With the UFC back in the swing of things, we’ll be seeing more of the Making the Grade articles. Last weekend we focused on the UFC Apex card, featuring Tyron Woodley and Gilbert Burns. I mistakenly picked Tyron Woodley in that fight, but I went 4-0 on the remaining fights. We’ll see how it goes this week.
The main event this weekend features Amanda Nunes defending her featherweight championship against Felicia Spencer. Nunes is the champ/champ and she holds the gold in both the Featherweight the Bantamweight divisions. Simply states, Nunes is the best female fighter to ever have stepped into the cage. She’s the GOAT and it’s not even close.
Felecia Spencer is the former Invicta FC Featherweight champion and has lost only once in her career, to Cris Cyborg. The UFC has been doing all they can to make Spencer sound like a reasonable threat for the title, but she’s badly outclassed against Nunes. Let’s take a look at the main card.
Sean O’Malley vs. Eddie Wineland
Sean O’Malley is a future star in the UFC. He brings a ton of talent to the cage and a personality that easily marketable. He and his trainer Tim Welch both come from the great state of Montana. They’ve relocated to Arizona, but as the saying goes, “you can take the boy out of Montana, but you can’t take Montana out of the boy.” O’Malley will be looking to put his incredible striking on full display against a willing dance partner in Wineland. “Suga Shane” is 3-0 since earning his contract via the Dana White Contender Series against Alfred Khashakyan.
Eddie Wineland is 4-5 in his last nine fights and brings a boxing background into this fight with O’Malley. Eddie Wineland defeated Grigorii Popov in his last outing, is needs a win here desperately to keep his standing in the UFC. Neither of these two fighters are ranked in the UFC but if O’Malley wins, he’ll likely find himself in the top ten. Sean O’Malley is one of those fighters who whether he’s ranked or not, has to be watched. Anything can happen in a fight like this.
It should be some fun in the early going, but you can expect Sean O’Malley to utilize his speed and reach to cause problems for Wineland. Sean O’Malley is the more talented fighter and he should win this fight via TKO, likely with a head kick.
Neil Magny vs. Anthony Rocco Martin
Neil Magny is 3-1 in his last four fights and defeated Jingliang Li via unanimous decision his last time out. Magny is a big welterweight at six foot three and a massive 80-inch reach. He’s a well-rounded fighter and does most things well. He will likely keep the fight standing and try to use his seven-inch reach advantage. He’s also really good at grappling against the fence.
Anthony Rocco Martin went one and one in his last two, but previous to that ran off a series of four straight wins. That said, he’s unranked heading into this fight. Magny is also unranked and this fight doesn’t really impact the division in terms of rankings. To be honest, it isn’t a fight people were clamouring to see. It’s kind of strange to find this fight on the main card of a PPV event.
Neil Magny will have a size advantage against Martin, a former lightweight. He is the better striker and wrestler, but Martin holds the advantage in the submission game. It likely won’t get to that point as Magny will keep the fight on the feet and earn a unanimous decision victory. The fight isn’t super interesting, or impactful and if I have to miss a fight to make a food run, it’s during this fight.
Aljamain Sterling vs. Cory Sandhagen
This is a bit fight as the second-ranked Sterling will take on the fourth-ranked Cory Sandhagen. Whoever wins this fight could find themself on the short-list for a title shot against the winner of the Jose Aldo vs. Petr Yan fight for the vacant bantamweight championship. Aljamain Sterling has won four in a row heading into this clash. Sterling is an outstanding grappler and has great takedowns and takedown defense. He utilizes his wrestling to his advantage really well.
Cory Sanhagen has won seven in a row and defeated Raphael Assunção in his last outing. Cory Sandhagen is a much better striker and if he can keep the fight off the canvas he will hold a big advantage against Sterling. A victory over Aljamain Sterling would likely put Sandhagen in an elimination fight in his next outing. This is a must-see fight between two elite Bantamweights.
This one is pretty simple. If Sterling can take Sandhagen down and control him, he will win. If Sandhangen is able to keep it standing and stay off his back, he’ll win. In the end, Sandhagen more than likely will do enough to keep the fight standing and stop Sterling striking. Going with Cory Sandhagen by TKO.
Cody Gardbrandt vs. Raphael Assuncao
Cody Gardbrandt is ranked ninth in the division and can’t seem to get out of his own way at times. ‘No love’ is the king of doing well, and then seemingly losing his discipline and brawling before being stopped. If he could fight within himself and not flip his lid, he would likely still be the champion. As a result of his inability to keep his cool, he’s been stopped three fights in a row. He’s been knocked out twice in the first round and once in the second. He needs to fight smart and when he does, he’s nearly unbeatable.
Raphael Assuncao is ranked fifth and needs a win here to move up the ladder and try and break the log-jam at the top. It’s somewhat surprising that Assuncao is still ranked in the top five despite losing two fights in a row. He dropped consecutive fights to Marlon Moraes and Cory Sandhagen. He’s a very talented grappler and has decent striking as well,
This fight is important as both fighters need wins to try and regain their footing within the division. It will likely come down to if Cody Garbrandt fights smart of gets out of control. He fights smart, he will likely TKO Assuncao. If he goes off the deep end, he will get taken down and submitted. I think we see the best Cody Garbrandt this time out and he wins via TKO.
Amanda Nunes vs. Felicia Spencer
Amanda Nunes is the best female fighter in the history of the sport. She is simply the strongest and most talented fighter on earth. She’s won ten consecutive fights and if you look at who she’s beaten, it’s a murderers row of talent. She has beaten Cris Cyborg, Ronda Rousey, Miesha Tate, Holly Holm, and Valentina Shevchenko among others. Whatever skillset you bring into the cage, she does it better or can nullify it with her skillset. Anytime she fights, you owe it to yourself to watch. It’s like seeing Michael Jordan at the peak of his game. You can’t miss it.
Felicia Spencer is a good fighter, but to be honest, she’s nowhere near ready for Amanda Nunes. She’s only fought eight times as a pro and was decimated by Cris Cyborg back in July of last year. Spencer’s strength is her wrestling but she was unable to secure a single takedown. Even when he tried to pull guard, she was unable to bring Cyborg to the canvas. The UFC will try and convince you this is a substantial challenge for Nunes but it’s not. This is a one-sided fight and Nunes will be dominant.
Amanda Nunes will dominate the fight as long as it goes. I don’t see Spencer being able to withstand Nunes for five rounds and will likely get stopped in the late second or early third round. Nunes just simply brings too much pressure. She wins the fight handily.
Fight Card Overall Grade: B+
Potential Fight of the Night: Aljamain Sterling vs. Cory Sandhagen
Potential Submission of the Night: Don’t See It
Potential Knockout of the Night: Sean O’Malley
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