clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UFC Fight Night 94 predictions, preview, and analysis

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) continues to roll right along with its weekly combat sports offerings when the cast and crew of UFC Fight Night 94: "Poirier vs. Johnson" make some noise this Saturday night (Sept. 17, 2016) inside State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas, live on FOX Sports 1.

The promotion's latest mixed martial arts (MMA) card will feature a compelling lightweight showdown pitting the resurgent Dustin Poirier against hot-and-cold Ultimate Fighter (TUF) standout Michael Johnson. Elsewhere on the card, Derek Brunson and Uriah Hall hook 'em up for a spot in the 185-pound title chase.

Sorry, but it's all down hill from there.

Before I dutifully break down the main card contests I'll quickly remind you that Patrick Stumberg, a younger, brighter, and more competent version of Nostradumbass has offered his expertise on the UFC Fight Pass and FOX Sports 1 "Prelims" bouts here and here, as well as all the UFC "Hidalgo" odds and best bets here.

Now that we got that out of the way, let's get to work.

155 lbs.: Dustin "The Diamond" Poirier (20-4) vs. Michael "The Menace" Johnson (16-10)

Nostradumbass predicts: There has been quite a bit of criticism about the chin of Dustin Poirier, which I find unfounded, when you consider "The Diamond" has only been knocked out one time in 24 professional fights, and that was by the brick-fisted Conor McGregor.

And he didn't abandon his post at 145 pounds because he was second rate. On the contrary, he was 8-3 and tapped out top contender Max Holloway, among others. Instead, it was the brutal weight cut that sent him north, which appears to have paid dividends when you consider he's 4-0 since the jump with three knockouts.

He can grapple, he can strike, and he can do three rounds without breaking a sweat.

That doesn't mean he's on safe ground against Michael Johnson, who is equally skilled in all areas of MMA. Working from a distance with long, rangy strikes, "The Menace" has proven to be one of the hardest fighters to take down in the lightweight division.

As for power? Just ask Gleison Tibau.

But the reason Johnson has failed to generate any real momentum in his march toward the upper echelon of his division comes from his lack of consistency. I never get the sense of urgency when "The Menace" is winning (or losing) and he seems content to just bang it out and see where the path leads him.

Against inferior opponents, that's usually enough to get the job done. Against aggressive fighters on a mission for gold, like "The Diamond," it is not.

Final prediction: Poirier def. Johnson by unanimous decision

185 lbs.: Uriah "Prime Time" Hall (12-6) vs. Derek Brunson (15-3)

Nostradumbass predicts: Dynamic middleweight striker Uriah Hall reminds me of baseball's Mark McGwire when "Big Mac" was hot in the late nineties. Shitty batting average, but oh boy when he got ahold of one...

Hall is best known for his blistering speed, which concludes with a wallop once it connects. Aside from making a mockery of the TUF house back when he was still wet behind the ears, the strip-mall sensei folded Gegard Mousasi like my old high school Trapper Keeper.

This is the same guy who got pushed around by John Howard?

Without the real estate to work, Hall has a tendency to short circuit. It's why strikers like Robert Whittaker are able to win decisions, and why Derek Brunson will also come away with the judges' nod -- assuming the Strikeforce import does not get overzealous with his takedown attempts and get iced in the process.

Brunson has never looked better, winning four straight and ending his last three by way of knockout. He's not grotesquely overmatched on the feet, but that sort of unnecessary gameplan is low risk, low reward. The smart play is to apply suffocating pressure, then call upon his collegiate wrestling background.

Barring a flash knockout or something crazy in the opening minutes, this is Brunson's fight to lose.

Final prediction: Brunson def. Hall via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Evan Dunham (17-6) vs. Rick "The Gladiator" Glenn (18-3-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: Evan Dunham has been on quite the rollercoaster over the course of his UFC career. Once ranked in the top 10 at 155 pounds, the Oregonian was one loss away from being cut back in 2014 on the heels of three consecutive losses.

Since then? Three straight wins.

Beating Rodrigo Damm means squat, but it's impossible to overlook victories against durable veterans like Ross Pearson and Joe Lauzon, though a finish would have put an exclamation point on that short streak. Dunham is now what he's always been, a tough wrestler with decent hands.

Will it be enough against Rick Glenn?

The former World Series of Fighting (WSOF) featherweight champion could probably win this fight with more time, but bumping up to lightweight on short notice -- thanks to the absent Abel Trujillo -- makes it hard for me to pick the upset, especially with Octagon jitters.

In addition, Dunham has faced some of the best (and strongest) lightweights in the world, like Rafael dos Anjos and Donald Cerrone, just to name a few. Until I see Glenn notch a signature win against UFC-caliber competition, I have to take the safe pick.

Final prediction: Dunham def. Glenn by unanimous decision

145 lbs.: Chas "The Scrapper" Skelly (15-2) vs. Maximo "Maxi" Blanco (12-7-1, 1 NC)

Nostradumbass predicts: Anyone who names themselves "Scrapper" is basically admitting you're unlikely to get a bangfest. I always try to go into a fight with a modicum of optimism, but A) his bread and butter is wrestling and B) he's fighting a nut job.

Seriously, what the heck is up with Maximo Blanco?

Aside from falling way short of expectations, the Venezuelan likes to alternate between brilliant (Mike de la Torre) and clueless (Akira Corassani). He's also an accomplished wrestler with ho-hum hands and it's hard to tell which version of "Maxi" will show up in Hidalgo.

Perhaps something in the middle?

Blanco is not Floyd Mayweather but he's faster than Skelly and hits just as hard. Winning this fight all depends on how well he defends the takedown attempts, which will undoubtedly come fast and furious in the opening frame. This fight mirrors the Robertson vs. Carneiro bout that precedes it, including the finish.

Don't look for any performance bonuses in this one.

Final prediction: Skelly def. Blanco by unanimous decision

170 lbs.: Kenny Robertson (15-4) vs. Roan "Jucao" Carneiro (20-10)

Nostradumbass predicts: Kenny Robertson has been fighting for UFC for over five years and has yet to crack the top 15, likely because of his mediocre 5-4 record. I'm sure that has to be frustrating for the collegiate wrestling standout, who started his pro career a perfect 10-0.

In addition, his five wins for UFC have come against the cream of the crap.

While Roan Carneiro is a stiff test at 170 pounds, he's not a tremendous leap in competition. The Brazilian blasted his way back into UFC by recycling cans on the regional circuit, then scored a quick submission win over Mark Munoz, but watched it all come crashing down by way of Derek Brunson death punch.

With just two knockout wins in 30 professional fights, I think we can expect this to be a ground war.

As talented as "Jucao" is, particularly in jiu-jitsu, he's also 38 years old. Robertson is no spring chicken himself, but once you get over that 35 mark, every year gets multiplied like dog years. In a three-round battle for position, which includes lots of mug-and-slug, I have to favor the younger, fresher fighter.

I'm expecting an ugly fight.

Final prediction: Robertson def. Carneiro by unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Chris Wade (11-2) vs. Islam Makhachev (12-1)

Nostradumbass predicts: After four consecutive wins under the UFC banner, Chris Wade found himself on the losing end of a unanimous decision against lightweight veteran Rustam Khabilov. While one loss does not predict the future (or define the past), it's important to note that it was the first UFC fight in which Wade did not score a takedown.

And the first in which he was taken down, to the tune of six times.

Equally troubling is the fact that he's been unable to win a fight by way of knockout or technical knockout. Not uncommon for wrestlers like Wade but he's now five years into his MMA career and those mitts need to catch up to the rest of his game.

Not this time.

Like Wade, Islam Makhachev is also coming off a loss his last time out, the first of his pro career in just his second UFC fight. A lot of pundits are talking about the Dagestani's training regimen under the father of lightweight contender Khabib Nurmagomedov.

They should instead be talking about his world titles in Combat Sambo.

If Khabilov was able to get Wade to the canvas a half dozen times, then I would expect nothing less from Makhachev. In addition, his submission skills are probably the best his American counterpart has faced to date. The possibility of spending that much time on the floor without giving up is possible.

But not plausible.

Final prediction: Makhachev def. Wade by submission

There you have it. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 94 fight card on fight night (click here), starting with the Fight Pass "Prelims" matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, and then the remaining undercard balance on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET, also on FOX Sports 1.

For much more on UFC Fight Night 94 click here.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania