Lost in the overtly nonsensical hooplah and buzz generated from the announcement of August’s exhibition boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor is all that’s happened in MMA this week.
Okay, so not much else at all has happened. No major fights announced, not many fights happening, etc. However, there is a UFC card taking place this weekend. It may be a Fight Pass card headlined by a pair of women who desperately need a win and shouldn’t be headlining cards at the moment, and it may be taking place on the other side of the world at an ungodly time for those who reside in the states, but it has some propensity for fun, especially on the prelims.
It’s not a must-watch slate in terms of watching live, and the fact that it’s on Fight Pass makes live viewing even less mandatory. However, it’s a solid card in terms of matchups, name value and prospects. Hopefully, it winds up being a fun one.
Without further ado, here are my predictions for the entire eight-bout prelim slate. It doesn’t have many notable names, but there are some, including a legend to headline it. There’ll be some fun bouts on the slate, no doubt about it.
Prelim card (4:30am, 3:30am CT, UFC Fight Pass)
Ji Yeon Kim (6-0-2) vs. Lucy Pudilova (6-2)
The opening bout of this card which will kick off at an ungodly hour for folks in the states is a women’s bantamweight bout between two women who are pretty new to the UFC. Pudilova made her debut in March against the only woman to defeat her, Lina Lansberg. Like the 2015 bout, Pudilova lost via decision, although the second bout was really, really close. She’s got two wins by knockout, submission and decision apiece, and a good gas tank to boot.
Kim is unbeaten, and has actually faced some really good competition before. Okay, just twice, but both of those women had double digit wins and single digit losses when they fought her! She’s got a lot of potential, and this will be a very interesting fight. This should be a close and hopefully fun bout, and either woman can win. I’ll pick Pudilova to take the decision, but a Kim win should shock absolutely no one. Prediction: Pudilova via decision.
Naoki Inuoe (10-0) vs. Carls John de Tomas (6-0)
Up next is a catchweight bout between a pair of unbeaten Flyweights. Honestly, it’s a wonder that this bout is even taking place, since de Tomas missed weight by five pounds. Alas, it is happening, and hooray for that. Tomas fought all six of his bouts with the Filipino URCC promotion, and enters the UFC as the most recent Flyweight champion of the promotion with three submission and decision wins apiece. That said, I just don’t see him toppling Inoue. Inoue is also unbeaten, with seven of his ten wins coming via submission, including six in the opening round. Sure, two of his last three bouts were split decision wins, but I still think Inoue could be a slightly poorer version of Kyoji Horiguchi in terms of potential. Inoue via submission is my pick for this one. Prediction: Inoue via submission, round 2.
Kwan Ho Kwak (9-1) vs. Russell Doane (14-7)
A pair of PXC Bantamweight veterans will fight in the next bout on deck. Doane has been in the UFC for over three years now, but fought three times for PXC. He only went 1-2 there though, and found his best success in Hawaii. The former Destiny MMA and Tachi Palace Fights Bantamweight champion entered the UFC with a 12-3 record, fighting on the UFC’s first ever Singapore and Fight Pass card in January 2014. He won that night against Leandro Issa via submission, and won a split decision over Marcus Brimage in his next bout. The wrestler has lost four straight since, including a pair of first round submission losses in his last two fights. He’s finished 11 of his 14 wins, and has never been knocked out, but a loss tomorrow will end his UFC tenure.
As for Doane’s opponent, long story short, Kwak is really good. A former PXC and Top Fight FC champion, the decorated South Korean Bantamweight entered the UFC with a spotless 9-0 mark, including six knockout wins, three of which came in the opening round and two additional ones in the third. He’s the better striker in this bout, and his best chance to win this one will be by keeping it standing. Doane is more well-rounded, with good striking and better wrestling, and also has a lot more experience. He needs the win even more than Kwak does, so him trying to grind his way to a win would shock no one. I’ll go with Kwak as a gut feeling, but Doane needs it more. Either way, it has the potential to be a fun bout. Prediction: Kwak via decision.
Frank Camacho (20-4) vs. Li Jianliang (12-4)
The next fight is insanely under the radar, considering how it’s my pick to be Fight of the Night. Camacho is from the Northern Mariana Islands, and will be fighting in familiar territory. He’s also a full-on action fighter, having won 15 of his 20 wins by knockout, while also losing three times in that same fashion. He’s only gone the distance twice-once in 2007, and then later in 2014. Seventeen of his 24 wins have come in the first round, with over ten of them coming in the opening two minutes. Long story short, don’t blink when he’s fighting.
Meanwhile, Jingliang is by far the most successful Chinese fighter in UFC history. He’s 4-2 since entering the promotion in May 2014. He’s won three of four, and a win here would be big for him. Like Camacho, he’s a finisher, having finished nine of his 12 wins. He’s only been finished once, and that was via submission, so he has the ground edge here. The key for him will be surviving Camacho’s early onslaught. If he can do that, he can tire Camacho out and finish him in the second or third round. As much as I’d love to see Camacho get the upset, his only chance is if he catches Jingliang early. My gut feeling is that he might do just that! Sadly, I’ve already gone with instinct over logic earlier in my predictions for this card, and I won’t be doing that here. This is Jingliang’s fight to lose, and unless he gets caught, I see him finishing this one in the second round. Prediction: Jingliang via submission or tko, round 2.
Justin Scoggins (11-3) vs. Ulka Sasaki (19-4-2)
The next fight is simple to explain. Scoggins is a scrappy Flyweight who’s 4-3 in the UFC, lost three of his last five, and needs the win. He’s won six fights via knockout and has a good gas tank, but has been submitted in his last two losses. Sasaki came into the UFC with a 17-1-2 record, and won his UFC debut via rear-naked choke just 66 seconds into the fight. He’s lost three of four since, and if he loses, he likely gets cut. It’s a bout between two tough and gritty Flyweights who desperately need the win. Sasaki has ten wins via submission, and will definitely try to take it to the ground against a guy who’s last two losses came via submission. This will be an interesting fight that may or may not be fun, but in the end, I think Scoggins will take the decision. Prediction: Scoggins via decision.
Rolando Dy (8-4-1, 1 NC) vs. Alex Caceres (12-10, 1 NC)
Dy is yet another PXC veteran fighting on this card, having fought ten times for the promotion. While he does have a few first round finishes, seven of his 14 fights (four wins, three losses and a draw) all went the distance. Don’t let that fool you though. He’s a very good striker with fundamental kickboxing, and will be the better striker in this bout.
Caceres has been in the UFC for six years now, and is 7-8 with a no contest with the promotion. He’s lost two straight and five of his last seven. He reminds me of Maximo Blanco-a fun and wonky fighter with good potential, but mired with inconsistency. He began his UFC career with three losses in his first four fights, before going 4-0 with a no contest in his next fight. He’s just 2-5 since, and a loss here likely gets him cut. He should win, but I believe his inconsistency will rear its ugly head again. Caceres will have his moments, the fight will be weird and funky, it’ll be a close call, and I say Dy will somehow win the decision. It makes no sense, yet all the sense in the world. Prediction: Dy via decision.
Cyril Asker (8-2) vs. Walt Harris (9-5)
There are only two fights on this card between fighters over 170 pounds, and this is one of them. Asker has finished six of his eight victims, including four via knockout. He came into the UFC with a 7-1 record and a five-fight winning streak, with one of those wins coming against Andrew van Zhy, one of the most underrated Heavyweights outside of the UFC. He got knocked out in the opening round of his April 2016 UFC debut against Jared Cannonier, but rebounded with a first round tko win over Dmitry Smoliakov this past January. With a win over an improving Walt Harris who has brutal knockout power, Asker could be just a win or two away from facing a ranked UFC Heavyweight.
Speaking of Harris, it’s simple to see what’s up with him. All nine of his wins have come via knockout, including eight in the first. Of his five losses, two have come via knockout and three have come via decision. He went 0-2 in his first UFC stint from November 2013 to early 2014, but is 2-2 since returning. What’s more is that he’s improved a lot since returning, by making his striking more technical and varied instead of being one-dimensional like he once was. He’s fast, athletic, and now he’s technical too. That’s a recipe for success right there, especially against a guy in Asker who is smaller, less athletic, etc. Asker may be more well-rounded, but I see Harris knocking him out in the first round. It’s just a bad matchup for Asker, and the result will likely be a predictable and sad one for him. Prediction: Harris via knockout, round 1.
Takanori Gomi (35-12, 1 NC) vs. John Tuck (9-4)
In the headlining prelim bout of the card, Japanese MMA legend Takanori Gomi will take on Jon Tuck. This fight could be really fun, but it has quite a depressing vibe to it. Gomi is a legend, no doubt. The Pride megastar is one of the best to ever fight in this sport, and will always be known for his action-packed bouts in the early and mid-2000s. But, he’s just 4-7 in the UFC. What’s more is that he’s nearly 39-year-old, and has lost three straight, all via first round tko. That’s right, a guy who didn’t get knocked out even once in his first 45 bouts has been tko’d in three straight now.
Jon Tuck may be just 3-4 in the UFC, only had three career knockouts with the last one being in 2011, and have lost three of his last four. However, he does possess a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and five of his nine wins have come via submission. I’d love to see Gomi get a win and subsequently retire. Sadly, I think he gets finished for the fourth straight fight. I hope I’m wrong, but I fear I’ll be right. Head pick: Tuck via tko or submission. Heart pick: Gomi via decision