Mauricio Rua vs. Ovince St-Preux
It’s easy to identify “Shogun” as a beaten and broken shell of what he once was. Years of devastating injuries, back and forth wars, and endured beatings have taken their toll. Rua’s days of winning against top-level UFC light-heavyweight competition are over. The question is: can Rua still win against the middle tier of the division?
That’s what we’re going to find out, when Rua takes on Ovince St-Preux. I’ve been generally pro-OSP as a quality light-heavyweight, but he’s never shown the exceptional talent needed to become a serious title contender. St-Preux has pretty good striking, pretty good takedowns, and pretty good submissions… but he has never been dominant in any one area. St-Preux’s takedown defense is a weakness and he too often has failed to dominate lesser competition.
The thing about Rua is that he still has skills – he remains a dangerous knockout artist who puts on a very high pace and sticks to it, even after he becomes exhausted due to that pace. Rua also has a disruptive guard that prevents his opponents from capitalizing on the takedowns they so often land against him. Rua’s opponents find that even though he’s relatively easy to hit and take down, he’s still more than a handful to deal with due to his refusal to be anything other than the aggressor.
In recent years, that’s meant sloppy and uninspiring victories, like the one Rua scored over Brandon Vera. I think we’re probably going to see something similar here – a fight in which St-Preux lands a lot of hard strikes and a couple takedowns, but ultimately succumbs to Rua’s offensive barrage.
Pick: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua by TKO
Statistical model estimate: Mauricio Rua 68.5%, Ovince St-Preux 31.5%
John Lineker vs. Ian McCall
This fight is the first example of me being suspicious of my new statistical model’s ability to estimate each fighter’s chances of winning. The model thinks Ian McCall is a dramatic favorite to beat John Lineker, much more than the current market price of -185. The argument for this is that while McCall has faced Demetrious Johnson twice, Joseph Benavidez, and Brad Pickett, Lineker has faced a much worse level of competition – and often struggled against that competition.
Lineker’s weaknesses are obvious: his striking defense is poor, a result of the frenetic pace he fights at and his willingness to take a punch so he can land a punch. His takedown defense is also poor, as is his conditioning and history of having trouble making the 126 pound weight limit. I completely buy the idea that McCall is capable of out-pointing Lineker in a big way. At the same time, I don’t believe my model is accurate in suggesting that McCall is such an overwhelming favorite here, particularly since this fight is taking place in Brazil.
Pick: Ian McCall by decision
Statistical model estimate: Ian McCall 87.3%, John Lineker 12.7%
Warlley Alves vs. Alan Jouban
I’m very impressed with Warlley Alves as a prospect. In his brief career, he’s showcased a stiff punching game with good knockout power, slick and sudden submissions, and the ability to land takedowns and control fights. Alves is a well-rounded offensive fighter with no glaring holes in his game on defense. I can easily see Alves becoming a title contender, given that he’s still just seven fights into his professional career.
Alan Jouban also has good knockout power and offensive striking, but he’s relatively easy to hit and even easier to take down. As long as this fight is standing, I believe we’re going to see a good back-and-forth brawl, with Alves perhaps landing strikes a little more cleanly and regularly. However, I think the takedown game is what makes Alves a truly strong favorite to win this match, as Jouban’s history is one of being taken down early and often by almost all of his noteworthy opponents.
Pick: Warlley Alves by decision
Statistical model estimate: Warlley Alves 70.5%, Alan Jouban 29.5%
- Leon Edwards over Claudio Silva
- Nina Ansaroff over Juliana Lima
- Diego Rivas over Rodolfo Rubio
- Caio Magalhaes over Trevor Smith
- Dhiego Lima over Jorge Oliveira
- Leandro Silva over “Glass” Charlie Brenneman
- Thomas Almeida over Tim Gorman (the Patrick Wyman special)
- Colby Covington over Wagner Silva