The new fight of the century and fight of the summer in Floyd “Money” Mayweather may still be a bit far off (August 26,) but the UFC is keeping things rolling by touching down for another event, this one taking place at the Chesapeake Bay Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. Some of the early odds are in, so learn all you need to know before the event goes down on Fox Sports 1 on June 25!
Main Card (Fox Sports 1)
Michael Chiesa vs. Kevin Lee
This “don’t talk about my Momma” feud that Kevin “The Motown Phenom” Lee started (without saying anything other than that he knew the “Maverick’s mother had bought tickets) may feel a little forced, but that’s beside the point.
Lee is 15-2 in MMA overall and 8-2 inside the octagon with eight finishes overall (seven being submissions) and he’s been put away once thus far. Chiesa is 14-2 overall in MMA, coming into the UFC undefeated before winning season 15 of The Ultimate Fighter and improving to 9-0 one fighter after the TUF win.
The two have shared a common path in the form of some previous opponents and each have a pair of defeats in the UFC, so this was probably the fight to make regardless of their exchange of words at the promotion’s Summer Kick-Off press conference.
FightMetric LLC’s figures show a fairly even split in stats too with Lee having a two-inch reach advantage (77” to 75”) but with Chiesa leading Lee in height (6’ 1” to 5’ 9) and having a shorter average fight time of 8:43 to 10:19 (although this does include losses.)
Lee has the edge in Significant Strikes landed per Minute (3.55 to 2.26,) is more of an accurate striker, if only just barely (40 percent to 37 percent,) although Chiesa absorbs fewer strikes (2.38 to 3.08) and just trails his opponent 52 percent to 53 percent in striking defense. Wrestling might be Lee’s key to victory followed by ground ‘n’ pound strikes as he average’s 3.49 takedowns every 15 minutes to Chiesa’s 2.87.
The Odds: Both men are fresh off of back-to-back victories by way of a rear-naked choke but perhaps Lee’s stats gave him an edge in the odds as well as 5Dimes shows him the -135 favorite with Chiesa as the +115 underdog at this time (June 19.)
This bout may simply come down to if Chiesa is able to use his anger as motivation rather than losing control and letting the anger cloud him during the fight, making him try too hard to do damage. However, he does have a track record of using family as a motivator as his father passed during TUF 15, which he later won as mentioned above.
“People are saying, ‘oh he didn’t even say anything that bad,’ but just the fact alone that the word ‘mom’ came up, and in the manner when you’re saying, ‘oh you’re going to show up and your mom is going to be there,’ and yeah you didn’t say anything that bad, but you were in route to going that path.
It’s not up to him to know that I’m a momma’s boy but you know, the media knows, the UFC knows, for Christ’s sake if my mom is in attendance in a fight right after I win, they have a camera on her. That’s just my one nerve, that one button you can push to really get that kind of reaction out of me, so I don’t regret it at all, but I know it won’t happen again.”
Prediction: Michael Chiesa def. Kevin Lee by way of a finish
Tim Boetsch vs. Johny Hendricks
Two consecutive wins (both by TKO due to strikes) in 2016 may very well have saved Tim Boetsch’s job as a UFC fighter. “The Barbarian” has demonstrated previously that he is at best mediocre against the sport’s top level big men as he went 2-2 in his first run with the promotion and is an almost even 9-8 with the world leader in MMA since beginning a second run in 2010.
Boetsch has proven he still has what it takes in his hands though and although he suffered consecutive striking losses between 2015 and 2016, his chin still has some durability, but at the age of 36, that’s still not much.
His kryptonite is in the submission department and while Johny “Bigg Rigg” is also more of a striker and trails his opponent in some catagories measured by FightMetric, his wrestling should carry him to a UD along with the fact that he has changed his diet with the help of experts in the field and has moved up to the healthier division of middleweight (185 pounds.)
The Odds: Oddsmakers feel the same way as 5Dimes has Hendricks as the -210 over the +175 Boetsch. Prediction: Johny Hendricks def. Tim Boetsch by way of a Unanimous Decision
Felice Herrig vs. Justine Kish
The Russian Justin Kish got another shot in the UFC after having to withdraw from the 20th season of tough, which crowned a strawweight (115-pound) champion, due to an ACL injury that later required surgery. She is coming off of a pair of decision victories over Nina Ansaroff and Ashley Yoder in 2016 but is a perfect 6-0 overall.
Felice Herrig is more of a finisher though (with five to her credit as part of her 12-6 overall record.) Kish hasn’t had a finish since 2013 and Herrig returned to the UFC with a reinvigorated fire in her belly following a 2015 loss to “12 Gauge” Paige VanZant. She then took a year off, battling anxiety and depression while questioning if she still had what it takes to be in the UFC.
“Lil’ Bulldog” returned to the UFC in front of a native-area Chicago crowd in July of 2016 against Kailin Curran, winning by rear-naked choke before taking a UD against Alexa Grosso in February.
The ladies are fairly even on the ground and Kisch leads in almost every way on the feet, but she typically takes longer to execute. She can’t do that against Herrig, who absorbs fewer strikes (3.89 to 4.53.) If she’s not hunting for a takedown/submission, hesitance from Kisch should allow punches and points to add up.
Predicition: Felice Herrig def. Justin Kish by way of a Unanimous Decision
Joachim Christensen vs. Dominick Reyes
The 14-5 Christensen is may have ten finishes under his belt, but Reyes is coming in as a late replacement and a flawless record of 6-0, five finishes, four by way of KO/TKO) after scoring a UFC contract following a head kick KO under the developmental Legacy Fighting Alliance. Christensen will definitely be able to take a punch as three of his five losses went the full distance. Reyes also has just one submission victory.
Just call this prediction a hunch depending on how Reyes handles the big lights, audience, and accompanying pressure that comes with making your UFC debut.
Dominick Reyes def. Joachim Christensen by way of KO/TKO
Tim Means vs. Alex Garcia
This is yet another contest that will mostly just depend on where the fight takes place. Standing up, Means looks like an almost sure-fire horse to bet on for a win (Strikes Landed per Minute:
4.18 to 2.14, Striking Accuracy: 46 percent to 35 percent, Strikes Absorbed per Minute: 2.76 to
3.23, and they are just barely separated 63 percent to 61 percent in Defense.)
On the ground, Garcia’s biggest edge is that he lands just under five takedowns per 15 minutes (the length of this bout) and he is far more accurate with his takedown as well (62 percent to 47 percent.) The problem is that he doesn’t do much according to the numbers once he forces the action to force the action to the canvas.
Means defends 59 percent of the takedowns opponents go for, so he should be able to get back up if he’s forced down and then pretty much do as he wishes when it comes to striking.
Tim Means def. Alex Garcia by way of a Unanimous Decision
B.J. Penn vs. Dennis Siver
First, rule out the ground game entirely for this bout. Second, this is widely considered the bout that the man we all once called “The Prodigy” in Penn needed when he came out of retirement in January. While it is getting more and more sad to watch Penn fight, he is facing a journeyman in Dennis Siver who was also a stepping stone for younger stars of the sport and hasn’t had a victory since 2014.
Penn leads in Striking Accuracy by a landslide (49 percent to 31 percent) but Siver connects more often (3.66 to 2.67 Significant Strikes per Minute, absorbs just slightly less damage (2.58 strikes to 2.98 strikes,) but also has a better defense rate (66 percent to 55 percent.)
This will be a much-needed win for Siver and we could see Penn into a second retirement. Although, it will most likely be slow and painful to watch. Penn is 1-5-1 since 2010.
Predicition: Dennis Siver def. B.J. Penn by way of a Unanimous Decision.
Preliminary Card (Fox Sports 2)
Clay Guida vs. Erik Koch
This fight actually feels pretty simple to call. Guida is 2-1 in the UFC since 2015 but Koch’s last fight before his submission win over Shane Campbell in May of 2016 (a loss) came all the way back in 2014. That kind of layoff could be a problem, especially considering that Guida is known for his constant, almost spastic movements and odd angles.
As of late this has led to less excitement when he fights as his opponents are busy trying to catch him while he is more focused on moving more than using the opportunity to pounce with strikes, but if his movement hold up, this should be a nice rebound for “The Carpenter.”
Prediction: Clay Guida def. Erik Koch by way of a Unanimous Decision
Carla Esparza vs. Maryna Moroz
It’s likely that the UFC’s first women’s strawweight champion in the 11-4 Esparza will end up being a stepping stone for the 8-1 Moroz. Esparza has dropped two of three bouts and had to deal with injury issues since she initially won the title in 2014. She suffered defeat at the hands of Randa Markos in February. The most that Moroz is dealing with that is public knowledge is a long layoff.
Esparza biggest asset against her adversary will be that she lands over four takedowns in a standard fight while Moroz posts an average of 0.32. She is also the overall better striker, so this could be her first striking finish win in the UFC.
Prediction: Carla Esparza def. Maryna Moroz by way of KO/TKO
Devin Powell vs. Darrell Horcher
The last the MMA world had heard of Darrell Horcher, he still wasn’t training full-time as he continued his day job in construction and he was essentially being thrown to the lions against the now 24-0 Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov. Horcher was defeated due to strikes.
Devin Powell may have fallen to Drakkar Klose in his UFC debut by decision back in February, but he surprisingly has the edge against the striking finisher in Horcher in every striking category. While Horcher has won five of his last seven bouts, Powell has won six of seven and all of his finish wins (five, 8-2 overall) have come within the opening five minutes.
Prediction: Devin Powell def. Darrell Horcher by way of KO/TKO
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass)
Jared Gordon vs. Michel Quiñones
Both men will be making their promotional debuts, but Gordan, formerly of Cage Fury Fighting Championships, enters the UFC with more experience at 12-1 compared to the 8-1 Quiñones, formerly of Titan FC. What can be said is not to bet on a submission finish from either fighter. If this doesn’t end by knockout, it’s going to the judges.
Prediction: Jared Gordon def. Michel Quiñones by way of KO/TKO
Josh Stansbury vs. Jeremy Kimball
Even though Kimball (14-6) fell in his UFC debut, he had previously been on a four-fight winning streak while Stansbury currently sits at 8-3 overall and 1-1 in the UFC after making it to the semifinals of TUF 23. Kimball has 11 finishes, ten being KO/TKOs but has lost by submission five times and Stansbury has five sub wins on his record.
If the fight goes to the ground, the Achilles heel on the part of Kimball is obvious.
Prediction: Josh Stansbury def. Jeremy Kimball by way of Submission
Tony Martin vs. Johnny Case
While Martin is 3-3 in the UFC compared to “Hollywood” Case’s 4-1, Case has been away for some time dealing with an injury while Martin has racked up back-to-back wins, so ring rust could come into play. Case is 22-5 overall with Martin at 11-3.
Martian favors the ground with 8 submissions making all of his finishes. Case prefers to throw leather (12 KO/TKOs out of 18 finishes. FightMetric sides his way as well. Perhaps more important than all the ways he leads in striking is that case should be able to keep this fight where he wants, like some others on this card, as he has a takedown defense rate of 75 percent to Martin’s 50 percent.
Prediction: Johnny Case def. Tony Martin by way of a Unanimous Decision
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