On February 11th, Holly Holms takes on decorated Dutch kickboxer, Germaine De Randamie, for the inaugural Women’s Featherweight Championship at UFC 208 in Brooklyn, New York. It’s the first UFC card to take place in Brooklyn since MMA was legalized in New York and its stacked full of former champions and contenders. For these predictions, I’ll be relying more on stats than I did in the main card predictions because I know less about these fighters. It should prove to be an interesting experiment in calling MMA fights!
Randy Brown vs. Belal Muhammad
Randy Brown has had four fights in the UFC and has won 3 of them. He has a long frame, standing 6’3 and commanding a reach advantage over his opponent by 4 inches with his 78-inch reach. He started his pursuit of martial arts with amateur boxing, having 6 fights before turning to MMA in 2010 and then turning pro 4 years later. He doesn’t have any specific background but according to ufc.com he has 81% takedown defense in his 4 UFC outings and avoids 54% of strikes thrown at him. The only loss he’s had in the UFC came by way of submission which leads me to believe, based on stats alone, that the hole is in his ground game and that he’s probably a striker that likes to use his reach. Currently 9-1 most of his wins came by way of KO.
Belal Muhammad has had 3 fights in the UFC and has lost 2 of them. In his UFC debut at UFC Fight Night 90, Belal faced Alan Jouban who scored the unanimous decision win in what was awarded the “Fight of the Night”. Muhammad is of Palestinian heritage but was born and raised in Chicago. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 2010 with a degree in law while developing his skills through the regional amateur promotions of the mid-west. Before the UFC, he accumulated a 9-0 undefeated record and took the Titan FC Welterweight Championship by way of TKO in the 4th round. Currently 10-2, most of wins came by way of decision.
I’ve got Randy Brown by TKO. I think his reach and striking ability is going to be too much for Belal to be able to handle. With no clear advantages anywhere, Randy seems to have a bit more momentum behind him and although Belal was the Titan FC champ before coming to the UFC, Randy has had more experience competing at the higher level.
Randy Brown -145
Belal Muhammad +115
Our Pick: Randy Brown By TKO
Wilson Reis vs. Ulka Sasaki
Wilson Reis is a decorated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter. He’s a blackbelt under Roberto Godoi and won the BJJ World Championships as a brown belt in 2004. He’s fought on a few high-level promotions including EliteXC and Bellator. He’s had 7 fights in the UFC and has won 5 of them, mostly by decision. He’s on a two-fight win streak and looked to be in prime form after his first-round submission win against Hector Sandoval in his last fight. He is 21-6 with most of wins coming by way of decision.
Ulka Sasaki is from Numazu, Shizuoka, Japan and has a shooto and wrestling background. He started his career professionally in 2010 and has had 24 fights. Since being with the UFC, he has fought 4 times taking both of his wins home by rear-naked choke. He’s 5’10 and enjoys a 6 inch reach advantage over his opponent. He is 24-3, most of his wins are submissions.
My gut says Wilson Reis by decision. I think the experience of the shorter fighter, Reis, will be able to get past the massive reach advantage of Sasaki and turn this fight into a grappling match to which they may stalemate each other.
Wilson Reis -550
Belal Muhammad +375
Our Pick: Wilson Reis By Decision
Nik Lentz vs. Islam Makhachev
Nik Lentz has developed a reputation of a grinder. He has relentless takedowns and knows how to stay heavy in the top position. He was an NCAA Division I wrestler at the University of Minnesota and holds a BJJ purple belt. He has averaged 4 takedowns within a 15-minute bout over the course of his career and clearly prefers to dominate people on the ground from top position. Relatively unknown for the amount of time he’s been with the UFC, he made his debut in the organization in 2009. His fight on Feb 11th with Makhachev will be his 18th fight for the promotion. He has 27 wins with 10 being submissions and 10 by decisions.
With the same background and trainer of Khabib Nurmagomedov I guess it wouldn’t surprise you to find out that Islam Makhachev has a similar fighting style. A combat sambo champion from Russia, he is coming off a dominant decision win over Chris Wade in September at UFC Fight Night. He avoids a high percentage of strikes thrown and get most takedowns that he shoots. From the little footage that I have seen of him, what stands out to me the most is how good his hips are. He is very good in a scramble and placing his hips exactly where they need to be. He has 13 wins and 1 loss, 6 submissions and 5 decisions.
Two very similar fighters in style, Lentz has vastly more experience in the UFC but I don’t see that being a huge factor in this fight because of where Makhachev comes from and the trainers that he’s had. This one will probably be a grappling match. If Makhachev can stay out from underneath Lentz and pin Lentz up against the cage or on his back, he’ll win by decision. Makhachev is more likely to throw submissions from his back. So, if Lentz does (and I think he will at least once) get in the top position, Makhachev will make it exciting by throwing up submission and sweep attempts. Although I like Nik Lentz and his attitude on BJ Penn, Makhachev has more options to turn the fight around from his back and I like that statistical advantage. I have Makhachev by decision.
Islam Makhachev -300
Belal Muhammad +230
Our Pick: Islam Makhachev By Decision
Ian McCall vs. Jarrad Brooks
Since the Flyweight division was created, Ian McCall has been one of the main names in the game. He fights out of Dana Point, California with Team Oyama and sports a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu despite consistently competing a much higher level than most purple belts. He has a strong wrestling and grappling fighting style that comes with big arching bombs when he’s standing on his feet. He openly admits that he is a very mental fighter and sometimes it gets the best of him. As a result, he has been somewhat inconsistent in his octagon performances. He has 13 wins and 5 losses 6 of those wins coming by decision.
Jarrad Brooks will be making his UFC debut with this fight against McCall. He’s fought in big organizations all the around the world with his last fight being for the Pancrase organization in Japan, so he’s used to the big show. He’s a dominant wrestler in his style and has been quoted in popular media to look up to dominant wrestlers of the past like Tito Ortiz and Kevin Randleman. He’s undefeated, with 12 wins, 5 submissions, 5 decisions and 2 KO’s.
Similar in styles, my guess would be that Ian McCall has the better striking. I saw a brief video of Jarrad Brooks that would support that speculative statement as well. Brooks is a very confident wrestler and will most likely try and turn the fight into a mad scramble of grappling and wrestling techniques. One of Ian McCalls greatest attributes is his ability to function in the thick of scramble and vary his attack with genius level timing. McCall is the only fighter on the flyweight roster that has really threatened the champion, Demetrious Johnson. Their first fight was a draw and the second was very controversial with most people believing that McCall won. I’m taking Ian McCall via TKO knowing that he is one of the pound for pound greats in the sport when his mind is right for it.
Ian McCall -120
Jarred Brooks -110
Our Pick: Ian McCall By TKO
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