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The Downes Side: UFC 184 Predictions

UFC / WEC veteran Dan Downes talks strategy and predictions for UFC 184: Rousey vs. Zingano, taking place Saturday, February 28...
That’s right boys and girls, it’s time for another LA (not quite so) Confidential edition of the Downes Side! Some people call it “The City of Angels” others “La La Land.” Personally, I just call it the place 120 miles north of me that I’m glad I never have to visit.

Despite my geographical preferences, if there’s ever a time I’ll take the 52 West to the 805, merge into the 5, follow California state route 73 northbound to the 405, into I-10 E towards Figueroa street -- it’ll be to watch the UFC 184. Live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey will defend her title against Cat Zingano. In the co-main event of the evening, Holly Holm makes her much-anticipated debut against Raquel Pennington. Make sure you have enough avocados on hand, because it’s fight time!

TONY FERGUSON VS. GLEISON TIBAU

We open the main card in the lightweight division with Tony Ferguson and Gleison Tibau. Winner of Season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter, Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson holds a 7-1 record inside the Octagon. A Division II national champion wrestler, he also has 11 career KOs. A veteran of 24 UFC fights who made his professional debut when Limp Bizkit was still cool, Gleison Tibau bullies opponents with brute force.

With fighters who have been on the UFC stage as long as Tibau, we often fail to acknowledge how they’ve changed over the years. Tibau’s grinding style may still be his base, but he has improved his striking. He’ll find some early success with his power combos, but he’ll slow as the fight progresses. Ferguson has the more diverse skill set, and that will lead him to victory as he stuffs takedown attempts and counter strikes his way to the unanimous decision win.

ALAN JOUBAN VS. RICHARD WALSH

Next we move to welterweight for Alan Jouban and Richard Walsh. After an impressive first-round knockout over Seth Baczynski, Jouban found himself on the wrong end of a controversial decision down in Brazil. A skilled Muay Thai striker, he can be a bit of a slow starter. A TUF Nations veteran, Richard Walsh also fell victim to the judges’ scorecards his last time out. Primarily a boxer, Walsh punishes opponents in close range.

As far as technique is concerned, Jouban far exceeds Walsh. He possesses superior movement and the ability to string together combinations. “Filthy” Rich’s path to victory rests on making it dirty. Not as dirty as that 50 Shades of Grey movie, but just as painful (but not nearly as painful as your mother discussing the movie with you). He needs to use his dirty boxing and push Jouban around. If “Brahma’s” last fight against Warlley Alves is any indication, that’s certainly possible. Walsh takes some initial damage, but he’ll eventually push Jouban to the fence and take him down. From there he’ll ground and pound and control his way to the decision.

JAKE ELLENBERGER VS. JOSH KOSCHECK

We remain at welterweight for Josh Koscheck and Jake Ellenberger. One of the last remaining TUF 1 cast members on the active roster, Josh Koscheck returns to action for the first time since his KO loss to Tyron Woodley in November 2013. Once considered one of the elite 170-pound fighters in the UFC, Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger has lost three straight fights. His last time out he suffered only the second submission loss of his career (and first in over seven years) at the hands of Kelvin Gastelum.

Both fighters have a lot at stake. The winner stays relevant in the welterweight picture and sets themselves up for a ranked opponent. The loser suffers the Cali Swag District treatment of, “Hey, remember 2010? That was pretty cool, right?” Koscheck may be the better pure wrestler, but he’s never been able to get his striking together. He has a solid jab, but he’ll need more than that. The Juggernaut may not be back to his old form, but he’ll at least gain some momentum when he locks up the second round TKO.

RAQUEL PENNINGTON VS. HOLLY HOLM

That brings us to the co-main event between Raquel Pennington and Holly Holm. Pennington burst on the scene with a strong performance on TUF 18. A tough, aggressive brawler, she made old school UFC fans and Carlos Newton happy with a rarely seen bulldog choke win over Ashlee Evans-Smith at UFC 181. A former professional boxer, Holly Holm makes her much-anticipated debut inside the Octagon.

Much like the Jouban/Walsh fight, Pennington can overwhelm her opponent by not playing the distance game. Technique is all fine and good, but it’s hard to throw combos when someone is in your face, pushing you against the cage. Having said that, Holm’s striking will be too much for her to handle. Much is made about Holm’s boxing, but her kicking game has grown tremendously. She’ll keep the distance with her legs and batter Pennington for a full three rounds. Holm by decision.

RONDA ROUSEY VS. CAT ZINGANO

Time for the main event! If you don’t know who Ronda Rousey is, you probably have never heard of the UFC. Not only is she the greatest female fighter right now, she’s the best eva (take that Phil Baroni). Standing in her way is Cat Zingano. A knee injury sidelined her initial title shot, but Zingano came back with a strong third-round TKO over Amanda Nunes.

Every time Rousey fights, we hear about how this will be “her toughest test yet.” So far, the tests have been about as difficult as a DMV exam. Zingano presents a stronger offensive skill set than any of Rousey’s previous opponents, but not enough to think she can pull off the win. Rousey isn’t invincible. There have been brief flashes of vulnerability, but Zingano’s takedown defense has vulnerabilities of its own. Rousey by first-round submission.

That wraps up another Hollywood-caliber edition of the Downes Side. Follow me on Twitter @dannyboydownes. Also, don’t forget to leave your own prognostications, consternations, supplications and adorations on the page here. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must study film for this weekend’s event. Not sure if I should start with Beverly Hills Cop, Beverly HIlls Ninja or Troop Beverly Hills.

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