The next stop for the UFC is in Hidalgo, Texas for Fight Night 94, headlining the event is an exciting lightweight matchup between dangerous strikers Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier and Michael “The Menace” Johnson. Poirier will look to continue his impressive streak since moving weight class but he faces stiff competition from the hard hitting Michael Johnson, both fighters are well matched and both are powerful punchers, which should lead from an exciting climax to a thrilling night of fights. In the co-main event, the middleweights collide as Uriah Hall takes on Derek Brunson in a battle that should have fans on the edge of their seat. Elsewhere on the card, in a lightweight clash, Chris Wade takes on another Dagestan import; Islam Makhachev,. Evan Dunham welcomes former WSOF champion Rick Glenn to the UFC and Chas Skelly opens the night’s main card proceedings against Maximo Blanco. Not exactly a card filled with household names but certainly a card that’s filled with exciting fights, so be sure to tune in on Saturday night.
As always, I will now break down all the main card fights, give my predictions and of course put my own “Armchair Expert” title on the line.
DUSTIN POIRIER vs. MICHAEL JOHNSON
Since making the step up to lightweight, Dustin Poirier has looked like a new beast and is currently undefeated at his new weight class. “The Diamond” has won his last four fights; three of which were first round finishes and the only fight to go the distance was a 15 minute beat down off of Ireland’s own, Joe Duffy. Johnson, on the other hand, is on a two fight losing streak, most recently losing to the returning Nate Diaz last December; a fight in which he was out struck and out thought, from start to finish. Both of these fighters are renowned for their stand up abilities and both certainly pack a punch, so the key to this contest is who wins the exchanges. Poirier will come here with greater confidence and between the two has the slicker boxing, if he is able to fire off shots from the pocket he should go on to win this fight but he will be wary of the power of Johnson throughout. If Michael Johnson is taken out of his game plan, as we seen happen in the Diaz fight, he becomes slightly one dimensional and that will feed into Poirier’s hands. Six of Johnson’s ten losses have come by submission and Poirier’s Jiu-Jitsu is under rated, I suspect he will take Johnson down to the mat late in the fight and lock in a submission. Whatever way he does it; I think Poirier comes out the winner.
Poirier by submission.
URIAH HALL vs. DEREK BRUNSON
After impressing on the Ultimate Fighter, Uriah Hall was expected to become a big time player in the middleweight division but he has yet to live up to that hype. Despite being the only man to KO Gegard Mousasi he has only produced a record of 5-4 in his UFC career, so far. His opponent, Derek Brunson has gone 6-1 with the promotion since making his debut in late 2012 and he is currently on a four fight win streak; his last three have all ended by TKO in round one. Brunson goes into this fight as the favourite, he is a talented wrestler with genuine knockout power but he comes up against a fighter who isn’t easy to take down and is an orthodox striker. Hall throws wild kicks that often catch his opponents off guard but he will need to be wary because if Brunson does get him down, Hall faces a tough task getting back to his feet. Brunson has all the potential to justify his favouritism but what sticks out for me in this fight, is Hall’s whopping seven inch reach advantage and if deployed just right (while stuffing the takedowns), he can keep Brunson out of range and pick him apart for the three rounds.
Hall by decision.
EVAN DUNHAM vs. RICK GLENN
Evan Dunham has fought some of the best in the lightweight division in his nine year career and having suffered three consecutive losses’ in 2013/14, he has revived himself by winning three on the bounce. His last three victories have been dominating displays against Rodrigo Damm and lightweight stalwarts Ross Pearson and Joe Lauzon, he was due to face Abel Trujillo here but a late withdrawal means he faces promotional newcomer Rick Glenn. A former WSOF featherweight champion, Glenn has had a steady career of his own outside the UFC but he is taking this fight on 12 days’ notice and also moving up in weight class. Glenn is a well-rounded fighter with a great punch but he has never faced someone of Dunham’s calibre and the longer this fight goes on, the gulf in class will begin to show. Dunham should use his experience to grind out the victory and continue his revival.
Dunham by decision.
ROAN CARNEIRO vs. KENNY ROBERTSON
Roan Carneiro is an MMA veteran who began his career in 2000, after losing his first two fights (one of which was against Anderson Silva) he went on a run of 10-3 across various shows, before beginning his first stint with the UFC. After disappointing with the promotion, he was cut but he has since worked his way back and despite being 38 years of age, he is still a dangerous opponent for anyone but he will have his work cut out for him on Saturday night. Kenny Robertson is a decorated wrestler with heavy hands and a good submission game, from his 15 wins only 2 have gone to a decision. Carneiro is a third degree black belt in jiu-jitsu, so Robertson would be wise to keep this fight on the feet and avoid a jiu-jitsu battle. Robertson should use his boxing and speed to overcome the veteran and test his chin at every opportunity. I believe he should have enough about him to get the win and I think he’ll catch Carneiro early and add another finish to his record.
Robertson by decision.
CHRIS WADE vs. ISLAM MAKHACHEV
Islam Makhachev is the latest Dagestan fighter to join the UFC ranks and he will attempt to follow his predecessors by making a name for himself. This outing will be his first fight since being knocked out and suffering his first career loss against Adriano Martins at UFC 192. As is the norm with fighters from Dagestan, Makhachev is a high level wrestler who smoothers opponents into position and is always looking for an early stoppage. Chris Wade has built a record of 5-1 with the UFC, using his excellent wrestling skills to manhandle his opponents but last time out for Wade was a bad loss at the hands of Rustam Khabilov, another Dagestan fighter, and the 28 year old American will need to mix his game up if he is to change the outcome this time. This is will be a battle of two gritty lightweights that do their best work on the mat, both are extremely talented wrestlers but it is Makhachev who is the more dangerous on the ground and who is always looking for an opening to lock in a submission or some ground and pound.
Makhachev by decision.
CHAS SKELLY vs. MAXIMO BLANCO
Chas Skelly was making his way up the featherweight rankings before a loss at the hands of Darren Elkins at UFC196 put a halt to his rise. Skelly had won his previous four and had lived up to his nickname; “The Scrapper” by finishing 11 of his 15 wins early. Maximo Blanco has yet to set the world alight in his 21 professional fight career, winning 12 times and losing 7 including two disqualifications but he is a solid boxer with a sturdy haymaker. Neither of these men has ever been knocked out and it would be some statement if they could manage it but I think this could be another fight for the judge’s scorecards. I expect Skelly will do enough damage to earn the victory.
Skelly by decision.
Best of the Rest.
Gabriel Benitez vs. Sam Sicilia
Sicilia to win.
Augusto Montano vs. Belal Muhammad
Muhammad to win.
Antonio Carlos Junior vs. Leonardo Augusto Guimaraes
Junior to win.
Jose Alberto Quinonez vs. Joey Gomez
Gomez to win.
Erick Montano vs. Randy Brown
Brown to win.
Alejandro Perez vs. Albert Morales
Morales to win.
Bet of the Day.
The adventurous bet: all 12 predictions in an accumulator is about 266/1.
The conservative bet: A Double Chance on Poirier to win by KO or submission is 11/10.
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