MMA

The Brain vs. The Heart: UFC Fight Night 86

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 is still in the lead with a 28-17 record, while the Brain trails with a 25-20 record. Who will win? Let’s find out!

Maryna Moroz (-190) vs. Cristina Stanciu (+165)

The Brain: The main card kicks off with what should be a fun, quick pace fight in the women’s strawweight division. Moroz will be looking to rebound from her unanimous decision loss to Valerie Letourneau, which happened to be the first loss of her career. She takes on the undefeated Stanciu, who will be making her UFC debut. Both women are extremely young, with Moroz being 24 and Stanciu being 22. Moroz has five of her six wins by armbar. She tends to be aggressive and is a decent striker, but she gets hit way too often. Moroz has also showed she’s willing to pull guard in order to try and drag things to the ground. Stanciu is a very aggressive fighter, especially out of the gate. She also swings with a lot of power. Both fighters can get very sloppy at times though. This should be a close fight, but I think Moroz can get this fight to the ground where I feel she has a significant advantage. Moroz by Submission

The Heart: I like Moroz, and I think she can have a bright future in the division. Stanciu seems to have some potential as well. She truly seems to have some power in her hands and I think if she can develop her striking a bit more and round out the rest of her skillset that she can go a long ways. With both fighters being so young, a loss shouldn’t set either back too far and both still have plenty of time to grow. I’d like to see Stanciu stay undefeated in an exciting back and forth fight. Stanciu by TKO

Jan Blachowicz (-325) vs. Igor Pokrajac (+275)

The Brain: Blachowicz was highly regarded coming into the UFC, but he has now dropped two in a row. He’ll look to get back on track against Pokrajac who will be making his return to the UFC. Blachowicz is a dangerous striker, though he could afford to pull the trigger a little more often. He would be wise to pressure Pokrajac and force him to make a mistake. Pokrajac was cut from the UFC after losing five in a row. He has since gone 3-0 and earned a second shot in the UFC. Pokrajac likes to stand and trade. I think Blachowicz avoids danger and outworks Pokrajac for the decision victory. Blachowicz by Decision

The Heart: I respect Pokrajac’s drive for fighting his way back to the UFC after dropping five in a row. A lot of people would give up at age 37, but he continued to work his way back. Blachowicz has been somewhat of a letdown personally, but only because I had extremely high expectations. I still think he’s a solid fighter and I want to see him win here. Blachowicz by TKO

Timothy Johnson (+155) vs. Marcin Tybura (-180)

The Brain: Johnson had his eight fight win streak snapped in his last fight against Jarod Rosholt. His opponent will be making his UFC debut, but comes in with high expectations. Tybura is a former M-1 Heavyweight Champion. He is dangerous on the feet, but especially on the ground. Tybura would be smart to try and get the fight to the ground as soon as possible. Johnson has quite a bit of power and should have a decent size advantage as well. He may be able to use that size to control Tybura. I think Tybura will spend quite a bit of time in top position. I think he’ll come close to finishing Johnson, but will have to settle for a unanimous decision instead. Tybura by Decision

The Heart: This one is the easiest pick for me on the entire card. I have nothing against Johnson. I think he’s a fine fighter, but I’ve been hoping Tybura would make his way to the UFC for quite some time and I’m interested in seeing what he can do. I want to see Tybura kick off his UFC debut with a win. Tybura by Submission

Curtis Blaydes (+105) vs. Francis Ngannou (-125)

The Brain: A lot of people may not be familiar with Blaydes and Ngannou, but both are young heavyweights with potential in a division that could desperately use some “new blood.” Blaydes will be making his UFC debut. He is undefeated at 5-0 so far in his career. He is a former junior college wrestling champion and definitely uses wrestling as his primary base. His striking still has room for improvement, but he excels on the ground. He does a good job of securing takedowns and pressuring his opponent from the top and lands solid ground and pound. Ngannou is 6-1 and already had a KO victory in his UFC debut. He should have a decent speed advantage in this fight and should be the better striker as well, but he’ll definitely have to watch out for Blaydes’ power. If Blaydes can get the fight to the ground I could easily see him pounding out Ngannou for the win, but I think Ngannou can land some solid strikes and finish this one late in the first or early in the second round. Ngannou by TKO

The Heart: Both fighters are extremely young for the heavyweight division. Ngannou is 29 and Blaydes is only 25. Both seem to have the physical tools and are still earlier enough in their MMA careers to improve a lot. The tie breaker for me here comes down to a nickname. Not many last names lend themselves to such an awesome and original nickname. I’m going with “Razor” Blaydes. Blaydes by TKO

Gabriel Gonzaga (+115) vs. Derrick Lewis (-135)

The Brain: Gonzaga has been around for quite a while and he’s out to prove he’s still not done. He’s only 1-3 in his last four fights. Gonzaga has decent power, but tends to be hittable. That could definitely spell trouble against the powerful Lewis. Lewis has won two in a row and 13 of his 14 wins have come by TKO. He definitely has power, but his stamina has been a problem. If Gonzaga can avoid getting finished early, I think he can tire Lewis out and finish him. I think the more likely scenario is that Lewis lands some absolute bombs and ends this one midway through the first. Lewis by TKO

The Heart: Lewis’ speed has continually surprised me and he definitely packs some serious power, but his tendency to gas quickly has really stopped me from becoming a big fan. Gonzaga continues to hang in there. I honestly don’t know how much longer he’ll be fighting, but I’d like to see him get a nice submission win here.  Gonzaga by Submission

Ben Rothwell (+115) vs. Junior Dos Santos (-135)

The Brain: Rothwell will look to keep his four fight win streak going by making Dos Santos his latest victim. Dos Santos is in need of a win here having lost two of his last three. His job should be safe regardless, but a win here would definitely give his confidence a much needed boost. Rothwell has finished Vera, Overeem, Mitrione, and Barnett on his current win streak. A win over Dos Santos, especially a finish, would definitely earn Rothwell a title shot or at least make him one fight away from one. He has really done a good job of being aggressive but not over committing to anything. Dos Santos’ last two losses have both come by TKO, which are the only two TKO losses of his career. He’s been in some absolute wars lately and his once iron chin seems to be finally wearing down. This will likely be an extremely close fight, but I favor the surging Rothwell, to patiently pick his spots and finish Dos Santos in the second or third round. Rothwell by TKO

The Heart: This is an extremely tough fight to pick. I’ve always been a big fan of Dos Santos, but I’ve also been extremely impressed with Rothwell’s recent performances. I don’t think I’ve ever not rooted for Dos Santos in a fight. On the other hand, Rothwell has been around for a very long time in this sport and his recent resurgence is definitely something to be admired. Although I wouldn’t be upset to see Dos Santos win, I’m actually going to root for Rothwell in this one. I think he deserves a title shot with a win here. Rothwell by TKO

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

 

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