UFC 203 takes place tomorrow night in Cleveland, Ohio and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Stipe Miocic vs. Alistair Overeem
Heavyweight champion Miocic makes the first defense of his title in his own home city against Overeem, who finally gets a chance to fight for the belt almost five years after he first stepped into the Octagon.
Overeem is the more established striker of the two, with a decorated kickboxing background to go along with his vast MMA experience, though Miocic also used to be a Golden Gloves boxing champion.
‘The Reem’ hits the harder of the two and is just as dangerous with his knees and kicks as he is with punches, but he’s been KO’d numerous times in his career, so his chin is a potential achilles heel, whereas durability is one of Miocic’s strengths.
Where Miocic really shines though is in the fact that along with solid boxing he’s also a good wrestler too, in addition to being well conditioned for a heavyweight. It should be noted that Overeem is actually a capable wrestler in his own right, and indeed leaned heavily on that while trying to pick himself of a losing streak a while back, but I’d still give Miocic the edge in that department.
Overall it’s a closely matched fight, but I’m leaning towards Miocic here, not because he’s neccessarily much better than Overeem in any single discipline, but due to his consistency, conditioning and durability. Overeem might trouble him in the early rounds, but I think Miocic will hang in there and will continue to push the pace and capitalize on mistakes as the challenger tires in the later rounds to either produce a late stoppage or win on the scorecards.
Stipe Miocic to win by decision.
Fabricio Werdum Vs Travis Browne
It was carelessness as much as anything else that cost Werdum his title last time out against Miocic, running face first into a punch, but nonetheless it’s only natural to have some nagging doubts about whether the 39 year-old Werdum is now beginning to decline.
It was only a couple of years that he handily picked apart Browne to win by decision though, so let’s not be too hasty. In the mean time Browne has alternated between wins and losses, and hasn’t neccessarily added a whole lot of new strings to his bow. He continues to demonstrate KO power, which means he’s still a very tricky customer to deal with, but in general his skill set is more ‘solid’ than spectacular.
Werdum is the more technical, calcuating striker though, and he holds a huge advantage if he decides to take the fight to the mat, so while he’ll need to be cautious of ‘Hapa’s’ punching prowess, I think he’s still good enough to come away with a decision victory here.
Fabricio Werdum to win by decision.
CM Punk Vs Mickey Gall
You’ve got to give CM Punk credit for the way he’s approached his MMA / UFC debut. He’s dedicated two years of life to training for this moment, but with no previous martial arts experience, even that may not be enough to bring him success tomorrow night.
It’s a tall order, and even though he has been handed a relatively inexperienced fighter for his first fight, the UFC haven’t done him too many favors as Gall actually looks like a decent prospect with an improving striking game backed up by good jiu-jitsu and plenty of self-belief.
For a former WWE star, Punk certainly doesn’t look imposing physically, and indeed he actually seems quite drawn out at 170lbs and looks every bit of his 37 years, particularly standing next to his more youthful opponent. What little we’ve seen of Punk in training doesn’t inspire much confidence, and the few words of praise coming out of his camp don’t sound convincing either, so all signs are that he’s bitten off more than he can chew here.
Even just fighting to a decision might be a moral victory for Punk, but I expect Gall to have the edge wherever the fight goes, and find a finish by submission at some stage in the first 10 minutes of the fight.
Mickey Gall to win by submission in Rd2.
Urijah Faber vs. Jimmie Rivera
Despite losing yet another title fight, Faber continues to fight on at the age of 37, and that’s perfectly understandable given that he’s proven time and time again that he’s more than capable of beating up pretty much everyone else in the 135lb division.
There have been signs that he’s not doing so quite as comfortably as he used to though, so even ‘The California Kid’ may be feeling the effects of the aging prospect at last.
In his prime I’d have no trouble picking Faber, but he may struggle against Rivera, who’s ten years his junior, is on the up with a long unbeaten record and might just be a bit sharper than the veteran when it comes to striking.
I’m reluctant to pick against such a crafty veteran, but I’ve seen enough warning signs in his recent performances to feel that perhaps Rivera can get the better of him here.
Jimmie Rivera to win by decision.
Jessica Andrade vs. Joanne Calderwood
Intriguing fight here between two top 10 strawweights who are on the up after a win in their last Octagon outings.
Calderwood looked to finally be living up to her potential last time out, but that was at flyweight (125lbs), a weight that seems to suit her better. It might also be a good fit for Andrade who’s recently moved down from bantamweight (135lbs), but the UFC aren’t pulling the trigger on creating that division just yet though, so 115lbs it is for now.
Both ladies are very good strikers which should make this fun to watch, but Andrade is more ferocious in the early rounds, and while Calderwood may be able to weather the storm, I think the Brazilian will have done enough in the first two rounds to ensure she emerges with a win on the scorecards.
Jessica Andrade to win by decision.
Prelims: (Predicted winner in bold)
Bethe Correia vs. Jessica Eye
Michael McBride vs. Nik Lentz
Caio Magalhaes vs. Brad Tavares
Yancy Medeiros vs. Sean Spencer
C.B. Dollaway vs. Francimar Barroso
Drew Dober vs. Jason Gonzalez