411’s MMA Roundtable Preview – UFC on Fox: VanZant vs. Waterson
UFC returns to Sacramento for UFC on Fox! In the main event, Paige VanZant looks to build momentum, but faces a tough challenge in Michelle Waterson! In the co-main event, up-and-comers Sage Northcutt and Mickey Gall square off. Also featured, Urijah Faber closes out his career on home turf against Brad Pickett. Plus, Alan Jouban vs. Mike Perry, and more!
UFC Fight Pass
Welterweight Bout: Bojan Veličković vs. Sultan Aliev
Flyweight Bout: Hector Sandoval vs. Fredy Serrano
Bantamweight Bout: Eddie Wineland vs. Tekya Mizugaki
Fox Sports 1
Bantamweight Bout: Leslie Smith vs. Irene Aldana
Lightweight Bout: Josh Emmett vs. Scott Holtzman
Welterweight Bout: James Moontasri vs. Alex Morono
Welterweight Bout: Bryan Barberena vs. Colby Covington
Featherweight Bout: Cole Miller vs. Mizuto Hirota
Light Heavyweight Bout: Luis Henrique da Silva vs. Paul Craig
THE MAIN CARD:
Welterweight Bout: Alan Jouban vs. Mike Perry
Robert Winfree: This is very fan friendly fight, both Jouban and Perry are strikers without a whole lot of defense. Jouban is the more technical striker but he can be enticed into a brawl without too much difficulty and he doesn’t fight well moving backwards. Perry is more of a brawler who loves to move forward and swing for the fences. If Jouban can stay technical and fight effectively while moving backwards he could out point Perry and get a decision. That said I think Jouban winds up getting tagged at some point, plants his feet and we get the typical toe to toe exchange that ends with Jouban face down and unconscious.
Winner: Mike Perry, TKO, Round 1
Jeffrey Harris: Alan Jouban is a very exciting fighter, and I think he’s still underrated despite a couple losses in the Octagon. His only really legit loss was to Albert Tumenov, who is a very tough and dangerous opponent. Jouban is a very talented and technical striker, and I think this will be a bit of a war here, but Jouban comes out on top.
Winner: Alan Jouban, TKO, Round 2
Dan Plunkett: I’m no Nostradamus, but I stick to some core principles when it comes to picking fistfights. One of my basic tenets of fight prognostication is that a guy with tattoos on his face is tougher than a guy that dabbled as a professional model. I never imagined such an oddly specific rule would be tested on a forum quite so public, but life is strange sometimes, BOIIIIIIIIIII.
Winner: Platinum Mike Perry, TKO, Round 1
The staff picks Mike Perry, 2-1.
Bantamweight Bout: Urijah Faber vs. Brad Pickett
Robert Winfree: With this fight one of the most impressive and important careers in the history of MMA will come to a close. Urijah Faber may be a little bit slower than he used to, but he’s still talented enough to beat the rank and file of the bantamweight division. Faber’s takedowns aren’t as dynamic and powerful as they used to be but they’re still very effective and his scramble game hasn’t lost a whole lot of steam. Brad Pickett is always good for a fight but he was chosen very specifically here as he’s got a bit of name recognition, isn’t a can but is unlikely to win, and rarely has an objectively bad fight. This wont be as easy for Faber as it would have been even a year or so ago, but unless his chin became shot between his last fight and this one he’ll force a grappling exchange, out scramble Pickett and tap him out.
Winner: Urijah Faber, Submission, Round 2
Jeffrey Harris: And this marks the last fight of the long and illustrious career of Urijah Faber. Faber may have always come up short when UFC gold was on the line, but Faber essentially pioneered the lighter weight classes for MMA, and made it possible for smaller weight fighters to make a living at this sport. People may have forgotten, but it was Faber, not Conor McGregor, who really brought the 145 pound weight class into the mainstream with his classic fight with Jens Pulver. Similarly, this could be close to the end to the career of WEC and UFC veteran Brad Pickett. Pickett generally came up short in really big fights, however, he was still an MVP delivering quality fights whenever he’s inside the cage. Both men have their strengths and weaknesses, but I think Faber’s overall wrestling and grappling will give him an edge here, and he gets a win in his final career fight.
Winner: Urijah Faber, Submission, Round 2
Dan Plunkett: I’m happy that Faber is getting out when he is, particularly since he gets to do it at home. Pickett is a really tough guy, but he’s 38 years old and should be heading in with a five fight losing streak. It would be surprising if Faber didn’t go out on top.
Winner: Faber, Decision
The staff picks Urijah Faber, 3-0.
Welterweight Bout: Sage Northcutt vs. Mickey Gall
Robert Winfree: The Zach Morris vs. AC Slater rematch that no one needed has come to the UFC. Gall has a ton of unknowns around his game, we don’t know how good his chin is or how he handles adversity, or the general quality of his overall striking game really. Northcutt has an athletic advantage and good takedowns but his overall grappling has proven to be something of a liability, he gave up full spiderweb control twice in his last fight. Northcutt’s takedown defense also isn’t exactly impervious, leading me to lean towards Gall. The unknowns around Gall are still an issue, but I feel Gall can force this into a grappling match and drown Northcutt in his jiujitsu.
Winner: Mickey Gall, Submission, Round 2
Jeffrey Harris: This fight’s a tough call. Both guys are good prospects, but it’s hard to still tell how good Gall is and will be. Northcutt has a major flaw in his game with his wrestling and takedown defense. Gall is a high-level grappler before he started his pro-MMA career. I think stylistically this could be a bad match-up for Northcutt, but ultimately, we shall see.
Winner: Mickey Gall, Decision
Dan Plunkett: Ultimately, we know significantly more about Sage Northcutt than we do Mickey Gall. We haven’t seen much of Gall standing, but Northcutt is likely to be better on the feet and Gall is likely to be better on the ground. My colleagues believe Gall will be able to get the fight to his turd and win from there, but at this stage, there is no more evidence to believe Gall will be able to take Northcutt down than the opposite. Sure, we’ve seen Gall look nothing but dominant and Northcutt struggle at times, but Gall looked dominant against fighters significantly worse than UFC caliber, while Northcutt has stopped fighters that were at least lower level UFC caliber. I expect both will have their moments and there will be some ugliness, but I’m much more comfortable picking Northcutt here.
Winner: Northcutt, Decision
The staff picks Mickey Gall, 2-1.
Strawweight Bout: Paige VanZant vs. Michelle Waterson
Robert Winfree: This is one I’ve gone back and forth on. Michelle Waterson is the more technical fighter, both on the feet and on the mat, but she’s been out with injuries for a while and ring rust can be a very real thing. Paige VanZant has some big upside in terms of athletic ability, mental toughness, and explosive action but her technical game needs a lot of work. Her footwork and movement against Bec Rawlings were very bad, and in the clinch she has a bad habit of grabbing for a head and arm throw that is only successful against a lower level of competition. While Watterson’s layoff gives me pause, I’m not sure VanZant will have made the technical strides she needs to here. I can see VanZant winning but I’m going with Watterson.
Winner: Michelle Waterson, Decision
Jeffrey Harris: I like this fight a lot, and I’m glad Michelle Waterson is getting a big fight like. She could be competing for the strawweight title at some point. I think Paige VanZant has some great offense in her arsenal. She has a ton of heart, and she’s very great at moving forward with aggressive offense. However, Waterson has a lot of experience on her side. She’s definitely earned this spot after all the time she put into this sport when there was no outlook of UFC for women. Waterson is well-rounded, and I think while VanZant will put up a good fight, she will eventually succumb to Waterson.
Winner: Michelle Waterson, Decision
Dan Plunkett: Saturday is a tough test for Paige VanZant the prize fighter, both as a drawing attraction and as a fighter. Michelle Waterson should win. She has more experience and she’s better technically on the feet, although VanZant is a very good athlete and won’t quit. I think we’ll get a long, tough fight that will be good for VanZant in the long run.
Winner: Waterson, Decision
The staff picks Michelle Waterson, 3-0.
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