Ahh, Mandalay Bay in sunny Las Vegas on a brisk, February evening. UFC 170 is upon us, and while it kind of snuck up on the fight world in a midst of cards from around the globe, Rousey vs. McMann still looks like it should be a quality event, especially from the preliminary card if you ask me.
In the Fox Sports 1 main event, we have a very interesting match-up between bantamweight women, as Jessica Eye (10-1, 1 No Contest) hot off a probationary suspension for marijuana, which changed her win over WMMA trailblazer Sarah Kaufman to a No Contest at UFC 166. Eye is standing across the cage from Alexis Davis (15-5), who is riding a four-fight winning streak over the likes of Liz Carmouche, Rosi Sexton and Shayna Baszler. For all intents and purposes, this could be for the next shot at the women’s bantamweight belt if you ask me, and while the NC for Eye looks bad, she hasn’t been defeated since her fourth professional fight, back in 2011. That means she’s on an eight-fight undefeated streak. This is a closely-matched fight that Davis may hold the advantage in slightly standing up, and on the ground, where it’s going to be a rough and tumble battle. Both women have good power and use their size to dictate the course of the fight, but with both of them evening out so much, this really could be anyone’s fight. It’s definitely a candidate to steal Fight of the Night.
At bantamweight, Raphael Assuncao (21-4) will be putting his five-fight winning streak on the line against newcomer Pedro Munhoz, who is a training out of King’s MMA (where many under the tutelage of Master Rafael Cordeiro hone their game). Assuncao has reinvented himself and looked absolutely brilliant since moving to 135 pounds, and he punctuated this move with a Fight of the Night performance in winning a split-decision over TJ Dillashaw at UFC Fight Night: Maia vs. Shields. Munhoz is coming in on short notice, and has never fought anyone the caliber of Assuncao. Mix in the fact that Assuncao is just plain bigger than Munhoz and this could be a long night for the new guy. With that said, Munhoz bolsters a 70% finish rate and definitely has come up around the right group of fighters to make it to the big time. He has solid wrestling that has put him in line for six submissions, and his stand up game is strong, if unspectacular. While the odds are stacked against the 27-year-old, he may be able to make a splash in the bantamweight division if the stars align.
More newcomers are on the card, as bantamweight Cody Gibson (11-3) takes on Aljamain Sterling (8-0). Both of these young up-and-comers will likely leave it all in the cage with the 12 finishes between them. Gibson has the size advantage on Sterling, with three inches of height to work with. His training camp is Team Rhino Elite, while Sterling is a Serra-Longo prospect who generally tears through his opponents with multiple sub-two minute wins. Gibson is super-aggressive and reminds me of a mini- Matt Riddle, while Sterling has the ability to be the next Sterling, if you know what I mean. The shallow bantamweight division needed these prospects for a shakeup. As far as the fight itself goes, both of these men are used to winning. Gibson is on a six-fight winning streak and has a nose for grinding to a win, but Sterling is one hell of an athlete.
At flyweight, my pick for one of the best contenders to Mighty Mouse’s crown, Zach Makovsky (17-4), the former Bellator bantamweight champ and slayer of Scott Jorgensen on short notice, will step into the cage against Josh Sampo (11-2). This will likely be the scrambliest fight of the evening, and by that, I mean that this fight will likely involve a long series of takedowns, transitions and grappling exchanges, as that’s just how both of these guys fight. Makovsky has a gas tank that rivals anyone in the division, and at 125 pounds he looks reborn. Sampo has difficulty with his cut to 125, but even in missing weight in his promotional debut, he has looked revitalized once he steps foot in the cage. This fight is Makovsky’s for the taking on paper, but Sampo can make it close.
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