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18th Dec 2015

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

Last card of the year


UFC of Fox 17 should see who gets the next “red panty night” courtesy of Conor McGregor.

What better way to sign off on a memorable year of UFC action than a title fight for its most populated division?

Here’s what our MMA writers’ records look like thus far.

Bourbon Ben Kiely: 150-85

Darragh The Quizmaster Murphy: 148-87

Rafael dos Anjos (24-7) v Donald Cerrone (28-6-1NC)

DM: This is coming from the guy who was supremely confident in Rafael dos Anjos upsetting the odds and dethroning Anthony Pettis back in March but Donald Cerrone has been doing some pretty staggering things of late.

At times, you just have to have faith in the stars aligning and I’m going to pick with my heart here because I’m dying to see a Cerrone/McGregor fight.

But it’s not a blind punt. I think Cerrone is much better on the feet than a still-improving RDA and I don’t think the Brazilian’s takedowns are enough to truly trouble Cerrone.

What does worry me is what happens in the championship rounds as Cerrone’s lost both times he’s gone the full five rounds but, screw it, I’m team Cowboy.

Cerrone by TKO (round three)

BK: Tough one to call, but I’m going to side with the champion.

Both fighters have improved a lot since RDA scored a unanimous decision victory over Cowboy in 2013, but I feel like the Brazilian has become more well-rounded.

I have a feeling he’s going to overwhelm the fan favourite over five rounds like he did to claim the belt against Anthony Pettis, but then again, you can never count Cerrone out. Even when he loses fights, like he did to Benson Henderson in Boston, he still somehow manages to convince the judges he won.

RDA by decision

PHOENIX, AZ - DECEMBER 13: Rafael dos Anjos (L) punches Nate Diaz in their heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at the at U.S. Airways Center on December 13, 2014 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Junior dos Santos (17-3) v Alistair Overeem (39-14-1NC)

DM: If only this fight took place five years ago then the whole world may well have screeched to a halt and this one has a very Mayweather-Pacquiao feeling of taking place just slightly too late in both guys’ careers.

What I will say is that JDS looks closer to his prime than Overeem has and Overeem’s chin is something that worries more than this global warming nonsense.

Junior is much more technical and should wear on Overeem’s lack of a gas tank late on.

JDS via TKO (round three)

BK: Overeem’s recent comments make me think that he wants out of the promotion quickly.

Even if his heart is in it, I can’t see him beating JDS anywhere. In my eyes, the Brazilian is still just a half a tier below Werdum and Velasquez in the division, while Overeem is several rungs down the ladder in terms of class.

JDS via KO (round one)

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 12: UFC World Heavyweight Champion Junior dos Santos is seen at UFC on Fox: Live Heavyweight Championship at the Honda Center on November 12, 2011 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)

Michael Johnson (16-9) v Nate Diaz (17-10)

DM: In what world does this fight make sense?

If not for Diaz’s name, this would never have happened as Johnson is light-years ahead of the Stockton fighter in all areas.

Johnson shouldn’t have lost that decision to Beneil Dariush in August and should be looking at a much bigger fight here.

Diaz is tough, I’ll give him that, but toughness matters much less than technique at this level of fighting.

Johnson by decision

BK: Is it just me or is Diaz being thrown to the wolves here? Obviously he wants the big fights, but this seems like a terrible match-up for him.

Nick’s little brother has been very vocal with his criticism of the promotion, and his PPV numbers haven’t really reached that of his sibling’s. My guess is they’re trying to get rid of what they see as a disposable nuisance as quicly as possible.

Johnson by decision

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 17: Michael Johnson celebrates following his win against Joe Lauzon in their middleweight bout at TD Garden on August 17, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Randa Markos (5-2) v Karolina Kowalkiewicz (7-0)

DM: What? I just learned how to pronounce Jedrzejczyk and now they drop this shit on me?

For sheer lack of unwillingness to type out Karolina’s last name, I’m going to plump for the top-flight experience of Markos here. She’s gritty and doesn’t let a lead get away from her in a fight so yeah, I like Randa.

Markos by decision

BK: This is my pick for Fight of the Night should the main event fail to live up to the hype. Both fighters are very promising, albeit a little raw to challenge for a title just yet. However, they both have the potential to do some serious damage in the division down the line.

Markos’ wrestling prowess could give her the edge, but I’m backing the undefeated Polish fighter to snag the decision due to her slightly better striking.

Kowalkiewicz by decision