Sunday, September 25, 2022

UFC Sacramento Predictions: De Randamie vs. Ladd

UFC Sacramento Confidence Level Scale

1: Gun to the head, forced to choose 

2: Minimum confidence

3-4: A small level of confidence

5-6: Significantly clearer path to victory for one person.

7 – Strong confidence.

8-9: Extremely confident.

10 – Bulletproof Confidence, barring freak occurrence

Marvin Vettori (12-4-1) vs. Cezar Ferreira (13-7)

The UFC Sacramento main card will kick off with Marvin Vettori looking to avoid losing his second straight fight when he takes on UFC vet Cezar “Mutante” Ferreira. Vettori is coming off a USADA suspension and hasn’t competed since April of last year in a bout against Israel Adesanya. On paper, nobody has come closer to defeating Israel Adesanya than him, as Vettori barely lost the fight via split decision. So is that an indicator of what Vettori is capable of and what Cezar Ferreira has awaiting him? Probably not.

But if so, Vettori should look to not get overzealous and explode haphazardly towards Ferreira, otherwise he’ll find himself fending off takedowns instead of keeping the fight standing, where he has the best opportunity to win. Vettori has faster hands than Ferreira, so relying on counterstriking within a close distance is the way to go for him.

Cezar Ferreira should have the cardio advantage here, which could win him the fight even if Vettori gets off to a fast start. No one knows what Vettori will look like coming off of his USADA suspension, and Ferreira will enter the fight as the superior grappler and has the two most likely outcomes for the bout: submission victory or unanimous decision. Either way, cardio, grappling, and limiting mistakes is what should win the fight for Cezar Ferreira this Saturday.

Prediction: Cezar Ferreira

Confidence Level: 5/10

Karl Roberson (7-2) vs. Wellington Turman (15-2)

Since debuting in the UFC following his Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series appearance, Karl Roberson has a .500 record in the promotion at 2-2. Roberson does have good power, which can sometimes seem higher than it is when he is brawling. He doesn’t play cat and mouse but relies on speed to close the distance without much technique or bothering to throw in combination. Roberson has a tendency to get wild from time to time and still looks a bit green, which can be expected of someone with only nine professional fights. Roberson could have benefited from some more fight experience prior to coming to the UFC. He has no impressive combat background to compensate for the lack of experience. He went 0-3 as a pro kickboxer and only has three amateur fights. But you can’t expect someone to turn down an opportunity at the big show, even if it is too soon. Roberson’s record will probably end up having more losses on it than his skill level would indicate five years from now. And in the case of Wellington Turman, I do believe this will be one of those losses.

Wellington Turman sometimes can fight with ego and stand and bang for longer than he should, which would be a bad idea against Karl Roberson, but not one he can’t survive. Turman is a tough cat and has never been KO/TKOed before. If Roberson gets wild with him, Turman could very well have his left hook cocked and ready for his opponent. Turman’s offense is sound both in grappling and in the standup, but it’s his defense that is suspect. If Roberson wins, it will be by KO/TKO, and I can envision that. But I envision Turman’s grappling advantage, overhand right, and chin to be the biggest factors that will lead to a successful UFC debut.

Prediction: Wellington Turman

Confidence Level: 4/10

Josh Emmett (14-2) vs. Mirsad Bektic (13-1)

We’ve got ourselves a fun featherweight bout here with two ranked featherweights locking up, both looking to build on their latest wins. For Emmett, he’ll try to continue riding the momentum from his victory over Michael Johnson at UFC Philadelphia, and Bektic will be striving to make it three in a row and continue climbing the featherweight rankings in the process. Josh Emmett has clean striking, underrated movement, and is a very tough man to finish, which is a trait that is very valuable against a powerhouse like Bektic. But Emmett is generally good at avoiding and, when failing, eating shots, so it will be interesting to see how he deals with Bektic’s dangerous striking.

Though Bektic is the superior striker, he is also a better grappler. In my eyes, he’s simply the better fighter. There’s a cliché that’s going around nowadays where fighters always say, “I’m better than my opponent everywhere.” It’s pretty much uttered by someone at least once a fight card. And in the case of Mirsad Bektic and Josh Emmett, I believe that to be true for Bektic. Take nothing away from Emmett, but Bektic is faster, has superior shot selection, and is a better athlete, striker, and grappler than Emmett.

One thing to look out for is the sudden shift in outcome. Both fighters have experienced this shift firsthand, but landed on opposite sides of it. In Bektic’s case, it was two years ago when what appeared to be a dominant unanimous decision victory suddenly morphed into him being KOed by Darren Elkins late in the final round. Out of 20 UFC fights, Elkins has only two KO/TKOs due to striking, and Mirsad Bektic was one of them. And one thing I can tell you about Josh Emmett is that he generally hits a lot harder than Darren Elkins.

Josh Emmett demonstrated this when he was on his way to losing a unanimous decision to Michael Johnson in his most recent bout, only for Emmett to deliver a highlight-reel KO with less than a minute remaining in the fight. When you put those two cases together, what we can learn is that regardless of how the first two rounds may look, it isn’t over until it’s over. But barring such a sudden turn of events, I still believe this is clearly Bektic’s fight to lose.

Prediction: Mirsad Bektic

Confidence Level: 8/10

Urijah Faber (34-10) vs. Ricky Simon (15-1)

Uriah Faber will look to prove that he is still able to compete with the new breed of MMA lions when he takes on the young, uber-athletic Ricky Simon in the co-main event. Coming out of retirement in a co-main event slot in your hometown will be a very emotional experience for Faber, but he is a veteran who has competed in enumerable high-pressure situations, from title fights to grudge matches to everything in between. One thing about this fight is that it is far from gimmicky. He isn’t being paired in a “legend’s match” without any real implications on the rankings nor is he in a money fight. He is fighting a young, hungry, 26-year-old instead, which is exactly why he is going to lose.

Urijah Faber is 40 years of age. The “California Kid” is now a middle-aged fighter who has not competed in years, and that is simply the harsh reality of the matter. This is Simon’s fight to lose. His wrestling background and ability should be enough to negate what has been historically Faber’s greatest strength and most reliable escape route: his grappling. If the fight stays standing, and even if it does go to the mat, I believe you will see a glaring gap in athleticism on full display and that it will be Simon’s speed and aggression that will likely earn him a unanimous decision victory over Faber. That said, Faber did win his last fight, so we do not know for sure how he will look three years later. But I’m expecting a fight that will look quite similar to his unanimous decision loss to Jimmie Rivera in 2016, if not worse for Faber.

Prediction: Ricky Simon

Confidence Level: 7.5/10

Germaine de Randamie (8-3) vs. Aspen Ladd (8-0)

There are two problems with considering this fight a classic grappler vs. striker matchup. For one, I do not feel comfortable classifying Ladd as a “grappler” just yet. And two, I am far from convinced that Ladd will approach the fight in such a way, even though it is blatantly her best path to victory here.

The two things I expect to be tested and revealed most in this bout are Aspen Ladd’s chin and her fight IQ. Aspen Ladd has strong body locks and is a very powerful woman who certainly can take the fight to the mat at any moment, but she has not shown a consistent ability to get technical, traditional takedowns, i.e, single legs, doubles, or chain wrestling. This is very problematic because the striking gap between the two fighters  is so massive that she will need more tools to take the fight to the mat than just brute strength. In the past, this has worked for her because even if she eats a few strikes, it was all worth it in the end when she muscles her opponent down to the canvas and unleashes some hellacious ground-and-pound. But she has yet to eat the type of shots I expect her to eat from Germaine de Randamie while coming forward.

Ladd is yet to be dropped or TKO/KOed, and even when she is hit flush, she seems to take it in stride in almost Jessica Andrade-esque fashion. One thing about Ladd is she is patient on the feet. She does not rush the takedown. She lets it come naturally. And even if she decided to urgently seek the takedown here, I do not believe she has the speed or technical takedown ability to close the distance without at least suffering some brutal consequences first.

Furthermore, Germaine de Randamie’s takedown defense has improved from when she first entered the UFC. So Ladd may not be successful on her first attempt even if she gets a strong body lock or executes a well-timed entry. If Ladd’s chin is able to withstand de Randamie’s strikes, I do believe she will be able to eventually get de Randamie down. And if there is one gap greater than Randamie’s striking advantage over Ladd, it’s Ladd’s ground advantage over Randamie.

If Ladd gets de Randamie down, I’m expecting either a ground-and-pound or submission finish in that same round. But going off of past performances, I just see Ladd playing it cool, patient, and nonchalant while de Randamie is teeing off on her face, and I do not believe Ladd will be able to implement her ground game because of the overwhelming skill and experience advantage that de Randamie possesses on the feet.

Prediction: Germaine de Randamie

Confidence Level: 5.5/10

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