The UFC’s busy Summer continues, as the UFC holds its eighth event in seven weeks. This time, unlike last week’s two cards in the states, the UFC will be holding an overseas Fight Night in Glasgow, Scotland, that will air in the afternoon in the states today.
It’s not a card loaded with big names, but there are some notable names, and a lot of fights that will either be entertaining decisions or fun finishes. Both the main and co-main events will shake up the rankings in their respective divisions, and a handful of other fights will get talented fighters closer to being in the top 15. Plus, some prospects will rise, while others will see their stock fall.
The prelim slate for today’s card will see the latter happen a lot. Every fight includes a prospect, and many of the matchups are prospect vs. prospect. That makes for fights that, while they won’t matter in terms of rankings at all, will give prospects a chance to rise and prove they’re worthy of the spotlight. The result should be a potentially thrilling slate, and here are my predictions for all six preliminary bouts on deck.
Fight Pass prelims (Noon/11am CT, UFC Fight Pass)
Leslie Smith (9-7-1) vs. Amanda Lemos (6-0-1)
The opening bout of the card pits veteran gatekeeper Leslie Smith against young prospect Amanda Lemos in the first of two women’s bouts set to take place on the card. On paper, it seems like the UFC is having a veteran face a knockout artist, and while that is true, there’s more to the fight than can be seen. Yes, Lemos is unbeaten with all her wins coming via finish, including five knockouts and five finishes in the opening round. However, of those six finishes, four of them were not only against women who were making their debuts at the time, but also against women who haven’t had any fights since. Simply put, those fights came against cans. What’s more is that none of Lemos’ opponents have more than six fights to their resume, or more than three career wins. She has finishing ability for sure, but does she have what it takes to be a finisher in the biggest promotion in the world?
That answer may or may not come against Leslie Smith. A 34-year-old who’s been grinding in the sport since 2008, Smith is a journeywoman who’s always down for a scrap. Her record is far from pretty, and the last time she won back to back fights was back in 2012-13. She’s only 2-3 in the UFC, but she’s there for a reason, and that’s to see if her opponents have what it takes to be in the UFC or not. While she only has two more wins than losses, she’s only been finished twice-once by Cyborg, and the other time by Jessica Eye, in a fight where here ear literally exploded, if that makes any sense.
Lemos is a finisher with crazy reflexes, but Smith is a gritty journeywoman who’s down for any challenge. It makes for an intriguing fight, and while I do think Lemos can finish Smith, I have to take Smith. It’ll be close, but Smith might still have enough left in the tank to overcome Lemos and take home a decision. She had enough to defeat a much more highly touted prospect in Irene Aldana in her last go around, so I’ll take her to win a decision in the end. Prediction: Smith via decision.
Brett Johns (13-0) vs. Albert Morales (7-1-1)
The next fight is a pure prospect vs. prospect matchup. Johns is from Wales, so fighting in Scotland will feel like he’s fighting at home. While he’s an unbeaten former Titan FC Champion with seven finishes to his credit, he’s also gone the distance six times, including in his UFC debut against Kwan Ho Kwak. He’s more of a ground fighter who’s not afraid to get in his opponent’s face, but that may or may not work against a guy like Morales who is a fearless striker who can also go the distance.
Morales is 1-1-1 in the UFC, having attained a draw against former TUF: Latin America winner Alejandro Perez in his UFC debut, before making it to the second round and getting finished by Thomas Almeida. He then took on former CES Champion and then one of the best prospects outside the UFC in Andre Soukhamthath at UFC 209, and came away with a close decision win. If he can avoid getting taken down here, I think he’ll take the win despite being on hostile territory. It’s really a tough call, and I think Morales has not only faced better competition than Johns, he’s also got more ways to win. A Johns win in the UK should shock nobody, but I’ll go with Morales to get the job done. Prediction: Morales via decision.
Televised prelims (1pm/noon CT, FS1)
Daniel Henry (10-2) vs. Daniel Teymur (6-0)
The first televised bout of the day should be a banger! Henry has finished nine of his ten wins, has never been finished, has a good gas tank to go with his power and submission skills, and is a Scotsman fighting in Scotland on this card! Teymur is a Swede who went 27-4 as a Kickboxer, is unbeaten in MMA with six finishes in six wins, all in the opening round. That makes for an incredibly fun fight that can go any which way. It also makes this a tough fight to predict. Can Teymur hang on if he doesn’t get a quick finish? Will either guy get finished for once? I’ll take Teymur via second round tko, but it’s really a coin flip with this one. The biggest winner here will be the fans who will tune in to watch it. Prediction: Teymur via tko, round 2.
Charlie Ward (3-2) vs. Galore Bofando (4-2)
Let’s be real, this next fight has no business being in the UFC. That said, having it on the prelim slate of a Scotland Fight Night with one man being an Irishman and the other being an Englishman is fine, I guess. It should be fun at least! Ward is best known for being Joao Carvalho’s last fight before Carvalho tragically passed away last year. That’s the fight that got him on the map and for some reason, he’s in the UFC now. It’s also his only finish to date. Bofando is an Englishman who’s never been finished and has three knockout wins. How this fight goes is anybody’s guess. I’ll take Bofando because he’s got more finishing ability, isn’t as chinny, etc. If Ward wins, that won’t be shocking, nor will it matter to many. Such is the case with a fight like this. Prediction: Bofando via tko, round 1.
Alexandre Pantoja (17-2) vs. Neil Seery (16-12)
A gritty Flyweight bout will co-headline the prelim slate of this card, as former RFA Flyweight champion Alexandre Pantoja will take on Neil Seery in what will be Seery’s final fight. I’ve gotten to see each of Pantoja’s last three fights-an RFA title bout in his promotional debut in late 2014, a fight against then Legacy champ Damacio Page in an RFA/Legacy superfight in May 2015, and then his UFC debut against fellow “TUF: Tournament of Champions” contestant Eric Shelton. That last fight went the distance, and turned some people off from Pantoja, which I don’t think is fair at all. Pantoja is a finisher with six knockout and submission wins apiece, in a division that needs more finishers. His only losses came in 2008 and most recently in 2010 against UFC veteran Jussier Formiga, both via decision. So he’s got power, submission skills, a good gas tank and has never been finished going into his 20th career bout. Sounds like a contender to me.
However, a loss to Seery will keep Pantoja from being viewed as a contender, and both men know this. That only adds fuel to Seery’s fire though, seeing how this is Seery’s final fight. Turning 38 next month and having had nearly 30 pro fights dating back to his pro debut in 2005, the Irishman has decided to hang up his gloves after this one. The former Cage Warriors champion had always been flirting with a .500 record, before winning six of seven to earn a UFC contract. He’s had mixed success since getting the call in early 2014, going 3-3 with the UFC to date. His three losses in the UFC came against Brad Pickett in Seery’s promotional debut, against Louis Smolka in 2015, and most recently against Kyoji Horiguchi in what turned out to be Horiguchi’s penultimate fight with the promotion. All three men are finishers, but none could finish Seery. Granted, Seery has been submitted five times in his career, and Pantoja has six submission wins. However, this one will likely go the distance. Either way, as much as I’d love to see the veteran retire with a win, I think Pantoja will win. Prediction: Pantoja via decision or late submission.
Danny Roberts (13-2) vs. Bobby Nash (8-2)
A pair of Welteweight prospects who excel at boxing will cap off what should be a fun prelim slate, as Bobby Nash takes on England’s Danny Roberts. Nash has knocked out four of his opponents, submitted three of them and is 1-1 in fights that go the distance. His UFC debut this past January ended with Li Jiangliang knocking him out in the second round, and it was the first time that Nash got finished. He’s been very active since debuting less than three years ago, so his five-month span between UFC bouts is the longest he’s had to date.
Speaking of getting knocked out, this is also Roberts’ first fight since getting knocked out by Mike Perry last October. The finish happened with just 20 seconds left in the fight, and in Roberts’ home country to boot! Like Nash, Roberts hasn’t been knocked out aside from one instance, and his only other loss came via heel hook in 2011.
This will be a standup bout between a pair of boxers who can go the distance, but have solid knockout power. Nash has proven that he can take opponents down and submit them though, so Roberts will have to look out for that. In the end, both men have solid chins, so I don’t think this fight will end via knockout. Unless Nash connects flush or gets a takedown and submission, I see Roberts winning a decision in what should be a fun standup bout. Prediction: Roberts via decision.