UFC Fight Picks – Sean Sheehan vs. Tom Rooney

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This week’s “Sean Sheehan Vs” sees Sean taking on SevereMMA’s very own Tom Rooney as they predict UFC Fight Night 52: Jacare vs. Mousasi

Every UFC event Sean and his opponent will break down the reasoning behind their main fight picks and will give quick picks for the undercard.

We start with Sean’s pick for the main event of the weekend’s festivities.

Ronaldo Souza vs. Gegard Mousasi

After transferring over from the now defunct Strikeforce, both Mousasi and Jacare have impressed in the UFC with some of their career best performances. On Saturday they will battle it out for the second time after they first fought in 2008 when Mousasi used an upkick to knock out Jacare who had dominated the early goings. This is a totally different fight, though, as both men have changed up their games. Jacare, then, was an known primarily as an ultra dangerous jiu-jitsu champion but has now added a bludgeoning stand up game to that. Mousasi has added some quality takedown defence but kickboxing is still hsi bread and butter. I think this fight will go the way of Jacare in every area. Mousasi has based his training camp with kickboxers in his home country which may not be the smartest idea against the top BJJ player in the UFC. I see Jacare finishing this fight, it could be on the feet but I’ll go for a knockdown leading to a rear naked choke.

Sheehan’s pick – Jacare via submission

I’ve been seriously looking forward to this one from the moment it was announced. Since the dawn of the Weidman era, the middleweight division feels born-again, and these two are unquestionably among its best.

Of course, this is a rematch, and Mousasi was conclusively victorious at the Dream Grand Prix. But eight years is a long time and much has changed in the interim. It would be easy, and lazy for that matter, to bill this is a striker versus grappler scenario, because both are extremely well-rounded. However, with Jacare, there’s something ominous in the air every time he fights and he looks like a man in the ascendency.

Mousasi is unquestionably the more versed striker, but the Brazilian has made huge strides in that department, while his ground game is imperious. Mark Munoz showed Mousasi can be taken down, he just didn’t have the tools to capitalise on that, Jacare does, which should be the difference.

It’s hard not to foresee this fight going to the mat at some point and, well, they don’t call him the Alligator for nothing.

Tom’s pick – Jacare by submission in Round 2

Alistair Overeem vs. Ben Rothwell

Entering this fight Alistair Overeem is a huge favourite to beat Ben Rothwell, but I don’t see it being that clear cut. Rothwell is a limited enough fighter but has a never-say-die attitude mixed with a solid set of fists. We all know what Overeem brings and that is elite striking with suspect chin. Now training with Greg Jackson in his famed Albuquerque gym, Overeem will be expected to put Rothwell away early – and he might need to. If Rothwell can weather the early storm he has every chance of winning this fight. I don’t think he’ll weather the early storm though.

Sheehan’s pick – Overeem via TKO/KO

Like some many other crossover stars, Overeem has failed to justify the hype and large pay cheque since arriving at the UFC. A great start against Lesnar, and then losing two-straight fights-that were his to win-because he was too busy admiring his own work. Throw in the failed drug test, accusations of assault and it hardly makes for pleasant reading.

Yet, he is unquestionably gifted, and looks somewhat restored since going to Albuquerque- apart from the injuring Jon Jones part. He simply must beat Rothwell if wants to take another title run and truly fulfill his potential. And, it’s been set up for him to do so.

Rothwell is a durable, heavy-hitter but nothing more. He’s too rigid to evade Overeem’s onslaught, and will not try or likely to be able to take the Dutchman down.  Yet, if Overeem takes the foot of the gas like he did against Browne and Big Foot, there is no doubt Rothwell could put his lights out-just ask Brendan Schaub.

He can punish Rothwell with every limb, couple that with the fact he knows this is the last chance saloon and you’ve got yourself a quick finish.

Tom’s pick – Overeem by KO/TKO Round 1

Matt Mitrione vs. Derrick Lewis

Kimbo Slice slayer and TUF 10 Matt Mittrione returns here after Stefan Struve was forced to pull out of their scheduled fight last time out. He meets Derrick Lewis in a fight which has long been in the making following some heated words between the pair in the last few months. Lewis will make no bones about trying to land big punches early or get it to the floor and unleash his monstrous ground and pound. Mitrione, on the other hand, will look to stay on the outside and take the fight past the first round to test the suspect cardio of Lewis. I’m not sure Mittrione will be able to stay clear until Lewis tires so that decides my pick.

Sheehan’s Pick – Lewis via TKO/KO

Plenty of similarities between these guys; both are relative novices to the sport, though Lewis more so; each come from an American football background and are talented, if uncouth strikers.

Mitrione’s consistent inconsistency is what frustrates me most about him, because he has all the tools to be world class, if not the mind-set. His last fight with Struve obviously never materialised, so he should be eager to remind people he’s still a threat.

The evidence to date suggests Lewis is a killer, if slightly callow, particularly at this level. Mitrione has been around the block a little longer and probably needs it more. Having said, all it takes is one properly placed shot from Lewis, and it’s all she wrote.

Going to narrowly give this to Meathead, but he’ll have slog for it, no question.

Tom’s pick – Mitrione by TKO/KO Round 3

Joe Lauzon vs. Michael Chiesa

This is a tough one. Lauzon is a long-time UFC submission artist who hasn’t been as active or successful as usual in recent times. Chiesa is also not against sinking in a hold and is improving his striking game since giving up his only career loss to Jorge Masvidal. This is the type of fight that happens so often and it’s a litmus test for both men. Is Chiesa ready to take the step into the top 15? Or is Lauzon staying in there for a little while longer? For me, Chiesa will take Lauzon’s spot.

Sheehan’s pick – Chiesa via decision

When you see former TUF cast members matched up, it’s difficult not to roll your eyes in indifference, but I like the look of this. Joe Lauzon, for all his memorable fights and bonus acquiring, has, after eight years, still failed to break out of the middle of the pack at 155lbs.Partly because it’s a phenomenal division, but also his habit of falling short every time he faces elite competition.

At 30, and with plenty of miles on the clock, now is the time to get cracking if he wishes to rectify that. In Chiesa, he faces a guy not unlike himself; capable, if not brilliant and tough as nails. This might, given both men’s penchant for submissions, turn into a BJJ chess match or, it might be a slugfest for 15 minutes. Either way, Joe seems destined to get bonus number 13, surpass Anderson Silva and give his accountant something to smile at.

Amazingly, the Massachusetts native hasn’t put together consecutive wins since 2011, but at this juncture, he might have a little too much for Chiesa.

Tom’s pick – Lauzon by Unanimous Decision

UNDERCARD PICKS:

Nik Lentz vs. Charles Oliveira
Sheehan’s pick – Oliveira via submission
Tom’s pick – Lentz via decison

John Moraga vs. Justin Scoggins
Sheehan’s pick – Scoggins via decision
Tom’s pick – Moraga via submission

Al Iaquinta vs. Rodrigo Damm
Sheehan’s pick – Iaquinta via TKO/KO
Tom’s pick – Iaquinta via submission

Rafael Natal vs. Chris Camozzi
Sheehan’s pick – Natal via submission
Tom’s pick – Camozzi vi decision

Tateki Matsuda vs. Chris Beal
Sheehan’s pick – Beal via TKO/KO
Tom’s pick – Beal via TKO/KO

Sean Soriano vs. Chas Skelly
Sheehan’s pick – Skelly via decision
Tom’s pick – Skelly via TKO/KO

 

Rules: Every correct pick made is equal to 1 point. If the competition ends in a draw then method of victory will be used to decide a winner

And for the Sean Sheehan bet of the week…

My bet of the week is big risk big reward; Jacare and Natal to both win via submission at just around 18/1.

Podcaster, lead MMA writer and analyst for SevereMMA. Host of the SevereMMA podcast, out every Sunday. Economics and Mathematics graduate from UCC. Also write for Sherdog. Previously of hov-mma and fightbooth. As heard on 2FM, Red FM, Today FM and more. Follow me on twitter for updates @SeanSheehanBA and on Facebook Facebook.com/seansheehanmma