Derrick Lewis vs. Jailton Almeida
Pops from Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood is back. From the day Jailton Almeida drove his parents home from the hospital, he has been the man of the house, laying down ground rules, "If you're gonna be staying here, you’re ‘gone have to follow some rules: No smokin’ my shit, don’t let me catch you drinkin’ my shit, and if you bring any of them honeys up in here, make sure I holler at them first." Since day one, when he held up the doctor who delivered him by the ankles and slapped his ass, Jailton Almeida has been a man amongst boys. As a kid, he showed up at his own Parent/Teacher conferences, signed his own Progress Reports, and walked behind the curtain at the local video store without showing ID. Now, as a grown man, not much has changed. Almeida is 5-0 in the UFC and still a man amongst boys.
For those familiar with Dune mythology, Jailton Almeida is Shai-Hulud, a giant sandworm that swallows up anything that sets foot on the sands of Arrakis. As soon as his opponents step foot on the Octagon canvas, Jailton Almeida swallows them whole and excretes them in the form of the precious Spice Mélange. Almeida is one of the most dominant ground specialists in the UFC, traveling along the Khamzat and Makhachev spectrums. He is human quicksand; the more you struggle, the deeper the shit you find yourself in. The best way to escape from Jailton Almeida after he shoots a double leg from clear across the cage, picks you up, and slams you is to play dead like a soldier at Gettysburg. Hide under bodies until the sound of mortar fire is replaced with that of squawking carrion birds. When it comes to Almeida’s wrestling, what goes down does not come back up.
Almeida starts every fight the same way: A Coffin Corner punt to the face into a power double. It’s like the Allen Iverson crossover or the Kobe turn-around fade away; even though you know it’s coming, you can’t stop it. Once he has you on the mat, he’s a boa constrictor, slowly squeezing the life out of you as he advances position until he eventually consumes you whole, and the outline of your body is visible in his torso. Almeida’s grappling style is position and submission simultaneously, and he usually doesn’t open up with ground and pound until he has achieved a dominant position like the mount. All roads lead to the mount. And once he has achieved it, Donkey Kong hammer fists rain down until the ref steps in.
So, how do you stop this guy? The short of it is, you don’t. But your best chance is to survive the first round and hope he slows down and the takedown well dries up. Sometimes, Almeida gets impatient and telegraphs his level changes; as he climbs the rankings, the takedowns will become harder to come by, and his stand-up ain’t it ol’ hoss. I ain’t your ol’ hoss, chief... On the feet, Almeida has video game striking, single strikes with a cadence that looks like someone pressing box, circle, square, and triangle randomly. He may be the best wrestler and worst striker in the heavyweight division and light heavyweight division (if he ever drops back down). For his career, Almeida is 19-2 with a one hundred percent finishing rate with seven TKO/KOs and twelve subs.
Curtis Blaydes was Almeida’s original opponent and would have been one of Almeida’s toughest matchups in the division. Instead, the People’s Champ, Derrick Lewis steps in. The problem is, wrestlers to Derrick Lewis are like water to a mogwai, a salad to Lizzo, or a Cardi B music video to Dwight Howard. Bless me, Father, for I am about to sin. This is a terrible fight. I know, it’s blasphemous to say a Derrick Lewis fight is terrible. Other than one or two stinkers in his career, win or lose, all Derrick Lewis fights are wild affairs. But if Sergey Spivak submitted Derrick Lewis in just over three minutes... You know where I’m headed. Lewis rocks a fifty-two percent takedown defense like Salvation Army chonies, while Almeida averages six and a half takedowns per fifteen minutes. Not good.
So, what, is the Black Beast just gonna roll over and let them outline his prone body in chalk? Nah, never that. Copy and paste. That’s the game plan for Lewis. Copy and paste his last performance. He came out against Marcos de Lima like a more agile Jorge Masvidal against Ben Askren. The new UFC logo should by the Derrick Lewis flying knee. Derrick Lewis doesn’t just have a puncher’s chance; he is THE puncher’s chance. Nearing forty career fights, Lewis still has super novas in both hands. When Lewis lands, there is a complete gravitational collapse. Event horizon. The third-dimension folds in on itself, giving way for the creation of a fourth. Never forget how he did Curtis Blaydes. Lewis defended a takedown with a perfectly timed uppercut that left Blaydes asleep with his eyes open. They say, if you die with your eyes open, you deserved it.
And there lies the key for Lewis. Up-the-middle strikes. Knees, uppercuts, snap kicks... Snap kicks!? From Derrick Lewis? Listen, Lewis has a nimble lead leg; it’s light and airy. It’s sneaky deadly. If Lewis can throw a high kick, he can throw a snap kick. Everything Almeida does is predictable and telegraphed. There’s probably never been a greater chance of a ten-second walk-off KO than this fight. If Lewis can time that opening Almeida punt and double leg, he can end this one in a hurry.
You can throw all the stats out the window for this one. The play for Lewis is a TKO/KO, with extra value in the first round. And the play for Almeida is a finish, but the tricky part is deciding between a TKO/KO or submission. Of Lewis’ eleven career L’s, seven were TKO/KOs and two by sub. Ten of Almeida’s twelve career subs came via rear-naked choke and two by arm triangle. Almeida is the massive (-450) favorite, and Lewis is the (+360) live dog. Live dog? Derrick Lewis is always a live dog. Whenever I see a plus number next to Derrick Lewis’ name, I have a Jackson with his name on it.
The bleeding has stopped. The main event-L streak ended at three after going 0-5-1 for the last six. I said Islam Makhachev's left round kick would lead to a highlight reel KO sooner or later, and it turned out to be the former. This one almost feels like a trap pick... Jailton Almeida, aka Pops, via arm-triangle, round one.
Lewis: TKO/KO (+180) Sub (-135) Dec (+2000)
Almeida: TKO/KO (+450) Sub (+3500) Dec (+2000)
Gabriel Bonfim vs. Nicolas Dalby
The Bonfim brothers are MMA’s Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger Twins. Gabriel Bonfim is the Arnold of the two, the bigger, badder of the Twins, and happens to be undefeated with a perfect 15-0 professional record. In addition to a perfect record, no one has successfully made it to the choppa as Gabriel Bonfim has finished all fifteen of his professional dubs with three TKO/KOs and twelve submissions. After a dub on the Contender Series, Bonfim has gone 2-0 to start his UFC career but will be up against the ultimate mouth breather, Nicolas Dalby. Dalby is the UFC’s Billy Beane, a Moneyball fighter who heralds on-base percentage and fundamentals above glamourous moon shots in the upper deck. Don’t let the odds fool you; Nicolas Dalby is a trap fight personified and will be Bonfim’s toughest fight to date.
Gabriel Bonfim is the equivalent of a showroom roadster with all the bells and whistles that can’t pass a smog test. Bonfim’s aesthetics are flawless; the candy paint drips, the white wall Goodrich tires glide on the asphalt, and the peanut butter guts are extra creamy, none of that chunky shit. But under the hood, there are flaws. On the mat, Bonfim is 2xy(x + z) - (xy) =, a problem. He averages nearly five takedowns per fifteen minutes and over seven submissions attempted per fifteen minutes. When Bonfim gets you to the mat, it isn’t long before he’s latched to your neck, and you’re tapping S.O.S. on the mat in Morse Code. Five of his last six fights ended in the first round, and Bonfim won both his UFC bouts in a minute or under via guillotine choke. But like that dweeb in that M. Night Shyamalamalamalan movie sees dead people, I see flaws. And when it comes to striking, Gabriel Bonfim has major flaws.
Bonfim has Power Slap striking. His go-to technique is the check-slap, and, technically, his striking is better suited for Combat Jiu-Jitsu than MMA. Don’t get me wrong, this dude has stupid power, but his technique and fundamentals are lacking. When he throws, he tends to stand up tall in the pocket, and his only real defensive maneuver is the Terror Squad lean back. Combinations are the kryptonite of fighters who use "pulls" as their main defensive technique. They might elude the first strike, but the second and third will always land. Nicolas Dalby is a combination striker, and if he can commit to second and third-level strikes, he will cause Bonfim all kinds of problems on the feet.
Nicolas Dalby is the dude playing the dude disguised as a Sons of Anarchy extra. He knows who he is. He’s a walking Breathe Right strips spokesman who is famous for his fight against Warlley Alves when it sounded like someone dubbed over the live audio with National Geographic tortoise mating calls. My man was out there sounding like he was sleepwalking with sleep apnea. But don’t let any of that fool you; Nick Dalby is a well-rounded fighter with sneaky-good kickboxing and no glaring holes in his game. Dalby is the classic overachiever, the kid who fooks up the curve for everyone else when he aces the pop quiz. On the feet, he has that Big Jingliang energy. He moves like a middleweight Li Jingliang. Dalby writhes and twitches and scratches his neck on his way into the pocket and unloads with awkward, short two to three-punch combos, and his lead leg is filled with helium. His special move is the cross-lead round kick, and if Bonfim can’t get him to the mat consistently, Dalby will have the technical edge on the feet.
Overall, Nicolas Dalby makes fights ugly. He won’t paint a perfect picture, but you can picture him rollin' with the top down in a brand-new Gabriel Bonfim GT if this fight makes it out of the first round. Bonfim has yet to be tested inside the Octagon or in his career. He hasn’t been dragged into the AB-infested shallow waters where the real creeps dwell. The key for Dalby will be his takedown defense. It ain’t great. He has a career sixty-two percent takedown defense, but he is usually good at forcing scrambles and getting back to his feet. The key won’t be shucking off Bonfim’s takedowns as much as it will be getting back to his feet and making Bonfim work to return Dalby to the mat. The longer the fight goes, the better chance Dalby will have of pulling off the upset.
Bonfim will be the prohibited (-550) favorite, and Dalby will be the (+400) neglected dog. I could be wrong, I have been once or tweece in my Weekly KO career, but I think this fight is much closer than the odds suggest. Dalby is 5-1-1 in his second stint in the UFC and is an unassuming tough-out. The biggest knock against him is a lack of finishes; he has yet to finish a fight in the UFC. His value will be in moderate significant strikes as he averages just under four SLpM with a career-high of one hundred noineteen against Warlley Alves two fights ago. The play for Bonfim is a submission. I just hit that MK Ultra Indica and it's got me feeling expialidocious and, dare I say, a little froggy... Nicolas Dalby via decision. Put that ish on wax.
Bonfim: TKO/KO (+225) Sub (+110) Dec (+330)
Dalby: TKO/KO (+1400) Sub (+2800) Dec (+750)
Rodrigo Nascimento vs. Don’Tale Mayes
Cue the John Travolta looking around confused meme. WTF are we doing? How did we get here? A rematch? How is this a thing? How, Sway!? This is a rematch from the year of the great TP famine, which ended with a Rodrigo Nascimento rear-naked choke victory. The world has changed dramatically since the first fight, most would say for the worse, but one thing that hasn’t is the outcome of this fight. Rodrigo’s striking still looks like my abuelo hucking well-thrown chanclas, and Mayes still looks like he’s lost in one when he’s on his back. My man, Don’Tale Mayes, files a police report when he ends up on his back; he turns State’s evidence, starts snitching, singing like a canary as soon as his ass hits the mat.
A brief recap of the first fight: Punch, punch, clinch. Punch, punch, clinch, takedown, and rear-naked choke. On the feet, it was a classic Ball Arena view-level slobber knocker, and on the mat, it was a crime. Nascimento is the more technical kickboxer and uses a Dutch style, punctuating two to three-punch combos with low kicks. And Mayes is mostly a HoJo conference room swinger who just wings long, wide single shots with no real ability to string together combinations. Nas averages just over four SLpM to Mayes’ just under three and a half. But the most consequential stat is Mayes’ fifty-six percent takedown defense. In the first fight, Nas was two for two on takedown attempts, and the second one led to an immediate submission.
I will say this for Don’Tale Mayes: he has gotten better since the first fight and is coming off a TKO dub against Andrei Arlovski. I know Arlovski is fifteen years past his prime, but he is generally a tough fight. But I think you can copy and paste the first fight’s results here ( ). Rodrigo Nascimento via rear-naked choke, round two. On wax.
Mayes: TKO/KO (+450) Sub (+2000) Dec (+380)
Nascimento: TKO/KO (+500) Sub (+200) Dec (+240)
Caio Borralho vs. Abusupiyan Magomedov
Abus... Abus... Abus... Abus... Abus. Say his name in the mirror five times, and he shall appear. Abusupiyan, aka the Candyman, is back. It seems but a couple of months ago that Sean Strickland, aka the new Champ, was rocking boots that were made for shit-kicking, and shit-kicking is just what they did. Strickland kicked the shit outta Abus Magomedov. The Candyman turned into a candy-ass real quick. With every passing minute, Abus went from Abus to Avan to Acar to Abike to Apedestrian to Aloss. It turns out the Candyman has no gas tank. If you can run about a block or two, you can escape the Candyman. But old shit’s stoppin', and new shit’s poppin'. Abus will be facing another tough task against the Lyoto Machida Ghola, Caio Borralho. This fight won’t be any easier for Abus; if he doesn’t come correct, he’ll go from urban legend to Urban Outfitters security real quick.
See, what had happened was... Abus’ output wrote checks his gas tank couldn’t cash in the Strickland fight. He came out teeping and round kicking up a category five storm. Abus came out on fire like Aljo did in the first Petr Yan fight and instituted a pace he couldn’t keep. By the two-minute warning... of the first round... Abus was done. Gassed. Strickland busted out the Captain America shield and deflected nearly everything Abus threw at him, then marched him down like a 90s slasher villain until Abus was in the corner screaming for help like Wendy Torrance.
Abus has excellent striking, and had he been able to pace himself better, he could have caused Strickland some problems. Length is Abus’ best attribute; he uses every inch of his reach and throws tight combinations for having arms as long as his. He also has excellent kicks and kind of reminds me of Magomed Ankalaev on the feet. Stand-up-wise, Abus is a more dangerous striker than Caio Borralho, but that won’t matter if he can’t stay on his feet. Borralho has suffocating top control and Jansport back control. With Abus’s moped gas tank, if this fight ends up on the mat, a submission will be all but a formality.
Ciao Borralho looks like a yoga cult leader. Heaven’s Fence. But don’t let that fool you. He’s a GMO Lyoto Machida with that little Bill Gates sticker. On the feet, he uses a bladed Karate stance with in/out movement and short two-punch blitzes, and on the mat, he's a grappling Harry Potter. Borralho’s special move is the fade-away flying knee; he will retreat when under attack to encourage the opponent to extend combinations and then explode into a flying knee. It’s a similar setup that Sergio Ramos uses for the spinning back elbow. The biggest hole in Borralho’s game is his stand-up defense. He uses a swap meet Philly Shell like he has been watching too many Sean Strickland highlights. He’s like my kids trying to speak with fake Australian accents after watching Bluey. Borralho’s main defenses are "pulls" and leaky shoulder rolls. And that’s a deadly combination like Big L and 2Pac. The real test for Borralho will be when he can’t rely on his ground game and has to win a fight on the feet.
But on the mat, this guy has some of the best back control in the game. Aljo, Oliveira, Borralho; Ciao is in the same pantheon as the great back controllers. His body triangle is Alcatraz; there’s no escape. They use Borralho’s body triangle to transport the world’s most dangerous criminals like Con Air. Borralho is 14-1 for his career with four TKO/KOs and four subs. The big knock against him is that he is a position-over-submission grappler and doesn’t hunt for subs or create damage. But he is coming in off a second-round sub of the very underrated Michal Oleksiejczuk. Fantasy-wise, Borralho’s value is in control time with a very good shot at a late sub. We saw Abus gas in two minutes just a couple of months ago; Borralho can grind him to a stump on the mat and find a sub when Abus fades Abus will be the higher output striker, averaging five and a half SLpM to Borralho’s just over two and a half.
If I’m not mistaken, Abus was a favorite against Sean Strickland... my how the mighty have fallen. Abus will be the (+210) mangy dog, and Borralho will be the (-260) favorite. Abus can win this fight on the feet, but he will be fighting within a time window, and that’s always a huge gamble. The fight favors the guy who is working with a full fifteen minutes. But if his takedown defense holds up long enough for extended minutes, he can KO Borralho. Abus is 25-5 with fourteen TKO/KOs and six subs; that’s a lot of finishes. But I’m rolling with Borralho’s ground game. Ciao Borralho via rear-naked choke, round two.
Borralho: TKO/KO (+400) Sub (+165) Dec (+215)
Mogomedov: TKO/KO (+500) Sub (+1400) Dec (+800)
Rodolfo Vieira vs. Armen Petrosyan
I’m beginning to feel like a Jitz God, Jitz God. All my people from the front to the back nod, back nod. The Jitz God is back. Rodolfo Vieira is one of the most decorated Jiu-Jitsu World Champions of all time, and he’s built like Shannon Sharpe. This fight will be as grappler vs. striker as you can get. Armen Petrosyan is a nasty kickboxer whose default setting straight out the box is to throw combinations. Both fighters are wack in the other’s area of expertise, and this one will come down to if Vieira has worse striking or if Petrosyan has worse grappling.
On the mat, Rodolfo Vieira has a Tremors ground game. Similar to Jailton Almeida, Rodolfo Vieira burrows under the mat and swallows fighters whole. For his career, Vieira is 9-2 with one TKO/KO and eight subs. They put airbrushed pictures of your face on t-shirts and paint murals of you on the side of the neighborhood Food-4-Less when Vieira gets you to the mat. The end is near as soon as one cheek touches the mat.
BUT (huge but), Vieira has major flaws in his game. He has Richard Simmons cardio to go along with his Conan physique. Rodolfo is the Jumpman logo, the Jerry West NBA logo of Missy Elliott one-minute men. And he doesn’t have the striking to set up his takedowns. If he can’t get you down with a naked double leg, he ain’t getting you down. Vieira went zero for twenty on takedown attempts against Chris Curtis and got boxed up on the feet. When the takedown well runs dry, Vieira is up Shits Creek, with paddles this deep; he’s still gonna sink. I checked the game manual, and "jab" and "cross" are the only attacks Vieira has on the feet. When he gets stuck on his feet, Vieira is like Arnold in Total Recall when he loses his helmet on Mars. Striking is like a different planet without an atmosphere for Vieira.
If this was a kickboxing match, it wouldn’t be sanctioned. Armen Petrosyan is a high-output striker with quick three-shot AR burst hand combinations and kicks to match. The maturation of the leg kick: It began with the above-the-knee leg kick, then evolved into the more effective low calf kick, and is now evolving to the inside low calf kick. Jonathan Martinez destroyed Adrian Yanez with the inside calf kick, and in general, we’re starting to see the inside calf kick make a resurgence. The meaty part of the calf, the part the Police K-9 latches on to when you run, is exposed to the inside calf kick from opposite stances. Petrosyan attacks the inside leg and then follows with quick 1-2s. If he can get to Vieira’s legs early, the fight will be over before it starts.
But absolutely none of that matters if Vieira can’t keep the fight standing. My neighbor’s Halloween decorations have better takedown defense than Petrosyan's; he didn’t have to put them up this year. Grandpeople in the shower have better takedown defense than Petrosyan. Petro rocks a thirty-six percent takedown defense like a JC Penny suit. Also, Petrosyan has the bad habit of going to all fours to get back to his feet. Cue that Snoop Dogg "Doggystyle" album. If Petrosyan exposes his back, Vieira won’t hesitate to violate him.
The numbers: Petrosyan is also 9-2 with six TKO/KOs and is 3-1 in the UFC. He averages six SLpM to Viera’s under three and a half, but Vieira averages over three and a half takedowns per fifteen minutes to Armen’s zero. This is basically a Vegas pick ‘em, with Vieira returning (-115) and Petrosyan returning (-105). The play is a finish for Vieira, and I kind of like a decision for Petrosyan. A finish is definitely in the cards, especially late, but Vieira managed to make it to the final bell against Chris Curtis, and Curtis is a more dangerous puncher than Petrosyan. And all three of Petrosyan's promotional dubs came by decision. I don’t trust this pick any more than I do a fart after eating a burrito supreme. Armen Petrosyan via decision. On wax.
Vieira: TKO/KO (+800) Sub (+175) Dec (+600)
Petrosyan: TKO/KO (+240) Sub (+2000) Dec (+275)
Vinc Pichel vs. Ismael Bonfim
The Danny Devito of the Bonfim Twins is back and will be facing the Tom Selleck of MMA, Vinc Pichel. Ismael Bonfim reminds me of a mini-Shogun Rua when Shogun was in the Pride ring curb stomping MFs. And Vinc Pichel is a Magnum P.I. old soul, a throwback to hard times, a Grapes of Wrath dust bowl survivor who is built tougher than BDSM leather. This one has the potential to steal the show on the main card and will be a classic new-school vs. old-school matchup.
Vinc Pichel was once attacked by a grizzly bear in the woods, but instead of being eaten ass-first, as grizzly bears are wont to do, Pichel was left for dead. Pichel survived the attack, nursed himself back to health, found his way back to civilization, and wasted no time jumping back into the Octagon. Pichel is a grimy MF with a Ned Flanders glorious mustache who has quietly amassed a 7-3 UFC record. "From Hell" Pichel is a human whetstone; he grinds you down to a nub over the course of fifteen minutes until you start showing holes like old chonies. When I see Pichel fight, I see a combination of Cub Swanson and "Wavey" Davey Grant. Pichel has awkward striking and uses slick stance pivots to close the distance and counter-strike. Arm angles are the key to Pichel’s striking. Like Davey Grant, Pichel throws wide punches from odd angles that are difficult to defend. But where Pichel really shines is in the clinch. This dude wants to look you in your eyes and watch the life drain out of you while he chips away at you with knees and elbows. Clinch work will be the key for Pichel against Bonfim. If he gets stuck trading back and forth with that little Lord of the Flies savage, it will only be a matter of time until Bonfim lands a fight-ender.
Ismael Bonfim got out-savaged his last time out against Benoit Saint-Denis, which ended a thirteen-fight winning streak. Bonfim is barely tall enough to ride the little train that pulls kids around the mall but don’t let that fool you. You can call it a Bonaparte complex, but this guy fights like he genuinely hates his opponents. He’s like Anthony Smith yelling at Johnny Walker in the middle of the fight that Walker was trying to kill his family to hype himself up. Bonfim wings nothing but heavy little punches from chest level and punctuates wild exchanges with flying knees. In his debut, he rode the Terrance McKinney lightning and went on to KO McKinney in the second round with the aforementioned flying knee. Hooks and Ladders. That’s the name of the game for Bonfim; he’s all hooks and needs a ladder to reach your head. But when he does... he leaves one hundred square miles covered in ash like a level in Silent Hill. His game plan against Pichel will be to get inside and trade hooks while avoiding any tie-ups. Pichel might have more wrinkles in his striking, but Bonfim has a massive power advantage.
Bonfim will be the massive (-450) favorite, and Pichel will be the old mut put out to pasture at (+360). Pichel just hit the big four-oh, forty years old, and looked to have lost a step in his last fight against Mark O. Madsen. Vinc’s Fantasy value will be in moderate striking stats; he averages just over three and a half SLpM to Bonfim’s nearly five with a career-high of seventy-one. Also, in ten UFC bouts, he only has one finish, and that came in 2017. Bonfim’s value will be in volume and a finish; he is 19-4 with noine TKO/KOs and four subs. In seventeen career fights, Pichel has only been finished twice, one by TKO/KO and one by sub. I love me some Magnum P.I., but I have to roll with the young buck on this one. Ismael Bonfim via TKO, round two.
Bonfim: TKO/KO (+130) Sub (+400) Dec (+175)
Pichel: TKO/KO (+1400) Sub (+2500) Dec (+600)
Happy Fight Night, Homies!