UFC on FOX 17 Hot Picks: Staff Predictions for Rafael dos Anjos vs. Donald Cerrone

December 19, 2015

Goodbye, 2015, you were a great year for fights. Since Jan. 1, there have been seven new champions, including UFC on FOX 17 headliner Rafael dos Anjos. There have also been some amazing fights that have reinvigorated me as a mixed martial arts fan.

Tomorrow night on FOX, the Ultimate Fighting Championship closes out the year with dos Anjos’ first lightweight title defense against Donald Cerrone. It’s a fight that all but guarantees to be a violent conflict. That alone should make it worth your time, but the heavyweight co-main event between Junior dos Santos and Alistair Overeem brings it over the top.

We here at MMA Hot Sauce are your guys when it comes to well-thought-out and totally not-cobbled-together-quickly staff predictions. Let’s take a look!

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Donald Cerrone

Rafael dos Anjos vs Donald Cerrone weigh_5184Erik Fontanez (Editor): Cerrone is one of the more marketable guys in the UFC’s lightweight division. And you can tell the UFC feels that way by the fact they featured a huge image of Cerrone on the poster for this card, while RDA’s picture miserably sits four times smaller than that of the challenger, as if to say “Come watch ‘Cowboy’ fight for the belt against this other guy, whatever his name is.” I mean, come on, who does that? But don’t let Cerrone’s giant face towering over his opponent let you believe he has a shot in hell of avoiding dos Anjos’ grinding pace and ability to neutralize striking exchanges. I wholeheartedly expect this to be a repeat of their 2013 fight that saw dos Anjos come out on top. Winner: dos Anjos by unanimous decision.

Matthew Roth (Staff Writer): I love this fight. Seriously, I love this fight so much. The fact that it’s gonna be on FREE TV instead of a $59 PPV is the best thing. Here we have two fantastic lightweights at the absolute top of their game vying for the most important title in the division. If that doesn’t get you excited for this card, then I have no idea why you’re reading this website. Go read HGTV or something instead. RDA and Cerrone are going to bring a new level of violence to the cage. This is going to be a knockdown, drag-out fight and I CANNOT WAIT. I think Cerrone has improved immensely from their first meeting and matches up very well with what Dos Anjos brings to the cage. I’ll go with Cowboy. Winner: Cerrone by unanimous decision.

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Joshua Molina (Staff Writer): Like Ruthless Robbie Lawler, the Cowboy is on a roll. Cerrone has won eight fights in a row against top fighters, including Benson Henderson and Eddie Alvarez. Cerrone is in the zone for the fight and is motivated by title dreams and revenge. He’ll be stronger than dos Anjos and knock him out with a headkick. Cerrone via KO, Round 2.

Steven Muehlhausen (Staff Writer): Before last Saturday’s UFC 194, this fight seemed to be flying under the radar. Then Conor McGregor smashed Jose Aldo. Dana White stated McGregor would get a shot at the lightweight title if he wants. The Irishman hinted it could be his next fight pending the result of this fight. Now this fight holds more at stake than it did one week ago. Cerrone is on a eight-fight winning streak. Dos Anjos has won nine of his ten fights which includes his title win over Anthony Pettis at UFC 185 in March. Dos Anjos and Cerrone met in August 2013 with the champion winning by unanimous decision. Both fighters are on a hell of a run. It’s flip of the coin type of fight and the coin goes with Cerrone. Winner: Cerrone via unanimous decision.

Junior Dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem

Erik Fontanez: Remember when Alistair Overeem came to the UFC, riding a hype train longer than the UFC’s list of lawsuits? Yeah, that seems like a lifetime ago. Between then and now, Reem is 3-3 and has established himself as a guy with a questionable (nonexistent?) chin in a division literally full of heavy hitters. Match him with the former heavyweight champion — a guy who hits like he’s got rocket-propelled cinderblocks for hands — and you have yourself a short night for Mr. Overeem. Junior dos Santos wins by death blows. Winner: dos Santos via KO, Round 1.

Matthew Roth: Oh how the mighty have fallen. At one point, both of these men were considered the top heavyweight in the world. Overeem came to the UFC with a massive amount of hype that quickly subsided when it became apparent his chin wouldn’t be able to withstand any sort of power. Dos Santos’ career has had its own stagnation when it became clear he couldn’t beat Cain Velasquez. Even though these two may not be at the top of the pack anymore, it’ll still be fun to watch someone get slept. I’m going with dos Santos. Winner: dos Santos via KO, Round 1.

Junior dos Santos vs Alistair OvereemJoshua Molina: Overeem has been ducking this fight for years, but it is time for him to face the music. JDS is faster, tougher and stronger. The modern day Overeem can’t take a heavyweight punch. Overeem will try to keep his distance, but JDS will find him, and knock him out. Winner: dos Santos, KO, Round 2.

Steven Muehlhausen: After two failed attempts at booking this fight, these heavy handed heavyweights are finally going to battle. Dos Santos hasn’t fought in a year after his war against Stipe Miocic, which he won by unanimous decision. Overeem last fought in March when he battered Roy Nelson to win by unanimous decision. Dos Santos is 2-2 in his last four fights and they have all been wars. Watching the Miocic fight, you can see the wars are starting to get to the former UFC heavyweight champion. Overeem seems to have gotten into a groove since he started to train at Jackson-Winkeljohn, winning back-to-back fights. And the fact this is the last fight on his contract, “The Reem” will be extra motivated. Winner: Overeem by first-round knockout.

Michael Johnson vs. Nate Diaz

Erik Fontanez: This is a tough one for me. Both guys are coming off losses, so there’s no doubt each of them is hungry for a win, but I’m not expecting anything spectacular beyond the strong possibility of Nate Diaz giving Michael Johnson the Stockton gesture of appreciation, flipping him the bird at some point. As much as we all like seeing a Diaz brother revel in victory, I just imagine Johnson is going to find a way to put him on his back and beat him up for three rounds. Winner: Johnson via unanimous decision.

Michael Johnson UFCMatthew Roth: Love this fight. Two really exciting lightweights hoping to make an impression to maybe take that next step towards title contention. Diaz is the known commodity. He’s going to talk trash as he hits you over and over again. He may even flip you the bird as you’re going unconscious. Johnson’s had issues with consistency but when he’s on, he’s one of the best in the division. Johnson’s from the more proven camp and in my opinion has the better training partners. I think that’s the difference maker. Winner: Johnson via split decision.

Joshua Molina: Nate Diaz hasn’t fought in a year, and that will hurt him. Johnson is a stylistically difficult fight for Diaz. Johnson won’t “fight” Diaz, or at least attempt to trade with him. Johnson will keep his distance and frustrate Diaz, turning the fight into a three-round endurance match. Diaz will gas and Johnson will pull away and win a decision. Winner: Johnson via unanimous decision.

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Steven Muehlhausen: This is a big fight for both guys. Diaz hasn’t fought in a year. His last fight against Dos Anjos, he got thoroughly dominated and seemed disinterested, but he looks to be in great shape heading into Saturday. Technically Johnson is coming off a loss to Beniel Dariush in August but the MMA judges must have been drinking that night as Johnson should have won the fight handily. Both fighters will to stand and trade but Johnson will be careful and pick his spots. He doesn’t want to get into a fire fight as that plays into Diaz’s hands. The long layoff will hurt Diaz as he’ll fade down the stretch. Winner: Johnson by unanimous decision.

Randa Markos vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz

Erik Fontanez: I have more confidence in spelling Karolina Kowalkiewicz’s name correctly on the first try than picking her to win her UFC debut over Randa Markos. And just so we’re clear, I used the copy-and-paste method to make sure that first sentence had no typos. Markos is a quality grappler who is entering UFC strawweight capable of staying in regular contention, which is a bad setup for the debuting Kowalkiewicz (copy and paste, again). I got Markos in a full 15 minutes. Winner: Markos by unanimous decision.

Matthew Roth: Gonna be totally honest with you guys, I really don’t care about this fight. I’m sure it’s great and will kick off the main card in an exciting way but I’m just not hyped. Markos is training with TriStar and seems to be fitting in very well with that camp’s style. To me, she’s the known commodity which is enough to make the pick her. Winner: Markos by unanimous decision.

Joshua Molina: Markos takes on UFC newcomer Kowalkiewicz in what could be a show-stealer. Markos has a strong wrestling base, but Kowalkiewics is a more well-rounded fighter. She’s undefeated and grittier, with better Jiu-Jitsu. Expect her to arrive in the UFC in a dramatic way. Winner: Kowalkiewicz, submission, Round 2.

Steven Muehlhausen: This is a great fight to get the fans hooked to the show. While Markos has the ground advantage, Kowalkiewicz has the more complete MMA game. Winner: Kowalkiewicz by third-round TKO.

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