The Brain vs. The Heart: UFC 197

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 Heart and Brain are tied with a 32-23 record. Who will win? Let’s find out!

Jon Jones (-550) vs. Ovince Saint Preux (+420)

The Brain: The rematch between Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones will have to wait a little longer thanks to Cormier’s injury. In place of that fight will be an interim title fight between Ovince Saint Preux and the man that never actually lost the title, Jon Jones. Saint Preux is known for his striking power, but he’s also shown a tendency to fade late in fights. That’s definitely not a good sign in a five round fight on short notice against the best light heavyweight in the division, but Saint Preux definitely can’t be counted out, especially early on. Jones likes to throw a lot of strikes from all sorts of angles and with such a long reach, can throw elbow strikes from quite the distance. Jones is also a solid wrestler and has great takedown defense as well. He’s capable of ending a fight at any time and from any position. I’d heavily favor Jones even if this wasn’t a short-notice fight, but like I said, Saint Preux will definitely be a game opponent. I just think Jones is better everywhere and I think he comes back extremely hungry. Jones by Submission

The Heart: Saint Preux saw a big opportunity and jumped all over it. A win here changes his life. Just taking this fight alone puts a ton of new eyes on him. First and foremost Jones needs to turn his life around and get his head on straight. I sincerely hope he’s done that. I hesitate to root for him until some time has passed to evaluate that, but I’ve been a big fan of Jones since the beginning. I really want to see Jones fight the few people he has left on his left, and then try his luck at heavyweight. The only way he does that is if he continues to win in the light heavyweight division. Jones by TKO

Demetrious Johnson (-385) vs. Henry Cejudo (+320)

The Brain: The Olympic Gold Medalist Cejudo has come a long way in his short career in MMA so far. It seems like his biggest struggles have not come inside the cage, but with making weight. With those weight troubles seemingly behind him, he has been given a flyweight title shot against the UFC’s only ever flyweight champion. Cejudo has surprisingly good hands and does a nice job of avoiding too much damage. Obviously his bread and butter lies in his wrestling, which he has been able to successfully implement in his MMA game. He’s also never been taken down in an MMA fight yet. Johnson has lighting quick hands and is very elusive. He also likes to utilize his wrestling, and has solid takedown defense. This should be an outstanding battle between two incredible athletes. To me this fight hinges on Cejudo’s ability to control Johnson. I think he’ll score a couple of takedowns, but I think Johnson is going to be able to scramble and find an opening to lock in a submission. Another possible factor in this fight is that Cejudo has never been past the third round. Even if Cejudo is able to have some success in the first few rounds, I could see Johnson wearing him down and getting a late fight finish as well. Johnson by Submission

The Heart: I’ve been impressed with how well Cejudo has transitioned into MMA from wrestling. It’s not exactly surprising given that he is obviously an exceptional athlete, but the ease in which he has won has come as a shock. I know a lot of people have labeled Johnson as boring. Honestly I think those people are crazy. He has outstanding skills in practically every facet of the game and he has looked dominant in almost every title defense he’s had. I really like Mighty Mouse and he doesn’t need to put on a facade in order to try and win people over. Although a new champion would definitely shake the division up, I still would like to see Johnson get the win here. Johnson by Submission

Edson Barboza (+150) vs. Anthony Pettis (-175)

The Brain: I’ve wanted to see a fight between these two for several years. I couldn’t be happier that it’s finally happening. There are a lot of similarities between these two fighters. They both are dynamic strikers, throw powerful kicks, and prefer to keep the fight standing. Barboza has a tendency to get hit while trying to land his own strikes. Pettis hasn’t done well lately when his opponent has really pressured him against the fence and stifled his offense. While Barboza definitely has power, I think Pettis can find some opening to hurt Barboza and then lock up the submission once the fight gets to the ground. Pettis by Submission

The Heart: Both of these guys are extremely exciting to watch and are two of the most unique strikers in the division. Both of these guys need this win to get back on track, but neither stands a chance of being cut either. The tie breaker for this one simply comes down to who I like more. In that case the edge goes to Pettis by a pretty wide margin. I’m definitely a fan of Barboza, but Pettis is one of my favorite fighters so I have to root for him in this fight. Pettis by Submission

Rafael Natal (+280) vs. Robert Whittaker (-340)

The Brain: This should be a fun chess match between these two middleweights. Both fighters are on a four fight win streak and the winner of this fight could only be two or three fights away from a title shot. Natal has good striking output, but he tends to be equally as hittable. Whittaker throws some decent volume as well, but his defense is much more sound. He also tries to get the fight to the ground as often as possible. That may be tough to do against Natal who has very solid takedown defense. I think Whittaker can score on the feet, and I also think he’ll be able to have some control time on the ground as well. In the end, I think he picks up the unanimous decision. Whittaker by Decision

The Heart: Natal has a solid win streak going, though two of those fights could have easily gone either way. Still, he’s managed to stay composed and keep attacking. Whittaker also has a solid win streak going, but he seems to be getting noticeably better each time out. He has quite a bit of experience for only being 25 years old. He started fighting professionally in 2009 and this will be his 20th fight in a 7 year span. He’s already cracked the top 10 in the UFC rankings, and I’d like to see him crack the top 5 with a big win here. Whittaker by TKO

Andre Fili (+135) vs. Yair Rodriguez (-155)

The Brain: Fili is a decent striker, but he really likes to take his opponent down. He uses a high volume approach to wear down his opponents. Fili is 3-2 in the UFC and has alternated wins and losses. Rodriguez is 6-1 including three quality wins in the UFC. He throws a lot of strikes and really likes to hunt for submissions. Rodriguez definitely lacks the experience that Fili has, but his last two wins have really impressed. Fili may be able to take Rodriguez down and control him, but it definitely won’t be easy. Normally I almost always side with experience, and I can easily see Fili winning this fight, but I think Rodriguez can land enough strikes on the feet to take two rounds and win a decision. I definitely wouldn’t be surprised if this fight is so close that it ends in a split decision. Rodriguez by Decision

The Heart: This has been one of the rare occasions where the Brain and the Heart see eye to eye for the entire card, at least up until this fight. Both of these guys are young and have a solid future ahead. While I think Rodriguez is a very solid prospect, I would really like to see Fili start to receive some more attention. He’s an extremely dangerous fighter and I’d like to see him pick up the emphatic victory here.  Fili by TKO

Any questions or comments? Hit me up on Twitter @IAMMAEverlast or comment below.

About the Author:

IAMMA. MMA superfan looking to be the voice of the fans. Tune in to read my Brain vs Heart picks & MMA event recaps!