- Dec 14, 2003
CARLCX'S ATTEMPT TO REPLICATE COMMONSHORE'S FIGHT BREAKDOWNS: EPISODE 1
Airs 1/15 via ESPN, Prelims begin at 5 PM EST, Main card 7 PM EST
The holiday vacation is over and the UFC is officially kicking off 2022 this Saturday. The good news: It's mained by a really good, pertinent fight. The bad news: It's cursed. How cursed? This cursed:
What was intially a good, long card with a number of interesting fights is now a ten-fight card maybe co-main evented by Katlyn Chookagian. Welcome to 2022. COVID still exists. There isn't even an official match card for the breakdown because they've had to change it so goddamn many times and at least one of the replacements is still only unofficially announced, so, in theory, as of 48 hours ahead of time, this is probably the card:
This is both a very interesting fight and a fight with a fairly openly expected outcome. Calvin Kattar earned his spot in the top ten at featherweight the hard way and has proven to be very, very good, but unfortunately you're only as good as your last fight, and Kattar's last fight was one of the most one-sided beatings in UFC history against Max Holloway. There is no shame in getting the poo poo beaten out of you by Max Holloway, but it does somewhat dampen your hype. Giga Chikadze, by contrast, is currently riding an enormous wave of hype: He's 7-0 in the UFC with multiple violent knockouts on his way to the top and is coming directly from a striking-master showdown that saw him knock out Edson Barboza. The UFC set up this fight wholly intending for Giga to get the signature win that propels him to title contendership, and as he's currently a -230 favorite, the MMA community agrees. Is that going to be accurate, though?
...I mean, yeah, probably. The UFC's not stupid, they know Kattar's dangerous and he could very well win, but make no mistake, this is a bad matchup for him. Calvin Kattar is a very well-rounded fighter and an exceptional boxer (by MMA standards, anyway), but Giga's striking game is smarter, rangier and much more well-rounded, and built to exploit Kattar's usual strategy of opening himself up to take a blow or two in exchange for getting on the inside to counter or throw combinations, which is an exceptionally bad idea against someone who can hit you as quickly and accurately as Giga Chikadze. Kattar's two biggest strengths here are his toughness and his grappling: 445 significant strikes absorbed by Max Holloway prove Kattar's hard as gently caress to put down, and he CAN wrestle, he just typically uses it defensively out of preference for his boxing. Kattar's best path to victory, on paper, is pressure-fighting Giga and forcing him to get tired fighting on the inside and staying on his feet, then lighting him up when he slows down.
But I think it's a lot more likely Giga Chikadze will keep Calvin Kattar at range and kick him in the chest a whole bunch. Decision or late TKO.
As CommonShore noted:
This is not going to be an enormously interesting fight. Neither Chookagian or Maia is a bad fighter, but they are in a number of unfortunate positions. Katlyn Chookagian is an extremely solid all-arounder whose greatest asset is an ability to stay calm and think tactically in the middle of a fight; she doesn't take unnecessary risks, she's become very good at keeping people on the end of a jab or a side kick, and she very effectively outpoints almost everyone she fights. Jennifer Maia, while also a solid all-arounder, is a Chute Boxe student and thus tends to take the approach of flinging lots of wild hooks and shooting for big slams and trying to do real damage. Her having finished only one fight in the UFC is indicative of how much success she's had in the attempt, unfortunately, but it does tend to make her more fun to watch.
So on paper, that should be a good fight! Unfortunately, there are two things that keep it from being enormously exciting:
Maia had some success in the grappling late in the fight, but it took losing 85% of said fight to get there, and neither fighter appears to have changed all that much in the interim. Katlyn Chookagian sidekicks her way to another decision and an entry in the history books.
- Both fighters are jockeying for rematches with ultra-dominant champion Valentina Shevchenko who very handily defeated them both in the same calendar year, and
- Chookagian and Maia already fought each other two years ago and Chookagian outpointed her to an extremely clear decision.
Flyweights rule, and so will this. Brandon "Raw Dawg" Royval fights like a loving crazy person who will throw spinning backfists and jumping knees and low-percentage guillotines with gusto, except he tends to actually get them, which is why he's finished all but one of his 12 wins. Unfortunately, he's also currently on a skid. His fast track to a title shot was ruined by the coming-out party for Brandon Moreno, who outgrappled him into separating his shoulder, and after almost a year's recovery he returned only to get outgrappled and submitted by Alexandre Pantoja, establishing a little bit of a pattern.
Which is on-paper unfortunate, because Rogério Bontorin has 11 submissions to his name. Thing is, that hasn't actually worked too well in the UFC. Bontorin's success in the UFC has come from sticking to a much more strategic and measured style, but his ability to stick to said style has been mixed and it shows: He's 3-2 in the fed, and of those one was an extremely close split decision that saw him abandoning his gameplan in favor of brawling, one was a cut stoppage from a busted eyebrow in mid-takedown, and only one, his last fight, was a definitive decision that saw him staying controlled and measured all fight. In the middle of those he got knocked the gently caress out by Kai Kara-France and thoroughly outgrappled by Ray Borg.
Both guys are looking to make statements about their place in the division, both are more than capable of winning, but I think Brandon Royval is going to hurt him and snatch a submission. Bontorin has a historical weakness for getting sucked into wild exchanges, and Royval is better at weathering and directing them.
This is listed as the co-main event but last I heard Chookagian/Maia is supposed to be co-maining, so who knows.
It's mediocre heavyweight time, everybody! This fight is going to be terrible but probably also funny! Neither of these guys is very good! Chase "The Vanilla Gorilla" Sherman styles himself as primarily a striker and has had some success by virtue of knowing what a combination is, but he also has no idea how head movement works and got gassed out and outboxed by Joey "The Mexecutioner" Beltran in bareknuckle fights! Jake Collier is a 6'3" dude who had to go to a decision to beat paunchy heavyweight Gian Villante! He has about a round and a half of gas and got walked down and defeated by Carlos Felipe, who really isn't very good! His biggest strength as a fighter is his ability to lift his leg over his own head! I think he edits his own sherdog and tapology pages, because on all of them he has bio pictures from most of a decade ago when he was shredded and fought at middleweight even though now he looks like this!
Neither of these guys are great and it's heavyweight, so who knows! The betting odds disagree with me, but I'm guessing Chase Sherman will win by TKO, because he does have power in his hands but more importantly his gas tank lasts longer than six minutes and when Collier gets tired he starts walking straight into bodyshots from everyone he fights! BADDEST MEN ON THE PLANET!
It's weird that this is on the main card over the Kelleher fight and I wonder if that will still be true by the time we get to air. Dakota "Hairy" Bush (yes, really) is a solid regional talent who ran up an 8-2 record mostly in UFC feeder league Legacy Fighting Alliance before getting his first stab at the big leagues with his UFC debut last April, where he put up a pretty good first round (and ate an extremely unfortunate eyepoke) before gassing pretty hard and dropping a 29-28 decision to Austin "Thud" Hubbard, who I am naming primarily because his nickname is great.
Viacheslav Borshchev is this card's big Contender Series winner. He's a Russian fighter who moved to Sacramento to chase his dreams of being shirtless all the time with Urijah Faber, and TAM got him on Dana White's radar where he earned a UFC contract after punching up and knocking out Scottish prospect and former undefeated Bellator fighter Chris Duncan. He very much prefers to rely on his hands, where Bush likes to mix up his attacks and is more than happy to drag fights to the ground.
The odds say Borshchev is going to win, and I am not inclined to disagree. Bush has the rounder gameplan and looked decent in his LFA fights, but most of them also ended within three minutes, and whether it was jitters or conditioning, he looked pretty lost after the first round of his debut. Borshchev has much less experience, but he showed a much better command of distance and patience and his hands looked considerably sharper than Bush's. If the fight stays on the feet past the first round, Borschchev probably cruises to a decision.
This is one of the fights the MMA nerds are looking forward to. Joanderson "Tubarão" Brito (it means "Shark" but it's also the name of a place) has been one of the better regional featherweight prospects in Brazil for a couple of years now, but he didn't enter the world's radar until he made his LFA debut against the very tough Jose Mariscal and slept him in forty seconds. This got him to the pinnacle of the sport--the loving Contender Series--where he dominated the fight but wound up poking his opponent in the eye and winning a technical decision. He's a powerful muay thai striker who mixes headkicks and punches seamlessly and that, as the root of a 10-fight win streak, cemented him as a narrow betting favorite.
Bill "Senor Perfecto" Algeo, however, is a pretty solid entry exam. Algeo's one of those fighters who works very hard to be well-rounded and then chooses to engage in wild brawls with haymakers and flying kicks instead, which is both why he has this fight and why he's 1-2 in the UFC and being used as bait for the new guy. His biggest weaknesses have come against people who've been able to outgrapple him, though, and Brito is a Chute Boxe guy, which means he's fully capable of grappling but prefers trying to murder your skull. Which gets interesting, because Algeo is a guy who's never been knocked out, and Brito is a guy who's won almost all of his fights by the second round.
I think Brito still winds up winning by having a tighter striking game, but this might be the closest fight on the card. Algeo's not going to die in the first thirty seconds unless Brito turns out to be even better than a lot of people think he is, but if his gas tank can hold out for three rounds I think Algeo's looseness will ultimately cost him the fight.
One of these men is nicknamed The Night Wolf and the other is nicknamed Ugly Man, so we're in prime MMA traditional territory. There are some mirror match aspects at work here: Pickett and Holmes are both giant loving middleweights with 80" reach, but they're also both far more comfortable using their size advantage in grappling situations; Pickett likes to crash into the pocket with punches and work in the clinch, Holmes likes to throw slapping kicks and loose jabs long enough to get to the bodylock and force people to the ground. Holmes has the better record and is the betting favorite, but I think Pickett will grind his way to a decision. Holmes looked profoundly uncomfortable dealing with being blitzed into the clinch in his Contender series fight and Pickett's a lot bigger and better than the guy he was fighting.
Court McGee will never, ever loving go away. This year marks the twelfth year of McGee in the UFC since winning The Ultimate Fighter back in 2010, and that was also the last time he won by stoppage, having in total accrued a perfect 50/50 UFC record of 9-9, which is a great metaphor for his grinding jab-and-clinch-until-we-both-die style. Ramiz Brahimaj, by contrast, is a high-energy fighter who's only gone to decision twice in a 9-3 career and is currently 1-1 in the UFC, including a wonderful little fight where Max Griffin punted him in the balls so hard he almost threw up and then nearly elbowed his left ear completely off his skull. Brahimaj is tough as poo poo and a super-aggressive grappler who's very good at diving on chokes. Unfortunately, Court McGee is a guy who's been in there with Ryan LaFlare and Ben Saunders and Sean Brady and Carlos Condit without ever being submitted. Court McGee sees his shadow and drags us all through another long, gritty decision, because you cannot stop the inevitable.
This is going to be a weird one. Brian Kelleher has quietly become one of the UFC's premiere journeymen, a violent wrestleboxer who dominated Renan Barão, nearly knocked out John Lineker and spent the last two years giving featherweight a shot before deciding cutting out pizza wasn't worth getting punched in the face by Ricky Simon. He came back to bantamweight last year and this was to be his second fight in climbing back up the ladder, but his original opponent, the highly-touted prospect Saidyokub Kakhramonov, had to pull out and was replaced on 72 hours' notice by, uh, "The Hard Hitting Hillbilly" Kevin Croom, who parlayed a regional featherweight championship into two UFC fights that saw him get screwed out of a win because he smoked weed and get outstruck and outgrappled by Bruce Leeroy. On paper, Kelleher should win fairly easily, but for one, he was preparing for a very different type of fighter, and for two, Croom has half a foot of both height and reach on him, to the point that for short notice reasons this fight is being contested at 145. Kelleher should still win a solid decision, being as Croom's fighting on three loving days of notice and he's not that great, but short notice replacement fights against much bigger opponents always make me nervous.
And here we have another one of those. "Downtown" TJ Brown is another Contender Series import who would be 0-3 in the UFC in a rational world, but is instead coming off a split decision win that 0% of media scorers gave him. Up until Wednesday he was scheduled to fight Gabriel "Moggly" Benitez, but on three days' notice Benitez was replaced by Charles Rosa, a featherweight and lightweight competitor who has been in the UFC for almost eight years and has somehow managed to take Yair Rodriguez to a split decision, lose to Dennis Siver, and never, ever win OR lose two fights in a row. Unfortunately for TJ Brown, Charles Rosa lost his last fight, which means he's ordained by god to win a decision. Or, more realistically, Brown's strengths as a fighter come from his submission game and Rosa's not just a weight class up but is a Ricardo Libório black belt. Unless Rosa gasses due to being a short-notice replacement, which would be pretty loving understandable, I think he fends off Brown.
Prelims start at 5 EST/2 PST or just under an hour from this post.