American Top Team (ATT) vs. Blackzilians ... take 55!
Two elite Lightweight contenders will lock horns inside State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas, this Saturday evening (Sept., 17, 2016) as Dustin Poirier (No. 7) puts his four-fight win streak on the line against Michael Johnson (No. 10) in the main event of UFC Fight Night 94, which will air live on FOX Sports 1. In the co-feature, Derek Brunson looks for his fourth consecutive first-round knockout at the expense of Uriah Hall, while Evan Dunham welcomes former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) champion Rick Glenn to the Octagon one fight earlier.
Six "Prelims" undercard matches will set the stage this time around, split 4-2 between FOX Sports 1 and Fight Pass. Let’s see what $9.99 a month will get us this weekend:
170 lbs.: Erick Montano vs. Randy Brown
First-round stoppages of Marco Olano and Vernon Ramos took Erick Montano (7-3) to The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Latin America 2" Finale, where he took on teammate Enrique Marin. "Perry," the underdog, defied the odds to take his fifth win in six fights. Four of his wins have come by rear-naked choke.
Randy Brown (7-1) -- who was discovered on Dana White’s "Lookin’ for a Fight" -- successfully debuted in January with a decision over Canadian slugger Matt Dwyer. He returned to the cage three months later against Michael Graves, who exploited "Rude Boy’s" still-developing ground game with a second-round rear-naked choke. He has knocked out four professional opponents and submitted another two.
Leery as I am of picking Brown against a grappling specialist, there’s a massive difference between struggling with a standout wrestler like Michael Graves and struggling with a mediocre submission artist like Montano. The fact is, without some massive improvement since his fight with Marin, Montano has very little hope of dragging Brown out of his comfort zone.
And he doesn’t want any part of "Rude Boy" on the feet. The Jamaican-born Brown has a two-inch height advantage and quite a bit more power. So long as he can keep his back off the fence, I expect him to get his first UFC finish in impressive fashion.
Prediction: Brown via second-round technical knockout
145 lbs.: Chas Skelly vs. Maximo Blanco
After a competitive loss in his debut against wunderkind Mirsad Bektic, Chas Skelly (15-2) rattled off four consecutive wins with three stoppages among them. His streak came to an end against Darren Elkins, who emptied "The Scrapper’s" gas tank on his way to a decision win. He stands three inches taller than Blanco at 5’11."
Once a rising star of the Japanese circuit, Maximo Blanco (12-7-1) opened his ZUFFA career with a 1-4 skid, starting with a submission loss to Pat Healy and ending with a decision loss to Felipe Arantes. He righted the ship with three straight wins, only for late-notice replacement Luke Sanders to drop him and choke him out in January. He’s scored eight wins via knockout.
As someone who was all about "Maxi" when he was tearing up fools in Sengoku, I think it’s safe to retire the Blanco hype train. Neither the Venezuelan’s wild striking nor his well-credentialed wrestling have proven effective on the world stage. He also got knocked around by a blown-up bantamweight last time out and will give up a significant amount of size.
Skelly stood up to bombs from the brick-fisted Edimilson Souza, which casts doubts on Blanco’s chances of a surprise knockout. Without that possibility, Skelly’s grappling edge should carry the day. Blanco suffers the fourth submission loss of his career as "The Scrapper" dominates him on the mat.
Prediction: Skelly by first-round submission
Four more UFC Fight Night 94 matches remain to preview and predict, including the return of Belal Muhammad. Same time as always, Maniacs!
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 94 fight card, starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining under card balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the FOX Sports 1 main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.