UFC 215 Breakdown: Record Breaking Mighty Mouse

Date: Sunday 10th September 2017, 3:00am (UK)

Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Venue: Rogers Place

Demetrious Johnson vs Ray Borg
If you were playing a computer game, trying to create the perfect flyweight, it would resemble Demetrious Johnson. Mighty Mouse has evolved into arguably the most complete Mixed Martial Artist of all time and performs as if he was manufactured in a lab, with flawless technique and speed that his opponents simply have no answer for.

Since he won the flyweight championship back in 2012, 10 victims have succumbed to the virtuoso performer, which equals the most title defences in UFC history, sharing the mantle with Anderson Silva. A win over Ray Borg at UFC 215, then, will give Johnson the record outright.

Borg, however, is marching to Edmonton to spoil the party and snap Johnson’s streak, carrying genuine confidence of pulling off the upset. Although the division is shallow, he has swum up to the top of the pile of contenders after a couple of impressive decision wins over Louis Smolka and Jussier Formiga, showcasing bullish wrestling which he feels will be his route to victory in Canada.

His wrestling will have to be on a different level on the night and he must mix grappling with strikes to stun Johnson early. Mighty Mouse not only dictates his fights but he beats opponents at their own game, including submitting Jiu-Jitsu champion Wilson Reis, out-grappling Olympic wrestler Henry Cejudo, and out-striking the likes of Joseph Benavidez and John Dodson. It’s what makes him the pound-for-pound best fighter right now so Borg will have to be even more aggressive than usual to create openings and leverage his power.

Unfortunately for Borg, Johnson has never been more motivated with the UFC record in sight. Borg certainly has the ability to cause an upset but will have to put on a career best performance. Win or lose for Borg, he will leave the cage a better fighter and at the age of 24 will surely be back to challenge for the title again. For Johnson, if he earns that record, let’s hope he takes superfights to give the fans what they want and potentially cement his legacy as one of the best fighters of all time.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Amanda Nunes vs Valentina Shevchenko
After bantamweight champion Nunes pulled out of this fight at the last minute prior to UFC 213, both fighters are back to settle the score. These ladies met just over a year ago at UFC 196, where Nunes secured a unanimous decision in breaking Shevchenko’s five-fight winning streak. It was a close and gritty battle where Nunes dominated the opening round and controlled Shevchenko on the ground, but the latter's rigid defence kept her in the fight and allowed her to settle and inflict her own damage, finishing very strong in the last round. It was too little too late for Shevchenko, but she will have gained confidence if this fight goes into the championship rounds.

However, Nunes is in the form of her life right now. After beating Shevchenko, she went on to beat two of the best female fighters in UFC history. Firstly, she mauled Miesha Tate at UFC 200 to earn the belt, stunning her with a flurry of trademark straight rights before cinching in a rear-naked choke, and then went on to obliterate Ronda Rousey with lethal, unanswered strikes.

The Lioness has truly proven her class in a savage division and with a win over Shevchenko already, she will be the favourite. Her gas tank is rather untested though, only tasting a third round three times in her career and losing two of them. Shevchenko typically gets stronger as the fight goes on and has showcased her remarkably well-rounded skill set since the loss. She went on to out-strike one of the best strikers in the division in Holly Holm and submit one of the best grapplers in Juliana Pena.

This promises to be an electrifying fight between two of the most skilled female fighters in the sport. The current champion is aggressive, nasty and possesses the most devastating boxing in the division, whilst she is just as comfortable on the mat with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Meanwhile, Shevchenko has a varied list of the highest accolades in martial arts, including Taekwondo, Muay Thai, Boxing, Kickboxing and Judo. With the promise of a rematch for the title, this bout is simply irresistible.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Neil Magny vs Rafael dos Anjos
Magny welcomes the former lightweight champion for his second fight as a welterweight after making a full recovery from injuries that have kept him out since December last year. Dos Anjos enjoyed a more recent visit to the octagon when he secured a decision win against Tarec Saffiedine in June this year.

That fight was a big test for Dos Anjos, who had not appeared as tenacious as he was when he earned the lightweight strap, and the move up to 170 lbs is a significant difference, but you could not tell as he outpointed Saffiedine. However, Magny possesses attributes Dos Anjos has not come across before. Standing at 6’3”, Magny is incredibly long and rangy – even for a welterweight – with his reach advantage creating the biggest obstacle for the Brazilian. Dos Anjos is giving up a staggering 10 inches and will need a solid game plan to combat this difference.

Although Magny is coming off the sidelines, his cardio will be as strong as ever and he will be confident that his reach is just one of the tools that will dismantle Dos Anjos. The differences in dimensions and experience is not the only exciting factor in this match-up as both are extremely well-rounded in every area of the fight game. Dos Anjos will have an advantage on the mat with a 3rd degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but will have to apply his usual intense pressure-throwing volume to set up takedowns.

This promises to be a hard-fought battle, with the winner walking towards the front of the line for a shot at Tyron Woodley’s belt.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Ilir Latifi vs Tyson Pedro
The second bout of the main card is between two powerhouses looking to stake a claim in the fractured light heavyweight division. A division that has always had a deep pool of contenders throughout the UFC’s history now lacks competitive clarity as the would-be champion, Jon Jones, has just added to his illustrious CV of misdemeanours with a doping violation. He beat the previous champion, Daniel Cormier (at UFC 214) for a second time but now the future of the belt is uncertain with Cormier and Alexander Gustafsson failing to convince the fans they are the best light heavyweight in the world.

So this is a great opportunity for Latifi and Pedro to embark on a journey towards that championship belt, but that will only be realistic with a convincing win. Latifi is coming off a nasty KO to Ryan Bader but has experience on his side as Pedro only has six professional fights to his name. However, all six of these have been finished in deadly fashion with four submissions and two knock-outs showcasing a dangerous clinch.

On paper, they are very evenly matched. With strong grappling backgrounds and natural power, they have both evolved into ferocious strikers, which is clearly their weapon of choice as neither fighter has ever been taken down. This fight is unlikely to go the distance.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Jeremy Stephens vs Gilbert Melendez
A mouth-watering match-up kicks off the main card between two veterans and fan favourites. Melendez, desperately seeking a win after three straight losses, drops down from lightweight to slug it out with Stephens, who also needs a win after losing two in a row.

It will be naive to doubt their pedigree despite the terrible form as they have come up against elite competition. Melendez succumbed to Anthony Pettis (for the title), Eddie Alvarez and Edson Barboza, whilst Stephens fought Frankie Edgar and Renato Moicano (unbeaten at the time).

They have already proven their class throughout their career and are fully expected to put on a show. They both thrive on wars and exchanging leather on the feet. Stephens is explosive and possesses some of the heaviest hands in the division, whereas Melendez relies on his reach and gas tank to keep a relentless pace whilst making himself an elusive target.

We expect neither fighter to give an inch which will produce a brutal encounter, and if Stephens is more successful on the feet, don’t be surprised if Melendez calls upon his strong wrestling.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Striking and grappling stats sourced via FightMetric.