Robbie Lawler will put his belt on the line for the second time this Saturday against Carlos Condit. This will also mark Condit’s second attempt at UFC gold.
The UFC’s first card of 2016 looks to be pretty solid from top to bottom, including a pivotal matchup of Heavyweights featuring two of the division’s top strikers and the best fight pass prelim bout to date, featuring two young and uber- talented Lightweights, one of which is the last man to beat Conor McGregor.
Fight Pass Prelims
Dustin Poirier (18-4) vs Joseph Duffy (14-1)
Poirier: Since his move up to 155 Poirier has gone 2-0 and looked very impressive in both bouts. He appeared to maintain his speed and gain some KO power in his last bout when he KO’ed Hawaiian prospect Yancey Medeiros in the first round.
Duffy: Yet another Irishmen looking to make a name for himself by taking down Poirier; Duffy has looked unbelievable in his first two octagon performances with two wins in a total time of 4:52.
He is also the last man to beat Conor McGregor, submitting him by arm triangle in only 36 seconds! A win here might be the birth of another Irish superstar.
I love Poirier at 155, he will be a title contender for years to come and I really want to take him here. However, I’ve had pretty bad luck picking against the Irish lately. Duffy will take this, and we will immediately hear talks of McGregor vs Duffy 2.
My prediction: Duffy, 2nd round TKO
Abel Trujillo ( 12-7) vs Tony Sims (12-3)
Sims: Boxing specialist Tony “2.0” Sims burst on to the scene with a highlight reel knockout of “Creepy” Steve Montgomery, but hit a stout French-Canadian road block in the form of Oliver Aubin-Mercer in his last outing.
Trujillo: The 32 year old Blackzilianz fighter is coming off back to back losses which brings his UFC record to 3-3-1. He will be looking to get back on the plus side of .500 Saturday night.
These two prefer to stand and trade punches, in what may be a loser leaves town match, expect to see some fireworks!
Trujillo holds the advantage on the ground, but I don’t expect to see it go there often. Sims is the more technical boxer, and should be able to pull this off if he can defend Trujillo’s take-downs.
My prediction: Sims, UD
Diego Brandao (24-10) vs Brian Ortega (9-0-1 NC)
Brandao: Diego’s serial killer fighting style has brought him spurts of success in the UFC (including a TUF 14 crown). On a two fight win streak, he will look to make it a third against fast rising prospect Brian Ortega.
Ortega: “T-city” passed his first real test in the octagon with a third round stoppage of the always dangerous vet, Thiago Tavares. A win over Brandao should get this 24 year old Blackhouse prospect a marquee match up his next time in the octagon.
Brandao is a killer, and he will look to end this one early, but Ortega has shown himself to be competent on his feet and extremely dangerous on the ground. Brandao will control most of this fight, but get caught late.
My prediction: Ortega, 3rd round RNC
Lorenz Larkin (16-4-1 NC) vs Albert Tumenov (16-2)
Larkin: “The Monsoon” has been lights out in his two bouts at 170 with impressive stoppages over elite strikers Santiago Ponzinibbio and John Howard. Larkin is huge at 170, and doesn’t appear to have lost any speed.
A win over Tumenov might put Larkin in title talks. He already holds a victory over the Champ (Lawler) in Strikeforce, that would help make his case for a shot at the belt.
Tumenov: This 24 year old Russian has displayed top notch striking in his five UFC bouts. With big finishes of Alan Jouban and Matt Dwyer, he will look to make it five straight wins after Larkin, his toughest test to date.
If Larkin’s two fights are any indicator of what he is capable of at 170, the sky is the limit. Tumenov might take this bout three years from now, but I see a short night of work for Larkin.
My prediction: Larkin, 2nd round TKO
Stipe Miocic (13-2) vs Andrei Arlovski (25-10-1 NC)
Miocic: The 33 year old Ohioan, born Croat, has put himself in position to possibly contend for the title by winning 7 of his 9 fights, including most recently, a TKO stoppage of the “cement headed” Mark Hunt.
Arlovski: “The Pitbull” has officially risen from the grave and is fighting like its 2005. On a current four fight win streak, we might be looking at the best Arlovski to date.
Miocic possesses top tier striking power and accuracy. Unfortunately for him, the exact same can be said for his opponent.
The difference-maker here will be Miocic’s chin. Though it wouldn’t be the first time Arlovski has proven me wrong, I see Stipe putting an end to Arlovski’s shocker of a title run.
My prediction: Miocic, 2nd round KO
Robbie Lawler (28-10-1 NC) vs Carlos Condit (30-8)
Lawler: Since moving his camp to ATT, Lawler has elevated his game to the highest level. Only 33, Lawler is peaking physically and mentally. Anyone looking to take Lawler’s belt is going to be put through war.
Condit: “The Natural Born Killer” has all the skills to take the belt. After a tough loss resulting in a knee injury against Tyron Woodley, Condit came back better than ever with a stoppage over former title contender, Thiago Alves. This may be Condit’s best chance of owning the gold.
This is one of the most evenly matched title fights in UFC history. Lawler will have the edge in power, while Condit will have a slight speed advantage.
This will be closely contended standing and on the ground, but Lawler’s 5 round experience will prove to be the deciding factor. Condit takes round one, and maybe two, but Lawler will pull this one out in the end.
My prediction: Lawler UD