UFC 232 has already gotten off to a strange start. With the return of Jon Jones, and testing positive for a banned substance, the location of the event was moved just days before it was set to take place. A lot of questions have circulated about how everything transpired, but no answers are being presented.
And as of yesterday, double champion Daniel Cormier relinquished his light heavyweight belt to avoid it being stripped. This comes after DC fought three times in 2018, becoming the first double champion to ever defend both belts, and winning fighter of the year honors. All in all, this event has had plenty to talk about, and it hasn’t even started yet.
But let’s break down the main and co-main events, and throw out some predictions!
(C) Cristiane “Cris Cyborg” Justino (20-1) v. (C) Amanda “Lioness” Nunes (16-4)
A legitimate super fight, these two women are about to make history! UFC 232 is the first time two current female champions will meet each other inside the Octagon. Not only that, but Nunes has the opportunity to become just the third fighter in UFC history to be the simultaneous champion in two weight classes (McGregor and Cormier the other two).
When it comes to this matchup, this is a story of striking. Cyborg lands a ridiculous 7.02 SLpM, but with her 70% striking defense, she only absorbs 1.79 SApM. That striking differential is huge, coming in at 5.23, as opposed to Nunes 1.67 differential.
Nunes doesn’t land as often (4.55 SLpM) but her accuracy is right on par with Cyborg. Both women land at a rate of 51% and 52% respectively. The real problem area could reside in Nunes striking defense, sitting at 56%. If Cris can keep her normal pressure, and Nunes defense stands constant, Cyborg will land around 4 SLpM, and in a five-round fight, those will add up quickly.
So does Nunes have a chance? I believe so, but not as much on the feet. Nunes averages 1.82 takedowns per 15 and has won three fights via submission. Cyborg’s lone loss came by way of submission (mind you, it was her MMA debut and in 2005) and this could be the way to a Nunes victory.
Getting Cyborg to the ground isn’t necessarily an easy task though. She touts a 91% takedown defense, but a lot of those are desperation takedown attempts. Nunes could clip Cyborg on the feet, but using her hands to set up the takedown is her best shot in my opinion.
Cris Cyborg (RND 4) TKO Nunes wins via KO (RND 1)
Jon “Bones” Jones (22-1 1NC) v. Alexander “The Mauler” Gustaffson (18-4)
The first fight between these two was an all-out war, and fans are hoping for more of the same. The last meeting, dating back to September 21st, 2013, won FOTN bonuses. Even though Jones won via unanimous decision, many still think Gustaffson won the fight. If Jon wins this rematch, controversy is sure to surround this victory as well. Jones tested positive for Turinabol (reportedly three times now dating back to before December 11th), but is still being allowed to fight.
According to fightmetric.com, these two athletes match up well. Statistically speaking, the only considerable advantage that either fighter has over the other in Jones SApM. Where he absorbs only 2.12, Gustaffson has 3.40 SApM. His strike accuracy and defense is a little lower as well (40% to 55% and 52% to Jon’s 65% respectively).
Both men have fantastic takedown defense, with Gustaffson being only the second person to take Jones down (Cormier landed a takedown once). Jon boasts a 95% takedown defense, which is insane knowing he has faced Daniel Cormier twice, Chael Sonnen and Ryan Bader.
If I am honest, I will not be watching this fight. I do not like the actions of Jones leading up to UFC 232, nor the way the UFC has catered to him. For this reason, I am hoping Gustaffson wins this fight handily.
Alexander Gustaffson (RND 3) TKO Jones wins via TKO (RND 3)
Rest of UFC 232 Main Card
Michael Chiesa- Sub √
Corey Anderson- TKO √ (Dec)
Chad Mendes- Decision Χ Volkanovski wins via TKO
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