Max Holloway vs. Charles Oliveira
Holloway enters with a clear striking advantage but Oliveira’s aggressive grappling should make this a more competitive fight than people expect. The thing about Holloway is that he’s still relatively untested on the ground despite 12 UFC fights. Of his 12 opponents, only Cole Miller could be described as a submission guy, but Miller doesn’t really go for takedowns. Oliveira will test Holloway in ways he hasn’t been tested yet in the UFC. Even so, I have to pick Holloway to win due to his high-paced striking attack and Oliveira’s history of being stopped in sudden and bizarre ways.
Pick: Max Holloway by TKO
Neil Magny vs. Erick Silva
Silva’s fights are very binary: either he wins by spectacular first-round finish or he takes a sustained beating after gassing out. For that reason, Silva’s statistics are badly skewed against him and the model thinks Magny wins in a landslide. I know Silva’s a much more dangerous fighter than the model gives him credit for, and Magny is taking this fight on short notice after being engulfed by Demian Maia three weeks ago. While I’m much less confident than the model, I’m still picking Magny for the win as I think he’s better equipped to survive Silva’s early storm than some of Silva’s recent opponents.
Pick: Neil Magny by TKO
Josh Burkman vs. Patrick Cote
Burkman says he’s “pissed” about his second stint in the UFC but the reality is that he’s been over-matched. He’s simply not at Hector Lombard or Dong Hyun Kim’s level. Patrick Cote is a much more appropriate opponent, even if this seems like a fight straight out of 2007. Cote is known for being a tough out but Burkman really is the more well-rounded fighter and better wrestler. In the best of times, I see a relatively even striking match, but if Burkman gets his takedown game going, I think he can win by clear decision. I see Burkman as a value at -135 odds.
Pick: Josh Burkman by decision
Chad Laprise vs. Francisco Trinaldo
I’m not sure what Chad Laprise has done to earn his status as a -360 favorite against Trinaldo. Laprise last fought Bryan Barberena and actually got out-scored in that fight, with Barberena landing 94 significant strikes to Laprise’s 84. While Trinaldo’s window to become a lightweight contender has come and gone, and he is now 36 years old, I still think he can be very competitive in this fight. Both guys are above average strikers but Trinaldo packs a bit more power. Laprise’s seven year youth advantage is enough for me to pick him but Trinaldo should not be a 3-1 underdog here.
Pick: Chad Laprise by decision
Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Tony Sims
Aubin-Mercier is generally a bit overhyped; for a while he was drawing comparisons to Georges St-Pierre, which I can only imagine was just because he’s a talented guy fighting out of Quebec. He’s not that kind of talent, but he does have an excellent ground game and is fighting a short-notice opponent in Tony Sims. Sims is something of a knockout artist and should be dangerous at standing distance, but I doubt Aubin-Mercier will give him much room to work with. As long as Aubin-Mercier makes this a grappling match he should have a distinct advantage.
Pick: Olivier Aubin-Mercier by submission
Valerie Letourneau vs. Maryna Moroz
Moroz is coming off a surprising submission victory over Joanne Calderwood in Germany earlier this year. Now she’s a favorite to beat Valerie Letourneau, a fighter who has shown a fairly well-rounded game, but hasn’t yet faced a high level of competition in the UFC. The model likes Moroz for the win primarily due to her youth advantage; she enters at 23 years old while Letourneau is 32. Even though the model is in agreement with the betting odds, I can’t shake the feeling that perhaps Moroz being a -190 favorite is an overreaction to the Calderwood win. Even so…
Pick: Maryna Moroz by submission
- Frankie Perez had a dismal debut against Johnny Case. Sam Stout isn’t as good as Case but he at least can land a lot of strikes. Stout by decision.
- Yves Jabouin is basically a low-level gatekeeper at this point; fighters good enough for the UFC should be able to beat him. Felipe Arantes should have the talent. Arantes by TKO.
- Nikita Krylov has a more well-rounded arsenal but Marcos Rogerio de Lima packs some serious knockout power. I don’t see this one going the distance. Rogerio de Lima by TKO.
- Chris Kelades is tough and good at surviving but Chris Beal really is the better talent. Beal by decision.
- Elias Silverio is a very good prospect while Shane Campbell had a dismal debut against John Makdessi. I think Silverio cruises here. Silverio by decision.
- Misha Cirkunov and Daniel Jolly are both making their debut, but Jolly is taking this fight on short notice and doesn’t have many quality wins on his record. Cirkunov by TKO.