UFC 203 Preview, Predictions: CM Punk Makes Controversial MMA Debut

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Quicken Loans Arena is already home to one “king” in LeBron James. On Saturday night, another Cleveland native will try to defend his UFC heavyweight crown at the Q.

Stipe Miocic will take on Alistair Overeem in front of a hometown crowd in a heavyweight title bout at UFC 203’s main event.

Miocic won the belt in May at UFC 198, where he defeated Fabricio Werdum.

Werdum will also be on the main card, as he looks to get back on track against Travis Browne.

Also, two-time WWE champion Phil “CM Punk” Brooks will make his MMA debut against Mickey Gall — much to the chagrin of fighters in the MMA community, who feel the former pro wrestler shouldn’t be highlighted on a main card in only his first career fight.

Here’s a quick breakdown of UFC 203, along with some predictions for each fight on the main card. All of the current betting lines are from OddsShark.com.

Heavyweight: Stipe Miocic (15-2, -120) vs. Alistair Overeem (41-14-1, +100)
Miocic and Overeem both are well-rounded fighters who excel in striking.

Miocic has exemplified his striking prowess by finishing his last three fights via punches. Overeem, meanwhile, has a background in kickboxing and Muay Thai and has shown he can win while standing up. The Dutchman also has won his last four fights, with his most recent victory coming at UFC Fight Night Rotterdam in May.

But it’s not often that a fighter gets a “home-Octagon” advantage like Miocic will have. Expect the Cleveland crowd to give their hometown boy some extra motivation in a closely-contested and even match.

Prediction: Miocic via a late knockout.

Heavyweight: Fabricio Werdum (20-6-1, -200) vs. Travis Browne (18-4-1, +170)
These two met before in April 2014, with Werdum winning via unanimous decision. Since then, Werdum went on to defeat Mark Hunt and Cain Velasquez before losing his title belt to Miocic at UFC 198.

Browne, meanwhile, has lost to Velasquez and Andrei Arlovski since falling to Werdum. His only two wins came against Brendan Schaub, who since has retired, and Matt Mitrione, who now is in Bellator.

So, all signs point to Werdum winning this one, right?

Prediction: Werdum via knockout.

Welterweight: Phil “CM Punk” Brooks (0-0, +370) vs. Mickey Gall (2-0, -470)
CM Punk said his MMA debut is similar to Tim Tebow giving baseball a shot.

Considering that none of us are really expecting Tebow to do any batflips in October anytime soon, our guess is the guy who’s actually fought in MMA will take this one.

Prediction: Gall via submission.

Bantamweight: Urijah Faber (33-9, +145) vs. Jimmie Rivera (19-1, -170)
Faber has the experience yet has lost three of his last six fights. Rivera hasn’t lost in ages, but Faber arguably is his toughest test yet.

Prediction: Faber via decision.

Women’s strawweight: Jessica Andrade (14-5, -145) vs. Joanne Calderwood (11-1, +125)
Jessica Andrade will fight in her second strawweight match after defeating Jessica Penne in her division debut. Calderwood, however, is much bigger than Penne and will present a challenge for the Brazilian.

Prediction: Calderwood via decision.

Thumbnail photo via Jason Silva/USA TODAY Sports Images

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