I write this piece humming the 1963 Christmas classic “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, and with that ‘Happy international fight weekend people!’, meaning, we have DOUBLE the opportunity to cash in and make it an even more memorable weekend!
Friday Night’s TUF 25 ‘Redemption’ Finale is headlined by the undefeated UFC newcomer and owner of the some of the MEANEST leg kicks in MMA today; Justin Gaethje vs. the super fast and ever improving, top 10 ranked, Michael Johnson. in This is a fight that should be an all-out brawl, and though booked for five rounds there is a great chance it ends in less than five minutes!
TUF Finale Previews – Torres vs. Lima, Maynard vs. Ishihara
That expected bloodfest is succeeded by Saturday night’s UFC 213. The show will be headlined by women’s bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes defending her strap against Valentina Shevchenko in a rematch from their 2016 bout in which Nunes won a decision following a competitive three rounds.
This is the first of three articles I will be writing, showcasing who I am picking to win. The next two will be about previewing underdog picks that hold good value against current odds, in my opinion, of course.
On that note…
Tecia Torres vs. Juliana Lima (115 lbs)
“Tiny Tornado” Tecia Torres (8-1)
- Took fight on one month’s notice; replacing Amanda Ribas.
- Left American Top Team to move to Colorado with wife Raquel Pennington.
- Good counter-striker.
- Throws a lot of straights combos, usually ending with kicks.
- Can level change for effective takedowns.
- Quick hands; lacks power.
- Outstanding cardio.
- Incredibly game and deceptively tough.
“Ju Thai” Juliana Lima (9-3)
- Left her family in Brazil to move to the USA to focus on MMA.
- Closes the distance using strikes to get a hold of the opposition.
- Striking is versatile.
- Can throw solid combinations, but prefers single strikes.
- Has shown good skill fighting whilst moving backward.
I thought in her last fight Torres would struggle with the size of Rawlings. Despite the doubts, overall, her performance was great. She got the takedown but also showed incredibly effective striking throughout.
Torres boasts an impressive 8-1 record w/ every win coming by way of decision. The only loss on her record was a very close decision loss against Rose Namajunas, whom she beat the same way earlier in both of their careers.
Lima’s strength is her Muaythai. She has slick striking, especially with her kicks. She faced JJ Aldrich on eight days notice. She landed a high amount of significant strikes, but hardly threatened with a finish. Instead, she opted for long periods of control against the cage.
Lima has shown fairly good offensive grappling, but defensively it’s questionable. Against Carla Esparza, she was taken down and controlled in all 3 rounds. Esparza is elite when it comes to wrestling, and I’m unsure if Torres can do the same. But considering she still has a solid enough base to likely score takedowns when needed, I have to go with the superior game and cardio of Tecia Torres.
Pick – Torres
Teruto Ishihara vs. Gray Maynard (145 lbs)
“Yashabo” Teruto Ishihara (9-3-2)
- Very open about what his main goal is in the sport; women.
- Really likes to throw left hands.
- Throws with power.
- Doesn’t use many angles.
- 8 of 9 wins come by way of (T)KO.
- 6 finishes in the first round.
- Road to UFC Japan Finalist; final with Mizuto Hirota ended in a DRAW.
- Great chin, lacks defense.
“The Bully” Gray Maynard (12-6-1, 1NC)
- Claims his recent weight cuts are easier than ever.
- Former 2x UFC Lightweight Title-Challenger.
- 3x NCAA Division 1 Wrestler.
- Only 2 (T)KO wins in career.
- Lost 5 of last 6.
- Only win in that time is a UD win over Fernando Bruno on 7/8 of 2016.
I lean towards youth in this scrap. I do this while asking myself; does Maynard’s power really exist? In the past, almost certainly. But lately? Not quite sure.
Ishihara has relocated to Team Alpha Male, and since his last fight has clearly been putting in the work, adding a load of muscle. This should at least assist him when he faces the powerful wrestler that is Gray Maynard. Though, Ishihara’s grappling up until now has been sloppy at best. It’s worth noting again that he now trains out of Team Alpha Male, a camp known for their sick lighter-weight grapplers.
His striking, though dangerous, still leaves much to be desired. As he is very, very left-hand dominant. He has even gone so far as to refer to his left-hand as his “Kitana” in the past.
Maynard should be accustomed to southpaws now, as he has faced plenty throughout his career. Though for me, Gray’s game hasn’t really ever evolved from being a wrestle/boxer. He typically looks to close the distance, throw the powerful right-hand, and get the takedown.
Gray’s entire game, really, has slowed tremendously as of late. He may have power, but his last KO win was in 2007. With that being said, Ishihara may be the guy we see that power return against. As Ishihara has virtually zero striking defense.
Ishihara for sure has the power. And Maynard has not had to deal with much power lately, being given a grappler in his last three bouts. The last time we saw him face guys known for their striking and/or power, we saw him lose three-straight. Against Ross Pearson, Nate Diaz, and TJ Grant.
The Pick – Ishihara ITD