UFC Fight Night 96: Lineker vs. Dodson prelim card preview and predictions

Another week, another UFC card, this time from Portland, Oregon. This week’s card is the seventh in a string of nine events in nine weeks, and sadly, it’s a shell of itself. The main event and co-main event are still intact, as well as most of the other fights, but there’s a bunch of fun bouts that had to get scrapped due to injuries.

Amongst the cancelled bouts are Brian Ortega vs. Hacran Dias, Josh Burkman vs. Bobby Green, and Sergio Pettis. That doesn’t sound like a huge hit, but for a fight night like this, the absence of those bouts turned this card from a  must watch Fight Night to an obscure one. The card still has the potential to be very good though, and here are my picks for the prelim card, which promises to be a fun one.

Fight Pass Prelims (7:15/6:15c, UFC Fight Pass)

Kelly Faszholz (3-1) vs. Ketlen Viera (6-0)

The lone female bout on deck for the next month of UFC action is the one that will be kicking off the card. Faszholz won her first three pro fights, all via submission, but lost her UFC debut on short notice against former Invicta champion Lauren Murphy via knockout, with just five seconds remaining in the fight. Two of her fights have gone into the third round, and her only first round finish came in her pro debut in 2013.

Meanwhile, Viera is a young, undefeated Brazilian prospect who has finished five of her six opponents, three of which came via submission. She’s got three first round finishes, and while I like Faszholz, I believe Viera has the skill and experience edge that will lead her to a late victory. Prediction: Viera via submission, round 3. 

Cody East (12-2) vs. Curtis Blaydes (5-1)

Heavyweights will take the stage next, as former Legacy champion Cody East will look to earn his first UFC win, against Curtis Blaydes. Both lost their UFC debuts, and need a win to avoid potentially getting cut with a loss. East has eight knockout and three submission wins, seven first round finishes, and a boatload of experience. He lost his UFC debut via late first round knockout against Walt Harris back in April, and while he’s a good fighter, his disturbing past may lead to him being cut if he loses tonight, due to a potentially shorter leash.

Meanwhile, Blaydes has seen every fight end via tko. He’d won his first five in that fashion, including the first two in the opening round, but lost his UFC debut via doctor’s stoppage against French powerhouse Francis Ngannou in April. That fight showcased how strong his chin is, and that could spell trouble for East. However, I’ve watched enough East fights to know that he’s crafty and can take things to the ground if need be. Unless East gets rocked and finished early, I see East utilizing his ground game tonight, and I’ll go with him getting a submission win tonight. Prediction: East via submission, round 2. 

Jonathan Wilson (7-1) vs. Ion Cutelaba (11-2, 1NC)

Who likes knockouts? Well, this is the perfect fight for anyone who does! Ion Cutelaba did something very interesting yesterday. At the weigh-ins, he dressed up and imitated the Hulk! When you do something like that, you need to win, and that’s definitely the case here. Nine of his wins have come within 80 seconds, many of which came within 30 seconds, and he’s only been to the second round twice. He lost his UFC debut via third round submission against Misha Cirkunov, and basically revamped a potential release with his antics yesterday, as much as I hate to admit it.

Jonathan Wilson has seen every fight end via knockout, including five in the opening round. He’s 1-1 inside the octagon, winning his debut in 50 seconds against Chris Dempsey last August, before losing his latest bout against Luis Henrique da Silva via second round tko at UFC 199 this past June.

This fight will be a blast. Someone’s getting knocked out, and it should be early. Wilson is damn good, but Cutelaba needs this win. I’m a fan of both, but I have to go with Cutelaba because he needs the win so much more. Prediction: Cutelaba via tko, round 1. 

Tamdan McCrory (14-4) vs. Nate Marquardt (34-16-2)

It’s shocking to see a bout with these names on Fight Pass, especially on a card that’s not big on names. But, the UFC wants to emphasize Fight Pass, so I get it. Well, McCrory has finished 13 of his 14 career wins, eight via knockout, with eight first round finishes to boot. He’s 1-1 since returning to the octagon-submitting Josh Samman in the third round back in December, before succumbing to a first round knockout loss in June to decision machine Krzystof Jyotko. It was his first ever knockout loss, and that makes this fight become a wild card.

Meanwhile, Marquardt has been fighting for 17 and a half years, has over 50 fights to his credit, has second degree black belts in Jiu Jitsu, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Pancrase, and 26 combined finishes-16 submissions and 10 knockouts. That said, he’s 2-6 since returning to the octagon, and it might be time for him to retire. A win for him won’t be shocking, but I’ll sat that McCrory will stamp this one late in the opening round. Prediction: McCrory via knockout, late round 1. 

 

TV Prelims (9/8c, FS2)

Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos (15-5) vs. Keita Nakamura (32-7-2, 1NC)

Dos Santos has won 14 fights via finish, including 12 via knockout, eight of which came in the opening round. He lost his UFC debut against Nicolas Dalby in May 2015 via split decision, but won his last bout against Omari Akhmedov via tko late in the third round in April.

Meanwhile, Nakamura is a 13-year veteran with 18 submission wins. I think if he can wear off the early storm, he’ll win via submission for the 19th time. Prediction: Nakamura via

Shamil Abdurakhimov (16-3) vs. Walt Harris (8-0)

Abdurakhimov has seven knockout, four submission and five decision wins. Harris has had all his wins come via first round knockout. Either Harris will connect early, or lose via smothering. For the sake of entertainment, I’ll go with the former. Prediction: Harris via knockout, round 1. 

Hacran Dias (23-4-1) vs. Andre Fili (15-4)

Featherweights take the stage next, and this could be a damn fun one, or the exact opposite. Dias is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt with nine submission wins, but 16 of his 28 career fights have gone the distance, including all six of his UFC bouts. Meanwhile, Fili has finished 11 of his 15 wins, including eight via knockout. He’s 3-3 inside the octagon, and has only gone the distance once with the UFC. That said, Dias is probably more skilled, and I see him grinding through the fight, before submitting Fili. Prediction: Dias via submission, round 3. 

Luis Henrique da Silva (11-0) vs. Joachim Christensen (13-3)

It’s not often that the headlining prelim bout features a pair of fighters that don’t even have a Wikipedia page, but don’t let that keep you from being enthusiastic about this fight. Da Silva is an unbeaten prospect who’s won every fight via knockout, including eight in the first round. He won his UFC debut against fellow unbeaten debutant Jonathan Wilson back in June, and is a serious threat to everyone in the Light Heavyweight division.

Christensen is no joke though. He’s finished nine of his opponents, five via submission and four via knockout, and has won five straight fights. He’ll probably try and grind through this fight, attempting to make it as ugly as possible. Sadly for him, I see Silva connecting with his chin, and ending it by the second round at the latest. Prediction: Silva via tko, round 2. 

 

 

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