Young guns don't come in much higher calibers than this.
Two terrific finishers with a combined age of just 48 will look to light up SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, this Sunday (Aug. 23, 2015) when striking savant Max Holloway takes on the savage submission prowess of Charles Oliveira in the main event of UFC Fight Night 74.
In addition, Neil Magny will attempt to rebound from his recent loss to Demian Maia against Erick Silva, while rising Canadians Chad Laprise and Olivier Aubin-Mercier look to please the hometown crowd against Francisco Trinaldo and Tony Sims, respectively.
Want to know what's in store on FOX Sports 1's "Prelims" undercard before the main card? Well, I assume so, since you're already here (for the Fight Pass portion click here), but just making sure.
Let's dig in:
205 lbs.: Daniel Jolly vs. Misha Cirkunov
Daniel Jolly (5-0) got the chance to experience five rounds earlier than most, earning a unanimous decision in his most recent fight circa May 2014. The decision broke a streak of three straight first-round finishes, two of them in a combined 26 seconds.
He enters the fight as a late replacement for the injured Sean O’Connell.
Latvia-born and Canada-raised, Misha Cirkunov (9-2) has been on analysts’ radars for some time as one of the top light heavyweight prospects in the sport. The Xtreme Couture product has won his last four fights by first-round stoppage, including a head kick knockout of former UFC competitor Rodney Wallace. He’s scored seven finishes overall, all in the first round and four by submission.
Luckily for me, this isn’t a fight where I’ll have to think too much. Both men are primarily grapplers, but Cirkunov is just flat-out better. The Latvian has the edge in experience and preparation time, fights out of a better camp, and is a far more credentialed grappler.
Not to mention his size and strength.
These guys are big enough that an errant swing could end things at any point, but I’m quite confident that Cirkunov polishes him off in the early going.
Prediction: Cirkunov via first-round submission
135 lbs.: Yves Jabouin vs. Felipe Arantes
Yves Jabouin's (20-10) 1-3 start to his ZUFFA career gave way to a three-fight win streak stretching from Aug. 2011 to May 2012. "Tiger" is just 2-3 since, winding up on the wrong end of knockouts against Brad Pickett, Eddie Wineland and Thomas Almeida.
He’s scored 11 knockouts as a professional, though none in UFC.
After losing to Iuri Alcantara in his Octagon debut, Felipe Arantes (16-7-1) went on a 3-1-1 run, said draw a perplexing one where "Sertanejo" deserved the win. He last fought in October of 2014, where a loss to Andre Fili prompted him to make the drop to Bantamweight.
At 5’8," he will enjoy a two-inch height advantage.
I honestly feel bad for Jabouin. In terms of skills, he’s looked better than ever recently, with accurate striking and some much-improved wrestling. He was doing quite well for himself in all three of those aforementioned losses.
Then he got chin-checked.
While he has the grappling prowess to stifle Arantes and the striking to at least hold his own on the feet, I can’t trust that jaw. "Sertanejo" -- though not a colossal puncher -- has enough pop to hand Jabouin his fourth UFC knockout loss.
Expect him to clip "Tiger" midway through the second after a competitive start to the fight.
Prediction: Arantes via second-round technical knockout
205 lbs.: Marcos Rogerio de Lima vs. Nikita Krylov
As Team Sonnen’s first Heavyweight pick on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil" 3, Marcos Rogerio de Lima (13-2-1) made it to the semifinals before tapping to eventual winner Antonio "Cara de Sapato." Since then, "Pezao" has dispatched both of his UFC opponents in a combined 2:19, raising his career knockout total to 10.
This is the third time he has been scheduled to face Krylov because of assorted scheduling and visa-related shenanigans.
Ukraine’s Nikita Krylov (18-4) began his UFC career with a 1-2 stretch, but will enter Sunday’s bout having won two straight via first-round stoppage. He pounded out Cody Donovan in July 2014, then choked out Stanislav Nedkov in January of this year.
He has only ever left the first round once, submitting 11.
Krylov is fun to watch and always goes for the finish, but I’m not entirely clear why the oddsmakers have this fight close to 50/50. The Ukrainian doesn’t have any real wrestling to speak of and is badly outgunned on the feet against the former kickboxer. de Lima also figures to be the larger man, and though his chin and takedown defense remain question marks, Krylov is ill-equipped to exploit either.
"Pezao" just hits too damn hard for me to pick against him when his opponent lacks a well-developed wrestling game. He puts Krylov down with a big right hand sometime in the first round.
Prediction: de Lima via first-round technical knockout
155 lbs.: Sam Stout vs. Frankie Perez
The venerable Sam Stout (20-11-1) may be nearing the end of his UFC career -- he has lost three of his last four bouts and been finished each time. Most recently, he’s suffered back-to-back knockout losses to K.J. Noons and Ross Pearson, having never been stopped with strikes before.
He will give up two inches of height to the 5’11" Frankie Perez (9-2).
Perez -- a Ring of Combat veteran and training partner of Frankie Edgar -- entered UFC as a late notice replacement against surging prospect Johnny Case. Perez ultimately succumbed to strikes in the third round, his second loss in three fights.
He’s stopped six opponents, five by submission.
It’s worth mentioning that Perez, while 1-2 in his most recent fights, suffered those losses against two of the division’s better prospects in Chris Wade and the aforementioned Case. He’s young, fights out of a great camp, and has wins over some solid opposition.
Meanwhile, Stout’s at the end of his run.
Even in victory, Stout has only looked good in one fight of the last five years: His knockout of Yves Edwards. He’s never been a technician despite Joe Rogan’s insistence and he no longer has the durability to make up for it. In recent years, he’s relied more and more on his mediocre wrestling, which just happens to be Perez’s wheelhouse.
The younger man controls this one on the ground for a unanimous decision win.
Prediction: Perez via unanimous decision
UFC Fight Night 74's main event is phenomenal and there is a ton of young talent on display, all for the low, low price of ... free. That's not bad at all.
See you Saturday, Maniacs!
Remember that MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 74 fight card, starting with the UFC Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to start at 6 p.m. ET, right on through the FOX Sports 1 undercard bouts at 7 p.m. ET, before moving on to the FOX Sports 1 main card at 9 p.m. ET.