WATCH: TOMMY TOE HOLD – UFC HALIFAX
Following a subpar UFC 208 card last weekend, the UFC makes a quick turnaround as UFC Fight Night 105 takes place this Sunday evening at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The card may lack in big names, but the UFC has put together some intriguing matchups for the Canadian fans in attendance and those watching on television around the world, making this card worthwhile to tune in to.
Here are my top-five things to watch for at UFC Fight Night 105.
Heavyweights Browne and Lewis Clash
The main event of UFC Fight Night 105 is a five-round heavyweight bout between Travis Browne ($8,100) and Derrick Lewis ($8,100). Lewis is 7-3 overall in the UFC with six knockout wins, and he’s currently riding a five-fight win streak. The 32-year-old has huge power in his hands and his ground-and-pound is devastating, but he has issues with his takedown defense, and his chin has shown weakness as he’s been knocked out twice in the UFC.
As for Browne, the 34-year-old is 9-5-1 in the UFC and is coming off of two-straight losses to Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum. At one point in time, Browne was seen as a future heavyweight champion, but he has not performed well as of late, and a loss to Lewis could end his UFC career. Still, he’s a dangerous fighter with eight finishes in the UFC alone. Having said that, his chin has been a cause for concern as he’s been knocked out three times in the UFC. Both fighters are similar in a lot of ways, and that should make for a very interesting main event.
Analysis: I think someone is likely getting knocked out in this heavyweight main event. Both Browne and Lewis have big KO power, and both men also have suspect chins as each has been finished multiple times in the UFC. It’s a very close fight, but I’m leaning towards Browne to win the fight by first-round knockout.
Hendricks Makes Middleweight Debut
The co-main event of the evening is a middleweight bout between Johny Hendricks ($7,700) and Hector Lombard ($8,500). Hendricks is a former UFC welterweight champion and is 12-6 overall in the UFC, but he’s fallen on hard times, as he’s currently riding a three-fight losing streak. The 33-year-old had a hard time making 170lbs and was forced by the UFC to move up to 185lbs to continue his career. Hendricks is an elite wrestler with knockout power in his hands, but in his last few fights has looked like a shell of his former self. However, moving up in weight might be just what the doctor ordered.
As for Lombard, he’s a former Bellator middleweight champion, but with a 3-4, 1 NC record in the UFC, he’s been a disappointment. The 39-year-old tried his hand at welterweight but didn’t fare well there, and in his return to middleweight was knocked out cold by 46-year-old Dan Henderson. Lombard has an elite grappling game and big-time knockout power, but, like Hendricks, he’s looked like a shell of his former self in recent fights, making this a tough fight to call.
Analysis: If Lombard doesn’t finish Hendricks early, he will likely gas like he always does, and at middleweight, Hendricks should have the gas tank to go a full 15 minutes. I’m looking for Hendricks to survive an early storm by Lombard and revert to his wrestling to win a grinding three-round decision.
Theodorou Takes on Ferreira
An exciting middleweight bout also takes place in Halifax as Elias Theodorou ($8,000) fights Cezar Ferreira ($8,200). A former Ultimate Fighter winner, Theodorou is 4-1 in the UFC with two knockout wins and is coming off of a decision victory over Sam Alvey in his last outing. The 28-year-old Canadian is a well-rounded fighter with good wrestling, good striking and good cardio. Despite a setback a few fights back to Thiago Santos, he still has a lot of potential in this sport.
As for Ferreira, he is also a former Ultimate Fighter winner, and overall, he’s 7-3 in the UFC. The 31-year-old is currently riding a three-fight win streak and most recently tapped out Jack Hermansson in an outstanding performance. Ferreira is a well-rounded fighter with good striking and a fantastic ground game, but he has one big flaw, and that’s a weak chin. He’s been knocked out three times in the UFC and four times in his career. Despite his recent win streak, his chin has let him down in the past and will again in the future.
Analysis: Theodorou is not known for his finishing ability, but this is a matchup where he can win by stoppage. Ferreira does not have a good chin at all, having been knocked out four times in his career. If Theodorou catches him on the button he can win by KO. I think the Canadian will pick up the victory in this one.
Esparza Returns Against Markos
A women’s strawweight bout sees former champion Carla Esparza ($9,100) take on Randa Markos ($7,100). Esparza is 2-1 in the UFC with wins over Rose Namajunas and Juliana Lima, and a loss to current champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk. The 29-year-old is a stud wrestler, and she used her wrestling to win The Ultimate Fighter and become champion. Unfortunately for Esparza, she ran into Jedrzejczyk, but Markos does not have the striking acumen of the champ.
The 31-year-old Markos is 2-3 in the UFC with wins over Aisling Daly and Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger — both of whom recently retired from MMA — and losses to Jessica Penne, Karolina Kowalkiewicz and in her last fight, Cortney Casey. Markos is a well-rounded MMA fighter but she is not elite in any area of the game. She does have a solid submission game, but going against an elite top-control wrestler like Esparza, this looks like a bad matchup for the Canadian, and that’s why the prices are set where they are.
Analysis: Esparza is arguably the top wrestler in the women’s strawweight division, and she should be able to land takedowns on Markos and control her for a decision victory. It’s not out of the question that Esparza will win the fight by submission either.
Santos Faces Marshman
A middleweight bout on the prelims pits Thiago Santos ($8,300) against Jack Marshman ($7,900). Santos is 5-4 in the UFC and is currently riding a two-fight losing streak following a four-fight win streak that saw him jump into the top-15 at 185lbs. The 33-year-old Brazilian is a heavy-handed striker with big-time KO power, as he has won four fights by knockout in the UFC. However, he is flawed defensively and has been finished three times inside the Octagon.
As for Marshman, the 27-year-old Welshman is 1-0 in the UFC with an impressive knockout win over Magnus Cedenblad in his debut. He is currently riding a seven-fight win streak with six of those wins coming by finish, but overall he’s fought a low level of competition, making him a tough guy to gauge. What we do know is that Marshman is a finisher, as 18 of his 21 career victories have come by stoppage, which should lead to an exciting fight against Santos, who has finished nine of his 13 victories.
Analysis: Both Santos and Marshman have big-time knockout power, and it’s unlikely this fight goes the distance. Either man has the KO power to finish the other, but based on his performances inside the UFC to date, I like Santos to win this fight, likely in the first round by stoppage.
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