This upcoming UFC 170 PPV—at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada—is really going to test the drawing power and stardom of one, Ronda Rousey–whom Dana White claims is the UFC’s biggest star. Now without Rashad Evans–out due to a knee injury, the most and possibly only notable name on the entire PPV is the women’s bantamweight champion.
A bronze medalist and a silver medalist will compete for the gold in the main event of UFC 170. A heavyweight will make his light heavyweight debut against a former training partner and now rival, taking the fight as a late replacement. Two welterweights forgotten in the whole GSP-aftermath welterweight title picture are both looking to climb back the up the ladder to title contender-ship. Likewise with the 2nd welterweight fight on the main card, both grapplers look to bounce back from loses in their previous fight. A real sleeper fight opens the card, between two excellent welterweight strikers.
Perfect timing by the UFC as this card features 3 former Olympians fighting in the middle of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic games.
Main Card (PPV, 10 pm EST)
(C) Ronda Rousey (8-0) (-390) vs #4 Sara McMann (7-0) (+320)
Accolades a-plenty in the main event of UFC 170: the 2008 Bronze medalist in Judo takes on the 2004 Silver medalist in freestyle wrestling. Both women are undefeated in their careers, so it’s the old, ‘somebody’s 0 has got to go’.
Ronda Rousey competed in her longest fight at UFC 168, with opponent Meisha Tate able to take the fight all the way to the 3rd round before being submitted—the first time she has been out of the first round in her career. According to Fightnomics: Ronda Rousey’s 3rd title defense—a 56-day turnaround will be tied for the shortest duration between title defenses in UFC history (Matt Hughes fought at UFC63 and UFC 65 in 2006).
After filming two movies before her last title defense of the UFC bantamweight title, Rousey comes into this, her 3rd defense, with a full distraction-free training camp. Ronda’s head trainer, Edmond Tarverdyan has long said that she has some of the best hands in the women’s bantamweight division, claiming that she drops world champion boxers with body shots in sparring. Well, she may get a chance to finally showcase that rarely seen striking of hers in this fight. Sara McMann’s world class wrestling ability may prove difficult for Ronda to take this fight to the ground and thus may neutralize her most dangerous weapon, the armbar.
Through 8 fights in her career, Ronda has been able to takedown every single one of her opponents and apply the signature armbar for the tap. She some of the most eye-popping grappling statistics in MMA, landing an average of 8.11 takedowns per 15 minutes, at a high 77% accuracy. And no surprise she always looks for the finish, attempting 6.03 submissions per 15 minutes.
Sara McMann, will be coming into this title fight on a 10 month layoff—having last fought at UFC 159, defeating Shelia Gaff by TKO in the first round. McMann stats are equally–if not more—impressive than Rousey’s, especially in the takedown department. The olympian has never been taken down in her career, a perfect 100% takedown defense. Her offense, has nearly been unstoppable, landing at a 80% success rate, averaging 6.78 takedowns per 15 minutes.
One thing is for certain, McMann is the best wrestler in the bantamweight division, and this is a test Ronda has never faced before–someone who can match her takedown ability. Ronda’s takedown defense (at 60%) comes from just one opponent, Miesha Tate, who was successful on 2 of 5 attempts in their two combined fights. The glaring difference between the two grapplers is that Rousey goes for the submission, while McMann does not (0.48 attempts per 15 mins). If this fight does hit the ground at some point, which I expect it would, expect McMann to be the one having to defend Rousey’s constant submission attempts–whether from the bottom or from the top. Will Ronda Rousey just blow through her competition once again on way to a 9th straight armbar victory? Or will Sara McMann give Ronda her toughest test to date? and possibly pull off a huge upset?
|TALE OF THE TAPE|
|Average Fight Time||03:42||12:24|
|Height||5′ 7″ (170 cm)||5′ 6″ (168 cm)|
|Weight||135 lb. (61 kg)||135 lb. (61 kg)|
|Reach||66.0″ (167.64 cm)||66.00″ (167.64 cm)|
|STRIKING (Significant Strikes)|
|Strikes Landed per Min. (SLpM)||2.66||2.57|
|Strikes Absorbed per Min. (SApM)||1.8||1.63|
|Takedowns Average/15 min.||8.11||6.78|
|Submission Average/15 min.||6.08||0.48|
#4 HW Daniel Cormier (13-0) (-1200) vs Pat Cummins (4-0) (+775)
Just a week out from their co-main event match at UFC 170, Rashad Evans announced that he had suffered a knee injury in training and had to pull out of the fight. At first, Cormier was to be left without an opponent and the UFC had considered rescheduling the matchup for a later date. But reports later came out that Rashad would be out at least 8 weeks with the injury, this forced the UFC to take some drastic measures. With DC pleading on twitter for any opponent to take the fight against him—from Anthony Johnson to Chael Sonnen, the UFC finally decided upon, 4-0 heavyweight and a former wrestling training partner of Cormier, Pat Cummins (not to be confused with the Australian cricketer).
Cormier is undefeated in 13 professional MMA bouts, including 2-0 in the UFC’s heavyweight division (defeating Mir and Nelson). He will now set his sights on the UFC light heavyweight title as he drops down to a weight class he hasn’t seen since his amateur wrestling days. It is unlikely that a win over Cummins will earn Cormier the title shot at the champion—over another contender, Alexander Gustafsson (if he were to defeat Jimi Manuwa at UFC Fight Night 38). However this is a great chance for Cormier to showcase his skills once again, especially to those who have not seen him fight outside of the UFC, anything short of a one-sided domination would be underwhelming for the AKA member.
Cummins quickly made his name known throughout the MMA world when he tweeted that he had made Cormier cry in their previous training sessions, and followed it up by igniting the feud appearing on Fox Sports 1 and exchanging words with Cormier during a segment to announce the fight. The skeptic in me asks, is there genuine dislike between the two fighters or—to steal a quote from Nick Diaz—are they just selling wolf tickets?
Cummings’–currently training out of Reign MMA—made his pro debut on a Strikeforce card in 2010, defeating Terrell Brown via TKO, since then he’s competed in just 3 more fights, and has said in the past that he had trouble getting fights—opponents were turning him down. The Penn State 2-time All-American utilizes a very wrestling-heavy game and once he gets his opponent to the ground, he looks for the finish right away. Cummins has finished all 4 of his fights in the 1st round, and in total has just over 11 minutes of fight time under his belt. However it is of note, that his 4 opponents have a combined record of 10-20.
Cormier and Cummins have met in the past–on the wrestling mat—with Cormier defeating Cummins 7-0 in their 2007 match. On paper, it seems we can expect a similar result in the octagon. Cormier has a perfect 100% takedown defense, meaning he has never been taken down in his MMA career, to go along with spectacular striking stats. DC lands at a near 4-to-1 ratio (4.02 : 1.36) of significant strikes landed to absorbed. If Cormier wanted to go out there and prove a point after Cummins’ comments, he could decide to take Cummins down, landing 44% of his attempts, and make it a wrestling match. However if he doesn’t get caught up in all the talk, he could very well keep the fight on the feet and out-strike “Durkin” with his continually improving standup arsenal.
|TALE OF THE TAPE|
|Average Fight Time||10:54||02:44|
|Height||5′ 11″ (180 cm)||6′ 2″ (188 cm)|
|Weight||205 lb. (93 kg)||205 lb. (93 kg)|
|Reach||71.0″ (180.34 cm)||–|
|STRIKING (Significant Strikes)|
|Strikes Landed per Min. (SLpM)||4.02||–|
|Strikes Absorbed per Min. (SApM)||1.36||–|
|Takedowns Average/15 min.||2.06||–|
|Submission Average/15 min.||0||–|
#4 Rory MacDonald (15-2) (-300) vs #6 Demian Maia (18-5) (+250)
Rory MacDonald was on a 5-fight winning streak and was on the brink of a potential title shot at the time, before he suffered a 3rd round knockout loss to Robbie Lawler, who now takes Rory’s spot in challenging for the vacant welterweight title. MacDonald has lately been criticized for his lack of killer instinct and finishes, despite finishing 80% of his career victories. MacDonald holds a noticeable 4.5 inch reach advantage over the former middleweight Maia, which may become the big key to this entire fight, if used properly.
Demian Maia as well was on a collision course for the welterweight title, winning all 3 of his fights at 170lbs before being stifled by Jake Shields, losing a very close split decision at UFC Fight Night 29. A win for either fighter in this fight would be very beneficial towards making a claim at the wide open welterweight division title. While the loser of this fight, will have a long road and climb ahead.
Both fighters land takedowns at a high frequency, at over 3 per 15 mins. Although it may be Maia who is the one that needs to take this fight to the ground, where the world class BJJ practioner would have the advantage, not an easy task against Rory’s 86% takedown defense. Despite Maia’s 33% takedown offense, he has proved to be a very good wrestler in his past fights, most famously a throw takedown on olympic alternate Chael Sonnen–followed by a transition right into a triangle choke. And of course, who could forget the clinic he put on Jon Fitch over 15 rounds. Maia has been successful in attempting to take down all but 3 of his opponents (Anderson Silva, Munoz, Weidman) in the UFC. A resume that includes Jake Shields, Rick Story, Dong Hyun Kim, and the aforementioned Sonnen and Fitch.
Maia’s striking has improved since his early fights in the UFC, however he still absorbs significant strikes at a 1:1 ratio. While Rory has shown the ability to be a very technical striker using footwork and head movement along with his reach—landing 3.85 sig strikes per min, with a 65% defense.
There is a clear advantage in the stand up for ‘Ares’ and a clear advantage on the ground for the ADCC world champion. The fight will be determined by who can control where the fight takes place.
Mike Pyle (25-9-1) (-200) vs T.J. Waldburger (16-8) (+170)
A combined 29 wins via submission, these two welterweight grapplers have the potential to showcase a highly entertaining grappling match on Saturday night.
At 38 years old, many fighters would be on the tail end of their careers, but not Mike Pyle. He had won his last 4 fights in the UFC before suffering a 1st round knockout to the re-surging Matt Brown. A 35 fight veteran, who began his career in 1999, Pyle holds an impressive 8-4 record in the UFC with notable victories over Rick Story, John Hathaway, and Ricardo Almeida—and that doesn’t even begin to include his entire career fighting for many organizations.
TJ Waldburger, the former Shark Fights welterweight champion, has always displayed a fantastic ground game—submitting all but 3 of his 16 wins. Winner of two submission of the night bonuses, Waldburger will need to take this fight to the ground if he is to have the best chance at a much needed victory after losing his 2 of his last 3 fights–including a devastating knockout to Adlan Amagov at UFC 166.
Both own a 1 to 1 ratio in the striking department, with Pyle landing and absorbing a near 1 strike more than Waldburger. Despite this their striking styles could not be anymore different, Pyle has shown the ability to knockout an opponent, doing so against Josh Neer at UFC on FX 3 back in 2012. While Waldburger does not possess the same power that Pyle does, he does land at a 10% higher accuracy (57%) than Pyle, conversely Pyle does a much better job at avoiding strikes with a 59% defense compared to TJ’s low 37%.
If this fight hits the ground, it’s where the fun really begins. Waldburger on the ground is relentless, constantly looking for the submission, attempting 5.94 submissions per 15. TJ also lands takedowns at a 55%, but it won’t be easy getting Pyle to the ground, who defends 69% of attempts. Pyle has a career 16 submission wins, but as of late he has fancied himself more of a striker, will that change ‘Quick Sand’ after suffering the knockout to Matt Brown?
Stephen Thompson (8-1) (-135) vs Robert Whittaker (11-3) (+115)
This matchup between two incredible welterweight strikers has the potential to deliver in the form of a fight of the night bonus, or a spectacular finish. While their styles contrast, their goals do not—which is to knockout their opponent with a strike.
Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson, one of the most diverse and technical strikers in the entire UFC, his unique karate stance and kicks that come from all angles are a difficult problem for any opponent. Thompson has bounced back nicely since suffering his first career loss in any combat sport—to Matt Brown, by defeating Nah-Shon Burrell and most recently a knockout win over Chris Clements at UFC 165.
The welterweight TUF Smashes winner, Robert Whittaker always possess a dangerous 1-punch knockout / change the momentum of a fight power, as shown in his fights on TUF Smashes and against Colton Smith. But Whittaker comes off a split decision loss to Court McGee in which he was outstruck by the volume punching of ‘Crusher’.
We could see a similar fight to Whittaker’s last in this one, Thompson being the more accurate striker (51%) could very well out land Whittaker in sheer volume. The Aussie is far less accurate, landing only at 37%, however makes up for it by throwing a high quantity of punches–landing 4.52 strikers per min. Despite absorbing a high 4.33 strikes—Whittaker does have an impressive 69% striking defense, a whole 13% higher than his opponent. Both fighters have never been knocked out, but expect both of their chins to be tested in this fight.
Prelims (FOX Sports 1, 8 pm EST)
#3 Alexis Davis (15-5) (-155) vs #5 Jessica Eye (12-1) (+135)
A potential bantamweight title shot is on the line when winner of her last 4, Alexis Davis takes on the #4 ranked Jessica Eye.
Alexis Davis has faced and beaten some the who’s who of the women’s bantamweight division, with wins over Shayna Baszler, Rosi Sexton, and Liz Carmouche (the last 2 in the UFC), a win over Eye should solidify a title shot for the Canadian. Davis is one of the most well-rounded female fighters in the UFC, comfortable both in the standup and on the ground, and has very few weaknesses in her game.
The whole situation with Jessica Eye has been made well known by the media, but she looks to put that past her as she takes on a very dangerous opponent in Davis. Eye was originally victorious in her UFC debut, defeating the then #2 ranked Sarah Kaufman via split decision, but the result has since been changed to a no contest due to a failed drug test. It remains to be seen how the UFC will treat the result of the fight as it pertains to Eye’s standing in the division. But a win over Alexis Davis would put her right up there in the title picture.
Eye is unbeaten in her last 8 fights, competing in all of her fights at flyweight before moving to bantamweight to make her UFC debut. On a card full of Olympians, she was very vocal during the UFC on FOX 10 Fight Club Q&A, considering herself a gold medalist in MMA and telling the fans that the real ‘evil’ is coming.
#3 Raphael Assuncao (-195) vs Pedro Munhoz (10-0) (+155)
Rapahael Assuncao has won 5 straight fights in the UFC’s bantamweight division and is now currently widely regarded as the #1 contender for Renan Barao’s bantamweight title. Assuncao’s original opponent, Francisco Rivera suffered a hand injury and had to pull out of their fight, leaving Assuncao with a new debuting opponent.
Pedro Munhoz makes his awaited UFC debut after an outstanding run in RFA, capturing the RFA bantamweight title—defeating Jeff Curran via split decision. And submitting his 3 of his 4 opponents in RFA (6 of 10 overall), most recently a 41 second guillotine choke of Billy Daniels at RFA 12, just one month ago. The Black House trained fighter possesses a dangerous ground game, but faces an extremely tough first test in the #3 ranked Assuncao.
Assuncao, who possesses a 76% takedown defense, may wish to avoid the ground game of Munhoz, where it is clearly his strong suit. But the brazilian jiu jitsu black belt can certainly hold his own on the mat, Assuncao has only been submitted once (by Urijah Faber) in his 25 fight career.
Cody Gibson (11-3) (+180) vs Aljamain Sterling (8-0) (-260)
Bantamweight Aljamain Sterling, who coach Matt Serra—in an interview with MMAFighting’s Ariel Helwani–claimed that he had the skills to be a future champion, is a real prospect to watch in his UFC debut. Theformer training partner of light heavyweight champion, Jon Jones, “The Funk Master” was originally a replacement for Bryan Caraway, against Lucas Martins. Opposite Sterling will be Cody Gibson, also making his UFC debut—replacing the injured Martins. Gibson is riding a 6 fight win streak and at 5’10″ is one of the taller fighters in the division.
Zach Makovsky (17-4) (-180) vs Joshua Sampo (11-2) (+140)
The former Bellator bantamweight champion, Zach Makovsky has seen a career resurgence since his drop to flyweight, including capturing the RFA flyweight title. “Fun Size” had an impressive debut, upsetting favourite Scott Jorgensen at UFC on FOX 9. He will look to build upon his momentum when he takes on grappler Joshua Sampo, who is on a 5-fight win streak, including a successful UFC debut submitting Ryan Benoit at the TUF 18 finale.
Prelims (UFC Fight Pass, 7pm EST)
Erik Koch (13-3) (-420) vs Rafaello Oliveira (15-6) (+300)
The once promising featherweight prospect, Erik Koch now sees himself in the fight pass portion of a fight card, after having lost his last 2 fights to Ricardo Lamas and Dustin Poirier. The Roufusport fighter will take on Rafaello “Tractor” Oliveira, who is in desperate need of a win in his 2nd stint with the UFC. He so far has a record of 2-5 in the promotion, losing 3 of his last 4 bouts. If the Roufusport fighter can keep Oliveira from taking him to the mat, and if he can emulate the game plans set by fellow strikers Yves Edwards and Edson Barbosa, Koch should find himself in a position for a nice bounce back win.
Ernest Chavez (6-0) (+220) vs Yosdenis Cedeno (9-2) (-300)
In the card’s opener, two lightweights are set to make their UFC debuts. As American Ernest Chavez takes on Cuban Yosdenis Cedeno. Ernest undefeated in his career, has 3 victories by way of ko/tko, and has captured the BAMMA USA lightweight title. Cedeno comes over from CFA, has won his last 6 fights, finishing 3 of them via ko/tko. Ernest seems to prefer to kee pthe fight on the feet, while Cedeno does a good job of mixing up his attacks by changing levels.
All stats courtesy of FightMetric
All odds courtesy of 5dimes on bestfightodds.com