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The UFC is giving Paige Vanzant a great opportunity to add to her already growing popularity by taking on arguably the best opponent of her career in "Thug" Rose Namajunas.
Here are my picks, bets, and breakdowns for specific fights that I think you should be interested in as the UFC takes to Vegas for the first of three nights of compelling action.
Means is coming off a disappointing loss to the Immortal Matt Brown in the first round in which he looked excellent for a couple of minutes, but Brown prevailed in his favorite type of fight which is a brawl. Howard is coming off a decision victory over a tough Cathal Pendred in his last fight as he got back on the winning track after a tough skid.
Basically, in this fight, I see one guy trending upwards in his skills and career and the other on the decline. Before the Brown fight, Means was looking excellent with his flashy elbows and diverse striking game. Tim is a nasty striker and I like how when he gets a guy hurt he stays calm and doesn't get wild.
Howard's base still is striking but now a days he wins fights buy utilizing his improved grappling and pushing guys into the fence and winning decisions. He always has had a good left hook with power and a hard right leg kick, but I don't think those weapons are what they once were at this point.
All in all, I am all over Tim Means in this fight at as a good parlay leg. I think he picks Howard apart on the feet, defends takedown attempts and gets a finish.
Prediction: Means via TKO (Round 2)
Zabaria "Warrior" Tukhugov vs Phillipe "The Filipino Assassin" Nover
Tukhugov is a very highly touted prospect out of Russia with a very diverse striking attack. He has an excellent left hook and very good spinning attacks that actually land for the most part. Although he has shown only his striking skills he is a very accomplished sambo fighter as well. His fight with Chavez was a very clean, technical performance where he showed killer instinct and patience early.
I think Tukhugov is better everywhere besides maybe straight Brazilian Jiu-jitsu but I think Tukhugov stuffs most if not all of the takedowns and picks Nover apart on the feet for a decision win.
Prediction: Tukhugov via decision
Jim Miller vs Michael "Maverick" Chiesa
This is one of the toughest fights to pick over the 3 day span of fights this week. We all know Miller, in his prime, was a top 5 lightweight and was one win away from a couple of title shot opportunities, but that is no longer the case at this point of his career.
Chiesa, a former TUF winner, has had some good moments in the cage buy just hasn't gotten over the hump yet in his young career. Chiesa's bread and butter is his Brazilian Jiu-jitsu as he likes to mainly just take guys down, take their backs and look for the choke. His striking is still fairly raw and is improving steadily, but he still ins't that comfortable exchanging in the pocket.
Chiesa is still developing and maybe this fight is the fight that the striking game clicks for him, I definitely give Miller the edge on the feet. He is more fluid, comfortable, and accurate on the feet.
I think Jim keeps this fight standing and wins a close good fight, I think both have the possibility of finishing eachother so I am not betting on the fight, but I do think Miller gets it done.
Prediction: Miller via decision
Aljmain "Funk Master" Sterling vs Johnny Eduardo
According to some, Sterling is arguably the best prospect at 135. He has good grappling skills and comes from a great camp. He is still very raw in the striking department and is pretty much a straight grappler at this point. Eduardo is a serious veteran of the sport with solid Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.
Sterling is coming off late that arm triangle sub from the bottom vs Mizugaki and Eduardo's last fight was a stunning upset over Eddie Wineland. Eduardo is coming off a very long layoff, but he has been in this spot before his last fight as he was coming off another 2 year layoff before the Wineland fight.
And I think he can and I am definitely willing to bet on this and find out. I think Aljamain is a good fighter, but I think Johnny pulls off a big upset by keeping this up and outstriking and winning the exchanges on the feet.
Prediction: Eduardo via decision
"Thug" Rose Namajunas vs Paige "12 Gauge" Vanzant
Vanzant is that relentless, constant pressure type of fighter that never stops attacking or grinding for a W. With that being said she leaves a lot of openings and lacks in that head movement area too. Rose, came out of the gates hard originally on TUF but faced a high level wrestler and got grinded and eventually folded and was choked out.
Prediction: Namajunas via submission (Round 2)
- Antonio Carlos
1U Means(-320)/Tukhugov(-250) Parlay. (-116)
1U straight bet Eduardo (+500)
So when the UFC's brightest Strawweight stars collide on the Vegas strip, who will be victorious? It's part of a star-studded line up in the greatest weekend in the history of MMA.
More: Why Jose Aldo needs the win more at UFC 194
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