clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

UFC Fight Night 91 predictions: Full 'Prelims' undercard preview for 'McDonald vs Lineker'

New, comments

A full boat of mixed martial arts (MMA) matches are coming to Fight Pass this Wednesday night (July 13, 2016) when UFC Fight Night 91: “McDonald vs. Lineker” kicks off from Denny Sanford PREMIER Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.'s Patrick Stumberg kicks off the UFC Fight Night 91 predictions party with a full "Prelims" undercard preview.

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Pure, unadulterated mixed martial arts (MMA) violence.

Two of the most aggressive and destructive fighters in any Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) weight class lock horns for a potential five rounds of MMA mayhem this Wednesday (July 13, 2016) when John Lineker meets Michael McDonald in the main event of UFC Fight Night 91, which takes place live Denny Sanford PREMIER Center, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

In addition, former headliner Tony Ferguson squares off with Octagon newcomer Landon Vannata and Tim Boetsch looks for a much-needed win against Josh Samman.

UFC Fight Night 91's "Prelims" undercard are split 4:2 between FOX Sports 1 on Fight Pass. Because it's a mid-week event, we've got the full slate featured below:

170 lbs.: Kyle Noke vs. Keita Nakamura

Australia’s Kyle Noke (22-8-1) earned a much-needed win in Nov. 2015 with a cringe-inducing body kick knockout of Peter Sobotta, earning a "Performance of the Night" bonus in the process. He squared off with Alex Morono two months later and appeared to do enough to earn the win, only to come out on the wrong end of a split decision.

He has knocked out and submitted eight opponents apiece.

Nearly nine years after his original Octagon debut, Keita Nakamura (31-7-2) finally earned his first win in the promotion with a comeback submission of Li Jiangling at Saitama Super Arena. He returned to action in February, losing a decision to top prospect Tom Breese in the latter’s native England.

"K-Taro" will give up two inches of height to the 6’1" Noke.

Two underperformers with occasional flashes of excellence -- the bane of the would-be oracle! Noke’s got some real pop in his hands and generally decent wrestling, while "K-Taro" is beastly on the mat but struggles with consistent takedowns.

That said, Nakamura did manage to repeatedly take down a big, powerful wrestler in Breese and hasn’t been knocked out in eight years. Noke’s own issues with the ground game have me leaning toward the Japanese veteran, whose Judo credentials ought to carry him to either a decision or late submission.

Prediction: Nakamura via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Scott Holtzman vs. Cody Pfister

Scott Holtzman (8-1) announced his arrival in UFC's Lightweight division by beating the stuffing out of Anthony Christodoulou before tapping him with a rear-naked choke. He then fought Drew Dober, who ground his way to a decision victory at UFC 195.

"Hot Sauce" has scored three knockouts and two submissions as a professional.

The eight-fight unbeaten streak for Cody Pfister (12-5-1) came to an end in his short-notice Octagon debut, a submission loss to prospect James Moontasri. He proceeded to dispatch Yosdenis Cedeno the subsequent July and arguably took a round from Sage Northcutt before tapping to a guillotine choke.

"The Pfist" has lost just twice since 2011.

As generally mediocre as Pfister is, he presents pretty much the same issues that Holtzman struggled with against Drew Dober: A tremendous chin and a capable wrestling game. Pfister’s never been stopped by strikes despite facing the likes of Tim Means and Moontasri, a trend I don’t imagine Holtzman shaking despite some decent hands.

Without a consistent, powerful takedown game of his own to exploit Pfister’s grappling deficiencies, Holtzman’s in for a long night. Though it wouldn’t surprise me terribly much to see the MMA Lab show some real improvement, Pfister’s experience and durability carry the day to a decision win.

Prediction: Pfister via unanimous decision

185 lbs.: Devin Clark vs. Alex Nicholson

Devin Clark (6-0) entered his RFA Light Heavyweight title fight with some pressure on him, as Dana White and the "Lookin’ for a Fight" crew were in attendance. Thankfully for "Brown Bear," he rose to the challenge and scored an injury stoppage after two rounds.

Three of his four stoppages have come by knockout.

With six finishes in under seven minutes each, Alex Nicholson (6-2) stepped into his February Octagon debut against Misha Cirkunov as a young man to watch in the stagnant division. Unfortunately for "The Spartan," he had few answers for his opponent’s grappling and ultimately tapped to a jaw-breaking neck crank in the second.

He stands four inches taller than Clark at 6’4."

Both of these guys have quite a bit of developing to do, but it looks as though Clark’s wrestling may carry the day. Nicholson is terribly reckless on the feet and his grappling is quite underwhelming. He repeatedly leaves himself open for takedowns, which Cirkunov exploited to great effect.

Clark isn’t a technical marvel himself, but he should find success on the ground. Putting aside the X-factor of this being each man’s middleweight debut, expect him to exploit Nicholson’s rawness on the way to a decision win.

Prediction: Clark via unanimous decision

265 lbs.: Oleksiy Oliynyk vs. Daniel Omielanczuk

The Ukraine-born Oleksiy Oliynyk (50-9-1) finally made his UFC debut in 2014 after 17 years in the game, dispatching Anthony Hamilton in said bout before lamping Jared Rosholt with one punch. He has struggled since with knee injuries that have kept him out of action since November of that year.

Forty of his 50 wins have come by submission.

Daniel Omielanczuk (18-5-1) got off to a strong start in his UFC career with a one-punch knockout of Nandor Guelmino, but couldn’t overcome wrestlers Jared Rosholt and Anthony Hamilton in subsequent bouts. The Pole has since rebounded with a knockout of Chris de la Rocha and a technical decision over gargantuan Syrian Jarjis Danho.

He is six years younger than his opponent at 33.

Oliynyk’s pretty much the elder statesman of the Heavyweight division, both in terms of experience and actual age. He’s thus far weathered the wear-and-tear, but he’s been out of the cage for nearly two years and there’s no telling how well his knees will hold up.

Omielanczuk isn’t outstanding at anything, but he’s got a good punch, decent cardio and is plenty strong. Though I’ll be rooting for "The Boa Constrictor" and am aware that he stopped both men who defeated the Pole, he’s just a little too long in the tooth at this point. Omielanczuk cracks him late for the Russian’s fifth career (technical) knockout loss.

Prediction: Omielanczuk via second-round technical knockout

135 lbs.: Rani Yahya vs. Matthew Lopez

Rani Yahya (21-8) -- a long-time World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) competitor -- has used his grappling to great effect in UFC, going 5-1 (1 NC) since a loss to Chad Mendes. His last bout saw him eke out a decision over Japanese veteran Masanori Kanehara in San Diego.

The Brazilian has tapped 16 opponents overall.

Matthew Lopez (8-0) -- a former high school wrestling standout and current coach at Reign MMA -- has torn through the regional circuit since turning pro in 2013. His last time out, he battered Eli Finn into submission at an RFA show highlighted by Dana White’s "Lookin’ for a Fight" for his seventh first-round finish.

Four of his wins have come by submission, one of them to strikes.

Yahya’s a frustrating man to pick in a fight -- he’s done a great job of mirroring Demian Maia’s renaissance despite poor overall wrestling, but he’s struggled to finish in recent years and is basically dead on his feet by the third round. Mizuto Hirota nearly un-did two rounds of dominance in their fight and Kanehara arguably deserved the win against the Brazilian.

That said, Lopez appears rather scramble-happy, which plays directly into Yahya’s hands. In addition, his last opponent repeatedly managed to get into the clinch with him. I expect Yahya to again scramble his way into dominant positions, locking up the rear-naked choke sometime in the first.

Prediction: Yahya via first-round submission

115 lbs.: Cortney Casey vs. Cristina Stanciu

Though Cortney Casey (4-3) is winless (0-2) in UFC, she’s certainly given fans their money’s worth with two straight "Fight of the Night" bonuses. "Cast-Iron" duked it out with Joanne Calderwood last July, then went tooth-and-nail with Seo Hee Ham four months later in Seoul.

Her four wins include two submissions and two knockouts, all in the first round.

Cristina Stanciu (5-1), representing Romania, debuted this past April against Ukrainian standout Maryna Moroz in Zagreb, Croatia. Though she managed to take Moroz the distance for just the second time in the latter’s career, Stanciu ultimately lost the fight on all three scorecards.

She stands two inches taller than Casey at 5’4."

Being durable and aggressive can only take one so far and, for Casey, it’s not far enough. Stanciu packs some heat in her hands to complement an opportunistic submission game, both of which should prove extremely effective against her plodding foe.

Stanciu has the edge wherever the fight goes, and even though Casey might be able to take her punches, she’s outgunned on the mat. Stanciu picks up another first-round submission.

Prediction: Stanciu via first-round submission

185 lbs.: Sam Alvey vs. Eric Spicely

A disappointing Octagon debut against Tom Watson gave way to three straight first-round knockouts for Sam Alvey (26-8), one of which earned him a "Performance of the Night" bonus. He has since been knocked out himself by Derek Brunson and most recently underperformed badly against Elias Theodorou.

He has knocked out 17 opponents overall, nine of his last 10 wins coming inside the distance.

Eric Spicely (8-0) -- Team Claudia Gadelha’s second Light Heavyweight pick -- took home a decision win over Elias Urbina to reach the semifinals. Once there, he faced teammate and friend Andrew Sanchez, who knocked Spicely out in the first round.

He has submitted four opponents and knocked out another two.

Alvey unquestionably has the tools to win this fight in dominant fashion. He’s got a considerable edge in punching power and his takedown defense is generally stout. That said, it’s damn hard to overlook that godawful performance in the Theodorou fight. He seems to suffer from the same issue the late Ryan Jimmo did in that he’s a counterpuncher without the skills to create opportunities of his own. If his opponent doesn’t give him an opening, he won’t throw.

Again, though, the striking edge is there and it’s just a bit too much for me to discount. Barring a repeat of his recent debacle, Alvey thumps him sometime in the first.

Prediction: Alvey via first-round knockout

135 lbs.: Lauren Murphy vs. Katlyn Chookagian

Lauren Murphy (9-2) entered UFC with an unbeaten record and the Invicta Bantamweight championship, only to drop consecutive close fights with Sara McMann and Liz Carmouche in her first two promotional appearance. She finally earned her first UFC win by pounding out Kelly Faszholz in the waning seconds of their February clash.

She has stopped seven opponents via technical knockout.

The first professional fight for Katlyn Chookagian (7-0) came on the heels of a perfect (7-0) amateur run that included four wins via armbar. She’s kept that unbeaten streak alive in the pros and earned the CFFC Flyweight title in the process.

She will have a one-inch height advantage on fight night.

The deciding factor here might wind up being size; Chookagian is a career flyweight, while Murphy’s a powerhouse of a 135er. Though the CFFC champ did fight at a 130-pound catchweight recently, she’s never fought at the bantamweight limit.

Considering Murphy’s grinding prowess and Chookagian’s tendency to get tied up, that could prove costly.

Chookagian is a fairly crisp striker with sneaky knees in the inside but I just can’t see her keeping Murphy off of her for any extended length of time. Murphy wears her down before ultimately stopping her late with an accumulation of punches.

Prediction: Murphy by third-round technical knockout

That's a wrap. Lineker vs. McDonald is an absolutely insane fight. I can't wait -- See you over the hump, Maniacs. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 91 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. ET, and then the remaining balance on FOX Sports 1 at 7 p.m. ET.

Current UFC "Prelims" Prediction Record 2016: 84-51-3