In this feature, the two Dans; Sunday League Sports MMA pundit Dan Barnes and his buddy Dan Symonds, look ahead to this weekend’s massive UFC 235 card from Las Vegas. Then the guys put bragging rights on the line with their predictions challenge.
We’re not sure if either of the Dans has agreed to punishments for incorrect picks, but there probably should be some right?
JON JONES VS ANTHONY SMITH
Dan Barnes: On Saturday night the UFC returns home to Las Vegas with a huge card featuring two title fights.
So Dan, what do you think about Jon Jones Vs Anthony Smith? While I’m sure we’ve all enjoyed Anthony Smith’s fairytale run to a title shot, and anything can happen in MMA; do we really see anything aside from a convincing Jon Jones victory?
Dan Symonds: It’s hard to look past Jon Jones for this one really. He’s a -800 favourite and that’s probably about right. Anthony Smith is long, rangy and well-rounded, but Jones is longer, rangier and more well-rounded.
Dan B: You took the words out of my mouth. Smith’s biggest problem is that his strengths are Jones’ strengths. The only path to victory I see here is Smith turning this into a brawl. He has to bloody Jones up in short range and the clinch, without getting dumped on his back.
Dan S: What’s more likely, Smith getting the win or Jones failing the drug test
Dan B: Come on man, let’s not tempt the MMA Gods atop Mount Xyience
TYRON WOODLEY VS KAMARU USMAN
Dan S: So if we both think the 205 belt isn’t going anywhere on Saturday, how do you rate Kamaru Usman’s chances of wrestling the 170 belt from Woodley’s waist?
Dan B: I’d say the welterweight belt has a slightly better chance of finding a new home, but only slightly. Much like the main event, Usman seems to be a somewhat lesser version of Woodley.
Both guys are wrestlers with big power, but I just don’t see Usman KO’ing Woodley, or being able to take him down over and over again
Dan S: I agree, I think Woodley will have too much for him, although if Usman can drag him into deep waters he might have a shot in the later rounds as Woodley tires.
Dan B: True. Woodley also has a tendency of being patient and cautious almost to a fault. I can quite easily see a situation where he ends up dropping a contentious split decision.
ROBBIE LAWLER VS BEN ASKREN
Dan S: Talking of wrestlers, I hear there’s a guy who enjoys a bit of wrestling making his UFC debut on that card.
Dan B: I’m looking forward to finally see Ben Askren in the UFC. We can finally figure out if he’s as good as his record and his own mouth say he is.
He’s being thrown in at the deep end here against former champ Robbie Lawler. Both guys haven’t fought since the end of 2017 so it will be interesting to see who is more affected by the layoff.
Dan S: I’m struggling to get excited for this one though; can you convince me this is going to be anything other than 15 minutes of Funky domination on the ground?
Dan B: I think you’re right to suspect we’re going to see a lot of takedowns from Askren here, but as the Macdonald fight showed Lawler can dig deep late into a fight and get the finish.
Lawler’s grappling is also underrated, and actually has the highest takedown accuracy among welterweights all-time (not that I see him trying to take Askren down).
Dan B: This card is pretty stacked all the way through, is there anything from the undercard that piques your interest?
Dan S: Anyone who says they aren’t looking forward to Zabit Magomedsharipov v Jeremy Stephens needs to take a long, hard look at themselves.
I jumped aboard the Zabit hype train but I think this is a fight where we’ll really see how good he is. He’s had a relatively kind introduction to UFC life but now he’s being thrown in with the wolves.
Dan B: Yeah I’m pumped for this one too. With its positioning on the card as the featured prelim on ESPN, this could be a real coming out party for ‘Zabeast’. Or it could be a big-time humbling, like Yair Rodriguez V Frankie Edgar.
We all love Zabit’s aggressive style, with his unorthodox grappling and wild, crazy spinning attacks on the feet. However, Jeremy Stephens is the kinda guy that can make you look really bad with one left hook.
Dan S: The “prelim co-main” should be a fun one too, Johnny Walker jumping back in 4 weeks after his 15-second demolition of Justin Ledet.
Mischa Cirkunov is going to be an interesting test for a guy who looks like he could make some waves at 205. At 26, he’s only going to get better with age, right?
Dan B: Ha ‘Johnny Walker’, ‘get better with age’ I get it. This is a classic striker v grappler matchup that really is going to go one of two ways; either Walker (a Brazilian who fights out of Southampton by the way) is going to finish this one early on the feet or Cirkunov is going to take him down and submit him.
Here the guys pit their wits against each other. A point each for the correct winner, and an additional point for the correct method and/or round.