Tony Sims (12-3) vs. Abel Trujillo (12-7, 1NC)
The main card opener was going to be Brandao/Ortega, but when Kelvin Gastelum had to bow out of his main card fight against Kyle Noke, this fight went from the FS1 prelim opener to the main card.
Both men are finishers. All of Sims’ wins have come via finish, ten of which were knockouts. He’s 1-1 inside the octagon, so a loss won’t necessarily end his UFC career. But, it is possible.
Meanwhile, Trujillo is an enigma, especially inside the octagon. He can finish fights as well, but his record is poor, he’s been submitted twice, and had it not been for a comeback win against Jamie Varner two years ago, hed be on a three-fight losing streak.
Honestly, this fight can go one of many ways. Both men can finosh, have good chins, and solid gas tanks. Smart money would favor Sims. However, I see Trujillo landing a flush shot that will end Sims’ night. Prediction: Trujillo via tko, round 2
Diego Brandao vs. Brian Ortega (9-0, 1NC)
The next fight is a guaranteed finish. Both men are Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts, but their styles differ. Ortega has four submissions and decisions.
Meanwhile, Brandao is a finisher. Eleven knockouts, five submissions, and his last decision win was a gas-fest back in mid-2013. He’s been knocked out six times, but Ortega doesn’t knock people out.
In the end, either Brandao will land a knockout early or he’ll gas out and succumb to Ortega. Either is a major possibility, but I’m picking Brandao. Prediction: Brandao via ko, round 1.
Albert Tumenov (16-2) vs. Lorenz Larkin (16-4, 1NC)
Up next is a Welterweight bout with major ramifications.
Tumenov has reeled off four straight wins inside the octagon, three of which came via 1st-round knockout. In fact, all eleven of his knockouts have come in the opening round!
Meanwhile, Lorenz Larkin is quite story. He started off as a Light Heavyweight, going 12-0 with a no contest as one. He then went down to Middleweight, and went 2-4 as one, including three straight losses. On the verge of getting cut, he switched weight classes yet again, moving down to Welterweight. Since the move, he’s 2-0, with both finishes coming via knockout.
Ultimarely, this will be a stand up fight. Neither man has submitted any opponents, have most of their wins coming via knockout, as well as some decision. I like both guys, and while I have a hunch that Larkin will pull it off, I have to go with the Russian. Prediction: Tumenov via decision.
Andrei Arlovski (25-10, 1NC) vs. Stipe Miocic (13-2)
In the co-main event of the evening, a pair of Heavyweights will square off in search of a title shot.
Arlovski’s story is really something. After losing two of his first three UFC fights from 2000-2002, “Pit Bull” reeled off six straight wins, all via knockout, five of which came in the opening round. During that stretch, he won the UFC Interim Heavyweight championship. He ten lost a pair of championship bouts to Tim Sylvia, before winning five straight, the latter two coming outside the octagon.
Seemingly on a roll, Arlovski atumbled, and stumbled hard. He lost four straight fights, three via first round knockout, and seemed to be washed up.
However, he’s gone 9-1 with a no contest since the skid, including a 4-0 mark inside the octagon, and another win may garner him a title shot.
Meanwhile, Miocic’s only losses have come against Stefan Struve back in 2012, and then a close decision against former champion Junior dos Santos in December 2014. He has nine wins via knockout, but also has a gas tank that allows him to go the distance.
I’ll admit, I’m an Arlovski fan. It’s virtually impossible to not root for him, especially these days. But, I think Miocic has the edge. Heart pick: Arlovski gets his 18th knockout victory. Head pick: Miocic via decision.
Carlos Condit (30-8) vs. Robbie Lawler (26-10)
In the main event of the evening, we get what may wind up being the best fight of 2016. No lie, it’s definitely possible. But men are brutal finishers with great gas tanks. They’re both classy outside the octagon, but inside the cage they are savage and bloodthirsty.
That said, Condit doesn’t deserve this fight. At least, not yet. Sure, he’s got 28 finishes to his credit, and is extremely exciting. However he’s lost 3 of his last 5 fights. Granted, those losses came against elite competition (GSP, Johny Hendricks and Tyron Woodley,) but I’d like to see him win another fight before getting a shot.
Meanwhile, Lawler has undergone a legendary resurgence. Once regarded as a phenom and future champion, the 2002 debutant reeled off four wins in his first five UFC fights. He then lost two straight bouts, and was unfairly let go.
Following his release, the “Ruthless” one went 8-1 with a no contest in his next ten bouts, resulting in a contract offer from Strikeforce. That’s where he bottomed out. He went 3-5 with the promotion, and all the hype surrounding him was gone. He was invited to the UFC because they possessed the rights to his contract after purchasing Strikeforce, and set him up with a fight against Josh Koscheck in February 2013.
On that night almost three years ago, Lawler returned to prime form. He knocked Koscheck out, followed up with a short – notice head kick win over Bobby Voelker, and earned a title shot after an upset win over Rory MacDonald that November, on the same night that GSP fought his final fight.
Lawler lost the vacant title fight against Johny Hendricks the following March, but did much better than anyone could’ve expected. While Hendricks recovered from a torn biceps, Lawler finished Jake Ellenberger that May, and in July, put forth an epic performance against he always game Matt Brown.
Lawler won a questionable decision against Hendricks in the rematch in December 2014, but it was his next fight that everyone will remember. Down three rounds to one against Rory MacDonald in the co-main event of UFC 189 last July, Lawler continued to fight, landed a flush shot to MacDonald’s already shattered nose, and won what might be regarded as the greatest fight in UFC history.
As for its fight, well anything can happen. Perhaps the two won’t be willing to stand and exchange vicious shots. Perhaps Condit will “run” like he did against Nick Diaz. Maybe Lawler will go back to his wrestling routes and go for takedowns, which have been the key reason for Condit’s recent struggles. Either way, both men are championship-caliber, and may the better fighter win.
Heart pick: Draw. Prediction: Lawler via decision.