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411’s MMA Roundtable Preview – UFC 230: Cormier vs. Lewis

November 3, 2018 | Posted by Dan Plunkett
UFC 230 Daniel Cormier Derrick Lewis

WELCOME:
UFC makes it annual trip to Madison Square Garden for UFC 230! In the main event, Daniel Cormier defends his heavyweight championship against Derrick Lewis! In the co-main event, Chris Weidman battles Jacare Souza. Before that, David Branch takes on Jared Cannonier. Plus, Karl Roberson fights Jack Marshman, Derek Brunson vs. Israel Adesanya, and more!

THE STAFF:

  • He’s the juggernaut, Jonathan Solomon!

  • He’s 411’s Jack of All Trades, Jeffrey Harris!

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

    THE PRELIMINARY CARD:
    First four prelims on UFC Fight Pass, rest on Fox Sports 1.
    Heavyweight Bout: Adam Wieczorek vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima

    Jonathan Solomon: Adam Wieczorek, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Marcos Rogerio de Lima, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Marcos Rogerio de Lima, Decision

    Catchweight (137 lbs.) Bout: Brian Kelleher vs. Montel Jackson

    Jonathan Solomon: Brian Kelleher, Submission, Round 2
    Jeffrey Harris: Brian Kelleher, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Brian Kelleher, Submission, Round 2

    Featherweight Bout: Shane Burgos vs. Kurt Holobaugh

    Jonathan Solomon: Shane Burgos, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Shane Burgos, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Shane Burgos, TKO, Round 3

    Lightweight Bout: Matt Frevola vs. Lando Vannata

    Jonathan Solomon: Matt Frevola, TKO, Round 3
    Jeffrey Harris: Lando Vannata, TKO, Round 1
    Robert Winfree: Lando Vannata, TKO, Round 2

    Welterweight Bout: Ben Saunders vs. Lyman Good

    Jonathan Solomon: Lyman Good, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Ben Saunders, Submission, Round 2
    Robert Winfree: Lyman Good, Decision

    Featherweight Bout: Julio Arce vs. Sheymon Moraes

    Jonathan Solomon: Julio Arce, Submission, Round 2
    Jeffrey Harris: Julio Arce, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Sheymon Moraes, TKO, Round 2

    Catchweight (127.2 lbs.) Bout: Sijara Eubanks vs. Roxanne Modafferi

    Jonathan Solomon: Roxanne Modafferi, Decision
    Jeffrey Harris: Sijara Eubanks, TKO, Round 1
    Robert Winfree: Roxanne Modafferi, Decision

    Featherweight Bout: Jason Knight vs. Jordan Rinaldi

    Jonathan Solomon: Jordan Rinaldi, Submission, Round 1
    Jeffrey Harris: Jordan Rinaldo, Decision
    Robert Winfree: Jason Knight, Decision


    THE MAIN CARD:
    Middleweight Bout: Derek Brunson vs. Israel Adesanya

    Jonathan Solomon: Does Derek Brunson act as a middleweight gatekeeper here, or can he hand Israel Adesanya the first loss of his career? In eight of Brunson’s last nine fights, knockouts have ended the action (six wins for him among them). There’s a good chance that pattern continues here as Israel has proven to be a dangerous striker with 12 knockouts under his own belt. Brunson has power to finish the fight, but he should not go toe-to-toe with Adesanya. If Israel is able to stay off of his back, there’s no reason to think he cannot pick Brunson apart from distance.

    Winner: Israel Adesanya, Decision

    Jeffrey Harris: Undefeated middleweight prospect Israel Adesanya gets a nice step up in competition here against No. 6-ranked Derek Brunson. Brunson is looking to rebound from his recent loss to Jacare. This is actually a solid middleweight contest, and Adesanya is getting a true test here. While Brunson is at times inconsistent, I’m favoring him to win this. Adesanya has never faced someone who has both the knockout power and wrestling skills as Brunson. Granted, Brunson was a Division II wrestler, but Adesanya is more of a striker. Brunson will win the grappling exchanges and pick up the victory.

    Winner: Derek Brunson, Decision

    Robert Winfree: These two have been jawing at each other for a while and I tend to think that Derek Brunson is the one who’ll decide how this goes. If Brunson comes out looking to wrestle he’s got the ability to win as he’s a severely underappreciated MMA wrestler, by contrast if he comes out looking to strike I think he’s in a lot of trouble. Brunson has power, but his striking technique seems to switch between passable and literally leading with his chin begging to eat counters and Adesanya likely hurts him constantly. I’m going with Adesanya because Brunson’s striking has been really bad to date and I’m not sure he’ll be disciplined enough to stick to a grappling heavy attack.

    Winner: Israel Adesanya, TKO, Round 2


    Middleweight Bout: Karl Roberson vs. Jack Marshman

    Jonathan Solomon: New Jersey’s Karl Roberson gets to fight locally for the first time in three years and the crowd should be much more friendly than his last bout in Brazil. He was choked out by Cezar Ferreira on that night, his first loss. Compared to Roberson’s seven pro fights (6-1), this fight will mark Jack Marshman’s 30th career scrap. He also lost in Brazil in his last outing, choked out by Antonio Carlos Junior last October. He was to fight in February but was taken off the show days earlier due to weight cut concerns. Back in action this week, Marshman will probably look to force the action into the later rounds. Roberson has made ending fights in the first round a specialty, including three wins in under two minutes.

    Winner: Karl Roberson, Submission, Round 1

    Jeffrey Harris: This definitely seems like a strange choice for the main card. Maybe the UFC brass is hoping for another Performance of the Night type of bout here. Roberson was on Dana White’s Contender series, so maybe that’s why he makes it onto the main card here. Both fighters are coming off of submission losses, so it wouldn’t surprise me if we get a situation of fighters being cautious and fighting not to lose here. I’m picking the more dangerous striker here in Marshman to dominate and ultimately win the fight.

    Winner: Jack Marshman, Decision

    Robert Winfree: Odd choice for a main card fight, and a bit of a loser leaves town affair as both guys are on the fringes of irrelevance in the UFC. I tend to favor Marshman just a bit but as with most fights of this level it’s a bit of a crap shoot prediction.

    Winner: Jack Marshman, TKO, Round 1


    Middleweight Bout: David Branch vs. Jared Cannonier

    Jonathan Solomon: The last time David Branch competed in New York City, it was the Theater at MSG when he defended the WSOF middleweight title in his final fight in the promotion. Nearly two years later, and he’ll get a chance to fight inside MSG this week. He remains as dangerous a middleweight as any in the Top 10, a combination of lethal jiu-jitsu and effective striking do not leave him many weaknesses. Sure, his April win over Thiago Santos was his first KO win in about four years, but he still has never been stopped due to strikes. This fact will not change after UFC 230. Jared Cannonier is likely fighting for his spot on the roster as he is 1-3 in his last four fights and this marks his debut at middleweight (he entered the UFC as a heavyweight!). Canononier will be outclassed by Branch and is only in this match-up due to a shakeup two weeks before fight night.

    Winner: David Branch, Submission, Round 2

    Jeffrey Harris: Generally, I see this as a winnable fight for David Branch. I think Branch isn’t good enough to be an elite level fighter or title contender, but I think he has w it takes to beat an opponent such as Jared Cannonier. I’m not anticipating a pretty fight or a barn-burner here. Branch is probably going to be cautious and out-point Cannonier to get a decision here. Branch is not elite, but he is well-rounded and very experienced. That will serve him well against Cannonier, who has generally been middling throughout his UFC run with a 3-4 record inside the Octagon.

    Winner: David Branch, Decision

    Robert Winfree: This will be Cannonier’s middleweight debut and he’s drawn a tough task in perennial top fighter David Branch. Branch’s only loss in the last few years was to Luke Rockhold and he’s coming off of a solid win. Branch might never get to the top five or so level but below that he’s a tough out at best and a nightmare to fight at worst. Branch is mostly a grappler but that shouldn’t completely discount his striking which has been coming along nicely over the last few years. Cannonier fights like a maniac, walking forward looking to engage in a bit of a brawl and I don’t think Branch will be a willing dance partner in that respect and should out fight Cannonier.

    Winner: David Branch, Decision


    Middleweight Bout: Chris Weidman vs. Ronaldo Souza

    Jonathan Solomon: Chris Weidman is 34-years-old, where did the time go? His historic first win over Anderson Silva was over five years ago and since then, he is only 4-3. To his credit, he ended a three fight losing streak last summer by choking out Kelvin Gastelum. Injuries kept him out of action since that time, but he’s back in a match-up with another top contender. Jacare will turn 39-years-old in December and he will look to avoid consecutive losses, something he has never sustained. He lost a split decision to Gastelum in the spring and shows no signs of slowing down. He remains as dangerous as anyone. The questions of slowing down and rust apply more to Weidman and I have more faith in Souza to not be knocked out, submitted or taken down en route to a loss.

    Winner: Jacare Souza, Decision

    Jeffrey Harris: Honestly, I love this fight even more than Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold. This is a fight I wanted to see for the middleweight title instead of Weidman vs. Rockhold in 2015. Honestly, I think this is a terrible match-up for Weidman. Even if Jacare is slowing down, I still favor him to win this fight. Jacare is constantly underrated and overlooked. He should’ve fought for the UFC title a long time ago. I would still pick him to win if he were to fight Robert Whittaker tomorrow. Weidman is a tough and resilient fighter with good wrestling and knockout power. However, he’s also very sloppy. It will ultimately be a matter of time before Jacare catches Weidman with a solid shot and transitions to his world-class BJJ. Then he will snap Weidman’s arm off. Game, set, match. Jacare wins by submission.

    Winner: Ronaldo Souza, Submission, Round 1

    Robert Winfree: I’ve been looking forward to this fight for a while, Souza probably should have fought for the title when Weidman was champion and I liked his chances then but that was a few years ago. Now Souza has been finished by the best middleweight in the world, Robert Whittaker, and lost a fight to Kelvin Gastelum when Gastelum was basically on one leg for portions of the bout. On the other hand Weidman only recently broke a three fight losing streak in which he was finished in all of those losses. It’s kind of sad that a fight of this caliber is in essence going to be decided by who’s slipped the furthest since this was a dream fight not all that long ago. Both men are competent strikers with good power, though Souza is a little more diverse in his offense. Both men are phenomenal grapplers though Souza is the more accomplished jiu-jitsu player while Weidman has an edge in wrestling. Both men need top position for their grappling to be at it’s best as neither man has a dynamic guard. There’s a slight cardio edge for Weidman as Souza has shown a dubious gas tank in the past and Souza is the older competitor. I’ve gone back and forth here but I’m leaning towards Souza, it’s a pity he’s out of the title picture as he was finished by the current champion and lost to the next title challenger but I still think he’s one of the very best in the world.

    Winner: Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, Decision


    UFC Heavyweight Championship Bout: Daniel Cormier vs. Derrick Lewis

    Jonathan Solomon: Cormier is one of the greatest MMA fighters in history. At heavyweight or light heavyweight, he’s proven to be a step above everyone not named Jon Jones. Undefeated as a heavyweight, he has always had a crazy combination of speed, power and that incredible wrestling results in him always being in control. Derrick Lewis is a prolific striker with prototypical one punch knockout power. He was well on his way to a unanimous decision loss to Alexander Volkov at UFC 229 when he scored a knockout with 11 seconds left in the fight. Now, he’s challenging for a championship for the first time since 2013. Sure, he could land a big hand on Cormier’s chin and become the new champion. However, he will not. If he cannot knock Cormier out, there’s no way for him to win this fight. What he has going for him is this is a five round fight, so that means he has 25-minutes to throw shots. His conditioning has been a concern and how much improvement could he have made in less than four weeks since he last fought? Cormier could run circles around him before they even get to round 4, and the most interesting aspect of the fight will be how aggressive Cormier will be.

    Winner: Daniel Cormier, TKO, Round 2

    Jeffrey Harris: I can’t in good conscious pick Derrick Lewis to win this. Lewis is sort of the man of the hour at the moment. He’s a fan-friendly fighter and captured the imagination of the people with his “my balls was hot promo,” so the UFC is striking while the iron is hot. Lewis is very tough, and he tends to do better the longer the fight goes. However, I see no way he wins this fight. The only way I see him winning is if Daniel Cormier fights stupid and sloppy, which he generally does not do. The only man on the planet who has proven to be capable of beating Cormier is Jon Jones, and even then there’s always shenanigans. Cormier is proven he can take hard shots from dangerous strikers. Cormier is going to punish Lewis with his wrestling and eventually ground and pound Lewis out or slap him with an RNC inside of two rounds.

    Winner: Daniel Cormier, Submission, Round 2

    Robert Winfree: Boy did this thing come together at the last minute, and it feels that way. Lewis is a great character, I think the UFC should have him cageside for all their events to take the place of at least half of the roster for their interview time. He’s also the generic heavyweight fighter with solid power, mediocre technique, a bad gas tank, and a history of bad fights with moments in them that get the crowd involved. Lewis has the mythical punchers chance, but in this case it’s slightly lower than the average punchers chance. Lewis averages something like 20 strikes thrown per round, mostly because his gas tank is so bad. Think about that, 20 strikes over five minutes on average. Cormier can be set up, Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson both had a lot of success baiting Cormier into patterns then capitalizing on his predictable body motions and defense, Jones with high kicks he set up with consistent leg and body work while Gustafsson used knees or uppercuts to get around the mummy guard of Cormier. Lewis has a decent high kick in the first round, but he’s only got one or two of them per fight in him and he never sets them up. Lewis also isn’t that great at stopping takedowns, much less takedowns from a wrestler the caliber of Daniel Cormier. Off of his back Lewis is just kind of there, and his get ups involve just sitting upright without concern regarding his back being taken simply because there’s a dearth of high enough level jiu-jitsu at heavyweight to consistently punish him for the tactical error. Cormier isn’t a jiu-jitsu savant or anything, in fact he shows little inclination to taking the back in the traditional way, but he’s likely good enough to get there and threaten Lewis during one of his sit ups. I just can’t pick Cormier here, in fact I can’t pick against Cormier generally unless he’s fighting Jon Jones given that he just bested the only heavyweight I would have (and did) pick to beat him.

    Winner: Daniel Cormier, Submission, Round 2


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