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. Who will win? Let’s find out!
Mike Pyle (+140) vs. Sean Spencer (-170)
The Brain: This will be Spencer’s first fight since his unanimous decision “loss” to Pendred. For those that don’t remember that fight, all media outlets scored the fight in Spencer’s favor (most were 30-27, but somehow the three judges awarded Pendred the fight 30-27. Spencer is primarily a volume striker and definitely prefers to keep the fight standing. Pyle is a gritty fighter that is solid everywhere. Though he has lost his last two and seems to have lost a step. This will likely be a very close fight, but I expect the volume of Spencer to carry him to a win. Spencer by Decision
The Heart: I like Spencer and would like to see him pick up a win after the loss to Pendred. But I’d also like to see Pyle get the win so he can stick around a little while longer. Tough call for this fight, but I’ll side with the Pyle on this one. Pyle by Decision
Misha Cirkunov (-1000) vs. Alex Nicholson (+650)
The Brain: Cirkunov comes into this fight as a very heavy favorite, which is fairly surprising for a fighter with only one UFC fight. Part of that reason is because he’s extremely dangerous on the feet as well as on the ground. The light heavyweight prospect had a great debut and picked up a KO victory. He showed good output and activity on the ground. Nicholson definitely seems to have some solid power. It will be interesting to see how he handles the more experienced Cirkunov. While I think Cirkunov would do well on the feet, I think he takes this fight to the ground and ends it early. Cirkunov by TKO
The Heart: I have only watched a few fights from Nicholson, but he appears to be a decent fighter. Cirkunov, on the other hand, has been on my radar for quite a while. I was extremely happy when the UFC finally signed him and he didn’t disappoint in his debut. I think he has a real future in the division and I’m excited to see how far he can go. Cirkunov by TKO
Joseph Benavidez (-470) vs. Zach Makovsky (+375)
The Brain: Makovsky is a former Bellator bantamweight champion. He’s primarily a wrestler. He primarily uses his striking to set up his takedowns and doesn’t seem to put much power into his punches. He hasn’t finished a fight in over four years. Benavidez is extremely quick and uses a high volume approach. I think his takedown defense will be good enough to stifle Makovsky’s game. Benavidez has won four in a row since his title loss to Johnson, but even with a win here Benavidez sits in a bad position. He has four losses in his career, but those losses have come to the current flyweight and bantamweight champions. I think Benavidez makes it five in a row with a clear cut decision win. Benavidez by Decision
The Heart: I like both fighters. Although Makovsky hasn’t finished a fight in quite a while, he’s a very skilled fighter, especially on the ground. Benavidez is good in all areas and always puts on a good show. Even though Benavidez isn’t likely to receive another title shot any time soon, I’d still like to see Benavidez pick up the victory. Benavidez by Decision
Rafael Cavalcante (+300) vs. Ovince Saint Preux (-400)
The Brain: There is no secret to Cavalcante’s game. He’s going to try to take your head off with his power strikes. In fact, 11 of his 12 wins have come by TKO. His defense has definitely been a problem though. OSP is large and athletic. He will have a 7” reach advantage in this fight and will likely be much quicker than Cavalcante as well. He’s a little more calculated with his strikes and I think he finds the holes in Cavalcante’s game and exploits them rather easily. Saint Preux by TKO
The Heart: This one is an easy one to pick for me. While I have nothing against Cavalcante, I don’t think his approach will take him very far in the division. OSP has the physical tools to go far, and while I don’t know if he’ll ever get a title shot, I do think he’ll remain a top 10 fighter for a long time. Saint Preux by TKO
Roy Nelson (-160) vs. Jared Rosholt (+140)
The Brain: Nelson has lost his last three and five of his last six fights. Nelson is known for his powerful right hand, but he can be dangerous on the ground as well even though he rarely showcases that portion of his game. He does tend to get hit a lot, and he’s relied on his chin to withstand the punishment. In recent fights, it looks like his chin may finally be weakening. Rosholt is on a three fight win streak including a unanimous decision win over Stefan Struve in his last outing. It will be interesting to see if Rosholt tries to stand with Nelson or if he’ll look to use his wrestling and get the fight to the ground. While I don’t think Rosholt will finish Nelson, I do think he’ll be able to grind out a decision victory. Rosholt by Decision
The Heart: I like Rosholt, and I respect his NCAA All-American background, but this one isn’t event close. Nelson is one of my favorite heavyweight fights. I’ve enjoyed watching him fight and he’s shown that you don’t have to have a “sport bod” to be successful in MMA. I’d really like to see one of Nelson’s powerful right hands land again. Nelson by TKO
Johny Hendricks (-210) vs. Stephen Thompson (+175)
The Brain: The main event is an excellent matchup between two extremely talented welterweights. Former champion Hendricks was scheduled to fight Woodley back in October before complications with his weight cut sent Hendricks to the hospital. A recent picture on Twitter appears to show Hendricks in very good shape, so this weight cut will hopefully go much better. He is an excellent wrestler with solid power in his hands. Thompson has won his last five fights. He has some very dangerous kicks and highlight reel finishes. He will have a 6” reach advantage in this fight. While originally a three round fight, it will now be a five round fight due to the cancellation of the Werdum/Velasquez fight. Thompson does have good takedown defense, but I think Hendricks will work for takedowns, if for no other reason than to disrupt the timing of Thompson. Thompson has never been past the third round, while Hendricks has gone five rounds in three of his last four fights. I think that experience bodes well for Hendricks, and I think he’ll come close to stopping Thompson, but ultimately I think Hendricks takes the decision. Hendricks by Decision
The Heart: I really like both guys and don’t really want to see either lose. Hendricks is an outstanding fighter, but a lot of fans have been turned off by him. Thompson has really picked up some momentum and his flashy finishes have really won people over. While I think Hendricks could regain the title, I’d like to see some fresh blood at the top of the division. Thompson by TKO
The Brain holds the narrow lead through three events with a 7-6 record. The Heart trails only trails by one with a 6-7 record.
Any questions or comments? Hit me up on Twitter @IAMMAEverlast or comment below.