UFC on ESPN+ 19: Joanna vs. Waterson

Preview and Predictions for UFC on ESPN+19: Joanna vs. Waterson by Danny Rourke and Darell Garner 
The UFC makes its way back down to the Sunshine state this weekend for UFC on ESPN+ 19: Joanna vs. Waterson LIVE Saturday night from the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The action kicks off on ESPN+ with:
Prelims              5:00PM/ET   ESPN+Main Card         8:00PM/ET   ESPN+
UFC Tampa Main Card Predictions 
Gerald Meerschaert (+130) vs. Eryk Anders (-160)
To kickoff the UFC Tampa Main Card, “Ya Boi” Eryk Anders (12-4-0) boomerangs back to Middleweight division to throw down with crafty veteran Gerald “GM3” Meerschaert (30-11-0). Anders began his UFC with momentum with wins over Rafael Nadal and Markus Perez, before taking a short notice bout with Lyoto Machida in Brazil and losing a narrow Split Decision. Anders would then lose his next two fights against Elias Theodoreau (Decision) and in his late notice Light Heavyweight debut, losing to future title contender Thiago Santos by TKO. However, Anders was able to respond at UFC Minneapolis in June, receiving a Performance of the Night bonus for his First Round KO of Vinicius Moreira in his second    straight Light Heavyweight appearance. But instead of making the move the 205 a permanent decision, Anders may have his handful against Meerschaert as he bounces back down to Middleweight. Three months ago at UFC Newark, Gerald  Meerschaert picked up his 22nd career win by Submission, finishing Trevin Giles in Round Three with a Guilotine Choke. While Anders has never been submitted, Meerschaert is not an opponent with whom you want to make any mistakes against on the ground. Oddsmakers have Anders as a slight favorite, but I am going to take the more experienced  Meerschaert to outsmart the Anders, and get the win. 
Danny’ Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Meerschaert via Third Round Submission 
D’Bo’s Pick: Anders via Second Round TKO 
Matt Frevola (+145) vs. Luis Pena (-165)
Long Island’s Matt “Steamrolla” Frevola (7-1-1) battles “The Violent Bob Ross” Luis Pena (7-1-0) in what should be a fast-paced and exciting bout at Lightweight. Now 3-1 in the UFC,  “Violent Bob Ross” has put together back to back wins against a tough Matt Wyman and Steven Peterson, with his lone defeat against Michael Trizano, coming by way of Split Decision. Pena has a tremendous 6’3 for the Lightweight division, and his length and reach has been giving his fits trying to get within range and striking distance. Fighting out of Huntington, New York and a member of the Serra-Longo Fight Team, “Steamrolla” Frevola has gone through a quick maturation process since earning his UFC contract on Season One of Dana White’s Contender Series. Frevola came up short in his official UFC debut against Marco Polo Reyes, but has since responded with a back and forth war  with Lando Vannata at UFC 230 last November that resulted in a Majority Draw, and then Frevola picked up his first official win inside the Octagon as the underdog at UFC 236 in April, defeating Jalin Turner by Unanimous Decision. Luis Pena might be the exact matchup for Frevola. Long and lanky like Jalin Turner, if Steamrolla can take Pena down to the mat, Frevola should be in a great spot to pick up a second straight victory. 
Danny’ Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Frevola via Decision 
D’Bo’s Pick: Pena via Decision 
Amanda Ribas (+110) vs. Mackenzie Dern (-140)
Just four months after giving birth to her daughter, Mackenzie Dern (7-0-0) makes her return to the Strawweight division to face Brazilian Amanda Ribas (7-1-0). Seventeen months and a baby girl later, undefeated BJJ specialist Mackenzie Dern plans on picking up right where she left off, following UFC wins against Ashley Yoder and Amanda Bobby Cooper in 2018. Amanda Ribas could be a legit threat to derail the Mackenzie Dern hype train.  Amanda Ribas defeated Emily Whitmire hu First Round TKO in her promotional debut at UFC Minneapolis in June, and Ribas must of impressed some of the higher ups with her performance getting an offer to make a quick turnaround and Dern just four months later. Ribas did not have a pro fight in 2017-18, which makes her TKO win in her UFC debut that much more impressive. A tough bout to predict, as both Strawweight prospects will be looking for a statement win to propel them into the divisional rankings. 
Danny’ Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Ribas via Second Round TKO  
D’Bo’s Pick:  Dern via First Round Submission 
Niko Price (-145) vs. James Vick (+125)
“The Hybrid” Niko Price (13-3-0,1NC) welcomes “The Texecutioner” James Vick (13-4-0) into the Welterweight division as both fighters look to rebound from recent losses. After three straight losses to Justin Gaethje, Paul Felder and Dan Hooker, James Vick is ready to abandon to dreaded weight cut down from his large frame down to Lightweight and will look to re-establish himself in the always competitive Welterweight division. His first opponent at Welterweight is Niko Price a crafty and awkward fighter who can create havoc on the feet and on the ground for his opponents, despite being knocked out in two of his last three. James Vick will still have a substantial height and reach advantage, but I don’t know if that will be enough to earn his first Welterweight win against the Price, who I think has the skill advantage everywhere. 
Danny’ Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Price via Second Round TKO
D’Bo’s Pick: Price via First Round TKO
Cub Swanson (+155)  vs. Kron Gracie (-175)
“Ice Cream” Kron Gracie (5-0-0)continues to establish his own legend in the Octagon as he faces Featherweight stalwart “Killa” Cub Swanson (23-11-0) in the UFC Tampa Co-Main event. Kron Gracie made his promotional debut earlier this year in February on the first UFC on ESPN card against Alex “Bruce Leroy” Caceres. Kron defeated Caceres via First Round Submission in a virtuoso performance, extending his perfect mixed martial arts record to 5-0, in which Kron has submitted all five of his opponents. Like his uncle, Royce Gracie, Kron is a naturally gifted grappler and practitioner on the mat and could create  a lot of problems for Swanson, who is a ever dangerous and creative striker, but does not have many answers off against challenging ground opponents, with seven submission losses on his record. Swanson will be making his eighteenth Octagon appearance this weekend trying to shake a four fight losing streak. Cub won four straight from April 2016 to December 2017, before his spiral downward began with losses to Brian Ortega, Frankie Edgar, Renato Moicano and Shane Burgos. With that being said, Swanson is a great litmus test to see if Kron Gracie is ready to compete against top tier Featherweights. 
Danny’ Crystal Ball Prediction

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: Gracie via Second Round Submission 
D’Bo’s Pick: Gracie via First Round Submission 
MAIN EVENT 
#5 Joanna Jedrzejczyk (-400) vs. #7 Michelle Waterson (+300)
In the UFC Tampa Main event, former Strawweight Queen Joanna “JJ” Jedrzejczyk (15-3-0) meets  “The Karate Hottie” Michelle Waterson (16-7-0) in a bout that could wind up determining who is the next title challenger in the crowded and competitive Strawweight division. “Joanna Champion” has hit a tough patch over the past two years, losing three out of her last four, after going unbeaten in his first eight Octagon appearances.  JJ put the Strawweight division on the map, and on her back  after winning the title from Carla Esparza at UFC 185 in March 2015. Thirty two months and five title defenses later, Joanna would meet her match in her first bout with Rose Namajunas at UFC 217 in Madison Square Garden. JJ would lose to Namajunas via First Round TKO and again at UFC 223 five months later in a rematch, this time by Unanimous Decision. With the weight cut becoming an issue for Jedrzejczyk at Strawweight, JJ set her sights on Valentina Schevchenko and the Flyweight division following a Unanimous Decision win against Tecia Torres in July 2018. Last December, JJ lost a Unanimous Decision to Schevchenko at UFC 231 in her Flyweight debut, but I am puzzled by her decision to drop back down and accept a fight against Waterson at Strawweight. Waterson has her sights set on becoming the first UFC “MOMChamp” and is perhaps a career defining win over Jedrzejczyk away from positioning herself for a potential title. Waterson has been in top form, riding a three fight winning streak and improving her overall record inside the Octagon to 5-2 since joining the UFC in July 2015. Jedrzejczyk has only lost to Rose Namajunas at 115 pounds, and after successfully making weight, Joanna remains a sizable favorite over Waterson according to oddsmakers. This could be one of the better Women’s MMA bouts of 2019, so make sure you tune in. 
Danny’ Crystal Ball Prediction

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:
D’Bo’s Pick: Waterson via Third Round TKO 
Next week the UFC heads up  to Boston, Massachusetts for UFC on ESPN 6: Weidman vs. Reyes. Share your thoughts and picks with us in the Comments section below and enjoy the fights!! 

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