That’s right boys and girls, depending on your time zone, 2015 is already gone and it’s time for another edition of the Downes Side! As Robert Burns would say, let all my mistakes be forgot, and never brought to mind.
The UFC’s best may not be bringing a cup o kindness, but they’ll be bringing something much more entertaining on Saturday. Live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, welterweight champion Robbie Lawler defends his title against “The Natural Born Killer,” Carlos Condit. In the co-main event of the evening, Andrei Arlovski tries to extend his winning streak and improbable resurgence against Stipe Miocic. Take my hand my trusty friend, it’s fight time!
ABEL TRUJILLO VS. TONY SIMS
We begin the main card in the lightweight division with Abel Trujillo and Tony Sims. A powerhouse prone to recklessness, “Killa” Trujillo has lost his last two fights against Tony Ferguson and Gleison Tibau by submission. Trujillo may be known for his KOs, but Tony Sims actually has ten career knockouts (five more than his opponent). After an impressive debut against Steve Montgomery, Sims dropped a decision to Olivier Aubin-Mercier in his last Octagon appearance.
Trujillo has one-punch KO power. That’s not always enough to win a fight, but it will serve him well this time. Sims is the more technical striker, but trying to out-strike Trujillo is a recipe for disaster. If Sims could mix in some grappling to slow down Trujillo or make him tentative, it would be a different story. He hasn’t necessarily shown that ability, though. Trujillo pulls the upset and takes home the second round TKO.
DIEGO BRANDAO VS. BRIAN ORTEGA
We move to featherweight for Diego Brandao and Brian Ortega. Winner of season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter, “DB” is another powerful, yet wild, fighter. He suffered two first-round TKO losses to Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor, but has bounced back with two first-round KOs of his own. Brian “T-City” Ortega is being trumpeted by many as one of the most promising 145-pound prospects. A dangerous submission artist, he earned the first TKO of his career back in June against Thiago Taveres. He’s also savvy enough to realize he shouldn’t make his nickname “BO.”
This fight mirrors the last in a lot of ways. In this case, I’m more inclined to take the less explosive of the two fighters. Why? Because Ortega has a much more diverse skillset. Brandao overextends himself searching for the KO and Ortega has multiple avenues to counter. Even if Brandao doesn’t overcommit to strikes, he has to be aware that Ortega can attack at different levels. Ortega might eat a couple shots early, but he’ll calm down, find his groove and win by second-round submission.
LORENZ LARKIN VS. ALBERT TUMENOV
Next, we drop to welterweight for Lorenz Larkin and Albert Tumenov. Like most people when a new year comes around, fighters think losing 10-15 pounds will really change their lives. Fortunately for Lorenz Larkin, his drop to 170 has paid dividends (unlike your Chuck Norris Total Gym). Albert Tumenov has all the tools to stop that momentum, though. He’s finished three of his last four opponents in the first round and defends takedowns at an over 80% rate.
Tumenov is what my old coach Duke Roufus would call a “meat and potatoes” striker (or shashlyk and cabbage in Tumenov’s case). He’s not as flashy or fast as Larkin, but he’s effective. He had a speed differential against Alan Jouban and he combated that with powerful counter strikes and efficiency. I do worry about his tendency to keep his hands low and march opponents down like he’s Jason Voorhees, but it’s worked for him so far. Tumenov by third-round TKO.
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STIPE MIOCIC VS. ANDREI ARLOVSKI
That brings us to heavyweight for Stipe Miocic and Andrei Arlovski. Miocic responded to his loss against Junior Dos Santos with a dominant win over Mark Hunt. A boxer with some of the best pacing and conditioning in the division, he batters opponents with volume. The 36-year-old Arlovski has been fighting professionally since 1999. Once the UFC heavyweight champion over a decade ago, he could get another chance at the belt with a win.
Both fighters have the capability to end the fight in the first, but that’s not their first priority. They’re both patient and look for openings and counter opportunities. Miocic may have more pure athleticism, but he doesn’t flow as well. His footwork can be choppy and he doesn’t slide in and out of range at the same efficiency as Arlovski. Miocic landed a couple single leg takedowns against Hunt, but his wrestling offense still could use work. Arlovski darts around and counters his way to the unanimous decision win.
ROBBIE LAWLER VS. CARLOS CONDIT
Time for the main event! A member of the UFC roster back in 2002, it’s still surprising to see Robbie Lawler as a UFC champion in 2015. A few years ago, people were ready to write the “Ruthess” one off. He’s won four straight fights and is coming off one of the best fights of the year against Rory MacDonald. Carlos Condit has long been regarded as a premier welterweight, but he hasn’t been able to grab the title. A diverse striker, he’s always looking to finish the fight by any means necessary.
Robbie Lawler has always had tremendous punching power. What propelled him to become champion, though, was the fact that his defense has finally caught up to his offense. He still likes to stand in the pocket, but you rarely see him get hit flush. His subtle movements and parries prevent him from absorbing the full impact of punches. Condit can certainly deal his fair share of punishment, but he needs space. He has a more diverse repertoire, but it doesn’t do you any good if you can’t unleash those techniques. Condit will continue to attack, but Lawler puts this one away in the fourth round.
That wraps up another dose of the good-will draught known as the Downes Side. Follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Also, don’t forget to leave your own comments, predictions, sparkling wine suggestions and resolutions on the page here. As far as bang for your buck, I recommend the Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs. Although Boon’s Farm and Sprite gets the job done, too.