Now that we’re past the prelims of UFC 159, we can take a look into the main card. UFC 159 will feature 4 exciting bouts leading up into the final 5th bout, a title fight between defending light-heavyweight king Jon Jones and the infamous MMA politician Chael Sonnen. Let’s take a look into the 5 bouts and analyze some key factors, and eventually pick a winner.
Jim Miller vs. Pat Healy
This is one of my most highly anticipated bouts out of this entire month, which has been non-stop MMA action. Jim Miller, a true UFC veteran and former contender, will be looking to get his name back into the mix at 155 lbs. Miller has always been a top-ranked fighter, he’s never failed to disappoint when it comes to a fight, and is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division. He was last seen putting on a Fight of the Year performance in his decision win over Joe Lauzon where he demonstrated his aggressive muay thai striking as he bloodied up the crafty Joe Lauzon for 3 rounds. Miller will be facing a fellow MMA veteran who has also been around for a long time. Pat Healy has 45 total professional bouts, and is on a current 6-fight win streak. Healy has much experience fighting in Strikeforce, and was one of their top lightweight contenders before transitioning to the UFC. Now, these two gritty lightweights will be facing off in what should be a very promising, exciting match up.
I don’t think it’d be too off the mark to say that Jim Miller and Pat Healy are virtually spitting images of eachother. They both have very strong wrestling bases, very underrated and dangerous submission games, and are both relentless. The one thing that separates Jim Miller from Pat Healy skill-wise is his striking. Pat Healy is primarily a grappler, and does not win by (T)KO very often. Miller on the other hand has very strong boxing, and is one of the more powerful strikers in the UFC’s 155 lb division. I think this aspect alone will be the deciding factor in this fight, especially considering Jim Miller’s latest performance where his striking was on full display.
Expect Pat Healy to want to take this fight to the clinch, where he’ll try to transition himself into positions ready for grappling. The only guy who has been able to out-wrestle and out-work Jim Miller in the grappling department has been Benson Henderson, the current lightweight champ. I don’t think Healy has the athleticism, explosiveness, or speed required to out-work Miller on the ground. I think Miller who utilize his equal skills in the grappling to defend Healy from getting in close, and use his striking and power to batter Pat Healy. With Jim Miller’s recent performance, I think he has the potential to get a stoppage. I’m picking Jim Miller to be defensive in the first round, stuffing takedowns and clinch attempts, and finally getting relaxed enough to land some shots in the second and put a beat down on Pat Healy.
Jim Miller via 2nd Rd TKO
Phil Davis vs. Vinny Magalhaes
Up next is an interesting light-heavyweight match up that has been flying underneath the radar a bit, despite the rivalry and bad blood between these two. Phil Davis, a former title contender, will be looking to rack up his first win this year, and just his second win since 2011. Davis has been put on the shelf with injuries, and faced a setback when his bout with Wagner Prado reached a No Contest. A rematch was set in place, taking up for space on Davis’s calendar. With the duo bouts against Prado out of the way, Davis will be looking to move on to bigger and better opponents in hopes to reach the top of the division again. He’ll be facing grappling star Vinny Magalhaes, who has looked extremely promising since returning back to the UFC. Magalhaes was a TUF finalist, but after going 0-2 in the UFC went elsewhere to rack up several victories and an M-1 Global Light-Heavyweight Title. Vinny returned to the UFC with a strong submission victory over Igor Pokrajac, and will be looking to take on Twitter enemy Phil Davis.
I think it’s safe to say that neither of these fighters are the greatest kickboxers in the world. Both of these guys are extreme specialists on the ground; Davis is an all-star wrestler with freakish athleticism while Vinny Magalhaes is an extremely decorated BJJ competitor with nearly ever win by submission. This fight could very well come down to who can keep the fight on the feet, and who is better in a dimension where neither of them have spent much time. If this was purely a striking bout, I’d give a slight advantage to Phil Davis. He has more power, and the better kicks which he uses to set up takedowns. It’d be in Davis’s best advisement not to try and take this fight to the ground however, as Magalhaes is extremely dangerous.
I think as long as Davis can keep this fight on the feet, and not buy into the idea of wanting to “show everybody” his submission defense, he’ll be able to win this fight fairly easily. He may not be that great of a striker, but one would think he’ll have the advantage in this match up. Ontop of that, his physicality should make it easy to shrug off takedown attempts, and perhaps muscle his way out of flying guard attempts by Magalhaes. It won’t be pretty, but Davis should be able to out-score Magalhaes on the feet as he fights defensively for 15 minutes.
Phil Davis via Unanimous Decision
Cheick Kongo vs. Roy Nelson
This heavyweight match up will feature another pair of fighters who really have complete opposite styles and approaches to fighting. Cheick Kongo, a technical kickboxer with lots of knockout power, will be facing Roy Nelson, an accomplished grappler who has a dynamite right hand. I think the UFC made this match up to really try and test Nelson’s stand up game. He’s been able to use nothing but his right hand to knock several opponents out, and has never really had to use his ground much, if at all, in the UFC. Kongo on the other hand has the more adapted striking game, but has a habit of losing consciousness fairly easily. His technique and power is all there, but his ability to take a shot is not. If Nelson is able to land his power right hand, it could be a quick night for the both of them.
A more defensive approach could very well be taken by Kongo, who is also an expert in the clinch. He has devastating knees and elbows, and uses his brute strength to pin his opponents to the cage and brutalize them with his muay thai. Although Kongo is a very accomplished striker, his ground game has improved drastically, especially his wrestling. At the start of Kongo’s career, he used his physicality to defend takedowns and strike, but recently he’s been using his takedowns offensively to set up his brutal ground and pound. If Cheick Kongo approaches this bout cautiously, and uses his clinch and takedowns to get the fight on the ground right away, he has a shot at severely hurting Nelson and perhaps even forcing a stoppage. However, Nelson is pretty in the clinch as well. He uses his big gut to move opponents and recently, Nelson has been looking in pretty decent shape. I’m expecting Kongo to try to tie up right away and use his clinch, but he’ll have troubles moving Nelson around. Nelson packs a lot of power and, if given a small opening, can exploit any lack of defense and land big shots. I see this happening as Kongo fails to protect himself yet again from a power puncher.
Roy Nelson via 1st Rd TKO
Michael Bisping vs. Alan Belcher
Scheduled to co-main event tomorrow night’s card is an exciting bout between two former top contenders in Michael Bisping and Alan Belcher. Both fighters are extremely experienced in the UFc, and are very well-rounded. I think this fight will come down to who is able to out-condition the other. Both of these guys have solid stand up, solid wrestling, and solid grappling, so don’t expect to see a complete ass-whooping by either of them. If I had to give edges, I’d give a slight edge on the feet to Michael Bisping; he has the crisper boxing combined with the better footwork. I’d say the wrestling also goes to Bisping, even though he’s not American, he’s been training wrestling for a very long time and has evolved his game to a whole new level. Grappling and submissions on the other should be edges toward Alan Belcher, who has won 7 fights by submission.
When comparing these two fighters’ styles, you have to look at who has been more effective. Bisping has done pretty well for himself in using his smart footwork, crisp boxing, and speed to edge nearly every opponent on the scorecards. His trouble has been when he’s faced fighters with lots of power and aggression, which doesn’t really describe Alan Belcher. I think Alan does have more power on the feet, but he doesn’t have the speed and aggression required to catch him like Dan Henderson and Vitor Belfort did. When you look at Bisping’s fight with Brian Stann, a guy with a lot of power, he was able to use his speed and footwork to stay one step ahead; I expect Bisping to be able to do this to Belcher. Belcher’s only chance to surprise Bisping would be if he can take Michael down and control him, or pressure him enough to win rounds. Again, that’s not really Belcher’s style; Belcher is a crafty fighter who uses creativity, smart gameplans, and intelligence to beat his opponents wherever the fight goes. Unfortunately, he’s a little out-matched in this fight. Belcher’s advantages are not big enough to sway the inevitable, which is Bisping by decision.
Michael Bisping via Unanimous Decision
Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen
Here we are, the main event of the evening. The 205 lb king pin, Jon Jones, will be defending his strap against the 0-0 205’er Chael Sonnen. I’m not going to waste your time on the this fight, this one is fairly easy to predict as the chances of an exasperating result are extremely, extremely small.
First of all, Jon Jones will once again have a gigantic reach advantage over his opponent. Jones will have a 10″ reach advantage in this fight, and will stand 3″ taller. Jon Jones is extremely good at utilizing his reach to stop his opponents dead in their tracks using strikes, especially his kicks. Although, it’s a little bit more interesting in this fight as we may see Jon rely on his punches and elbows instead of his kicks and knees. Sonnen will be absolutely relentless in trying to get this fight to the ground and in top position, so Jones may be a little bit more cautious when throwing kicks.
When breaking this fight down, it’s almost like you’re breaking down two different battles; the first being the fight to get the fight to the ground, and the second being the fight on the ground. First of all, I do expect Sonnen to do what he does in nearly every single fight, and that is to get the fight to the ground. However, Jon Jones is far from helpless there. Jones’s long limbs give him several advantages off of his back, as well as his elbow strikes which he most definitely use if given the chance. For Sonnen to stop all of this, he’s going to have to act quickly. If he tries to just lay and control Jones, he’s going to be setting himself up for punishment because Jon Jones is dangerous from nearly every position. Sonnen will have to stay busy, and most importantly hurt Jon Jones. We’ve never seen Jon Jones hurt on the ground before, and I’m so sure whether Chael Sonnen’s punches will be able to do it. Sonnen is gritty fighter who dominates the scorecards, not finishes fights.
Basically I see this fight going down like this; Sonnen will charge out being aggressive, Jones will try hard to keep him at bay using his long jab, kicking techniques, and footwork. Eventually Sonnen is going to charge in and get a grasp of Jones, but Jones is going to make him way. I see Jon landing some good elbows or a knee perhaps in the clinch before Sonnen ragdolls him down. From there, Sonnen will try to put on lots of pressure, but Jones will be too crafty and stifle Sonnen’s attempt. Once Sonnen’s initial wave of momentum dies off, Jones will exploit any lapse in technique and either take Sonnen down, and transition into a submission and get the stoppage. It’ll be a courageous effort by Sonnen, but Jones will prove to be too well armed.
Jon Jones via 1st Rd Submission
That’s all for my analysis, thanks for reading!