UFC 215

Johnson x Borg / Nunes x Shevchenko 2

Picks, Parlay, and Predictions

Short and Sweet

UFC215Banner.jpg

PICKS

Johnson x Borg
Nunes x Shevchenko
RDA x Magny
Pedro x Latifi
Stephens x Giblert
McMann x Vieira
Cejudo x Reis
Moras x Evans-Smith
Henrique x Bhullar
Johnson x Martins

Parlay

“No Fumble” EDITION
Nunes (-110)
RDA (-210)
Stephens (-120)
Reis (+225)
$2.15 to win $37.29

PREDICTIONS

Can or Canada, There Is No Try

Demetrious Johnson x Ray Borg for the Flyweight Championship

-Oh? It got cancelled? If only somebody saw this coming.-

This could be it. This could be number 11. If Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson walks through Ray Borg like he’s walked through the rest of the flyweight division, he’ll have the record for the most consecutive title defenses in UFC history. That’s a borderline untouchable number. It’s not outlandish to think that we’ll never see a champion this dominant again. Unfortunately, it’s hard to call a fight against Borg a worthy challenge on paper. As I mentioned, Johnson has already worked through most of the top competitors at flyweight. Some of them he’s even beaten twice, with markedly improved performances. Now the UFC is forced to dig deeper into the roster to search for contenders that probably aren’t ready for such a massive challenge.

Initially, the UFC wanted Mighty Mouse to face T.J. Dillashaw, the ex bantamweight champion, who was willing to cut the extra ten pounds to make the fight happen. Demetrious Johnson decided to decline that matchup and instead face someone who “has proved they can make the weight.” Which, to me, is a sly way to guarantee a recording-breaking performance. Dillashaw is a buzzsaw and I don’t think the champ was willing to put history on the line. Drama ensued and eventually Ray Borg’s name came up as an alternate. To be fair, Ray Borg is a legitimate flyweight competitor, but let’s not forget that he’s also missed weight in two of his seven UFC appearances. If the weight is an arguable issue with Dillashaw, a consummate professional, then it’s definitely an issue with Borg. That’s hardly a sensible substitute. I’m a huge fan of DJ and I’m pulling for him to make history, but I would have preferred to see the Dillashaw fight.

Ray Borg has been victorious in five of his seven UFC matchups. He’s currently riding a two fight win streak even though he missed weight in one of those events, less than a year ago. There’s a dangerous spring in his step while he’s striking, but that’s not where his strength lies. Ray is primarily a grappler with slick jiu-jitsu and once the fight hits the mat, he turns into a whirlwind. If you present any possibility for a submission, Borg will dive on it without a second thought. The downside is he can be overeager, which often leads to an entertaining scramble, and his cardio isn’t phenomenal. Outside of his aggressive submission attempts, nothing about him strikes me as phenomenal. Don’t get me wrong, Borg is an entertaining athlete who would put me in an early grave, but there’s nothing about him that stands out. He’s lost to guys who are playing the same game as him and he’s not the best at switching between disciplines on the fly. That’s all our champion does. Johnson can beat anyone his size, anywhere in the Octagon. Striking, wrestling, clinching – he does it all with perfect technique.

Not only is Demetrious exceptional in every discipline, but his composure and preperation are unmatched. There’s no one that compares. Not even the master mind of Greg Jackson, who will be in Borg’s corner. The champ has an impressive collection of knockouts, submissions, and decisions under his belt. If Johnson wasn’t stuck in a 125 pound frame, the whole world would be taking notice. I personally find it compelling that I could get murdered by someone the size of a preteen. A fight against Dillashaw would have helped the public take notice, but apparently that wasn’t in the cards. Expect Johnson to steamroll over Borg to make history. Maybe after we permanently affix Demetrious’ name to the top of the heap, he can start taking bigger, riskier fights, like Dillashaw, without a second thought. The only real competitor left for him at flyweight is Sergio Pettis, but even he’s still too green to take on someone this advanced. Let’s update the history books and see where we go from there.

 

Amanda Nunes x Valentina Shevchenko 2 for the Women’s Bantamweight Championship

-This fight was scheduled to happen in July but Amanda pulled out last minute with a sinus infection. Unless there’s something seriously wrong with her and her nose, I don’t see why anything should be different. As a result, I’d like to formally resubmit my original prediction.-

After sinking her claws into Ronda Rousey’s face, Amanda “The Lioness” Nunes has become the undisputed queen of the UFC’s bantamweight division. During her last two outings, she dismantled two of MMA’s most famous female fighters in under five minutes combined. Nunes has predominantly been a striker throughout her career, even though she owns a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and Judo brown belt. Fans have even dubbed her “She-tor” to draw a comparison to Vitor Belfort, a UFC legend who highlighted his power with ferocity and used his adept grappling skills to scare opponents back to their feet and force a brawl. Unfortunately, a comparison to Belfort can also be made when it comes to cardio.

Nunes has been known to slow down considerably in later rounds which has cost her in the past, most notably to Cat Zingano in 2014. It also almost cost Nunes a victory in her first fight against Shevchenko, where Amanda dominated the first two rounds and barely made it out of the third to win a decision. That was actually the last time The Lioness has gone a decision and the first time she won one. Outside of those examples, Amanda hasn’t needed the judges’ help to put her opponents away. She’s finished all of her fights with the exception of Shevchenko long before the final bell. That kind of stopping power is rare in female combat sports.

Amanda Nunes seems to be an intense person, but Valentina Shevchenko lives an intense life. The Russian (who would have guessed?) Shevchenko is prepared for any scenario inside and outside of the octagon. Valentina has traveled the world with her team, competing in Muay Thai, boxing, kickboxing, and MMA bouts in over 12 countries in the last 14 years. That’s very Mortal Kombat of her. As if that wasn’t enough, Shevchenko is also a competitive marksman and Russian folk dancer, certifying her as a top tier pick for an apocalyptic draft. Her only legitimate loss in MMA came from the first fight against Amanda Nunes early last year and it was close decision. While Shevchenko isn’t known for her stopping power in the UFC, every win has been impressive. Especially her five round decision against the beloved Holly Holm and second round surprise submission against the relentless Juliana Peña. What sticks out about Shevchenko is her technique and durability. Her striking has been battle tested around the globe and developing a sneaky submission game proves there is a clear dedication to the martial arts. Maybe even an infatuation, as she’s only had four losses in a combat career that spans almost eighty professional fights.

The first fight between Nunes and Shevchenko was entertaining. Amanda roared after the opening bell and gave Valentina everything she could handle for the next two rounds. The Brazilian came close to finishing the fight with strikes and a submission, but Shevchenko persisted. The comeback in the third round from Valentina was unexpected and brought the crowd to their feet, as she clearly stole every moment leading up to the final bell. Nunes’ cardio almost lost her that fight. My point? It didn’t. Two rounds to one is still a victory and Nunes was consistently closer to finishing the fight early. Now that we’ve got a full five round fight, things might be different.

It’s hard for me to envision Amanda being put in any fight-stopping danger. Valentina Shevchenko might be able to find space to sneak in a few tight jabs while Nunes swings heavy, but the Russian is going to have to guarantee Amanda’s gas tank teeters on empty before finding an easy finish. A bloody nose won’t stop the champion [edit: but a sinus infection will]. Nunes is dangerous and has the power to put her, or any other bantamweight, away with a handful of punches. Valentina would be smart to stay on the outside and attack the body as The Lioness pounces to ensure an eventual slowdown. From there, she could point fight her way to victory or grind out a TKO.

Amanda can be frustrated, but that will only come with an ample amount of patience and perfect technique. It’s absolutely possible, but something tells me Amanda Nunes is just getting started. The champion may be a barbaric striker, but that doesn’t mean she throws caution to the wind. She knows this fight is likely to go the distance and will pace herself accordingly. I don’t envision The Lioness in any trouble on the ground unless she gets tired. Her power will make the difference on the feet. It’s going to be a scrap. The threat of Nunes landing a fight-ending strike at any point is a heavy burden to bear and I don’t think cardio will come into play, despite the hype. To be honest, this fight could go either way. I’m officially siding with Amanda Nunes but I suggest you root for a competitive fight and bet on the underdog.