It’s more than half way through 2018, and the UFC’s broadcast partnership with Fox network is quickly coming to an end. One could say that it was a rocky ride, and with UFC asking for more money while the TV ratings are steadily declining, continuing the relationship was not a winning proposition for Fox. And so in 2019, UFC will be moving on to ESPN as their new broadcast painter, while Fox will be picking up WWE for their brand of sports entertainment. So the UFC on Fox 30 will be one of, if not the last UFC event broadcast on ‘Big Fox’. To commemorate the approaching end of an era, I’ll do something I haven’t done in a while: a preview & predictions for the four fights on the main card.
Dustin Poirier is a -165 (3/5) favorite over Eddie Alvarez (+135; 4/3) in their rematch at UFC of Fox 30. This is tightly contested rematch and you can see which sports book offers the best odds before betting on this UFC Calgary event; take a look at the sportsbooks which are reviewed on mytopsportsbooks.com. While Alvarez is a former lightweight champ with a longer reach and better wrestling pedigree, Poirier was winning the first fight before illegal knees from Alvarez resulted in a no contest. Poirier had landed almost twice as many significant strikes through the first nine minutes (73-44) and was getting the better of the exchanges both in the clinch and from distance. The 29-year-old Poirier was also able to stifle three of four takedown attempts from the 34-year-old Alvarez.
Despite the betting odds and what the statistics of the first fight show, I’m going to go with the higher ranked fighter in Eddie Alvarez, mainly because I have more confidence in his durability and gas tank. Porrier has never seen a fifth round in his career, while Alvarez has had a couple of five rounders go the distance. Both men were knocked out by Conor McGregor; Porrier has also been stopped by Michael Johnson in 2016, while Eddie’s only T/KO loss besides McGregor was back in 2007. Porrier doesn’t have McGregor’s level of KO power and Alvarez was able to absorb plenty of punishment in their first meeting. And it seems unlikely that either man will be able to submit the other; so unless Dustin somehow manages to land a fight-ending bomb early, I see Alvarez weathering the storm and taking over later in the fight, eventually finishing Porrier in rounds four or five.
Prediction: Eddie Alvarez by TKO.
This is a battle of two young veterans: 31-year old Aldo, former WEC & UFC featherweight champion, has been fighting professionally since 2004 and at one point went undefeated for 18 fights over a period of nearly 8 years. However after losing his title to Conor McGregor at UFC 194 in a fight that lasted a mere thirteen seconds, Aldo’s career has taken a sharp downturn. He managed to take a decision from Frankie Edgar in a rebound, however his next two fights were both brutal beat-downs at the hands and feet of the current (and currently ailing) featherweight champ Max Holloway. Aldo looked like a shadow of his old self in those fights, and whether that can be attributed to the wear and tear on his body or just the fact that Holloway is a better fighter, the damage he took in these two fights could take years off a fighter’s career.
While Jeremy Stephens is a year older than Aldo and has been fighting professionally for almost as long (or even longer if you count his amateur career), ‘Lil Heathen’ seems to be aging like a fine wine. Tied for the second place for most bouts in the UFC Octagon with 28, his overall record of 15-13 is not the most impressive. However since moving down to 145 lbs in 2013, he has not been finished in any of his losses, and is steadily rising in the featherweight rankings. Stephens is currently riding a three win streak, with violent finishes over Josh Emmet and Doo Ho Choi, and an prolonged beatdown of Gilbert Melendez that left Melendez barely able to stand on his own powers. Based on their performances in the last year, it seems that Stephens is entering a late career prime, while Aldo has peaked and is now descending down the wrong side of the hill. I’m going to make a bold prediction: not only will Stephens finish Jose within 4 rounds, this is likely also the last time we will see Aldo put on the gloves as a professional MMA fighter.
Prediction: Jeremy Stephens by TKO.
Oh how the mighty have fallen… once undefeated at 14-0, former strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk took to calling herself “Joanna Champion” – can’t really blame her considering how difficult her last name is to pronounce to anyone who’s not of Polish descent – and was well on the way to being considered the greatest women’s MMA fighter of all time. Until ‘Thug’ Rose Namajunas came along, defeating Joanna in back-to-back fights: a first round knock-out followed by a hard-fought five round decision which left no questions unanswered. “We’re only going to die by our own arrogance“, according to some rock star…
So now 30-year old Joanna “Ex-Champion” is taking on the 28-year old Tecia “The Tiny Tornado” Torres (great nickname by the way, I love alliterations) – in a rebound match of sorts. Torres, like Joanna, has 2 losses in her professional career: one of them a decision to the aforementioned Namajunas, the other also a decision to the [#2] Jessica Andrade in Tecia’s most recent outing. While a lot of luster has been knocked off Joanna after the two losses and she no longer has an aura of invincibility, the second fight with Namajunas was a fairly competitive affair, so I don’t believe that the ex-champ is a shot fighter. Tecia Torres will be at a significant height and reach disadvantage, and has only secured a single finish in her MMA career. I don’t believe she will present much of a threat to Joanna either on the feet or on the ground, and is primed to receive a thorough three-round drubbing.
Prediction: Joanna Jedrzejczyk by decision.
Rounding out the main card is a fight between two young lightweight prospects. Ever since George St. Pierre’s semi-retirement, UFC has been looking for a new Canadian superstar to retain the interest of the fans in the Northern North America market. And while Olivier Aubin-Mercier is nowhere near superstar level quite yet, he could certainly fit the bill if his career remains on track. The 29-year old ‘Quebec Kid’ Aubin-Mercier is 7-2 in the UFC, with 5 finishes – most recently a very impressive first round stoppage of Evan Dunham. He boasts an 82% finish rate through his professional career, but despite possessing a killer instinct once the cage doors close, he comes off as an all-around nice guy – even offering his opponents and all other fighters on the card home-made muffins after each weight in. So while the initials AUM don’t roll off the tongue quite like GSP, Olivier has all the attributes to potentially become the next Quebecois champion in the mold of St. Pierre.
His opponent, 25-year old Alexander ‘The Great’ Hernandez, burst onto the UFC scene seemingly out of nowhere, quickly knocking out the grizzled veteran Beniel Dariush in his Octagon debut. An impressive feat, on par with AUM’s finish of Evan Dunham – who fought Dariush to a draw just one fight prior – but other than that Hernandez is still largely an unknown quantity. Despite the fact that Hernandez sits a couple of spots ahead of Mercier in our lightweight rankings, I will have to go with the more proven and seasoned fighter in Olivier.
Prediction: Olivier Aubin-Mercier by submission.