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20th Aug 2016

UFC 202: SportsJOE picks the winners so you don’t have to (for the last time)

Running it back


What better way to put an end to this feature than with arguably the biggest fight of the year?

For the past two years, we’ve been offering up our predictions for every single UFC main card and, after the 70 articles we’ve decided to give it a bit of a rest.

Partly due to the fact that it takes a lot of time and mostly due to the fact none of you seem to care about any event that doesn’t involve Conor McGregor or isn’t called UFC 200, it’s time to put this feature to bed for a bit.

And, amazingly, when we added up all the picks we’ve done so far, there’s only one in it.

Darragh The Quizmaster Murphy: 229-139

Bourbon Ben Kiely: 228-140

Here are our predictions for UFC 202.

Conor McGregor (19-3) vs. Nate Diaz (19-10)

DM: Hear me out!

I’m picking Diaz here but I’ve got two good reasons to do so.

Firstly, I find it hard to predict that a fight, the outcome of which we’ve already seen, can play out differently from the original meeting when none of the conditions have really changed. Same guys, same weight, same location, same number of rounds.

Secondly, every time I pick a McGregor fight I get it wrong. I picked Mendes and Aldo, but picked ‘The Notorious’ to beat Diaz at UFC 196.

I’m picking Diaz in the hope that my curse continues, McGregor wins and we get the trilogy that everybody wants to see.

It’s a diplomatic answer but, hey, I’m up on the overall scorecards so have the leeway to keep my advantage if I pick the same as Ben.

Diaz by split decision

BK: I was on the fence right up until the pre-fight press conference. This is the first time, count ’em, first time I’ve picked AGAINST the Notorious in the UFC.

I, like many others, was guilty of buying into his confidence last time around. The truth is, knocking out Nate Diaz is a near-impossible task and I don’t think a fired-up, angry McGregor is going to be level-headed enough to take him into the latter rounds.

There was always that theory going around that the first person to beat him inside the Octagon would have the mental strength to not crumble under his mental warfare. Back in the day Urijah Faber was pegged as the guy who may have been able to overcome it and not let it affect him during the fight. It turns out Diaz was his kryptonite and although I can see McGregor winning this fight, I just think history repeating itself is more likely.

Diaz via TKO (round three)

UFC 196: McGregor v Diaz

Anthony Johnson (21-5) vs. Glover Teixeira (25-4)

DM: Glover Teixeira, by his own admission in UFC Embedded, is not in the greatest shape of his life.

And, approaching a 37th birthday, some question marks will start appearing over the chin of any fighter.

And when there’s as much as a glimmer of doubt about a fighter’s ability to sustain punishment, there’s only one winner when the opponent is Anthony Johnson.

Johnson hits like a truck and I see him getting another crack at Daniel Cormier with a patented face-smashing this weekend.

Johnson via KO (round one)

BK: Call me crazy, but I think Glover has the edge in the wrestling department. If he can catch those kicks, tie Rumble up and start utlising his dirty boxing, he could win this fight.

The problem is that for Glover to win, he needs to fight the perfect fight. For AJ to win, he just needs to land one of those holy haymakers from hell.

Johnson via KO (round one)


Donald Cerrone (30-7, 1 NC) vs. Rick Story (19-8)

DM: Eventually, Cerrone’s welterweight adventure will come to an end but I believe ‘Cowboy’ has the tools to get past Rick Story.

Pundits believed he’d met his 170 lbs match against Patrick Cote, who has a very similar skill-set to Story.

But Cerrone kickboxed his way to a third round stoppage against a very durable fighter and I think he’ll do something similar to Story.

I look at how Story performed against Martin Kampmann and I see the exact blueprint for ‘Cowboy’ to follow.

‘Cowboy’ by decision

BK: Every time I pick against Cerrone he keeps proving me wrong. So, you’re probably thinking I’ve learned my lesson by now, right?

Wrong! I’m going for the Horror Story.

While Story isn’t exceptional anywhere, he’s that rare breed of Alpha Male fighter who can take punishment, keep coming forward and bully his way to victory a la Matt Brown. Nowthat I’ve written that, watch Cerrone thoroughly outclass him.

Story by decision


Hyun Gyu Lim (13-5-1) vs. Mike Perry (6-0)

DM: A victory for Perry in his UFC debut relies largely on the puncher’s chance he possesses against an opponent who is longer, more experienced and has been in there against some of the best welterweights in the world.

Lim is too intelligent to wade into a brawl against the debutant and UFC experience gets the job done for South Korean.

Lim by decision

BK: I’ve seen some of Perry’s fights on the regional scene and he gets tagged a lot. His only chance is if Lim underestimates him.

Lim via TKO (round one)

SINGAPORE - JANUARY 04: Tarec Saffiedine (L) fights Lim Hyun Gyu during their UFC Fight Night Singapore welterweight bout at Marina Bay Sands on January 4, 2014 in Singapore. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images)

Tim Means (25-7-1) vs. Sabah Homasi (11-5)

DM: My thoughts on this are pretty similar to the above pick for Lim over Perry.

Means takes on a short-notice replacement who should be out of his depth here.

‘The Dirty Bird’ is not only one of the greatest nicknames in MMA but it belongs to a very dangerous 170 lber.

Fighting Means is like wilfully stepping foot in a giant blender and his pressure should overwhelm the promotional newcomer.

Means via TKO (round two)

BK: Anything can happen, but the most likely outcome is a dominant Means victory. Tim Means War!

Means via TKO (round one)

UFC Fight Night: Sullivan v Means

Artem Lobov (11-12-1, 1 NC) vs. Chris Avila (5-2)

DM: Ah, how this wonderful that this feature should all come down to keeping it nice and flowy.

Artem Lobov’s job is genuinely on the line here but I think he raised a good point in how the style championed by the Diaz brothers, as entertaining as it is, can be unwise against a power puncher.

Avila apparently replicates that fighting style and with Octagon jitters being a real thing, I see Lobov laying him out late in round two.

Lobov via KO (round two)

BK: Are either of these guys UFC calibre? Probably not. Lobov is a phenomenal fighter at a certain level. He’s really entertaining in those scrappy wars against fighters who are willing to stand and bang.

Very entertaining under the right circumstances and he has a hell of a punch in him. However, I don’t think anyone was entertained seeing him outclassed by Alex White and Ryan Hall over three rounds. This should be a much better match-up for him.

Lobov by KO (round one)