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411’s MMA Roundtable Preview – UFC 206

December 10, 2016 | Posted by Robert Winfree

WELCOME:
The UFC is back in Toronto, Ontario, Canada with UFC 206 a card that has been basically cursed. The original main event, a light heavyweight title fight between champion Daniel Cormier and Anthony Johnson, fell through and the co-main event got bumped up to main event status and had an interim title added to it. Max Holloway has a chance to claim the interim featherweight belt while Anthony Pettis, who missed weight, needs a win to remain a relevant contender. Also on the card Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Matt Brown will clash in what could easily be the most violent fight of the year, featherweight knockout artist Doo Ho Choi tries to keep his streak alive against veteran Cub Swanson, and Tim Kennedy returns from a long layoff to take on Kelvin Gastelum.

THE STAFF:

  • He’ll lock you in the guillotine, Robert Winfree!

  • He’s 411’s jack of all trades, Jeffrey Harris!

    Preliminary Card:

    Flyweight Bout: Zach Makovsky vs. Dustin Ortiz

    Robert Winfree: Zach Makovsky, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Zach Makovsky, Decision
    The staff picks Zach Makovsky, 2-0

    Lightweight Bout: Jason Saggo vs. Rustam Khabilov

    Robert Winfree: Rustam Khabilov, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Rustam Khabilov, Decision
    The staff picks Rustam Khabilov, 2-0

    Lightweight Bout: John Makdessi vs. Lando Vannata

    Robert Winfree: Lando Vannata, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: John Makdessi, Decision
    The staff calls this fight a draw 1-1

    Bantamweight Bout: Mitch Gagnon vs. Matthew Lopez

    Robert Winfree: Mitch Gagnon, Submission, Round 3
    Jeffrey Harris: Mitch Gagnon, Submission, Round 2
    The staff picks Mitch Gagnon, 2-0

    Strawweight Bout: Valérie Létourneau vs. Viviane Pereira

    Robert Winfree: Valerie Letourneau, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Valerie Letourneau, Decision
    The staff picks Valerie Letourneau, 2-0

    Lightweight Bout: Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Drew Dober

    Robert Winfree: Olivier Aubin-Mercier, Submission, Round 2
    Jeffrey Harris: Drew Dober, Decision
    The staff calls this fight a draw, 1-1

    Light Heavyweight Bout: Nikita Krylov vs. Misha Cirkunov

    Robert Winfree: Misha Cirkunov, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Nikita Krylov, TKO, Round 2
    The staff calls this fight a draw, 1-1

    THE MAIN CARD:
    Welterweight Bout: Jordan Mein vs. Emil Weber Meek

    Robert Winfree: I’m glad that Jordan Mein is back, I was a little sad when he retired in January of last year especially at such a young age. But he was clearly burnt out, hopefully he’s back and fully rejuvenated. Mein is a very good striker, especially with his hands where he excels at body to head combinations. Mein is also a big welterweight, which might play into this fight. Emil Weber Meek gained some notoriety when he stopped Rousimar Palhares with elbow strikes but this is his first step into the UFC. There are a lot of unknowns here, and in that case I’m a little more comfortable going with the more known quantity.

    Winner: Jordan Mein, Decision

    Welterweight Bout: Jordan Mein vs. Emil Weber Meek
    Jeffrey Harris: So, it looks like Jordan Mein is coming out of retirement and getting another fight in the UFC. Mein left the sport almost two years ago after a TKO loss to Thiago Alves. In his first fight back, he faces the fairly unknown Emil Weber Meek. Meek is 8-2 and he has a win over Rousimar Palhares, except that win happened in 2016. Not sure what to completely expect from Jordan Mein here, but I believe he can walk away with a win.

    Winner: Jordan Mein, Decision

    The staff picks Jordan Mein, 2-0


    Middleweight Bout: Tim Kennedy vs. Kelvin Gastelum

    Robert Winfree: Well here’s good old Fat Kelvin Gastelum back at middleweight, intentionally, after failing to even show up for the weigh ins at UFC 205. Jokes about his inability to reliably make weight aside, Gastelum is a solid fighter. He uses long combinations on the feet and has a good kicking game to compliment his grappling. On the mat Gastelum excels at finding minute openings to capitalize on, give him half a chance at your neck and he’ll choke you out. That said he’s struggled against powerful counter strikers who wont fall into his rhythm or fighters who can out grapple him, Tyron Woodley and Neil Magny respectively if you need evidence. Tim Kennedy certainly could out grapple Gastelum, but Kennedy hasn’t fought since September of 2014 and anyone coming off of that kind of a layoff makes me nervous. I can see plenty of ways for either man to take this one, and I’m rooting for Kennedy just on principle, but that layoff is just too big of an issue for me to get around.

    Winner: Kelvin Gastelum, Decision

    Jeffrey Harris: After a failed run with the scale at welterweight, Gastelum is now moving up for a mandated shift up to middleweight against the returning Tim Kennedy. Tim Kennedy finally gets a fight after a scheduled bout with Rashad Evans was jettisoned twice due to medical testing issues for Evans. Gastelum is undoutbedly a talented fighter with good striking and wrestling, but he’s also shown a lack of maturity and professionalism when it comes to his career. Tim Kennedy at least always comes in great shape, and he’s been able to dominate some top fighters in the past. He also owns a dominant win over UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping. I’m not sure Kennedy is just going to blast and beat up Gastelum, but I do see him using his wrestling skills to take Gastelum down and control the fight there.

    Winner: Tim Kennedy, Decision

    The staff calls this fight a draw, 1-1


    Featherweight Bout: Cub Swanson vs. Doo Ho Choi

    Robert Winfree: This fight has some potential, both of these guys are strikers with a little less thought for defense than offense. Cub Swanson really seemed to be hitting his stride recently, and while you can’t really hold losses to Frankie Edgar and Max Holloway against him, one has to wonder if the years and miles are catching up to him. Swanson is a very mobile striker with odd angles to his punches but he’s got a bad habit of getting into firefights and leaving his chin exposed. Doo Ho Choi wont be able to out technique him at range or with movement the way Max Holloway did but Choi has great technique in the pocket and God given knockout power combined with good accurate punches. Swanson represents a steep step up in competition for Choi, but the way these two match up I think Swanson gets too comfortable trading in close and goes to sleep.

    Winner: Doo Ho Choi, TKO, Round 2

    Jeffrey Harris: Cub Swanson has been back on the comeback trail for his last two fights, beating Tatsuya Kawajiri and Hacran Dias. He faces a very dangerous opponent here in Doo Ho Choi. Choi is undefeated in the UFC, and he’s 3-0. What’s notable is that all three of those wins were first round knockouts. What else? Choi is on a pretty insane winning streak. He’s 15-1 in MMA, and his last eight fights have all been finishes. This is really a huge test for Choi to see if he’s going to be a major force in the featherweight divsion. Swanson may have already his hit peak in terms of his skill level, but he’s always a tough and dangerous veteran. He is a great, dynamic striker who knows how to get inside with some unique angles. He’s also the toughest opponent Choi has ever faced. I see this being a tough back and forth fight, but Swanson ultimately edges it out.

    Winner: Cub Swanson, Decision

    The staff calls this fight a draw, 1-1


    Welterweight Bout: Donald Cerrone vs. Matt Brown

    Robert Winfree: Violence! Really that’s all I want to say about this one, but I really shouldn’t just leave one word analysis here. Donald Cerrone at welterweight has looked tremendous, some of the issues of him being soft to the body aren’t around anymore and his offensive output is better than it was at lightweight. Cerrone brings a substantial speed advantage into the cage against the majority of welterweights, and his diversity of strikes is still incredible as evidenced by the finishing sequence against Rick Story. Cerrone has a good wrestling and guard game as well, and his knees in the clinch have always been impressive. Matt Brown is a technical brawler, he loves to push forward and throw the kitchen sink at his opponents. Punches, elbows, kicks, knees, an adept clinch game and a top game that has some nasty ground and pound, Brown just loves to get into ugly brawls. I think the key here is that Brown is soft to the body and Cerrone is a smart enough fighter to work that, both with lead leg body kicks and stepping knees at distance or just knees from the clinch. I anticipate blood and violence but I think Cerrone walks out victorious.

    Winner: Donald Cerrone, TKO, Round 2

    Jeffrey Harris: This is a very interesting, fan friendly fight here between two fan friendly and favorite fighters who tend to always have exciting performances. Cerrone has been looking fantastic overall since moving up to welterweight. Brown is really in a tough position right now and desperately needs a win. Both fighters actually tend to be weak to body and liver shots, as they’ve shown in the past. Cerrone looks way less drained when he fights at welterweight though. I’m picking Cerrone here because this is the type of fight where he will excel and look like a million bucks.

    Winner: Donald Cerrone, TKO, Round 2

    The staff picks Donald Cerrone, 2-0


    UFC Interim Featherweight Championship Bout: Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis

    Robert Winfree: Well this has just been one big clustermuck hasn’t it? First we lose the original main event, then we get a pointless interim title fight, then Pettis misses weight and is ineligible to take that belt even if he wins. Outside the cage shenanigans aside I really do like this fight. Both Holloway and Pettis are dynamic fighters, both prefer striking, and both can end fights. Pettis has an advantage in the submission game and with his kicks, but his takedowns aren’t great and Holloway isn’t easy to force to the mat. Pettis is also used to having a speed advantage, specifically with his ability to pull the trigger on his kicks, that hasn’t quite translated to featherweight. Pettis also doesn’t do well against pressure, and Max Holloway can bring the pressure. An interesting thing about this fight will be stances, Pettis prefers to fight in the opposite stance to his opponent to open up body kicks and set up head kicks but Holloway constantly switches his stance and I’m unsure how Pettis will handle that. Now added onto the whole thing is Pettis missing weight, and how that will impact his performance and his body over five possible rounds. I was picking Holloway before Pettis missed weight and see no reason to change my mind now, Holloway can push the pace, is technical enough to avoid what Pettis uses for counters, and wont let Pettis settle at any time. Pettis still has tremendous kicks and Holloway can’t get sloppy, but I like Holloway here to finally get a real title fight after winning here.

    Winner: Max Holloway, TKO, Round 5

    Jeffrey Harris: This is the fight where Max Holloway continues his ascent in the featherweight division. Anthony Pettis is not going to be a hungry and surging Max Holloway. Pettis did finish Charles Oliveira, but he sort of got lucky being matched up against a guy like Oliveira in his first fight at featherweight. Oliveira is a decently skilled fighter, but he tends to make a lot of mistakes and hiccups that ultimately cost him the big win. Not to mention, Pettis was having a lot of trouble with Oliveira before catching him in a choke. Holloway is on an insane nine-fight winning streak at featherweight. He’s improved everywhere since his loss to Conor McGregor. He really should be fighting for the actual title instead of an interim one, but this is where we are right now with the fight. Pettis as of late has gotten way too complacent. It looks like he’s constantly waiting for his opponent to give him that perfect opportunity to pull something off, but it never shows up. Holloway will keep this fight standing, and he’ll be too fast for Pettis. He will outstrike Pettis, and he will beat Pettis.

    Winner: Max Holloway, Decision

    The staff picks Max Holloway, 2-0


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