Ladies and gentlemen, it’s one of the biggest football days of the year. First, the Green Bay Packers lost an instant classic in Seattle. As of now, the New England Patriots are throttling the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 45-7, in the final minute. The Seahawks and Patriots, whom I predicted would meet each other in the Super Bowl the past two seasons, will finally do just that.
As can be seen, this is not a day dominated by MMA. MMA will, however, be the cherry top cap off the loaded sports day, as well as weekend.
Taking place in the same city where the Patriots just clinched the AFC Championship, the UFC is hosting a Fight Night in Boston. The headliner will be rising Irish star Conor McGregor, as he faces the massive underdog Dennis Siver. Also on the card is a grudge match between longtime Lightweight standouts Donald Cerrone and former WEC and UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson.
The rest of the card is solid, but I will not delve too deep into my thoughts towards them. Hew were my picks for the prelims: Sanchez, O’Connell, Soriano, Case, Holohan, Wade, Howard and Pendred. I went 6-2 with my picks, which along with my 8-3 record for UFC 182, has my 2015 record at a solid 14-5. Let’s see if things continue to go well.
Main Card (10/9c, FS1)
Norman Parke (20-2-1) vs. Gleison Tibau (30-10)
The first fight on the main card might not be the most exciting, but is intrguing on ppaper. Tibau is a Brazliilan Jiu Jitsu black belt who thrives as a grinder, having won 15 decisions in his career. He also has 12 submission victories, but has never finished more than one fight in a calendar year, and his last submission came back in early 2013. He has been in the UFC since November 2006, and has gone 15-8 with the promotion.
As for Parke, the Irishman is a black belt in Judo, and has submitted 12 fighters. His original opponent was Jorge Masvidal, who got injured, and was replaced with Tibau. He is the TUF: Smashes champion, but has never faced anyone better than Tibau. I see him getting grounded by the Brazilian. Prediction: Tibau via unanimous decision.
Uriah Hall (9-4) vs. Ron Stallings (12-6, 1NC)
Up next is another fight that has had to be altered. Hall’s original opponent was Costa Phillipou, but an injury caused him to pull out of the bout. Strikeforce veteran Louis taylor stepped in, but he, too, was injured. Now, on a week’s notice, Ron Stallings will step up. He has only gone the distance three times, losing on each occasion.
As for Hall, the former TUF 17 star is finally returning to form. After losing a controversial split decision against Kelvin Gastelum in the finale, he dropped another split decision the last time the UFC was in Boston, back in August 2013, to John Howard. SInce then, he has retired Chris Leben, and decisioned Thiago Santos last July. I see the Kyokushin black belt fighting well, winning a tough fight late. Prediction: Hall via tko, late round 3.
Benson Henderson (21-4) vs. Donald Cerrone (26-6)
The co-main event, in my opinion, is the real main event. Like the previous three main card bouts, this fight was also altered. Henderson was supposed to fight former Bellator Lightweight Champion Eddie Alvarez, who was injured and had to pull out of the bout. As a result, Donald Cerrone will step in after fighting just 15 days ago, in what will be the third fight between he and Henderson.
The first two times, Henderson won. The first fight saw Henderson win one of his many controversial decisions at WEC 43 back in October 2009. The following April, Henderson’s first WEC Lightweight Championship defense came against Cerrone at WEC 48. Henderson choked Cerrone less than two minutes into the fight, and that was that.
A lot of people are picking Cerrone to win, and for good reason. He is on a tear, having won six straight fights over the past 15 months. Meanwhile, Henderson is coming off a tough flash knockout at the hands of Rafael dos Anjos last August, and has lost two of his last four. Heck, if justice exists, Cerrone wins. However, I feel as if Henderson has his number, and I just have a hunch that he’ll win this bout. Prediction: Henderson via (sigh) split decision.
Conor McGregor (16-2) vs. Dennis Siver (22-9, 1NC)
The main event of the evening screams “Bellator”. It is not a legit main event, and is a farce. McGregor is a massive stylistic nightmare for Siver, who has struggled mightily of late. I have nothing against either guy, but the matchup, on paper, is a joke. It would be awesome to see Siver destroy the UFC’s plans, but I do not see it happening. McGregor does not deserve a title shot yet, but he’ll get it. Prediction: McGregor via tko, round 4.