Q & Anik is an article featured exclusively at MMAOddsBreaker.com that goes 5 rounds with UFC commentator Jon Anik offering his unique insight on some of the biggest UFC cards of the year. 1st Round Q: The UFC heavyweight title has been very tough to hold onto lately, so what are the chances the belt changes hands again here with Alistair Overeem winning in an upset over hometown hero Stipe Miocic? Anik: Both men have serious power, so it could end quickly. It could also go 25 minutes. Just a great, competitive main event. It’s the UFC’s first trip to Cleveland, and it couldn’t be more fitting that Stipe Miocic headlines. And it’s his first heavyweight title defense, no less. He will be a tough man to beat Saturday night at ‘The Q’, but if I had to pick one heavyweight right now to beat him, it just might be Alistair Overeem. He has a ton of weapons on the feet, manages distance well, and has become less predictable during this recent run to the title shot. He is a more measured fighter and the way he worked towards the finish against Junior Dos Santos gives me confidence he can turn in a championship performance here. All of that said, Miocic is the -140 or so favorite for myriad reasons. I think he has more ways to win. If Stipe willingly mixes in his takedowns and can keep Overeem down and punish him while there, it could be a frustrating night for ‘The Reem’. 2nd Round Q: We’ve talked about this before in terms of how much Brazil is a factor as a home advantage for the local fighters, but Miocic had no problem going into Curitiba and taking the title belt away from Fabricio Werdum. Can Overeem do the same thing in Cleveland, and what are your thoughts on the pressure of fighting at home? Anik: I believe Miocic will be buoyed by the crowd and the atmosphere at home. I think it has a better chance to impact his performance in a positive way than a negative way. He’s a grounded, focused guy, and he doesn’t want to relinquish the belt, especially at home. Can Overeem do it? Absolutely. But he won’t win because Miocic succumbs to any hometown pressure. 3rd Round Q: Cain Velasquez made quite an impression with his TKO of Travis Browne at UFC 200, so what would a win for Werdum accomplish in terms of possibly earning him another title shot or a rematch with Velasquez? And what if Browne pulls off the upset? Anik: After what Cain Velasquez did at UFC 200, I’d love to see him be next for a title shot. When he is on, as he was that night, he can probably still lay claim to being the best heavyweight in the world. But if Werdum can put on a similar show and finish Browne decisively, he would position himself nicely too. A Browne upset wouldn’t make him an immediate title contender, but it would give him the biggest win of his career and a spot in the Top 5. Massive fight. It’s interesting because the last time Werdum and Browne fought, Werdum was the underdog and in a similar range, I believe. The tables have turned. I think Browne will get after it early. He needs a win and there is no sense in sitting back. He’s got to attack. 4th Round Q: CM Punk will make his highly-anticipated debut against Mickey Gall in a featured welterweight matchup on the main card. What are you hearing, or what have you seen of the former WWE champion that would make you believe he can compete in the UFC? Also, does Gall deserve to be this big of a favorite, and what does the future hold for him? Anik: We’ve certainly seen bigger betting upsets than this in MMA, a sport in which the seemingly impossible happens at least once a year. I think the biggest thing working against CM Punk is the opponent. Mickey Gall is only two fights into his pro career but looks like he might be the real deal, comes from a really good camp with the Miller Brothers. He also seems to have it between the ears…not a guy you expect to succumb to the added pressure of the opponent here. CM Punk is more of a wild card for me. We know his background, make of it what you will, and there is some sparring footage you can look at. But I think his striking is the great unknown. I can guarantee you he has cardio and will fight wicked hard and will have the heart to keep himself in the fight if it gets extended. So you like those things. But if Gall is the beast I expect him to be, he should be able to take out an inexperienced 37-year-old. That said, don’t count me among those counting out a game CM Punk. And Duke Roufus says he’s got some pop too. So we’ll see. 5th Round Q: What other bouts on the UFC 203 card are you really looking forward to watching, and are there any underdogs that are really barking in your opinion? Anik: I can’t wait to see the strawweight fight that opens the PPV between Jessica Andrade and JoJo Calderwood, two fighters with legitimate championship aspirations. Calderwood looked outstanding in her return fight, but that was at 125 pounds. Andrade couldn’t have been more effective or violent in her strawweight debut against Jessica Penne. She immediately stamped herself a contender that night, and I think a lot of fighters in this division are going to be crumbling under her power. The price on her is fairly short this weekend, around -120. Disclaimer: Mr. Anik is contractually prevented from wagering on UFC events. His opinions posted here are for information and entertainment purposes only.
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