UFC 203 has the potential to be the best MMA card of the Year, and that’s saying a lot. Barring a calamity, this card brings everything. It has intrigue, good stylistic matchups, and even legitimacy. I always say a good card is a card where people are talking about more than just the main event of the evening and this is one of those card.
Here’s a breakdown of UFC 203 main card and what fight fan, hardcore or otherwise, should expect
Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade vs Joanne “Jojo” Calderwood
First off, Calderwood should change her nickname to “Mojo Jojo” because that would be awesome; forgive me for showing my age. In all seriousness though, Calderwood is a legit and fierce striker with a 11-1 record. Calderwood has excellent Muay Thai skills and uses the uppercut unlike any other woman. However, she is facing a tough test in Jessica Andrade. Gone are the days where MMA fans see striker vs grappler fights anymore but this is pretty close to one. Calderwood can grapple but prefers to stand and trade while Andrade can stand up but is a much better wrestler and has tito Ortiz like ground and pound. That is not to say Andrade cannot drop bombs on headtops, because she can, but Andrade's wrestling is her number one choice. Andrade's submission skills will give Calderwood fits but In the end Calderwood’s superior size will negate Andrade’s grappling prowess and neutralize Bate Estaca’s powerful stand up game.
Prediction: Calderwood wins by unanimous decision
Urijah “The California Kid” Faber vs Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera
The California Kid needs a win in the worst way to get back into the title picture. His defeat against Cruz was decisive and that typically means that Faber will not get another title shot for a long time unless he goes on a run; however, chances are he is not going to get a win here. The thing is that Jimmie Rivera has the C-Word going for him right now and that is confidence. El Terror is a perfect 3-0 and probably thinks he can beat anyone right now. Not to mention that Rivera is the younger fighter and despite being 2 inches shorter than Faber, has the longer reach. Fight fans should probably give the edge to Rivera.
Prediction: Rivera by unanimous Decision
“CM Punk” Phil Brooks vs Mickey Gall
The fight you all have been waiting for. I like CM Punk and hope he is successful, there I said it. I even wrote an article about how inspirational his story is. Going from broken home and to success is something Phil "CM Punk" Brooks should always be proud of. Not to mention he is a figure for people who want to pursue their dreams no matter what. There is a lot to like but there is not a chance he wins. The thing is that CM Punk is tremendously green, really old and from all accounts from people in the WWE, not tremendously athletic to make up for those deficiencies. There are so many caveats to the last sentence, for example Mickey Gall is also pretty green himself - not as green as CM Punk, but he is not exactly a seasoned veteran. However, Gall is younger, more athletic and has all the confidence in the world. Gall is actually a prospect who has been tearing up the regional scene. Gall has not lost yet in his short career and many people think that Gall can be good someday.
Prediction: Gall wins by 1st round submission
Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum vs Travis “Hapa” Browne
#7 ranked heavyweight Travis Browne is in another really tough matchup. Going from Cain freaking Velasquez to one of the greatest heavyweights of all time, Fabricio Werdum, is not easy at all and there is no shame in losing. The problem is how he will lose will make him look bad. Chances are that Browne will not go the distance. While Werdum is actually on the tail end of his career (I know right), he is still a jujitsu wizard and has developed a striking game that is absolutely lethal. The knock on Travis Browne is that he cannot block or parry a punch to save his life. Browne avoids a strike only 44% of the time, this is the part where I tell you the average in strikes avoided for the top 10 ranked heavyweights in the UFC, excluding Browne, is an amazing 55%. That does not bode well for Browne, especially since his opponent literally out-struck Cain Velasquez, before rocking Velasquez and submitting him to unify the title. Again there is no shame in Browne losing but chances are he will get picked apart in this contest.
Prediction: Werdum wins by 2nd round submission after being hit with repeated strikes
Stipe Miocic vs Alistair “The Reem” Overeem
While I do expect Miocic to retain it is actually amazing how much he does not land his strikes. As fast and powerful as he is, he does miss. Perhaps it is a punching mechanic issue, perhaps it is due to his style of fighting but the point is he can miss. This leads me to the million dollar question, what happens if he missing on Alistair Overeem? Overeem has developed into quite the counter puncher himself in his old age and still has that power in his punches and kicks. Overeem does have a puncher’s chance and could continue the wave of upsets that we fans have been seeing lately. Could is the operative word because I do not see this coming. Overeem has a weak chin which has stifled bit him before and it is quite possible that he gets knocked out once again.
Prediction: Miocic wins by 2nd round KO/TKO
Fight of the Night Prediction:
Unless CM Punk has been in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber and can give Gall a fight, Calderwood vs Andrade will probably be the fight of the night.
Submission of the night:
My money will be on Gall getting the submission of the night honors, however do not be surprised if Werdum shows off his world class BJJ.
Knockout of the night:
Miocic should get this one and if not him than Overeem will. Someone will get knocked out in this title fight and the winner of the fight will get the $50,000 knockout of the night bonus.
Who should I bet on:
There is crazy value on CM Punk. Yes it is because there is a 99.9% chance that Punk will not win, however, if one puts a 20 on him and he wins then the return will be fantastic.