UFC 202 takes place tomorrow night in Las Vegas and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Nate Diaz vs. Conor McGregor II
One of the most talked about rematches in UFC history is finally upon us, as Nate Diaz and Conor McGregor clash for a second time at welterweight following Diaz’s submission victory in their first outing earlier in the year.
Last time out Diaz came in on extremely short notice, so having a full camp to prepare for McGregor can only be a plus for him. ‘The Notorious’ also has had the benefit of being able to focus on getting more accustomed to competing at 170lbs and preparing only for Diaz. He’s done all the right things in that regard, drafting in tall boxers and a high-level BJJ black belt to help him prepare.
In their first fight McGregor did actually get the better of the striking exchanges between the two in the early stages of the fight, so that will give him confidence. If he’s smart he’ll look to change his strategy this time out. As he found out last time, Diaz is exceptionally hard to put away, so he’d be best to avoid loading up with power shots and instead using his superior speed, movement, kicks and instinctual knack for finding the right shot at the right time to get the better of his rival over 25 minutes of fighting.
Diaz has excellent cardio though, and once he finds his range and starts to read his opponents rhythm, his accuracy and volume of punches can be extremely difficult to deal with. The Stockton native has a more power in his punches at welterweight too, and his frame is better suited to this division than McGregor, though even Diaz has admitted that the Irishman hits hard for his size.
Despite McGregor’s best efforts to shore up his BJJ in recent months, the reality is that he’s not going to be able to bridge the gap in skill between Diaz and himself, so he’ll be looking to avoid going to the mat at all costs. The question is whether Diaz will look to go to ground in the first place, and he’s not exactly a takedown machine.
This is definitely a close fight, and one I believe McGregor has a chance to win if he keeps it standing and doesn’t succumb to his natural instincts to go all out for a finish. Overall though I do lean slightly towards Diaz given that he’s better suited to the weight class and has no cardio concerns, should be able to match McGregor in the stand-up, and holds a big advantage in the submission department.
I think the fight will go longer this time around, but the circumstances might end up fairly similar with Diaz eventually starting to take the wind out of McGregor’s sails with punches, and then either finishing him by a late TKO on the feet or find a submission on the mat.
Nate Diaz to win by submission in Rd4.
Anthony Johnson vs. Glover Teixeira
Fireworks are surely in store as these two heavy-handed light-heavyweights battle it out with hopes of propelling themselves to a title shot.
Johnson is undoubtedly the hardest hitter of the two – and that’s easy to say since you’d be hard pushed to find anyone in the UFC who packs more of a wallop than ‘rumble’. Teixeira is undoubtedly a destructive force in his own right though, and if he’s allowed to start teeing off then his combos can quickly slay his opponents.
A big plus for Teixeira is the fact that he doesn’t just rely on his striking, but is also happy to mix in takedowns and is a legitimate threat from submissions too. That being said, Johnson can wrestle too though, though is only likely to use tha defensively and so won’t easily be taken down.
Cardio is always a concern for Johnson, and he can get discouraged if things aren’t going his way, but I think there will be opportunities for him to land heavy leather in this fight, and as tough as Teixeira is, I’m not convinced he’ll be able to withstand it.
Anthony Johnson to win by TKO in Rd2.
Donald Cerrone vs. Rick Story
Cerrone looked stellar in his last outing against Patrick Cote, and will hope to continue his successful start to life at welterweight against one of the division’s veteran campaigners, Story.
Skill wise there’s no doubt that Cerrone holds the edge here, both in terms of his striking ability and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu prowess. What Story does bring to the table though is unrelenting forward pressure, wrestling and a stifling clinch game that can wear down his opponents.
Story is an awkward fighter to deal with, but I do feel that Cerrone can use his kicks and punches from range to good effect, and he times his knees well when fighters rush in on him, which should also pay dividends here. He’s by no means going to have it all his own way here, but I think this is a winnable fight for Cerrone and he’ll do enough to emerge with a decision victory on the night.
Donald Cerrone to win by decision.
Hyun Gyu Lim vs. Mike Perry
Perry comes in on just a couple of weeks notice to fight Lim on the main card in his UFC debut, and carries a perfect 6-0 record into the Octagon with him.
This should be a striking affair, with both men preferring to stay on the feet, and it’ll be fun to watch.
Lim is aggressive – recklessly so at times, which is a concern as Perry is a finisher himself, but Lim is the bigger man and has the more diverse offensive arsenal, and I think he’ll find a way to hurt the newcomer and put him away by TKO at some stage in the second round.
Hyun Gyu Lim to win by TKO in Rd2.
Sabah Homasi vs. Tim Means
Homasi is another late replacement, stepping in to fight Means, who’s coming off a recent drug suspension, which he successfully argued was due to a tainted supplement.
Means is a battle-hardened veteran with plenty of offensive output at his disposal and a willingness to get into a dog fight if necessary.
I suspect he’ll prove to be too much for the debuting Homasi to deal with, and will put him away inside of 10 minutes.
Tim Means to win by TKO in Rd2.
Cody Garbrandt vs. Takeya Mizugaki
Raquel Pennington vs. Elizabeth Phillips
Chris Avila vs. Artem Lobov
Cortney Casey vs. Randa Markos
Lorenz Larkin vs. Neil Magny
Colby Covington vs. Max Griffin
Alberto Uda vs. Marvin Vettori