UFC 197 is expected to be one of the more anticipated events of the year. According to UFC’s pound-for-pound rankings this main card will feature the two best fighters on the planet, Jon Jones and Demetrious Johnson.
There will be two titles on the line on Saturday night and hopefully the challengers step up to the plate and give is some great fights. UFC 196 provided a bunch of upsets which is why I went 1-4 and now I’m right at .500 with a 14-14 record. Let’s see how UFC 197 goes.
INTERIM LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
#1 JON “BONES” JONES VS. #6 OVINCE SAINT PREUX
Jon Jones makes his much awaited return to the Octagon after fighting off his drug addiction and jail time. The question remains, which Jon Jones will we see in the ring? A rusty former champion who still needs time to get back to full strength?
Or will we see an even faster, stronger and dominant Jon Jones now that he’s sober? If the original champion Daniel Cormier was healthy, then one would think we would see the latter. However, things could go in the opposite way in this fight if he takes Ovince Saint Preux lightly.
Ovince Saint Preux was a college football player at Tennessee before making the transition to MMA. Saint Preux is a dangerous striker who brings almost the same amount of athleticism that Jon Jones has.
He’s won more than half of his fights by knockout, including this vicious win over Shogun Rua.
Jon Jones hasn’t fought in the UFC for over a year but how big of an impact will that really have on the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world? Ovince Saint Preux can matchup with Jones physically but does he have the technique and fighting intellect to beat Jon Jones? I doubt it.
This is maybe the most vulnerable that Jones will ever be but I don’t think Saint Preux has what it takes. Every time OSP has taken a step up in competition against fighters like Ryan Bader and Glover Teixeira. Jon Jones will be back with a bang and win via knockout.
FLYWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT
(C) DEMETRIOUS “MIGHTY MOUSE” JOHNSON VS. #2 HENRY “THE MESSENGER” CEJUDO
Demetrious Johnson is arguably the most electrifying fighter in the UFC, he’s also the most well rounded fighter by a long shot. Mighty Mouse has defended his title nine straight times. Every fighter in the division has tried and failed to take out Johnson.
Johnson is by far the clear favorite in this fight and Henry Cejudo has to put in the perfect performance to beat Mighty Mouse.
Henry Cejudo is a world class wrestler with a gold medal in freestyle wrestling. Cejudo has the work ethic to prepare himself for this fight.
Cejudo could be similar to Daniel Cormier in terms of another Olympic Champion becoming a UFC Champion. However, it doesn’t seem too likely since Johnson’s fight preparation is better than anyone around.
Cejudo has won every fight in the UFC by decision but that does not play into his favor against Mighty Mouse. Johnson has proved he can dominate with his striking, he can defend the takedown and even if he does get taken down he can defense himself.
His Jiu-Jitsu is also better than Cejudo so where ever the fight goes, Johnson will be prepared.
I think Cejudo puts in a good effort but Johnson should coast via unanimous decision.
LIGHTWEIGHT DIVISION FIGHT
#3 ANTHONY “SHOWTIME” PETTIS VS. #8 EDSON “JUNIOR” BARBOZA
This fight is expected to provide plenty of fireworks, these two men are known for two of the best kicking knockouts in MMA history.
Anthony Pettis used this superkick off the cage to beat Ben Henderson.
Edson Barboza threw one of the best spinning kicks in MMA history when knocked Terry Etim out cold.
Anthony Pettis is on a two fight losing streak and needs to get a good win over Barboza to stay in title contention. Pettis is the former lightweight champion who took more than a year off before losing the belt to Rafael Dos Anjos.
Edson Barboza is looking to take a step up into the upper echelon of the division. Every time he took a step up in competition, he failed to take advantage after losses to Donald Cerrone and Tony Ferguson.
There is no way this fight is going to the ground unless either of them get rocked by a big punch or kick. Both fighters should keep it standing and since both fighters are effective strikers and land shot at more than a 40 percent clip, it’ll be a close fight.
This is a tough fight to call but I like Anthony Pettis to hold on because this is a must win fight for him. Three straight losses in the UFC would really hurt his career. I like Pettis to win the fight via TKO.
MIDDLEWEIGHT DIVISION FIGHT
#7 ROBERT WHITTAKER VS. #13 RAFAEL “SAPO” NATAL
Robert Whittaker is coming off of an impressive unanimous decision victory over Uriah Hall and he’s now on a four fight win streak. Instead of looking to step further up in the division, he accepted the challenge of taking on Brazilian Rafael Natal.
His nickname is Sapo which means toad in Portuguese. This is because he’s a slippery guy to get a hold of and keep in the ground. Natal is a 5th degree blackbelt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Whittaker is a striker and wrestler whereas Natal is more of a grappler. This should be an interesting fight.
Robert Whittaker will be looking to keep this fight standing, he’s knockout plenty of other fighters before. If he takes down Natal, then it favors the Brazilian because of his BJJ skills. Natal is also on a four fight win streak as well.
This is another tough fight to call, it almost looks like a tossup. I like Rafael Natal to pull off the upset via submission in the third round.
FEATHERWEIGHT DIVISION FIGHT
YAIR “EL PANTERA” RODRIGUEZ VS. ANDRE “TOUCHY” FILI
Yair Rodriguez is fresh off of winning his last three fights, one of those wins made him The Ultimate Fighter winner in Latin America. He takes on a more experienced opponent in Andre Fili who has five UFC fights and is 3-2 in those fights. Fili fought a great fight against a top prospect in Max Holloway but lost via submission.
However, Fili’s last fight was very successful after he knocked out Gabriel Benitez.
Yair Rodriguez has yet to knock anyone out in the UFC but his best knockout from his time in Mexico is a nice one.
It may not have been against the best competition but it’s clear that Rodriguez has the potential to be a devastating striker.
This is another fight on the card that has a good chance to end via KO/TKO. I think Fili is the more experienced fighter and while Rodriguez could cause some problems, I like Fili to win this fight in the second round via TKO.