There was a lot of drama surrounding UFC 200, but as we move towards UFC 201 fans are just looking forward to a good old-fashioned card.
Headlining the event will be Welterweight champion Robbie Lawler, who has won five straight and eight of his last nine fights. He’ll take on the much-improved Tyron Woodley in the final fight of the night.
The co-main event of UFC 201 will see Rose Namajunas and Karolina Kowalkiewicz square off in a battle to be the No. 1 contender in the women’s Strawweight division.
Lawler comes into UFC 201 as the No. 4 pound-for-pound fighter in the world according to the UFC but he’s not a huge favorite for his fight. He’s laying -210, which might seem like a small number when you consider how dominant he has been in defending his belt and how little Woodley has proved to this point.
However, we’ve seen in recent bouts – with Michael Bisping upsetting Luke Rockhold and Eddie Alvarez stunning Rafael dos Anjos – that anything can happen in the Octagon.
Lawler has been in some devastating, relentless battles recently and he’s shown that he has no quit to him. Even after five rounds with Johny Hendricks, Rory MacDonald and Carlos Condit, he was ready for more. He clearly has more in the tank than most fighters.
He has been very consistent in his career and we typically know what we’ll get from him. However, the same can’t be said for Woodley. Remember Woodley ended his Strikeforce career with a knockout loss to Nate Marquardt. He then went to the UFC and had a thrilling win in his debut only to lose to Jake Shields in his following bout. Then he brutally rolled Josh Koscheck and was on the wrong end of the same thing against Rory MacDonald – who Lawler has already defeated. So which Woodley will we see?
For Lawler, the edge in this bout is his striking. Woodley just isn’t on his level in that realm, and if the fight is fought standing Lawler should win. However, Woodley does have an edge in wrestling and will do his best to get this fight to the ground. The win seems to hinge on that key point for him. Lawler has shown excellent takedown defense in recent bouts and will have to avoid the mats again to get the win here.
As far the co-main event, Namajunas and Kowalkiewicz will meet for the opportunity to take on Strawweight Champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk. Joanna “Champ” has been dominant for a long period of time in her division – she’s still a perfect 12-0 in her professional MMA career – so a lot of bettors will be watching this closely to see if either can really challenge her.
Namajunas has climbed the ladder in recent fights as she’s won three straight. One of those came against the UFC’s starlet, Paige Van Zant, and that’s helped her status. As for Kowalkiewicz, she’s been untouchable in her MMA career. At 9-0, she’s undefeated with wins over Heather Jo Clark and Randa Markos in her most recent bouts.
Namajunas is a -260 favorite for this bout, but this should be a very even matchup. Kowalkiewicz should have a slight edge in technical striking, and if the bout is fought standing she might pull off the upset. As for Namajunas, she’s a submission whiz. If this fight comes to grappling or ground game, she’ll get the win.