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.