When we last left our heroes...McGee has always been a welcome presence in the UFC not for his radiant personality, fluid boxing, and graceful grappling. But for his story. We don't get enough of these in MMA, of tales involving emotional triumph that occurred long before these men (and women) stepped into the octagon. Like watching a film where the characters aren't created from some writer's lazy impression of archetype X, Y, and Z it's always a nice change of pace from the Just Bleed personas Zuffa tries to manufacture in their studio.
McGee is on a two fight winning streak with wins over Josh Neer, and Robert Whittaker. LaFlare is also on a two fight winning streak (undefeated overall) for the only pair of bouts he's had in the UFC.
What both men can do: McGee has always gotten by on his general toughness. He's defensively sound which partially explains why he's never been finished. Being defensively sound, though abstract, is a very good quality in a sport where attrition is king. Sometimes it's enough to simply outlast your opponent. McGee possesses a positionally sound grappling game followed by solid straight right on the feet that makes him formidable against the journeyman of the division.
As for LaFlare he's a little like McGee as well. He seems to enjoy doing most of his work from the clinch in his southpaw stance. He's not a power striker, or an especially dynamic grappler, but he's strong in both areas and seems to have a knack for powering his way through takedowns.
What both men can't do: Ugh. This one could be seriously ugly. Like Mr. Creosote finishing his dinner ugly.
McGee is strong enough to avoid the early pressure, which means a lot of time could be spent against the fence. Neither guy is dynamic enough to pull ahead though I think McGee will make it interesting by looking for submissions and may find a guillotine or two, but this is how I envision the fight. Lots of clinching, and struggling. I think LaFlare takes an ugly one (despite the short notice) en route to a split decision.
X-Factor: The guillotine. LaFlare has a fairly slow shot, so McGee could lock in the choke if he's careful and patient enough. Just something to consider.
Prediction: Ryan LaFlare by Decision.
When we last left our heroes...Castillo has been experiencing the resurgence and success of Team Alpha Male and their newly anointed Jedi master, Duane Ludwig. As such, he's on a two fight winning streak, putting him at 6-2 overall in the UFC. His last two wins were over Tim Means and Paul Sass.
Opposite Castillo is the still feared, and revered Edson Barboza who is also on a two fight winning streak (in what seems to be the theme of the day). For some reason Barboza's loss to Jamie Varner still feels like it was yesterday. Anyway...
What both men can do: Castillo is probably beta of the alpha males, but this still makes him one of the better fighters in the division. His game isn't as dynamic or unfiltered as the rest. He doesn't have a ton of power and his wrestling isn't as strong, but he's still got a solid overall game that relies on top control. He's only ever finished one fight in his 8 bout UFC career, but that's not to say he's incapable.
Barboza will do what he always does which is throw leg kicks that could penetrate a small building. He's got a mean right hand a left hook, but everything is set up by the kicks. He's also a serious handful when it comes to takedown defense. Which is why...
What both men can't do: this could get ugly. Castillo doesn't have a fast shot, and his gas tank is underwhelming. He has a little bit of Varner in him so it's conceivable he can threaten takedowns and lob big right hands at Barboza in the scrambles which is what Jamie did...
But again, it goes back to a lack of fight altering power. Castillo may look good early, but Edson is still very much the blue chip prospect we think he is. While he's a little old to be called "blue chip", the Varner fight wasn't indicative of a greater problem. I'd pick him in a rematch because he still has elite offensive skills on the feet, and excellent takedown defense.
X-Factor: Duane Ludwig. If Castillo's boxing can magically progress under Ludwig's tutelage, this really will be a solid test for Barboza who while elite, showed against Varner AND Ross Pearson that he can still have trouble with efficient boxers.
Prediction: Edson Barboza by TKO, round 2.
When we last left our heroes...Green continues to impress in his limited UFC time. He was always a solid fighter, but he spent too much time toiling away on the Strikeforce's Challengers shows to display his skills against upper tier competition. He's been tested against Jacob Volkmann (ok so "upper tier" is beginning to lose its meaning in the UFC), and James Krause.
Healy has been on a solid run. Or was until he beat Jim Miller and then didn't because of marijuana, and followed it up with a loss to the "meteorically rising" Khabib Nurmagomedoz. This fight will be a good opportunity for him to bounce back.
What both men can do: Green has been taking names lately by going for broke. Only four of his wins have ever gone to a decision with the rest being an equal mixture of knockouts and submissions. With his kicks, and combinations he likes to create opportunities out of action and scrambles.
Healy is a massive LW who excels wherever the fight takes place because he's a veteran in every sense of the word: able to stay composed at all times, and knowing the opportunity presents itself either with a strike or a submission.
What both men can't do: Healy doesn't have any real weaknesses aside from the fact that his performances can be sporadic. He looked relatively uninspired against Khabib even though Sambo has been supernaturally ruling the day lately. Green is kind of like Healy in that sense, but I like Healy to take this bout in exciting fashion. The two will exchange on the feet and on the ground, but Healy will endure because the guy is a tank at LW. In addition, Green is still too wild, and leaves himself open on the ground.
X-Factor: Late notice fight for Green. For some it's a factor. For others it could actually help.
Prediction: Pat Healy by RNC, round 3.
When we last left our heroes...It's interesting to see a Bellator fighter in the UFC (yes I know it's been awhile since he was released) what with all the Ben Askren nonsense. Perhaps it makes Askren's absence that much more significant...here's a former Bellator Bantamweight champion who is good enough to be in the UFC but not an undefeated one in his prime...meh...the Bloody Elbow roundtable is the only discussion in town as far as commentary on Askren vs. the UFC goes, so go there for a more educated opinion. All I can say is, this sucks.
Luckily the same can't be said of this fight, which should be a solid scrap.
Scott is not in a good spot. He's 1-3 in his last four, though all three were to former and current champions (Wineland, Faber, and Barao). Still, another loss and the former WEC title contender could be on his way out.
Makovsky is on a (you guess it) two fight winning streak. He lost his Bellator belt against Eduardo Dantas, and after following it up with a loss to the unheralded Anthony Leone, was relieved of his Bellator contract. Now here he is in the UFC.
What both men can do: One of the things I always liked about Makovsky despite not being entertaining is just how fluid he is on the ground. He's a two steps ahead on the ground kind of fighter, which is entertaining enough when it looks like he's inert yet is anything but. Ok so that sounds vaguely like a snobbish "well you have to be educated to enjoy lay and pray" claim, but I don't find his style especially boring in spots.
Jorgensen is different insofar as he can wrestle as well, but he prefers to keep it standing. He doesn't have a lot of finishes on the feet, but has good raw power in his right hand and loves to throw down. He'd be well served in keeping it standing in this one because...
What both men can't do: Zach just isn't dynamic or strong enough to push the pace standing. He throws a rudimentary one two and has no power to speak of. Lately I've been picking the newbies because we've been getting a lot of Sambo warriors, but Scott is sturdy enough to keep it standing with his takedown defense and superior on the feet where the fight will be won.
X-Factor: Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet. Read: the judges.
Prediction: Scott Jorgensen by Decision.