UFC 224 Preview and Picks
The UFC heads to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this Satuday for UFC 224 from the HSBC Center in Rio De Janeiro. The main event is for UFC Women’s Bantameight title featuring the champion Amanda Nunes taking on Raquel Pennington. The co-main event is a pivotal contest in the middleweight division between Renaldo ‘Jacare’ Sousa and kelvin Gastelum. Here is a look at some of the fightsa this Saturday night.
Fight Pass Prelims
Ramazan Emeev (16-3) vs Alberto Mina (13-0)
While this fight is on UFC fight pass, it’s probably one of the more intriguing on the card. Emeev is around a -200 favorite despite Mina being undefeated in his MMA career. Emeev is a former M-1 Global champion that is the superior grappler with the sambo background. While some may think Emeev has a massive advantage in the grappling department, I do think Mina can be somewhat competitive being a black belt in both judo and BJJ. While Mina has been rather inactive, his move to Kings MMA has paid dividends and I think he is the better striker here. I think this line is a tad ridiculous as I think Mina can has multiple paths to victory either winning by early TKO or submission. While Emeev’s bread and butter might be to take this down to the mat, he might want to think twice playing in Mina’s guard.
The Pick: Alberto Mina via 2nd rd TKO
Alexey Oleynik (55-11-1) vs. Junior Albini (14-3)
Junior Albini’s UFC debut was a stunner knocking out Timothy Johnson in the first round. His second fight was rather unimpressive as he was out pointed by the veteran Andrei Arlovski while wearing the latest Reebok diaper design. Albini disappointed many in his last time out, but I think this is a favorable matchup for the Brazilian. Albini will need to keep this in the center of the octagon, and he will be the better striker and by far the quicker guy. If this hits the mat Olenynik has a shot here, but I don’t see it going there. Albini gets back on track with a win.
The Pick: Junior Albini via 1st rd TKO
John Lineker (30-8) vs. Brian Kelleher (19-8)
This should be a barnburner, and while Kelleher is undefeated against Brazilians, I think he takes his first loss against one as Lineker should land the harder shots and will have the crowd influencing the judges. In order for Kelleher to get a win, I feel he needs to win inside the distance. That’s one hell of a tall order…Lineker gets it done via decision.
The Pick: John F. Lineker via unanimous decision.
Mackenzie Dern (6-0) vs. Amanda Bobby Cooper (3-3)
Well Mackenzie Dern didn’t make weight…how bad? 7 pounds over….this is more than likely a sign of why Dern was asked to leave the MMA Lab in Arizona. Her work ethic when it comes to the sport of MMA has to be questioned. Now Dern, off an unimpressive UFC debut takes on Amanda Cooper. Cooper is no world beater, but I will say that she has progressed and can hit pretty hard. Dern’s striking in her win over Ashley Yoder was for lack of a better word awful. Her form is bad, and she leaves her chin out there just waiting to be touched. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Dern’s accomplishment in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but when it comes to MMA nothing about her standup makes me think she should be an overwhelming favorite over anyone, even Amanda Cooper.
The Pick: Amanda Cooper via 2nd round TKO
Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza (25-5) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (14-3)
Kelvin Gastelum has the speed and power to put anyone to sleep in the middleweight division. The problem is he is just too undersized for the division. The fact that at one point he was almost a 2 to 1 favorite over Chris Weidman and the end result of that fight is very telling. Does Kelvin have a chance to knock out Jacare? Absolutely, but once this fight hits the mat this will be a total mismatch. I can totally see Kelvin winning via knockout due to the fact that Sousa’s chin is a tad suspect, but the more likely outcome is Souza getting in the clinch and taking this to the mat and imposing his will on Gastelum.
The Pick: Jacare Sousa via 2nd rd submission
Amanda Nunes (15-4) vs. Raquel Pennington (9-5)
I think this is a pretty tough matchup for Nunes. Nunes’ last opponent was a counter-striker in Shevchenko (which Valentina won in my opinion) and Pennington is the type of fighter that will bring the fight to Amanda. She will stand with her and will take Nunes shots and will do work in the pocket. The long layoff and injuries that Pennington have had may be a factor, and then again it may not. Nunes has had cardio issues in the past, and you have to think that with the type of fighter that Raquel is, Nunes won’t have the luxury to pace herself like she did against Shevchenko. Nunes could end this in the 2nd round, but Rocky is extremely durable and the longer this fight goes the more I think Pennington wins. Pennington is a huge underdog, which is ridiculous seeing that has only 2 losses in the UFC to holly Holm and Jessica Andrade, both via split decision, and the loss to Andrade she avenged 18 months later. Something just tells me Pennington pushes a pace that Nunes can’t match for 5 rounds.
The Pick: Raquel Pennington via split decision