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UFC 171 Predictions: The Main Card

UFC 171 Predictions: The Main Card

Ovince St. Preux vs. Nikita Krylov (Light Heavyweight)

Starting off this stacked Pay-Per-View is a battle of the big boys as 205 lb’ers collide. Long-time Strikeforce stand out, Ovince St. Preux (Also known as OSP), puts his undefeated UFC record on the line when facing heavy-handed, Nikita Krylov.

OSP brings in a big advantage in terms of strength and conditioning. I’d say St. Preux is easily one of the most athletically gifted 205’ers out there right now, and he utilizes his speed and strength very well as he showed in his ground-and-pound display against Cody Donovan. OSP’s striking isn’t anything too flashy, but it’s effective and his simplified enough to the point where he isn’t likely making a dumb mistake. After seeing Krylov’s two opposite performances (one where he looked horrible and the latter where he look phenomenal), I think it’s safe to say that Krylov’s biggest chance in this fight is to catch St. Preux with something nasty on the feet. Seeing as how OSP is technically sound, fast, and fairly experienced, I don’t see that happening. Expect OSP to beat Krylov to the punch, utilize his range, and even dominate the fight on the ground where he is must physically stronger.

Ovince St. Preux via Unanimous Decision

Jake Shields vs. Hector Lombard (Welterweight)

Two of the welterweight division’s next bright contenders square off here in this bad-blood match-up between two of the divisions’ most disliked personalities. The hot-headed but ultra-explosive knockout artist and Judo specialist, Hector Lombard, puts his welterweight efforts on the line against the extra-confident and experienced grinder, Jake Shields

There are really only two ways you can logically expect this fight to go down: either Shields wins by thwarting Lombard in top control, or Lombard scores a devastating and explosive knock out on the feet. When choosing which one to go with, it’s important to really isolate some X-factors in this fight. We all know Jake Shields has one of the best combinations of wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu in the business, but lately he’s been relying a lot more on his squeaking out decisions rather than snatching limbs and cranking out chokes. Also, Shields has been working quite a bit on his striking. Even though he still looks a little sloppy and uncomfortable on the feet, he is starting to learn how to piece together some decent combinations. Lombard on the other hand is adapting and evolving his own skills. For one, Lombard’s timing has improved a lot. He’s now urgent when he starts the fight as opposed to overly relaxed. At the same time, he knows when NOT to explode. It’s not surprise that Lombard has conditioning issues; you can’t carry around that much muscle and still be able to fight for 15 minutes non-stop at full speed. Also, we can’t forget about Lombard’s own grappling game. I don’t think he’ll be able to stop a Jake Shields takedown, but it is at the level where he can make Shields work for them, and potentially get back up to his feet while fending off any submission attempts.

Ultimately, there this is a toss-up fight. You either bank on the fact that Shields will withstand Lombard’s ferocious bombardment and tire him out on the ground, or you bank on Lombard catching Shields before the fight goes to the ground and finishing it there. After Lombard’s loss to Yushin Okami, he made a vow to never lose like that (not being able to pull the trigger soon enough) again. Since then he has been nothing but impressive and I’m expecting Lombard to score a big win Saturday night. Nobody has the kind of power that Lombard has and seeing how Shields has been KO’d before by a heavy-handed slugger in Jake Ellenberger, I’m confident Lombard can do it too.

Hector Lombard via 1st Rd KO

Diego Sanchez vs. Myles Jury (Lightweight)

While he hasn’t been a front-runner for the lightweight strap, Diego Sanchez has been on everyone’s radar as of late. Whether it’s for winning BS decisions or putting on absolute wars, Diego Sanchez is quickly becoming one of the most experienced faces at 155 lbs. He’s stepping in Saturday against a bright up-and-comer in Myles Jury who has put together an impressive 4-0 UFC record.

Training out of Alliance, Jury has all the right amounts of hype coming his way as he approaches this fight. Surprisingly, the odds are even in favor of the prospect as opposed to the battle-tested veteran. Nevertheless, this fight is one that many are looking forward to.

Diego Sanchez has always had problems with guys who hit hard, but luckily for him, Myles Jury isn’t a guy that is known for his knockout power. Rather, Jury is a fighter known for completely taking control of fights, and beating his opponents down everywhere the fight takes place (a lot like Chris Weidman). While Jury’s submission skills are to be admired, I don’t think he’s going to be able to really get anything going against a pitbull like Diego Sanchez. Sanchez is too aggressive and too intense to let Jury lull him into his game. It’ll be Sanchez pushing forward and testing Jury’s chin while Myles tries desperately to get the fight to the ground, but won’t have much luck thanks to Sanchez’s equally-as-crafty scrambling game. Expect a fun, fast-paced fight, but I think this is the time we see Myles Jury take in his first loss.

Diego Sanchez via Unanimous Decision

Carlos Condit vs. Tyron Woodley (Welterweight)

Long-time welterweight contender, Carlos Condit, puts his recent stride on the line against the red-hot, Tyron Woodley, who is coming off the performance of his career. It seems as if Woodley has finally figured out how to use his extreme athleticism and explosiveness in other ways than just wrestling.

In his knockout of Josh Koscheck, Woodley not only looked faster and was able to slip out of the way of punches, but his accuracy and combinations made him look like a professional boxer. It’ll be interesting to see how he pairs up against the long, rangy and unorthodox style of Carlos Condit.

On the feet, it’s very hard to side against Condit. Even though Woodley has the power, the speed, and the explosion, Condit has the brain. Condit’s gameplanning has almost always paid off for him against heavy-handed strikers, and his own counter-striking is something Woodley should pay caution to. In the grappling, Woodley again has the advantage in the strength and also the wrestling, but Condit remains crafty in his own ways. If Woodley finds himself ontop, expect Condit to be fighting off his back and probably doing more damage there than Woodley will be doing to him. All-in-all, Carlos Condit is just too crafty and does too much damage in nearly every position he’s in. Seeing as how Tyron can’t afford to stand at range and time double-leg shots because he’ll get picked apart, so that means he’s going to have to muscle Condit to the ground. In doing so he’s going to be stepping into a world of hurt. I predict Condit to score a second round finish.

Carlos Condit via 2nd Rd TKO

Johny Hendricks vs. Robbie Lawler (Welterweight)

The UFC welterweight strap is on the line and two of the divisions heaviest hitters are squaring off for it. Johny Hendricks, unarguably the number one welterweight contender, meets Robbie Lawler, a rejuvenated knock-out artist who has finally peaked his skills – this fight promises nothing but war.

To start off, it should be noted that both Lawler and Hendricks have the power to knock eachother out. As much as we’d like to see these guys just go toe-to-toe and see who drops first, I guarantee that is NOT what is going to happen. Both of these fighters possess skills outside of brawling, and this championship fight is going to need them to call upon those other skills and put them on display Saturday night. Hendricks is a phenomenal wrestler and seeing as how Lawler has had issues through-out his career with guys who can take him down, I fully expect Hendricks to be chasing after his hips whenever he can. However, it should be noted that a failed takedown attempt could mean quite a helping of Lawler’s fists as Josh Koscheck proved. If Hendricks can’t get the takedown, he’s really going to need a safe exit to avoid Lawler’s anti-takedown assault.

On the flip side, Lawler is really going to need to work on his footwork and his head movement if he wants to avoid those dive-bombing left hands of Hendricks. Lawler has never been the one to circle away from danger and/or slip-and-rip, but seeing him slowly develop a more technical approach to his striking leaves me confident that Lawler’s striking is at the needed level to compete with Hendricks. However, that won’t be enough. Lawler may start out fantastic with his sharp movements and ripping combinations, but as the fight drags on it’ll be Hendricks that takes the lead when he takedowns start paying off for him. I’m predicting Hendricks’ jaw to be tested within the first two rounds as he pays dearly for any missed takedown attempts and plays victim to Lawler’s more diverse striking arsenal, but it’ll Hendricks that comes back later in the third and beyond to capture a decision with his takedowns and ground and pound.

Johny Hendricks via Unanimous Decision

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