UFC 193 is the second UFC event in a proper stadium, and will provide quite the spectacle on Saturday night whether they beat UFC 129’s record of 55,000 in attendance or not. Ronda Rousey’s the bona fide top star for the UFC at this moment, and there are going to be tons of eyes on this fight to find out whether her dominance continues, or whether she’s finally upended by the experienced and durable Holm. Beyond that, Joanna Jedrzejczyk seems poised to benefit by association in the co-main event, with a potential showcase fight against challenger Valerie Letourneau, and fans in Australia get a second go around to what was one of 2013’s craziest fights in the rematch between Mark Hunt and Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva.
Let’s get to the main card!
RONDA ROUSEY VS. HOLLY HOLM (WOMEN’S BANTAMWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP)
This fight just isn’t hard to break down. Holm is a very good boxer, and she’s turned into a good kickboxer as well. She doesn’t have a ton of power, but she’s got some, and she has superior ability to keep herself out of range of her opponent’s strikes. She’s got fast hands, heavy kicks, and excellent movement.
It still doesn’t matter.
Ronda Rousey isn’t the striker Holm is, no matter how much her and Edmond Tarverdyan want to argue otherwise, but she absolutely doesn’t have to be. She might try to prove she can lay hands on Holm early, but she’s got such a massive, massive edge in the ground game that it would be insane of her not to bring it there. Once on the ground, there isn’t anything Holm could have possibly done in training to be ready for what’s coming.
It’s entirely possible Rousey tries to play striker for a bit, and Holm can have success there for a time. Holm’s also got the movement and defensive abilities to make it hard for Rousey to get on her early. That really just serves to delay the inevitable.
In a 25-minute fight, Holm’s got the ability to survive for some of it. I simply can’t envision her stopping Ronda Rousey, and so it simply becomes a matter of how long she survives before getting brought to the ground and having her arm taken off. I don’t think Rousey stops Holm with strikes, but I have no doubt in her ability to submit Holm just as she’s done to so many past foes. If it happens any other way than Rousey by armbar, I’ll be legitimately surprised.
PREDICTION: Rousey by submission in the first round
JOANNA JEDRZEJCZYK VS. VALERIE LETOURNEAU (WOMEN’S STRAWWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP)
Joanna Champion has been one of the best additions to the more-talked-about-UFC-fighters slate this year, and this is likely to be yet another strong showing for the monster Polish title holder.
A former Muay Thai competitor, Jedrzejczyk’s striking game is simply unmatched at 115 lbs right now. She’s got such a vicious mindset in that cage, and she’s got the speed and power to put together a relentless assault on anyone. She’s also got excellent takedown defense, and is more than capable of keeping fights standing to implement her game.
Letourneau is a durable competitor with a good striking game and capable grappling skills, but where she is able to hang in there and score points against most, she doesn’t have an overwhelming attack that significantly affects her opponents. She’s going to do her best to beat Jedrzejczyk to the punch, but like the Champion’s last several fights, that’s unlikely to happen.
Expect violence to beget further violence, and for a bloody Letourneau to eventually succumb to the onslaught headed her way.
PREDICTION: Jedrzejczyk by TKO in the second round
MARK HUNT VS. ANTONIO “BIGFOOT” SILVA (HEAVYWEIGHT)
It’s been nearly two years since these two beat the ever-loving crap out of one another for 25 minutes in Brisbane, and they’ve taken different yet similar paths back to face each other again. Hunt would score a KO over Roy Nelson after that bout and get a shot at Fabricio Werdum for the Interim Title, but he lost that fight, and got stopped again by Stipe Miocic in May. Bigfoot served a suspension over testosterone, then looked awful in two KO losses to Andrei Arlovski and Frank Mir upon his return. He did bounce back in August with a win over Soa Palelei, but it’s clear both are more vulnerable in 2015 than they may have been two years ago.
With that in play, I sincerely doubt this is a repeat of that first fight, as it just doesn’t seem likely that both will make it through five rounds intact. While Hunt has gone down in two straight, those losses have come to fighters who are competing at a significantly higher level than Silva, and he’s not necessarily a similar fighter to Palelei.
Despite Silva’s win in August, and the fact that Hunt lost in May, I trust Hunt’s chin much more than Bigfoot’s, and I think this time he finishes this one off.
PREDICTION: Hunt by KO in the second round
ROBERT WHITTAKER VS. URIAH HALL (MIDDLEWEIGHT)
“TUF: Nations” winner Whittaker has looked great since moving up to middleweight, knocking out both Clint Hester and Brad Tavares. Hall, who entered the UFC out of The Ultimate Fighter himself, has had a very uneven career, but enters this fight a late replacement off a fantastic comeback win over Gegard Mousasi in September.
This is an interesting matchup; Hall has tons of power and is a talented striker, but he’s been his own worst enemy mentally throughout his run. Meanwhile, Whittaker gets to fight in front of a home crowd with significant momentum on his side.
Both fighters have the striking abilities to finish this bout; Hall delivers some more unique offense, while Whittaker can be a buzz-saw with his pressure and instinctive attack. At the same time, Hall was getting beat handily in that first round against Mousasi before catching him in the second, and at times leaves himself open to counters and getting out-pointed. With the short notice nature of the bout, and Whittaker on home turf, I don’t have faith in Hall to perform up to his best.
PREDICTION: Whittaker by decision
STEFAN STRUVE VS. JARED ROSHOLT (HEAVYWEIGHT)
Struve scored a win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in August to keep his career alive, but it’s been quite a while since he’s had a really impressive performance. Rosholt is a smothering force at heavyweight who nevertheless hasn’t done much to impress.
Rosholt’s wrestling is essentially his entire game. He’s a wrestler, he wants to get his opponents to the ground, and he doesn’t have a massive amount of tools to work with once he gets them there. It leads to clear decisions, but doesn’t often lead to much in the way of damage.
Struve’s ground game is solid, and he’s got some decent submissions to complement his power. His inability to utilize his reach with effective striking has been the biggest issue with his overall game to date, but he’s made some strides in that department while out of action due to a heart ailment.
Of the two, Struve’s still got a higher potential upside, but he can’t get taken down over and over and hope to win here. Still, if he avoids the ground and utilizes that reach, he’s the better fighter.
PREDICTION: Struve by decision
[Photo (c) Jayne Kamin-Oncea via USA Today Sports]