This weekend, UFC 215 takes place from Alberta, Canada and features another card where the main event has been lost just a day prior to the event. Ray Borg has dropped out due to illness and what we are left with is a Women’s title fight between Valentina Shevchenko and Amanda Nunes. It’s a rematch of a fight that Nunes was the victor of the first time, but it was a lot closer than the unanimous decision scorecards would have indicated. With the UFC once again losing their marquee fight on a card they are selling for $50 dollars a pop, they are now offering refunds to purchasers who have already contacted their cable companies to order UFC 215, something that is unprecedented from recent memory. Let’s break down what’s left of this card.
Henry Cejudo vs Wilson Reis
This bout features two guys who have been taken apart by Champ Demetrious Johnson. Henry Cejudo is the former Olympic Gold Medalist wrestler whose transition hit an abrupt halt when he ran into pound-for-pound great Johnson. Wilson Reis got his shot, and offered very little, before giving up an armbar late in the fight mainly due to exhaustion. Both fighters will look to climb the ladder, and Cejudo looks to be the more focused and tested fighter. He’s suffered back-to-back losses to Johnson and Joseph Benavidez; no shame in that. A guy like Reis should be the perfect bounce back candidate. He is a live body, respected striker, but will tire and can be worn down as Johnson showed in his last fight.
ZM Pick: Cejudo by UD
Gilbert Melendez vs Jeremy Stephens
This is my most anticipated fight of the card. Stephens is a personal favorite for his head hunting ways and huge knockout power. He is a very limited fighter, however, and becomes very beatable if you can stay out of the way of his hands. Melendez is coming off the worst stretch of his career and is probably a loss away from his walking papers. He has suffered three straight defeats to Anthony Pettis (submission), and decision losses to Eddie Alvarez and Edson Barboza. Melendez has become too reliant on his striking instead of using the relentless wrestling style that got him to where he is. He would be wise to use it against Stephens and I think he will in his first fight in the new weight class. Stephens does not have great wrestling and the Cesar Gracie pupil will have a noticeable advantage against Lil Heathen in the Ju Jitsu game as well.
Prediction: Melendez by UD
Rafael dos Anjos vs Neil Magny
Rafael dos Anjos has fallen on hard times. Since his destruction of Anthony Pettis to become lightweight champion and a successful defence against Donald Cerrone, he has been demolished by Eddie Alvarez and beaten thoroughly by Tony Ferguson. He did rebound a bit with a lacklustre fight against Tarec Saffiedine, a guy that nobody looks good against, and now gets another step up in competition at welterweight against Neil Magny. Since his run on the Ultimate Fighter, Magny has beaten an accomplished list of fighters including Tim Means, Kelvin Gastelum, Erick Silva, Hector Lombard, and Johny Hendricks – quite the resume. The problem is that he has been stopped in both his losses against Demian Maia and Lorenz Larkin. Magny also doesn’t feature a style that is extremely marketable by the UFC, so his push has been minimal. A win over Dos Anjos would do wonders for his career. The question will be: Which Dos Anjos shows up? The one who became lightweight champion over Pettis and then dominated Cerrone in one round, or the one that Ferguson punched around the ring and Alvarez knocked out? The potential of Dos Anjos is enough to get by Magny, as when Rafael is on, he is a handful for any fighter at lightweight or welter.
Prediction: Dos Anjos by 2nd round submission.
Amanda Nunes (C) vs Valentina Shevchenko
Valentina’s last two wins have been impressive as she nearly shutout Holly Holm and submitted the tornado known as Julianna Pena. She has been clamoring for this fight for a long while and it looks like it will finally happen after being cancelled the first time on the Jon Jones-Daniel Cormier II card. Nunes is basically the female division’s version of Anthony Johnson. She is absolutely frightening for the first round and a half and surviving those first seven minutes is essentially trying to survive being put in a wood chipper. After that initial burst though, she has been known to tire and gets beatable. Cat Zingano was the first to prove this true, and Valentine further exploited it when Nunes faded badly down the stretch in their first fight. Nunes took out an over-matched Miesha Tate to win the title and defended it against a broken Ronda Rousey. Valentina seems to be hitting her stride and is going to be a tough test for the champion.
ZM Prediction: AND THE NEW…Valentina by 4th round submission
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