UFC Fight Night: Holloway vs Oliveira is one of the rare Sunday events for the UFC, so your Sunday dinner or barbecue can finally have someone fighting other than your family. Gather them around the flatscreen and watch some of the best fighters in the world compete. Grandma will be thrilled. Let’s breakdown the card.
Max Holloway ($10600) vs Charles Oliveira ($8800)
I’m of the mindset that one day soon Max Holloway will be challenging for the UFC featherweight championship. His footwork and movement is some of the best in MMA, and he has all the tools necessary to get that belt. He’s won six straight fights, and five of them have been finishes. His last loss? Some guy named Conor McGregor. See? The script is already being written. “Do Bronx” Oliveira is an outstanding fighter, but he has faltered when up against the top of the division. That will be the case Sunday, and Holloway will be one step closer to competing for the title. Holloway throws strikes in mad volume, so look for him to stun Oliveira, then lay down a barrage of punches that makes the ref stop in to wave it off.
Pick: Holloway by KO/TKO
Erick Silva ($10400) vs Neil Magny ($9000)
Silva, once the hottest prospect in MMA, has never been able to live up to his full potential. Back to back wins over Josh Koscheck and Mike Rhodes haven’t changed many minds on that. Whenever Silva has gone up against the upper class of the division he has not done well. Magny, submission loss to Demian Maia notwithstanding, is a top-15 fighter still making his way up the rankings. Silva absorbs a lot of strikes, and Magny is a tireless worker who defends well. Look for Magny to drop Silva and finish him in round two.
Pick: Magny by KO/TKO
Josh Burkman ($10000) vs Patrick Cote ($9400)
2008 called and they want this fight back. OK, that might not be fair (or even funny), but this one doesn’t even strike me as a main card fight. Cote needed to go the distance to beat Joe Riggs, and Burkman hasn’t won since returning to the UFC. Burkman is definitely more well-rounded, and he should be able to get Cote to the ground with some takedowns. These two tough veterans will likely go the distance, with Burkman getting the win. But I need more than 50-60 points for that lofty 10K salary.
Pick: Burkman by decision
Francisco Trinaldo ($8700) vs Chad Laprise ($10700)
Chad Laprise is a beast, and I think he will win this fight. However, neither Laprise or Trinaldo are in the finishing business. Laprise hasn’t finished anyone since 2012; Trinaldo since 2013. Like the fight above, it looks like this one is destined for the judges’ scorecards, which means I stay away. If you think Laprise is ready to get his first UFC KO, jump on that train. But I need to see one before I draft him.
Pick: Laprise by decision
Olivier Aubin Mercier ($10800) vs Tony Sims ($8600)
Tony Sims scored a knockout win in his debut against Steve Montgomery, while Mercier has six wins, all by way of submission. Sims has a nice, long neck for Mercier to latch onto during a scramble, and he’ll choke him out like he’s done to all the others.
Pick: Mercier by submission
Valerie Letourneau ($8900) vs Maryna Moroz ($10500)
Moroz is one of the few prospects in the women’s strawweight division. She submitted Joanne Calderwood in her UFC debut, and she’s 6-0 with six finishes. Letourneau is a solid fighter, but she doesn’t seem to have the speed requisite to hang with the upper class of the division. Moroz does, and she will prove it when she chokes out Letourneau on Sunday.
Pick: Moroz by submission
Sam Stout ($9700) vs Frankie Perez ($9700)
It’s hard to believe it’s been almost ten years since Sam Stout made his UFC debut. Stout is just 31 years old, but it seems the miles are adding up. He’s lost three of his last four fights, two by knockout and one by submission. His last four wins are against fighters that aren’t even in the UFC anymore. He has some power, but it’s translated into only one knockout win in his UFC career. Perez is an up-and-comer, and a win against Stout would be a feather in his cap. Perez can’t match Stout’s power, but he is exceptionally slick on the ground, and he also holds a speed advantage. It all adds up to a Perez win, likely by submission in the second or third round.
Pick: Perez by submission
Yves Jabouin ($9100) vs Felipe Arantes ($10300)
Fun Fact: Felipe Arantes has been in the UFC since 2011. If you knew that, you are a hardcore fan. It’s been a mixed bag for Arantes, going 3-3-1 in the UFC. Jabouin has been knocked out in three of his last five fights, and at age 36, it seems it doesn’t take too much to turn his lights out. Arantes is almost ten years younger, and still has a chance for some movement in the division. I think he’ll knock Jabouin out, and that could be the end of Jabouin’s UFC career.
Pick: Arantes by KO/TKO
Nikita Krylov ($9500) vs Marcos Rogerio de Lima ($9900)
Krylov has found success since dropping to light heavyweight and has finished his last two fights in the first round. de Lima is 2-0 in the UFC with two first round KOs. This is a fight to target because it seems inevitable that someone is getting flattened, and the salaries offer great value. I like de Lima to do the starching here, getting about 110 points in the process.
Pick: de Lima by KO/TKO
Chris Kelades ($9300) vs Chris Beal ($10100)
This one has all the signs of going the distance. Kelades and Beal are low volume strikers and they both average about 12-13 minutes per fight. They are also flyweights, a division that has one of the lowest finishing percentages in the UFC. I like Beal to take it, but doubt he’ll finish — or be worth the $10100 salary.
Pick: Beal by decision
Shane Campbell ($8400) vs Elias Silverio ($11000)
I was a bit surprised to see such a discrepancy in salaries here, but the DK folks are showing some prescience here. Silverio should be able to take Campbell down, keep him there and beat him up. After a round or two of that he will break Campbell’s will, then tap him out.
Pick: Silverio by submission
Misha Cirkunov ($11100) vs Daniel Jolly ($8300)
Jolly is a late addition to the card, taking the place of the injured Sean O’Connell. Cirkunov probably should have been in the UFC a while ago, but finally makes his debut. He would have beat O’Connell and he will dominate Jolly, asserting himself as someone to watch in the light heavyweight division. The prediction here is that Cirkunov will do damage inside, drop Jolly and then finish him with strikes.
Pick: Cirkunov by KO/TKO