UFC travels down south into Mexico as the heavyweights look to unify the title in Mexico City. His Hispanic heritage and pride follow Cain Velasquez each and every time he steps inside the UFC octagon, fueling the champion through his title defenses. Fabricio Werdum has carried over his own momentum into this match, having won his last five fights to earn his shot at Velasquez. The co-main event understandably does not have quite the implications that the main event does, but both Melendez and Alvarez carry a grudge into the cage that has boiled over for years. Their names have consistently been linked to each other since each reigned in their respective divisions in different promotions – Alvarez in Bellator with Melendez in Strikeforce. The two main attractions of UFC 188 should alone be enough to satisfy the pickiest fan. Fights start on Fight Pass at 6:30 p.m. EST and switch to FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. EST, with the final destination being on pay-per-view at 10 p.m. EST. The MMA spotlight will shine on Velasquez vs. Verdum with the following Draft Kings predictions.
[C] Cain Velasquez (13-1) vs. #1 Fabricio Werdum (19-5-1) Heavyweight Championship Bout – It still is really hard to comprehend that Werdum has triumphed this far, and could potentially be in the spotlight as the unheralded UFC heavyweight champion come Saturday. From looking lost and throwing slaps at his opponents early on in his career, Werdum has developed some of the most gruesome knees in the game. His Thai clinch is effective and surprisingly very nonchalantly controlled by the fighter, which is quite a mark, considering the weight at which he is fighting. With all that said, though, he still may not match up to the undisputed UFC heavyweight champion Velasquez in Saturday’s UFC 188. The champion pushes a pace that cannot be matched in the division, while his relentless power and unpredictability makes him one of the most feared in the organization. It is really cliché to use a main event fighter as a fantasy horse to ride all night, but still very understandable. The fight may not go all five rounds – expect around round three to be the tipping point for Velasquez. Draft Kings prediction: Velasquez via Technical Knockout.
#4 Gilbert Melendez (22-4) vs. #9 Eddie Alvarez (25-4) Lightweight Bout – A match-up that many have been clamoring for since their former promotion days, Alvarez and Melendez may steal the show in the co-main event come Saturday night. Melendez has the grit and attitude to hang with anyone, however he really lacks the refined tools to be great in one specific area. Alvarez is a tremendous boxer; mixing up his angles with ease. If “El Niño” wants to win this UFC lightweight contest, he will have to make this a dogfight. Alvarez could easily work his quickness and angles and just tee off on Melendez at will, but this has been personal for a very long time, which may show inside the octagon. Melendez has always been a very underrated fighter, winning fights at which not many gave him a shot in the first place. Fantasy-wise, this is not a good match-up for either to finish within the distance. Both are tough-as-nails fighters, and have finished a combined four times throughout their careers. Although a fun fight for the fans, it could lead to losses for fantasy owners relying on a finish. Melendez via Split Decision.
#10 Kelvin Gastelum (11-1) vs. Nate “The Great” Marquardt (36-14-2) Middleweight Bout – The inconsistency of Marquardt has really defined him throughout his career. Once a contender in the UFC, he has lost four out of his last five fights, and is nearly on the verge of getting cut from the promotion. Gastelum finally got himself a taste of what a contender-ship fight feels like, and even though the results were not to his liking, the experience will hopefully help him get over the hump in the middleweight division. Gastelum is very well-rounded, and with the Mexico people and his heritage rallying behind him, Gastelum will be looking to put on a show. Do not expect Marquardt to last long, and throw Gastelum into the mix on Draft Kings lineups. Gastelum via Technical Knockout.
Yair Rodriguez (4-1) vs. Charles Rosa (10-1) Featherweight Bout – This fight is somewhat of a head-scratcher, with Henry Cejudo fighting on the prelims, but nonetheless, the UFC puts together the main cards, not the MMA Spotlight. Rodriguez won the The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America, and even though he won, none of the fighters he beat match up to the level of talent of Rosa. Rosa is a methodical finisher, plain and simple. No matter where the fight goes, the kid can finish it anywhere. At 10 wins and 10 finishes, his lone loss came at the hands of Dennis Siver, in a fight dubbed “Fight of the Night.” Rosa should be the clear favorite heading into his opponent’s backyard, and will be a pricey addition to a fantasy lineup, albeit well-deserved. Rosa via Submission.
#5 Tecia Torres (5-0) vs. #15 Angela Hill (2-0) Strawweight Bout – This is the perfect fight to open up UFC 188 in Mexico – no doubt about it. Both women pride themselves on their striking, and quite frankly, almost anyone who is a fan of fighting loves a good ol’ scrap between the women. Hill has grown up quite a bit since the show, and has really shown that her striking game can be downright scary. Torres could almost be labeled a point fighter, and has not garnered a finish since her amateur days in MMA. Though the finishes do not follow Torres, she is quite the scrapper and loves to stick and move around the cage. The storyline here is almost predictable, though. Hill will stalk Torres while she dances around the cage, and sooner or later, Hill is going to land something devastating and hurt Torres. Someone’s “0” must go, and the prediction here is that Hill will keep hers. Hill via Technical Knockout.
As mentioned before, Cejudo will be fighting Chico Camus on the card; making another attempt to drop down to flyweight. If he misses weight here, there is almost no doubt that the UFC will make his move to bantamweight permanent. Notable fighters Johnny Case and Cathal Pendred will also be gracing UFC 188 with their presence. Stay tuned to the MMA Spotlight for the results of UFC 188 and the match-up between Velasquez and Verdum, and see if the Draft Kings predictions were right.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
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Photo Courtesy of Peter Gordon’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
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