UFC 227 will feature two title fights in the co-main and main events. The men’s flyweight and bantamweight belts are up for grabs in a set of rematches that bring with it some heated rivalries. Former teammates turned rivals TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt will face off in the highly anticipated main event. TJ was able to halt the train to superstardom that Garbrandt was on with a TKO stoppage in the second round of their last fight. Garbrandt says it was a fluke, Dillashaw says it will happen again. Only time will tell once these warriors step back into the cage, who will exit victorious!
Thiago “Marreta” Santos (17-6) vs. Kevin “Trailblazer” Holland (12-3)
Santos– Coming off of a loss to David Branch, Santos faces a promotional newcomer in this middleweight matchup. The Brazilian fighter got clipped early in his last fight but was riding a four-fight win streak, defeating Anthony Smith in February. Santos is a stand-up fighter landing 4.59 significant strikes per min (SSpM) with a striking accuracy of 48% (according to fightmetric.com).
Holland– Kevin Holland is fresh off his Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series (DWTNCS) decision win back in June, and gets his first crack at UFC prime time against Thiago Santos. The Phalanx MMA Academy product is entering the contest on a four-fight winning streak that includes two TKOs and an arm-triangle submission, to go along with his most recent DWTNCS decision victory. Holland lands a slightly higher SSpM (5.53) but has a lesser strike accuracy (43%). Holland does possess a bit more ground prowess, securing five submission victories to Santos’s one.
PREDICTION: Kevin Holland- Decision
Polyana “Dara de Ferro” Viana Mota (10-1) vs. JJ Aldrich (6-2)
Viana– Polyana is a well-rounded fighter finishing all of her victories (four KO and six Subs) and losing her only fight that went to a decision. Having won her last six fights, Viana Mota will look to continue her finishing and winning streak by getting this fight to the ground. The Brazilian strawweight averages 3.91 takedowns per 15 minutes and a ridiculous 11.7 submission attempts per 15 minutes! Polyana is no stranger to the stand-up game either, as she lands 3.13 SSpM and absorbs only 1.57, creating a +1.56 striking differential, compared to Aldrich’s -0.06 differential. The ability to get the fight to the ground will heavily favor Viana Mota.
Aldrich– Aldrich is a grinding fighter with four of her six wins coming by decision. She throws punches and isn’t afraid to eat punches as her -0.06 striking differential shows. Fighting an opponent with six submission wins could present a problem, considering one of her two losses was by rear-naked choke to Jamie Moyle, which is still the only submission victory on Moyle’s record. Aldrich will hopefully have worked on her takedown defense (42%) and can keep this fight on the feet and drag Viana Mota to her second decision.
PREDICTION: Polyana Viana Mota- Submission (RND 1)
Cub Swanson (25-9) vs, Renato “Moicano” Carneiro (12-1)
Swanson– Fresh off of two consecutive losses to Brian Ortega and Frankie Edgar, Cub Swanson will look to right the ship with a memorable win over Renato Carneiro. Swanson definitely has the experience edge over his opponent with 34 fights to Miocano’s 13, as well as an edge in knockout power (eight for Swanson, zero Carneiro). Outside of those areas, fightmetric.com shows Carneiro with the advantages of SSpM, striking differential, striking defense, takedown accuracy, and takedown defense.
Carneiro– Renato lost to Brian Ortega in a similar fashion as Cub Swanson back in 2017. The First Class Center product was able to land a ton of strikes in that fight against Ortega, and keeping distance, while using his speed, could strongly favor the Brazilian in this matchup. His 76% takedown defense and 55% takedown accuracy could prove favorable if he is able to hurt Swanson on the feet, or get hurt himself.
PREDICTION: Renato Carneiro- Decision
Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (27-2) vs. Henry “The Messenger” Cejudo (12-2)
Widely regarded as one of the greatest fighters of all time, Demetrious Johnson the pound for pound king, will be looking to defend his belt for the TWELFTH consecutive time on Saturday. It is the first of two title fights and the first of two rematches on the card. Johnson and Cejudo last met in April of 2016 and saw Mighty Mouse secure his eighth title defense with a TKO victory. Here we are now, two and a half years later, and Cejudo is ready to take another shot at the champion, and secure the title for himself, The Messenger has said his message loud and clear, declaring that he is a far better-prepared fighter than he was the last time he faced Johnson. What makes the Champion so dangerous inside the Octagon is his ability to finish the fight in multiple ways. He is a technically good striker and is able to avoid incoming strikes (striking differential is +1.8). He also attempts 3.54 takedowns per 15 minutes and has a 56% accuracy. Cejudo will look to keep his 100% takedown defense in check against Johnson but will respect Johnson’s striking this go around as well. This is the mystery on how to beat Mighty Mouse Johnson, he is willing to engage in the area you perhaps overlooked. If too much time was spent in Cejudo’s camp working on standup, Johnson may just take this to the ground or settle into the clinch. If too much time was spent on takedown defense, another TKO could be on the menu for The Messenger. We just have to wait and see if someone has finally cracked the code on how to beat Demetrious Johnson!
PREDICTION: Demetrious Johnson- Submission (RND 4)
TJ Dillashaw (15-3) vs. Cody “No Love” Garbrandt (11-1)
The tension has been palpable between these two fighters far before they first took center cage on November 4th, 2017. The results of that fight, Dillashaw winning by second-round TKO, has only stirred the further adding more and more tension into the mix. Trash talk aside, this fight will no doubt be just as explosive as the first one. Late in round one, Garbrandt was able to drop Dillashaw with a clean shot that clearly hurt him but was able to last until the bell and recoup between rounds. Both fighters came out blasting shots again before TJ was able to get in close and land a hard shot on No Love that dropped him to the canvas. Dillashaw pounced immediately, leaving no time or room for Cody to regain his wits. Once Dan Miragliotta stopped the contest, TJ let out a primal scream, and then another, this time in the face of the now standing Cody Garbrandt. No Love says that the KO was a fluke or a result of a poor camp due to his lingering back injury, while Dillashaw says it was always going to happen that way, and will again in the rematch. While the TKO victory is a complete shock, the fact that it happened in close is interesting. Garbrandt is the better close distance fighter using his exceptional head movement to land shots in close and avoids any returning punches. A few key Fight Metric statistics stand out as we head into the rematch. Dillashaw has a striking differential of +2.35 while Garbrandt sits at only +0.46, Garbrandt doesn’t throw as many strikes per minute as TJ, but both are close in strikes absorbed. If No Love can avoid a few of those extra strikes, it could be the difference maker. Also of note is both fighters takedown defense, Cody is a clean 100% and TJ is 85%, though TJ attempts more takedowns per 15 minutes with 1.73 compared to Garbrandt’s 1.06. I fully expect the action to match, if not exceed, the level of trash talk and harsh comments that have been thrown around!