The final UFC event of the year is upon us, and it’s a good one.
But as we embark on this year-ending series of contests at the Amway Center in Orlando, we must ask: What the hell should we expect? Lots of questions surround the champion, who delivered a once-in-a-lifetime performance capable of causing quakes in any pair of boots belonging to a 155-pound fighter. Then there’s the heavyweight matchup, once billed as a grudge match between two bitter rivals. Will that matchup live up to the hype?
We ask and answer in our latest MMA roundtable for UFC on FOX 17:
Do you expect to see a better version of Myles Jury now that he’s dropped to 145?
Go Paolo: I’m not entirely sure how he will look. He already looked very skinny at 155 so it’s hard to envision him more sucked in. As long as he cuts and rehydrates properly he should be ok. Fighters lately have struggled with the rehydration process because of the IV ban so hopefully Jury doesn’t get too affected by it because he’s in a very tough matchup against a fighter who is arguably better at jiu-jitsu than he is.
Riley Kontek: I think it depends on how he cuts weight. I don’t think he was that big of a lightweight, so this may be the best move for him. He will be bigger and stronger, which is scary because of the knockout power he had at 155 pounds. I think it also makes him a more effective grinder than he already is, which is even scarier when he begins shooting in on takedowns.
Kristian Ibarra: With the power of hindsight favoring me, Myles Jury didn’t look bad at weigh-ins. I don’t necessarily think the weight cut will affect him all too much, if not enhance his ability to out-muscle more of his opponents now. For as good as he is or his record appears to be, Jury’s never been a guy with way above-average skills in any one facet of MMA. He’s solid all around, but not great anywhere. At least now he’ll be able to use his size.
Will Junior dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem live up to the hype we created three years back?
GP: The eternal optimist in me would love to believe so! But just going by what we’ve seen in recent years, both fighters are not the same explosive fighter they were when the matchup was first created. JDS and Overeem have both been battered and injured a lot and Overeem was even suspended for suspicious levels of testosterone. That said this will still be a very good fight – a high-level boxing/kickboxing matchup that still promises a knockout finish. The winner can also potentially get the next title shot especially if Werdum defeats Cain again. JDS and Overeem are also the last two fighters to defeat Werdum.
RK: I actually think we may be disappointed in this fight. Do I think it ends in knockout? Yes. Do I think it lives up to the hype that we as fans put on it? No. Since taking those savage beatings from Cain Velasquez, dos Santos has never been the same. Overeem has a suspect chin and has not been the savage knockout artist we once knew him as, fighting safer in recent affairs. I think this actually could fall flat.
KI: Three years ago, this could’ve been one of the biggest fights in MMA. UFC vs. Strikeforce, champion vs. champion, dos Santos vs. Overeem. It’s been reduced to a long-boiling grudge match between two fighters who will use one another as a stepping stone toward a potential title shot. Overeem’s chin has become a watered down version of what it used to be, but dos Santos has also showed a knack for taking far too much damage in recent affairs. A long layoff for JDS may even things out a bit more, but I don’t believe this will the fight we’ve all wanted.
Between Rafael dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone, which fighter stands the best chance to get past all the monsters atop the 155-pound division?
GP: If the dos Anjos who demolished Nate Diaz, knocked out Henderson and trounced Pettis for five rounds shows up and defeats Cerrone again, I am very confident he will beat most of the fighters in the division. But if the injuries and IV ban take their toll on him, he’ll lose to Cerrone who has very good cardio and gets stronger as the fight goes on. “Cowboy” can beat anyone in the division in the stand-up and his jiu-jitsu makes him very dangerous on the ground. However, I feel if an elite fighter with strong wrestling and forward pressure game faces Cerrone he’ll lose more often than not.
RK: I think that the lightweight division will be a merry-go-round of champions. There are too many unfavorable matchups by fellow top fighters for each top fighter. Basically, the champion will always run into somebody who is stylistically advantageous over them. That’s why I think there is really no standout fighter in the entire division that will get past all the monsters. So in short, neither will.
KI: I think it depends. A lot of us are waiting to see if Rafael dos Anjos can replicate the sort of performance he had against Anthony Pettis back at UFC 185. And rightfully so, because we’d never seen RDA perform to that capacity. But if, and only if, he can, I think he’s the best 155-pound fighter on the planet. His pressure-first style, coupled with what speed he showcased against Pettis, will pose huge problems for anybody at lightweight — including that one featherweight.