UFC 206: Lightning Picks

After a long journey, UFC 206 is finally upon us. The first PPV in Canada since UFC 186 went from being a lackluster card to a quality Pay-Per-View, until Daniel Cormier was forced to pull out of the main event due to injury. We were left with a bizarre but still highly entertaining set of fights. Sadly, I was unable to sit down and really work on the fight analysis for the main and co-main (my apologies). That said, I thought I would try something different and quickly give you my predictions for the biggest fights of the evening. Like always, let me know what you think. Without further ado, let's get to it:

Lando Vannata vs. John Makdessi

In the Fight Pass prelims headliner, "Groovy" meets "The Bull". Before making his octagon debut, I didn't know much about Lando Vannata (8-1 MMA, 0-1 UFC). But his short notice performance against top Lightweight contender certainly made me a fan. Even though he came up on the shorter side of the stick, he showed that he is an extremely talented martial artist. This Saturday, he'll take on Canadian John Makdessi (14-5 MMA, 7-5 UFC). Stylistically, I love this bout. Makdessi represents the ultimate litmus test. Experienced and highly technical. If Lando can come out on top, he'll solidify his spot as one of the most exciting prospects of the company. I believe he'll get it done.

Prediction: Lando Vannata

Doo Ho Choi vs Cub Swanson

Moving into main card territory, Doo Ho Choi (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and Cub Swanson (23-7, 8-3 UFC) will meet in a featherweight bout that could easily earn the FOTN nod. In many ways, Doo Ho Choi is a Korean, right-handed Conor McGregor. His boxing is incredibly crisp and powerful. At only 25 years of age, he has a bright future ahead of him. Nevertheless, Cub Swanson is the perfect party pooper. A well-rounded contender who is yet to have a boring fight, he could possibly stop Choi's momentum. With both men sitting on winning streaks, neither competitor can afford the loss. This is a tough one to call, but I believe this will be reminiscing of Guida vs. Pettis, with the veteran managing use his unorthodox movement and wrestling to get his hand raised.

Prediction: Cub Swanson

Tim Kennedy vs. Kelvin Gastelum

Following a failed attempt to make 170 in order to battle Cowboy at UFC 205, Kelvin Gastelum  (12-2 MMA, 7-2 UFC)  returns to the Middleweight division when he meets Tim Kennedy (18-5 MMA, 3-1 UFC). Here is another tough one to call. Gastelum has dangerous hands and he's incredibly game. That said, Kennedy has a massive size advantage on him. In many ways, this feels like a small light heavyweight fighting a big welterweight. Overall, I believe Kennedy will come out on top, despite being out of action since September 2014.

Prediction: Tim Kennedy

Matt Brown vs. Donald Cerrone

The evening's co-feature (a.k.a. The Clash of the Frail Livers) will see Donald Cerrone (31-7 MMA, 18-4 UFC) and Matt Brown (20-15 MMA, 13-9 UFC) meet in a welterweight fight that promises to be anything but uneventful. This is the pick I'm the most confident about. While "The Immortal" is 1-4 in his last 5, Cerrone is on a three-win streak, picking up a "Performance of the Night" bonus in each occasion. While Brown's constant pressure could give, I think Cowboy will ultimately leave Toronto with the victory.

Prediction: Donald Cerrone

Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis

UFC 206s main event will feature a crucial fight for the Featherweight division between Max Holloway (16-3 MMA, 12-3 UFC) and former Lightweight champ Anthony Pettis (19-5 MMA, 6-4 UFC). As you probably heard, Pettis failed to make weight, which makes him ineligible to win the belt. That said, Holloway will become the interim champ if he manages to defeat Anthony. Which just happens to be the result I'm predicting. Now, Pettis could always land a big kick that finishes the fight, but Holloway is excellent at managing distance to stay away from trouble. Furthermore, he is able to make valid adjustments from round-to-round looking to exploit his opponent's deficiencies. I believe "Blessed" will ride his way to a decision victory, obtaining the gold that has eluded him for the past couple of years.

Prediction: Max Holloway

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