In what will be the UFC’s first event of the new year, the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas plays host to UFC 195.
The pay-per-view event is headlined by a welterweight champion contest between titleholder Robbie Lawler and former interim champion Carlos Condit. Also featured on the card is a potential title eliminator between No. 2-ranked heavyweight Andrei Arlovski and No. 3 Stipe Miocic.
Featured as the UFC Fight Pass “main event” is a lightweight title rescheduled from October, as Dustin Poirier and “Irish” Joe Duffy lock horns.
Here’s how we see the night unfolding:
Early Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass at 3:30 p.m. ET)
- Edgar Garcia def. Sheldon Westcott via decision
- Michinori Tanaka def. Joe Soto via decision
- Joe Duffy def. Dustin Poirier via TKO
Preliminary Card (FOX Sports 1 at 5 p.m. ET)
- Scott Holtzman def. Drew Dober via decision
- Justine Kish def. Nina Ansaroff via decision
- Kyle Noke def. Alex Morono via decision
- Michael McDonald def. Masanori Kanehara via submission
Main Card (Pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET)
Abel Trujillo vs. Tony Sims
A dangerous striker, Abel Trujillo is a frightening man at 155 pounds. Problem for “Killa” is he always seems to find a way to fall short when standing across a man of great talents. He couldn’t beat Tony Ferguson; he couldn’t beat Khabib Nurmagomedov. That may not say much on paper, considering nobody’s had much success against either of those two in quite some time. Trujillo’s submission and decision losses may offer more value, proving the Blackzilians MMA fighter struggles against grapplers.
Fortunately for Trujillo, he faces a striker in UFC 195’s main card opener.
Problem for Trujillo is that striker is named Tony Sims. After getting smothered by Olivier Aubin-Mercier in his last outing, you can bet Sims will be looking to let his hands go come Saturday.
Prediction: Sims def. Trujillo via TKO
Diego Brandao vs. Brian Ortega
Many an MMA fan was high on Diego Brandao after his stint on The Ultimate Fighter 14. An explosive striker with stellar skills on the canvas, Brandao seemed to have all the tools to become a force inside the UFC’s featherweight division. That was all until he ran into the wrestling of Darren Elkins, the patience of Dustin Poirier and the left hand of Conor McGregor.
He hasn’t necessarily washed away all of the hype that once surrounded him four years back, but we’ve certainly learned to taper our expectations until he shows he can hang with the best at 145 pounds.
Brandao meets Brian Ortega at UFC 195, a highly regarded prospect out of MMA’s famed Black House Gym. The two were previously scheduled to fight at The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3 Finale in May 2014, but an injury to Brandao prevented the matchup from taking place.
We last saw Ortega fend off Thiago Tavares in a back-and-forth affair in June. Hopefully Ortega’s learned a bit since then, realizing the longevity of his career will dwindle if he’s to engage in contests like that.
Prediction: Ortega def. Brandao via decision
Lorenz Larkin vs. Albert Tumenov
Albert Tumenov may very well be the most frightening UFC welterweight that few have ever heard of. Dispatching of up-and-coming 170-pounder Alan Jouban in his last outing at UFC 192, Tumenov could make quite the statement fighting on UFC 195’s main card.
Tumenov is just 24 years old, bringing with him a wealth of experience in both boxing in karate. Nearly 70 percent of his career victories have come by way of knockout or TKO.
His opponent, Lorenz Larkin, shares some similar qualities, stopping 63 percent of his opponents via strikes. A former middleweight, Larking hit a bit of a skid when running into some relatively mid-range talent in the UFC. A drop to 170 has since served him well, but only because he hasn’t fought a mixed martial artist of Tumenov’s caliber.
Prediction: Tumenov def. Larkin via TKO
Andrei Arlovski vs. Stipe Miocic
Few heavyweights outside of the champion have looked quite as impressive as one Andrei Arlovski of late. A former UFC heavyweight champion, Arlovski made his return to the Octagon in 2014, winning four straight against some of the best fighters the weight class has to offer.
Saturday night at UFC 195, Arlovski meets a man arguably seen as the best the weight class has to offer.
Stipe Miocic has only lost twice in his professional career. He suffered a TKO to Stefan Struve in 2012 and a close decision loss to former champion Junior dos Santos in 2o14. Without completely excusing Miocic from those defeats, it’s important to acknowledge the frequency at which knockouts occur when heavyweights enter the cage with four-ounce gloves. Finding a dominant heavyweight fighter who’s never had his lights turned out is on par with spotting Waldo inside of a candy cane factory (you know, before that kid circled him with ink).
And that’s what may be the most important factor to consider here. Miocic has been stopped once by strikes, while Arlovski has suffered seven (T)KO defeats over the years. A fighter’s chin is destined to become a shell of its former self, and “The Pit Bull” may be reminded of that Saturday night.
Prediction: Miocic def. Arlovski via KO
Lawler (c) vs. Condit
A beautiful matchup between two strikers unafraid of taking a few blows to land several of their own, both Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit present a style that’s sure to intrigue any fan who welcomes a tinge of violence. More than a tinge, actually.
We last saw Lawler compete in what is arguably considered to be MMA’s fight of the year. A back-and-forth affair opposite Rory MacDonald at UFC 189, Lawler scored a fifth-round TKO to retain his title. It was the latest impressive outing in what’s been a resurgent return to the UFC for the “Ruthless” one. But as Lawler’s shown in at least three of his past four bouts, he’s willing to take a few lumps on his path to victory or defeat.
The prominent difference here is in Condit’s ability to retain some technical intelligence as he wades through a five-round contest. Backed by a technical savant in Mike winkeljohn and a game-planning genius in Greg Jackson, Condit may have the brains and the braun to put Lawler away in this contest.
Prediction: Condit def. Lawler via TKO