The age-old clash of technique against brute force reprises its familiar role inside the Octagon.
The results project to be awful for exciting slugger Tai Tuivasa. The oddsmakers boo the fan favorite this time, placing him at +420.
The underdog draws well-placed ire. Tuivasa’s explosive style is reminiscent of a less-technical version of his mentor Mark Hunt predicates eating shots to close the distance and either surprise opponents with deceptively athletic explosions or use his girth to generate powerful short shots. Much like the elbow that knocked Derrick Lewis unconscious for the first time in years.
Pure power forsakes technique. Ciryl Gane avoids that typical heavyweight pitfall. His Muay Thai level outranks everyone else in the division. The literally huge kicker excels at changing levels of attack while staying out of his opponent’s typically shorter range. Educated elbows punish most who manage to close the distance.
I give Tuivasa a low likelihood of accomplishing the rare feat. His stocky frame creates a six-inch reach disadvantage.
Furthermore, former-heavyweight champion-turned-grizzled-gatekeeper Andrei Arlovski challenged Tuivasa with his pace, low kicks and reading abilities Gane wields the far sharper physical and technical tools — including one of the strongest abilities in the whole UFC to anticipate strikes— that forge a similar attack.
A proper heavyweight haymaker equalizes everything except opposing equilibriums, but Gane has a tough chin to crack. He survived five rounds with the ultimate chin cracker Francis Ngannou, who suddenly morphed into a wrestler. Decorated kickboxer Jairzinho Rozenstruik failed to find ample striking success in 25 minutes too.
Tuivasa has never landed a takedown in his 11-fight UFC career. Gange deceives complacent ground grapplers with a sneaky submission offense should the fight surprisingly go to the ground. Tuivasa prefers drinking out of a shoe to leg locks.
Don’t expect the unapologetically unique Aussie to bring a rabbit foot into the Octagon either.
Robert Whittaker works behind arguably the sweetest jab in MMA. The head kick following it on signature 1-2 combinations leaves a sour taste in sore mouths.
The best offense is a great defense. Whittaker charges with beautiful blitzes on frustrated opponents overextending with desperation to close his pristine distance management.
Good luck securing takedowns against a former middleweight king who owns an 83% career takedown defense. All hail anyone who negates former Olympic silver medalist in wrestling Yoel Romero despite a grade two medial ligament knee injury sustained in the first of five rounds.
Subscribe to our newsletter
The best bets and resources to make you more profitable
Feint-heavy stance switchers attacking from odd angles give Whittaker the closest semblance to trouble.
Marvin Vettori presents an honest boxing view from a southpaw’s perspective. The lefty packs a powerful punch and is good at maintaining pressure on offense and composure when getting hit. A respectable 59% of strikes miss.
Vettori doesn’t mix in many kicks beyond the occasional low leg kick, yet tends to get hit with kicks to the head and body against high-level competition (i.e. Paulo Costa).
That weakness plays to Whittaker’s striking strengths. Whittaker also enjoys an appreciable speed, output and big-fight experience advantage.
Vettori is a very good fighter, but his path to victory is narrow here.
Don’t let Haqparast’s consecutive losses fool you. Dan Hooker waged a grueling war against elite lightweight Dustin Poirier and Bobby Green displays some of the slickest boxing in the division. Losing a decision to either man bears no shame.
I believe either of those two finish Makdessi in a hypothetical fight. The aged lightweight has only fought once in the last two years. Rust atrophies muscle memory and reflexes.
Makdessi’s age of 37 amplifies the already concerning effects. Haqparast is a better all-around fighter at this point in skill and shape.
Scrappy featherweight Nathaniel Wood flies under the radar. He sent opponents flying before entering the UFC. Nowadays, he perches on grounded opponents, swooping down on mistakes. If he gets the back against a mid-level opponent, a successful choke is likely coming.
Charles Jourdain struggles to defend chokes and advance beyond the low rung of the ladder. Wood keeps the strong clinch attack that got him in the UFC.
Although Wood concedes size here, it could be the catalyst to get Jourdain on the ground where victory awaits.