The Air Canada Centre has seen its fair share of fights over the years, but they’re usually on skates and feature the Toronto Maple Leafs. That will change on Saturday night, as UFC 206 goes north of the border to Toronto for what’s expected to be an exciting night of fighting, despite a number of changes to the main card.
UFC 206 took a major hit when Daniel Cormier pulled out of the light heavyweight title bout against Anthony Johnson due to injury. The cancellation of the fight led to the UFC promoting Max Holloway’s bout against Anthony Pettis as the interim featherweight title fight. But after Pettis missed weight on Friday, the fight will only be an interim title fight for Holloway. The winner of Saturday night’s main event will likely face featherweight champion Jose Aldo in the near future.
Here’s a quick breakdown of UFC 206, along with some predictions for each fight on the main card. All of the current betting lines are from OddsShark.com.
Welterweight: Jordan Mein (29-10, -160) vs. Emil Meek (8-2-1, +130)
Emil Meek of Norway makes his UFC debut against veteran Jordan Mein, who returns to the octagon after announcing his retirement in 2015. Meek is a violent striker, who has seven knockouts in his MMA career. He also looks like a viking and appears to have a boisterous personality that will earn him plenty of fans once his UFC career takes off.
Prediction: Meek in second-round knockout.
Middleweight: Tim Kennedy (18-5, -145) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (13-2, +125)
Kelvin Gastelum returns to the middleweight class after Dana White banned him from ever fighting in the welterweight class earlier last month. Gastelum missed weight three times trying to fight at 170 lbs. and didn’t even bother showing up for weigh-ins prior to UFC 205 because he was nearly 10 lbs. over. But this might be a good thing for the southpaw, who has yet to lose a middleweight bout. While Gastelum has dealt with weight issues, Tim Kennedy hasn’t even fought since September 2014 when he lost to Yoel Romero at UFC 178.
Prediction: Gastelum in second-round knockout.
Featherweight: Cub Swanson (23-7, +180) vs. Doo Ho Choi (14-1, -220)
The Korean Superboy is one of the fastest-rising featherweights in the UFC and has been dominant in three UFC fights, notching first-round knockouts in all of them. Choi is averaging more than seven significant strikes per minute and has a significant-strike differential of plus-22, which is amazing considering none of his fights have lasted more than three minutes.
Prediction: Choi via first-round knockout.
Welterweight: Donald Cerrone (31-7, -265) vs. Matt Brown (22-15, +225)
Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone is a huge favorite against Matt Brown, who has lost four of his last five fights dating back to July 2014. Ever since losing the lightweight belt to Rafael dos Anjos and moving up to welterweight, Cowboy hasn’t lost and he has also won three consecutive performance of the night bonuses. Cerrone has averaged nearly 0.5 more significant strikes per minute than Brown in his career and Brown has a minus-23 significant strike differential in his last five fights. And while Brown has the slightly higher takedown average, more than half of Cerrone’s wins in MMA have come via submission.
Prediction: Cerrone via second-round submission.
Catchweight (148 lbs.): Max Holloway (16-3, -200) vs. Anthony Pettis (19-5, +170)
Anthony Pettis makes a living by winning his fights on the ground, but Max Holloway has an 82 percent takedown-defense rate (fourth-best among all active featherweights). Holloway also has the advantage in the striking game. According to FightMetric, Holloway averages 5.61 significant strikes per minute and he’s better than Pettis at defending against significant strikes (67 percent compared to 57 percent). Holloway also has the second-best significant strike differential among active featherweights behind Conor McGregor.
Prediction: Holloway via unanimous decision.
Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images