MIXED MARTIAL ARTS

UFC 218: Aldo-Holloway rematch highlights a stacked card

Jose Aldo looks to get back on track. mmafighting.com

UFC 218 takes place tonight in Detroit, MI at the Little Caesers Arena and presents a nicely stacked main card with a few hidden gems in the prelims. 

The headliner is a rematch between current 145 lb. champion Max “Blessed” Holloway (18-3) and the former division kingpin, Jose Aldo (26-3). Aldo didn’t lose a fight for nine years (2006-15) and came back from his stunning defeat to Conor McGregor with a fantastic performance against Frank Edgar. He then fought Holloway for the title, and looked like the Aldo of old in the first two rounds before fading and being finished in the 3rd round. Holloway has won 11 fights in a row, and is clearly in the prime of his career, but will have his hands full with Aldo, who is a faster striker with an advantage on the ground. The difference may be Holloway’s gas tank, which never seems to run low. 

The co-main event features one of the most experienced heavyweights in the world, Alistair Overeem (43-15-1 NC), taking on the young and hungry Francis Ngannou. Ngannou is hoping a win here puts him on the title radar, while Overeem is hoping for one last shot at the belt. Both men have serious knockout power, and it would be a shock if this fight went the full 15 minutes. Overeem’s chin has been exposed in the past, and Ngannou has finished 6 of his 10 wins via knockout. Overeem, of course, is one of the great knockout artists in the history of heavyweight martial arts, and Ngannou has not faced someone with his skill set in his rise up the rankings. 

Former US Olympian Henry Cejudo (11-2) take on Sergio Pettis (16-2) in a 125 lb. battle. Cejudo is a former title challenger who is trying to work his way back to another shot at Demetrious Johnson, while Pettis will look to shake up the division with his dynamic striking. 

The unbeaten Justin Gaethje (18-0) takes on former 155 lb. champion Eddie Alvarez (28-5-1 NC) in a battle of this season’s The Ultimate Fighter coaches. Gaethje is a pressure fighter who thrives on leg kicks and flurry punching to go along with excellent defensive wrestling. Alvarez is going to have to fight off his back foot, and will need to counterpunch effectively to have a chance here. Gaethje is the hot name, but Alvarez is the accomplished veteran looking to make another run at the lightweight crown. 

Tecia Torres (9-1) takes on Michelle Waterson (14-5) in the opening fight of the PPV card. Preliminary card highlights feature submission ace Charles Oliveira (22-7-1 NC) taking on slick-striking Paul Felder (14-3) and Alex Oliveira (18-3-1-2 NC) going up against Yancy Madeiros (14-4-1)


PREDICTIONS

Holloway by decision

Ngannou by TKO

Cejudo by decision

Gaethje by KO

Torres by decision

C. Oliveira by submission

A. Oliveira by KO

Teymur by KO

Casey-Sanchez by decision

Alhassan by TKO

Reyes by KO

Willis by decision

Cooper by decision

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Correa knows it's time for his payday. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The Rangers made a big splash over the weekend when they agreed to terms on a 7-year $175 million contract with infielder Marcus Semien. Apparently, that was just the tip of the iceberg. According to multiple reports, the Rangers have also added arguably the most coveted player in free agency, Corey Seager. Seager and the Rangers have agreed to a massive 10-year $325 million contract.

Before the Seager news broke, many were starting to wonder if teams would be willing to hand out 10-year deals for over 300 million dollars with the lockout just around the corner. Now we have our answer, and Carlos Correa has to be a very happy man to see how the market is shifting. The Rangers not only added two incredible players, but they also made it pretty much a certainty that Correa will either leave Houston, or the Astros will have to sign him to a long-term $300 million deal, which is not likely based on their stance on multi-year big money contracts.

The Rangers aren't the only team in the AL West making blockbuster moves. The Mariners agreed to terms with 2021 AL Cy Young Award winner Robbie Ray on Monday. Ray and Seattle agreed to a 5-year, $115 million contract.

The Angels joined in on the action a couple of weeks ago when they signed Noah Syndergard to a 1-year 21 million dollar deal.

Clearly, the AL West is on notice that they're going to have to make big changes if they want to compete with the Houston Astros who have dominated the AL recently with 5 straight ALCS appearances and 3 trips to the World Series. With Correa likely out the door in Houston, these teams might believe this is a perfect time to make a run at the division and finally knock off the Astros. Only time will tell if these deals will work, and the Astros look to have a terrific team this season whether Correa returns or not.

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