Cannonier vs. Strickland Main Card Breakdown

Twitter: @DadHallOfFamer

Instagram: @therealsethgeko

Word Press:

It’s that time of year again. The stars are out, walking constellations, dressed in their creepiest Balenciaga ensembles. A half dozen Roombas are hard at work trying to remove last year’s Jorge Masvidal chalk outline from the red carpet. The Dick Clark frozen head is thawing in a bowl of water in the sink because no end-of-year celebration is complete without it. I see Will Smith on the sidelines. I got the alopecia jokes tucked up one sleeve and a Michael Chandler punt to the face tucked inside the other. The votes have been cast, and the winners are in. Welcome to the 2022 Weekly KO End Of Year Awards.

Fight Of The Year:

Honorable Mention: Jiri Prochazka vs. Glover Teixeira. This one had more twists and turns than a Jeep commercial and was one of the best title fights of all time. It even dethroned the previous long-standing best title fight in light heavyweight history, Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jon Jones.

Winner: David Onama vs. Nate Landwehr. Call it a homer pick if you’d like, but I’m going with the co-main event for the UFC’s return to the America’s Finest City, San Di let-go-of-my-ego, CA. The Al Bundy of MMA, Nate Landwehr, elected to tight ropewalk between skyscrapers with no long stick to help him balance instead of taking the crosswalk. Nate decided to stand and bang with Onama even when he could have easily finished Onama on the ground. In the closing minutes, Landwehr nearly wrestled defeat from the jaws of victory but held on and threw bombs until the final bell. Don’t act like you’re not impressed.

KO Of The Year:

Winner: Leon Edwards. Headshot! Bang! Dead! Look at me now! Look at me now! I am Leon. I’m looking at you from the balcony of my newly purchased Malibu mansion, the one I bought after dropping a Twenty-Twen-Twen on a TKO/KO victory. I’ll go ahead and put it on wax moew; Leon will do the same thing in the rematch, only sooner.

Submission OF The Year:

Winner: Jiri Prochazka. If you had told me before the fight that you had time traveled from the future after watching this fight and Jiri was the winner, I would have pictured Jiri on trial, facing a life sentence for having decapitated Glover in the cage. But Jiri submitted Glover with under a minute left in the fight after he was nearly finished on the feet just minutes before that.

Twenty-Twen-Twen Sleeper Upset Of The Year:

Winner: Leon Edwards. Leon is a Weekly KO Double Champ. Bottom of the ninth, down by three, bases loaded… "Leon gets hold of one! It’s deep! This one has a chance! Way back, way back… IT"S GONE!" After a solid first round, Leon fell off a cliff like Gavin Esc… excuse me. HE lost the next three rounds decisively while looking like Snuffleupagus, dejected and defeated. But then the fifth round happened, and Leon "Rocky" Edwards earned is nickname. AND NEW!

Valero Robbery Of The Year:

Winner: Taila Santos vs. Velentina Shevchenko. I tried to warn her. I told her to fill up in Barstow. Or wait until you get to Primm. Don’t stop at the Valero. In the very least, do not use the restroom. Stay clear of the restrooms. But she didn’t listen. And the infamous dead presidents got her. The accidental head butt saved Shevchenko that night.

Most Exposed:

Honorable Mention: Petr Yan. Yan had a rough 2022. His ground game got exposed in the Aljo rematch, and Sean O’Malley exposed some holes in his striking. I thought Yan would win the belt back and defend it for a while, but now I’m not sure he won’t run out of oxygen before reaching the top of the mountain again.

Winner: AB. No need to explain this one.

Main Card

Jared Cannonier vs. Sean Strickland

This is a sleeper banger to end the year with. I’d argue the co-main event should be the main event, but we’ll get to that later. If it weren’t for MMA, Sean Strickland would be making soap and fighting Costco auto center workers in the basements of fine establishments. He’s a Mickey O’Neil, a grimy Pikey bare-knuckle boxer who thwarts the establishment with every punch he throws. And Jared Cannonier is a Shaun T Insanity success story that used to compete at heavyweight before he learned how to do burpees, dropped to middleweight, and became a title challenger. With the recent changing of the ass grooves on the Iron Throne when Alex Pereira beat Stylebender, this fight could land one of these guys on the short list of 2023 title challengers.

Sean Strickland is the Brennan to Kevin Holland’s Dale, unlikely stepbrothers whose shit-talking game is as elite as their striking. Strickland paved the way for shit-talkers like Kevin Holland and was narrating his own ass whooping’s while Holland was still wetting his MMA diapers. Stickland will even coach and try to motivate his opponents mid-fight out of the kindness of his heart, trying to draw the best out of them.

Stickland is an oddly vanilla and intricate stirker at the same time. He arm punches; he doesn’t turn over his hips and snaps his punches using his shoulders almost like the Diaz brothers. Because there’s very little lower body and shoulder movement, there are no tells to Stickland’s strikes as they seem to materialize out of nowhere. He uses quick two to three punch combos to dissect defenses by aiming strikes around and between the hand guards.

Instead of one-punch KO power, Strickland uses volume and an accumulative effect to end fights. He constantly touches his opponent with varying degrees of peppering and power shots. Defensively, Strickland uses a Pic ‘N’ Save Philly Shell to deflect strikes and leave him in position to counter. He also uses his lead arm and shoulder like Captain America’s shield; he never covers up and instead uses his extended lead arm to deflect shots on the way in out in front of him. Pay close attention when Strickland is under attack; it will look like he’s getting hit clean when he’s not. He uses his lead shoulder and forearm to block and absorb strikes and rolls with them.

The numbers: Strickland is 25-4 with ten TKO/KO’s and four subs. He’s won six of his last seven bouts and is an underrated 12-4 in the UFC. His only losses were to killers, including his last fight against the Predator Alex Pereira. Strickland averages five and a half significant strikes per minute, and his overall output has steadily gotten higher as his UFC career has progressed. He has landed over one hundred strikes three times in six fights since 2020, with highs of one hundred eighty six and one hundred fifty three in his only two five-round fights.

The key for Strickland in every fight is output and pressure, and Jared Cannonier will be forced to get out of his comfort zone and match Strickland’s pace or risk falling too far behind on the scorecards. A reserved power puncher with clean, short combos, Cannonier can KO anyone in the division. He won’t overextend himself and get caught out of position and doesn’t take many risks. He won’t wow you with volume or aggression, his output is closer to a Jairzinho Rozenstruik’s than a Max Holloway’s, but he ends fights suddenly. Cannonier is a compactor, constantly compressing the cage with forward pressure until the opponent runs out of real estate.

Cannonier likes to fight out of both stances but is severely limited when he’s in the southpaw stance. He almost exclusively throws kicks from southpaw and rarely opens up with his hands. When Cannonier loses, it’s usually because he doesn’t let his strikes go, and he gets outworked. Against a high-output striker like Strickland, Cannonier’s only chance will be to throw the brown-streaked chonies to the wind and just go for it. Put all his nuggs into one Black & Mild and see how high he can get. The one-punch-off switch power will belong to Cannonier, while Strickland will need prolonged accumulative damage to possibly finish Cannonier.

This one is pretty much a pick ‘em with Sean Strickland returning (-125) odds and Cannonier returning (-105). I like the chances of a finish for Cannonier more than I do for Strickland. Both fighters will have a lot to prove after disappointing performances in their most recent bouts, and both have paths to a finish, but Cannonier’s power is on a different level than Strickland’s. Also, Cannonier has only been finished twice, but only at light heavyweight and heavyweight. Strickland will be a long-shot late-finishing threat, while Cannonier will provide a possible finish from beginning to end. A Strickland TKO/KO will return (+350), and a Cannonier TKO/KO (+300). These are excellent odds for finishes.

So here we are, the last main event pick of 2022. Of course, we have to end on a complete toss-up. Jared Cannonier via TKO, round four.

Damir Ismagulov vs. Arman Tsarukyan

This should be the main event. Damir Ismagulov and Arman Tsarukyan would be champions tomorrow in any other fighting organization in the world. These are two of the best lightweights in the world that only hardcore fans are familiar with. Damir Ismagulov is a silent assassin who operates in the shadows, moving with complete anonymity and striking with blinding speed. And Arman Tsarukyan is a grappling Merlin who once went the distance with the grappling Voldermort, Islam Makhachev, in his UFC debut.

Damir Ismagulov is 24-1 and riding a nointeen-fight winning streak, including five straight promotional wins since debuting in 2018. Although Damir has excellent wrestling/grappling, he has made a name for himself with his precise striking. It all starts with his jab; watch his lead hand; it’s like a snake in the way it moves sinuously back and forth, this way and that, before striking quicker than the time eyelids spend closed when you blink. Less obnoxiously, Damir’s jab is fast as f**k booooooy!! Everything he does is subtle, without any wasted motion, from slipping and countering to his laser beam jab. His reactions to strikes are so well-honed that it’s almost like he knows what’s coming. Like someone’s tipping pitches to him. Like he’s playing Techmo Super Bowl and looking at your controller as you choose your play.

Overall, Ismagulov is one of the smartest fighters I’ve seen. He chooses his openings wisely and always fights to his strengths. Ismagulov can manipulate range like Magneto can manipulate magnetic fields; it’s a superpower. He slides in and out of range as if he’s Brian Boitano on a pair of ice skates. What would Bryan Boitano do if he were here right now? He’d make a plan and follow through; that’s what Brian Boitano would do. And Damir’s plan against Tsarukyan will be to defend takedowns until his death, keep the fight standing, and use his range and speed to pick him apart from the outside. Tsarukyan has dangerous striking, but Ismagulov is the far more technical and diverse striker.

In his last bout, Arman Tsarukyan out-struck and inflicted more damage than his opponent, the grappling Rand al’Thor, Mateusz Gamrot, and earned a five-round main event decision victory. But then he stopped at a certain Valero in the middle of the Nevada desert on the way home in need of the restrooms. He entered the handicap stall, thinking what were the chances that someone on a set of wheels would literally roll up on him as he was doing his business. When he stepped in, he found a bound and gagged Ryan Lochte on the ground in front of him, and behind him, three NSAC judges wearing dead presidents masks who proceeded to rob him of his dub at gunpoint.

Against Gamrot, Tsarukyan displayed some of the best takedown defense you’ll ever see. Some BJ Penn in his prime type-shit. Homie was doing the standing splits like a showgirl on a pole to avoid Gamrot’s single legs. Wobble wobble. Shake it shake it. Arman can grapple with anyone in the world, combining relentless takedowns, superior takedown defense, and heavy ground and pound from the top position. On the feet, Tsarukyan’s specialty is heavy round kicks to the body. When they land, they sound like artillery fire. In the Gamrot fight, I was catching Gettysburg flashbacks from a previous life, watching cannonballs take out soldiers all around me. He sets his round kicks on repeat with the ten-second anti-skip button activated and blasts away.

His only red flag on the feet is that he’s not a very good combination striker like Damir. Tsarukyan relies on heavy round ones and one-twos and lacks the intricate footwork that Damir also has. Arman is a flatfooted striker who loads up and sits down on every strike he throws. I think Arman will look to close the distance behind heavy overhands and change levels. He takes the Khabib wrestling approach, never giving up on takedowns even when they aren’t immediately successful. Tsarukyan will have the edge when it comes to takedowns and securing top position.

The striking stats are near even, with both fighters hovering around four significant strikes landed per minute, and both will likely be in the sixty strikes range if the fight stays standing. Tsarukyan averages just under three takedowns per fifteen minutes, while Damir averages a tick under one and a half. This will be a tough fight to score any Fantasy points. This will be a nip/tuck technical scrap, and I don’t see a finish for either fighter. Damir has yet to finish a fight in the UFC, and although Tsarukyan has two finishes in seven appearances, neither was against this caliber of fighter. I have no fooking clue about this one. Damir Ismagulov via decision.

Alessandro Costa vs. Amir Albazi

Amir Albazi is a little Gremlin; don’t feed him after midnight. And Alessandro Costa is a prototypical little Brazilian wrecking ball who will knock down your shitty wall like those damn Mongolians. Albazi is a three-fight UFC veteran, while Costa will be making his debut after a win on the Contender Series. Although both have excellent wrestling/grappling, I think this one will stay standing, and we’ll see miniature Hobgoblin bombs exploding all over the Octagon.

Albazi is a slick striker who’s light on his feet and uses a boxer’s jab to set up power shots. He uses his lead hand as a multifaceted tool, using it to manipulate defenses with feints and peppering shots, and he uses it to pull down the hand guard and throws the right hand behind it. Some Vasily Lomachenko shit. Amir uses an active lead hand to bait opponents forward while stepping back and countering. He will be the far more diverse and intricate striker against Costa, but Costa will have the one-punch power edge. Costa fights heavy, flatfooted, and sits down on all his punches a lot like Arman Tsarukyan, while Albazi is light on his feet and uses in/out movements to control range.

Wrestling-wise, Albazi has Derek Brunson takedowns against the cage; if he gets his hands clasped under your ass, you’re gonna have a bad time. He has slick back-takes and control, and from his back, Albazi likes to strike while forcing scrambles. I don’t know who will have the grappling edge in this one, but I’ll give the stand-up edge to Albazi. Amir averages over three and a half significant strikes landed per minute, and in his only UFC fight that went the distance, he landed sixty-eight. In addition, Albazi averages three takedowns per fifteen minutes. For his career, he is 15-1 with four TKO/KO’s and noine subs. His Fantasy value will be two-pronged, a finish on the feet or on the mat.

From what little I’ve seen of Alessandro Costa, he reminds me of Raphael Assuncao, a short, stout wrestler striker with heavy power, and solid all around grappling. On the feet, Costa has Baby Einstein 123’s & ABC’s basic striking, but has the power to sleep you with one nasty overhand right or left hook. His special weapon is his Quagmire right hand that he throws over the top like he’s on the mound dealing. Giggity giggity goo. His right hand is like Stallone’s in the movie Over The Top, working out only his right hand on the pulley in his big rig’s cab.

From the commentary from his fight on the Contender Series, I gathered that Costa is an excellent grappler with heavy top control. For his career, Costa is 12-2 with three TKO/KO’s and six subs. Five of those subs were armbars and included one flying armbar. Submissions from the guard are always important in case you run into a better wrestler and end up on your back. You’ll always have a path to end the fight. His value will be in creating a fight-ending sequence on the feet that could lead to a TKO or a quick submission on the mat. In his three-round Contender Series bout that went the full fifteen minutes, Costa landed forty-five strikes.

Amir Albazi is the heavy (-500) favorite, and Costa will be the (+345) dog. I have a sneaking suspicion that this will be closer than the odds would suggest. An Albazi TKO/KO will return (+275) and a submission (-110). A Costa TKO/KO will return (+850) and a submission (+2200). Put it on wax; Amir Albazi via rear-naked choke, round three.

Alex Caceres vs. Julian Erosa

This will be a cartoon dust cloud scrap with flailing limbs, cats and dogs, and various appliances bouncing all over the cage. A featherweight Sam Alvey, Alex Caceres will whoop your ass, and you’ll thank him afterward and feel better about yourself. Bruce Leeroy has been a UFC staple since competing on the Ultimate Fighter in 2011 and works the graveyard shift as a gatekeeper at the Bridge Of Death. Julian Erosa is a gangster and a gentleman, a Swiss Army knife striker who uses every one of his available tools to systematically break down his opponents.

On the feet, Bruce-Bruce will throw every technique he’s ever learned at any given moment and will never stop moving. He’s long and, at times, uses his distance well. Other times, he gets into firefights in the pocket with no head movement or deviation from the centerline. His footwork, lateral movement, and unpredictability are what he relies on most. On the mat, Caceres is a sneaky grappler. Caceres has seven career submission wins but that number zeros out if you add his seven losses via submission. As on the feet, Caceres gets into grappling firefights, wild scrambles that can end in a dominant position one way or the other.

Julian Erosa is a undercover savage, a dog RAL (Running At Large) in the neighborhood shitting on everyone’s lawn like ODB. Julian was the kid doing triple gainers off the high dive while all the other kids were still afraid to climb the ladder. He was the kid building ramps and jumping the neighborhood kids on his Huffy six speed. Firefights are all Erosa knows; he’s at his best standing in the pocket and exchanging hands, elbows, knees, and shins back and forth. His only red flag is that he tends to fight down to competition but also fights up to it. He’ll make it an ugly scrap against anybody, and this one will be no different. Most importantly, Erosa is a finisher, having finished twenty-three of his twenty-eight career wins, eleven by TKO/KO and twelve by submission.

Erosa will be the (-185) favorite in this one, and Bruce Leeroy will be the (+140) dog. Both fighters have been finished several times in their careers, Erosa five times by TKO/KO and Caceres once by TKO/KO and seven times by sub. Erosa’s value is in hurting Caceres and snatching his neck for the finish. An Erosa submission will return (+500), while the play for Caceres is a decision (+300). Caceres will have minimum value without a finish. Give me the heathen, Julian Erosa via Brabo choke, round three.

Drew Dober vs. Bobby Green

We’re going out with a bang; this is an absolute banger. This should’ve been on the Pay Per View card last weekend. This is a Fight Night main event featuring my favorite current fighter, the striking savant Bobby "King" Green. Bust out your pad and pen; Bobby Digital is about to put on a striking Master Class. But it won’t be easy; Drew Dober is half man and half Doberman, as his name would suggest. He’s an Op, an undercover killer who’s often slept on like Tempu-Pedics. Whatever you do, no matter where you are, don’t miss this one.

Bobby Green is the best pure boxer in the UFC. I said it. I meant it. Green is elusive; the epitome of hit and don’t be hit, stick and move, sting like a butterfly, and all that. King Green weaves together the most intricate techniques of boxing and kickboxing and puts them on display. King Green is the only fighter so far to stand toe-to-toe with Rafael Fiziev and nearly finish him in the third round. Green was robbed that night.

You can’t teach someone how to fight like Bobby Green; his instincts and reactions and physical speed and agility give him a style that can’t be replicated. He fights with his hands at his waist and rarely deviates from that position. His abilities to judge distance and anticipate the opponent’s attacks make him a ferocious counterpuncher who can strike while moving in any direction. Bobby flows between stances mid-combination and is never out of position to throw hands. You’ll rarely see him cover up; he uses footwork and head movement to make the opponent miss, and the easy way to gas someone out is to make them miss.

Green’s value will be in nearly seven significant strikes landed per minute, with a high of one hundred eighty-eight in his last three-round bout against Nasrat Haqparast. Accumulative damage is Green’s path to a finish. But Dober has only been finished once by TKO/KO in thirty-six career scraps.

Drew Dober is a Rain Man, an unassuming cerebral fighter who can pick up on opponents’ subtle tendencies, like Dustin Hoffman counting cards. You can see Dober’s brain calculating in real time as he sets up his strikes. He often falls into false cadences to give his opponents the false sense that they’ve figured him out. He’ll throw multiple round kicks in a row and then a Super Man punch (a fake kick) when they react to the kicks. Speaking of kicks, Dober is a southpaw, and his heavy round kicks to orthodox fighters are pants shitters. When they land straight to the liver, no chonies are safe; mild streaks turn into chocolate highways real quick. He’ll have you looking like Justine Kish in no time (IYKYK). Dober works the body with his hands as well, and has a nasty fight-ending overhand left when the hands come down to defend.

Most importantly, Dober is a finisher, having finished eighteen of his twenty-five career wins, twelve by TKO/KO and six by sub. I think both fighters will have long shot at a finish, but Dober has the one-punch fight-changing power that could end it at any moment. Green’s chance to finish will come late after boxing Drew’s ears in for ten or so minutes. Dober averages a solid four and a half significant strikes per minute, but he will probably have to up that a little if he wants to keep up with Green’s pace.

Bust out the Piso Mojado signs and get on the loudspeaker to announce a spill on aisle twelve because Bobby Green (+130) will be dripping value all over the freshly buffered linoleum floor. I’ll take Bobby Green at plus money against anyone. Without any knockdowns or possibly fight-ending strikes landed, it will be hard for Dober to steal rounds against a higher output fighter like Bobby Green. Bobby "Digital" Green via decision. Wax on; wax off.

Cody Brundage vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk

Michal Oleksiejczuk. Try spelling that name three times fast. Here’s another scrap that likely won’t go the distance. Oleksiejczuk is wild. He has both FTAMH (First Team All Moon Howler) and NBB (Nothing But Bombs) honors and has some seriously slept-on striking. And Cody Brundage is an overachiever with sneaky good grappling and fearless striking. If I were in Brundage’s corner, this would be a grappler vs. striker matchup, and there’d be no doubt who the grappler was from the sound of the bell.

Michal’s movement and arm angles are unorthodox, to say the least. He moves with odd off-rhythm cadences like he’s a deaf Jabawokee moving to the beat of his own Skrillex track. He’ll bob and weave and stutter step, and Boot Scootin’ Boogie before unloading his filthy left hand. It’s a televangelist's left hand that will baptize and make you a believer real fookin’ quick. Fundamentals; they’re out the window, like a scorned lover on the sixth story with a roomful of your belongings. But he doesn’t need fundamentals because he throws hammers and pays close attention to the body, using extensive bodywork to set up headshots. And I ain’t talking modeling agencies.

If Oleksiejczuk can keep the fight standing, he will have a massive advantage on the feet, both in power and overall prowess. Michal averages… IT DOESN’T MATTER HOW MANY SIGNIFICANT STRIKES HE AVERAGES!! He throws bombs, stupid bombs, repeat the first-grade bombs, and his value will be in a finish from the first minute until the last.

I don’t know what to make of Cody Brundage. He’s an overachiever who fought the ginormous William Knight (who now competes at heavyweight) on the Contender Series. Google a picture of that man. He lost that fight and his debut against Nick Maximov but rebounded with a first-round submission win over another giant man, Dalcha Lungiambula, and a vicious first-round TKO of Tresean Gore. This guy’s best attribute is that he’s the embodiment of track fifteen on the Slim Shady LP. He won’t hesitate for a second to run into a burning building to save Lemmiwinks. Brundage will stand and bang with wide, heavy punches or use his wrestling/grappling to grind on you and wear you down.

Brundage is 8-2 for his career with four TKO/KO’s and three submissions. He will have the advantage on the mat, but he’ll have to strap on his gasoline boots and walk through hell to get it there. The key for Brundage will be not giving up on his wrestling because I can’t see him lasting very long on the feet with Oleksiejczuk.

Michal will be the sizeable (-285) favorite, and Brundage will be the (+215) stray dog left out in the rain. Brundage is grimy and scrappy and fearless; he could mess around and get a triple-double. If he gets the fight to the ground, he can create sub opportunities with heavy ground and pound. Cody is a solid low-tier Fantasy guy who could flip the night and is worth and look if you’re in a pinch. But I’m rolling with Michal Oleksiejczuk via TKO, round two. On wax.

Merry Christmas or whatever you celebrate, Homies! Check out my Word Press for full issues for every single fookin' card of the year. There's over one hundred past events too. Peace!

Word Press:

FanPosts are user-generated content that do not reflect the editorial opinions of nor its staff.