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The Downes Side: UFC 191 Predictions

UFC / WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC 191: Johnson vs. Dodson 2, taking place Saturday, September 5...

That’s right boys and girls, school’s back in session and so is the Downes Side! Get your lunch packed up and your boots tied tight, because we’re ready for some fights!

Even someone with Billy Madison’s intelligence knows that UFC 191 promises a great night of action. Live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson defends his flyweight title against John Dodson in a highly anticipated rematch. In the co-main event of the evening, heavyweights Andrei Arlovski and Frank Mir could catapult themselves to contender status. Grab a Sloppy Joe, it’s fight time!


Felice Herrig & Paige VanZant grapple in their bout during UFC Fight Night on 4/18/15 in Newark, NJ. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)We open up in the women’s strawweight division with Paige VanZant and Alex Chambers. Only 21 years old, VanZant has already made a name for herself. She’s 2-0 in the UFC, and many have fast tracked her for stardom. “12 Gauge” may still be raw, but she silenced a lot of doubters with a dominant win over Felice Herrig back in April. Australia’s “Astro Girl,” Chambers looks to derail the hype train. A competitor on TUF 20, she’s coming off a submission win over Kallin Curran in May.

Chambers may have walked out with the submission victory, but she struggled with Curran’s aggression. VanZant is a better athlete with greater stopping power. She does leave openings, but I don’t see how Chambers capitalizes. You may not believe that VanZant can win the title yet, but you can believe that she takes this one by second round TKO. Or you can think I’m wrong. I guess that’s an option, too.


Jan Blachowicz knees Jimi Manuwa in their fight during the UFC Fight Night event on April 11, 2015 in Krakow, Poland. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)Next we take the 90-pound jump to light heavyweight for Jan Blachowicz and Corey Anderson. A strong prospect coming out of the European circuit, it’s hard to place Jan Blachowicz. He needed less than two minutes to finish Ilir Latifi in his UFC debut, but he followed up with a lackluster performance against Jimi Manuwa. A win here could stave off the dreaded “bust” moniker. The TUF 19 light heavyweight winner, Anderson tries to rebound from the first loss of his professional career. He’s also the reason why my friends who don’t watch MMA still can’t figure out what I mean when I tell them I’m “Beastin’ 25/8.”

Anderson has a wrestling background, but we haven’t seen it other than during his fight against Justin Jones. He seemed content to make it a stand-up fight against Villante and wouldn’t change his game plan after eating dozens of leg kicks. Blachowicz is a more refined striker, but doesn’t have a high work rate. Against Manuwa he allowed himself to get pushed against the fence and stalled. Anderson still has a high ceiling, but expect him to only beast for about 6-8 minutes. Blachowicz drops him with a counter punch in the second and finishes him off for the TKO victory.


Anthony Johnson knocks out Antonio Rogerio Nogueira during the UFC Fight Night event on July 26, 2014 in San Jose, CA. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)We stay at light heavyweight for Anthony Johnson and Jimi Manuwa. Johnson notched three straight wins in his return to the UFC, but that streak was halted by Daniel Cormier back at UFC 187. We know Johnson for his KO power and brute strength, but he also has an excellent 64.51% striking defense rate. Sure, you don’t need to avoid many punches when you knock your opponents out in the first round, but it’s still a nice thing to have in your back pocket. Jimi “Poster Boy” Manuwa is a British striker that could take a big jump in notoriety with a win. He has 13 career knockouts and has finished multiple UFC opponents with leg strikes.

Manuwa is a pretty heavy underdog in this fight, and it’s not hard to tell why. The key to beating Anthony Johnson is to:

1) Survive the initial onslaught
2) Wear him out
3) Finish him in the later rounds.

Manuwa could very well do number one, but he lacks the grappling ability for number two. That makes number three exceedingly less likely. Manuwa likes to stand in the pocket and trade. Couple that with his below average defense and he’s in a tough spot. Johnson eats a low kick, responds with a huge overhand right and wins via first-round TKO.


Frank Mir punches Todd Duffee in their bout during the UFC event on July 15, 2015 in San Diego, CaA. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)That brings us to heavyweight for Andrei Arlovski and Frank Mir. You may be asking yourself, “Is it 2004?” Nope, it’s 2015 and Arlovski and Mir are top 10 heavyweights in the UFC (now if only we could get Lindsay Lohan singing again). Arlovski has won five fights in a row, including back-to-back first round KOs over Bigfoot Silva and Travis Browne. Mir has a pair of first-round finishes of his own, needing only 2:53 to torch Bigfoot Silva and Todd Duffee.

Both fighters have shown excellent counterpunching. Arlovski has been doing it longer, but Mir looks like a whole new fighter in his last two bouts. Going toe to toe with Todd Duffee might not have been the best strategy, but he was still impressive. Arlovski moves better and has greater fluidity. He also has far better defense. In the Browne fight, though, he became impatient and wound up getting dropped. Mir takes a lot of unnecessary shots, but I see him countering effectively and wearing Arlovski out in the clinch. Mir pulls the upset, wins by unanimous decision and maybe J-Lo and Ben Affleck get back together.


Demetrious Johnson delivers a punch against Ali Bagautinov in their UFC flyweight bout on 6/14/14 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)Time for the main event! We talk about Ronda Rousey’s dominance (deservedly so), but few give the proper amount of credit to flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson. He’s cleared out the division with a mix of technique and athleticism, and has coasted throughout the process. Undefeated since moving to 125 pounds, he defends his belt for the seventh time. John Dodson could be the man to break the streak, though. The hardest hitter in the division, he’s come the closest to beating Johnson when they faced off in January of 2013.

Dodson certainly presents a number of challenges to Johnson. He has phenomenal takedown defense (which he showcased in his last fight against Zach Makovsky) and possesses stopping power. He’s also a better athlete than Johnson. There are two major flaws -- his striking accuracy and pacing. Those are two problems you don’t want to have in a five-round fight. Dodson will give the champ some trouble early, but Johnson has never been finished, and there’s no reason to think it will happen here. Mighty Mouse retains his title by unanimous decision.

That wraps up another Downes Side cooler than Miles Davis. Follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Also, don’t forget to leave your own predictions, concerns, and accolades on the page here.