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 Brain and the Heart had all six picks the same for UFC Fight Night 91. Unfortunately it didn’t turn out too well as they only managed to go 2-4. The Heart remains in the lead with a 63-44 record. The Brain still trails by three with a 60-47 record. Who will win? Let’s find out!
Kailin Curran (-125) vs. Felice Herrig (+105)
The Brain: Felice Herrig will be returning to action for the first time since her unanimous decision loss to Paige VanZant in April of 2015. She’ll take on Kailin Curran to kick off the main card. Herrig is currently 1-1 in the UFC. She is a decent all-around fighter, but she doesn’t really stand out in any one area. Herrig is fairly accurate with her strikes, but she doesn’t throw a ton of volume. Her takedown defense is definitely a weakness, but she has a good submission game to help her on the ground. Curran dropped her first two UFC fights, but was finally able to pick up a win in her most recent outing. She is fairly active on the feet and has a decent takedown game as well. Curran has a tendency to rely too much on her athleticism, but she definitely has potential. This will likely be a very close fight, but I expect Curran to outwork Herrig on the feet. I also think Curran will have some success on the ground as long as she can avoid getting caught by a submission. Curran by Decision
The Heart: This is a tough call. Both of these women need a win. Curran could definitely be cut with a loss considering she would only have one win in four UFC fights. Herrig would be 1-2 in the UFC, but she has a decent following which should keep her in there for at least one more fight. Curran is only 25 and I think she’ll have the better career between these two fighters. Herrig is 31 so she still has some time as well, but if she wants to climb the rankings she’s really going to need this win. Herrig by Submission
Bojan Mihajlovic (+450) vs. Francis Ngannou (-600)
The Brain: Francis Ngannou has impressed in his first two UFC fights. He will take on Bojan Mihajlovic, who will be making his UFC debut. Ngannou is on a six fight win streak and all seven of his wins have come by finish (4 TKO, 3 Submission). He will have a 5” height and 9” reach advantage. Ngannou has a very active striking game and he has the power to go with it. He throws good combos and has solid defense as well. Mihajlovic is currently on a 10 fight win streak, but the competition level has been fairly low. He likes to use kicks, but I expect him to have a hard time getting close enough to Ngannou. Mihajlovic also likes bodylock and trip takedowns. He has been pressed up against the fence against bigger opponents, and the extremely athletic Ngannou should definitely fit that bill. Ngannou is a substantial favorite and it’s pretty easy to see why. Mihaljlovic’s weaknesses play directly into Ngannou’s strengths. I expect Ngannou to land power shots from the start and end this fight before the halfway mark of the first round. Ngannou by TKO
The Heart: I honestly feel a little bad for Mihajlovic here. Even though Ngannou has less experience, he seems to be a significantly better fighter. That said, this is the heavyweight division and it only takes one shot to change everything. Mihajlovic is expected to become another highlight-reel finish for Ngannou. Normally that would be enough to get me to root for the underdog. However, in this case, I really like Ngannou. I think he has some serious potential and at only 29, he’s extremely young for the heavyweight division. I want to see just how far Ngannou can go. Ngannou by TKO
Edson Barboza (-215) vs. Gilbert Melendez (+185)
The Brain: The co-main event is an important lightweight clash between Edson Barboza and Gilbert Melendez. Barboza has had problems picking up a defining win against top competition. However, he was finally able to get that high profile win in his last fight when he took a unanimous decision over former champion Anthony Pettis. Barboza is a flashy striker and is known for his crazy kicks as well. He maintains a high output, but can be hittable as well. Barboza likes to keep the fight on the feet and he has good takedown defense to help keep it there. Melendez has lost two in a row and three of his last four. He is a fairly well rounded fighter. He is a good striker and has solid defense as well. He likes to work in some takedowns too and pound away from top position. This is a hard fight to pick because both fighters always show up to fight, but can let fights slip through their fingers. I think Barboza has been more consistent lately and I think he’ll keep the majority of the fight standing and outwork Melendez for a close decision. Barboza by Decision
The Heart: Melendez is in bad need of a win. A loss here would put him at three in a row and four in his last five. I’m not sure if the UFC would be willing to keep him around at his current price, especially in the stacked lightweight division. Barboza has looked excellent on fight only to lose all of his momentum in his next fight. Although I don’t really want to see Melendez get cut, I’d really like to see Barboza finally turn the corner and truly become an elite level fighter. Barboza by Decision
Holly Holm (-280) vs. Valentina Shevchenko (+240)
The Brain: A key women’s bantamweight bout headlines UFC on FOX 20. Former champion Holly Holm will take on Valentina Shevchenko. Holm had a lot of hype after her domination of Ronda Rousey to win the bantamweight title. She decided to make a quick turnaround and fight Miesha Tate. It was an extremely competitive fight, but Holm ended up getting choked out in the 5th round. The loss was the first of her MMA career and she’ll definitely be hungry for a win. Holm has a solid striking output and does a nice job of mixing in some powerful kicks as well. Her defense is pretty solid. Holm really likes to fight and range and she does a nice job of getting in and out with her strikes. Shevchenko had her five fight win streak snapped in her last fight, which was a number one contender bout against Amanda Nunes. She is a kickboxer, but could stand to throw some more volume in this fight. Much like Holm, Shevchenko likes to stay at range. Valentina has a decent takedown game as well and does a nice job of finding openings for submissions. On the feet I think Holm will be more active and accurate. Holm is strong and will make it difficult for Shevchenko to land a takedown. I think Holly has a decent chance of wearing Shevchenko down and getting the finish late in the fight. Even if Holm is unable to secure the finish I expect her to take a clear decision. Holm by TKO
The Heart: Both of these fighters are searching for a win, and are probably only a couple fights away from a title shot. Holm lost to Tate by submission. Tate lost to Nunes by TKO. Shevchenko lost to Nunes by decision. I’m not bringing that up to try and do any sort of MMA math. I am simply pointing out that styles make fights and that even extremely tough and conditioned fighters can lose on any given night. I’m excited for this fight between two fighters with fairly similar styles. I’d really like to see a fight between Holm and Nunes. I think that would be one of the most exciting fights that could be made in the division. I would also like to see Shevchenko get a title shot. Nunes dominated much of the action in the first and second rounds of their fight, but Shevchenko game back strong in the third. I’d be interesting to see if a five round fight would make a difference. Considering there have been four different champions in the last four fights, it might be someone different that Shevchenko would face anyway. I’d like to see her pick up an impressive submission win against Holm. Shevchenko by Submission
Any questions or comments? Hit me up on Twitter @IAMMAEverlast or comment below.