The best card ever is upon us. New York New York.
I could write for days and days on all of this, but in a world of short attention spans and even shorter fights, I’ve simply chosen to write about the three championship events.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk Vs Karolina Kawokievwicz
Well, whoever wins this one, Poland wins. Two Polish Muay Thai specialists are going to battle it out for the championship belt. So far in a relatively new straw-weight division we haven’t seen anyone else as dominant as Joanna, but we haven’t really seen her up against anyone with as polished striking as Karolina Kawokievwicz. They previously met in an amateur MMA bout, in which Joanna had her hand raised, but since then both fighters have evolved. We all know that Joanna is a monster, and when she smells blood the tempo turns up and she decimates her opponents. Will Karolina let her, though? She’s 10 and 0 since turning professional, and her last fight, a win over Rose Namajunas she was nothing short of a technician, constantly pushing forward and picking Rose apart once she found her flow. The thing is will Joanna, if you keep moving forward you’re going to walk into the Polish equivalent of a buzzsaw, and you can’t take her down either. In her championship winning fight, Joanna decimated Carla Esparza, an all American Wrestler. In short, I think Joanna is riding too much of a wave and she’s just too fast.
Tyron Woodley Vs Stephen Thompson
Do not blink. Here you have the most explosive puncher in MMA (Woodley) Vs the snappiest kicker we’ve seen (Thompson). Woodleys game plan is usually pretty predictable. Knock you out in the first round, or wrestle you to death. It’s through his fast twitch muscle fibre he’s able to do this, his transformation of power is impeccable. Thompson, shouldn’t allow this to happen, he fights using a tonne of distance, so he can constantly keep you away from him using snake-like kicks anytime you think about getting closer. The problem with having a mainly kick based game against a wrestler like Woodley is he’s going to try and grab a hold of those legs and throw you on your head. Though he trains with Weidman, the speed of Woodley on the takedowns will be what counts. If he can get him on his back he’s toast, if Thompson can keep the distance and defend the takedown he’ll outpoint Woodley, and probably gas him out with body kicks later in the championship rounds. Thompson got clipped early by Jake Ellenberger in the first round, and I daresay he won’t make the same mistake again.
Eddie Alvarez Vs Conor McGregor
Champion Vs Champion. The sheer amount of times this style of a super fight has been speculated about for one of a million reasons, it has never materialised. Now here we are, less than a week away and (touch wood) we’ve got super fight on our hands. Brash outspoken Irishman Conor McGregor goes up a weight class to try and steal the gold from Eddie Alvarez in a feat never done by any other man in the UFC. Conor has done this before, in cage Warriors, right before he got the call to join the UFC. So here we are, we finally see Conor at 155 (potentially his best weight to compete at) against a legitimate contender, at their natural weight, both with a full training camp behind them. Conor has heavy hands. Eddie has a great chin. Is it good enough? Alvarez has been known to get into wars in the past, and has not been afraid to take a punch in order to throw one, can this technique work with McGregor? That remains to be seen. The way Conor managed to drop Diaz on a few occasions (who has never been knocked out with a punch) make me think that Alvarez wants to keep his hands up. Alvarez has much more traditional boxing, but also has knockout power. If Conor ends up as fatigued as he did in his first bout with Nate Diaz during the second round, Alvarez can turn the heat up and TKO him, one thing is for sure is that Alvarez is turning up in shape and ready for five rounds. He is no slouch, and his wrestling is also very good. If he keeps shooting, eventually he may get McGregor down. I don’t doubt that McGregor has been working on his wrestling and takedown defence, and it may just be good enough, but I don’t think it’ll be an easy night for both of them. If it comes down to pure heart, Alvarez wins by a mile, but can that chin hold up?
Other fights on the Main Card:
Chris Weidman Vs Yoel Romero
Weidman in his hometown, very few would bet against, but Romero is just the type of freak to do it.
Kelvin Gastelum Vs Cowboy Cerrone
Gastelum has a habit of derailing hype trains, Cerrones knees are the one thing in the way.
Meisha Tate Vs Raquel Pennington
If Tate wants a 3rd crack at Rousey, she HAS to win this one.
Frankie Edgar Vs Jeremy Stephens
Wrestling vs Heavy Hands. Can Frankie avoid the dogfight?
Khabib Nurmagomedov Vs Michael Johnson
Well. Probably a tough lesson in Sambo for Johnson
Rashad Evans Vs Tim Kennedy
Universal Soldier adds another scalp to his collection
Fight Pass Prelims:
Jim Miller Vs Thiago Alves
See you on the other side!