The UFC is back, sort of. After a three-week absence, the UFC is coming back, with a Fight Pass card. Go figure, the co-main event between Heavyweight contenders Ben Rothwell and Stipe Miocic had to get scrapped last week. And then, jsut a few days ago, headliner Joe Duffy had to pull out of his main event slot due to a concussion, and his opponent, Dustin Poirier, declined any potential substitutes.
As a result, what was once a decent Fight Pass card might be the least appealing card in UFC history. Make no mistake, there are still quite a few potentially entertaining bouts on the docket. However, the card is so nameless, even I, a person who makes an effort to view at least two live combat sporting events per week, will not be willing to tune in. Besides, I thoroughly enjoyed last night’s Bellator and Lion Fight cards, both of which were much more loaded than this glorified Cage Warriors card.
I will still make picks for the card. However, it will be far from what I usually put forth. If I sped more than 15 minutes writing this article, it will be 15 minutes too many.Alas, without further ado, here we go.
Prelims (1:15/12:15 PM CT, UFC Fight Pass)
Garreth McLellan (12-3) vs. Bubba Bush (8-2, 1NC)
A pair of solid Middleweight will open up the card. McLellan lost his UFC debut in the last crap UFC card, the dreadful Krakow card back in April. He may be a submission specialst, with nine finishes in that manner, but he did lose on the last horrendous UFC card. Plus, he’s not a Texan, which Bush is. I’ll go with the College Station native, for those two reasons alone. Prediction: Bush via unanimous decision.
Darren Elkins (18-5) vs. Robert Whiteford (12-2)
Elkins is a five-year UFC veteran. He’s 8-4 with the promotion, and has not put together a streak of any sort in his last six bouts. Meanwhile, Whiteford is 2-1 with the promotion, is a native of nearby Scotland, and is has only lost once since his MMA debut. And yet, he’s never faced a grinder like Elkins, who will smother him for 15 minutes. If this fight doesn’t make you switch away from the card, best of luck to you. Prediction: Elkins via smothering decision.
Cathal Pendred (17-3-1) vs. Tom Breese (8-0)
I hate Pendred, just like most MMA fans do. He’s the type of guy you know Dana and company are waiting on to lose, so that they can cut him. He’ll likely find a way to get away with a lucky decision, but for the sake of sanity, I’ll go with the unbeaten Brit. Prediction: Breese via submission, round 2.
Aisling Daly (15-6) vs. Ericka Almeida (7-1)
Finally, a fight on teh card I actually care for! Almeida is a budding Brazilian prospect, while Daly might be the most experienced Strawweight in MMA, after Jessica Aguilar and the legendary Megumi Fujii. That said, Daly has lost four of her last six, while Almeida is looking for her seventh first round finish. She lsot her UFC debut, and a loss for her is more than possible. While the gut says Daly takes it, the heart and mind beg to differ.
Scott Ashkam (13-1) vs. Krystof Jyotko (15-1)
What a shame. Both these Middleweights deserve more respect, and yet they’ve been relegated to this card. Ashkam is a bit of a knockout artist, while Jyotko tends to go the distance. I’ll go with Ashkam, but a win for Jyotko definitely wouldn’t surprise me. Prediction: Ashkam via tko, round 3 (Although a Jyotko decision is very possible.)
Stevie Ray (18-5) vs. Mickael Lebout (14-4-1, 1NC)
The final prelim bout features another man who deserves a bigger platform. Stevie Ray is a former Cage Warriors and BAMMA champion who has also held titles in a pair of other promotions, all while being a tremendous finisher. The knockout artist is a kill or be killed fighter, who has 14 finishes to his credit, but has also been submitted four times. He won both of his UFC fights via tko, but has eight career submissions to boot. Lebout is a solid opponent, but he’ll likely get creamed here. Prediction: Ray via tko, round 1.
Main card (4/3c, Fight Pass)
John Delos Reyes (8-4) vs. Neil Seery (15-11)
Opening the beleaguered main card is a clash of styles. Delos Reyes is an enthralling fighter who’s always a pleasure to watch. Seery is an Irishman who isn’t. Seery will probably win, but I’m rooting for entertainment here. Prediction: Reyes via hadouken.
Nicholas Dalby (14-0) vs. Darren Till (13-0)
A pair of unbeaten fighters on Fight Pass? That makes sense. Dalby finishes as many fights as he decisions, while Till has vanquished 11 of his 13 foes via finish. I’ll go with entertainment yet again. Prediction: Till via tko, round 2.
Norman Parke vs. Reza Madadi (13-3)
The co-headliner of the card was supposed to be a Heavyweight slugfest between a pair of contenders. Now, it’s between a felon returning from prison to the octagon for the first time since April 2013 against a relatively boring international TUF winner in Parke. He may have 12 submission wins to his credit, but his only finish in seven UFC fights came against the recently released Naoyuki Kotani over a year ago. The weigh-in was fun, but it’ll likely be the most entertaining aspect relating to this fight. Madadi was a submission specialist, but I see him getting decisioned here. Prediction: Parke via “meh” decision.
Patrick Houlihan (12-1-1) vs. Louis Smolka (9-1)
Without question, this is the most nameless headliner in UFC history. Granted, last year’s June Fight Pass headliner between James Te Huna and Nate Marquardt was between a pair of fighters on losing streaks, but at least they were relevant! This fight wasn’t even supposed to be on the main card! Irish fans may be rabid and somewhat obnoxious, but they deserve better than this card. What better way for them to feel screwed over than for their countryman to fall in the headliner? Prediction: Smolka via devastating, earth-shattering, bite-sized tko.