411’s MMA Roundtable Preview – UFC Fight Night: Lewis vs. Browne
Derrick Lewis looks to extend his win streak to six when he fights Travis Browne in the main event of UFC Fight Night! In the co-main event, Johny Hendricks looks to reverse his fortunes when he fights Hector Lombard. At featherweight, Sam Sicilia faces Gavin Tucker. In middleweight action, Elias Theodorou battles Cezer Ferreira. Plus, Sara McMann fights Gina Mazany, Alessandro Ricci vs. Paul Felder, and more!
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Middleweight Bout: Gerald Meerschaert vs. Ryan Janes
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Middleweight Bout: Jack Marshman vs. Thiago Santos
Bantamweight Bout: Aiemann Zahabi vs. Reginaldo Vieira
Strawweight Bout: Carla Esparza vs. Randa Markos
Welterweight Bout: Nordine Taleb vs. Santiago Ponzinibbio
THE MAIN CARD:
Lightweight Bout: Alessandro Ricci vs. Paul Felder
Jeffrey Harris: Paul Felder, Decision
Robert Winfree: Paul Felder, Decision
Lorenzo Vasquez III: Paul Felder, Decision
The staff picks Paul Felder, 3-0.
Bantamweight Bout: Sara McMann vs. Gina Mazany
Jeffrey Harris: Sara McMann, Decision
Robert Winfree: Sara McMann, TKO, Round 2
Lorenzo Vasquez III: Sara McMann, TKO, Round 2
The staff picks Sara McMann, 3-0.
Middleweight Bout: Elias Theodorou vs. Cezar Ferreira
Jeffrey Harris: This is actually a pretty decent middleweight fight. Elias Theodorou is an underrated athlete and fighter. He’s done fairly well since winning his season of The Ultimate Fighter, going 4-1 in the UFC. His single loss was by decision to Thiago Santos, who is also a tough fighter. Cezar Ferreira is another underrated opponent. He’s currently on a three-fight winning streak and has a 7-3 UFC record. I would say Elias Theodorou is probably a bit more technical and well-rounded of the two. I see this being a competitive contest, but Theodorou edges it out.
Winner: Elias Theodorou, Decision
Robert Winfree: For two guys outside the top fifteen, with little name value, and generally forgettable fights, this really isn’t that bad on paper. Elias Theodorou is a solid all around fighter with good conditioning, he tries to fight in close most often and get top position to work from. By contrast Cezar Ferreira was knocked out by CB Dollaway, and his current three fight winning streak hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. On the whole I favor Theodorou to control and grind out another decision.
Winner: Elias Theodorou, Decision
Lorenzo Vasquez III: Ferreira has tightened up his game a bit since losing two straight to Jorge Masvidal and Sam Alvey. He is a grappler by trade. This is his foundation. He’s tightened up his striking, particularly his boxing. He stays on the outside picking his shots and counters before finding his range to get a takedown. Theodorou is athletic and relies on his natural gift instead of blending it with skill and technique. Still, at his current level, he is a handful for anyone because of those natural gifts. At range his kicks are powerful and quick. His takedown defense isn’t the strongest but he is strong and strong enough to wrangle his way out bad positioning. He is simply a developing fighter with good prospects. Ferreira has the better game and skill set. That doesn’t mean it’s a gimme fight for Ferreira so don’t count out Theodorou but chances are Ferreira walks away with the win.
Winner: Cezar Ferreira, Decision
The staff picks Elias Theodorou, 2-1.
Featherweight Bout: Sam Sicilia vs. Gavin Tucker
Jeffrey Harris: Sam Sicilia faces the debuting, undefeated Gavin Tucker here. Tucker finds himself on the card since it’s in Halifax, and Tucker is going to be playing the hometown favorite. Sicilia has had a couple losses, but he’s generally exciting and fun to watch in his fights. He’s usually competitive. This will be a test for Tucker in his Octagon debut. He’s finished all but one of his fights, but against lower level competition. I’m leaning toward Sicilia handing Tucker his first defeat.
Winner: Sam Sicilia, Decision
Robert Winfree: Sam Sicilia isn’t a world beater, but he’s a big ask for your UFC debut. Sicilia is a hard nosed fighter, decent wrestler with punching power. We’ve basically seen his ceiling at this point, so the question is if Gavin Tucker is better than that. Tucker is making his debut here and while he’s undefeated I have a hard time picking unknown quantities in situations like this. That being said, don’t be too surprised if Tucker wins.
Winner: Sam Sicilian, Decision
Lorenzo Vasquez III: I don’t know much about Tucker. He is making his UFC debut against Sicilia. He has nine wins—4 by TKO, 4 by submission, and 1 by decision. Since 2012, Sicilia has gone 4-6. He’s been able to get by lower level competition but just can’t put it together. Sicilia hits hard, but there is nothing fancy about his stand up game. He has a grasp of submission grappling but as I said earlier he has yet to put it together and sharpen his skill set. Judging by Tucker’s record, his is a finisher, packs a punch, and has knowledge of submissions. I don’t know enough to say he torches past Sicilia. But, Sicilia has been inconsistent, so don’t be too shocked if Tucker wins. The safe bet, though, is Sicilia.
Winner: Sam Sicilia, Decision
The staff picks Sam Sicilia, 3-0.
Middleweight Bout: Johny Hendricks vs. Hector Lombard
Jeffrey Harris: I’m never picking Hector Lombard to win a fight again. He’s one of the most disappointing prospects in UFC history, and he was way overhyped from his run in Bellator MMA. Lombard moves up to middleweight here, and after a 0-3 skid and numerous weight misses at welterweight, Hendricks is going to try and move up to middleweight, despite being small for the weight class. Hendricks might be the smaller guy here, but he’s also fighting a guy who was recently fighting at welterweight in the UFC as well. Lombard does have knockout power, but he has trouble cutting off the cage. Not to mention, Lombard’s cardio and stamina generally go away very quickly as the fight wears on. I’m picking Hendricks here. Hopefully, not killing himself to make weight will improve his performance. Lombard’s chin is also very questionable.
Winner: Johny Hendricks, TKO, Round 2
Robert Winfree: Two small middleweights who are here because they don’t like cutting weight, or in the case of Johny Hendricks have demonstrated they can’t consistently make welterweight. I don’t care much about this fight, both guys have power and grappling though their grappling disciplines are different. Hector Lombard makes very poor in cage decisions, the man spent about a minute standing flat in front of Dan Henderson after nearly finishing him basically just asking to be hit and finished. Hendricks’ striking technique has fallen off a lot recently, the man who put together combinations and leg kicks is gone in favor of plodding forward with over committed one two combinations. That bad habit is why I’m leaning towards Lombard, Lombard is a counter striker who tries to swarm once you’re hurt, if he’s got any hope left in the sport at this level he should be able to angle on Hendricks’ bad punches and counter him with power then swarm him. I’m not discounting Hendricks though, both of these guys have sucked enough recently to easily lose here.
Winner: Hector Lombard, TKO, Round 1
Lorenzo Vasquez III: Solid matchup here and debut for Hendricks at middleweight. Lombard is an athletic freak and, albeit, he’s lost a step to father time, he is still a monster of a fighter at welterweight or middleweight. He is a power puncher when it comes to his stand up and not much else as he looks for the big shot rather than employing a boxing/kickboxing game. His takedown defense is top notch. He is a strong wrestler and experienced Judoka.
He is a sound ground fighter. Hendricks is a wrestler and power puncher, himself. Unlike Lombard, Hendricks has evolved to have a decent striking game. He is a strong clinch fighter (take a look at his fight with GSP). He likes to out-point opponents by getting takedowns and controlling positioning. Hendricks is looking for new life at middleweight. This would have been a nice fight when both fighters were at the top of their game. Look for Hendricks to be able to control an aging Lombard and land far more strikes in-route to a decision victory.
Winner: Johny Hendricks, Decision
The staff picks Johny Hendricks, 2-1.
Heavyweight Bout: Derrick Lewis vs. Travis Browne
Jeffrey Harris: This is an interesting heavyweight fight. Derrick Lewis is on a nice streak, and he could be in a position to find himself in the title mix soon. He’s currently won his last five, and four of those wins were by knockout. Travis Browne has been struggling lately. Many have noted a decline in his performances since his move to Glendale Fight Club under coach Edmond Tarverdyan. Browne at one point was one of the most dangerous rising contenders at heavyweight. However, he’s coming off back-to-back losses to Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum. Granted, those are top-ranked heavyweights, but Browne just did not look good at all in those fights. Lewis isn’t the prettiest fighter. He doesn’t have great takedown defense. However, Lewis is very resilient off his back and getting the fight back to his feet and doing damage standing up. Case in point, his fights with Roy Nelson and Shamil Abdurakhimov. I’m leaning toward Lewis here. Not only does he have more momentum, but Lewis tends to be resilient and do better the longer a fight goes. Three of his last four knockout wins happened late into the fight. For Browne’s sake, he’s hopefully made some adjustments to be a successful heavyweight again. But I’m picking Lewis to win a tough and possibly sloppy fight. Generally the case, the longer a heavyweight fight goes, the uglier it gets.
Winner: Derrick Lewis, TKO, Round 3
Robert Winfree: Travis Browne’s initial UFC success was predicated on a decent kicking game and fighting long then punishing anyone who tried to take him down. Then he got with a camp who only knows how to teach forward pressure into in fighting range with punches, completely negating the majority of his skill set. Derrick Lewis has power but is still a tad sloppy with his technique. Neither man has great cardio, great grappling, or great technical striking. Browne has been brawling a lot lately, and I feel Lewis is a slightly better brawler. Mostly I just want this to end quickly, if we get into rounds 3 or 4 this will probably be almost unwatchable.
Winner: Derrick Lewis, TKO, Round 1
Lorenzo Vasquez III: What a disappointing state we’re in with Browne. He was once pegged to become a real threat to whoever is/was title holder but, after getting out-pointed by Fabricio Werdum in their first meeting and changing camps, it seems Browne has lost a step or two. But, we also have to consider his last four losses have come at the hands of Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum twice. The only iffy contender of those four losses is Andrei Arlovski. Still, his showings in those bouts were far and away from the potential he once carried.
Lewis is on his way up. His last performance was mediocre but a successful TKO win. Lewis is riding a five-fight winning streak since his loss to Shawn Jordan back in 2015 with noticeable wins over Roy Nelson and Gabriel Gonzaga. He looks poised to break into title contender-ship. This is fight where both fighters seem to be headed in opposite directions; we’ll get that answer Saturday night. Browne has switched things up once again, training camp wise. He is athletic and packs a punch. He once appeared well-rounded and mixed things up well—with kicks, punches, and elbows. He has great takedown defense and he is gritty and tough to finish. He was rangy and set up his offense well and incorporated his athleticism into his game. Let’s see if we get the Browne of old with this new change up.
Lewis is a developing fighter. He has taken a leap in the last year. He appears composed and hardly goes into panic model when things aren’t going his way (something he used do when face with forceful opposition). His takedown defense and ground game still need plenty of work but he appears to be learning and moving forward. And, let’s not forgot, he carries tremendous power and seems patient and willing to wait to land that one perfectly placed haymaker. Until Browne starts fight to his true potential again it’s a big gamble to pick him. But, Lewis is a very winnable fight. Still, unless Browne comes back recharged, I’m going with Lewis. He’ll find the button on a number of occasions and either get the finish or decision. Let’s hope it’s the former.
Winner: Derrick Lewis, TKO, Round 3
The staff picks Derrick Lewis, 3-0.
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