Marlon Moraes vs. Cory Sandhagen
Despite coming off of a first-round submission loss to Aljamain Sterling in June, Cory Sandhagen enters his fight against Marlon Moraes with momentum behind him
Moraes is coming off of a somewhat controversial win over former featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo. Although he got the win, it was considered arguable as the vast majority of the public believes that Aldo won the fight. But no matter what your opinion on the result may be, Moraes was on his game with his patent technically sound, explosive striking.
Moraes is far more experienced, has been a long term champion in another organization and has fought the absolute highest level of talent at bantamweight since entering the UFC 3 years ago. He finishes fights, and has the rare attributes of a bantamweight in that he is both very fast, and has fight-ending power in his right hand and kicks.
Sandhagen is a highly touted up and comer for good reason, before taking his last loss he was riding a 7 fight win streak. That included his first couple wins over upper echelon fighters John Lineker and Raphael Assuncao. Although he stopped in his last fight in the first round, his stock hasn’t taken much of a hit.
At the end of the day
As explosive and dangerous as Moraes is, he often pays for expelling all of that energy early and often, and the later the fight goes, the less dangerous he becomes. The Brazillian has far more experience against high-level competition than his counterpart, but Sandhagen is starting to come into his own and is on the cusp of breaking through. Sandhagen will weather the early storm and come on strong in the later rounds to edge out a decision.
Pick: Corey Sandhagen
Edson Barboza vs Makwan Amirkhani
Edson Barboza may have lost his featherweight debut, but he looked fantastic in the fight against a very tough customer in Dan Ige. The weight cut seemed to have not been a major issue for him, and he didn’t look depleted come fight night. The speed advantage he held at lightweight isn’t there anymore, but he is still plenty fast to hang in there with the featherweights, and his punches pack a heavier blow than they did at 155.
Makwan Amirkhani is hands down in for the toughest fight of his career against Barboza. He is a very aggressive grappler with the ability to put Barboza in serious trouble should the fight enter that realm.
The key against Barboza is to try to overwhelm him early, and not give him time and space to get comfortable enough to start uncorking hellacious kicks. If Amirkhani can disrupt his rhythm, and not allow Barboza to get going, he could outpoint his way to a decision win.
At the end of the day
But standing with extremely dangerous high-level strikers is not Amikhanis game. His best chance at victory is to get the fight to the ground and try to take over. But Barboza’s takedown defense is too strong, and although a step slower at 145 , the speed and timing of his kicks will be too much. Amikhani has good skills on the feet, but he has defensive striking habits that make him susceptible to getting caught with a unexpected shot. Barboza has some of the sharpest and most dangerous striking in the UFC, there will be holes and he will find them.
Pick: Edson Barboza via KO/TKO
Ben Rothwell vs Marcin Tybura
Ben Rothwell has 50 professional MMA fights to his name, and over the past 10 years, its been against the very best the division has to offer. He has an extremely fast hand for a big man, coupled with an awkward sort of herky-jerky style that can be hard to read. It landed many of his opponents in serious trouble over the years, even the opponents who were thought to be the better striker than Rothwell.
Tybura is plenty experienced himself, having been a heavyweight champion with two title defenses to his name in another organization, as well as fights in the UFC against former champions like Fabricio Werdum and Andre Arlovski. He will be well prepared and comfortable taking on a fighter like Rothwell.
The good thing about Heavyweight fighters is the prime age is generally considered to be in the mid to late 30 range. Both fighters have looked great in their most recent outings and haven’t been showing any signs of slowing down. Although they both have a lot of mileage on them, there is still plenty of runway left to their careers.
At the end of the day
Tybura is very well rounded, but he often finds himself on his back. This is an extremely dangerous place to be as Rothwell has very underrated ground and pound. While both men like to strike, Rothwell has been known to try to wear down his opponents by making them carry his weight along the fence. While this isn’t almost the most exciting thing to watch, he does an awesome job of landing damaging blows from all positions in the grappling realm, whether standing or on the ground. If this fight goes all three rounds, it’ll be close, but Rothwell will walk away the winner.
Pick: Ben Rothwell