Ottawa is going to be the hottest place to be this Saturday night thanks to UFC Fight Night 89. The stellar card features what is widely considered to be a welterweight title eliminator between the Number 1 and Number 3 contenders, Rory MacDonald and Stephen Thompson, as its headlining event. In addition to that, we have a slew of some of the UFC’s best talent fighting all across the board. The card looks to be non-stop action from the opening bouts onward, and will present plenty of opportunity for well-crafted fantasy teams.
Right now, it’s time to sit back and relax while I go over why the following four fighters should absolutely be on your radar. Let’s get started.
Ali Bagautinov $10,800 / Geane Herrera $8,600
This is the curtain jerker of the evening, and should prove to be an entertaining one. Bagautinov is coming off back to back losses to Benavidez and Johnson, so this is possibly a “must win” situation for the powerful wrestler.
Herrera is coming off a very impressive win over Jackson-Wink prospect, Joby Sanchez, thanks to some dynamic striking. His aggressive grappling game could be the game changer here, as Ali tends to leave openings for submissions. I would also give him the fight IQ advantage here, as Ali is more powerful in both his ground game and in power striking, but somehow manages to lose sight of those very important factors. With a salary difference of $2,200, Herrera is the best value underdog on the card.
Herrera via submission
Valerie Letourneau $10,100 / Joanne Calderwood $9,300
Valerie Letourneau is tough as nails and proved it in her last outing against Joanna Jedrzejczyk. While she was not victorious in the bout, she definitely had her moments and proved how durable she is. This fight being at 125 is advantageous for both women, as 115 seems a mite small for this pair of strikers.
Joanne is lethal personified with her kicks and knees, and I think this will be the key to neutralizing Valerie’s excellent standup. Her one blemish came on the heels of a breakup with her longtime romantic interest, and she has rebounded well from the loss with a dominant win over Cortney Casey. She’s fighting out of Tristar gym with the renowned training brain of Firas Zahabi in her corner. Joanne looks to be a real star in the making, and I expect big things from her in the future.
Calderwood via decision
Donald Cerrone $10,200 / Patrick Cote $9,200
Cowboy is a rangy fighter that just recently made the move to welterweight a reality in his last fight with Alex Oliveira. His submission game is excellent and he’s got very good striking to round out a pretty complete skillset. Problems to note are his tendency to start slow and the power disadvantage he’ll have against Cote.
The Predator also has a good ground game with excellent wrestling and TNT in his hands. What flies under the radar is that he is a black belt in BJJ and has great submission defense. The fact that he has quite a bit less wear and tear on his body from a less active fight schedule may also be in his favor, as Cerrone has 12 fights in a three-year span compared to just 5 for Cote. Patrick will have a distinct size advantage, not in height, but in mass, as he walks much heavier than Cerrone. Circling back around, Cote’s heavy striking power will make the difference in this fight, and in my opinion will net him the win.
Patrick Cote via TKO
Stephen Thompson $9,800 / Rory MacDonald $9,600
Stephen Thompson has come a long way since his UFC debut. He only has one loss on his record, but for a brief time it looked like he might be a one trick pony. These days, he’s incorporated good grappling into his skillset and has rounded that out well.
The problem with all those great attributes is that Rory MacDonald is a durable, technical machine. He has an excellent ground game and remarkable standup. He uses his striking to neutralize opponents and is notorious for being able to take a licking and keep on kicking.
There is an “X-factor” to this bout in that it’s the last fight on MacDonald’s contract. A big impressive win is great leverage for a beef up in contracted pay, so that should definitely be a consideration here. When you weigh these two out, skill for skill, I feel Rory has the bigger upside and should grab the victory here.