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.

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