Dillashaw x Garbrandt 2
Johnson x Cejudo 2
Picks, Parlays, and Predictions
Rematches, Rivalries, Redundancy
Fun Fact: August 4th marks the six year anniversary of my first live UFC event, which also happened to be at the Staples Center. Coincidence? All I'm saying is you should look into it.
Also, despite being mere days away from giving birth, Marea Korea was gracious enough to bless us with a fresh set of fighter portraits. The baby also deserves credit, by proxy.
Dillashaw x Garbrandt
Johnson x Cejudo
Moicano x Swanson
Viana x Aldrich
Santos x Holland
Johns x Munhoz
Simon x Jackson
Moraes x Sayles
Perez x Torres
Ramos x Kang
Taylor x Zhang
Vera x Buren
“Knock on Wood” EDITION
$2.27 to win $38.34
“Ring My Bell” EDITION
$5 to win $33.71
“Staying Alive” EDITION
$5 to win $13.77
T.J. Dillashaw x Cody Garbrandt
for the Bantamweight Championship
Two-time bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw didn’t want to take the belt back from anyone more than Cody Garbrandt when they met last November. Leading up to the first fight, we were treated to dama, betrayal, hearsay, backstage confrontations, a lengthy season of TUF followed by an inevitable fight-canceling injury – the winning card in UFC hype bingo. Promotion aside, we were finally able to watch the two best 135-pounders in the world meet and it lived up to our expectations. It was a short, albeit competitive, matchup and now we’re lucky enough to see it again.
Dillashaw has been circling the block at bantamweight for a while. After holding the belt for almost two years, he was eventually dethroned in 2016. That didn’t stop the veteran from continuing to improve his fancy feints and footwork under the watchful, twitching eyes of Duane Ludwig. His striking is as frenetic as his pace and he knows how to play the game everywhere. When T.J. is in charge of a fight, he looks unstoppable because he’s bouncing around like a madman while his opponents are frozen in place. Unpredictability is a factor. Cody is going to have to watch out for dangerous bursts of energy and won’t want to stay still for very long.
Cody “No Love” Garbrandt is the new golden child of Sacramento’s Team Alpha Male. He’s got insane power in both hands and his boxing is superb by MMA standards. Despite having No Love, the man has great footwork and head movement. Cody’s opponents are also rarely able to stifle his offense with takedowns thanks to the improved wrestling defense he’s developed with his team. After embarrassing the infamous Dominick Cruz at UFC 207, Cody took the belt and got a chance to put his starpower on display. Unfortunately, the success was short lived. After almost a year away from the cage, he tasted defeat for the first time when Dillashaw knocked him out and slithered away with his belt.
If the first fight is any indication, they’ll skip the feeling-out process and get right to business. Both men spent three years together at Alpha Male, which gives them the kind of insight that I can only pretend to have. Instead, I’ll quote vague statistics. Something like 60% of rematches in the UFC end with the same winner and I think Saturday night plays to those odds. Both men had their moments in the first match and it stayed even for all but ten seconds. T.J. got saved by the bell in the first and came back in the second to deliver the impossible. He shouldn’t hang out in the pocket for too long against a killer like Cody, but I think superior movement coupled with a wider range of ways to finish the fight spells out a victory for Dillashaw. I can’t wait, either way.
Dillashaw moves, groves, and plays his funky music all over a game Garbrandt.
Demetrious Johnson x Henry Cejudo
for the Flyweight Championship
As far as rematches go, we’ve seen Johnson beat McCall twice, Benavidez twice, Dodson twice, and, if I may be so bold, I’d venture to say we’ll see him beat Cejudo twice. In every one of those rematches, we saw a more technical version of Mighty Mouse. Not only is Demetrious exceptional in every discipline, but his composure is steadfast and his game planning with longtime-coach Matt Hume is unmatched. Under his eleven belts is an impressive collection of knockouts, submissions, and decisions. If the man wasn’t stuck in a 5’3” frame, the whole world would be taking notice. I personally find it compelling that I could get murdered at the hands of someone the size of a preteen.
Henry Cejduo is coming into this fight on the heels of two solid performances. The stand-out wrestler has worked on smoothing his transitions between striking and grappling and we’ve seen him settle into his sharp, technical boxing. While it’s only been two years since the first fight, Henry’s championship-calibur work ethic shouldn’t be called into question. Remember when he won that medal at some sort of wrestling tournament one time? Details are foggy, but the man knows what it takes to earn gold. At the very least, we should expect a better performance out of him.
The biggest problem I have with the first fight is that it wasn’t an errant punch that caught Cejudo; it was a systematic beatdown in the clinch. There was a flash of success when he managed to trip the champ and take him down, but the minor victory was short lived. Johnson sprang back to his feet, jumped right back into the clinch, and went to work. Cejudo couldn’t find his range and was quickly overwhelmed with strikes. The challenger is capable of a better fight, the problem is he’s going up against the most dominant champion in the world. I don’t need to beat a dead horse -- you can see that on Saturday.
Johnson feints into a slip and kicks with the hip to prove he’s better at Kung Fu fighting.