Head high – hands low
^   Often leans heavily left
+/-3-4 against UFC Southpaws


Deep in the sea known as the Lightweight Division, two predators will meet as the returning Nate Diaz draws rising contender Michael Johnson. Diaz, who we’ve not seen since a sub-par showing against Rafael Dos Anjos last year, looks to be coming into this bout in great shape realizing the importance of this fight. An always dangerous submission artist, Nate will have a clear advantage on the floor although I’m not sure how much mat time we’ll actually see. Given Michael Johnson’s consistent movement, he should limit takedown availabilities as his fast-twitch hips and 81% takedown defense rate should help thwart any attempts. Though I’m sure Michael has improved on his ground-game that plagued him earlier in his career, I doubt he’ll break his trend of sticking & moving to play into Nate’s world.

Each fighter is a volume striker, but they approach the standing game in completely different ways. With the aforementioned hit & move style, Johnson will use consistent footwork in left-to-right momentums as he’ll stalk and pressure forward. This movement makes Michael difficult set and target, as it will also put him in a perpetual counter momentum that allows Johnson to draw out and move with oncoming attacks. Showing an aggressive discipline, Michael will pressure in hopes of this as he’s an effective counter puncher. This style could potentially pose big problems for Nate should he not establish his range early and often. Though both men share mixed success with  Southpaw vs Southpaw match-ups, I don’t see it effecting either man’s stylings.

With a more straight forward approach, Diaz relies heavily on straight punches and those will certainly be his friend in this fight. Firing off accurate Jab-Crosses to establish range, Diaz will look to state his dominance at distance. This is a comfortable operating space I don’t believe Johnson’s persistent pressure will allow. However, should Nate display a similar punch strategy as he did in his fight with Cowboy Cerrone, his relentless 1-2-1’s(Jab-Cross-Jab) could disrupt Johnson’s approach. But with Nate’s inconsistency of 1 fight in 2yrs & 1 win in last 3yrs, it’s hard to confidently back the Stockton stand-out(even as a fan). Not to mention his leg kick vulnerabilities that may open up Johnson’s ever improving attack arsenal should he catch Nate setting.

I strongly believe that said movement will be the key factor in this fight, as Johnson’s commitment in distance management should make the difference. I’m a huge fan of Nate and his brother Nick, but in setting aside bias’s & looking at trends, I feel like this will be difficult match up for Stockton’s own to get his feet back under him. I also have really enjoyed watching Michael Johnson’s fight-to-fight progressions as I believe this fight will show a lot of his improvements, and ultimately where both men stand.

Official Pick: Johnson – Decision

Official Outcome: Diaz – Decision.

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Randa Markos def. Karolina Kowalkiewicz*Main Card
  • Myles Jury def. Charles Oliveira
  • CB Dolloway def. Nate Marquardt
  • Sara Kaufman def. Valentina Schevchenko
  • Tamdan McCrory def. Josh Samman
  • Nick Lentz def. Danny Castillo
  • Cole Miller def. jim Alers
  • Leon Edwards def. Kamaru Usman
  • Hayder Hassan def. Vincente Luque
  • Francis Ngannou def. Luis Henrique

Recommended Plays

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Rafael Dos Anjos
-Junior Dos Santos

Low Tier Picks:

-Nate Diaz
-Charles Oliveira

Pieces for your parlay:

-Junior Dos Santos
-Rafael Dos Anjos
-CB Dolloway

Props worth looking at:

-Jury – Decision
-Dolloway – Inside the distance

Fights to avoid:

-Cole Miller vs Jim Alers
-Josh Samman vs Tamdan Mcrory

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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