Conor McGregor vs. Diego Brandao:
Mike Drahota: I must say the considerable buzz and hype of this fight is tough to deny; it’s built up an insane amount of promotion for a fight that features a No. 13-ranked fighter facing an opponent coming off a knockout loss on Fight Pass. That said McGregor is no doubt one of the most polarizing stars in MMA right now.
The UFC needs more fighters like him in this time of sparse title defenses. To become the next big thing, he’ll need to win this fight. He’s talked too much trash not to, and McGregor will look to back it up with his power, speed, angles, and relentless aggression. IF Brandao is smart, he’ll look to get this fight to the ground and take McGregor out the only way he’s ever lost, by submission.
But I’m guessing that he lets his emotions get the best of him and engages in a slugfest, which is just what McGregor wants. ‘Notorious’ via first round knockout.
Rory Kernaghan: Conor McGregor has been quite the anomaly since joining the UFC, and has only competed twice for the promotion. Diego Brandao is certainly a stern challenge, but I feel he will be the proof in the pudding, as far as McGregor’s hype train is concerned.
A Cage Warriors multi-division champion, and (in my mind) part of the next generation of MMA fighters, I’ve watched ‘The Notorious’ dominate the European MMA scene for years, and now is the next step for him. Home advantage-McGregor, speed advantage-McGregor, and the result will be a first round knockout for the Irish bad boy.
Brian Cox: Conor McGregor seems to have the tools necessary to go all the way to the top of the UFC 145-pound division. The most significant weapon in his arsenal might be his overwhelming belief in himself; McGregor might be the most confident fighter in the UFC. Against Diego Brandao, “Notorious” is taking on a fighter that’s confident he can knock McGregor out. I expect this fight to be a war and one that transpires on the feet. I think McGregor will try to use his overwhelming pace and style to befuddle Brandao and put him on his heels.
For his part, I think “DB” will look to shock McGregor by doing the exact same thing in return. For me, the fight will boil down to momentum. If Brandao can hurt McGregor early and turn his dream into a nightmare, then he can win the fight.
However, if he allows McGregor to build up a head of steam, it could be a very short night for “DB.” Considering the venue, crowd, and circumstance, I think “Notorious” is going to be hard to beat in his hometown of Dublin. For those reasons, I’m picking Conor McGregor by first round TKO.
Gunnar Nelson vs. Zak Cummings:
Mike Drahota: Nelson has looked exceptional in winning his first three UFC fights, all of which have been in Europe. This one will be no different, and he brings a much longer list of accomplishments than his opponent Cummings. But the TUF 17 veteran is a big welterweight who fought Ryan Jimmo at light heavyweight in 2011, meaning he could pose a problem for Nelson at some point.
Cummings will be applying pressure with his striking, but he has to look out for “Gunni’s” counter strikes. Nelson will most likely be looking to get this fight to the ground and lock on a fight-ending hold. Cummings is tough to put away but he has tapped out once.
It may be closer than you might think, but I think the home field advantage ultimately lends the Icelandic warrior a huge boost here. Nelson via round two submission.
Rory Kernaghan: Gunnar Nelson is coming in to this fight on a ton of hype, and unfortunately for Zak Cummings, I feel the Irish man will be triumphant in his hometown. Props to Cummings for going four unbeaten, but I don’t feel he has what it takes to be the first man to defeat 12-0 Renzo Gracie product ‘Gunni’. Look for him to get this fight down to the mat early on. Nelson wins by first round guillotine choke.
Brian Cox: Gunnar Nelson has chops and is not only good everywhere, but also has a high ring IQ. In going up against Zak Cummings he’s taking on a big 170-pound fighter and one that’s as well rounded as Nelson. This should be a great fight and one that I think will inevitably end up on the ground.
Either man can win this bout and the loser will be the fighter that makes the first mistake. I think Cummings will look to be the general in the ring, coming forward in search of the clinch game up against the fence. In return, I believe Nelson will look to keep the distance and counter Cummings.
When the fight hits the floor, I think Nelson will prove better in the grappling department. For that reason, I’m picking Gunnar Nelson by way of second round submission.
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