It’s almost here. We have less than a week to wait before Conor McGregor is back inside the Octagon. I’m personally a little bit bummed out that he isn’t getting the chance to make history with a title fight against Dos Anjos this weekend, but Nate Diaz makes for a very fun fight that I expect will make the UFC a lot of money via the PPV buys. And let’s not forget that we also have a Women’s Bantamweight title fight as the co-main event with Holly Holm putting the belt on the line against Miesha Tate.
The other main card fights include Gian Villante vs Ilir Latifi and Corey Anderson vs Tom Lawlor at Light Heavyweight, as well as Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko at Women’s Bantamweight.
Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz
This fight is taking place at Welterweight and both fighters will have you believe that it was their opponent that wasn’t going to be able to make the 155 pound weight, which McGregor was originally supposed to fight at. I think it’s pretty obvious that Diaz didn’t want to have to make a big weight cut having not been in a camp, but Conor likely doesn’t mind fighting higher as well. I think Conor really believes that Diaz will be an easy fight for him. His stand up is just so much smoother than Diaz’s and if Nate starts throwing some wild punches like he’s shown he will do in the past I expect Conor to put him down fairly quickly.
I was on Aldo in Conor’s last fight and I think that will be the last time I don’t back Conor in a fight. His movement is just so smooth that I don’t see him having any difficulty with Nate Diaz. Nate has strong jiu-jitsu, but he doesn’t generally go for the take down, so I expect this fight to stay standing and for Conor to pick Nate apart on the feet.
Play: McGregor -430
Holly Holm vs Miesha Tate
I’m very, very surprised that Holm is a bigger favourite than McGregor at some sportsbooks out of these two main fights. Holly Holm only really has one very impressive win on her resume. Yes, it came over the best women’s MMA fighter of all time, but Ronda’s strategy in that fight was so flawed that I can’t be sure Holm is truly on that next level. I think this fight with Miesha will be much more difficult for Holly because Miesha will surely come into the fight with a much better strategy and she will not feel the pressure that Ronda had to rack up yet another quick finish.
If Miesha can make this a dirty, grinding fight I think she has the ability to pull out a decision win and earn her 3rd shot at Rousey. This will throw a wrench in the UFC’s plans, but so be it.
Play: Tate +285
Gian Villante vs Ilir Latifi
Villante won his last fight with a knockout over Perosh, but that was as much of a set up fight as you can have against a 43 year old fighter that was far past his prime. Before that Villante was caught with a knockout against Tom Lawlor and I’m interested to see which Villante shows up on Saturday.
Latifi is the much more consistent fighter in my opinion and he’s won two straight fights via first round KO. I see improvement in Latifi since his TKO loss to Jan Blackhowicz a year and a half ago and I expect him to finish Villante in this one.
I do expect one of these guys to definitely get a finish in this fight, but my money is on Latifi.
Play: Latifi -180
Tom Lawlor vs Corey Anderson
Lawlor is coming off a KO victory over Villante, while Corey Anderson has strung together a couple wins since losing via TKO to Villante. MMA math doesn’t work, but it is an interesting mutual opponent that the two have.
That said, I still think that Anderson will be able to control this fight with his superior wrestling. He will have to avoid the KO power of Tom Lawlor, but he showed in his last two fights that he’s learned how to avoid danger and pull out decision wins. This is what I expect at UFC 196.
Play: Anderson -274
Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko
Nunes is a beast in the women’s division. Another finish on Saturday, will surely have her name at the top of the list to fight the Rousey vs Holm/Tate winner. Nunes has 4 first round finishes in her 5 UFC fights, with the only loss coming to #3 ranked Cat Zingano. Shevchenko is a good fighter, but she doesn’t quite have the top level experience and I expect Nunes to once again get a highlight reel finish in this one.
Play: Nunes -155