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UFC Orlando predictions: Late ‘Prelims’ undercard preview | Thompson vs. Holland

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is bringing more “Prelims” fights to ESPN/ESPN+ this weekend (Sat., Dec. 3, 2022) when UFC Orlando: “Thompson vs. Holland” returns to Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. MMAmania.com’s Patrick Stumberg continues the UFC Orlando “Prelims” party with the second (and final) installment of a two-part undercard preview series below.

MMA: NOV 06 UFC 268 Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With losses to some of the Welterweight division’s best behind them, Stephen Thompson and Kevin Holland will look to prove they’re still contenders when they square off this weekend (Sat., Dec. 3, 2022) inside Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. UFC Orlando will also feature Rafael dos Anjos vs. Bryan Barberena and Jack Hermansson’s attempt to slow down the fast-rising Roman Dolidze.

We’ve still got a few more of the “Prelims” undercard bouts to get through, though (check out the first batch here), so let’s dig in ...

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170 lbs.: Niko Price vs. Phil Rowe

After obliterating James Vick with an upkick less than two minutes into their fight, Niko Price (15-5) stumbled his way through a three-fight winless streak. He ultimately got back on track in Oct. 2021, defeating fellow finisher, Alex Oliveira, in Orlando.

This marks his first fight in 14 months.

Phil Rowe (9-3) smashed Leon Shahbazyan to earn a spot in the Octagon, only to drop a decision to Gabe Green in his UFC debut. “The Fresh Prince” has since found his footing with consecutive knockouts of Orion Cosce and Jason Witt.

All of his professional wins have come inside the distance, five of them via knockout.

I get the feeling we’re in for another round of Niko Price Shenanigans, the sort that saw him stop two people from his back and knock Tim Means into another dimension after getting out-classed for most of the round. Even if that magic isn’t there, he should be too much for Rowe, whose “get out-classed by a limited fighter for a while before a dramatic comeback” approach bodes ill against a finisher of this caliber.

Rowe definitely could smash Price with a million-punch combination as before, but Price’s toughness and power make Rowe’s usual slow start a death sentence. In the end, Price smashes Rowe before the latter can get into gear, potentially in dramatic fashion.

Prediction: Price via first round technical knockout

115 lbs.: Angela Hill vs. Emily Ducote

The UFC career-long, three-fight win streak for Angela Hill (14-12) gave way to a 1-5 skid, three of those defeats coming via split decision. With her back against the wall, she survived an early onslaught to upset Lupita Godinez in Aug. 2022.

She stands one inch taller than Ducote and will have a 1.5-inch reach advantage.

Emily Ducote (12-6) knocked out Danielle Taylor to earn Invicta FC’s Strawweight title, which she subsequently defended with a (technical) knockout finish of Alesha Zappitella. She then stepped up on short notice to face Jessica Penne in the Octagon, out-striking her fellow former titlist to claim a unanimous decision win.

Her professional finishes are split 4/3 between submissions and knockouts.

Ugly though her recent record may be, Hill proved that she can still be a landmine for aspiring contenders. She’s easy to underestimate and still sharp this deep into her UFC career. However, I just think Ducote’s got too much for her — her boxing’s more than sharp enough to keep up with Hill on the feet, particularly since she’ll be facing a smaller reach disadvantage than usual, and she’s got some wrestling in her back pocket if that doesn’t work out.

With both an appreciable chance to overpower Hill in “Overkill’s” wheelhouse and the means to change gears as needed, Ducote has too many tools for Hill. When the dust settles, expect her to battle her way to a competitive decision win.

Prediction: Ducote via unanimous decision

155 lbs.: Clay Guida vs. Scott Holtzman

Now in his 17th year in UFC, Clay Guida (37-19) sits at 2-4 in his last six appearances. His last two efforts have seen him tap Leonardo Santos with a bonus-winning, rear-naked choke before succumbing to Claudio Puelles’ signature kneebar four months later.

He stands two inches shorter than Scott Holtzman (14-5), but will enjoy a one-inch reach advantage.

“Hot Sauce” bounced back from a 2-2 UFC start by winning five of his next six, among them a “Fight of the Night” decision over Jim Miller. He’s winless since, suffering knockout losses to Beneil Dariush and Mateusz Gamrot.

He fights for the first time in nearly 20 months.

The argument for Guida is that Holtzman has had issues with persistent wrestlers in the past, most notably against Gamrot and Nik Lentz, and that “The Carpenter” proved against Santos that he’s still tougher than your metaphor of choice. The argument for Holtzman is that his two recent defeats came against Top 10-ranked fighters, he’s the better striker, and Guida’s takedown accuracy often leaves a lot to be desired.

I’m thinking Holtzman. He’s not likely to submit Guida, but I do expect him to hurt Guida a lot more than Guida hurts him even if he can’t put away “The Carpenter.” In short: He edges out a slugfest.

Prediction: Holtzman via split decision

155 lbs.: Michael Johnson vs. Marc Diakiese

Michael Johnson (21-18) clawed his way out of a 1-5 slump by winning consecutive decisions over Andre FIli and Artem Lobov. History would repeat itself, and he enters the cage on Saturday with just one win in his last six fights.

This will be his 27th Octagon appearance.

The perfect (3-0) UFC start for Marc Diakiese (16-5) gave way to three straight losses to Drakkar Klose, Dan Hooker, and Nasrat Haqparast. “”Bonecrusher” currently sits at 4-2 in his last six, most recently cruising past Viacheslav Borshchev and Damir Hadzovic in 2022.

Six of his seven stoppage wins have come by knockout.

Diakiese’s highlight-reel knockouts earned him some buzz before he stepped foot in the Octagon, but he’s always been willing to lean on his wrestling if it’s the easiest path to victory. I see no reason why he won’t do the same here; Johnson seems physically incapable of fixing his awful bottom game, a weakness that has dogged him throughout his UFC career.

Though Johnson does have solid takedown defense, the sheer volume of level changes Diakiese sends his way should get him down sooner or later. Plus, Diakiese has never been stopped with strikes nor even visibly hurt outside of a wobble against Rafael Alves, so it’s hard to see Johnson sneaking in a kill shot in the rare occasions where he’s allowed to settle on the feet. In the end, Diakiese caps off the year with a third grindfest.

Prediction; Diakiese via unanimous decision

UFC Orlando features some real solid match ups ... and it’s basically on free television here in the United States. See you Saturday, Maniacs.

Prediction Record for 2022: 170-84-2


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Orlando fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 10 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (also on ESPN/ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Orlando: “Thompson vs. Holland” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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