Fresh off Zuffa selling the UFC for $4 billion (U.S.), the first event under new ownership is UFC Fight Night 91, which takes place this Wednesday at Denny Sanford Premier Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. While the card has been lost in the shuffle because it takes place just days after this past weekends’ UFC 200 mega event, it’s still a very solid event filled with exciting fights for MMA fans to tune in for.
The card, while lacking in big names, does feature several storylines, and there are the five things you should watch for.
1) Bantamweight Strikes Lineker And McDonald Fight In Main Event
Two of the most exciting bantamweights in the UFC fight in the five-round main event of UFC Fight Night 91 as John Lineker takes on Michael McDonald. This fight has violence written all over it as Lineker and McDonald are both known for possessing excellent boxing and heavy hands that has led to both of them racking up a number of highlight-reel knockouts in the UFC. Lineker, who is 26, is 8-2 in the UFC with five finishes and McDonald, just 25, is 6-2 with four finishes in the Octagon. It’s rare that two young fighters have so much experience inside the Octagon but that’s what makes this fight so great. In a bantamweight division that is looking for a new face at the top, the winner of this matchup will put their self in prime position for a No. 1 contender’s fight their next time out. Don’t miss this fight; it’s the main event for a reason, and has the potential to be one of the best fights of the summer.
2)Lightweight Contender Ferguson Gets Tuneup Fight Against Newcomer Vannata
Tony Ferguson is one of the top-five lightweights on the planet and currently riding a seven-fight win streak, but due to an injury to Michael Chiesa the UFC has brought in UFC newcomer Landon Vannata to fight “El Cucuy” in the co-main event. Vannata is a good prospect with a solid record, but he’s not even in the same realm as Ferguson, who is an elite 155lber, and this fight looks like it’s nothing more than a tuneup fight for the TUF 13 winner. If Ferguson can get the victory against Vannata in impressive fashion, it’s possible he could be the first man to face new UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez. Look for Vannata to go out on his shield, but this is a great opportunity for Ferguson to shine yet again.
3) Samman Attempts To End Boetsch’s UFC Career
Josh Samman is on his way up while Tim Boetsch is on his way down, and Samman will have the chance to put an end to Boetsch’s run in the UFC with a big win at UFC Fight Night 90. Samman is one of the biggest and strongest middleweights in the UFC and although he lost his last fight, he’s still highly skilled and at 28 still has room for growth. Boetsch, on the other hand, has fought in the UFC for years and is currently on a three-fight losing streak. At 35 and having taken a lot of damage in his career to this point, it’s clear Boetsch is nearing the end of the line in his UFC run and is Samman finishes him, there’s a good chance Boetsch hands his gloves up for good. Then again, maybe he turns back the clock and finishes Samman. It could go either way. It’s a good matchup between two guys that can finish fights, and the best man will come through with his hand raised.
4) Emerging Flyweights Smolka and Nguyen Clash
Two future flyweight contenders meet in the main card opening bout as Louis Smolka takes on Ben Nguyen. Smolka is 4-1 in the Octagon while Nguyen is 2-0 and with a combined four finishes between them, the UFC clearly booked this fight with excitement in mind. Smolka is 24 and Nguyen is 27 and both men are action-packed fighters who can finish the fight on the ground or on the feet. With the flyweight division desperate for new contenders to face champion Demetrious Johnson, fans can expect a really good fight between these two youngsters with an exciting finish highly likely.
5) Underrated Muprhy Looks To Climb Women’s Bantamweight Ladder
Lauren Murphy is one of the most underrated and underappreciated fighters in the UFC women’s bantamweight division, and much of that has to do with the judges who scored her fights in the Octagon. While she officially has a 1-2 record in the UFC, both of her losses were controversial decision defeats that didn’t go her way, and if they had she would still be undefeated in her career. The 32-year-old American looks to build on the strength of her last fight, a TKO win over Kelly Faszholz in a “Fight of the Night” performance, when she takes on UFC newcomer Kaitlyn Chookagian on the preliminary card. The 27-year-old Chookagian is undefeated in her young career and is a talented prospect, but she lacks the experience Murphy has, and Murphy will look to climb the top-15 rankings by taking out the UFC newcomer in what should be an exciting women’s bantamweight contest.
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