For the first time ever Croatia will host a UFC event. UFC Fight Night 86 comes to the Zagreb Arena in Zagreb, Croatia and is headlined by a terrific heavyweight fight between former champion Junior Dos Santos and Ben Rothwell. The co-main event features what should also be an exciting fight between heavyweights Gabriel Gonzaga and Derrick Lewis.
The card offers up yet two more heavyweight battles as Curtis Blaydes takes on Francis Ngannou and Timothy Johnson matches up against Marcin Tybura. The main card rounds out with Strawweights Maryna Moroz vs. Cristina Stanciu and Light Heavyweights Igor Pokrajac vs. Jan Blachowicz.
Junior Dos Santos is coming into this fight knowing this is a must win situation. His last fight was a knockout loss to Alistair Overeem in December. Pair that with the two beatings he took at the hands of Cain Velasquez and the five round battle with Stipe Miocic, and one has to wonder how much is left physically. Both fighters are known to have some of the most power in the division, but it's JDS’ chin that's in question.
Dos Santos will want to keep the fight standing where he can rely on his speed and his hands against Rothwell on Sunday. If JDS is going to win he must utilize his quickness and establish his jab to maintain distance. The last thing he wants is to find his back to the cage. Dos Santos has to keep the fight in the middle of the cage in order to use his biggest advantage against Rothwell, which is his speed. If Dos Santos can keep distance, stay off the cage and work his quick hands I think he can get the decision.
Meanwhile, Ben Rothwell is coming in with a ton of confidence after winning his last four fights in a row, including a knockout of Overeem and a submission of Jake Barnett. A win here will surely get him a shot at the heavyweight title. Like Dos Santos, Rothwell has huge power and can end the fight with one well placed punch. He's also developed quite a submission game as was displayed against Jake Barnett. Rothwell will look to back JDS up where he can do the most damage. But, should the fight go to the ground, that's just fine for Rothwell too as he holds the advantage over Dos Santos in the grappling department. If Rothwell can cut off the cage, back JDS up and work inside it's his fight to lose.
This is a big fight for Derrick Lewis. If he wins, his next fight will be against a top ten contender, but if he loses his climb back into relevancy will be steep. On the other hand, a win by Gabriel Gonzaga still leaves him at least two more wins away from becoming a contender. Because these two are fighters are heavyweights the possibility of a one punch knockout is always there. Gonzaga's best chances at winning are in the takedown game and working his ground and pound. Cardio has been a problem for Gonzaga, so the longer the fight goes on there's less chance of him coming out with a victory.
At this point in time Lewis possesses more ways to win the fight. I expect Gonzaga to come out hot and try to end the fight quickly. Once Lewis gets past the first couple of minutes of Gonzaga's onslaught the fight is his. Expect Gonzaga to gas out late in the first round giving Lewis the openings he needs to end the fight by TKO.
Ben Rothwell (36-9) vs. Junior Dos Santos (17-4) Current Line: Dos Santos -130, Rothwell +110 Pick: Rothwell by TKO
Derrick Lewis (14-4) vs. Gabriel Gonzaga (17-10) Current Line: Lewis -150, Gonzaga +130 Pick: Lewis by TKO
Francis Ngannou (6-1) vs. Curtis Blaydes (5-0) Current Line: Blaydes -145, Ngannou +125 Pick: Blaydes by TKO
Timothy Johnson (9-2) vs. Marcin Tybura (13-3) Current Line: Tybura -150, Johnson +130 Pick: Johnson by decision
Igor Pokrajac (25-12) vs. Jan Blachowicz (18-5) Current Line: Blachowicz -350, Pokrajac +275 Pick: Blachowicz by TKO
Maryna Moroz (6-1) vs. Cristina Stanciu (5-0) Current Line: Moroz -200, Stanciu +165 Pick: Moroz by decision
Enjoy the fights!
The Fighting Champion
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