UFC Fight Night 46: Preliminary Card Predictions
The UFC was busy Wednesday evening with UFC Fight Night 45. It was a great night of bouts, but now we must make the quick turnaround to UFC Fight Night 46 in Ireland.
The card, which is headlined by Conor McGregor and Diego Brandao, features plenty of prospects and foreign fighters who should entertain. The prelims in particular feature a ton of up-and-coming talent, most of whom come from Europe.
UFC Fight Night 45 saw me stay one fight above .500. It continues a mediocre streak that I must shake off.
Without further ado, here are the preliminary card predictions for UFC Fight Night 46.
2014 Riley's Record: 97-65
Last Event: 3-2 (UFC Fight Night 45)
Josh Sampo vs. Patrick Holohan
Kicking things off on the preliminary card are the flyweights, as former CFA champion Josh Sampo takes on Ultimate Fighter 18 veteran Patrick Holohan.
Sampo is a wrestler with very good submission skills, as seen in his UFC debut win against Ryan Benoit. He fell to Zach Makovsky in his last fight but made it competitive enough to ensure that fans will remember him as a solid add at 125. Getting his Irish counterpart to the mat will be imperative here.
Holohan is undefeated and making his official UFC debut after failing to make it into the TUF 18 house. Most of his wins have come by submission, though he is likely inferior on the ground to Sampo. He needs to keep this fight upright with Sampo and avoid getting taken down.
Holohan is really getting thrown into the deep end here. Sampo is very skilled and has top-10 skills. Sampo will drag him down and tap him out.
Prediction: Sampo def. Holohan via submission
Cody Donovan vs. Nikita Krylov
Next up are the light heavyweights, as Ukrainian youngster Nikita Krylov looks to get his first win as a light heavyweight when he takes on Grudge Training Center's Cody Donovan.
Donovan is a brawler with solid striking and underrated ground. However, he is likely fighting for his job here. After solidifying his UFC status by brutally knocking out Nick Penner in his debut, he has been knocked out in his last two fights against Gian Villante and Ovince St. Preux.
Krylov is a striker himself, holding great power and good submission ability. The big knock on him is takedown defense and cardio. He was able to knock out Walt Harris in his sophomore effort but has been thrashed by both Soa Palelei and St. Preux in his UFC career.
Winner sticks around. Loser goes home. Donovan has shown that he is very knockout-able, and Krylov does have some serious power. He should be able to save his job here.
Prediction: Krylov def. Donovan via TKO
Tor Troeng vs. Trevor Smith
Next up, we move to the middleweight division, as tough-as-nails Swede Tor Troeng meets up with Strikeforce vet Trevor Smith.
Smith really has his back up against the wall here, as the jiu-jitsu specialist is 1-3 in his last four fights, which include two of those losses in the UFC and a controversial win over Brian Houston. His last fight saw him fail to reach the one-minute mark, as Thales Leites put him down quickly. He needs to get Troeng to the ground to be successful here.
Troeng is a tough customer, hosting a granite chin and a well-rounded skill set. After choking out Adam Cela in his debut, the Swede showed off his toughness in a spirited effort against Rafael Natal, though he lost. Troeng is well-rounded, as he doesn't really stand out in one area.
Well-roundedness is what Troeng needs to beat Smith. Smith is a tough customer, but his skills are mostly reserved to the ground. Troeng will grind him out and run himself to a decision.
Prediction: Troeng def. Smith via decision
Cathal Pendred vs. Mike King
A pair of TUF 19 teammates are set to meet in the middleweight division next, as former Cage Warriors welterweight champion Cathal Pendred of Ireland takes on the iron-chinned Mike King.
Pendred is a grinder who was a favorite going into this season of TUF. He made it to the semifinals, where he lost to eventual winner Eddie Gordon, but failed to overly impress crowds. His clinch work and takedowns are his bread and butter, which he will try to use to stifle King.
King is a wrestler by trade with great physical gifts at 185. The 6'3" brawler has yet to go to a decision in his five pro fights, though his fight to get into the house against Nordine Taleb, which was the best fight of the season, saw a verdict go his way. He also fell victim to Gordon, except in the quarterfinals.
Pendred is a natural 170-pounder and will give up a good amount of size to King. Also, King's wrestling is likely superior to that of the Irishman, meaning Pendred will have to find another way to win. The odds are in the American's favor.
Prediction: King def. Pendred via decision
Neil Seery vs. Phil Harris
The flyweights are due to the cage next, as Ireland's Neil Seery looks for a win in his sophomore outing when he takes on recently recast Phil Harris.
Harris was on the receiving end of the axe after a loss to Louis Gaudinot, but a failed drug test by his opponent got him rehired by the UFC. Harris is a tough fighter who has won most of his fights via submission. His time in the UFC has seen him best Ulysses Gomez, while taking losses to Darren Uyenoyama and John Lineker.
Seery is a striker who looked good in a losing effort to Brad Pickett. The Cage Warriors flyweight champion has a non-sexy record at 13-10 but has been vastly improved since starting his career at 4-6. He has fought Harris in the past, losing via decision.
Despite the loss to Harris earlier in his career, I think Seery has grown as a fighter. In watching his performance against Pickett, especially on late notice, I think he can take a decision back from the Brit here.
Prediction: Seery def. Harris via decision
Ilir Latifi vs. Chris Dempsey
Capping off the prelims will be a light heavyweight bout, as Swedish wrestler Ilir Latifi welcomes normal middleweight Chris Dempsey to the UFC. Dempsey takes the bout on late notice, as Tom Lawlor went down with an injury in training camp.
Latifi is a short, powerful wrestler with great takedowns and a surprisingly refined submission prowess. After dropping a late-notice main event fight to Gegard Mousasi in his debut, he came back strong with a modified guillotine choke win that retired Cyrille Diabate. He will need to outwrestle Dempsey in this bout.
Dempsey is a wrestler himself, though he is less thick and arguably less powerful than Latifi. He has cut his teeth in the East Coast regional circuit. This is a big step up in competition for the Cold Steel MMA rep.
Latifi's forward aggression and ability to explode into takedowns will be key here. Dempsey can cancel out his wrestling, but it will be tough, as he is normally a 185er. The Swede should prevail here.
Prediction: Latifi def. Dempsey via submission