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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
UFC 195 kicks off the 2016 schedule on Saturday night, and after the massive year that was 2015 we're starting off right with the main event between Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit. This fight brings two of the most exciting and violent finishers in the sport together in for what should be a hell of a fight. The rest of the main card looks to be action packed as well, with several significant finishers scheduled for pay-per-view. Let's run it down.
Robbie Lawler vs. Carlos Condit (Welterweight Championship)
Lawler's resurgence since coming back to the UFC came seemingly out of nowhere, but it's been a fantastic story to watch play out. The initial winning streak to earn his shot at the title against Johny Hendricks was great, his two fights with Hendricks were fairly epic, and his title defense against Rory MacDonald was the best fight of 2015. He can be relentless with his attack, and he's got one hell of a chin. Still, he's been beatable throughout his career, in some part due to lack of motivation as things were going the wrong way, and in part because of spreading himself thin. With full fight camps, smarter training philosophy, and renewed dedication, he's become the man to beat in this weight class, and it's not going to be an easy fight for Condit.
"The Natural Born Killer" is back in a title fight for the first time since his loss to Georges St-Pierre to unify the titles in November of 2012. He added a close decision loss to Johny Hendricks, and blew out his knee against Tyron Woodley in a fight he wasn't winning through a round and a half, but destructive wins over Martin Kampmann and most recently Thiago Alves are reminders of what he's capable of in that cage. He's got a great range striking game, but he's extremely dangerous in close with his knees and elbows, and he's capable of a relentless pace when called for. He's also a very intelligent fighter, and as he showed against Nick Diaz he can avoid someone trying to put hands on him.
Lawler's more of a brawler than Diaz, and can press inside in ways that Diaz just doesn't typically attack. He can catch Condit, just the same as he can be caught, and that's what makes this fight intriguing. This is going to be about which fighter can do more damage more often during the fight. Condit's got a possible edge should the fight hit the ground, as his submission game is underutilized but still quite good. I don't necessarily see it getting there, but should they hit the mat Condit will have an advantage. Regardless, we're more likely to see them throw bombs at one another until one of them goes down.
PREDICTION: Condit by TKO in the third round
Andrei Arlovski vs. Stipe Miocic (Heavyweight)
Arlovski is 10-1 with one no contest in his last 12 fights dating back to mid-2011. He's another fighter who's been on a resurgent run since returning to the UFC, and he's on the edge of a title fight if he can beat Miocic. He's a very good boxer with big KO power, and though he ran through a series of knockout losses, his chin's held up in this current run.
Miocic has been good through his UFC run so far, with his only loss since 2012 a close decision that could have easily gone his way. A TKO loss to Stefan Struve stands out as a considerable negative, especially given the power Arlovski possesses, and his possibly signature performance in defeat against Junior dos Santos may have had more to do with how poor dos Santos has looked since having his soul taken by Cain Velasquez.
Miocic has the power to hurt Arlovski, but I'm not sure if he's got the pace-setting in him nor the overwhelming attack perhaps necessary to avoid getting rushed by the former UFC Heavyweight Champion. If Struve could put Miocic out, Arlovski absolutely can, and though both are very different fighters in that respect, I think Arlovski's in line for something closer to his Bigfoot Silva and Travis Browne wins.
PREDICTION: Arlovski by TKO in the second round
Lorenz Larkin vs. Albert Tumenov (Welterweight)
Taking the Johny Hendricks fight out of the equation, which was later avenged, Lorenz Larkin is the last man to beat Robbie Lawler. The former light heavyweight dropped to 170 lbs. this time last year, and he's been all the better for it after two highly impressive performances in 2015. He's a dynamic striker with great kicks and finishing ability when he's got someone hurt, and historically his weakness has been strong grapplers who can stifle his game.
Tumenov won't be putting on that gameplan, as he's a very good striker in his own right with eleven wins by (T)KO. He's coming to a firefight and he knows it, and these two are going to try to prove that they've got the better chin, and that they're the better striker in all facets. It's going to be fast paced, violent, and entertaining, but it's a bit of a toss up on just which one of them finishes this off. A Larkin win will give him consideration for a top ten opponent next time out, and a continued climb up the ladder could eventually land him in the cage with Lawler once again.
PREDICTION: Larkin by TKO in the second round
Diego Brandao vs. Brian Ortega (Featherweight)
Brandao's a buzzsaw, and he's got the striking and grappling combination to beat a lot of the fighters he faces. However, he's got a clear ceiling, as evidenced by his losses to Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. He's wild as all hell in his striking attacks, but he utilizes speed and power well to hurt opponents, taking advantage of openings on the ground if and when they present themselves.
Ortega is a very intriguing featherweight at 24-years-old, though a drostanolone failure out of his debut win in 2014 leaves a disappointing cloud over his game. Still, he's undefeated, he's got really slick submission skills, and is capable of stopping his opponents with strikes as well, as he did to Thiago Tavares in June of last year. Ortega is absolutely the better prospect, but it doesn't necessarily mean he's going to out-work Brandao. That's entirely possible, and Brandao could find himself once again on the wrong end of someone's impressive performance. If Brandao instead pulls off an impressive victory, that will be a testament to the turnaround he's made since losing to McGregor, but I'm not holding my breath for that.
PREDICTION: Ortega by decision
Abel Trujillo vs. Tony Sims (Lightweight)
Trujillo's last fight didn't end in the best way, as the referee called a stop to the fight with Gleison Tibau thinking Trujillo was out cold from a submission when that was clearly not the case. It's likely to be overturned to a no contest anyway following Tibau's drug test failures, but he hasn't looked all that great in two straight fights.
Sims enters having split his two UFC bouts thus far, most recently dropping a decision to Olivier Aubin-Mercier. He knocked out Steve Montgomery in his UFC debut to showcase those skills, but had a tougher time with the grappler in a fight that wasn't all that great.
Trujillo's got power and reckless striking abandon at times, and Sims could very well thrive in that style of fight. He's stopped opponents in each of his 12 victories, ten of them by (T)KO. He's a force in this fight, and if Trujillo tries to out-work him, he could wind up out even faster. Regardless, I think Sims takes this fight to bounce back.
PREDICTION: Sims by TKO in the first round.
-Thanks for checking out the preview! We'll have live round by round coverage of the event tonight.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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