UFC is coming to our homes for a second week in a row with fight Night 105. The event will be held on February 19, 2017 at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. This is UFC’s second event in Nova Scotia, with the first one being held in October of 2014 headlined by Canadian Welterweight star Rory MacDonald.
Main-evented by heavy-hitting heavyweights in Derrick Lewis and Travis Browne, this event does not offer much in terms of name value, but is an exciting event nonetheless. Also on the card, is the Middleweight debut of former Welterweight Champion Johny Hendricks against Hector Lombard. Former Ultimate Fighter winners Elias Theodorou and Cezar Ferreira will also clash, again at 185 pounds.
Without further ado, let’s get into the fights.
Derrick Lewis is coming off of an outstanding 2016. He went 4-0 over the year with victories over the likes of former Heavyweight Title challenger Gabriel Gonzaga and TUF winner Roy Nelson. All of those wins came by way of KO/ TKO except for a decision win against Roy Nelson, who probably has a jaw made out of cast iron (wouldn’t be surprised if he has adamantium in his bones ala Wolverine). The ‘Black Beast’ has looked like a monster in his last few fights and has consistently sought matchups with better ranked opponents. Primarily a boxer, Lewis is always looking for that knockout punch and being one of the hardest hitters in the heavyweight division, he immediately becomes a threat to any man. His striking battles are slower paced too, which enables him to throw hard shots even late in the fight. His biggest weakness is his ground game although his takedown defense has improved significantly.
Browne, as opposed to Lewis, is going through the worst stretch of his career. He won a fight against Matt Mitrione to start off 2016, which was highly controversial due to eye pokes delivered by Browne. In his next fight, he got absolutely dominated by a returning Cain Velasquez at UFC200 and then lost a lopsided decision to Fabricio Werdum. While the latter two are former Heavyweight champions and two of the greatest Heavyweights of all time, it is the manner of his losses that is troubling. Simply put, Travis Browne just hasn’t looked the same since leaving Jackson-Wink Academy in Albuquerque, New Mexico to join Edmond Tarverdyan. Browne, under Greg Jackson, used to throw a wide variety of punches, kicks and knees. His speed was considered exceptional for a heavyweight. His knockout of Alistair Overeem with a front face kick to the face is still considered one of the best in UFC history. Now under Tarverdyan, Travis is primarily a boxer. He doesn’t throw any kicks anymore. Rather than setting up his punches with kicks, he typically looks for opportunities to counter. While that is a fair way to fight, it requires a higher skill level than Browne possesses. He got dominated in boxing against Werdum who is known for his Jiu-Jitsu. Brown either needs flawless technique or the power of a mack truck. He has neither.
Prediction: Travis Browne desperately a needs a win here. A win for the Black Beast could put him in consideration for a possible title eliminator bout. Both the fighters at the moment seem to have similar styles with Lewis claiming the advantage in both speed and power.
The Pick: Derrick Lewis by Knockout.
Nobody who only saw Johny Hendricks in 2016 would ever dare to guess that he used to be the king of the Welterweight division and in the eyes of many, defeated the greatest Welterweight of all time, Georges St. Pierre. Johny Hendricks has lost three in a row and looks like a shell of his former self. Not only has Hendricks struggled inside the Octagon, he has consistently failed to make the 170 lbs. Welterweight limit. He missed weight in his previous two fights and cancelled his fight against Tyron Woodley entirely because of Kidney problems caused by a bad weight cut. Consequently, Johny is making his Middleweight debut on February 19 against Hector Lombard.
The former champion has a very strong resume with wins over the likes of Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, Carlos Condit, Robbie Lawler, Matt Brown and arguably GSP. Possessing exceptional knockout power in his left hand, the former All American Wrestler was a feared knockout artist early in his UFC career. Despite having elite wrestling skills, he primarily used his boxing in his fights. The vaunted power in his left hand is all but gone now as he has lost all three of his last fights against Stephen Thompson, Kelvin Gastelum and Neil Magny. Desperate for a win against Magny, Hendricks employed a wrestling heavy game plan but still couldn’t pull out a victory, primarily due to him getting dominated on the feet and not doing much with his takedowns. Hendricks will probably look to again use his wrestling to pull out a win, and he desperately needs one.
Hector Lombard is coming off two devastating knockout losses in 2016. First he got absolutely destroyed by Neil Magny. After almost stopping Magny in the first round, Lombard got a terrible beat down to end the second round and got finished in the third. In his next fight, Hector was knocked out by Dan Henderson in highlight reel fashion with a side elbow to the head. One must wonder what has these two knockouts done to Lombard as fighters are never the same after getting knocked out in brutal fashion. Only silver lining of the whole situation is that Lombard didn’t rush back and has had eight and a half months to heal.
Prediction: Johny Hendricks will no longer enjoy the size advantage he had at Welterweight as Hector Lombard is decidedly larger than Hendricks. However, Johny will no longer have to go through a brutal weight cut so we may yet see a replenished Johny Hendricks. Hector Lombard has tremendous takedown defense and his ground game is also high level. However, “The Big Rigg” holds significant advantage in stand up and can take anyone down and hold him there. Look for Johny Hendricks to employ a wrestling heavy game-plan here.
The Pick: Johny Hendricks by unanimous decision
Gavin Tucker is making his promotional debut in the UFC with this Featherweight fight against Sam Sicilia. Not much is known of Gavin Tucker, except that he is undefeated and likes to finish all his opponents. He has never gone the distance since his debut decision win in 2011. Since then, he has finished all his opponents, four via strikes and four via submissions.
Sam Sicilia, on the other hand, has been in the UFC for almost five years now. His record is less than stellar though: he is 5-6 in the UFC. He is yet to have a marquee victory inside the Octagon. That being said, Sicilia is still a very dangerous opponent, having finished guys in 12 of his 15 wins. Likewise, he tends to get finished in the fights he loses.
Prediction: This fight could be the dark horse of the show and could be a potential fight of the night due to both guys’ penchant for finishing their opponents. Also, this is a difficult fight to predict since we have seen very little, if at all, of Gavin Tucker and Sam Sicilia isn’t a world beater either, coming off back to back losses. Having said that, Sam Sicilia has faced much stiffer competition than Gavin Tucker and has experience on his side. Six of his seven losses have come inside the Octagon. Conventional wisdom would be to put your money on Sicilia, but something in my gut tells me Tucker is going to pull out a victory here.
The Pick: Gavin Tucker by TKO
In a battle of former TUF winners, Elias Theodorou will take on Cezar Ferreira at Middleweight. Elias Theodorou is a talented striker who likes to stay on the outside and work with his kicks. He won a rather uninspiring unanimous decision in his last fight against Sam Alvey but didn’t look great doing so.
Cezar Ferreira is on a three fight win streak and went undefeated in 2016. “Mutante” is a good wrestler with exceptional Jiu-Jitsu. His boxing has improved significantly as evident by his performance in his last fight against
Jack Hermansson. He easily out struck Hermansson, who is considered a talented boxer. Ferreira likes to stay on the outside and counter, while looking to shoot for a takedown.
Prediction: Boxing used to be Ferreira’s weakness and he has adapted to that very well in his last few fights. Theodorou’s best chance to beat him is with his boxing keeping Ferreira on the outside and stopping the takedowns. Although Ferreira’s improved boxing game, combined with his wrestling and submission ability makes this a very tough fight for Theodorou to win. “Mutante” will probably counter Theodorou from the outside and will dominate him in the wrestling exchanges en route to a comfortable unanimous decision win.
Sara McMann will fight another promotional new comer in Gina Mazany in a women’s Bantamweight fight.
Sara McMann’s style can be broken down in a very simple manner: Wrestler with an overhand right. However, she is not just your normal wrestler. McMann is a former Olympic Silver Medalist in women’s 63 kg freestyle wrestling. She has adapted her wrestling game to MMA very well as of late. Her three losses have come against Ronda Rousey, Meisha Tate and Amanda Nunes, all current and future World Champions at the time. Since then, she has compiled a two fight win streak including a spectacular submission victory over a good grappler, Alexis Davis.
Mazany is a relatively unknown fighter. The most notable part of her game is her submission grappling. She is undefeated as a pro, but that’s not saying much since she has mostly beaten novices. She has her hands full in her pro UFC debut with Sara.
Prediction: This fight is not too hard to predict. Sara could sleep Mazany in the very first round with an overhand right. In any case, Sara will look to put Mazany on her back if the right hand doesn’t do the job. Unless, Mazany can pull a submission out of her guard, look for Sara McMann to dominate Gina Mazany on the ground. Although I don’t think it will come to that. Expect McMann to connect with a right hand early in the fight.
The Pick: Sara McMann by TKO
On paper, both these guys are very similar fighters. Both have Muay Thai backgrounds and are traditionally upright and flatfooted in their stance, as is the norm with most Muay Thai fighters. However, Felder has a significant advantage in wrestling and has faced competition much tougher than Ricci. To even the odds, Felder has the advantage of a full camp which Felder does not, having accepted this fight on short notice.
Prediction: Look for Felder to dominate the fight using his wrestling and getting the better of Ricci standing.
The Pick: Paul Felder by unanimous decision