UFC

UFC Fight Night 46: B/R Main Card Staff Predictions

James MacDonaldFeatured ColumnistJuly 18, 2014

UFC Fight Night 46: B/R Main Card Staff Predictions

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    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    In front of a sold-out O2 Arena, the UFC will make its long-awaited return to Dublin, Ireland, with UFC Fight Night 46 this Saturday.

    For those who have been under a rock, hometown hero Conor McGregor makes his return to the Octagon after an 11-month layoff, taking on the nigh-on-maniacal Diego Brandao in the main event.

    Also featured on the main card is Gunnar Nelson vs. Zak Cummings, Ian McCall vs. Brad Pickett and Norman Parke vs. Naoyuki Kotani.

    As ever, our team of malfunctioning pre-cogs is on hand to give their thoughts on the weekend’s action. Read on for the views of Scott “The Ginger Luke Thomas” Harris, Riley “Kobra” Kontek, Craig “Famous” Amos, Sean “The Salmon” Smith and me, James “The Athlete” MacDonald.

Staff Records

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    Felipe Dana/Associated Press

    A minor slip by Riley Kontek during Wednesday's UFC Fight Night 45 means that the gap at the top has been reduced by one point. However, Kobra continues to enjoy a comfortable lead over all but Craig Amos, who is coming up like a train on the outside.

    The rest of the chasing pack are contending for bronze currently, with MacDonald, Harris and Smith all within two points of each other. There's still a long way to go, though. 

    Here are the records for 2014 so far:

    Riley Kontek: 84-42-1

    Craig Amos: 82-44-1

    James MacDonald: 77-49-1

    Scott Harris: 76-50-1

    Sean Smith: 75-51-1

Norman Parke vs. Naoyuki Kotani

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    USA TODAY Sports

    MacDonald: 

    Parke has a lot of potential. His striking, in particular, has come a long way since his time on The Ultimate Fighter. Kotani should be a decent test for Parke, but I expect the Northern Irishman to pass it and continue to up his stock.

    Parke, Unanimous decision

    Kontek: 

    Norman Parke may be the best UK fighter to come out of the UK since Michael Bisping. At the very least, he's the best to come from it since Ross Pearson. Either way, he's a special talent and a rare guy from that region with great wrestling. Naoyuki Kotani is a very underrated fighter and has definitely earned his spot back with the company, but I think Parke will take him in what will be a very competitive fight.

    Parke, Unanimous decision

    Harris: 

    Another seasoned Japanese journeyman enters the UFC Octagon. In this case, Kotani has been there before, but it's been seven years. It seems the 50-fight vet has always fallen short against the true elites, and that will be the story again versus a no-nonsense power wrestler in Norman Parke.

    Parke, TKO, Rd. 1

    Smith: 

    Parke's wrestling has gotten him here, which is what makes this matchup interesting. Kotani has 25 submission wins on his record, so he's a dangerous adversary to roll with.  It could go in a completely different direction, but I think Kotani catches Parke early.

    Kotani, Submission, Rd. 1

    Amos: 

    Kotani's 25 career submissions tell you all you need to know about his ground game, but Parke represents the stiffest test he's faced since 2010. Parke, also a grappler, showed some improvement in his striking last time out, and that added element should be enough to carry the day.

    Parke, TKO, Rd. 2

Ian McCall vs. Brad Pickett

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    USA TODAY Sports

    MacDonald: 

    The problem for Pickett here is going to be the speed of McCall. For all the Brit’s good qualities, speed just isn’t among them. I’ll be surprised if McCall earns the stoppage, but his superior speed and athleticism should see him to a fairly comfortable decision win.

    McCall, Unanimous Decision

    Kontek: 

    I will be completely honest with you. I was less than impressed with Brad Pickett's flyweight debut against Neil Seery. Sometimes changing weight classes isn't the change needed for a fighter. Ian McCall, despite a rocky start in the UFC, is still one of the world's best 125ers. He is solid everywhere, especially wrestling, where I think he will exploit the Brit.

    McCall, Unanimous Decision

    Harris: 

    I think most people are going with Ian McCall here. Not me. Granted, he has the ground-and-pound to be dominant and is pure demon with the canvas. I just don't see him having the poise or the finishing prowess needed to best a proven veteran in what has suddenly become a top-contender match in a thin division. One Punch outlasts Uncle Creepy.

    Pickett, Unanimous decision

    Smith: 

    The only UFC flyweight with a win over current champion Demetrious Johnson, Pickett would be an intriguing title challenger. However, he finds himself in a tough matchup to take the next step. McCall's wrestling is good enough to force a grappling match, and, while underrated on the ground, Pickett isn't dangerous enough to lock up a submission on Uncle Creepy.

    McCall, Unanimous decision

    Amos: 

    McCall hasn't lit up the win column since joining the UFC, but he has put in some good showings against many of the best flyweights in the world, dating back to his pre-UFC career. Pickett, a fringe contender at bantamweight, hoped to revitalize his career by moving to 125, but looked shaky in his first outing. I'm not sure he'll find this division any more hospitable than the last.

    McCall, Submission, Rd. 3

Gunnar Nelson vs. Zak Cummings

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    USA TODAY Sports

    MacDonald: 

    This could be a bit of a mismatch, and that isn’t a knock on Cummings. It’s more an indication of how good Nelson is. The Icelander has some of the best grappling in the division and his already potent striking continues to improve. I’ll be shocked if Cummings gets to the finish line.

    Nelson, Submission, Rd. 1

    Kontek: 

    I was very surprised that Zak Cummings beat Yan Cabral. Maybe I shouldn't be, though, as Cummings is the better wrestler. Gunnar Nelson is not only a grappler, but a great striker. That's where he is different than Cabral. Cummings will need to close the distance, but Nelson's stance and quickness will allow him to move in and out quickly. Nelson will tag him and bag him.

    Nelson, Submission, Rd. 2

    Harris: 

    Gunnar Nelson has some of the best grappling in the company. I don't feel like that's an overstatement, either. Zak Cummings is also predisposed to the ground game, so this could be a nice chess match on the mat. Methinks Cummings is in over his head in this one, though.

    Nelson, Submission, Rd. 2

    Smith: 

    With nine submission wins, Cummings is a decent welterweight grappler. Nelson is on a whole other level on the ground, though. Cummings might be talented enough to avoid being submitted, but it'll be a rough outing for him on Saturday.

    Nelson, Unanimous decision

    Amos: 

    Cummings' comeback story is a nice one, but it ends here, or at least stalls here. Nelson is the better grappler and striker, and he'll get it done fighting just a skip away from his home island.

    Nelson, Submission, Rd. 1

Conor McGregor vs. Diego Brandao

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    USA TODAY Sports

    MacDonald: 

    There’s no doubt in my mind that McGregor is a special talent. Forget his patter, his charisma, the man can fight. Brandao has a lot of talent, too. Unfortunately, I think his gas tank will continue to be a problem, particularly over 5 rounds. I’m looking for McGregor to finish late and bring the house down.

    McGregor, TKO, Rd. 4

    Kontek: 

    I believe in the hype of Conor McGregor because I was raving about him pre-UFC. However, he has a dangerous fight on his hands. On the feet, the Irishman is likely superior. However, on the ground, Brandao is on another level. The Brazilian needs to close the distance quickly. I would love to take him here, but I am just too trendy.

    McGregor, Unanimous Decision

    Harris: 

    You have to love the aggression of Diego Brandao (I guess), but Conor McGregor is the more polished striker and has the takedown defense and gas tank to ward off a ground battle. Plus, the Irishman will just have too much steam fighting in front of his countrymen. If he can keep his head from exploding, he should win going away.

    McGregor, Unanimous decision

    Smith: 

    With two opening-round submission losses, McGregor can't look past Brandao, a solid grappler who starts very strong. That said, McGregor should be able to punish Brandao as long as he survives the early storm.

    McGregor, TKO, Rd. 2

    Amos: 

    I'm only lukewarm on Brandao, who hasn't passed a challenge too difficult since he narrowly escaped with a win over Dennis Bermudez back in 2011. McGregor, defending his home turf, should manage to keep his career moving in the right direction.

    McGregor, TKO, Rd. 2

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