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25th Jul 2015

UFC Chicago: SportsJOE picks the winners so you don’t have to

Can lightning strike twice?

Ben Kiely

With all the madness over the past month, this bantamweight title fight kind of crept up on us.

Our MMA writers’ records thus far look like this:

Darragh The Quizmaster Murphy: 96-63

Bourbon Ben Kiely: 94-65

TJ Dillashaw (11-2) v Renan Barao (33-2-1NC)

DM: I’m literally going the opposite way to most here because. Ahead of UFC 173, I gave TJ more of a chance than many but I actually don’t see a repeat of that come Saturday night.

All credit to Dillashaw because he employed the perfect gameplan for Barao with constant movement and unbelievable precision but I think a big element of Barao losing the belt came down to a lack of hunger from the Nova Uniao fighter. He had been champion so long that he sort of forgot that he actually has to fight for the belt still.

I believe that desire has returned to Barao and I see him coming out to punish TJ with a leg-kick heavy strategy that cuts off the movement of the Team Alpha Male fighter early.

I do reckon TJ is the more technical fighter but don’t see technique playing as big a role this time around and the brightside is, we’re looking at a trilogy then. Barao via TKO (round 2)

BK: I’m man enough to admit it, I was one of the non-believers at UFC 173. When I saw that TJ Dillashaw was stepping up to take on arguably the best bantamweight ever, I was skeptical. Especially since it was Barao’s follow-up to his one-round annihilation of Team Alpha Male founder Urijah Faber.

However, TJ proved me wrong. You could see all that work he did with Duane Ludwig in the gym coming to fruition. His movement, combinations, fakes and how he put all that together was magnificent. Add to this the fact he was a NCAA Division 1 wrestler with staggering cardio and you’ve got all the makings of a dominant champion.

I think movement is the key to this bout. Barao can pack a punch, but he tends to plod forward, flat-footed. Dillashaw’s florid footwork should allow him to outwork Barao in the long haul again.

Here’s hoping he’s managed to stay motivated to keep that belt and hasn’t gotten too cocky. That would be detrimental against the Brazilian. Dillashaw via TKO (round five)

TJ Dillashaw UFC Belt

Miesha Tate (16-5) v Jessica Eye (11-2-1NC)

DM: Miesha Tate is very much the Urijah Faber to Ronda Rousey’s Dominick Cruz insofar as she’s always going to be the best fighter in the division if it wasn’t for the champion.

Tate was lit up on the feet by Cat Zingano but I don’t think Eye has striking anywhere near the level Zingano’s Muay Thai and I actually give Miesha a slight advantage on the feet, very slight mind you.

On the ground, Cupcake is leagues ahead of Eye and she should be able to engage Eye with a clinch, dirty box and take the fight to the mat before slapping on a choke or armbar. Tate via submission (round two)

BK: This is a tough match-up to call, simply because both fighters have such heart. On paper, Eye is more-well rounded and certainly holds an advantage in the striking department, but Tate seems to be progressing her game with every fight.

Tate should have the advantage on the mat and if she can get the takedown, it wouldn’t surprise me if she finished this fight early. Tate via submission (round three)

UFC 183: Tate v McMann

Edson Barboza (15-3) v Paul Felder (10-0)

DM: Are we allowed pick the fans because they’re the real winners with this fight.

If you like spinning shit then this fight is for you because both fighters throw a lot of that.

Felder is a legitimate threat at lightweight but his undefeated record may flatter him just a little bit. Danny Castillo is the only fighter of note that The Irish Dragon has faced thus far while Barboza has beaten the likes of Ross Pearson, Evan Dunham and Bobby Green in a career that is one long highlight reel.

Felder may enjoy a power advantage but I think Barboza’s striking is slicker and he gets it done by some crazy kick that will forever be known as the Barboza. Barboza via TKO (round one)

BK: Excellent match-making by the UFC. Who doesn’t enjoy two strikers slugging it out?

While number-seven ranked lightweight Barboza has dynamic striking and will undoubtedly provide the toughest test of the Irish Dragon’s career, his chin is highly suspect and he’s susceptible to eating shots. I would expect a powerful striker like Felder to take advantage of these flaws. Felder via KO (round two)

Edson barboza

Joe Lauzon (24-10) v Takanori Gomi (35-10-1NC)

DM: Joe Lauzon is one of those fighters like Jim Miller, Donald Cerrone and BJ Penn that I’m quite simply never picking against.

J-Lau (awesome moniker, ignore Ben) is the grittier of these two gritty grit-meisters and is like a wet blanket when the fight gets to the ground with his smothering Jiu-Jitsu.

Gomi has a puncher’s chance but that’s about it and I think the Japanese just has too many miles on his clock to cause any problems for the TUF vet. Lauzon via rear naked choke (round two)

BK: Opening up main card proceedings, we’ve got the battle of the gatekeepers. There’s not much to say here that everyone doesn’t already know.

If Lauzon gets it to the mat, he has the advantage. If Gomi can connect with a hard shot first, it’s game over. J-Lau (awful moniker!) has been knocked out four times and The Fireball Kid has six submission losses on his record, so that’s really what it boils down to.

Gomi’s deterioration seems to be accelerating more rapidly than Lauzon’s, which is why I’m favouring the American. Lauzon via submission (round three)

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 31:  Joe Lauzon rests on the mat after losing a lightweight bout against Al Iaquinta during UFC 183 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on January 31, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Iaquinta won with a second-round TKO.  (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)