Saturday night’s fight card looks sure to deliver on paper! Top to bottom, we have some exciting matchups to look forward to. The injury bug bit a chunk out of this card, but somehow we ended up with matchups that look almost equally as exciting. The UFC must have had a small backup roster ready for Saturday just to make sure the transition over to FS1 went smoothly. Let’s preview the preliminary portion of the card:
First matchup of the night is a showdown between two TUF alumni. Ramsey Nijem is fresh off of a KO loss in his last bout, and surely will be looking to get back in the win column with authority. His opponent James Vick also fell short of his season of TUF, and he will finally be making his UFC debut. Both fighters have a lot at stake in this fight, and so we may just see a competitive, back and forth matchup to decide who wants it more.
The second matchup on the facebook portion of the card is between Cody Donovan and Ovince St. Preux. This is Donovan’s highest profile fight so far. His first fight in the UFC went well, he scored a TKO over Nick Penner just inside of the first round. If he can beat Ovince St. Preux, then he could surely convince everyone that he belongs here. St. Preux’s debut in the UFC did not go so well, he accidentally poked his opponent in the eye (which looked pretty blatant to me) and an eager referee stopped the fight right afterward. He won a technical decision, but he impressed no one in the process. Both fighters are surely looking to win their sophomore bout in the big leagues.
The final fight that streams online is between Cole Miller and Manny Gamburyan, two very established fighters that also came from earlier seasons of TUF. However, they have been around for a long time in the organization. Cole Miller is fighting for the fourteenth time in the UFC, and is always exciting to watch. He brings a do-or-die attitude, and is coming off of an impressive victory over the dangerous Bart Palaszewski. Gamburyan is fighting for the thirteenth time under the ZUFFA banner, and has many high profile bouts under his belt. He has a very similar attitude as Miller and loves to bring it come fight time. Both are exciting to watch, and this matchup should be a lot of fun. This just goes to show how stacked this card is, because this fight could easily be on the main card.
The first fight on the televised prelims is a tough matchup to call. Diego Brandao is a dangerous and tenacious competitor, and has 3 victories via flying knee TKO, which is pretty awesome. He is the winner of TUF 14, is looking to put together a 3 fight win streak. His opponent Daniel Pineda is coming off a quick submission win over Justin Lawrence, and is looking to put together2 back to back wins to negate his previous back to back losses in the UFC. Brandao looks to have edge on the ground, but Pineda has been around and seen it all.
The second matchup is an interesting one between ex-WEC featherweight champ Mike Brown and yet another TUF alumni Steven Siler. Mike Brown has had a tough time since losing his title to Jose Aldo. He has been hit and miss, only recently putting together 2 wins in a row in the last four years. His most recent win was a decision win over Daniel Pineda, and ironically Siler was KOed by one of Brandao’s amazing flying knees on TUF. Siler most recently won a unanimous decision over Kurt Holobaugh in April. Siler should have the edge, but Mike Brown could always surprise us. It will be interesting to see who is hungrier.
This next fight should be a blast to watch. Conor McGregor will be facing off against Max Holloway. Conor McGregor comes from Ireland with an impressive resume. He is currently on a nine fight win streak, and amazingly twelve of his thirteen victories have all been via KO/TKO. He justifiably has a lot of hype behind him,, and making friends with Dana White sure doesn’t hurt. He was originally slated to face Andy Ogle, but Ogle was forced out due to injury. Enter Max Holloway – Holloway’s rise to the major leagues was a quick one. He has three wins in the UFC currently, and his only loss was a terrible decision rendered in his opponents favor. He is technically coming off of a loss, but he has looked impressive in all 4 of his UFC bouts so far. If McGregor can win this one, he will solidify his status as “the next big thing.” Max Holloway will be looking to spoil these plans, and he is a much tougher matchup than Ogle.
Our final preliminary fight of the evening will be against the gritty Brad Pickett and young gun Michael McDonald. Most fight fans know who Pickett is, he has a fan-friendly style that makes him a lot of fun to watch. He has a tendency to stand and trade with everyone that he fights. He has huge power for a bantamweight which is where he gets his nickname “one punch” from. His strategy is always the same – look for the KO. Michael McDonald is on the opposite end of the spectrum in a manner of speaking. He is precise, technical and his timing is excellent. He is coming off of a loss to current interim chap Renan Barao, although he did not look terrible in the opening rounds. McDonald is looking to rebound and pick up a big win over Pickett in order to shortcut his way back to a chance for the gold again. If Pickett can manage a win over the number three guy in the division, he could do the same. Big implications in this important bout, and one that is sure to be exciting as well.