UFC 201 prelim card predictions

Fight Pass prelims  (7/6c, UFC Fight Pass)

Damien Brown (15-9)  vs Cesar Arzamemdia  (7-2)

Opening up the card is a Featherweight bout between a pair of relative unknowns. Brown has eight submission wins to his credit but has also been submitted four times. He lost his UFC debut in March, thus ending a five-fight winning streak. Arzamemdia has four submission wins, and got knocked out in his UFC debut last November. He doesn’t have nearly as much experience, but I see him finding a way to win this one. Prediction: Arzamemdia via decision. 

Bojan Velickovic (14-3) vs. Michael Graves (6-0)

Velickovic has eight submission and three knockout wins, with all three of his losses coming via decision, although three of his last four fights have been decision victories. Those four fights were at RFA and the UFC, so he’s not exactly inexperienced. He’s got almost three times as many fights to his credits than Graves does, and is also much more entertaining. It would be awesome to see him win, but my head disagrees. Prediction: Graves via decision.

Televised prelims (8/7c, FS2)

Hector Sandoval (12-2) vs. (8) Wilson Reis (20-6)

Poor Wilson Reis. He went from being an unworthy challenger for Demetrius Johnson’s Flyweight title, to opening the tv prelims on FS2, all in the matter of a month. He’s a very good fighter, with a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that has helped him garner nine submission and 11 decision wins. He’s 4-2 inside the octagin, and didn’t deserve a shot in the first place, but it’s still a sad situation for him.

The man who will have to deal with the brunt of Reis’ emotions will be Hector Sandoval. Sandoval has gone the distance in seven of his 12 career wins. That said, his only two losses happen to have come against the only UFC-caliber opponents he’s ever faced. Both of those fights ended early in the first round, and while he has won four straight bouts, I see him getting dominated tonight. Prediction: Reis via submission,  round 1.

Damian Grabowski (20-3) vs. Anthony Hamilton (14-5)

The Heavyweight division is as wonky as ever these days. Either a fight in that division will be a slugfest that will wind via brutal knockout, or see both men gas out and suck all the momentum out of the building. Sadly, if Hamilton has his way, this fight will likely follow the latter route.

Grabowski has eleven submission and six knockout victories, and needs a win to avoid potentially getting cut. Meanwhile, Hamilton has won almost half of his fights via decision. He’s 2-3 inside the octagon, and unless he’s the one getting finished, tends to be in boring fights. For the fans’ sake, I’ll go with Grabowski to end the misery. Prediction: Grabowski via submission, round 2.

Jorge Masvidal (29-11) vs. Ross Pearson (19-11, 1NC)

While the first few prelim fights features mostly unknowns, the latter two prelim bouts feature four veterans, the first of which is a Welterweight contest between Jorge Masvidal and Ross Pearson.

Masvidal, who’s 6-4 inside the octagon, has had some terrible luck lately. He’s 1-3 in his last four, but all three losses have come via split decision. As for Pearson, the man just fought 22 days ago, in a losing decision against former Bellator Lightweight champion Will Brooks. He hasn’t had a streak of any kind since April 2013, has alternated win and losses since then, and a loss will put him on the verge of getting cut. Sadly, I see Masvidal playing it safe, and winning a decision in the process. Prediction: Masvidal via decision.

Ed Herman (23-11, 1NC) vs. (11) Nikita Krylov (20-4)

Herman is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who has 13 submission and six knockout wins, but has not had a winning streak since 2012. He won his last fight, which is bad news for him against Krylov.

Krylov is a Master of Sport in Kyokushin karate, submission fighting and Hand-to-hand combat. He’s never gone the distance, going 13-3 in fights that ended via submission, and 7-1 in those that ended via knockout. Since losing two of his first three UFC fights, he’s four straight. He’s a couple wins away from contendership and if he keeps winning he’ll be a contender within a year. Herman can beat him for sure, but I won’t bet on it, for the sake of the future of the Light Heavyweight division. A Krylov win would be best for business, and I see him winning in the second round. Prediction: Krylov via submission, round 2.

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UFC on FOX: Holm vs. Shevchenko main card predictions

So, there’s a FOX card tonight. The prelim slate is the weakest in FOX history.

The main card isn’t much better on paper. The headliner is a potential Women’s Bantamweight title eliminator,  and the co-main features the return of a former Strikeforce and WEC champion Gilbert Melendez. The  rest of the main card is filled out with a Heavyweight monster taking on a relative unknown, and a women’s fight that could be a lot of fun, but sadly, most people probably don’t care for.

On paper, this is arguably the weakest FOX card in years. But, with expectations so low, maybe we’ll wind up with a surprisingly good card? One can only hope.

Main card (8/7c, FOX)

Felice Herrig (10-6) vs. Kailin Curran (4-2)

First up on the main card is a women’s Strawweight bout eith next to no buzz surrounding it. Curran is 1-2 inside the octagon, although if not for a silly mistake she would’ve been 2-1. The of her wins have come via decision, which is exactly how each of her opponent’s losses have come. Herrig is fighting for the first time since last April, and is 1-1 inside the octagon. Twelve of her 16 fights have gone the distance. She tends to beat mid-level opponents, but never anyone who is elite. She should be able to beat Curran despite the rust, and Curran is far from elite. I’ll give the edge to the Lil’ Bulldog. Prediction: Herrig via decision.

Francis Ngannou  (7-1) vs. Bojan Mihajlovic (10-3)

Francis Ngannou is a beast. All of his wins have come via finish, and he’s got some of the most brutal punches in MMA today. I wouldn’t say he deserves a main card FOX slot yet, especially against a newcomer, but it is what it is. Mihajlovic is no joke, having won ten straight fights. But this is a very tough debut for him, and I see him losing in emphatic fashion tonight. Prediction: Ngannou via tko, round 2.

Gilbert Melendez  (22-5) vs. Edson Barboza  (17-4)

Oh, what a fall from grace it’s been for El NiƱo. The former longtime Strikeforce champion came into the UFC in 2013, to much fanfare. His first fight for the promotion was an immediate title shot against Benson Henderson,  in what turned out to be a decision loss for Melendez. He then participated in a Fight of the Millennium caliber bout against Diego Sanchez, but lost his last two fights, before testing positive for testosterone metabolites, thus resulting in a year-long suspension.

Now, Melendez is looking for redemption. He’s just 1-3 inside the octagon, after a 21-2 start to his career. He has 11 knockout wins, but more than half of his fights have gone the distance.

A loss for Melendez puts him dangerously close to pink slip territory. To avoid falling into that category, he must defeat a Taekwondo and Muai Thai black belt Edson Barboza,  who’s won multiple fights due to leg kicks, and has one of the greatest headkick knockout finishes in MMA history.

This fight feels like a tossup. Yes, Melendez is on a slide, and hasn’t fought for a year. It wouldn’t be surprising if he’s rusty tonight. But, Barboza has a history of failing when the spotlight is on him. He shocked many by beating Anthony Pettis in his last fight, but Pettis is on an incredible slide, and isn’t what he used to be. Sure, Melendez isn’t what he used to be either, but he’s still pretty damn good. Add in the reality that Barboza has alternated wins and losses in his last four, and I’ll just have to go out on a limb by predicting a continuation of that pattern. Prediction: Melendez via unanimous decision.

Holly Holm (10-1) vs. Valentina Shevchenko (12-2)

In the main event of the evening,  a pair of female Bantamweights, who made their names through Boxing and Kickboxing, will take aim at a potential title shot. Holm shocked the world  less than a year ago with her epic and dominant performance against longtime champion Ronda Rousey in November. She was on pace for a draw against Miesha Tate in March, before succumbing to a rear-naked choke in the final minutes. However, a win tonight likely grants her another title shot.

As for Shevchenko, the woman who went a whopping 58-2-1 in Kickboxing, will look to avenge her controversial loss against Amanda Nunes in her last fight with a win tonight. She may have had a pair of close fights inside the octagon, but has actually finished nine of her 12 wins.

On paper, this could be a long and testy striking bout. It very well might wind up being a lackluster affair. Both women have had some amazing finishes to their credit, but have also has some clunkers. I think it’ll be a close fight, and I’ll give the edge to the former champ. But, a Shevchenko win definitely wouldn’t surprise me. Prediction: Holm via decision.

Bellator 159 main card predictions

Ready for some semi-intriguing MMA action? I say this because nine days after an obscure yet electrifying UFC Fight Night, and six days after an odd Bellator card in London that was broadcast via tape delay, we have a Bellator and UFC card this week that, well, leave something to be had.

There’s only four bouts on slate for tonight’s main card, as opposed to the usual five on recent Bellator cards, and half of them will now be catch weight bouts. But, it promises to be a fairly enjoyable time, with some known names springled on it. At the very least, the card should be a decent appetizer for tomorrow’s UFC card. Without further ado, here are my picks for tonight’s main card.

Main card  (9/8c, Spike TV)

Daniel Weichel(36-9) vs. Emmanuel Sanchez  (13-2)

A pivotal Featherweight tilt kicks off the main card, as a pair of fighters battle to get closer to a potential title shot. Sanchez has gone 5-1 in Bellator, with five of those bouts going the distance, including three straight wins via split decision.

As for Weichel, he clearly has the experience advantage. He’s got three times as many fights to his credit,  and ten more finish victories than Sanchez has total fights. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt has 21 wins via submission, and five knockout wins to boot. I think that if he can take this to the ground, he’ll be able to up his Bellator record to 6-1. Prediction: Weichel via submission, round 2.

Bruna Vargas vs.  Emily Ducote (2-1)

Big ups to Bellator for paying heed to women’s MMA again. Tonight’s women’s bout is a Flyweight fixture between, well, regional competitors. Ducote has been a pro for less than a year, and all three of her fights have gone the distance. Vargas debuted in 2014, but this is her first fight since April 2014. I guess I’ll have to pick Ducote, if for no reason than potential ring rust for her opponent. Prediction: Ducote via decision.

Melvin Guillard (32-16-2, 2NC) vs. David Rickels (17-4, 1NC)

Remember Melvin Guillard?  The guy who was known for fighting reckless, yet constantly put forth entertaining performances? Yeah, his star has crashed completely over the years, and a loss tonight would eradicate whatever ounces of hype are left to his name. He’s 3-8 with a no contest in his last 12 fights, including three straight losses. Ih, and he missed weight too, so that’s great.

Rickels has been far from great lately, going 3-3 with a no contest since starting his career 14-1. But, I still think he has enough left in the tank to win this one. It’s no gimme for Rickels, and a Guillard win should shock no one. But, I think Rickels will pull through. Prediction: Rickels via decision.

Darrion Caldwell (9-0) vs. Joe Taimanglo (22-6-1)

In the main event of the evening,  a pair of Featherweights eill partake in what will essentially be a title eliminator bout. Caldwell is 6-0 in Bellator, with four of those wins coming via submission, with his last two coming against former Bellator champion Joe Warren and star wrestler Shawn Bunch. Taimanglo has 11 submission wins to his credit, and a 5-2 Bellator record. I’ll pick Caldwell to win a decision here, but anything can happen. Prediction: Caldwell via decision.

UFC FIGHT Night 91: McDonald vs. Lineker main card preview and predictions.

Another day, another fight night. Okay, so this is the only UFC card of the week. But, it’s still the fourth in seven days, so some people might still be too worn out to tune in tonight.

It’s still a fun, albeit obscure-looking card.  The initial headliner, a Lightweight matchup between title contender Tony Ferguson and rising submission specialist Michael Chiesa, got scrapped due to a back injury to Chiesa. Now, the initial co-main between Bantamweights Michael McDonald and John Lineker is the main event, while Ferguson will carry the co-main slot against undefeated prospect Landon Vannata.

There’s also a surefire epic Flyweight bout scheduled, a Middleweight matchup that might end via brutal finish, a throwback Welterweight fight, and the return of my favorite active Heavyweight, Oleksiy Oliynik.  Hopefully, the main card delivers in bunches.

Main card  (9/8c, FS1)

Ben Nguyen (16-5) vs. Louis Smolka (10-1)

The first fight on the main card is a Flyweight bout that could be fireworks. Smolka has finished eight of his ten victims, including five via submission. He’s 4-1 inside the octagon, with the only loss coming via split decision against Chris Cariaso  in May 2014. He’s won three straight since then, and if he wins a few more in a row, he could be rewarded with a title shot soon.

Meanwhile, Nguyen is a third degree black belt in Taekwondo,  and is a true finisher. He’s won 10 fights via knockout, four via submission,  and has also been knocked out four times. He’s fun as hell, but way too careless at times. Smolka is much more disciplined. One shot from Nguyen can end the night. But, I’ll risk it and go with Smolka here. Prediction: Smolka via tko, round 2.

Kyle Noke  (22-8-1) vs. Keita Nakamura (31-7-2, 1NC)

Up next is a Welterweight bout where I don’t know what to expect. I mean, what has happened to Kyle Noke? The once fun fighter laid an absolute egg in his last fight, and only has been in one fun fight in the last four years. He does have eight knockout and submission wins apiece,  but is clearly past his prime.

Meanwhile,  is a submission specialist. He does have six knockout wins, but is known best for his 17 submission wins. He’s had 15 fights go the distance,  but I’ll say he wins via submission here, just because I don’t want it to be a boring fight. Prediction: Nakamura via submission, round 2.

Oleksiy Oliynik (50-9-1) vs. Daniel Omielanchuk  (18-5-1, 1NC)

Oleksiy Oliynik is back! The submission superstar has a shocking 41 submission wins to his credit, including several scarf – hold- headlock submissions. He’s won 12 – straight fights, all via finish, and is 2-0 inside the octagon. Omielanchuk has never been finished, and has won his last two UFC bouts. But, he’s never faced anyone of Oliynik’s level, and I see him getting choked out tonight. Prediction: Oliynik via submission, round 1.

Josh Samman  (12-3) vs. Tim Boetch (18-10)

Next up is a Middleweight matchup that could be really fun. Josh Samman is an action fighter.  He’s got 11 finishes to his credit (7 knockout,  4 submissions,) and has only gone the distance twice. He’s 3-1 inside the octagon, with all fights ending early, but lost his last bout to Tamdan McCrory via submission with 50 seconds remaining in the round. A victory over a veteran like Boetch could result in him getting a fring – top ten opponent next.

As for Boetch, this could be his last stand.  He’s lost six of his last eight, including three straight, and four straight via finish. He’s won 13 fights via finish, but has also been finished seven times. He also seemingly has nine lives, so if he wins nobody should be surprised. I’m hoping Samman wins though. Prediction: Samman via tko, round 2.

(2) Tony Ferguson  (20-3) vs. Landon Vannata  (8-0)

In the co-main event of the evening,  UFC Lightweight contender Tony Ferguson takes on an unbeaten prospect making his UFC debut. Mismatch? Not necessarily.

Vannata is no joke. He’s finished seven of his eight opponents, three via knockout and four via submission, and six of then in the opening round. If he wins, nobody should be surprised.

That said, Ferguson is championship caliber. He deserves a title shot. If he loses, it’ll be a shame. I may have an issue with some of his antics, but I cannot deny his skills. The TUF 13 winner has won 10 of his 11 UFC fights, and finished 16 of his 20 wins. I’ll say he’ll impress tonight as well. Prediction: Ferguson via submission,  round 2.

Michael McDonald (17-3) vs. John Lineker (27-7)

Lineker might be the most powerful striker in the division, despite being a former Flyweight. He’s finished 16 opponents,  12 of them via knockout. He’s 8-2 inside the octagon,  and 2-0 since returning to Bantamweight.

Meanwhile,  McDonald won his first four UFC fights to earn a tire shot against then interim champion Renan Barao in early 2013. He lost that bout, won his next fight, and then lost to Urijah Faber via submission in late 2013. He missed the next 2+ years due to injuries, and looked rusty in his return back in January. He is a finisher though, having gone the distance only twice. He’s got terrific grappling,  and has nine knockouts to his credit. I’d he can take Lineker down, he can win via submission. But, my gut says that Lineker will connect, and that will end the night in epic fashion. Prediction: Lineker via knockout, round 2.

UFC Fight Night 91: McDonald vs. Lineker prelim card preview and predictions

What? Another fight card already?

That’s right folks! It’s time for the annual post-“Fight Week” UFC card! The UFC has made a habit of having a loaded Fight Week, and following up with an obscure Fight Night the following Wednesday. These cards tend to have an obscure feel to them on paper, and feel surreal throughout the night.

The main card feels that way, especially with the shifts atop the card. The prelims, however, have gone unscathed. But, that doesn’t mean it’s an obscure slate. There’s two women’s bouts, but neither one affects the big picture of either female weight class. “Smilin” Sam Alvey will fight for the second time in a month, Rani Yahya returns, and on paper, this isn’t a prelim slate that many people might be interested in. Alas, I have hopes for it being a fun one, and here are my picks for the two Fight Pass and four FS1 prelim bouts.

Fight Pass prelims  (6/5c, UFC Fight Pass)

Devin Clark (6-0) vs. Alex Nicholson (6-2)

The first fight of the card is hard to get excited about. Clark may be unbeaten, and fought four times for RFA. But, his last three fights ended via decision and one via hand injury for the opponent. He has finishing ability, but it’s hard to expect that tonight. As for Nicholson, he’s best known for proposing to his girlfriend during the weigh-in for his UFC debut in February, before getting choked out by Misha Cirkunov the following night. That was his first fight against legit competition, but he does have five knockouts and a submission win to his credit. Anything can happen, and while my gut says Clark will pull off a decision win, I’ll go with Nicholson via knockout, just so we can have something to care about with this fight. Prediction: Nicholson via knockout, round 2.

Rani Yahya (21-8, 1NC) vs. Matthew Lopez  (8-0)

Rani Yahya is back! Wait, what? A lot of people don’t care? Well, that’s unfortunate. The 2nd degree Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and Muai Thai black belt holder has 16 submission wins to his credit, and a solid 6-2 record inside the octagon, with a no contest. He has a bevy of submission chokes to his credit, but this is just his second fight since September 2014, and he’s only had two submission wins since 2009.

Meanwhile, Lopez is an undefeated prospect with all but one win coming via finish. All of his finishes, three knockouts and four submissions,  came in the opening round. Clearly, he wants to take care of business quickly. Yahya has been finished just three times in 30 fights though, so I don’t see it happening. It’s possible, but instead, I’ll go with Yahya via late finish or decision. Prediction: Yahya via decision or late submission.

Televised prelims  (7/6c, FS1)

Scott Holtzman (8-1) vs. Cody Pfister (12-5-1)

Lightweights kick off the televised prelims, as Amarillo’s Pfister takes on Knoxville’s Holtzman, in South Dakota. Holtzman has three knockouts and decision wins apiece, with a pair of submissions to boot. He lost his last fight against Drew Dober in January. A win here will get him on track though.

Meanwhile, Pfister is best known for his last name, as well as losing to Sage Northcutt. He’s 1-2 inside the octagon, with both his losses coming via second round submission. Heck, four of his five losses have come in that fashion. The story seems to write itself with this fight. Prediction: Holtzman via submission, round 2.

Cortney Casey (4-3) Cristina Stanciu (5-1)

Up next is a women’s Strawweight fight that should be exhilarating. Stanciu lost her UFC debut against Maryna Moroz in April, and a loss tonight just might result in her release. But, she does have four first round finishes the her credit; three submissions and a knockout, so she can definitely win this one.

Meanwhile Casey, who had only seen the third round once in her career prior to entering the UFC, has lost both her UFC fights via decision. She too has four first round wins, two apiece by knockout and submission. So this will likely be a quick blitzkrieg of a fight. They both seem like nice ladies, so it’ll suck to see either lose. I want to pick Stanciu, but a loss for Casey is guaranteed to result in her release. So while my head says Stanciu, my heart differs. Let’s go with the heart on this occasion. Prediction: Casey via tko, round 1.

Sam Alvey (26-8) vs. Eric Spicely (8-0)

Next up is a fight that will either end quickly, or feel like it’s never-ending. Alvey is a beloved knockout artist with 17 wins in that fashion. But, he’s also lost six fights via decision, and hss lost two straight overall.

Spicely is a ground specialist with four submissions, two knockouts, and all six finishes coming in the opening round. But, if the fight doesn’t end early, he does have a habit of grinding through fights. I think Spicely, a TUF 23 castmate, will have a solid UFC career. However,  a UFC without “Smilin Sam” isn’t as amazing as one where he is present. So, at Spicely’s expense,  I’ll have to go with Alvey. Prediction: Alvey via tko, round 1.

Kaitlyn Chookagian (7-0) vs. Lauren Murphy  (9-2)

Closing out the prelims is the second and final women’s fight of the evening. Chookagian is making her UFC debut, and while she has gone the distance in four of her seven career bouts, her last fight ended via knee knockout just 45 seconds into the bout.

Meanwhile, Murphy saved her UFC career by finishing Kelly Faszholz in her last fight, with five seconds left in the bout. She had lost her first two UFC fights via decision, against Sara McMann and then Liz Carmouche. She’s not elite, but she’s still solid. A loss here could still result in a release for her, so she needs the win. I think she’ll get it, and since she’s got seven tko wins to her credit, including some doctor stoppages, I’ll say she gets a late finish here too. Prediction: Murphy via tko, round 3.