Stann: Against Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida showed that he can struggle a little bit when he’s pressured. However, it is possible that a big part of that was because of the great takedown threat that Weidman posed.
Luke Rockhold doesn’t pose that same threat, but he needs to fight Machida that same way.
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The other interesting piece to this fight is the fact that it will be southpaw vs. southpaw. Machida thrives on fighting righties because of his left body kick.
Every time you try to close the gap against Machida, he finishes up a combo with that left body kick. Against another left-handed fighter, he doesn’t have that kick, which is his signature strike.
What is he going to do without that big weapon against Rockhold?
Elias’ pick: Rockhold by decision
Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (21-3) vs. Chris Camozzi (19-9)
Stann: I think that if Jacare is on and focused, this fight plays out very similar to their 2013 fight where Souza choked Camozzi out. Jacare is just that good.
You can’t go into a gun fight carrying a stick. Chris Camozzi is a very good fighter, but Jacare is simply in the top tier of the middleweight division. The key is, though, that there is a ton of pressure on Jacare in this fight.
He went from fighting another top-ranked guy with a great name to fighting a guy he’s already beaten. There will be pressure to demolish Camozzi in this fight because right after their fight, Luke Rockhold and Lyoto Machida are fighting.
Will Jacare Souza (left) be able to beat Chris Camozzi (right) for a second time?
And whoever generates the most hype after their fight will get the next title shot. Camozzi needs to play a frustrating game.
Camozzi needs to not stand in the pocket and he also needs to not be silly and throw combinations where he overextends himself. He needs to fight long and make it difficult for Jacare to take him down.
If Camozzi can get Jacare frustrated and anxious, make him reach and try too hard because he wants to finish the fight, you just never know. Camozzi can throw a hard kick and a hard punch.
Elias’ pick: Camozzi by first-round KO
Cub Swanson (21-6) vs. Max Holloway (12-3)
Stann: Holloway has earned this fight. He wanted this fight and called for it after his last one, which was smart.
He called Cub out in a very respectful way. His time is now, and he needs to fight the top guys in the division.
For Cub, this is the perfect fight. He’ll get to fight a guy with a big win streak, but who he has a good chance at beating. Cub needs to pressure and get inside with Holloway.
Can Cub Swanson (right) come back strong after losing to Frankie Edgar in his last fight?
Cub impresses me so much. He fights in the pocket with eyes wide open.
Most guys squint and don’t move their heads properly. Cub gets in there, keeps his eyes on you and slips punches, rolls and then hurts people with his own shots.
Cub needs to force pocket exchanges and take Holloway down. He has a good, heavy top game and he should take a page out of Frankie Edgar’s book with what he did to him and smother Holloway.
Holloway can do well in this fight, though. He shouldn’t stay in the pocket or stand in front of Cub because he doesn’t have the same power.
If he can get Cub on the fence, he can do damage, though. When he gets his opponents’ backs against the fence, Holloway does his best work. He goes to the body as good as anybody in the division.
Recently, she’s said that she doesn’t think Paige would have made it out of the first round in the TUF house. That said, when I called Paige’s first fight in the UFC, I left impressed.
What I saw in that fight was that she is more than a pretty face. She has heart, she is rugged. She ate a punch to give one. And, even when she was exhausted, she was able to execute. Those are real signs of a contender.
Paige VanZant (left) may not be experienced, but she’s got grit.
Do I think that Paige could beat Felice Herrig? No, I don’t.
But, Paige has been training with Team Alpha Male, and they have a wealth of technique and they are high on her. She could very well have improved a lot since her last fight.
If she can work Felice to the ground, I think she can win a decision. I don’t think she can finish her, but I think if she maintains position on the ground, she could win a decision.
What Felice wants to do is throw a lot of combinations at Paige to not allow her to get comfortable. This is Paige’s first ever fight on the big show.
Felice needs to start fast, put her hands in Paige’s face, and hurt her early. Felice needs to make Paige feel uncomfortable and then maybe she can try to break that will power.
Felice also needs to not accept the bottom position, if she gets taken down. She needs to not play that closed guard game.
Elias’ pick: Herrig by decision
Ovince Saint Preux will have his hands full with Patrick Cummins, but he’s already shown that he isn’t daunted by heavy tasks.