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UFC Fight Night 89 predictions, preview, and analysis

Esther Lin

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing welterweight contenders to the forefront of its upcoming FOX Sports 1 fight card, by way of the UFC Fight Night 89 mixed martial arts (MMA) event this Saturday night (June 18, 2016) inside TD Place Arena in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Leading the charge is division No. 1 contender Rory MacDonald, who held on to the top spot in spite of his technical knockout loss to Robbie Lawler at UFC 189. Hoping to take his place atop the 170-pound leaderboard is No. 2-ranked Stephen Thompson, fresh off his shellacking of ex-welterweight champion Johny Hendricks.

In the UFC Fight Night 89 co-main event, fan favorite Donald Cerrone continues his work in the welterweight division against former 185-pound No. 1 contender Patrick Cote. While neither combatant is in the running for a crack at the crown, this is the kind of slugfest that makes combat sports fun.

In addition to our preview of the five-fight main card, the man with the preliminary card plan, Patrick Stumberg, took a detailed look at the UFC Fight Night 89 "Prelims" -- set for FOX Sports 2 and UFC Fight Pass -- here and here. Latest odds and betting lines for "MacDonald vs. Thompson" can be found here.

Now then, let's get down to business.

170 lbs.: Rory "Red King" MacDonald (18-3) vs. Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson (12-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: You don't typically see a streaking contender like Stephen Thompson getting paired off with a fighter coming off a technical knockout loss, but Rory MacDonald -- despite his bloody end in the UFC 189 co-main event -- is still ranked No. 1 in the world.

Thompson is No. 2.

In addition, "Wonderboy" had no one left to fight after handily disposing of ex-champ Johny Hendricks last February. No. 3-ranked Tyron Woodley would have been a good choice, but "The Chosen One" was riding the pine until UFC caved and gave him a title shot.

So here we are.

MacDonald is 8-2 over his last 10 across the span of six years, and his only two losses came against the "Ruthless" champion. While he's the same dangerous fighter he's always been, with advanced skills in nearly every facet of MMA, he's managed just one finish over the last four years.

That's a concern.

Especially considering the kind of striker he's facing in Thompson. While Matt Brown taught him a lesson about MMA back in 2012, he's been electric ever since, rattling off six straight wins with four finishes, including his aforementioned shellacking over "Bigg Rigg."

The Canadian will have a one-inch reach advantage come fight night.

As good of a striker as he is, I have a hard time imagining MacDonald winning this fight on the feet, and I also believe Thompson has come a long way since getting mugged by "The Immortal." Expect a close fight in the first round as both fighters try to find their rhythm, but sooner or later "Wonderboy" is going to pull ahead on the cards and stay there.

Next up? Winner of Lawler vs. Woodley.

Final prediction: Thompson def. MacDonald via unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone (29-7) vs. Patrick "The Predator" Cote (23-9)

Nostradumbass predicts: Year in and year out, Donald Cerrone is clearly the MVP of UFC, taking bouts at any weight, at any time, against any opponent. That gives him the leeway to bounce around and accept fun fights, now that he's no longer a factor in the UFC lightweight title picture.

Not after Rafael dos Anjos took him to the woodshed back in December.

Knocking around Alex Oliveria after Tim Means dirtied his bird did little to convince me "Cowboy" can be a force at 170 pounds. He's a terrific kickboxer with sneaky submissions, but has also been known to lay the occasional egg, like his whiff against Nate Diaz and that sketchy win over Ben Henderson in early 2015.

He went up, his opponent came down.

Since leaving the middleweight traffic in his rearview mirror, Cote has transformed his career. I'm not going crazy over a decision loss to "Wonderboy," because "The Predator" -- 6-1 since 2012 -- rebounded with a pair of violent finishes over Josh Burkman and Ben Saunders.

He's never looked better.

That's bad news for Cerrone, who is expecting to have some fun, throw some hands, and put on a show. The cement-fisted Cote is there to win and win big, and with the hometown crowd behind him, I believe he stuns "Cowboy" and sends him back to the New Mexico prairies.

Final prediction: Cote def. Cerrone via technical knockout

205 lbs.: Steve "The Boss" Bosse (11-2) vs. Sean "The Real OC" O'Connell (17-7)

Nostradumbass predicts: If you're going to take a piss break, this probably isn't the fight to do it. Steve Bosse has worked to shed the label of ex-hockey goon, but it's so much fun to say, it'll probably follow him around for the rest of his UFC career.

Speaking of things that are iced, James TeHuna found out what can happen when you try to go punch-for-punch with "The Boss" at UFC Fight Night 85 and when he wakes up in 2018, someone can inform him that it was Bosse's ninth first-round knockout.

He's a bad man.

In addition, he's also a great athlete, so expect Sean O'Connell to have his hands full. While trying to bang it out with Bosse might seem like a bad gameplan, it should be noted "The Real OC" has done some damage of his own, racking up nine brutal knockouts.

Seven in the opening frame.

But when you live by the sword, you also die by the sword, so it should not come as a shock to learn that O'Connell has been put down four times in seven losses. That includes last January's beatdown at the hands of stocky power puncher Ilir Latifi.

Don't be surprised to see history repeat itself when the cage door closes in Ottawa.

Final prediction: Bosse def. O'Connell via knockout

155 lbs.: Olivier "The Quebec Kid" Aubin-Mercier (7-2) vs. Thibault "GT" Gouti (11-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: Olivier Aubin-Mercier came out of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Nations" Finale with a split-decision loss to Chad Laprise, but got right back into the conversation with three consecutive wins, two of them by slick submission.

Then came a decision loss to Carlos Diego Ferreira.

Without a signature win to his name, "The Quebec Kid" is pretty much starting all over, at least in terms of momentum. And I'm not sure the ability to turn away the relatively unknown Thibault Gouti will do anything to raise his stock in the crowded 155-pound division.

That said, this is a fight he wins.

Gouti made a name for himself on the international circuit, pushing around a bunch of guys you wouldn't recognize and never heard of. It was good enough to land him a spot on the UFC Fight Night 85 card back in February, but he was promptly choked out by Teemu Packalen, who may be named after someone at the Mos Eisley Cantina.

On paper, the Frenchman has the sort of skills that would give anyone fits. He can strike as well as he can grapple, but the one chance he had to prove he can hang with UFC-caliber opponents, he came up lame. Until I see otherwise, Aubin-Mercier is the more accomplished fighter.

Final prediction: Aubin-Mercier def. Gout via unanimous decision

125 lbs.: Valerie "Trouble" Letourneau (8-4) vs. Joanne "Jo Jo" Calderwood (10-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: Valerie Letourneau doesn't get enough credit for her place among the top strawweights in the world, but if you look at what she's done over the past eight years, the No. 5-ranked "Trouble" has compiled an 8-2 record, with her pair of decision losses coming to Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha.

Jedrzejczyk is the 115-pound champion while Gadelha is the No. 1 contender.

She's going to prove to be a stiff test against No. 12-ranked Joanna Calderwood. The Scot became something of a fan favorite on TUF 20, but she failed to advance to the finals and is 2-1 inside the Octagon in the days following her stint on the FOX Sports 1 reality show.

"Jo Jo" has serviceable hands but no ground game to speak of, so it will be interesting to see what happens if Letourneau gives her "Trouble" on the feet. Calderwood has a solid clinch game but her opponent is too big and strong to be overpowered, so it's live by the fist, die by the fist.

I don't expect this to be close.

Final prediction: Latourneau def. Calderwood via unanimous decision

That's a wrap. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 89 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10: 30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.

You've heard from me, now let's hear from you. Who gets the job done tomorrow night in Ottawa?

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