Welcome to The Brain vs. The Heart. Everyone has that internal battle with themselves about which fighter you think will win vs. which fighter you actually want to win. The Brain vs The Heart takes you on a journey inside the mind (and heart) of IAMMA to tackle the battle head-on. The card we’ve all been waiting for finally kicks off Saturday night. UFC 194 is stacked from top to bottom. This is one PPV that you 100% don’t want to miss. I think even the three non-title fights could easily headline a Fox Sports 1 card. Let’s take a look at my picks for the main card and find out who will win the battle.
Max Holloway (-515) vs. Jeremy Stephens (+445)
The Brain: The main card opens up with fast rising contender Max Holloway against the always tough Jeremy Stephens. Holloway is only 23, but he already has 13 fights inside the Octagon. I had the pleasure of watching Holloway fight as an amateur and it was even apparent then that this kid was going places. Holloway has a diverse striking arsenal and does an outstanding job of mixing up his shots and attacking the head, body, and legs. Stephens is always game for a fight. He’s never been afraid to throw down, but has been much more technical in his last few fights. He’s got power in his hands and is always hard to finish. I think Stephens will find Holloway hard to hit. I expect Holloway to get the better of the striking exchanges, and I think his high output will carry him to a comfortable decision. Holloway by Decision
The Heart: While I almost always cheer for Iowans that won’t be the case here. I do like Stephens, but I really think Holloway is a special fighter. I want to see his rapid ascension to the top of the division continue, all the better if he does so in impressive fashion. Holloway by TKO
Demian Maia (-110) vs. Gunnar Nelson (+100)
The Brain: The second fight on the PPV could turn into one of the most fun grappling battles in recent memory. Maia may be getting up there in age, but he’s easily still a top 10 fighter. While both fighters are exceptional at grappling, Maia has made other grappling specialists look ordinary in the past. Nelson should have the better striking game, but his game could very well leave him open to takedowns. This should be a fun close fight and I give the edge to Maia. Maia by Decision
The Heart: I like both fighters. Maia has been around forever and has fought practically every big name in the division. Nelson is a fun fighter and always seems to have a positive attitude. Neither fighter has ever been submitted in an MMA fight, so a submission win seems unlikely. I’d really love to see Nelson somehow pull of the submission against Maia though. I don’t think he will, but I’ll be rooting for it. Nelson by Submission
Yoel Romero (+125) vs. Ronaldo Souza (-135)
The Brain: Souza and Romero meet to determine who gets the next title shot at middleweight. Romero is primarily a wrestler and packs some serious KO power. Souza is primarily a grappler and is excellent at finding openings and locking in submissions. Souza would be smart to avoid getting into a striking battler with Romero. He should grind down Romero as much as possible in hopes of tiring him out. However, Romero’s size could make that hard to implement though. I think Romero connects with Souza and ends his night early. Romero by TKO
The Heart: This is an obvious number 1 contender fight. Stoolgate aside, Romero has looked pretty solid in his last few fights. Many people (including myself) feel Souza has already done enough to earn a title shot. A win here would solidify his title shot unless they end up doing a Weidman/Rockhold rematch for one reason or another. Souza by Submission
Chris Weidman (-125) vs. Luke Rockhold (+115)
The Brain: There hasn’t been a ton of hype around this fight due to the main event, but this could be one of the best fights of the year. Both fighters are athletic and well-rounded. Also, both fighters like to pressure their opponents. Weidman does his best work against the cage. I think Rockhold can do a good job of countering Weidman. I also think Rockhold has the better cardio and I think he tires Weidman out in the championship rounds and locks in the submission. Rockhold by Submission
The Heart: I really like Rockhold. He’s looked near flawless in his last few fights against very tough competition. I don’t think Weidman has really gotten the respect from fans that I feel he deserves. I think this fight is his chance to finally earn that respect, and I’d like to see him come away with the win. Weidman by TKO
Jose Aldo (+100) vs. Conor McGregor (-110)
The Brain: The fight we’ve all been wanting to see is finally here. Everyone seems to have picked their sides for this fight and expects the other side to get KO’d. We’ll finally get our answer either way. Aldo is a diverse striker and is dangerous on the ground as well. He is also known for his vicious leg kicks and will almost certainly look to target the lead leg of McGregor if he sticks it out like he has in his past fights. McGregor has some power in his hands and isn’t afraid to eat a few shots to deliver his own. Last fight we finally got to see how he fared against a great wrestler. Short notice by Mendes or not, I was impressed with how McGregor handled him. This fight could play out in so many ways. If Aldo fights with emotion, McGregor could easily capitalize and get the finish. I think the more likely scenario is what we’re used to seeing from Aldo. I think Aldo can survive McGregor’s attacks, and I think he’ll eventually wear McGregor down around rounds three or four. I think he’ll really attack McGregor’s leg before finally hurting him up high and finishing him off. Aldo by TKO
The Heart: I like Aldo and appreciate everything he’s accomplished. He has had an amazing career and is currently the best featherweight on the planet (at least until Saturday). I know a lot of people dislike all of the attention McGregor has gotten, but he’s proved (at least to me) that he definitely is more than just hype. He is definitely a legitimate fighter, and win or lose, he’s one of the best featherweights in the division. I think this fight finally will shine the light on Aldo due to the massive exposure this fight will get. However, I think a win by McGregor will do more to grow the UFC’s/MMA’s fan base in the long run. We already saw Holm shock the world last month. I’d like to see McGregor do the same. McGregor by TKO
The Brain is leading with a 31-13 record. The Heart is still trailing with a 22-22 record. The records will be updated after all three cards this weekend have concluded.
Any questions or comments? Hit me up on Twitter @IAMMAEverlast or comment below.