UFC 191 features yet another title defense for Demetrious Johnson, a heavyweight brawl between veterans Frank Mir and Andrei Arlovski, and a chance to see the new face of the women’s strawweight division, Paige VanZant. Let’s breakdown the card.
Demetrious Johnson ($11400) vs John Dodson ($8000)
This is a rematch from 2013, a fight that Mighty Mouse simply dominated. He more than doubled the amount of significant strikes landed by Dodson, took him down five times, battered him in the clinch and showed the world who the champ is. As the fight entered the championship rounds, Johnson poured it on, landing 80 significant strikes in rounds four and five. Next to Ronda Rousey, Johnson is the most dominant champ in the UFC.
Pick: Johnson by decision
Andrei Arlovski ($10300) vs Frank Mir ($9100)
Two former UFC heavyweight champions meet for the first time, both looking for another shot at the title. Mir is coming off consecutive first-round knockout wins — something he has never done in his career. But getting into a firefight with Arlovski would be the wrong path for Mir. Arlovski is fast and accurate, always one of the better boxers in his division. Mir has never been proficient at takedowns, although he’s excellent on the ground. Arlovski excels at defending takedowns, which means that Mir would have to win KO or decision. And that spells bad news for Mir. He can’t outbox Arlovski over three rounds, and will likely eat heavy shots either on the feet or in an attempt to catch Arlovski in a sub.
Pick: Arlovski by KO/TKO
Jimi Manuwa ($7900) vs Anthony Johnson ($11500)
The salaries make sense here. Johnson won’t have to worry about this fight going to the ground as he did with Daniel Cormier. He’s also a solid defender, absorbing little punishment on the feet. He’ll erase the loss to Cormier by erasing Manuwa early in this fight. High salary but definitely worth it.
Pick: Johnson by KO/TKO
Jan Blachowicz ($10100) vs Corey Anderson ($9300)
Blachowicz is outstanding on the ground, but Anderson’s wrestling should nullify that part of his game. This fight will go to the ground, but it will be via takedown by Anderson, where he’ll punish Blachowicz from top position. Anderson got knocked out in his first real test against a veteran fighter when he lost to Gian Villante. It will be different this time.
Pick: Anderson by decision
Paige VanZant ($12300) vs Alex Chambers ($7100)
VanZant has taken over as the face of the UFC women’s strawweight division after her dominating performance against Felice Herrig. Chambers ate a ton of shots before submitting Kailin Curran for her first UFC win. She’s eaten over five significant strikes per minute in her two UFC fights. That type of volume won’t leave her on her feet long against “12 Gauge” Paige, who has landed more than double the significant strikes of her opponents. $12300 is a hefty salary, but a first-round finish is worth it.
Pick: VanZant by KO/TKO
Paul Felder ($11200) vs Ross Pearson ($8200)
Felder may be the best fighter that the casual fan hasn’t heard of. He suffered his first loss to Edson Barboza in July, but has the skills to eventually crack the top 10. Pearson has had a rough go of it the last two years, going just 2-3. Evan Dunham made Pearson look slow and plodding, and Felder can follow that playbook. He’ll be the more active and dynamic striker, winning the rounds in the process. If you think Felder will finish Pearson, he’s worth the salary hit. If not, a decision win will not hit value for you.
Pick: Felder by decision
John Lineker ($9800) vs Francisco Rivera ($9600)
The best power-puncher in the flyweight division has jumped up to bantamweight after failing to make weight on several occasions. Rivera is a solid fighter, and he’ll have reach and height advantages over Lineker. But Lineker’s combination of speed and power will be too much for Rivera, and he’ll pick up a statement win at 135.
Pick: Lineker by KO/TKO
Raquel Pennington ($8600) vs Jessica Andrade ($10800)
A rematch of their 2014 fight that Andrade won by split decision, and frankly one I will be staying away from. I don’t think Pennington has the ability to finish Andrade, but she is game enough to take Andrade to the final horn once again. That means that you’ll be dishing out $10000 in salary for roughly 50 points. There’s just way too much value on this card to risk it on this bout.
Pick: Andrade by decision
Ron Stallings ($9900) vs Joe Riggs ($9500)
I love Stallings at just $9900 and Riggs is well past his prime. He threw just 61 total strikes against Patrick Cote, and I don’t think he is a UFC-level fighter at this point in his career. Stallings is an accurate striker, very smart and savvy in his approach. I think he’ll find an opening for a nice combination that will put Riggs away.
Pick: Stallings by KO/TKO
Joaquim Silva ($9200) vs Nazareno Malegarie ($10200)
Both fighters will be making their UFC debus. Malegarie has more experience, and he is a wizard on the ground. Silva was a contestant on TUF Brazil 4, and this will be the first time he has fought in the states. Conventional wisdom is that Malegarie will be the calmer fighter, and he will capitalize on a Silva mistake and get the sub. He’s also the type of gritty vet that you really don’t want to fight in your debut. I like him by sub, too.
Pick: Malegarie by submission
Clay Collard ($10000) vs Tiago Trator ($9400)
Collard won me over as a fan by putting on a nice show against Max Holloway in his UFC debut. The problem with Collard is that he eats an enormous amount of strikes. He’s proven he has a great chin and can hang with the best in the world in the UFC, now he needs to work on defense. Still, I think Collard is the better fighter and he will have a reach advantage here, one he will use throughout the fight. With three fights under his belt in the UFC, it’s time for Collard to have his coming out party. It will happen here when he knocks Trator out.
Pick: Collard by KO/TKO