If you are reading this then you have stumbled on a fantastic new feature here at MMA Moneymaker.
Each week I will be challenging myself against Professionals from the MMA & Jiu Jitsu World. This week I get BJJ legend Daniel ‘The Raspberry Ape’ Strauss.
Dan is a BJJ black belt under Roger Gracie who competes in BJJ Tournaments all over the world. A veteran of ADCC, Polaris and the Eddi Bravo Invitational he is perhaps known to some due to a rivalry with AJ Agazarm, one that was ended at Polaris in a match of the year contender. A former British Champion, Dan is one of the most likeable, approachable and recognisable men in BJJ today.
So, on with the game. Both my guest and I will be picking the results from the main card of the week to see who can correctly predict the result of each event more accurately. A correct winner is worth 2 points and the correct method of victory is worth 5 points. A correct prediction of the winner and method of victory is worth 10 points.
Pettis v Miller
Dan Strauss: Pettis by Decision
“It’s great to see Pettis back at lightweight. Although the drop to feather was understandable it wasn’t healthy. Despite all his recent loses coming at the hands of elite competition it has been a tough few years for “Showtime”. I expect to see a healthier and hungry Pettis coming out at 213 knowing how vital a win is at this point in his career. Jim also has something to prove after a loss to Dustin Poirier. I think this all comes down to how explosive and aggressive Pettis looks back at lightweight. If back to his old self Pettis has the edge in the stand up and comfortable enough on the ground to hang with Miller. The only way I see Miller taking this is if “Showtime” is hesitant as he’s been in recent years and Miller can take charge of the pace. Otherwise I see a Pettis Decision”
Matt White: Anthony Pettis by Decision
Anthony Pettis returns to the division where he once reigned supreme as the 155lb champion. A run of losses, including three on the spin saw him make a new home at 145lbs before being stopped for the first time in his career by Max Holloway. It was enough to see the Roufus Sport standout leap back to a lightweight division on temporary hiatus while Conor McGregor seeks other opportunities.
Jim Miller is the feistiest of feisty old dogs and a challenge for any fighter; excellent on the ground and dogged on the feet. He came out on the wrong end of majority decision against the resurgent Dustin Poirier, a loss that snapped a three-fight win streak and cemented his legacy as a divisional gatekeeper.
Despite battle scars running deep on both fighters I feel that Pettis still has a little more mileage left in him than Miller. It won’t be an easy fight and its likely to go the distance but Pettis should have enough to outwork his opponent.
Werdum v Overeem
Dan Strauss: Overeem by KO
“This is the match I’m most excited about. This will be the 3rd meeting between these two giants with one victory apiece, and with the heavyweight division wide open the winner of this could be looking at a title shot soon. Ignoring his loss to champ Miocic “The Reem” has looked far more composed and intelligent with his striking in the past few years. As always, his chin is still very suspect but assuming he shows the improved striking of Werdum the respect it deserves he should hold the upper hand. As long as this doesn’t turn into a copy of their Strikeforce match, with Werdum lying on his back and casually inviting Overeem to join him, I’ll be happy. I expect a KO victory for “The Reem””
Matt White: Fabricio Werdum by Decision
Fabricio Werdum steps into the octagon looking to make his case for a rematch with the man who beat him for the title, Stipe Miocic. As is the UFC’s want, they chose to put Werdum in with Travis Browne rather than grant the immediate rematch; this is not unexpected given that Werdum lasted only half a round. If he starts cold again then Overeem could catch him just as hard.
Alistair Overeem gets yet another opportunity to put himself in the title picture, even though he has a habit of shooting himself in the foot from these positions. He has all the tools but occasionally comes armed with hands of stone and a chin of glass, this has been his continual undoing.
Those who know me know that I swore never to bet again on Overeem after many ridiculous performances where his arrogance outweighed his odds. I’ve been on the wrong end a few times now but I don’t think I will be this weekend. Odds say Overeem, but heart says Werdum by decision.
Romero v Whittaker
Dan Strauss: Whittaker by Decision
“This is the most interesting match of the card for me. With the shambles of the middleweight division, Yoel is being forced to risk his title shot to take on seriously dangerous striker Robert Whittaker. This one is a battle between the pure physicality of “The Soldier of God” and the youth and razor sharp striking skills of Whittaker. Picking a winner here is tough. I’d probably have to go with a Whittaker decision win, but that doesn’t stop me hoping for Romero to put on a good mauling and get the finish before exclaiming to Michael Bisping he “Loves him”.”
Matt White: Yoel Romero by Decision
Yoel Romero is a physical freak, some 40 years of age who is better put together than men less than half his age. He ages like a fine win and he is very young in MMA terms. His wrestling is the best in all of MMA and he possesses a flying knee that has ended nights quickly. The main concern I have with him is cardio, he’ll dominate the first round and a chunk of the second, but then its survival time.
Robert Whittaker, Bobby Knuckles, has made some serious headway since making the jump to 185lbs. No longer is he cutting the sort of weight that emptied his gas tank and depleted his punching ability. The way he finished Jacare Souza, a future hall of famer who is one of the best Middleweights on the planet was spectacular. His time is coming, and he is a very bad matchup for the current champion.
This is likely to be the fight of the night and the one I am most amped up for. Both fighters have been the underdog in 4 of their last 6 fights and come out on top. Romero has been forging a path to the top for a few years while Whittaker has come from nowhere. The athleticism of Romero is the swing vote for me though and if he can control Whittaker he wins comfortably.
Nunes v Shevchenko
Dan Strauss: Shevchenko by Decision
“The second time these two ladies will meet. With Nunes taking the decision victory just 16 months ago. But a lot has changed since then. With Nunes showing incredible stopping power in her last two outings against former champs Tate and Rousey. But the champ’s weakness as always been her cardio. Never being pushed into championship rounds before, the longer this fight goes on the worse the outlook becomes for the “Lioness”. Shevchenko has shown she can hang with the best on the feet in her 5-round win over striking superstar and former champ Holly Holm. I don’t see Amanda putting Valentina away early and if the fight goes beyond the second round I see Shevchenko taking it, by decision or by TKO as the champ folds under the pressure.”
Matt White: Shevchenko by TKO
Amanda Nunes was viewed by some as a paper champ, or an interim placeholder until the return to MMA of Ronda Rousey. At UFC 207 that myth was debunked in spectacular style as Nunes picked the former champion apart inside a minute. It was as beautiful as it was ugly and cemented her position as number one.
Valentina Shevchenko has experienced just the one defeat in her UFC career; to Nunes in a fight that she didn’t really start to assert in until the final round. By this time the damage was done and Nunes took the victory, and with it a guaranteed title shot. Shevchenko is no slouch and those who are writing her off as just another victim for Nunes should go back and review the striking power that this woman has.
Tough one to call as it goes one of two ways. Either Nunes finds the finish in the opening two rounds or Shevchenko takes the fight in the last three rounds when Nunes inevitably gasses out. I’ll go out on a limb and take Shevchenko by late TKO, setting up a trilogy fight for later this year in Russia or New York.