Two Titles on the Line
For those who read my blog, you must remember my Stupid Predictions segment where I constantly outclassed the “professional journalists” that cover MMA. My record is … well, on the record. I always published it along with the records of others who were paid money to make predictions. I stopped doing Stupid Predictions (and Fight Fans Radio, to which you should still be listening!) because I ran out of time to properly research, which would have inevitably placed me on the level of those “journalists.” However, I recently engaged in a Twitter conversation with Mike Wise of the Washington Post and asked when he would start writing about MMA. His response wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but I have at least some hope that a real journalist will eventually start covering this sport. Then you won’t need me anyway.
In the meantime, I decided to dust off my MMADork blog and write another Stupid Predictions post, not so much to fix what’s wrong with MMA Journalism, but just to get a particular prediction off my chest. To keep things from getting too ridiculous, I’ll stick to the main card; I’m really not what I once was. But John Makdessi will win.
Let’s do this.
Pat Healy v. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Khabib Nurmagomedov is really good. He’s undefeated at 20-0, and he’s proved himself capable of finishing fights, doing so 70% of the time, split evenly between KOs/TKOs and submissions. However …
I have a lot of faith in Pat Healy’s talent. Pat Healy choked out Jim Miller. Think about that for a second. Pat Healy choked out Jim Miller. That shows a ridiculous amount of talent, and if anything, his marijuana use would’ve slowed him down. I understand why the commission had to overturn the victory, but these picks are about who’s more talented, not who’s breaking technical rules. If Pat is high tonight, it’ll be declared a no contest, but otherwise, he’ll hand Nurmagomedov his first loss in a tough match.
Healy by decision
Costas Philippou v. Francis Carmont
Costas Philippou sort of snuck up on me. I never thought much of him, but he steadily amassed a ton of wins, some against some contenders. His only losses were a unanimous decision in 2011, and a split decision in 2008. Of his 12 victories, over half (7) are finishes. Of course, Joe Silva, matchmaker for the UFC, knows his job, and he’s given Philippou a good matchup. Carmont has won his last 10 fights, and if it goes to the ground, Carmont has the advantage. However, Carmont’s competition hasn’t been as stiff as Philippou’s, and I don’t think he’s guaranteed to get the takedown.
As with Daniel Cormier, I’m sick of picking against Philippou and looking like an idiot for doing so. I’ll take my chances that his run continues.
Philippou by 2nd round KO/TKO
Brendan Schaub v. Matt Mitrione
Brendan Schaub started out with so much potential, but he’s since found himself cleanly beating only the (relatively) low-level guys, while eking out decisions or being put to sleep when fighting the higher-level guys. He may one day meet the expectations we had for him, but I’ll acknowledge it only after I’ve seen it.
Matt Mitrione might not be a fan favorite, and losing to Cheick Kongo is nothing to brag about, but he wins fights, and usually finishes them. Losing to a top contender like Roy Nelson is not an indication you can’t handle Brendan Schaub.
Mitrione by 1st round KO/TKO
Renan Barao v. Eddie Wineland
Renan Barao is the bantamweight champ, and he hasn’t lost since 2005. One might counter that argument by pointing out he’s an old man that’s been fighting too long, but that’d be a bad assumption. He’s only 26 years old, and there’s no slow-down in his step. He can knock you out, submit you, or out-athletic you by going the distance and getting a decision. Also of note is that he’s done these things to some top-notch competition.
Then there’s Eddie Wineland, who hasn’t lost since … 2011. He’s hot and cold, and that won’t cut it against a talent like Barao. Wineland is good enough to be in the UFC, but he won’t win the belt tonight.
Barao by 2nd round submission
However, I wouldn’t be shocked if I got this wrong. Why? See my next entry.
Jon Jones v. Alexander Gustafsson
Don’t look too closely if you’re squeamish.
Finally, we get to the main event, which is the one for which I’m dying to make a pick. The smart money is on Jon Jones, but I’m sick and tired of being smart. It’s clear that no title is safe, and that goes back to April 30, 2011, when George St. Pierre should have been medically retired from his fight against a completely over-matched Jake Shields. (An accidental eye poke left GSP temporarily blind in one eye, which was hidden from the doctors.) Lately, the number of examples of unbeatable champs being exposed as vulnerable is staggering. Anthony Pettis won his rematch against a very different, much improved Benson Henderson, finishing Bendo by armbar in the 1st round and capturing lightweight gold. Anderson Silva, who hadn’t lost since 2006 (by DQ), and who really hadn’t lost since 2004, was knocked out in the 2nd round by a wrestler. This brings us to the man of the hour, Jon Jones, who barely won his last two fights. He was almost armbarred by Vitor Belfort, and despite dominating Chael Sonnen, was 27 seconds away from being medically retired due to a broken toe.
*** No title is safe. *** (Did I emphasize that enough?)
I don’t believe that trends are caused by ghosts or some cosmic force like karma. There’s a scientific explanation for them, even if we don’t readily see it. In this case, the trend of champions losing their belts would fall in the realm of psychology, or perhaps sociology, and I’m not qualified to do an analysis in either area. I do know what I see, though, and what I see are champions slipping, and that includes Jones specifically. Once seen as unbeatable in their respective weight classes, they now are succumbing to the rust of old age, the arrogance of young age, or outright sloppiness. On the other hand, Gustafsson is typical of their opponents in that he’s both talented and hungry, having the best takedown percentage of any of Jones’s other challengers. I think he pulls off the upset, even if he has to rely on a medical retirement to do so. I won’t make my pick that specific though.
Gustafsson by decision.
The Paid Prognosticator
That’s it for me. Now let’s see how Sherdog’s expert, Tristen Critchfield, think’s it’ll go down.
Nurmagomedov by decision.
Philippou by decision or TKO.
Schaub by decision … unless he gets knocked out.
Barao by late submission or unanimous decision.
Jones by some sort of finish in the 3rd round.
So, I picked Healy, Mitrione and Gus; whereas Tristen picked Nurmagomedov, Schaub (sort of), and Jones. It’ll take a no-contest for us to come away with the same record. Let’s see if I’ve still got something in the tank.
Enjoy the fights!
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Follow Mike Wise @MikeWiseGuy, even though he doesn’t understand trademark law*
* P.S. Sorry. I had to go there.