UFC 206 Observer panel picks: Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis

Home / UFC 206 Observer panel picks: Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis

Toronto’s UFC 206 has had all kinds of troubles, losing two of its marquee fights in the weeks leading up to the show (Daniel Cormier vs. Anthony “Rumble” Johnson for the light heavyweight title and Rashad Evans vs. Tim Kennedy).

As a result, UFC bumped up Max Holloway vs. Anthony Pettis to the main event slot, stripped Conor McGregor of his featherweight title, and awarded that belt to Jose Aldo. All of this so that Holloway and Pettis could fight for the interim title formerly held by Aldo and make this a “viable” PPV main event.

But Pettis missed weight, meaning that the title will only go to Holloway if he wins. The rest of the card is solid, if unspectacular. It’s not significantly better or worse than most PPVs, but the main event takes this card down a notch in the eyes of most people.

Kennedy will now face former TUF champion Kelvin Gastelum in his return to middleweight after he suffered from his own weight-cutting issues at 170. Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and “The Immortal” Matt Brown should have a welterweight war in an attempt to add their name to the title mix while the rise of the Korean Super Boy continues as he squares off with long-time featherweight contender Cub Swanson.

On the prelims, a pair of hard-hitting light heavyweights meet in an attempt to establish a new contender in that division in Nikita Krylov vs. Misha Cirkunov.

After tonight, there are only two more events in 2016 for our panel to pick from and it’s still up for grabs (for everyone but yours truly).

Here’s our panel with the 2016 records in parenthesis. We’ve also added a running tally of the records of the favorites going into the fights and the panel consensus picks. Odds are courtesy of bestfightodds.com:

Josh Nason (70-43; .619) — Host of Josh Nason’s Punch Out, assistant editor WrestlingObserver.com, WON Twitter guy
David Bixenspan (68-45; .602) — Figure Four Weekly writer, podcast host
John Pollock (68-45; .602) — Fight Network analyst, Live Audio Wrestling co-host, MMA Report co-host
Ryan Frederick (66-47; .584) — WrestlingObserver.com UFC reporter, WON Twitter guy
Favorites (66-47; .584)
Dave Meltzer (66-47; .584) — Wrestling Observer founder
Consensus picks (58-44; .569)
Mike Sempervive (64-49; .566) — Wrestling Observer Live and Big Audio Nightmare co-host
Mike Sawyer (64-49; .566) — Tough Talk MMA
Front Row Brian (62-51; .549) – MMA newsbreaker, beloved internet personality, podcast host
Steve Juon (62-51; .549) — MMA Mania/Wrestling Observer writer, Angry Marks founder
Paul Fontaine (55-58; .487) — MMADraws.com founder, WrestlingObserver.com writer

> UFC interim featherwight title fight: Anthony Pettis (19-5) vs. Max Holloway (16-3)

Holloway is on a nine fight win streak, the longest in the division. There is no question that he’s earned a title shot and will likely get Aldo with a victor. Remember: only he can win the title tonight due to Pettis missing weight.

Pettis looked pretty good in his last fight, but not title contender good. t was questionable that he be put in a position to challenge for a title, if you can consider this a title. With him missing weight, he won’t have that chance and probably shouldn’t get a fight with Aldo should he win. Dana White has publicly said that Pettis should be fighting at 155.

This should be an exciting fight though as both guys usually deliver in the Octagon.

Pettis (+211 underdog) — Frederick, Fontaine
Holloway (-227 favorite) — Sawyer, Juon, Nason, Pollock, Bix, FRB, Meltzer, Sempervive

> Donald Cerrone (31-7) vs. Matt Brown (20-15)

This fight is a hardcore fan’s dream as both have a propensity for stealing the show and it would be a surprise if one or both fighters didn’t take home a post-show performance award bonus. Brown has been a perennial top 10 contender despite his mediocre record and Cerrone has looked better than ever since moving up from lightweight. If Cerrone wins, he’ll likely be in line for a shot at the welterweight title in 2017.

Cerrone (-271 favorite) – Juon, Frederick, Nason, Pollock, Bix, FRB, Meltzer, Fontaine, Sempervive
Brown (+246 underdog) – Sawyer

> Cub Swanson (23-7) vs. Doo Ho Choi (14-1)

This is the classic gatekeeper vs. up-and-comer fight. Swanson has been around forever and always has resided just outside of title contention. However, he is still ranked fourth in the world.

Choi has stormed his way into the top 15 with amazing power. He looks like he’s a teenager, hence the nickname “Korean Super Boy” but obviously packs a punch as he’s finished his three UFC opponents in less than five minutes combined. Swanson is a big step up in competition but should he score another impressive finish here, he will vault himself into title contenders and the UFC could have a big star on its hands.

Swanson (+195 underdog) — Sawyer, Fontaine
Choi (-211 favorite) — Juon, Frederick, Nason, Pollock, Bix, FRB, Meltzer, Sempervive

> Tim Kennedy (18-5) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (13-2)

Kennedy is fighting for the first time in two years. He was originally supposed to face former champ Rashad Evans at UFC 205. That fight was moved to this show and then Evans was replaced by Gastelum when he couldn’t receive medical clearance for the fight.

Gastelum has famously had all kind of issues making weight at 170 so he moves up a weight class here. He did win The Ultimate Fighter at 185 so has experience at this weight class. This is a good matchup as both guys try to cement a position in that list of guys right underneath the big five contenders in the division. The oddsmakers have it as one of the closest fights on the card.

Kennedy (-127 favorite) — Juon, Frederick, Nason, Bix, Meltzer, Sempervive
Gastelum (+120 underdog) — Sawyer, Pollock, FRB, Fontaine

> Misha Cirkunov (12-2) vs. Nikita Krylov (21-4)

The featured FS1 prelim has two guys that could fast become contenders in a relatively weak division. Both guys have finishing ability as evidenced by their combined 12 straight wins (seven for Cirkunov, five for Krylov) which have all come by KO or submission. Krylov was already called out last night by Corey Anderson, a top 10 fighter. Cirkunov was born in Latvia but lives and trains in Toronto so he should be the big crowd favorite. This fight is essentially a coin flip for the oddsmakers. 

Cirkunov (+101 favorite) — Sawyer, Juon, Pollock, Sempervive
Krylov (+105 underdog) — Frederick, Nason, Bix, FRB, Meltzer, Fontaine


Action begins with the Fight Pass Prelim at 6:30 p.m. ET and moves over to FS1 for that portion of the prelims at 8 p.m. The main card is on PPV at 10. Ryan Frederick has ongoing coverage of the show tonight. While you’re waiting, check out the following content, also related to the show:

UFC 206 Betting and fantasy playbook
UFC 206 discussion on the Board, including Ryan Frederick’s extensive preview of the card, along with fighter notes

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