A new year is here and with it comes the first UFC card in 2016. Last year saw the promotion find two superstars in Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor which translated into huge pay-per-view buy rates. This Saturday, the UFC kicks off the year with UFC 195, headlined by a welterweight title fight between champion Robbie Lawler against Carlos Condit. It’s one of those fights that’s sure to be bloody and violent as both men have a penchant for delivering pain in the Octagon. It’s seriously a fight that’s worth the price of admission. In fact, the entire main card has been built for the fan of violent fights.
We here at MMA Hot Sauce give you our predictions for this weekend’s fights. As we are obviously the experts, I can say that without a shadow of a doubt, these predictions are as good as locked.
Robbie Lawler (c) (26-10) vs. Carlos Condit (30-8)
Erik Fontanez: Violence. Glorious Violence. That’s about all but guaranteed when you match UFC champ Robbie Lawler with someone like Carlos Condit. Vegas couldn’t pick this fight without having doubts, and neither can I, really. Word on the Twittersphere is Condit had a severe concussion in his camp, which would lead one to believe that he’ll be more susceptible to Lawler’s wonderful haymakers. But let’s not fall for rumored tweets as solid gold, OK? It might have been totally misconstrued and Condit could be fine. Still, though, picking against Lawler on the big stage has bitten me on the ass in the past, so I’m going with the “Ruthless” one this time around, but just by a hair. Winner: Lawler via split decision.
Matthew Roth: Honestly, I’ve been looking forward to this fight for a while now. I know the talk most recently has been about Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor, but for me, the most anticipated fight has been Lawler vs. Condit. On a pure violence level, this is the best fight that Joe Silva can make across any weight class. Lawler is the champ that no one thought could win a title in the UFC. Condit is the guy who is crafty everywhere but never appeared to have the wrestling ability to compete at the top of the division. Lawler has the advantage in power and wrestling. Condit is the better submission fighter and gets more creative with his strikes. I’m riding with the champ to win via knockout. Winner: Lawler, KO, Round 4.
Joshua Molina: All good things must come to an end and the end is near for UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler. The hard-hitting monster has enjoyed a remarkable comeback all the way to the top of the UFC. But his winning streak comes to an end against the more well-rounded and skilled fighter, Carlos Condit. Lawler’s opponents of late have sort of forgotten that he’s Robbie Lawler, a guy that has been knocked out by Nick Diaz, submitted by Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Jake Shields, Jason “Mayhem” Miller and lost to mid-carder Tim Kennedy. Condit obviously needs to avoid Lawler’s left hook, but he should be able to do that. Look for Condit to take Lawler down, get his back and choke him out. That is if he doesn’t get knocked into next week first. Winner: Condit, submission, Round 1.
Steven Muehlhausen: This is a fight people have been wanting to see for a long time. Both fighters always put on action fights and this one should be no different. But I could easily see Condit implement the style he used against Nick Diaz. Lawler throws harder than Diaz and looks to finish more often. I see Lawler making Condit fight his fight which will lead to the fight everyone wants. It will wear on Condit as we near the later rounds. Winner: Lawler, fifth-round TKO.
Stipe Miocic (13-2) vs. Andrei Arlovski (25-10, 1 NC)
Erik Fontanez: I still can’t believe it’s
2015 2016 and Andrei Arlovski remains a competitive mixed martial artist in pursuit of a title. He won the UFC heavyweight belt way back when I was still working at Circuit City (a consumer-electronics store that went the same route as Pride, Strikeforce, Affliction and others) and did so while looking like a body double from Miami Vice. I think I just severely dated myself. Oh well, I’ll get over it quicker than this fight will last. As fun as his second UFC run has been, I just don’t think Arlovski’s magic will last through Saturday. I got Stipe Miocic handing Andrei the business this weekend. Winner: Miocic via TKO, Round 2.
Matthew Roth: Another great fight to kick off 2016. Andrei Arlovski is like a fine wine; he’s continued to improve as a fighter as he’s gotten older and further along in his career. Concerns over his chin’s ability to absorb a punch are talking points of the past as he’s finally developed the defensive abilities to not leave it exposed. They match up very well, but Arlovski comes from the stronger camp and has more experience, which is hard to overlook. I’m torn because the smart pick is the fighter with less wear and tear, but I’m going to ride with the “Pitbull” until the end. Winner: Arlovski, KO, Round 3.
Joshua Molina: Arlovski is another guy who has enjoyed a resurgence after getting knocked out by ham-and-eggers like Brett Rogers. Greg Jackson has worked wonders with this guy. He has improved his mobility, conditioning and fight IQ. This will be a tough fight for Arlovski. Miocic hits hard, takes a good punch and is tough. Arlovski’s comeback will likely end. The cat’s out of the bag that Arlovski is on his game so Miocic will look to keep out of Arlovski’s range and counterpunch his way to victory. Winner: Miocic, unanimous decision.
Steven Muehlhausen: The fight gained a lot more interest as Miocic didn’t arrive to Las Vegas until Wednesday night due to bad weather in the Midwest. The Ohio native wanted a big fight after his win over Mark Hunt in May and he gets it here. Arlovski has won all four of his UFC fights since he returned to the company in 2014 and six consecutive fights overall. Arriving late to Vegas will hurt Miocic. He has to get acclimated to the weather and battle jet lag. If he doesn’t finish Arlovski early, it will be a long night at the office. Arlovski survives the opening round and beats Miocic in the second round. Winner: Arlovski by second-round KO.
Lorenz Larkin (16-4) vs. Albert Tumenov (16-2)
Erik Fontanez: This will be a highly competitive fight on the feet. But there’s one important factor that metrics and statistics won’t tell you: Lorenz Larkin owns a lowrider with hydraulics on it. I mean, what else can you say? Winner: Larkin via unanimous decision.
Matthew Roth: This is the dark horse pick for Fight of the Night. Two really impressive and athletic strikers who have a penchant for violent finishes. It’s really a matter of if Larkin wants to get into a situation where he’s trading punches and kicks with Tumenov. If he does, this fight steals the show. If not? Well, I’d like to think that’s not going to happen. Winner: Tumenov, TKO, Round 3.
Joshua Molina: Which Lorenz Larkin will show up? The guy who is an aggressive KO artist, or the guy who folds against top competition? Against impressive striker Albert Tumenov, this could be a show stealer, that is if Larkin chooses to trade. The ship may have sailed for Larkin as a potential top-tier fighter. Tumenov will make a name for himself. Winner: Tumenov, TKO, Round 2.
Steven Muehlhausen: Moving to welterweight was the best thing to happen to Larkin. He’s won both of his fights against John Howard and Santiago Ponzinibbio by knockout. Tumenov is no slouch, winning four consecutive fights with three of those wins by stoppage. A win for either guy should get him into the top 15 of the UFC rankings. This is a flip-of-the-coin type of fight. The coin lands in favor of Tumenov. Winner: Tumenov by unanimous decision.
Diego Brandao (20-10) vs. Brian Ortega (9-0)
Erik Fontanez: I was at the “TUF 14 Finale” back in 2011 when Diego Brandao won the show, earning the title of “Ultimate Fighter.” As we all know now, that title means absolutely nothing. I thought back then it still held some weight, but I’ve learned that reality television is never a barometer for talent. Ever. However, in his last two fights, your boy Diego has picked up two straight finishes, one of which was a Performance of the Night. That kind of momentum is tough to stop, even if it’s against a guy who’s been pinched for steroid use. Winner: Diego Brandao via second-round TKO.
Matthew Roth: Diego Brandao has to be one of the most frustrating fighters in the UFC. He had a ton of potential that he just never realized and now it may be too late for him to finally become the fighter that we all expected him to become. Brian Ortega is the young prospect that has a world ahead of him. Winner: Ortega, unanimous decision.
Joshua Molina: Brian Ortega will continue his winning ways against Brandao, who, although he brings big match experience into the fight, won’t be able to handle Ortega’s aggression. Ortega is a rising star and will whip through Brandao en route to a featherweight title shot. Winner: Ortega, unanimous decision.
Steven Muehlhausen: Brandao has won back-to-back fights since his losses to Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier. Ortega was very impressive in his win against Thiago Taveres in February, winning by third-round knockout. Brandao has the advantage on the feet and Ortega on the ground. Ortega will get the fight to the ground and finish off Brandao. Winner: Ortega by first-round submission.
Abel Trujillo (12-7) vs. Tony Sims (12-3)
Erik Fontanez: I really don’t care. Sims, I guess? Whatever. *drinks IPA* Winner: Tony Sims via unanimous decision.
Matthew Roth: Honestly, zero interest fight for me. Like this is just whatever. Trujillo is coming off two losses. Sims is proving to be more than capable on the feet and ground. Just one of those fights that doesn’t do it for me. Sorry. Winner: Sims, KO, Round 3.
Joshua Molina: This is an evenly matched fight on paper, but Tony Sims should pull away. Trujillo is coming off two submission losses. He’ll be fighting with the fear of losing three in a row, against a guy who has knocked out four out of his last five opponents. Trujillo has a strong wrestling game, but he’s outmatched here against Sims who will win the fight on strikes. Winner: Sims, KO, Round 3.
Steven Muehlhausen: One thing about Trujillo is that he’s never in a boring fight. But he’s in a must-win fight after losing back-to-back tilts against Tony Ferguson and Gleison Tibau. Sims is 1-1 in the UFC, coming off a loss to Olivier Aubin-Mercier in August. With his back against the wall, Trujillo throws caution to the wind to beat Sims by an entertaining unanimous decision.