By: Logan Helfferich
Middleweight: Tim Boetsch vs. Josh Samman
Overview: The first fight being looked at is the tenth fight of the night (eighth fight not including the UFC FightPass preliminary fights). Tim Boetsch is coming off of three straight losses, most recently being a TKO loss to Ed Herman at light heavyweight. He’ll be making the drop back down to middleweight to try to end his losing streak. Josh Samman is coming off of a submission loss to Tamdan McCrory that came in the third round. Prior to that loss, Samman was on a three-fight win streak and has yet to have a fight go to a decision in the UFC, including seven first-round finishes.
Key: Boetsch should look to wrestle in this fight. He’s known for his strong chin, but he’s also a worn fighter and isn’t getting any younger. Boetsch was finished in the first round by Ed Herman with a knee and punches, and on top of that, Samman has heavy hands and is known for violence. With that being said, Samman should look to strike in this fight. He’ll need to avoid gassing out though especially going against a talented wrestler like Boetsch that can grind out victories. Samman should use his range and pick his spots while defending the takedown attempts from Boetsch.
Prediction: Samman defeats Boetsch via KO/TKO
Lightweight: Tony Ferguson vs. Lando Vannata
Overview: Originally scheduled to be the main event, Tony Ferguson was supposed to be fighting fellow Ultimate Fighter season winner, Michael Chiesa. Instead, he’ll be facing UFC newcomer, Lando Vannata. Vannata makes his debut with an undefeated record of 8-0 and has a huge opportunity against one of the best lightweights in the world.
Key: The key in this fight is the pressure factor. Even though Ferguson is considered the higher-skilled fighter, he also carries all of the pressure in this fight. A win changes nothing for Ferguson, but a loss would be catastrophic. Ferguson has climbed his way up the rankings and was hoping for a title shot after a win over Chiesa, instead, he’ll need to protect his spot with a win or risk having to climb the division all over again. Vannata just needs to perform. A strong showing should earn him a permanent spot in the UFC, he just needs to avoid a devastating finish. No one is expecting Vannata to win, he just needs to keep it interesting.
Prediction: Ferguson defeats Vannata via submission
Bantamweight: Michael McDonald vs. John Lineker
Overview: John Lineker has won four straight and is 2-0 at bantamweight in the UFC. A win over McDonald could earn him a title shot in a division that is desperately looking for worthy opponents to challenge the champion, Dominick Cruz. As of right now, TJ Dillishaw seems likes the only true challenger for Cruz, but Lineker is looking to add his name to the mix. McDonald is hoping to earn himself another title shot after previously losing in a title fight via submission to former champion, Renan Barao. McDonald has an impressive record of 17-3, but has struggled against top fighters. His only two UFC losses came against Renan Barao and Urijah Faber, both former champions.
Key: The key in this fight will be whether or not Lineker is able to close the distance against the taller McDonald. Lineker likes to strike, but should look to grapple with McDonald because of the reach disadvantage. Lineker has shown his ground skills before, see his first-round submission victory over Francisco Rivera. McDonald should look to use his range and strike with Lineker. Lineker will likely be happy to oblige him, but if McDonald is getting beaten in the exchanges on the feet, then he can take the fight to the ground. However, he’ll need to be aware on the ground because both of his UFC losses came via submission. Expect a very competitive fight.
Prediction: Lineker defeats McDonald via decision