Time to walk the walk.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight division's most outspoken competitor, Ireland's Conor McGregor, will get to ply his trade in front of a hometown crowd in Dublin this Saturday (July 19, 2014) as the main attraction of UFC Fight Night 46 inside O2 Arena.
The entire card -- six "Prelims" under card matches included -- is scheduled to stream live online via UFC's Fight Pass service.
Therefore, let's see what appetizers are on the mixed martial arts (MMA) menu:
Tor Troeng’s (16-5) bid on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 17 ended in brutal fashion at the hands of Josh Samman, who knocked out the Swede with punches in the quarterfinals. He managed to choke out teammate Adam Cella at the Finale, but lost in Sept. 2013 to Rafael Natal.
He has gone 12-2-1 since a 2008 loss to Daniel Acacio.
Though Trevor Smith (11-5) came into UFC off of a loss to Tim Kennedy, he showed his skills in his first two Octagon appearances, losing a close slugfest to Ed Herman before grinding out Brian Houston. Unfortunately for "Hot Sauce," Thales Leites was unimpressed, battering Smith for a 45 second technical knockout finish.
Nine of his victories have come by submission, all but one in the first round.
I’m honestly not sure what to make of Troeng -- he’s a decent generalist, but I’m not seeing any flashes of brilliance to justify him once being considered a top prospect. His chin is shaky, his wrestling is hit-and-miss, and I’m not terribly impressed by his striking.
Smith is not anything special, but does have solid wrestling and submission ability. While Troeng’s inconsistency makes this a difficult pick, I do think Smith will spend enough time controlling the grappling aspect to earn a narrow victory.
I have a soft spot for Troeng and wouldn’t be annoyed if he won, but I have to be impartial.
Prediction: Smith by split decision
205 lbs.: Cody Donovan vs. Nikita Krylov
Cody Donovan (8-4) entered the world’s largest fight organization in entertaining fashion, knocking out Nick Penner in a fantastic one-round battle. His next appearances were less successful, suffering consecutive knockout losses to Ovince St. Preux and Gian Villante.
He has gone the distance just once, knocking out four and submitting three.
Nikita Krylov (16-4) made up for his putrid UFC debut in a big way against Walt Harris, knocking out the bigger man with a head kick and punches in less than seconds. His next bout was brief, too, though not in the way Krylov would have liked as St. Preux choked him out ninety seconds.
All but one of his bouts has ended in the first round.
I am strangely excited for this fight, though admittedly more for the spectacle than the competitive aspect. Donovan might have the worst chin in the division and Krylov is always out to finish or be finished. Both got trucked in a hurry by "OSP" too fast to use that fight as a barometer, unfortunately, so this might be harder to pick than I thought.
While Krylov’s record is bloated to hell, Donovan’s just too fragile for me to have any confidence in him. While he could definitely exploit Krylov’s porous takedown defense, I feel his chin is going to crumble eventually.
Krylov picks up his first second-round win after getting out-grappled early.
Prediction: Krylov via second-round technical knockout
125 lbs.: Paddy Holohan vs. Josh Sampo
Paddy Holohan (9-0-1) -- riding a four-fight win streak -- tried out for TUF 18 at Bantamweight. Despite an aggressive submission attack, though, he was unable to overcome Josh Hill’s wrestling, losing a decision in the elimination round.
Eight of his wins have come by submission.
Josh Sampo (11-3) missed out on some dough in his UFC debut, choking out Ryan Benoit in a bout that won two Fight Night bonuses that he was unable to enjoy due to missing weight. He got his weight in check next time out, but couldn’t overcome former Bellator champ Zach Makovsky, losing an entertaining decision and snapping a five-fight win streak.
He will give up four inches of height to Holohan.
I’m willing to forgive Sampo’s loss to Zack Makovsky -- "Fun Size" is a beast, especially at 125 pounds. Sampo is still a very good wrestler with an effective scrambling and submission game.
It’s the former that will win him this fight.
Holohan, while skilled with submissions, does not have the wrestling to consistently take top position nor sufficient Brazilian jiu-jitsu to make a submission from his back likely. He should give Sampo some trouble, but the latter’s positional dominance ought to win the day.
Sampo takes the decision after three entertaining rounds of grappling.
Prediction: Sampo via unanimous decision
Three fights left, including a pair of Irishmen looking to make a statement.
See you same time tomorrow, Maniacs.
Remember, too, MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 46 fight card on fight night, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" match online, which is scheduled to begin at 12:00 p.m. ET, right on through the Fight Pass main card at 3 p.m. ET.