Five Fights to get you Excited for UFC 198

This column highlights five past bouts from fighters competing on this weekend’s UFC 198. These fights represent some of the highest moments in the careers of their respective participants, and should serve to pique your interest heading into the event. Fabricio Werdum vs. Cain Velasquez – UFC 188 Upcoming Bout: Fabricio Werdum vs. Stipe Miocic

How can you not pick one of the two career defining performances of Werdum’s? The Velasquez fight makes more sense here, as Cain more closely resembles the challenge Werdum will face this weekend than Fedor Emelianenko. It also shows the more well-rounded Werdum we have come to see over the past few years. Where early in his career, Werdum was at a loss when he was unable to take his opponent to the ground (or have them follow him to the ground). Recently, under the tutelage of Rafael Cordeiro, he’s developed a heavy kicking game at range, one of the strongest clinch games in MMA, so his opponent is in trouble regardless of the range they fight him on the feet. Velasquez discovered that there was nowhere he wanted to be on the feet with Werdum, so he resorted to taking the fight to the ground which is where the two-time BJJ world and ADCC champion still truly shines. It will be interesting to see how Miocic attempts to solve the riddle that is Werdum, and if he can navigate a middle ground between the kicks and the clinch that Velasquez wasn’t able to find.

Cristiane Justino vs. Gina Carano – Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg Upcoming Bout: Cristiane Justino vs. Leslie Smith

Before there was a Ronda Rousey, Gina Carano was the flagbearer for women’s MMA. And after a couple valiant minutes from Carano, ‘Cyborg’ beat the tar out of her. It was sloppy fun, and it was the biggest moment for women’s MMA at the time. Obviously women have a much larger profile in the sport now, and it’s nice to see that ‘Cyborg’ is getting her shot in the UFC. As tough as Leslie Smith is, I don’t expect her to put up as much of a fight as Carano did en route to another first round destruction for the Brazilian. It should be entertaining and violent though.

Warlley Alves vs. Carlos Alberto Bazan Rojas – Jungle Fight 46 Upcoming Bout: Warlley Alves vs. Bryan Barberena

At just 25, Warlley Alves is still very much a prospect, and as such it would be expected for him to hit a few bumps in the road. He hasn’t suffered the proverbial “prospect loss” yet (although many think that should have been the case against Alan Jouban), and one of the reasons for that is his ability to overcome adversity in fights. He was in some tough spots against Jouban and pulled through, and this fight against Bazan Rojas early in his career is another good example. After Rojas was able to score some good positions early, Alves remained calm and climbed back in the fight. Early in the second round, his quick strike submission ability was on full display, but instead of using his guillotine choke, he transitioned instantly from a takedown to an arm-triangle choke. Against a tough fighter like Barberena this weekend, it’s good to know how Alves can deal with less-than-ideal situations during a fight.

Rob Font vs. Tristan Johnson – CES MMA 23 Upcoming Bout: Rob Font vs. John Lineker

This is an interesting fight to look at ahead of Font’s bout with Lineker because he does some things here that will bring him success against the converted flyweight, and some others which could get him in serious danger. The way Font is able to chain combination striking into a takedown attempt is quite impressive. That will probably be the only way he can take Lineker down consistently in this fight, which would be his safest path to victory. On the feet, while Font scores a first round knockout, he allows Johnson to walk him down in many of the exchanges. He’s able to escape using his lateral movement against the slower fighter, but if his approach to striking is the same against Lineker, he’ll probably end up in trouble. Lineker is much better at stopping lateral movement with both his own footwork and his fists than Johnson, and loves to be the one coming forward against an opponent. Font/Lineker is one of the most intriguing bouts on UFC 198, and if the pattern of Lineker’s previous bouts continues, it should be one of the most entertaining too.

Luan Chagas vs. Silas Robson – Watch Out Combat Show 28 Upcoming Bout: Luan Chagas vs. Sergio Moraes

I was a bit surprised when watching tape on Luan Chagas that he wasn’t more aggressive. Generally when a Brazilian has seen all his fights end inside the distance, you would expect him to be ultra aggressive, but Chagas is relatively measured in his approach early in fights. He turns up the pressure as he feels his opponent fading, and that’s how he scores this third round stoppage over Robson. His takedown defense is a massive concern against Sergio Moraes, who holds a massive advantage over most on the ground. Chagas may be able to survive on the mat, as he seems comfortable from his back in several of his previous fights, but it will be hard to see him finding much success in the UFC if he ends up on his back as regularly as he did on the regional circuit.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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