The post-”Khabib vs. McGregor” drought ends this Saturday (Oct. 27, 2018) when Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heads north to Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, with UFC Fight Night 138, headlined by a clash between lights-out Light Heavyweight contenders Volkan Oezdemir and Anthony Smith. Down at 145 pounds, Michael Johnson steps in for the exiled Zubaira Tukhugov (details) against Artem Lobov, while former top-ranked 205-pound prospect Misha Cirkunov attempts to rebound from rough losses at the expense of Patrick Cummins.
UFC Fight Night 138 features Seven “Prelims” undercard bouts this time, including three debuting talents. Let’s begin with the three Fight Pass offerings:
155 lbs.: Te Edwards vs. Don Madge
Five first-round knockouts in five wins brought Te Edwards (6-1) to “Contender Series,” where he faced Austin Tweedy in June. He wound up making quite the convincing case, knocking Tweedy stiff in just 28 seconds.
He stands four inches shorter than Don Madge (7-3-1) at 5’8.”
South Africa’s Madge went from Muay Thai to mixed martial arts (MMA), where he currently rides a four-fight win streak. That streak includes a rear-naked choke submission of Dave Mazany, which earned him the EFC Lightweight title.
He was originally slated to debut against David Teymur in May, only to withdraw because of an injury.
The interesting thing about this fight is that Edwards — a quality wrestler who has fallen in love with striking — needs to backpedal. Madge is an experienced, capable Muay Thai artist whose technique in the standup far outstrips Edwards,’ meaning it would be in the latter’s best interest to fall back on his takedowns.
Whether he’s willing to do so after all the success he’s had knocking people senseless is anyone’s guess. His superior speed and power should work out well for him even if he isn’t, though, and just the threat of the takedown ought to be enough to let him land the big one at some point.
Prediction: Edwards via second-round technical knockout
265 lbs.: Arjan Singh Bhullar vs. Marcelo Golm
The wrestling pedigree of Arjan Singh Bhullar (7-1) served him well in his Octagon debut, which saw him defeat Brazil’s Luis Henrique. He looked on track to do the same to Adam Wieczorek, only to tap to the second omoplata in UFC history.
He stands two inches shorter than Marcelo Golm (6-1), but will have a one-inch reach advantage.
Golm needed just 128 seconds to dispatch Christian Colombo in his UFC debut for his sixth consecutive first-round finish. He couldn’t stop experienced spoiler Timothy Johnson from doing his thing, however, losing a unanimous decision in February.
Five of his six stoppage wins have come by form of knockout.
The sticking point for me is that Golm had few answers for Timothy Johnson’s pressure and grappling, but didn’t surrender a single takedown, instead succumbing to Johnson’s striking output and the looming threat of a shot. Bhullar has a superior wrestling pedigree to Johnson, but his standup is nearly nonexistent, making it difficult to get an accurate picture of how this is going to go down.
At the end of the day, I have more faith in Bhullar’s ability to get the takedown than in Golm’s ability to execute his striking while simultaneously shutting Bhullar’s grappling down. Expect 10 minutes or so of top control from Bhullar as he cruises to another decision victory.
Prediction: Bhullar via unanimous decision
155 lbs.: Stevie Ray vs. Jessin Ayari
Stevie Ray (21-8) opened his Octagon career 5-1, including a bonus-winning knockout of Leonardo Mafra, before hitting his current 0-2 slump. “Braveheart” last fought in March against Kajan Johnson, who used his range to take a split decision over Ray.
Eight of his 14 stoppage wins have come by submission
Jessin Ayari (16-4) made his promotional debut in September of 2016, delighting the German crowd with a split decision over veteran Jim Wallhead. He didn’t have quite as much luck against the returning Darren Till, who missed weight but dominated Ayari with his striking.
This will be both his Lightweight debut and his first fight in 17 months.
This one looks to be a bit of a breather for Ray, who’s the cleaner striker of the two and has the takedown defense to keep it standing the entire fight. Ayari just doesn’t seem to have much to offer him, especially not after being out for 1.5 years, and I don’t think dropping 15 pounds will be the panacea he needs to compete at the highest level.
Ayari proved against Till that he could take a shot, at least, which ought to at least let him see the final bell while Ray chews him up on the feet.
Prediction: Ray via unanimous decision
Four more UFC Fight Night 138 “Prelims” undercard bouts to preview and predict — same time as always!
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 138 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” undercard bout at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by the FOX Sports 1 “Prelims” undercard bouts at 8 p.m. ET, before the main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1.