There will be blood!
They don't come much more violent than Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight Champion Robbie Lawler and top-ranked title challenger Carlos Condit. And when they hit MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, this Saturday night (Jan. 2, 2016) in the UFC 195 pay-per-view (PPV) main event, it should be something special.
Besides that "war-in-the-making," UFC 195 will also feature a pivotal Heavyweight clash between Stipe Miocic and former division champ Andrei Arlovski, not to mention the absolutely bonkers striking battle between knockout artists Lorenz Larkin and Albert Tumenov.
We've still got four UFC 195 "Prelims" undercard matches left to preview and predict (check out the first Fight Pass batch right here).
Let's get to it:
135 lbs.: Michael McDonald vs. Masanori Kanehara
We’ve not seen Michael McDonald (16-3) in the Octagon since Dec. 2013, when he suffered a submission loss to Urijah Faber. Prior to that, he had battered and submitted Brad Pickett after Renan Barao snapped his eight-fight win streak.
Fourteen of his wins are via stoppage, nine of them knockouts.
A 6-1 streak brought Masanori Kanehara (25-12-5) -- the former Sengoku Featherweight champion -- to UFC 11 years after his professional debut. He upset Alex Caceres in his first promotional appearance, then suffered a controversial loss to Rani Yahya.
Ten of his 18 stoppage wins are via form of submission.
In all honesty, this fight isn’t quite the mismatch the odds make it out to be. McDonald’s lack of quality training has left him with a striking style that, while devastating, can turn rather predictable if he can’t score the early finish. Kanehara’s likely the slicker boxer of the two and, should the fight go the distance, he should have the edge.
Unfortunately, he just can’t take what McDonald can dish out.
Kanehara, skilled as he is, has not demonstrated the chin necessary to survive long enough to exploit the holes in McDonald’s game. An uppercut lays him out sometime in the first round.
Prediction: McDonald via first-round knockout
170 lbs.: Kyle Noke vs. Alex Morono
Kyle Noke (22-7-1) went 1-3 from Aug. 2011 through 2014 after starting his UFC career undefeated (3-0), putting him in a precarious position. He managed to right the ship with a narrow victory over Jonavin Webb and body kick knockout of Peter Sobotta.
He stands two inches taller than Alex Morono (11-3) at 6’1."
Morono rebounded from a 1-2 stretch to score five consecutive stoppages, three of them knockouts. In his most recent bouts, he has knocked out Valdir Araujo and choked out Derrick Krantz to earn the Legacy FC welterweight title.
He enters as a late replacement for the injured Kelvin Gastelum.
As inconsistent and underwhelming as Noke’s been these last few years, it’s hard to pick against him here. Morono was losing badly to Araujo before "BBMonster’s" infamous chin betrayed him, demonstrating nonexistent takedown defense.
With such an obvious route to victory and an opponent coming in on short notice, everything’s in place for another Noke victory. The Aussie holds his own in the striking and mixes in takedowns for a wide decision win.
Prediction: Noke via unanimous decision
115 lbs.: Nina Ansaroff vs. Justine Kish
Nina Ansaroff (6-4) began her professional career 1-3, fighting the likes of Carla Esparza and Barb Honchak before rattling off five straight stoppage victories. Her Octagon debut saw her drop a decision to Juliana Lima, after which a last-second bout of the flu scrapped a planned fight with Rose Namajunas at UFC 187.
She has knocked out four of her six victims.
Four victories, the most impressive of them a mauling of Randa Markos, sent Justine Kish (4-0) to The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 20 along with the rest of the Strawweight division’s elite. Unfortunately, a knee injury prevented her from competing, making this her first time in the cage since Jan. 2014.
Two of her victories are by submission.
The word of the day is "range." If the fight stays on the outside, Ansaroff’s superior movement, striking technique, and power will carry the day. If they engage at close range, Kish’s size and mauling clinchwork have the edge. It’s a toss up fight, but I’m leaning toward Ansaroff.
Kish has been out for almost two years at this point, suffered a knee injury, and doesn’t have the wrestling prowess that Lima used to defuse "The Strina." Though she can do some real damage once she gets going, the more likely outcome is that Ansaroff capitalizes on Kish’s lack of angles and puts her down with a counter midway through the match.
Prediction: Ansaroff via second-round technical knockout
155 lbs.: Scott Holtzman vs. Drew Dober
Scott Holtzman (8-0) -- a former hockey player -- entered his UFC debut against Anthony Christodoulou with some hype behind him. The MMA Lab-trained product fulfilled those expectations nicely, battering the Greek before submitting him midway through the third round.
In addition to his unbeaten professional record, "Hot Sauce" went undefeated (4-0) with four finishes as an amateur.
It’ been a rough couple of years for Drew Dober (15-7), who has gone 1-3 (1 NC) since joining UFC. In 2015, he was on the wrong end of a hilariously bad stoppage against Leandro Silva that was thankfully overturned, then suffered the first actual submission loss of his career in June against Efrain Escudero.
He has submitted nine opponents as a professional.
As gritty as Dober is, he’s going to struggle badly with "Hot Sauce." The latter figures to be the stronger man and the more powerful striker by a fair margin. Dober’s only real chance for victory lies in relentless takedowns, which Holtzman is unlikely to give up without a serious fight.
Dober is, of course, ridiculously durable and could theoretically grind down Holtzman down. More likely, "Hot Sauce" lights him up on the feet for the decision win.
Prediction: Holtzman via unanimous decision
You're not going to want to miss a second of this one, Maniacs.
See you Saturday!
Remember, too, that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 195 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.