I’ve been seeing tonight’s UFC on FOX card get a lot of hate on social media this week. Everyone’s talking about the deterioration of the sport because of this fight night. Everyone’s saying “Is this really the best event they could put on network television?”, and while that question has some validity to it, tonight’s card is kinda great! I think it’s maybe being overlooked because of Josh Emmett’s lack of star power, but with a win over Jeremy Stephens, that could all change. Let’s discuss!
Featherweight Division: Jeremy “Who Da Fook Is That Guy” Stephens (-130) vs Josh Emmett (+130)
Even though I’ve cited this fight as the reason I believe nobody cares about the card tonight, it’s the most interesting one on the card by far. For me, at least. Jeremy Stephens, a notoriously inconsistent veteran of the UFC, is coming off a great TKO of Dooho Choi/decision victory over Gilbert Melendez and looking to get into title contention by stringing together three wins for the first time since early 2014. It seems as though he’s finally piecing some things he’s always lacked together, and possibly entering his prime 41 professional fights into his career. Weird, I know. Josh Emmett, who’s got Stephens by a year in age but is nowhere near close in experience level, is looking to prove that his BRUTAL knockout of Ricardo Lamas was no fluke, and that he’s the newest threat to the Featherweight Championship.
Frankie Edgar and Brian Ortega are gonna settle their score in a title eliminator at UFC 222, but after them, the winner of this fight will likely get their shot at the crown. High stakes.
I’d imagine both fighters are gonna want to stand up for the majority of their time in the octagon tonight, as they’re both primarily boxers/kickboxers, but Josh Emmett being a Team Alpha Male guy of course throws wrestling on the table. Stephens’ takedown defense is generally good early on, but fighters have found success wearing him down for double legs in later rounds. With this being a five rounder I can absolutely see Emmett at least attempting to wrestle in the deep waters. If it makes it that far, that is.
Jeremy Stephens, for as long as I could remember, has been marketed as a guy with one-punch knockout power. There was definitely a time when that was true, but it’s not right now.
Sure, he’s had some highlight reel shots that have dropped his opponents and hurt them real bad, but the last time he hit an opponent once and they were done for was 2013. It was a head kick against Rony Mariano Bezerra. Josh Emmett, on the other hand, is a guy who JUST showed us he does in fact have one-punch knockout power. He hit Ricardo Lamas with a shot that shut down his entire body and made him go stiff as a board. He’s not a knockout artist, though. He’s a pretty great technical striker, and the kind of fighter I believe Stephens struggles with. He’s not like Dooho Choi where he’ll disregard defense entirely for the sake of a few haymakers. He’s going to move in and out of the pocket with precision and pick the right shots when they show themselves. Stephens will likely try to chop down his legs with kicks, but I think Emmett is too fast for that to play as big a role as Stephens would like. For that reason, I’m taking the underdog tonight.
Winner: Josh Emmett
Women’s Strawweight Division: Jessica “Bate Estaca” Andrade (-250) vs Tecia “The Tiny Tornado” Torres (+245)
This one, I’ll admit, is a weird matchup. It’s just as lopsided as the odds suggest and I don’t really see any route in which Torres can get herself a win tonight. Andrade is just a superior fighter in every way, shape, and form. Bet the over and throw Andrade via decision into a parlay.
Winner: Jessica Andrade
Light Heavyweight Division: Ovince Saint Preux (-125) vs Ilir Latifi (+140)
Man, I have NO IDEA what’s gonna go on inside the octagon during this one. I feel like this should be a pick’em, just because there’s so many unknown factors here. Latifi usually comes in with real good strategy and has great fight IQ and wrestling, but Ovince Saint Preux is riding off the momentum of a three fight win streak and is so fast for his size that I feel like he’s got juuuuuuuust a slight edge. Especially being that if this goes to the ground I see OSP’s length everywhere being a massive strength and make it very hard for Latifi to submit him. This matchup truly puts my brain in a pretzel though and I’m excited to see it unfold.
Winner: Ovince Saint Preux?
Welterweight Division: Mike “Platinum” Perry (-275) vs Max “Pain” Griffin (+375)
“Platinum” Perry is coming off a decision loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio back in December, and if there’s one thing I know about a guy with face tattoos, it’s not to piss them off. You gotta be thinking that loss pissed him off, and this is what happened the last time he attempted to rebound after a decision didn’t go his way…
That’s all the evidence I need to side with “Platinum” tonight, but if you need more, he pantsed Max Griffin at the weigh-ins yesterday…
Winner: Mike Perry
The prelims are well worth a watch in addition to the main card, and they feature Renan Barao’s return to the Bantamweight division where he once reigned king for many years, which I’m excited to see. My picks for those are as follows:
Renan Barao def. Brian Kelleher (Barao looked GREAT at weigh-ins yesterday, hoping he’s healthy and ready to go)
Sara McMann def. Marion Reneau (my brain is telling me this will be wrong but my heart won’t allow me to pick against McMann)
Angela Hill def. Maryna Moroz (Angie’s gonna get herself ranked tonight, boi)
Alan Jouban def. Ben Saunders (sorry Killa B)
PRELIMS are on FOX at 6:30pm (first fight on FS2 at 6pm), MAIN CARD starts on FOX at 8pm EST.