CURRENT RECORD 107-51-2
The latest instalment of UFC Fight Nights makes its way to Portland, Oregon for Fight Night 96. Headlining the event is two of the finest bantamweight’s in the division as John Lineker takes on John Dodson. Both these fighters are looking to stamp their mark and with both fighters recently making the jump up from flyweight, the winner of this contest could fling his name into title contention. In the co-main event, former Bellator prospect Will Brooks will be aiming to make it two for two in his UFC career as he takes on the ever dangerous “Cowboy” Alex Oliveira. Elsewhere on the card, we have been deprived of what would have been one of the stand-out fights of the night between Louis Smolka and Sergio Pettis, as Pettis was forced to withdraw due to injury so newcomer Brandon Moreno will now takes his place. In the featherweight division Hacran Dias fights Andre Fili and 52 fight veteran Nate Marquardt takes on Tamdan McCrory. The undercard isn’t filled with blockbuster fights but the main card, especially the main event, more than makes up for it. Don’t miss out and make sure you’re tuned in.
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.
JOHN LINEKER vs. JOHN DODSON
This is a fight many fans wanted to happen at flyweight but ultimately it never materialized; now with both men stepping up in weight and both looking sensational, they finally meet. This will mark Lineker’s fourth outing at bantamweight and with each performance he has gradually improved on the last, firstly choking out Francisco Rivera, then following that up with a dominant decision victory over Rob Font and most recently, knocking out the returning Michael McDonald. John Dodson’s last appearance was a 37 second demolition of Manvel Gamburyan, “The Magician” has only lost twice in his previous twelve fights, both coming at the hands of flyweight champion and pound for pound king Demetrious Johnson. Dodson’s game is built on his speed and wrestling; he is relentless when chasing an opponent down but he will have to have caution when coming forward against the powerful hands of Lineker. “Hands of Stone” is a quick striker with pin point precision; he will aim to counter punch Dodson and send him flailing to the mat. Neither of these men has ever been knocked out and Lineker has yet to go the five rounds in his career; my fear is his gas tank doesn’t hold up but I’m still going to lean towards him scrapping a victory.
Lineker by decision.
WILL BROOKS vs. ALEX OLIVEIRA
Will Brooks came into the UFC with a big reputation but he didn’t exactly set the world alight when going the distance with Ross Pearson last July. Brooks will be looking to make amends and show fans the true skills and graft he possesses when he takes on lightweight stalwart Alex “Cowboy” Oliveria. “Cowboy”, who is dropping back to lightweight for this clash, has only lost once in the last five and he is an extremely well rounded fighter who has 9 knockout victories to his name. Oliveria will look to use his tall frame and 6inch reach advantage to keep Brooks at bay and out of range, in doing this it allows him to set up the big shots. Brooks, who is 19-1, will no doubt be aiming to impress this time around, he will look to take control from the start and dictate the pace, he will need to work his way inside Oliveria’s jab and grab the takedown. If Brooks can dominate the takedown he will win this fight but if Oliveria masters the distance, it could be he who gets his hand raised. I’m going with the wrestling of Brooks to take this fight.
Brooks by decision.
JOSH BURKMAN vs. ZAK OTTOW
Zak Ottow is another late replacement for this card and has a stern test ahead of him in the shape of 13 year veteran Josh Burkman. Ottow is on a four fight winning streak that includes three submission wins and “The Barbarian” is a skilled tactician on the mat. The 36 year old Burkman has been on a bad run of form since 2013, wining only twice in seven fights and recently suffering his first career KO loss. This will be an intriguing match-up because despite Ottow’s lack of big fight involvement, he is still a tricky fighter to come up against, what he lacks in experience he makes up for it in his fighting IQ. Josh Burkman is a high level wrestler who persistently takes an opponent down and loves to unleash some ground and pound, if he can keep Ottow on his back it could be a tough night for the newbie. I think Ottow could spring a surprise here and he will certainly make Burkman work for the victory but Burkman should have just enough to see this one over the line.
Burkman by decision.
LOUIS SMOLKA vs. BRANDON MORENO
Although Smolka/Pettis would have been a more eye catching contest, we are still in for an exciting fight as “Da Last Samurai” takes on debutant Brandon “The Assassin” Moreno. Smolka has gradually been building a name for himself, compiling a record of 11-1 including wins over Irishmen Paddy Holohan and Neil Seery. The Hawaiian is a heavy hitter with a slick submission game to match and if he continues his rapid rise he could be on the cusp of a title shot. Brandon Moreno takes this fight on only 9 days’ notice but the former WFF flyweight is a young athlete with plenty to prove, he is currently on an 8 fight win streak, with only 2 going the distance. Moreno couldn’t have asked for a tougher debut and even though he holds some fantastic submission skills, his best hope here is to punch, move and keep Smolka guessing. Smolka will look to control this fight like he does any other and pick Moreno apart be it on the feet or on the ground. I expect Smolka will look to finish this one early and continue his progress up the rankings.
Smolka by KO.
Best of the Rest.
Luis Henrique da Silva vs. Joachim Christensen
Da Silva to win.
Hacran Dias vs. Andre Fili
Dias to win.
Shamil Abdurakhimov vs. Walt Harris
Abdurakhimov to win.
Elizeu Zaleski dos Santos vs. Keita Nakamura
Nakamura to win.
Nate Marquardt vs. Tamdan McCrory
McCrory to win.
Jonathan Wilson vs. Ion Cutelaba
Cutelaba to win.
Cody East vs. Curtis Blaydes
Blaydes to win.
Kelly Faszholz vs. Ketlen Vieira
Faszholz to win.
Bet of the Day.
The adventurous bet: all 12 predictions in an accumulator is about 240/1.
The conservative bet: A Double Chance on John Lineker to win by KO or on points is 5/4.
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