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18th Apr 2015

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

The next middleweight contender could emerge in New Jersey


From the opening battle on the early prelims to the main event, there is a plethora of talent on show on the UFC on Fox 15 card.

After our writers’ less than stellar showing at the UFC Krakow event, their records look like this…

“Bourbon” Ben Kiely: 55-31

Darragh “The Quizmaster” Murphy: 54-32

Lyoto Machida (22-5) v Luke Rockhold (13-2)

BK: Ever since this bout was announced, I’ve been giggling like a schoolgirl in excitement… figuratively (and literally.) This is one of those rare occasions where the UFC matchmakers have gotten it completely right. This is a dream match-up between two middleweights at the top of their game.

Both have stand-up heavy styles, like to set things up with that powerful left kick and and have superb fighting intelligence. Their martial arts acumen should make this contest a striking chess-match.

However, I reckon Rockhold has the slight edge over the former light-heavyweight champ in the power department. Rockhold utilises that haymaker to stun his opponents and will pounce on even the slightest hint of an opportunity to lock in one of the many submissions in his arsenal.
Rockhold via submission (Round 3)

DM: It’s nigh on impossible to predict how fighters are going to perform against Lyoto Machida because he poses such a unique threat to everyone he meets.

This fight is a baffling bucket of “I don’t know who to pick.” The best gameplan to beat Luke Rockhold is to put him on the back foot, Lyoto Machida seldom leads. Both fighters are southpaws and neither are used to fighting fellow southpaws.

As awesome as Luke Rockhold is, I think Machida is just the more intelligent striker and will be more accustomed to the big stage.

For a fighter with whom you’d never associate with gritiness, Machida knows how to grind out results and I think his superior experience will pay dividends.

It’s going to be tight but I see Machida controlling the distance better and wearing out a thickly muscled Rockhold en route to a split decision. Machida via decision.

UFC Fight Night: Rockhold v Bisping

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (21-3-1NC) v Chris Camozi (20-9)

BK: If either fighter in the headline bout pulled out, Jacare would seamlessly slot right in. He’s just that good.

The Brazilian is currently riding a ridiculous seven fight win streak and his recent submission victory over the “perpetually on the cusp of contendership” Gegard Mousasi was sensational.

The only worry for Jacare is the fact that Camozi stepped in so late. He had been preparing his entire camp to fight Yoel Romero and then six days before the bout, the opponent changed. Just ask Paddy Holohan how much that can mess up a fighter’s plans. But still, Jacare’s brilliance should see him home to victory.
Jacare via submission (Round 2)

DM: It’s not often you see a 1/12 favourite but Jacare justifies every bit of it.

The middleweight title picture is likely the most intriguing in all of the UFC and Jacare belongs right among the top five. Since 2008, the Brazilian has only lost against event headliner Luke Rockhold which shows that a title shot has been a long time coming.

An impressive victory over Chris Camozzi could very well result in a title shot if neither Rockhold nor Machida can manage a finish in the main event and the fact that Jacare already has a submission victory of Camozzi would suggest that he has the mental edge to go along with the greater skill set. Souza via submission (Round 1)


Cub Swanson (21-6) v Max Holloway (12-3)

BK: Don’t let Holloway’s decision loss to a one-legged McGregor fool you, he is one of the brightest young talents at 145 lbs. Since the McGregor defeat, he has amassed five straight victories in the UFC, four of which were finishes.

An interesting stat is, with 11 bouts in the promotion under his belt, the youngster actually has more UFC experience than 31-year-old Swanson. However, he hasn’t beaten anyone with Swanson’s talent.

That’s not to say that he doesn’t have the requisite skills to do so, it’s just we haven’t seen it so far. The smart move is siding with the favourite.
Swanson via TKO (Round 3)

DM: It’s hard to believe that, at 23, Holloway is one of the biggest veterans of the UFC featherweight division but it’s true.

How significant that will prove against the heavy-handed Swanson is unclear and I just think the strength and power of Swanson will be too overwhelming for Holloway to put his stamp on the fight.

I think that Holloway’s chin is too good for Swanson to finish the Hawaiian but the pressing style and activity of the 21-6 fighter will earn him the decision. Swanson via UD

Cub Swanson Holloway

Paige VanZant (4-1) v Felice Herrig (10-5)

BK: There is a lot of hype around VanZant. The fact that the UFC handed her a lucrative Reebok deal ahead of the then strawweight champion Carla Esparza just goes to show how much faith they have in the 21-year-old becoming a star.

From Herrig’s last few fights, she hasn’t shown she has the potential to make any real waves in the UFC, so I’m going to trust my MMA supreme overlords and bet that the 12 Gauge will blow the Lil’ Bulldog away.
VanZant via decision.

DM: Ben’s not wrong about the massive push that the UFC are putting behind Paige VanZant and I just feel that it’s a little premature.

VanZant is a very talented fighter but I don’t think her one fight with the promotion is enough to warrant the tidal wave of fanfare going her way.

Herrig is not a world-beater by any stretch of the imagination but she’s got some much more and much better experience in terms of competition so I see her forcing VanZant out of her comfort zone which will come as a massive hindrance for the 21-year-old. Herrig via submission (round two)

Paige VanZant