Sunday, February 19th, 2017 in Halifax, Canada for UFC Fight Night 105: “Lewis vs. Browne” 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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Derrick Lewis (17-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’3″ Age: 32 Weight: 265 lbs Reach: 79″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Shamil Abdurakhimov (12-9-16)
  • Camp: 4 oz. Fight Club (Texas)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   94% Finishing rate
+   15 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   7 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Dangerous right hands & uppercuts
+   Underrated kicks & knees
+/-Aggressive engagements & entries
^   Counter availabilities
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Strikes well off the breaks
+   Improved grappling & positional awareness
^   Underrated scrambling ability
+   Devastating ground striker
+/-Limited tools shown from back
^   Times get-ups & explosions well

Travis Browne (18-5-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’7″ Age: 34 Weight: 244 lbs Reach: 79″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Fabricio Werdum (9-10-16)
  • Camp: GFC/Lundell MMA (Las Vegas/California)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   14 KO victories
+   2 Submission wins
+   13 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Improved boxing technique
^   Actively measures with jab
+   Dangerous right hand
^   Throws long / counters well
+   Deadly elbows in close
+   Underrated wrestling ability
^   83% takedown defense
+   Strong from top position
^   Solid mount & ground strikes
–    Head often upright on retreat
^   Dropped in last 4 fights


Serving as the newly minted main event for UFC Halifax is a heavyweight showdown between Derrick Lews and Travis Browne.

Ironically being one of the quieter breakout stars to emerge in 2016, Derrick Lewis will attempt to crack the Top-5 should he get past the challenge ahead. Standing in his way is Travis Browne, who is desperately looking to avoid losing three straight as he attempts to return to his place amongst the division’s most feared.

Starting off on the feet, we have a battle of dangerous heavyweight stirkers who are showing that they are still developing their techniques. Say what you will about Edmond Tarverdyan, but we have seen some measurable improvements to Browne’s striking since his transition.

Early in Travis’ career, we saw a sporadic fighter whose unpredictability and explosive frame posed a lot of problems stylistically. However, as Browne would climb the ranks, we would see him begin to struggle in the boxing range.

Often giving away his intentions through awkward and heavy plots, Browne would find himself a step behind his opposition in exchanges. Couple that with his propensity to be aggressive and throw himself out of position, Travis has also traditionally struggled with being countered.

In his subsequent camps with Edmond, we have seen Travis move more fluidly as he does a better job of keeping his feet synced appropriately with his punches. Measuring behind an active jab and corralling left hook, Browne’s right cross commands even more respect as he keeps it long and accurate.

As we saw in his fight with Matt Mitrione, Browne can now counter well with his cross as this was a skill-set previously vacant to his game. I suspect this will be the setup to look for from the Hawaiian, as right crosses off the counter could be useful against an oncoming Derrick Lewis.

That said, Browne will not be without openings of his own. Although he has demonstrated improvements to his awareness of head movement, Browne’s upright nature has typically left him open for overhands upon his retreats, as crosses of all shapes and sizes has been his common culprit as well.

Browne also has a propensity to seemingly draw the short straw when it comes to crashing into strike zones. In my opinion, I feel that this is due to his tendency to lean heavily forward when throwing, which tends to expose his head to more vulnerable angles of attack. For this reason, I feel that the uppercut will be the shot to look for standing from Mr. Lewis.

Stepping onto the scene as an unabashed brawler, Derrick Lewis has shown signs of improvements underneath the scary destructions that often take place in his fights. An incredible athlete for a man of his size, Lewis can throw accurate knees and head-kicks with little sign of struggle.

A downright scary distance closer, Lewis will force his opponent into the fence whether he lands on them or not. With a frame that is hard to control in close, Lewis does his best work when striking off of the breaks as I see him being particularly potent in this space. Despite Browne being renown for his elbows in tight, Seldom will you see Lewis drop down against the fence for a double or single, much less stall in that position.

Although Lewis may be safe from the Hawaiian’s downward elbows by playing up high in the clinch, he will need to be careful as Lewis tends to give away under-hooks in these entanglements. His get-up improvements aside, Lewis still shows he is vulnerable to inside and outside trip takedowns in the clinch(as seen in his fight with Nelson), takedowns that come more naturally to a man with Browne’s frame.

Despite seldom showing it, Travis Browne has some underrated wrestling abilities as he has been long working with Ricky Lundell in Las Vegas(as well as through multiple training camps). One of the better grappling coaches out there, Lundell has helped Browne better grasp and apply his athleticism through the understanding of fundamentals. Couple that with the joint coaching efforts of renown catch wrestling specialist, Neil Melanson, and I feel that the Hawaiian is more equipped than people realize.

In fact, Browne has shown us glimpses at his ground improvements against Brendan Schaub and Matt Mitrione. Despite both instances involving compromised men, Browne still showed an excellent technical understanding from his time spent with Lundell and Melanson. From his utilization of the gift-wrap on Schaub to the sturdiness of his mount against Mitrione, I feel we have yet to see the best from Browne, as he may very well attempt to show us against Lewis.

The problem with the prospect of taking Lewis out on the ground—is keeping him there in the first place as more and more fighters seem to fail at this, especially as Lewis’ game improves. Don’t let his flat back and inactive hips fool you. Similar to a sand shark laying in wait, Lewis stays calm and composed until his opposition makes for a transition, as this allows him an opening to explode upward.

Even though respected BJJ black belts like Roy Nelson and Gabe Gonzaga failed to keep Lewis grounded or capitilize on explosions, I feel that Browne may have success here due to his frame and grappling style. Not only does he have the aforementioned wrestling abilities to ground this fight, but I believe the Hawaiian will know how to utilize his frame to takeway the posts and levers of his opponent.

The reason why I feel that way is because that is a speciality of his catch wrestling coach Neil Melanson, and something Browne has shown glimpses of in his past fights. Whether he is working off a wrist ride or picking off one of Lewis’ posts, the Hawaiian’s long frame should allow him to take positions like back mount, where otherwise shorter or stouter fighters were incapable.

However, it will still be no easy task to capitalize on Lewis in transit as his tripod get-up is deceptively more technical than meets the eye. As someone who favors turtling-out to return standing, a man who knows how to tripod properly can be a nightmare to deal with. Keeping his base firmly beneath him, Lewis will maintain an angle on his back that resembles a steep ski slope.

Although this tripod position invites a back-take to the naked eye, the downward slope Lewis keeps serves as a trap as it makes eager back-takers ultimately slide forward and lose position. If Browne can successfully thwart said post and create some leverage of his own, then I suspect the Hawaiian can close this show on the floor, as that’s my lean for this fight.

That said, this is heavyweight MMA and a Lewis win would not at all be surprising as I initially came in leaning toward his direction. But after looking at how these two stack up, this seems to be a classic case of narrative versus technical abilities. And with heavyweight power trumping all, I suggest keeping your money away from this one and instead enjoy the potential hailstorm of action that is Halifax’s main attraction.

Official Pick: Browne – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Lewis – Knockout (round 2)

Johny Hendricks (17-6)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 30 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Neil Magny (12-30-16)
  • 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
+   2x Div. 1 National Champion
+   8 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   5 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Dangerous left hand
^   Often doubles-up
+   Improved kicks off combos
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Hard knees & uppercuts
+   Solid takedown ability
^   Favors attempts from fence
+   Excellent top game / control
+   Underrated submission game
–    Sometimes throws self out of position
^   Counter availabilities
–    Gas tank bares watching
+/-2-4 against UFC southpaws

Hector Lombard (34-6-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’9″ Age: 39 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 71″
  • Last Fight: KO loss / Dan Henderson (6-4-16)
  • Camp: American Top Team (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Boxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Bellator Middleweight Title
+   Black Belt in BJJ & Judo
+   2000 Judo Olympian (Cuba)
+   22 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   21 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Athletic & explosive mover
^   Deceptive distance closer
+   Accurate right hook
+   Dangerous left cross
+   Strong inside the clinch
^   Throws, trips, dirty boxing
+   81% takedown defense
^   Solid hips & base
+   Excellent top game / control
+   Underrated submission game
–    Subject ot activity lulls
^   Gas tank bares watching
–    0-1 against UFC southpaws


The co-main event in Halifax features two newly minted middleweights as Johny Hendricks meets Hector Lombard.

With weight-cutting becoming the bigger narrative of his career in recent years, Johny Hendricks will now take his toolbox to 185 pounds for the first time. Dropping his last three straight at welterweight, Hendricks will attempt to get his career back on track with this drastic move up a division.

Although Hendricks will be drawing another former welterweight, he will also be stepping into the cage with one of his most dangerous opponents to date when he meets Hector Lombard. With the Cuban Olympian’s return to middleweight being dampered by Dan Henderson, Lombard is undoubtedly looking to bounce back in emphatic fashion.

Starting off on the feet, we have a battle of two southpaw strikers. As per usual, it will be interesting to see how the southpaw versus southpaw matchup plays out given that not always the better striker wins. In this case, however, I do not feel it will play a dramatic factor given the comparable skills each man has shown in the past. That said, there will be some key things to watch for from both fighters.

Even though I do give Lombard a slight striking edge in this fight, Hendricks is not far behind as he has stood and made his mark with strikers such as Robbie Lawler, Carlos Condit, and Matt Brown. An accoladed wrestler who was properly tooled on the floor by Marc Lamon, Hendricks would storm onto the UFC scene with a quick stoppage of Amir Saddolah at UFC 101.

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 would see when facing fellow southpaw Robbie Lawler, Hendricks would more freely flow with his hooks and uppercuts as he would punctuate his combinations with leg kicks. Although Hendricks could potentially put it on Lombard in the same fashion, I feel that he will be playing with fire anytime he hangs out in range. Not only do I feel that Lombard has a speed and power edge, but Hendricks’ defenses inside the pocket are not especially sound as he relies on shells and extended hand parries.

Even though Lombard does his best work going forward, he shows to be a more competent counter striker when he needs to be as I could see him capitalizing on Hendricks if he is not careful, particularly on his entries. For example, when Hendricks is not playing inside the pocket, he tends to enter space off of 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). For this reason, I see Lombard’s right hand playing a key role in striking exchanges. Make no mistake, Lombard’s left hand still does the majority of his clean-up and home run hitting, but the Cuban’s right is the silent partner that sets things up.

Though Lombard’s right hook is worth watching for coming forward or off of the counter, I see his taste for uppercuts coming to fruition in this fight. Often having to shift inside of the clinch to get off uppercuts against his orthodox opposition, Lombard will now be facing a fellow southpaw, which will not only open up this shot—but open it up from different angles as Lombard will now be able to throw it as a lead. Considering Hendricks’ propensity to shell and dip, the uppercut could see the light of day.

Lombard’s perceived advantages aside, his athletic supremacy does not come without a caveat. Demonstrating a propensity to fade as the fight goes on, Hector is very dangerous in the first round and subject to activity lulls throughout contests. Not only has this cost the Cuban crucial scorecards in the past, but it could also open a significant path for Hendricks to win this fight should he show up in shape and weather the initial storms.

Part of that potential path involves grappling, as I feel Hendricks may continue his recent trend of returning to his roots. Although I also give Lombard a slight on-paper edge in regards to grappling, I feel that Hendricks could open many locked doors should he tire the Cuban and force the issue. We have seen less talented grapplers have their way with Lombard once able to push the former Olympian past his comfort levels.

That said, engaging Lombard in the first place becomes a whole seperate issue as his reactive sprawls are amongst the best in the game, even at this advanced stage of his career. Given that Hendricks typically attempts his takedowns against the fence, it will be interesting to see if the former OSU wrestler shoots in the open considering the Cuban judoka is hard to corral. And despite favoring a double-legs, I will also be looking to see if Hendricks takes note from Okami’s success and switches off to a single.

With Lombard possessing a freakishly strong base from his clinch work to sprawls, single-legs have seem to give him the stout fighter the most trouble from a leverage standpoint. Though I would initially be quick to say that Hendricks would take advantage once on top, he has shown to be a lot less tighter technically since no longer working with Marc Lamon.

Although Hendricks would return to wrestling in his last fight, the former All-American’s pressure was lacking as Magny was able to have enough play to score close submission catches and crucial rounds. Unless he ends up on top of a gassed out Lombard, Hendricks will need to be on point if he means to hold down Hector or avoid his submissions, which are also underrated.

An opportunistic great white shark by nature, Lombard will lock onto a submission hold as soon as he smells blood or senses vulnerability in his opposition. Renown for his appetite to drop for an Ashi-Garami(leglock), Lombard will look to take a limb home without hesitating. When playing smart, Lombard demonstrates positional control like few can as his power frightfully translates to the floor.

In a battle that feels full of intangibles, I do not blame you if you are not confident in a pick or play. Despite this being a winnable fight for Hendricks on paper, I do not feel that this is the same guy who won the welterweight title. And if his in-cage performances are not enough evidence of that, then the interviews he has done in recent years regarding his weight and overall prep should be. Though I feel Lombard finds his shot in the first, this thing could get ugly come the later rounds as I recommend caution playing this one.

Official Pick: Lombard – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Hendricks- Decision.

Sam Sicilia (15-7)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’8″ Age: 31 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: 67″
  • Last Fight: Submission loss / Gabriel Benitez (9-17-16)
  • Camp: Sikjitsu (Washington)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   8 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   10 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Dangerous right hand
^   Relies upon it heavily
+   Aggressive pace & pressure
+   Underrated wrestling
+   Strong from topside
^   Effective ground striker
–    Lows hands & strike retractions
+/-Willingness to exchange
^   Counter availabilities
+/-0-1 against UFC southpaws

Gavin Tucker (9-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’7″ Age: 30 Weight: 145 lbs Reach: N/A”
  • Last Fight: KO win / Chris Coggins (7-23-16)
  • Camp: Titans MMA (Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   ECC Featherweight Title
+   4 KO victories
+   4 Submission wins
+   4 first round finishes
+   KO Power
+   Good footwork
^   Quick distance closer
+   Effective kicking acumen
^   Variates attack levels
+   Solid boxing technique
+   Shows good wrestling
^   Changes level well
+   Excellent transitional grappler
^   Dangerous submission acumen
+/-UFC debut


In a fun featherweight fight, Sam Sicilia welcomes Gavin Tucker to the UFC. A longtime staple at 145 pounds, Sam Sicilia has put on a show for fans in both victory and defeat. But after suffering two straight stoppage losses, Sicilia will attempt to rebound on the main stage by shutting down an undefeated fighter.

One of Canada’s quieter prospects, Halifax’s own Gavin Tucker is a lifelong martial artist who has been training since he was a young teen. Specializing in Muay Thai, Tucker has demonstrated a multitude of talents in both MMA and grappling. Now, Tucker will face his biggest test as he makes his UFC debut on the main card.

A heavy-handed slugger, Sam Sicilia has hinged much of his success on his ability to knock his opposition stiff. Though the TUF 15 alum has made some improvements to his striking game in recent years, they have honestly been few and far between as Sicilia still shows to suffer from problems that have traditionally plagued him.

Often allowing his agressive second-nature to get the best of him, Sicilia will typically employ a low-handed guard as his offensive eagerness fuels attacks that tend to take him out of position. Coupled with his propensity to retract strikes low, Sicilia has been exploited by counter shots more and more as his career has progressed.

In facing a seasoned southpaw striker like Tucker, this fight may bear a resemblance to Sicilia’s last fight against Gabriel Benitez. Although I feel that Tucker is more dynamic with his kicking attacks, the young gun seems poised enough to pick Sicilia apart with leg kicks should his setups up-top fall short.

Despite being a decent boxer himself, I doubt that Tucker will initially lean too hard on pocket exchanges given his opponent’s strengths. In fact, I would not be surprised to see Tucker change levels for a takedown within this space as he displays the ability to transition at the drop of a dime. That said, wrestling is an underrated part of his opposition’s game as I suspect grounding a sober Sicilia will be difficult.

Should Sicilia fair well in the wrestling department, we could see him test Tucker in ways we have not seen yet, especially if Sam gets topside. Not only does Sicilia wield devastating ground strikes, but he has also shown the veteran savvy to grind out rounds(as seen in his Meza fight), albeit not his strong suit.

As I always say, siding with UFC debutants is usually not the best idea statistically. However, if I feel that a fighter has athletic abilities as well as the attitude intangibles to go with it, then you potentially have a winning formula. My theory aside, I still feel we have a winner in Tucker as I see him rocking Sicilia standing and sinking in a submission in transition.

Official Pick: Tucker – Inside the distance

Official Outcome: Tucker – Decision

Elias Theodorou (12-1)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 28 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 75″
  • Last Fight: Decision win / Sam Alvey (6-18-16)
  • Camp: Tristar Gym (Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Excellent

Supplemental info:
+   TUF Nations 1 Winner
+   Purple Belt BJJ
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   6 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   2 first round finishes
+   Consistent pace & pressure
+   Shows in-fight IQ
+   Strong clinch against fence
^   Favors takedown attempts here
+   Solid transition game
^   Positional grappling / phase changes
+   Good kicking variety
+   Accurate & off-beat jab
^   Often follows behind kicks
+/-3-0 against UFC southpaws

Cezar Ferreira (11-5)

Staple info:

  • Height: 6’1″ Age: 32 Weight: 185 lbs Reach: 78″
  • Last Fight: Sub win / Jack Hermansson (11-19-16)
  • Camp: MMA Masters (Florida)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   TUF Brazil 1 Winner
+   Black Belt BJJ
+   Capoeira Master
+   4 Ko victories
+   2 Submission wins
+   3 first round finishes
+   Athletic & explosive mover
+   Dynamic kicking attacks
+   Good footwork
^   Moves well laterally
+   Improved boxing & counters
+   Solid takedown ability
^   Superb timing on level changes
+   Dangerous submission acumen
+   100% takedown defense
–    Dropped or stopped in last 5/7 fights


In an interesting middleweight affair, Elias “The Spartan” Theodorou meets Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira.

One of Canada’s brighter prospects, Elias Theodorou has proven that he is more than another pretty face during his short tenor in the UFC. Picking up martial arts like it was his first language, Theodorou will look to further explore his ceiling against a dangerous fighter.

A winner of TUF Brazil 1, Cezar Ferreira has seen his share of ups and downs during his time with the organization. After a string of disappointing performances, Ferreira has since turned things around with a recent camp change as he looks to earn his fourth consecutive victory.

Starting off on the feet, we essentially have a battle between a dynamic opportunist and an intelligent tactician. Though I am officially siding with the opportunist in Ferreira, I feel there is a lot of potential pathways for Theodorou to find success in this matchup. A constant mover, Theodorou has been steadily sharpening his pressure fighting applications. Playing all the way in or all the way out, Elias is heavily reliant on his kicks to dictate the range of action.

Demonstrating a diverse array of said kicks, Theodorou will follow up attacks with an off-beat jab that he scores with on a regular basis. Although it may not appear like much, these unorthodox jabs often disrupt the perceived rhythm of strikes and allow for Elias to either exit safely, or change the direction of exchanges. These subtle shots could prove useful, particularly from the right side as Ferreira has been traditionally vulnerable in that space.

Despite Theodorou’s shown improvements of entering and exiting off angles, the Canadian will sometimes do so with his hands low. Though Theodorou’s opponent is not typically known as a counter striker, Ferreira’s counter game has shown to improve since moving shop to MMA Masters. Now demonstrating the ability to turn his right hook into a check and counter with his left, Ferreira has added a new fold that has certainly helped his recent ressurgence.

More improtantly, Ferreira has also displayed improvements to his overall striking defense, something that has plagued him at previous points of his career. Not only will the Brazilian be more diligent in keeping his hands up, but he will also apply his footwork more intelligently by moving laterally and circling away from danger.

Although Ferreira always showed good timing on his double-legs, he will change his level with more confidence and conviction when his opponent comes in hot. Considering that he has been working with Kenny Monday on his wrestling, I only expect this trend of groundwork to continue for the Brazilian, as I see it serving him well in this fight.

Leaning much less on his renown Capoeira kicking abilities, Ferreira reminded many of his black belt in BJJ with an impressive submission win over the talented Jack Hermansson. Since forecasting Theodorou’s current groundskills can be difficult given the lack of sample-size to potentcy for improvement, it is hard to say with any certainty that the Brazilian will find the submission here.

However, Ferreira’s ability to stay heavy on top and stall could earn him crucial rounds if Theodorou fails to get offensive or back to his feet. Theodorou also has a decent takedown game of his own as I suspect it has improved, but getting his Brazilian counterpart down will be no easy task given his athletic sensibilities and impeccable defense rate.

Should the Canadian find success in grounding his opposition, I feel that Theodorou can get work done while staying safe from topside. Despite the fact that Ferreira has a BJJ black belt and leg dexterity to boot, Theodorou demonstrates the fundamentals I like to see from topside, especially from fighting inside the guard.

Maintnaining solid hand-positioning, Theodorou will typically work from an inside-bicep control. Staying squared up with his opponent, Theodorou will keep on balance as he is able to start working for advancements and offense. If Ferreira is not careful in scrambles, he could find himself underneath the Canadian in both position and points.

Even though I would not be surprised to see Theodorou’s consistent process paying dividends against a fighter that is easy to stereotype as an opportunist, I ultimately wonder what will happen if he fails to get the takedowns that seem to round-out his game?

As we saw in his fight with Thiago Santos, Theodorou would get eaten up inside the clinch spaces upon failing his attempts. Against Sam Alvey, Theodorou would instead resort to a strict regiment of out-fighting when unable to score inside. Although this resulted in a win, it was an uninspiring performance that would not give us many answers in regard to Theodorou’s overall trajectory.

Considering that the young Canadian’s last fight was under his new regime of Tristar, we could very well see an improved version of Theodorou this time out. And though his age and abilities to pick up skills thus far would support that statement, I feel that the growing trends are just a bit stronger for Ferreira, who I ultimately see being the more dangerous fighter on the feet and floor.

As hard as it is to back a man who has been dropped or stopped in 5 of his last 7-fights, those instances have all come from heavy-hitters wielding counter right hands/elbows, something I have yet to see from Theodorou with effect. And though I do not blame you for siding with Theodorou as the decision prop is certainly worth looking at, I will ultimately be staying away as I see the Brazilian continuing to put his game together.

Official Pick: Ferreira – Decision

Official Outcome: Theodorou – Decision

Sara McMann (10-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’5″ Age: 36 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 66″
  • Last Fight: Submission win / Alexis Davis (12-3-16)
  • Camp: Revolution MMA (South Carolina)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: N/A

Supplemental info:
+   2004 U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team
+   Multiple Grappling Accolades
+   2 KO victories
+   3 Submission wins
+   3 first round finishes

Gina Mazany (4-0)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’6″ Age: 28 Weight: 135 lbs Reach: 66″
  • Last Fight: TKO win / Katie Halley (5-18-16)
  • Camp: Xtreme Couture MMA (Las Vegas)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Southpaw / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: N/A

Supplemental info:
+   AFC Bantamweight Title
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   2 KO victories
+   1 Submission win
+   3 first round finishes


*Stated bias: Due to my affiliations with Xtreme Couture, I will, as per usual, be precluding myself from breaking this fight down. Thank you for understanding my stance when it comes to these matchups.

Official Pick: No Pick.

Official Outcome: McMann – Submission (round 1)

Paul Felder (12-3)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’10” Age: 31 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 70.5″
  • Last Fight: TKO loss / Francisco Trinaldo (9-24-16)
  • Camp: Roufusport (Milwaukee, WI)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Orthodox / Kickboxing
  • Risk Management: Fair

Supplemental info:
+   Regional MMA Titles
+   Black Belt Tae Kwon Do
+   Blue Belt BJJ
+   7 KO victories
+   1 Submission wins
+   2 first round finishes
+   Diverse striking arsenal
^   Accurate spinning attacks
+   Dangerous knees
+   Underrated wrestling
+   Good butterfly guard / get-ups
–    Often reliant on head movement
^   Tends to keep a low guard
+/-Willingness to trade
^   Solid chin / physically durable

Alessandro Ricci (10-4)

Staple info:

  • Height: 5’11” Age: 34 Weight: 155 lbs Reach: 69″
  • Last Fight: Decision loss / Jeremy Kennedy (8-27-16)
  • Camp: M-1/Mayweather’s Gym (Las Vegas/Canada)
  • Stance/Striking Style: Switch-stance / Muay Thai
  • Risk Management: Good

Supplemental info:
+   Kru in Muay Thai
+   Various Muay Thai Accolades
+   Amateur Muay Thai Champion (Canada)
+   5 KO victories
+   1 first round finish
+   KO Power
+   Good footwork
^   Switches stance / fights forward & back
+   Accurate shot selection (hooks & Thai kicks)
+   Deceptive clinch game
^   Solid frames / strikes off breaks
+   Underrated grappling / wrestling
^   Good positional rides & choices
–    Sometimes subject to activity lulls
+   Durable chin / never stopped


*Stated Bias: Although it was a minor role, I did help Alessandro Ricci’s team with scouting for this camp as it obviously has a presence in whatever I paint before you here. That said, I would not side with him in this article unless I honestly liked Ricci’s chances to win. And though I cannot go too in-depth tactically, I will do my best to layout technically, why I feel this fight is a lot closer than the odds lead-on.

Looking at this matchup on paper, it looks promising as we may be subject to a maelstrom of Muay Thai. Although a strong suit for both men, Alex Ricci is quietly the more experienced striker of the two as he carries over a wealth of experience from his days competing in Muay Thai(in Thailand & Canada). However, I feel that Ricci is the one who will arguably be forced to play the role of Matador given the aggressiveness of his opposition.

As the more traditional stalker, Felder will throw his diverse arsenal of attacks off of feints and shuffle-steps forward. Mixing in accurate spinning attacks from his Tae Kwon Do base, Felder’s ability to keep himself on balance and reset is very impressive from a technical standpoint. That said, Felder has admitted that he can become predictable in his overall movement, and he has subsequently struggled with technically proficient strikers who can counter(Edson Barboza & Ross Pearson).

Despite trying to adjust and upgrade his style through working with Mark Henry & company, we would see Felder struggle to get off from a slightly lowered stance in subsequent bouts. My observations and opinions aside, it will be interesting to see what changes(if any) have been made to Felder’s game now that he has spent this entire camp at Roufusport in Wisconsin.

Even though Duke Roufus is another quality coach you can add to Felder’s resume, you have to wonder how much he will adjust his overall game in an environment that caters to his strengths on paper, especially when considering a “lack of adjustments” have traditionally been the common culprit in his defeats. Regardless, if there is one thing you can count on when it comes to Paul Felder, it is that he shows up to fight hard and move forward.

With that in mind, it will be interesting to see Ricci’s approach to Felder’s relentless pressure as the Canadian is the more flexible striker on paper. Accustom to most of his opposition in MMA pressuring him to the fence(as they understandably don’t favor striking with Ricci), the Canadian Muay Thai champ has subsequently developed a countering game since entering MMA.

Spending time working with quality boxing coaches to balance out his striking, Ricci shows a good awareness of angles both stepping in and out of the pocket. Working well off of his left hand, Ricci throws an accurate left hook that I see that paying dividends in this fight(especially if thrown as a check). The former Thai fighter also displays your classic triggers of throwing hard kicks off of hooks and clinch breaks that Felder will need to mind.

Despite Felder being the more diverse kicker(and having a decent defense to go with it), he has a tendency to revert to trunk and head movement when attempting to avoid offense. Not only is this troubling when you consider that he often does so with low hands, but Felder’s patent leg checks tend to go out the window when doing so. Though Ricci is no Edson Barboza, Felder could be giving a legitimate Thai striker free kicks anytime he elects this style of defense.

Where the fire should burn even brighter, is whenever these two tangle inside of the clinch. With an offensive mindset carrying over to close spaces, Felder may have the edge inside of the clinch given his attacking sensibilities. However, not only will he be facing a fighter who can fire back knees with equal authority, Ricci is deceptively technical inside this space as he uses solid frames and clever wrist-feeds to get off strikes or regain position.

The problem that has haunted Ricci inside of this space in past fights is his seeming lack of urgency when pressed or suffocated for sizeable amounts of time. Despite being able to hang technically and stay competitive with arguably all of his past opponents, Ricci’s lulls in activity has tended to cost him crucial scorecards throughout his MMA career.

With Ricci accounting for his troubles(seeing a sports psychologist), we would see a turnaround 3-fights back that would give us a glimpse of the long-hailed potential that many saw in this Canadian fighter. Although this would earn Ricci a trip to the big show, he would end up dropping his UFC debut as he challenged another Canadian prospect on short notice. Despite there being flashes to past problems in Ricci’s last outing, I am not sure it is a condemnable performance given the circumstances.

It is also worth noting that Ricci has since moved shop to Las Vegas, where he has spent time training with specialists like Robert Drysdale and most notably, Angelo Reyes at Mayweather Boxing. Considering Reyes’ history as a strategic striking coach who has a knack for parlaying fighter’s natural abilities into gameplans, it will be exciting to see how Ricci comes out for this fight considering he is flexible from both stances. Should he come out southpaw, things could get particularly interesting.

Given each man’s propensities, I do not feel much of this fight will see the floor outside of your occasional attempt for a round-winning takedown. Couple that with the fact that both fighters demonstrate excellent get-up abilities, I do not see stanzas lasting long. Both men are also underrated grapplers, but I do give a slight edge to Ricci in exchanges on the mat.

Even though I feel that Felder has a better submission acumen than what is shown on paper, he is also the more likely of the two to drop for submissions whether he has them or not. And against a fighter whose grappling strong-point is positional rides, Felder could cost himself some strikes and points positionally should he make impulsive or improper moves.

Again, my biases here are stated so please feel free to incorporate a healthy skepticism into my words. However, I do assure you that all of my breakdowns contain a viewpoint that is unabashedly my own, and primarily based off of facts and technics. Though I self admittedly came into this fight favoring Felder as I do believe he is the justified favorite, I honestly feel that the line is way off here as this is a classic ‘buyer beware’ in regards to the price.

I, on the other hand, will be putting my money where my mouth is and taking a small shot on Ricci. I am not at all saying that you should do the same, as I could easily see Felder’s aggression and output banking rounds should he get Ricci to fall into an accepting shell. That said, I do believe that the Canadian fighter is well past those issues as the stage is set for this dog to have his day.

Official Pick: Ricci – Decision

Official Outcome: Felder – TKO (round 1)

Preliminary Card Predictions:

  • Ponzinibbio def. Taleb
  • Esparza def. Markos
  • Zahabi def. Vieira
  • Marshman def. Santos
  • Meerschaert def. Janes

Recommended Plays:

Props worth looking at(

-Marshman by TKO: +277 (0.5 Unit)
-Esparza by Decision: -145 (1 Unit)
-Tucker – Inside the distance: +170 (0.5 Unit)
-Sicilia/Tucker doesn’t go distance: -145 (1 Unit)

*Fun Fliers:

-Ricci by Decision: +465 (.25 Unit)
-Browne by Submission: +885 (.25 Unit)

Playable favorites for your pa by parlays:

-Carla Esparza
-Gavin Tucker
-Aiemann Zahabi

Fights to avoid:

-Meerschaert vs Janes
-Theodorou vs Ferreira
-Hendricks vs Lombard

For my complete works of past UFC breakdowns and analysis visit and for future breakdowns & your latest in world-wide MMA news, stay tuned to

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