Lightweight Bout: Dustin Poirier (23-5) vs. Eddie Alvarez (29-5)
Nolan Howell: In their first fight, Poirier seemed to be the more effective striker of the two, using a 1-2 and plenty of forward pressure to put Alvarez on his bike and rocking him at one point before getting too wild and getting clipped en route to the screwy ending. That pressuring striking against a fighter like Alvarez, who tends to land and move, doesn’t allow him to set the rhythm on the feet and Poirier’s submission grappling is too much of a test for Alvarez to rely on his wrestling background. Poirier just seems to be built to have Alvarez’s number despite Alvarez being the fighter with the higher ceiling overall. Dustin Poirier by third-round TKO.
Featherweight Bout: Jeremy Stephens (28-14) vs. Jose Aldo (26-4)
Nolan: The technique is still there for Aldo, but the durability and quickness seems to taper with each fight and Stephens has had a late bloom despite being older than Aldo. Aldo in his younger days would have feasted on the wilder striker in Stephens and very well still could early on, but the pressure of Stephens and a competent wrestling attack that could at least wear Aldo down on the fence if he isn’t able to get the takedown against some of the best defense MMA has ever seen in Aldo. Still, it is just hard to trust that Aldo can withstand anything that comes his way while biding his time to pick Stephens apart. Jeremy Stephens by second-round KO.
Women’s Strawweight Bout: Joanna Jedrzejczyk (14-2) vs. Tecia Torres (10-2)
Nolan: Torres is a really well-rounded fighter, but it will just be a tough ask to get anything going against Jedrzejczyk. The unorthodox striking from Torres won’t be of much use at a distance, where Jedrzejczyk will piece her up with the jab and leg kicks to keep her getting too close. Should Torres be able to use her grappling, Jedrzejczyk’s clinch domination has fended off better wrestlers and will be able to catch Torres coming in and as she works inside. Barring simply losing her mentality after losing to Namajunas, which is certainly possible and has happened to fighters just as great before, this screams rebound for Joanna Ex-Champion. Joanna Jedrzejczyk by unanimous decision.
Lightweight Bout: Alexander Hernandez (9-1) vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier (11-2)
Nolan: Knocking out Beneil Dariush in his last outing was impressive for Hernandez, but Aubin-Mercier has been reeling off wins and he should be experienced enough to be able to drag Hernandez into deep waters with his blanketing clinch and grappling to pull something off later in the fight unless Hernandez proves to be a top-level prospect. Olivier Aubin-Mercier by third-round submission.
Welterweight Bout: Alex Morono (14-4) vs. Jordan Mein (30-12)
Nolan: Hard to really trust Mein on a pick, having been on the fringe of early retirement. Alex Morono by unanimous decision.
Lightweight Bout: Islam Makhachev (15-1) vs. Kajan Johnson (23-12-1)
Nolan: While I’d love for Johnson to take the win for his efforts outside of the cage, hard to see him escaping the smothering of Makhachev. Islam Makhachev by unanimous decision.
Featherweight Bout: Austin Arnett (15-4) vs. Hakeem Dawodu (7-1-1)
Nolan: Hakeem Dawodu by second-round TKO.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Gadzhimurad Antigulov (20-4) vs. Ion Cutelaba (13-3)
Nolan: Gadzhimurad Antigulov by second-round submission.
Women’s Flyweight Bout: Alexis Davis (19-7) vs. Katlyn Chookagian (10-1)
Nolan: Katlyn Chookagian by split decision.
Flyweight Bout: Dustin Ortiz (18-7) vs. Matheus Nicolau (13-1-1)
Nolan: Dustin Ortiz by split decision.
Women’s Strawweight Bout: Nina Ansaroff (8-5) vs. Randa Markos (8-5)
Nolan: Randa Markos by unanimous decision.
Lightweight Bout: Alvaro Herrera (9-5) vs. Devin Powell (8-3)
Nolan: Devin Powell by first-round submission.