UFC On ESPN 7 takes place tomorrow night and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights below.
Alistair Overeem vs. Jairzinho Rosenstruik
It’s a risky business picking Overeem in fights these days as he’s almost approaching 40-years-of-age and has been knocked out an alarming number of times over the years, but yet still has the skills and power to win more fights than he loses.
In Rosenstruik he’s fighting a robust, unbeaten striker with a lengthy background in kickboxing and a proven finishing record. As a former K-1 Grand-Prix champion that kind of resume is unlikely to strike fear into the heart of ‘The Reem’, but at this stage in his career it does feel like a riskier proposition than it would have been 5-10 years ago.
However, Overeem still has an ace up his sleeve in that he’s always been well-rounded for a heavyweight, so he could use his wrestling to bring Rosenstruik to the mat and expose his relative weakness on the mat by either ground and pound or submission.
There’s always a risk that Overeem will get lured into a stand-up fight, but one of the reasons he’s stuck around so long despite some very rough patches in his career is that he is willing to adapt and fight strategically when neccessary and I think that’ll be the case here as he gets the fight to the mat and finishes up rosenstruik with strikes on top in the second round.
Alistair Overeem wins by TKO in Rd2.
Cynthia Calvillo vs. Marina Rodriguez
Calvillo was tipped for big things early in her UFC Career, but it’s actually Rodriguez who has been more active and racking up some good wins in the past couple of years.
Part of that is due to Calvillo having spent much of the year out due to a broken foot, and so she’ll be eager to return to the cage and attempt to build on her back-to-back wins, but there’s already been some disappointment pre-fight with the news that she came in a whopping 4.5lbs overweight earlier today. For those keeping score that’s the third time she’s missed weight – not a good look.
Calvillo is a scrappy fighter who won’t be afraid to mix things up on the feet, but her striking game hasn’t been particularly potent up to now, and I feel Rodriguez’s solid, aggressive kickboxing will make her the more effective offensively here.
However, Calvillo’s strong suit is her ground game and she’s in her element scrambling and submission hunting on the mat, which could well lead to a tapout finish here.
The problem is she has to get Rodriguez to the mat in order to implement that, and I suspect that’s going to be easier said than done as she’s not a takedown specialist and her opponent will pose her problems at striking range and in the clinch on her way to a decision victory.
Marina Rodriguez wins by decision.
Ben Rothwell vs. Stefan Struve
Two heavyweights that have seen better days battle it out here, with Rothwell coming off a three-fight losing streak, while Struve almost retired earlier this year after finally breaking free from a trio of losses with a submission victory over Marcos Rogerio de Lima.
Even though he is only 31 that retirement seemed to make sense as he’d already reached 40 fights, had suffered a good number of KO losses during his career and was also dealing with a heart condition, but for better or worse he still feels he has something left to offer.
At the same time, Rothwell has looked very uninspiring since his return from a two-year drug suspension and has looked somewhat lethargic, but he could still prove to be a headache for Struve, literally and figuratively due to the fact he still packs a punch, is very durable and is a solid grappler in his own right, which may well shut down ‘The Skyscraper’s’ best chance of getting a finish here – on the mat by submission.
If Struve was effectively able to make use of his 8″ height and 6″ reach advantage then this could be a fight he could win by picking apart Rothwell from range, but distance management and effective use of basic tools like the jab have long eluded the Dutchman and I think that will be a real problem here as ‘Big’ Ben won’t be deterred by his strikes as he looks to land something big of his own, and my feeling is that will lead to a second round KO finish here.
Ben Rothwell wins by KO in Rd2.
Yana Kunitskaya vs. Aspen Ladd
This should be a good fight as Ladd looks to bounce back after a swift and somewhat controversial TKO stoppage against Germaine de Randamie, while Kunitskaya seeks to build on a two-fight winning streak.
Of the two Kunitskaya has a wider set of skills at her disposal, though she’s not neccessarily particularly refined in any one area. That being said, I do feel she will have the better striking here and keeping the fight standing will be her best route to success.
Ladd will be determined to get this fight to the mat though and she’s a ferocious fighter when she does so, attacking opponents with gusto when she gets ground and pound opportunities, while she can also make her mark in the clinch, and overall I think the 24-year-old’s brute-force approach will make up for her short-comings and enable her to secure a win on the scorecards.
Aspen Ladd wins by decision.
Cody Stamann vs. Song Yadong
Yadong is an exciting young up-and-comer and it’ll be interesting to see how he copes with Stamann, who is by no means a pushover with a very respectable 18-2 record of his own.
Yadong has a dynamic style and along with showing some very good power in his punches, he’s also proven to be capable of being dangerous both as a pressure fighter and landing on the counter, which makes him a real handful to deal with on the feet.
Stamann can strike too, but being at a power disadvantage and with a shorter reach I don’t see that being something he’ll approach with a great deal of relish, so look for him to try to initiate takedowns and work his wrestling game.
However, Yadong trains with Team Alpha Male which should be continuing to sharpen up his ability to fend off takedowns or get back up if he is brought down, enabling him to focus on making the most of the striking exchanges, which I believe will result in a decision victory.
Cody Stamann wins by decision.
Prelims (Predicted winners in bold)
Rob Font vs. Ricky Simon
Thiago Alves vs. Tim Means
Billy Quarantillo vs. Jacob Kilburn
Bryce Mitchell vs. Matt Sayles
Joe Solecki vs. Matt Wiman
Virna Jandiroba vs. Mallory Martin
Makhmud Muradov vs. Trevor Smith