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UFC Fight Night 74 preview, predictions for 'Holloway vs Oliveira'

Introducing 'The Horrible Oracle' ...

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is back in "The Great White North" this Sunday (Aug. 23, 2015) with UFC Fight Night 74 at SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon, Canada, featuring rising Featherweight stars Max Holloway and Charles Oliveira.

This is the first time UFC is visiting Saskatchewan, making it the most exciting thing to happen to that province since Dick Assman became the world's most famous gas station attendant on the David Letterman show.

Don't get me wrong, I've been to Saskatchewan ... twice. It makes a nice horizon. It's the kind of place you'd want to live if you had a phobia of avalanches or landslides.

However, the only landslide I expect to see on Sunday is when 9-2 Misha Cirkunov takes on Daniel "The Werewolf of Texas" Jolly. And you thought Rory MacDonald had a terrible nickname.

Anyway, although there are 12 fights on the ticket we're going to focus in on the six on the main card for Fox Sports 1.

There are some interesting and even matchups here even though the lower half of the fight card sounds like a menu at a French restaurant.

The always popular Patrick Cote will once again be swinging in front of his fellow countrymen against veteran Josh Burkman, while Erick Silva and Neil Magny will battle for the title of least disappointing hype train.

Want to see what's doing on the UFC Fight Pass "Prelims?" The incomparable Patty Stumberg has you covered here and here. How about odds and betting lines? Yup, he's got that in the bag as well, with all the relevant numbers crunched here.

With that out of the way, let's take a closer look at the six main card match ups.

145 lbs.: Max "Blessed" Holloway (13-3, W6) vs. Charles "do Bronx" Oliveira (20-4, W4)

With two exciting fighters on a combined 10 fight winning streak you knew UFC matchmakers were eventually going to try to put an end to it. One fighter will emerge from this fight a likely contender for the Featherweight strap while the other will fall to the back of the line again.

So, who's it going to be?

It's hard to ignore those six dubyas by Holloway, who has looked all but unstoppable since being taken the distance by a certain brash-talking Irishman from Dublin. It's also hard to ignore the fact that Holloway is the only man to survive three rounds inside the Octagon with the aforementioned "Notorious" one.

Holloway has blossomed inside the cage since a rather cruel UFC debut against former featherweight Dustin Poirier in 2012. Still only 23 years old, he's looked better each and every time he's stepped back inside the cage.

And it's not just that he's improving, but he's improving exponentially to the point where in his last fight he did to Cub Swanson inside of three rounds what it took Frankie Edgar nearly five to accomplish.

But what about the Brazilian? He's certainly no easy out. With a submission in his last fight against Nik Lentz, Charles Oliveira has finished three of his last four opponents that way. In fact, he earned a "Submission of the Year" honor for his anaconda choke against Hatsu Hioki in 2014.

What this fight comes down to is trying to guess whether Holloway escapes five rounds of submission attempts while likely winning the war when it's on the feet. Let's hope that blue belt in Holloway's Wikipedia profile needs updating.

Final prediction: Holloway def. Oliveira via decision

170 lbs.: Erick "Indio" Silva (18-5, W2) vs. Neil Magny (15-4, L1)

The co-main event offers a fairly interesting matchup between two fighters who have seen their share of ups and downs in the Octagon.

For the Brazilian, we've seen flashes of brilliance mixed with agonizing letdowns and poor cardio. For the American, a seven fight winning streak crushed recently in convincing fashion by an elite Brazilian jiu-jitsu practioner.

If you're looking for signs that Erick Silva has learned from his past mistakes then you'll be glad to know that he wasted almost no time in fishing for takedowns and ground fighting against both Josh Koscheck and Mike Rhodes, both first round submissions.

Silva is known for his devastating speed and striking but what's often overlooked are his 11 submissions on his resume. In fact, the shaggy-haired Brazilian only owns four knockouts in 24 fights. When he's chosen to stand and bang he has almost always gotten the worst of it.

That's what makes the matchup with Neil Magny so very intriguing. If Silva tries to strike with Magny he may find some initial success, but that notorious cardio and reach disadvantage would make that a poor stratagem. I expect Silva to search for the takedown early and often, following the template set by Demian Maia.

It's probably tempting to look at Magny's ineptitude against Maia and say Silva has this in the bag. But if we've learned one thing from Magny in his incredibly brief stay in UFC (he debuted only a short two years ago and has compiled 11 fights since then) it's that he learns from his mistakes.

If they handed out an Employee of the Month award in UFC it would probably go to Neil Magny every time. He has surprisingly good takedown defense and wrestling, despite what you saw in his last fight, and his boxing and ground and pound were fully on display against Hyun Gyu Lim, a gigantic welterweight.

With some patience and persistence, I'm fairly certain Magny can prevail here and turn that last defeat into a distant memory.

Final prediction: Neil Magny def. Erick Silva via technical knockout

170 lbs.: Patrick "The Predator" Cote (21-9, W1) vs. Josh "The People's Warrior" Burkman (27-11, L1)

This has the potential to be a good "seniors" fight as two guys well past their best before date will square off in the cage. Both are long-time UFC veterans who redeemed their careers after flunking out of the big leagues at one time or another.

Cote made his rather famous debut at UFC 50 against Tito Ortiz and later fought Anderson Silva for the Middleweight title following his participation on The Ultimate Fighter: The Comeback. Burkman was also on The Ultimate Fighter, two seasons earlier than Cote, gaining the notice of fans with a 21 second knockout of Sammy Morgan.

Burkman more recently endeared himself to the mixed martial arts world by submitting Jon Fitch in 41 seconds at World Series of Fighting 3 in 2013.

There's no question that Burkman is a dual threat and extremely durable fighter who will challenge Cote in this contest. But if I'm being honest I really don't see him winning this fight.

Cote is the bigger and stronger and more technical fighter. A former middleweight who now cuts down to 170 pounds, he may not have the bounce in his step he once did but he's still a more complete fighter than Burkman, who for all his accomplishments in the minor leagues is riding a putrid five fight losing streak in UFC (four, if you ignore Hector Lombard's steroid-assisted victory).

I foresee Burkman failing to secure takedowns, getting picked apart on the feet and losing when it comes time for the judges to make their incompetent minds up.

Final prediction: Cote def. Burkman via decision

155 lbs.: Chad "The Disciple" Laprise (10-0) vs. Francisco "Massaranduba" Trinaldo (17-4, W3)

It would seem that the Canadian is the odds on favorite for this fight (-335 to Francisco Trinaldo at +275) but I'm having a tough time figuring out why. Laprise is undefeated, it's true, but beating up Bryan Barberena doesn't really get me excited about his chances against a bulldog like Trinaldo.

Yes, Trinaldo has had his share of failures in UFC but he has competed against a higher caliber of fighter -- and prevailed. The former "TUF: Brazil" contestant is a lot to deal with early, combining supreme aggression with dynamic takedowns and looping punches.

There's also a patient side to Trinaldo's game as demonstrated in his victory over Norman Parke. Although some people question whether he actually won the fight it was interesting to note that Trinaldo's former cardio problems appeared to disappear, as did his recklessness.

What Chad Laprise brings to the table is a well-rounded game with solid striking. His first round dismantling of Barberena was a showcase effort for Laprise, who looked close to finishing the Minnesota native several times.

Yeah, except he didn't. Barberena survived and then took it to Laprise in the latter part of the second and third rounds, forcing the Canadian into deep waters where he didn't exactly look comfortable. That could be a huge problem against a tenacious fighter like Trinaldo.

If Laprise is to prevail here he's going to need to show consistency over all three rounds and save some of the gas he expends in the first round.

Final prediction: Trinaldo def. Laprise via decision

155 lbs.: Olivier "The Quebec Kid" Aubin-Mercier (6-1, W2) vs. Tony "2.0" Sims (12-2, W4)

I'm sure the script here is that Aubin-Mercier submits this guy in the first round and everybody gets to clap for the home country hero. I'm not so sure that's going to happen.

Yes, Aubin-Mercier owns a pair of submission wins in his previous outings but in watching the fights you realize quickly how horrible his striking is and how one-dimensional his game really is.

The French-Canadian made it deep on The Ultimate Fighter: Nations with his submission game before being exposed by Chad Laprise in the finale.

As for Tony Sims, we haven't seen more than a half round from him in UFC but I liked what I saw. With 10 knockouts in his dozen professional wins, Sims punishes opponents who show up riding a one trick pony.

While I didn't personally watch this fight, his sole loss since his MMA debut comes to Drew Dober via split decision in 2013. Dober is known as an aggressive wrestler which tells me Sims is more than able to handle whatever Aubin-Mercier thinks he has planned.

Final prediction: Sims def. Aubin-Mercier via knockout

Women's 115 lbs.: Maryna "The Iron Woman" Moroz (6-0) vs. Valerie "Trouble" Letourneau (7-3, W3)

Maryna Moroz is a heavy favorite here against Quebec's Valerie Letourneau, which is a little surprising because before April's event in Poland we hadn't even heard of her. Doubtless, submitting one of the top-ranked Strawweight fighters in the world has something to do with that, but still.

Moroz comes into the contest with an undefeated record, sporting five consecutive first round finishes. She even took the opportunity after submitting Joanne Calderwood at UFC Fight Night 64 to mouth off to champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who was sitting cageside and took the bait, hook line and sinker.

But although Letourneau may have all the respect of Rodney Dangerfield right now she's deserving of some attention as well. A very accomplished striker on the feet, Letourneau is a high volume attacker who landed 104 of 275 thrown strikes in her UFC debut against Elizabeth Phillips.

You may have noticed from that last stat, however, that her high volume attack is missing a critical component: accuracy. Although she was outstruck 46-38 in a split decision win over Jessica Rakoczy at UFC 186, she attempted 124 strikes, generating a putrid 30 percent landing rate.

We don't know much about Moroz other than what we witnessed against Calderwood. She was bullied onto her back fairly easily but also scored a lightning submission once she landed there with hips that showed some experience in the armbar game.

If Letourneau can avoid getting taken down or caught in a submission, logic says she should win this fairly easily. After all, she's only three years removed from losing a split decision to Claudia Gadelha, who is next in line to try and dethrone the champion.

Fifteen minutes is a long time to avoid submissions from a fighter who owns a Ronda Rousey-esque resume of first round armbars, but with Letourneau's experience and striking advantage it's really up to Moroz to prove she's the real deal and not a one-off fluke.

Final prediction: Letourneau def. Moroz via decision

Well, there you have it. will provide LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 74 card on fight night (Sun., Aug. 23, 2015), starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims", which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the Fox Sports 1 prelims at 7 p.m. ET. and then continuing on with the main card on Fox Sports 1 at 9 p.m.

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