Anthony Johnson (20-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 31 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: KO win / Jimi Manuwa (9-5-15)
  • Camp: Blackzilians (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Juco National Wrestling Title
+   Regional MMA Championship
+   14 KO victories
+   10 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Devastating right hand
^   Overhands, uppercuts, and hooks
+   Dangerous left high kick
^   Set up off stance switches
+   Underrated takedown defense(79%)
+   Working diligently on grappling
^   Improvements shown in last fight
–    Struggles when pressure fought
^   Gas tank bares watching


Ryan Bader (20-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’2″ Age: 32 Weight: 205 lbs Reach: 74″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Rashad Evans (10-3-15)
  • Camp: Power MMA (Arizona)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   2x Div. 1 All-American Wrestler
+   3x Pac-10 Champion
+   7 KO victories
+   8 first round finishes
+   KO power
+   Explosive power double TD’s
+   Strong pressure against fence
^   Effective clinch & body locks
+   Solid positional awareness & rides
+   Active ground strikes
+   Good footwork & movement
+   Much improved overall striking
–    Strikers sometimes retract low
^   Counter opportunities


The evening’s main course features a battle for contender-ship at light heavyweight, as Anthony Johnson takes on Ryan Bader. Riding a 5-fight winning streak, Bader will surely cement his case for a title shot should he get past Johnson. As one of the toughest outs in the division, Anthony will look to skip over Ryan with an impressive vintage win here. Although I do feel Johnson is a justified favorite, I found myself disagreeing with the odds as this is a much closer fight stylistically.

Starting off on the feet, it’s not difficult to see why Johnson carries an on-paper advantage. Under the tutelage of striking coach Henri Hooft, Anthony’s natural aggression has been steadily honed into a more technically efficient wrecking machine. Subtly loading in left-to-right plots, Johnson will constantly counter-balance himself with strikes to maintain offensive & defensive readiness. Using said left-to-right shifts, Anthony is already set in motion to move defensively one direction, which will naturally load up hooks that he’ll use to throw himself back into position.

These movement principles also translate seamlessly with Anthony’s kicking game, as we saw this demonstrated in his last fight with Jimi Manuwa. Smoothly changing angles by switching to southpaw, Johnson threw his patent left power kick that set him up to come back with a right hook from the other side. Though known for his devastating punches, I believe Anthony’s kicks off movement will be key in this fight. Should Johnson effectively variate his attacks, he could limit Bader’s shot selection and even discourage his offense.

Despite the edge in striking going to Johnson, I don’t feel Ryan is as far behind as many suggest. Working heavily on his stand up with his new striking coach Chaz Turner, we’ve seen clear fight-to-fight improvements in his techniques. With a huge focus on opening up Ryan’s hips & stance, he’s shown to more fluidly hit and move. Although displaying improved entries, Bader will occasionally retract his hands low opening up counters(as seen in his fight with Lyoto Machida). Footwork will certainly be a key factor for Ryan standing if he means to avoid Anthony’s power shots.

Bader’s most consistent weapon may also be the key intangible to this fight. Wielding an explosive power double takedown, Ryan can disrupt Anthony’s forward aggression by parlaying it into pressure of his own. Though Johnson has underrated counter wrestling, consistent shot attempts could put Anthony on defense and force him to work. Although Phil Davis struggled to take Johnson down, it’s important to note that he and Bader have different takedown styles. Despite displaying more direct entries, Bader also executes solid reactive shots that could serve him well. With a shown superior gas tank, I believe Bader has the tools to make this a pressure fight. Traditionally struggling with said pressure, Anthony may have a chance to prove his cardio critics wrong if this fight goes past three. But with finishes beyond round 2 non-existent in Johnson’s career, I’m not sure I like his chances should he not close the show early.

Official Pick: Bader – Decision

Official Outcome: Johnson – KO (round 1)



Ben Rothwell (35-9)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’4″ Age: 34 Weight: 263 lbs Reach: 78″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Matt Mitrione (6-6-15)
  • Camp: Rothwell MMA (Kenosha, WI)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Undefeated in IFL run (9-0)
+   Finished 32 of 35 wins
+   91% finish rate overall
+   28 first round finishes
+   20 KO victories
+   12 Submission wins
+   KO wins / heavy hands
+   Improved footwork
^   Will switch stances
+   Excellent pressure fighter
^   Draws counters well
+   Dangerous L. Hooks & R. Uppercuts
+   Underrated submission game
+   Effectively gets up / uses cage
+   Durable chin / hard to stop
+/-Takes damage to give it


Josh Barnett (34-7)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 38 Weight: 248 lbs Reach: 78″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Roy Nelson (9-26-15)
  • Camp: CSW (California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Former UFC HW Champion
+   Accomplished No-Gi Grappler
+   10 KO victories
+   13 first round finishes
+   18 Submission wins
+   KO power
+   Dangerous clinch game
^   Setup w/wrist controls & under-hooks
+   Hard elbows & knees in close
^   Consistently works body
+   Will switch stances
^   Powerful kicks from southpaw
+   Superb top-game/mount
^   Effective ground striker
+   Diverse submission variety
+/-Willingness to exchange


The evening’s co-main event contests in the heavyweight division, as “Big” Ben Rothwell takes on Josh “The War Master” Barnett. With both fighters being amongst the most well rounded & dangerous at heavyweight, tossing a dart blindfolded could serve as a strong prediction for either man. Rather than use that method, I’ll instead provide some technical aspects of what I feel you should consider before taking this ride.

Starting off on the feet, “Big” Ben has shown a gradual evolution & understanding of striking, as he’s steadily honed in on what works for him. Barnett, on the other hand, has always shown a well-rounded arsenal of attack. However, it wasn’t until his last fight against Roy Nelson where we really Josh take things to the next level. Adding stance-switches in conjunction with forward momentum, Josh effectively opens up left power kicks to the body that may find a home on Rothwell. Aside from his natural height & hand position, Ben often retracts his standing guard high opening up the body(exposed particularly well in his fights with Vera & Overeem). With Rothwell being so dangerous in close, this could be a useful navigation tool standing for Josh.

Although he may not be as pretty on his feet, Don’t let Rothwell’s standing demeanor fool you. Utilizing pressure in an awkward but intelligent fashion, Ben will stalk forward while baiting his opposition to initiate exchanges. Most fighters who play this game, ultimately end up paying due to Rothwell’s incredible durability and devastating power. If an opponent doesn’t have answers such as a Cain Velasquez-like transition game, then we often see Rothwell force frantic footwork & bad decisions. That being said, Barnett won’t be as easy to dictate with his consistently aggressive style.

Despite their different approaches to pressure fighting, I feel the fighter who establishes their terms first will speak volumes. With Rothwell being more of a counter fighter, I expect Barnett to be the one with stronger advances. That said, he’ll need to be careful when traveling from boxing to clinching range. This is where most of Josh’s defensive liabilities lay and is also where Ben is most effective. Although Josh has shown suspect head movement in the pocket on previous occasions, he demonstrated recent improvements in footwork & distance management to help supplement this(something crucial for this match).

The key factor for me lies within the clinch exchanges. As a custom in most Barnett fights, it’s from the clinch where he likes to strike and set up takedowns. As a huge Catch Wrestling enthusiast, there’s nothing I’d rather see more than some violent ground fighting. However, with Josh’s shown trend to strike(51% of his accredited offense) as opposed to wrestle(5 official TD attempts in over 5 yrs), I’m not sure how much mat time we’ll actually see. Not to mention Rothwell’s improved takedown defense and ability to scramble to/up from the cage. Although Barnett carries an on-paper ground advantage, Ben’s grappling is very underrated. He may not be able to submit a sober Barnett, but I believe Rothwell is more than competent to negate Josh’s offense.

Although I also give Barnett a technical edge in the clinch, he will still be essentially playing with fire. As seen in his fight with Brendan Schaub, Rothwell can still close the show when his back is to the cage. With Josh favoring the right under-hook to establish clinch offense, he’s shown right uppercut openings in the past that could prove costly against Ben. If Barnett can stay disciplined with his hand fighting in close(as seen in his fight with Nelson), then he may nullify some of Ben’s offense and open up his own. Ultimately, I give Barnett the overall technical advantage in this fight. However, should this battle primarily contest upright, I feel Rothwell’s chin, power, and fight-to-fight improvements may see the light of day. Regardless of who you favor, I recommend caution as this is heavyweight MMA and should be treated as such.

Official Pick: Barnett – Decision

Official Outcome: Rothwell – Submission (round 2)



Iuri Alcantara (32-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 35 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Leandro Issa (8-1-15)
  • Camp: Marajo Bros Gym (Brazil)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Regional Jiu-Jitsu Champion
+   BJJ Black Belt
+   Muay Thai Accolades
+   19 first round finishes
+   13 KO victories
+   12 Submission wins
+   Underrated wrestling
^   14 for 20 in UFC takedowns
+   Strong top game / control
^   36 passes in last 12 fights
+   Heavy left hand
+   Hard left Thai kick
+/-Crafty but content on bottom
^   Struggles when pressure fought


Jimmie Rivera (18-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’4″ Age: 26 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 68.5″
  • Last Fight: SD win / Pedro Munhoz (11-7-15)
  • Camp: Team Tiger Schulmann (New Jersey)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   3rd degree Black Belt(Tiger Schulmann)
+   4 KO victories
+   2 first round finishes
+   17 first round finishes
+   KO power/heavy hands
+   Wrestling base
^   Excellent takedown defense
+   Solid positional awareness
+   Manges distance well
+   Maintains pace & pressure
+   Consistent 2-3 punch combos
^   Mixes in body work / kicks
+   Tight striking defense / recovers well


In what should be a fun styles matchup, rising contender Jimmie Rivera meets the always dangerous Iuri Alcantara. Holding wins over UFC fighters from flyweight to welterweight, calling Alcantara experienced is an understatement. Despite seeming like a perennial contender, the Brazilian’s technical acumen and knockout power have kept him more than relevant amongst the division’s best. However, Iuri has typically struggled with pressure fighters & wrestlers as he’ll get just that in Jimmie Rivera.

Coming off a victory over the highly touted Pedro Munhoz(another Muay Thai/Jiu-Jitsu specialist), Rivera is slowly but surely proving himself to be the dark-horse of this division. Showing consistent pace & pressure, Rivera will move and manage distance as he fires off combinations. Mixing in body-shots and accenting his volume with kicks, Jersey’s own will move especially well to his left as he’ll attach an accurate hook in conjunction. This movement will be key in facing a dangerous southpaw like Alcantara, who heavily leans upon his left sided attacks.

Although possessing underrated takedown defense, Iuri is most successful in discouraging shots through his left power kick. Throwing his shin at a 45-degree angle across the body, Alcantara will time his opposition coming in. Iuri will need to be careful when doing this with Rivera, as Jimmie shows a natural ability to catch kicks and counter. With Alcantara carrying a length advantage in most fights(including this one), it tends to grant him a false sense of security as he often loads up on single-shots. Should the Brazilian approach exchanges with single-shot setups in mind, I feel he will end up playing catchup for the remainder of the night.

Iuri should have his biggest on-paper advantage in the grappling department. Particularly from top-side, the BJJ Black Belt holds 36 passes in his last 12 fights. But with Alcantara facing one of the hardest men to take-down in the division, I’m not sure it will play out his way. Though Iuri is 14 for 20 in UFC takedown attempts, Jimmie shows excellent technical reactions in defending shots. From his superb positional awareness to his polished MMA wrestling, Rivera should decide where this fight takes place. If he’s smart, he’ll follow Frankie Saenz & Uriah Faber’s footprints of pressure and positional control. Without discounting the threats & skills of Alcantara, I see the younger lion taking the right-of-way in this crossroads match.

Official Pick: Rivera – Decision

Official Outcome: Rivera – Decision



Sage Nothcutt (7-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 19 Weight: 170 lbs Reach: 74.5″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Cody Pfister (12-10-15)
  • Camp: Gracie Barra Katy (Katy, TX)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Moderate

Supplemental info:
+   Black Belt Tae Kwon Do
+   Black Belt Kajukenbo
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   5 first round finishes
+   4 TKO victories
+   100% finish rate
+   Manages distance well
^   Plays all the way in or out
+   Excellent lead leg side kick
+/-Aggressive advances/sub attempts
^   Often losing position
–    Appears uncomfortable on bottom


Bryan Barnerena (10-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’0″ Age: 26 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 72.5″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Chad Laprise (4-25-15)
  • Camp: MMA Lab (Arizona)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   Experienced at multiple weights
+   8 KO victories
+   5 first round finishes
+   Improved technical aggression
^   Grows in pace & pressure
–    Tends to start slow
–    Sometimes stagnant off strikes
^   Counter opportunities
+   Active clinch striker
+   Competent takedown defense
^   Scramble to stand up urgency
+   Good chin (never stopped)


As customary, the UFC’s lightweight division will kick off the main card on FOX. Featured first, rising star “Super” Sage Northcutt takes on the dangerous Bryan Barberena. Clearly being pushed as a prospect by the UFC, this will certainly be the toughest test of Sage’s career. Aside from an early competitive start in traditional martial arts, Northcutt possesses uncanny athleticism that facilitates(and largely compensates) his well-rounded skillsets. Narrowing down his kicking arsenal for MMA, Sage has shown to utilize his lead side-kick to manage the distance. Playing all-the-way in or out, it’s Northcutt’s ability to quickly close said distance(or even the show) that’s most impressive.

In fact, I believe Sage’s ability to dictate range will be a key factor in this fight. Bryan is, in my opinion, a more technical striker overall. However, Sage’s speed advantage could disrupt Barberena’s offensive pressure, particularly early on should he start slow. That being said, the assumption that Sage can enact the necessary discipline to consistently dictate range has yet to be proven. With a low sample size of Northcutt against mid-tier strikers(much less Southpaws), it will be interesting to see him against a more advanced striker with a chin. Despite a sometimes slow burn, the brooding Barberena will consistently build in pace & pressure with little signs of slowing. Supported by a strong chin, Bryan’s technical aggression will certainly test the young prospect.

In order to hedge his bets, I feel Northcutt’s reactionary takedowns will serve him well in this matchup(unlike against his original opponent). Though Bryan’s no slouch on the ground(BJJ Blue Belt under John Crouch), Sage could create these exchanges to counter momentum. But even when in top position, Northcutt’s shown eagerness for advancing/submission attempts has cost him positions despite eventually winning fights. Although Sage’s athletic aggression has made him difficult to control, he does show some technical indecisiveness in scrambles. This could cost him against an active and urgent fighter like Barberena, who seldom succeeds position.

Between the late notice & name value, I can completely understand why Northcutt is a justified favorite. That said, I feel that the current asking price screams caution if you’re thinking about playing him. On the flip-side, I believe there’s big value in Barberena’s style and the intangibles the durable striker brings. If Sage can’t stop him or establish clear dominance by the end of the first, I feel that Barberena will take over mentally and physically. Sage hasn’t experienced the same in fight adversities as Barberena, much less shown the in-corner adjustments that he’s executed. This won’t be Bryan’s first short notice fight for the UFC, as he’s stepped in last minute to stop Joe Ellenberger at lightweight. And with this bout being contested at welterweight, I like the stylistic chances of the man who was already in camp.

Official Pick: Barberena – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Barberena – Submission (round 2)

Preliminary Card Predictions

  • Saffiedine def. Ellenberger
  • Mercier def. Ferreira
  • Natal def. Casey
  • Ortiz def. Reis
  • Yakovlev def. Sullivan
  • Caceres def. Fullen
  • Brown def. Dwyer
  • Makashvili def. Jackson
  • Martin def. Olivieri

Recommended Plays

Pieces for your parlay:

-Jimmie Rivera
-Tarec Saffiedine
-Rafael Natal

Props worth looking at:

-Bryan Barberena – Inside the distance
-Randy Brown- by KO/TKO
-Jimmie Rivera – by Decision

Fights to avoid:

-Ben Rothwell vs Josh Barnett
-Tony Martin vs Felipe Olivieri
-Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs Carlos Diego Ferreira

Fantasy MMA Picks

High Tier Picks:

-Anthony Johnson
-Randy Brown
-Jimmie Rivera

Low Tier Picks:

-Felipe Olivieri
-Ben Rothwell
-Ryan Bader

For the complete analysis of future & past UFC events visit and for future breakdowns & your latest in world-wide MMA news, stay tuned & follow @MMALatestnws

Fuller Products