UFC Welterweight Championship: Tyron Woodley (c) (16-3-1) vs. Stephen Thompson (13-1-1)
Luke Irwin: Thompson flew way too close to the sun a few times in their last fight, I admire his risiliance, but if Woodley sticks to his gameplan like he did for a few rounds in the first bout, I think he can take this on the cards. Woodley via UD.
Nolan Howell: Thompson can be a bit of a puzzle to figure out in first fights, but a second fight should see Woodley come out with a better gameplan and use his wrestling advantage. If he works legs kicks and pressures Thompson against the fence, make him fight off his back foot, and wears him down generally to make the takedowns easier, this is Woodley’s fight to lose. Woodley does have a tendency to fight a little loose on the feet with his boxing, but strategy can play against that. The odds favor Thompson, but I see Woodley winning ugly. Tyron Woodley by unanimous decision.
Interim UFC Lightweight Championship: Khabib Nurmagomedov (24-0) vs. Tony Ferguson (22-3)
Luke: Just think that Khabib has more tools in his toolbox to deal with Ferguson. Tony will make it a five-round battle, as he does, and may put Nurma on his wallet a time or two, but I still think Khabib can grind out a win here. Nurmagomedov via SD.
Nolan: Another fight where I expect wrestling to win out. Ferguson will be able to scramble a little with Nurmy and can exploit some things on the feet, but no one seems to have the elixir for the heavy wrestling of Nurmagomedov and I don’t see Ferguson having it. Khabib Nurmagomedov by unanimous decision.
Middleweight Bout: Dan Kelly (12-1) vs. Rashad Evans (19-5-1)
Luke: I can’t forsee any circumstance in which Rashad freaking Evans can’t get by dadstrength Dan Kelly, much as I love the dude. Evans via R2 Submission.
Nolan: Evans could be done, but there is nothing on his ledger that suggests a fighter on the level of Dan Kelly can beat him. Kelly is a bit of a rough house fighter and if Evans has any of his speed left (the middleweight cut could also take that advantage away), it shouldn’t be too challenging to stay safe and stick and move with some takedowns here and there. How far off the cliff Evans has fallen physically is hard to gauge and predict, but as it stands? Rashad Evans by unanimous decision.
Lightweight Bout: David Teymur (5-1) vs. Lando Vannata (9-1)
Luke: More pain administered by Vannata. Vannata via R1 TKO.
Nolan: Not sure of Teymur’s background, but this screams PPV showcase for the young and exciting Vannata. Lando Vannata by first-round submission.
Heavyweight Bout: Alistair Overeem (41-15) vs. Mark Hunt (12-10)
Luke: I hope Hunt lies down in the middle of the ring like a Vince Russo-booked WCW match to protest his treatment about the Lesnar fight. Hunt via R2 KO.
Nolan: Overeem has been in trouble on the feet with lesser strikers than Hunt and Hunt, though fading, has adapted his kickboxing background to MMA better than Overeem. The clinch could be trouble potentially, but Hunt’s durability should allow to survive, escape, and get the win in the center of the cage with his hands. Mark Hunt by first-round KO.
Heavyweight Bout: Luis Henrique (10-2) vs. Marcin Tybura (14-2)
Luke: This is an underrated fight. Two athletic heavyweights with varied skillsets. Could really go either way. Tybura via R3 TKO.
Featherweight Bout: Darren Elkins (21-5) vs. Mirsad Bektic (11-0)
Luke: Classic high-flying prospect against nasty gatekeeper. Elkins has been tending his gate in the featherweight division for almost six years now, and he’s on a three-fight winning streak of his own. This is the toughest pick of the card for me. Let’s go Elkins via SD.
Heavyweight Bout: Daniel Spitz (5-0) vs. Mark Godbeer (11-3)
Luke: Godbeer via R1 KO.
Bantamweight Bout: Iuri Alcantara (34-7) vs. Luke Sanders (11-0)
Luke: Mr. Becky Lynch! You’re alive! And you’ve got a horrible draw! Alcantara is 36, and not the killer he was, but I think he’s got enough wily in him to get the win here with his tools over a very, very, rusty opponent. Alcantara via UD.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Paul Craig (9-0) vs. Tyson Pedro (5-0)
Luke: Awwww hell yeah, a couple of light heavyweight submission hosses gunning for a tap. Pedro via R2 Submission.
Women’s Strawweight Bout: Amanda Cooper (2-2) vs. Cynthia Calvillo (3-0)
Luke: Cooper via SD.
Bantamweight Bout: Albert Morales (6-1-1) vs. Andre Soukhamthath (11-3)
Luke: Underrated fight between two guys who should be higher up than they are. Soukhamthath is a CES veteran out of Rhode Island, the same place where guys like John Howard frequent, where he was the bantamweight king. Now he comes to the UFC to face Morales, who has fought in the UFC, Bellator, WSOF, and RFA, whose only loss is to Thomas Almeida, which is nothing to be ashamed of. I’ll go with Andre’s power here. Soukhamthath via R2 KO.]]>