411’s MMA Roundtable Preview – UFC on Fox: Johnson vs. Reis
Demetrious Johnson looks to tie Anderson Silva’s record as he vies for his tenth consecutive title defense! In the main event, Johnson defends his flyweight belt against Wilson Reis. In the co-main event, strawweight contenders Rose Namajunas and Michelle Waterson do battle. At middleweight, Jacare Souza and Robert Whittaker collide. Plus, Jeremy Stephens fights Renato Moicano, and more!
UFC Fight Pass
Bantamweight Bout: Ashlee Evans-Smith vs. Ketlen Vieira
Welterweight Bout: Zak Cummings vs. Nathan Coy
Middleweight Bout: Anthony Smith vs. Andrew Sanchez
Light Heavyweight Bout: Devin Clark vs. Jake Collier
Bantamweight Bout: Aljamain Sterling vs. Augusto Mendes
Flyweight Bout: Tim Elliot vs. Louis Smolka
Lightweight Bout: Bobby Green vs. Rashid Magomedov
Bantamweight Bout: Patrick Williams vs. Tom DuQuesnoy
Heavyweight Bout: Alexander Volkov vs. Roy Nelson
THE MAIN CARD:
Featherweight Bout: Jeremy Stephens vs. Renato Moicano
Robert Winfree: This fight serves a pretty clear purpose, get the main card going with a fight people will get behind. It’s also set up for Jeremy Stephens to win, get a big knockout finish, and get people ready to enjoy the main card. I don’t want to totally undersell Moicano here, but this feels like he’s a little out of his depth.
Winner: Jeremy Stephens, TKO, Round 2
Jeffrey Harris: This seems like a bit of a gimme fight for the longtime UFC veteran in Jeremy Stephens. Now it’s hard to predict when you are dealing with an unknown fighter like Renato Moicano. For all we know, he could be some stud or some amazing, unknown prospect that comes out of nowhere, but I don’t feel comfortable betting on that. Stephens may not be an elite competitor, but he’s still a pretty high-level fighter who has some wins over some solid opposition. Stephens wins this one.
Winner: Jeremy Stephens, TKO, Round 1
Dan Plunkett: I think Stephens is a bit too much, too soon for talented prospect Moicano. He’s tough, hits hard, and is one of the most dangerous strikers in the division.
Winner: Stephens, TKO, Round 3
The staff picks Jeremy Stephens, 3-0.
Middleweight Bout: Ronaldo Souza vs. Robert Whittaker
Robert Winfree: I hate that this fight isn’t five rounds. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza might be the best middleweight in the world, he’s improved his striking game over the last few years and is one of the finest grapplers in the sport. Robert Whittaker hasn’t lost at middleweight and brings deceptive striking technique and a lot of power into the cage. I hate that one of these guys is going to lose as I’ve been vocally supportive of both of them. If Souza doesn’t set up his takedowns adequately or mind his defense at distance he could find himself in trouble, diving at Whittaker from distance or leaving your chin exposed are bad ideas, but I tend to think he’ll be smart about his takedowns and once they hit the mat Souza has a massive advantage. Souza will likely continue to make good on his promise to take out the rest of the division until he gets his title shot.
Winner: Ronaldo Souza, Submission, Round 1
Jeffrey Harris: Like Robert Winfree, I don’t like picking this fight. I really like both guys. I’m high on both guys, and I would love to see either one fight Michael Bisping. Quite honestly, if either of these guys faced Michael Bisping for their next title fight, I would pick both of them to win. Alas, here we are. This is a really tough battle. Whittaker has improved by leaps and bounds since moving up to middleweight, which has paid off well for him. At the same time, he’s fighting Jacare. Jacare’s one of my favorites, and I can’t pick against him. Both guys have knockout power, but Jacare’s really upped his striking game since his transition to the UFC. Plus, his sick submission and grappling game gives him one area where he’s above and beyond anything Whittaker has. Too bad this isn’t a five-round main event.
Winner: Ronaldo Souza, Submission, Round 2
Dan Plunkett: This is a great fight. Whittaker has won his last six fights, including a knockout over Derek Brunson in November. Jacare has only lost to Yoel Romero in a tight split decision since 2011. Souza is unbelievable on the ground, and over the years has developed good, explosive striking. However, he is 37 years old, and decline is inevitable. Whittaker is better on the feet with good boxing, and I can see him outpacing Souza on the feet to a clear decision. However, if the fight hits the floor, it’s Jacare’s world, and I have to think it goes there.
Winner: Jacare, Submission, Round 2
The staff picks Ronaldo Souza, 3-0.
Strawweight Bout: Rose Namajunas vs. Michelle Waterson
Robert Winfree: This fight could have some title implications. Rose Namajunas has a solid ground game and accurate long striking, but she’s struggled against fighters more technically adept than she is or who demonstrate a clear area of dominance that she can’t force them away from. Michelle Waterson will be the smaller fighter and that could hinder part of her game as she’ll need to fight inside of Namajunas’ reach but not close enough to wind up clinched for prolonged periods of time. Both women are good on the mat and winning in that area will likely be determined by top position more than anything else. I think Waterson can find the openings in the striking of Namajunas and should take this one.
Winner: Michelle Waterson, Decision
Jeffrey Harris: Michelle Waterson has really been impressing me lately. This is a big fight for her, and for Rose Namajunas as well. This might not be a definitive title eliminator, but the winner of this fight could be in the title picture sooner rather than later. Waterson looked outstanding with her quick dismantling of Paige VanSant. Rose Namajunas is coming off a tough split decision loss to Karolina Kowalkiewicz, who is a very tough opponent and gave Joanna Champion a tough title fight. I like Michelle Waterson. She’s really looked strong since coming into the UFC, and I like that she is staying active here. Thug Rose is pretty well-rounded, but so is Michelle Waterson. Not to mention, Waterson has more experience too. I see this being a tough fight, but Waterson edges it out by decision.
Winner: Michelle Waterson, Decision
Dan Plunkett: This really is a tremendous Fox card, and this is a very well-matched fight. Waterson has better weapons on the feet, but Namajunas, a brown belt in BJJ, is stronger on the floor. I think this will be very close, but Namajunas will edge it out.
Winner: Namajunas, Decision
The staff picks Michelle Waterson, 2-1.
UFC Flyweight Championship Bout: Demetrious Johnson vs. Wilson Reis
Robert Winfree: Here we go, Demetrious Johnson’s chance at drawing even with Anderson Silva’s record for consecutive title defenses. This fight was supposed to happen last year but fell through due to an injury to DJ and then timing with the finale of TUF. Wilson Reis is anything but a gimme here, he’s a superb grappler who excels at taking the back in scrambles. I’m just not convinced he’s going to be able to force Johnson into that kind of fight. Johnson may not be the absolute best everywhere, but there is always at least one area where he’s better than his opponent and he consistently forces them into an area where they are disadvantaged against him. While you shouldn’t sleep on Reis by any stretch of the imagination, Johnson should find the area he’s better at and force Reis to fight at a deficit.
Winner: Demetrious Johnson, TKO, Round 4
Jeffrey Harris: I think this is a fun flyweight title fight. Wilson Reis is about as good of an opponent as you can book right now for Demetrious Johnson. Reis is a good fighter, and while I’m not expecting him to win, you can never really overlook anyone in this sport. That said, I don’t expect him to pull an upset here as long as Mighty Mouse is healthy and prepared. Johnson’s speed and the way he just cuts his opponent’s off and imposes his will is outstanding. I expect it to go long, but Johnson will pull off a win in the later rounds.
Winner: Demetrious Johnson, Submission, Round 5.
Dan Plunkett: Reis is very good and should have some moments in the fight, but it is tough to see this fight as anything but a decisive win for Johnson, the most dominant fighter in the sport. Not only is he the incredibly talented with tremendous physical tools, he is the smartest fighter in MMA.
Winner: Johnson, Decision
The staff picks Demetrious Johnson, 3-0.
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