Featherweight Bout: Artem Lobov (13-12-1) vs. Cub Swanson (24-7)
Luke Irwin: Fuck this ham-and-egger getting headline fights because of who his buddy is. Fuck his shit up, Cub. Swanson via R2 KO.
Nolan Howell: No matter how past his peak Swanson gets, he should be able to handle Lobov easily here. Swanson can be susceptible to getting himself in trouble on the mat, but if he keeps it standing, he can easily pick Lobov apart to a decision or stoppage. Lobov is game if anything else, but that’s not enough. Cub Swanson by unanimous decision.
Lightweight Bout: Al Iaquinta (12-3-1) vs. Diego Sanchez (27-9)
Luke: Al’s standoff with the UFC appears to be over, and they set him up against the decision-robber himself. Iaquinta will have over two years of ring rust to overcome against a man who never tires. I think Al does enough work on the feet, landing CLEAR shots (which, I’m hoping we have three saints as judges who can tell the difference), and control Sanchez with his strength, and does the unthinkable, defeat Diego by decision. Iaquinta via SD.
Nolan: If Iaquinta fights smart and doesn’t get drawn into the brawl, it shouldn’t be too difficult for him to paste a past-shopworn Sanchez. Al Iaquinta by second-round TKO.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Marcos Rogerio de Lima (15-4-1) vs. Ovince Saint Preux (19-10)
Luke: OSP is on the ropes after losing three straight, but 205 is so barren, I don’t think the UFC is quick to give him his papers, as he’d almost certainly land in Bellator. Rogerio is a winnable fight, and I think he bounces back here. Saint Preux via R2 TKO.
Nolan: OSP is prone to some really baffling fights and could easily get clipped, but if he somehow sticks to the gameplan, his intangibles are good enough to get him by the likes of Lima. Ovince Saint Preux by unanimous decision.
Bantamweight Bout: Eddie Wineland (23-11-1) vs. John Dodson (18-8)
Luke: Wineland can still win a down-and-dirty scrap, but I think Dodson, especially at bantamweight, is too quick and works around him and delivers some damage over fifteen minutes. Dodson via UD.
Nolan: Wineland is the slicker striker, but his movement tends to rely a little too much on quick reactions and speed. Dodson has the quickness advantage here. The reach could trouble him, but Dodson’s speed and wrestling are enough to tilt the fight in his favor. John Dodson by unanimous decison.
Lightweight Bout: Joe Lauzon (27-12) vs. Stevie Ray (20-6)
Luke: By his own admission, Lauzon did not beat Marcin Held last time out, and goddamned does Lauzon have some country miles on him, and I’m going to regret this badly, but I’m going with him. Too much weirdness happens in his fight, that somehow he comes out with a W. Lauzon via SD.
Nolan: Barring finishes against more worn fighters or wacky decisions, it is just hard to pick Lauzon these days with all the damage he has accrued. Stevie Ray by first-round TKO.
Welterweight Bout: Jake Ellenberger (31-12) vs. Mike Perry (9-1)
Luke: It’s fairly clear that the UFC likes Perry, despite how rough around the edges he is, and his controversial opinions, and this smells of a bounceback fight for him over a fighter in Ellenberger, who is years past his expiration date. Perry via UD.
Nolan: While Perry is all power and Ellenberger is susceptible to getting starched, nothing suggests that the likes of Perry would be able to get past Ellenberger. Jake Ellenberger by first-round TKO.
Middleweight Bout: Sam Alvey (30-8) vs. Thales Leites (26-7)
Luke: I’ll take Smilin’ Sam here. Leites’s striking has gotten better, but it’s not on the level of Alvey’s, and Sam is tough enough to not wilt to a striker on Leites’s level and is good enough on the ground to avoid trouble. Alvey via SD.
Flyweight Bout: Brandon Moreno (13-3) vs. Dustin Ortiz (16-6)
Luke: Ortiz is a solid flyweight gatekeeper, and a good test for The Assassin Baby. Moreno via SD.
Lightweight Bout: Michael McBride (8-2) vs. Scott Holtzman (9-2)
Women’s Strawweight Bout: Danielle Taylor (8-2) vs. Jessica Penne (12-4)
Luke: Taylor is an inspirational story, and is hard-nosed as all hell, and has pressured and blood-and-gutsed her way to two split-decisions in the UFC, but now she’s facing Jessica Penne, whom has four inches, a huge reach, and was the queenpin of women’s strawweight before that was even a known division. Penne via UD.
Lightweight Bout: Bryan Barberena (12-4) vs. Joe Proctor (11-4)
Luke: Barberena via R2 Submission.
Women’s Bantamweight Bout: Alexis Davis (17-7) vs. Cindy Dandois (8-2)
Luke: This was my pick for most underrated fight of the weekend. Between Davis’s toughness and Dandois’s submission style, this could be a fun, chaotic, scramble. Dandois via R3 Submission.
Flyweight Bout: Hector Sandoval (13-3) vs. Matt Schnell (9-3)
Luke: Schnell via UD.