UFC 206: Holloway vs Pettis

Credit image: mmaWeekly.com


This Saturday will mark a new direction for the Featherweight Division.

This weekend Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (ranked #5)  will face Max “Blessed” Holloway (ranked #2) for the interim Featherweight Championship in the main event. The winner will face newly crowned Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo at a later date. Originally the main event was supposed to be Daniel Cormier vs Anthony Johnson, but due to injury Cormier had to pull out of the fight.

This main event has been surrounded by controversy. Conor McGregor was the Featherweight Champion, which he won be knocking out Jose Aldo in 13 seconds. He would not defend his belt, fighting Nate Diaz twice at Welterweight and recently fighting Eddie Alvarez for the Lightweight Championship. Since McGregor hasn’t defend the belt, the Featherweight division has been in limbo and challengers have been waiting.  Aldo would face Frankie Edgar at UFC 200 in the Summer for the Interim Featherweight Championship, with the supposed winner getting a shot at McGregor next. Aldo would never get his chance to revenge his loss against McGregor, which had frustrated him and his fans to the point Aldo contemplated retirement.  In the meantime, Holloway has been on an incredible 8 fight win streak and Pettis a former Lightweight Champion dropped to the Featherweight division to reinvent himself.

Leading up to McGregor fight against Alvarez, the President of the UFC Dana White had publicly stated that “If Conor would win he would have to give up one of his belts”. With Cormier pulled from the card, the UFC had to scramble to make the Pay per view card interesting. It was the appropriate time to strip McGregor and make Jose Aldo the champion, since he was already the Interim Champion. This allowed to create a new main event and generate interest, by having Holloway face Pettis for the Interim Championship with the winner facing  Aldo.  This would also resolve the problems in the Featherweight Division.

This main event adds new life to a division that has remained stagnant for a year. Holloway vs Pettis will be an interesting and exciting fight, with history also hanging in the balance. Pettis the former Lightweight Champion, will have an opportunity to be a two time champion in different weight classes like McGregor. Holloway would also win his first championship in the UFC as well.

Pettis can be one of the most exciting fighters in the world. He has not been the same fighter, since his when he lost the Lightweight Championship to Rafael Dos Anjos last  year. Pettis was exposed in the fight for not being able to deal with pressure and his cardio. Fighters began to realize if they can take the fight to Pettis and wear him down, Pettis would not be able to overcome the adversity. After three straight losses he dropped to Featherweight to reinvent himself. Now at Featherweight he hopes to make history and be considered one of the best again.

Holloway has been on a mission. Always feeling he has to prove himself, he has been on a winning streak that is unprecedented in the Featherweight Division in the UFC. With Aldo, he has always been in consideration for a Featherweight championship Opportunity. He has excellent stand up ability and can submit his opponents on the ground as well. He also has great cardio and good foot work. All that combined plus the fact he knows how to finish his opponents, has made him a dangerous fighter in the Featherweight Division.

Prediction: This fight will five rounds, instead of the original three. The biggest key disadvantage for Pettis is the fact his cardio is questionable, especially dropping down to Featherweight. Pettis didn’t look good in his debut fight at Featherweight physically and looked like he began to become exhausted in the second round of a three round fight. Holloway has great cardio and can push the pressure on Pettis. He has good foot work, so he not going to stand around to take punishment. Also based on the analytics by UFC.com, Holloway has a higher percentage of getting a takedown (Holloway 66 percent to Pettis 58 Percent) and an incredible lower percentage of getting took down (Holloway 82 percent to Pettis (61 percent)  .  If Holloway can pressure Pettis and challenge Pettis cardio, he can win this fight easily. Pettis needs to win within the first three rounds, to not expose himself.

prediction: Holloway wins be Unanimous Decision, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he wins by submission also in the late rounds.

UFC Fight Night Albany: Derrick Lewis


Friday night is an opportunity for Derrick Lewis to shine.

In the main event, Heavyweight Contender “The Black Beast”  Derrick Lewis(ranked #10) faces Shamil Abdurkaimov(ranked #15). Lewis has slowly become popular to fans with his personality and his fighting style, in a division that is losing its spotlight. He has one punch knockout power and underrated speed. He also has the desire to continue to get better, which he showed improvement in his performance against UFC veteran Roy Nelson. Lewis has gained a following in the heavyweight division and this will be his first time headlining a UFC card. It also marks the first time the UFC has come to Albany, as MMA became legal this year.

The Heavyweight Division in the past was the most exciting division in the UFC with popular names like Randy Couture, Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar. Although over the last couple of years  the smaller weight classes has became more popular then the Heavyweight Division. The smaller weight classes has provided incredible and more technical fights and superstars, which the Heavyweight Division have started to lack. The Heavyweight division also lack youth, as the top ranked fighters age ranges from early to late thirties. In fact Lewis at age 31 , is the youngest fighter in the top 10.

Lewis has an opportunity to get a win in a fight that he is favored in as a -180 favorite. He also has an opportunity to get more people interested in him and seeing him in conversation as a title contender. Abdurkaimov who is a +155 underdog can’t be underestimated, he’s an underrated wrestler and has underrated jiu jitsu. He has okay standup ability as well.

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Here are Derrick Lewis Big Three keys to victory:

1.Defend the Takedown

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Lewis has to defend the takedown against Abdurakhimov. Lewis has the advantage on the feet, so Abdurakhimov will try to take it to the ground. He has to stay away from the cage, so it doesn’t make it easier for Abdurakhimov to take him down. If he keeps it on the feet, it eliminates Abdurakhimov one advantage over him on the ground.

2. Pressure Abdurakhimov against the cage and explode

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Lewis also needs to pressure Abdurakhimov against the cage. He has the advantage striking, being the more powerful and the fastest. Lewis needs to back Abdurakhimov against the cage and unload with his punching power. Lewis has to also be a little precise and not gas himself out, trying to get the knockout. Having Abdurakhimov against the cage, increases Lewis chances of getting a clean shot(like the straight right he throws in the video above.

3. Mix up his strikes

In the video above, Lewis comes in with a uppercut to get inside the range of the fighter and follows it up with a straight right. Lewis can’t just look for the one punch knockout power. Lewis needs to mix up his strikes throwing possibly leg kicks or kicks to the body. If Lewis does this it throws Abdurakhimov off, allowing for him to be able to get a knockout due to the unpredictability of Lewis.

Prediction: Lewis gets the win by TKO