The sixth and final UFC event of the month finally closes the show and it features a welterweight contest plus an important women's strawweight bout.
What: UFC 201: Lawler vs. Woodley
Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
When: Saturday, the two-fight Fight Pass preliminary card starts at 7 p.m. ET, the four-fight Fox Sports 2 preliminary card starts at 8 p.m. and the five-fight pay-per-view card kicks off at 10 p.m. ET.
We just don't know when the bottom is going to drop out on Lawler. Is it at UFC 201? Is it the fight after that? No one knows. It's impossible to tell. Let's assume this isn't the fight where that happens. If so, I expect Lawler to win on a few fronts, not least of which is the ability to get Woodley to back up. I don't know what it means that he's coming off of a loss, but I do know he doesn't fight nearly as well as he does when he's pushing forward. He does possess big power, but if Lawler is methodical and drags this late, this is his fight to lose. But let's not forget: Woodley is fighting with a chip on his shoulder at a moment when Lawler's viability as a guy who hasn't taken too much damage is under question. Make no mistake, Woodley is a live dog.
I'm going to side with the upset here. Overall, Namajunas is the more talented fighter. She's good or better in more areas. However, Kowalkiewicz's takedown defense is better than advertised. She's busy with her strikes and more importantly, Namajunas has traditionally shown a willingness to take a shot, especially in the clinch. Namajunas does like to work behind the jab, but to her credit, she also isn't afraid to mix it up in various spaces. The problem is Namajunas is a little too willing to take a shot to give one. With the kind of output Kowalkiewicz gives combined with her more than decent scrambling, we're in upset city territory.
This has to be do-or-die for Ellenberger. Be that as it may, I don't see how it's likely he gets it done. Plausible, sure, but likely? I just don't see it. Brown had his setback against Demian Maia, but even then his defense was tight. Beyond that, he's so massively improved everywhere, it barely deserves comment. I expect Brown to work on the outside as long as necessary, stuff takedowns when applicable and crush Ellenberger in the clinch.
Editor's note: The author accidentally wrote in the wrong name when first publishing. Brown is the official choice.
Rivera's takedown defense and power will likely prove too much for Goyito. Perez might be more well rounded and could potentially make Rivera pay if the grappling exchanges are prolonged. All things being equal, however, I expect Rivera to land enoguh to make Perez hesitant. To the extent he's hesitant, his best offense should be something Rivera can handle.
This is a bit of a tough call and I am admittedly biased (the wife's Colombian, so, you know...). Serrano has much better pure wrestling than Benoit, but Benoit's grappling to find the back or work from turtle is pretty respectable. Ultimately, this will come down to Serrano being able to stop the takedown, which he should. From there, it's who can apply offense on the feet. Benoit has cleaner fundamentals, but Serrano has bigger power. Should Serrano decide to take it to the mat, he'll likely have enough success to make it work. It's a tight contest, but the Colombian has enough to pull it out.
From the preliminary card:
Ed Herman def. Nikita Krylov
Jorge Masvidal def. Ross Pearson
Anthony Hamilton def. Damian Grabowski
Wilson Reis def. Hector Sandoval
Michael Graves def. Bojan Velickovic
Cesar Arzamendia def. Damien Brown