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UFC 191 predictions, preview, and analysis

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Esther Lin for MMA Fighting

After a pair of "Fight Night" events on FOX Sports 1, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the pay-per-view (PPV) market this Sat. night (Sept. 5, 2015) for UFC 191: "Johnson vs. Dodson 2" inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

That means it's time to argue about the marketability of flyweights.

Love 'em, hate 'em, or don't give a shit one way or the other, there is no denying that UFC flyweight champion -- as well as division No. 1 contender John Dodson -- are two of the most talented mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters in the sport.

But if little tiny dudes whaling on one another ain't your cup of tea, there are some interesting fights on the undercard, like the heavyweight showdown between ex-champions Andrei Arlovski and Frank Mir, two aging sluggers with legit grappling backgrounds who almost got taken behind the woodshed after falling on hard times.

Now they're back and ready to make a case that they are, in fact, better than ever.

Elsewhere on the five-fight PPV offering, Paige VanZant will try to continue her march toward a division title shot when she battles fellow strawweight Alex Chambers. We'll also get to see how well Anthony Johnson rebounds after his recent submission loss to Daniel Cormier.

Assuming he doesn't get KTFO by Jimi Manuwa.

There's also a handful of "Prelims" fights on FOX Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass, which our own Patty Stumberg plattered for you here and here. If you want to see his breakdown of the UFC 191 odds and betting lines for "Johnson vs. Dodson 2" -- including his "best bets" -- click here.

Now then, let's get down to business.

125 lbs.: Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson (22-2-1) vs. John "The Magician" Dodson (17-6)

Nostradumbass predicts: For the past several weeks, John Dodson has been popping off at the mouth about his speed, power, and athleticism. "The Magician" insists he's just as quick as Demetrious Johnson and will win their upcoming title fight by knockout.

Unfortunately, he said all of those same things before they fought at UFC on FOX 6, but couldn't get the job done.

What's changed between then and now?

Well, Johnson became a prolific finisher, ending four of his next five contests, including the venerable Joseph Benavidez -- someone we have yet to see the challenger face. I can't say with any confidence that the Dodson who decisioned Zach Makovsky is going to win the strap in "Sin City."

Johnson, on the other hand...

"Mighty Mouse" has already established that he can win wherever the fight goes. Dodson matches up well and is of course a credible threat to the crown, but Johnson is busier on the feet and unlike his trash-talking foe, can run both the sprint AND the marathon.

Expect this fight to play out much like their first encounter.

Dodson will look dangerous early on, and may even give the champ a scare, but will run out of steam in the second half of the fight, allowing Johnson to score takedowns, land at will, and pretty much dominate the fight.

Final prediction: Johnson def. Dodson via unanimous decision

265 lbs.: Andrei "The Pitbull" Arlovski (24-10) vs. Frank Mir (18-9)

Nostradumbass predicts: Andrei Arlovski, who was written off by just about everyone (present company included) after a string of terrible performances from 2009-11, has now captured nine wins across his last 11 fights (one loss, one no contest), which includes five straight.

Three in UFC.

That said, his Brendan Schaub "fight" was so boring it puts me to sleep just by thinking about it, and it should be noted that he was ass-planted by Travis Browne in one of the wildest bang-o-ramas in heavyweight history. Does any of that matter?

Probably not, since winning ugly is still winning.

He also benefits from favorable matchmaking, as Frank Mir is also on the rebound after dropping four straight. But unlike "The Pitbull," I'm not sure we've seen enough from the repackaged Mir to decide if he's "back" or simply beating up fighters who are a lot worse than him.

"Bigfoot" Silva has been knocked out in six of seven losses and Todd Duffee is not even ranked in the top 15.

Mir's hands are average, at best, but he does have knockout power, which makes this an extremely dangerous fight for Arlovski -- especially when you consider how many times the Belarusian has been dropped. Mir is also a sadistic grappler with the strength and skill to make anyone quit.

Even a heavyweight as big and athletic as Arlovski.

For me, this fight comes down to the discipline of "The Pitbull." If he can fight at range and use his superior footwork, there's no reason he can't win this contest by technical knockout. But if he gets dragged into the pocket or tries to box his way off the cage, he could very easily find himself looking up at the lights.

I think he plays it smart and finally gets another shot at the UFC title in 2016.

Final prediction: Arlovski def. Mir via technical knockout

205 lbs.: Anthony "Rumble" Johnson (19-5) vs. Jimi "Posterboy" Manuwa (15-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: Jimi Manuwa is a talented striker and for the most part, a durable light heavyweight. When you look at his record, it's easy to think Holy shit, this guy has a lot of knockouts. But of the three knockouts he owns inside the Octagon, one came by way of doctor's stoppage, the next due to retirement, and the last because of injury.

Hard to compare those to a guy like Anthony Johnson, who nearly killed Antonio Rogerio Nogueira with a Shoryuken before playing whack-a-mole with Alexander Gustafsson's face. In addition, "Rumble" has fought the best the division has to offer.

Phil Davis, Daniel Cormier, and Gustafsson were all ranked in the top five (Nog was No. 7).

"Poster Boy," by comparison, fought just one top-10 fighter and the result was a technical knockout loss to the aforementioned "Mauler." That doesn't leave me feeling overly optimistic for his chances against Johnson. That said, it's not out of the realm of possibility.

"Rumble" has the endurance of my old Tamiya Hornet.

But in order for Manuwa to empty the tank, he's got to last five full minutes against a killer who walks forward and throws bombs while giving zero fucks about any incoming offense. Imagine a camp counselor trying to play keep-away from Jason Voorhees inside a tiny cabin and you have a pretty good idea of how this fight is going to play out.

Final prediction: Johnson def. Manuwa via knockout

185 lbs.: Jan Blachowicz (18-4) vs. Corey "Beastin' 25/8" Anderson (5-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: Aside from his awful nickname, which probably works better as a motto, I really liked what I saw from Corey Anderson on TUF 19. After winning the glass trophy with a technical knockout win over Matt Van Buren, he followed that up with a decision win over the dangerous Justin Jones.

Then it all came crashing down against Gian Villante.

Every fighter suffers a setback in his or her career and "Beastin' 25/8" is no exception. But he received a step up in competition simply because Jan Blachowicz is coming off a loss, thanks to the busy hands of fellow UFC 191 banger Jimi Manuwa.

Sharing recent defeats doesn't mean Blachowicz and Anderson are on the same level.

The Pole -- with 12 finishes in 18 wins -- is the much more dangerous striker. That means Anderson, a Division-III All American wrestler out of University of Wisconsin Whitewater, is going to need to drag this thing to the floor to avoid the role of punching bag.

Not sure that's a reality, since Anderson already went on record to insist he never trains for specific opponents.

I expect a spirited, competitive first round. But as Blachowicz finds his range and Anderson slowly runs out of steam, it won't be a question of whether or not the KSW import gets the win, it will be whether or not he gets the finish.

Final prediction: Blachowicz def. Anderson via technical knockout

115 lbs.: Paige "12 Gauge" VanZant (5-1) vs. Alex "Astro Girl" Chambers (5-2)

Nostradumbass predicts: The fact that Paige VanZant is a -1300 favorite to Alex Chambers +850 underdog -- a considerable gap for combatants separated by just one loss -- should tell you a lot about the promotion's decision to pair these two off.

"12 Gauge" is being protected.

There's really no other way to explain how a fighter ranked No. 7 in her division, who beat the shit out of longtime veteran Felice Herrig, gets asked to fight an unranked strawweight who was bounced from TUF in just 22 seconds and then lost her Octagon debut by way of submission.

Then again, the 115-pound rankings (see them here) are a complete disaster. Case in point: Rose Namajunas has just four professional fights, has now lost two straight, is 0-1 in UFC, but is still ranked as the third-best strawweight in the world.


But aside from my rant on the depth at 115 pounds, this fight is pretty easily dissected. VanZant is still fairly raw when it comes to technique, but her pace and aggression are unmatched. Chambers has the threat of submission, but "Astro Girl" is also 15 years her senior and likely to wilt under the unrelenting onslaught.

Final prediction: VanZant def. Chambers via technical knockout

That's a wrap.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 191 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.

You've heard from me, now let's hear from you. Who gets it done tomorrow night in "Sin City?"