Three Piece Picks: UFC 255 Figueiredo vs Perez Card
Main Event: (C) Deiveson Figueiredo vs #4 Alex Perez
Pick: Deiveson Figueiredo
Breakdown: Deiveson Figueiredo is coming in making his first title defense after putting down Joseph Benavidez twice. He is coming into this fight with a single blemish on his MMA record at 19-1. On the other side, Alex Perez is coming in as Dana White Contender Series Alumni and having a record of 6-1 in the UFC and 24-5 overall. In this fight, the power of Figueiredo is going to be the key. He comes in with a distinct advantage in striking. He also comes in as a Brazilian Ju Jutsu Black Belt. Alex Perez comes in with an advantage in the wrestling advantage, but how long will he be able to keep Figueiredo down? Proven in his previous fights, he is shown to be able to stave off takedowns, and even if he does get taken down, he can get back up and work off of his back if not fully get back up. Perez is also shown to leave himself open when striking. In his fights against Joseph Benavidez, he got dropped after leaving himself open to counterpunches. If he gets dropped against Joey B, it’s hard to see him fight a perfect fight against Deiveson Figueredo and make him miss if he plans to throw any type of offense. Now there is a clear path for Alex Perez, which is if he can get the takedown, he can sap the energy of Figueiredo and tire him out. We know that Figueiredo has shown a bit of a cardio problem, and it’s uncertain if this will be a problem going forward. He has made claims that he is 9 lbs lighter now than he usually is at this time, so if his body fat and amount of muscle that he’s carrying is a bit down, we can see his gas tank improve. Perez has great wrestling and this fight is much closer than the odds show ( +230 Alex Perez), but his striking still has holes in it, and if Figueiredo can land just one, it could be the beginning of the end for Perez. Look for Figueiredo to outpower Alex Perez and take this win by TKO
Co-Main Event: (C) Valentina Shevchenko vs. Jennifer Maia
Pick: Valentina Shevchenko
Breakdown: Maia is coming in as a heavy underdog going as high as +1000 on some books. Valentina comes in with an advantage in almost all the stats. This is going to be her 4th title defense and she has looked impressive in every one of her title fights. Even in her only loss in a title fight against Amanda Nunez, it was a split decision and she took the female GOAT to the judge’s scorecard. She has a distinct advantage on the feet because of her footwork and striking. Her ability to manage distance and keep herself at a safe distance has been her strength. She makes her opponent miss so much and then works the counterpunches. She comes in as a southpaw and is an excellent muy thai practitioner. She comes in with all the advantages in the striking stats and grappling stats except for significant strikes per minute which is only because Maia gets more shots down once she takes her opponent down. In this fight, Maia will need to try to get Valentina on her back and keep her there. Valentina has good takedown defense which is sitting at 77% right now. She is also great at timing her clinches with her opponent’s takedowns and getting knees and punches on the break. Valentina will systematically break down Jennifer Maia in this fight and it will be an excellent showcase for her. Maia does have a path to victory in trying to take this fight to the ground, but the former Invicta FC Flyweight Champ has a tall order in trying to impose her will for 5 rounds with the champ. Look for Valentina Shevchenko to show her brilliance both on the feet and with her defense and take this fight in the middle or later rounds via TKO.
Fight #3: Tim ‘The Dirty Bird’ Means vs platinum’ Mike Perry
Pick: Mike Perry
Breakdown: Tim Means is coming in off of an impressive win vs Laureano Staropoli where he showed his veteran ring awareness. The problem is that every time he has gotten a win recently, he’s followed it up with a loss. Mike Perry is also coming in 3-5 over his last 8 fights, but his last 3 losses were against Donald Cerrone, Vicente Luque, and Geoff Neal. He has fought much harder competition than Tim Means and for not having a corner in his fight he showed a lot of diversity in his game. Not only did he fight a stand-up game, but he also took the fight to the ground and defended very well against someone who was excellent on the ground. His gas tank looked great and on top of that, he’s got a lot to fight for. He’s got a baby on the way, he’s infamously got some taxes due and he’s had some out of the octagon engagements that haven’t been in his favor when it comes to his wallet. Tim Means is an excellent veteran who can still put a win together if he’s able to put it all together as he did in his last fight, but look for Perry to take control of this fight and brawl his way to a win.
Fight #4: #2 Katlyn Chookagian vs #4 Cynthia Calvillo
Pick: Cynthia Calvillo
Breakdown: Katlyn Chookagian is coming in off of a loss vs Jessica Andrade, while Cynthia Calvillo is coming in with a win over former #1 Contender Jessica Eye. She is also on a 3 fight winning streak not including the draw she had. In her last fight, she showed her ability to keep on the gas pedal and maximize her output. She landed 150 of 294 in her last fight averaging about 30 significant strikes per round. She also is multifaceted with the ability to take the fight to the ground. She averages 2 takedowns per 3 round fight and if she’s able to land two in this fight, her low center of gravity will make it very hard for Katlyn to get back to her feet. Chookagian has shown the ability to beat lower-level fighters, it’s just a problem once she’s fighting against high-level ones. She got dominated in her losses vs current champion Shevchenko and former champion Jessica Andrade. She uses a lot of mirage in her fights meaning she throws a lot of volume that doesn’t really hurt her opponents. Calvillo has all the advantages in the striking and grappling stats. For her, the big key will be trying to manage her distance vs a taller fighter and potentially taking her down. If she can do so, it’s more than likely we’ll see her win by decision.
Fight #5: Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua vs Paul ‘Bearjew’ Craig 2
Pick: Paul Craig 2
Breakdown: This is a rematch after their draw in November of last year. Rua is coming in having won 5 of his last 7 but those fights span over the last 5 years. The fights he had 4 fights ago is a different version of the fighter he is now. He’s absorbed lots of damage over the time and is now past his prime. Paul Craig is coming in the more active fighter with 5 fights to his name in the last year and a half. Interestingly, Rua is 1-6 in his last 7 fights in the US. Craig has 12 of his 13 wins coming by submission, so that seems like the path he will have to try and pursue. With the BJJ Black belt of Rua, it’s unlikely that he will be able to get the submission fully, but we will likely see him control the fight with top position and grind it out to a victory.
You can follow Johnathan on Twitter @ThreePieceCombo
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