UFC Fight Night 72 Preliminary Card Predictions
The UFC is ready to make its premiere in Scotland, as UFC Fight Night 72 settles down in Glasgow. Headlined by Michael Bisping and Thales Leites, it should be a fun event with lots of talent and great matchups.
There is a ton of European talent from the area participating on this card. What's even better is that Scotland is well represented on this offering, as fighters like Joanne Calderwood, Stevie Ray and Robert Whiteford fly Scotland's flag in the Octagon.
The UFC's foray into San Diego was brilliantly successful for this writer, as all six fights were predicted correctly. Let's see if we can continue this momentum here, as we are a little bit over the halfway mark of 2015.
Without further ado, here are the prelim picks for UFC Fight Night 72 in Scotland.
Riley's 2015 Record: 85-52
Last Event: 6-0 (UFC Fight Night 71)
Chris de la Rocha vs. Daniel Omielanczuk
Kicking off the card are the heavyweights, as Poland's Daniel Omielanczuk takes on American newcomer Chris de la Rocha, who fills in on late notice for the injured Konstantin Erokhin.
Omielanczuk is a 20-plus-fight veteran and submission-based fighter with solid power in his hands and decent enough takedowns. When grappling, he is best served when on top, where he is heavy, uses ground strikes and can search for submissions.
His time in the UFC started well, but he has faltered lately. He made his debut by knocking out Nandor Guelmino in brutal fashion, but he has fallen in his last two bouts by decision against Jared Rosholt and Anthony Hamilton.
As for De la Rocha, he is 4-0 as a pro since debuting in 2013. He is more of a brawler than anything, possessing heavy hands, though he does show signs of a submission game.
His most recent fight was in March, as the Washington-based fighter choked out Matt Kovacs in just over two-and-a-half minutes. That fight followed a win over journeyman D.J. Linderman, which is his biggest win to date.
Omielanczuk has a great experience edge, both in MMA and in the big show, the UFC. If he can stay technical and switch things up against the undefeated newcomer, he will save his job with ease.
Prediction: Omielanczuk def. de la Rocha via decision.
Jimmie Rivera vs. Marcus Brimage
The bantamweights are up next, as Marcus Brimage looks to get himself back in the win column against late replacement and newcomer Jimmie Rivera. Rivera fills in for Ian Entwistle, who was injured in the lead-up to this fight.
Brimage is a brawler with good speed, power and size for a bantamweight. He is currently running with American Top Team, where he is looking to tighten up his all-around game—especially his ground game.
This is his eighth fight in the UFC, which is more than he had in his entire regional career. He is 4-3 with the company overall but 1-3 in his last four, falling to Conor McGregor, Russell Doane and Cody Garbrandt in that time. That shows he hasn't been fighting chumps in his tenure.
As for Rivera, despite this being his official UFC debut, he has a vast experience edge with 17 career fights (16-1). Rivera is very well-rounded, having good power in his hands and fantastic wrestling.
He failed to make TUF 14 a few years ago but was very impressive in that fight with Dennis Bermudez. With that said, he hasn't lost since his second pro fight. In that time, he has won the Ring of Combat and CFFC Bantamweight Championships. He has also been featured multiple times in Bellator and WSOF.
Brimage just can't seem to catch a break when it comes to taking on top prospects in his bouts. Rivera is extremely well-rounded and has an experience edge, so don't be surprised if he secures a finish.
Prediction: Rivera def. Brimage via TKO.
Robert Whiteford vs. Paul Redmond
Scotland and Ireland will go to war next, as Robert Whiteford defends his homeland against Paul Redmond in the featherweight division.
Whiteford has been training with American Top Team recently, improving his all-around game which is already solid. Most of his wins come via stoppage from strikes, though he does have a solid ground game from top position.
He is 1-1 with the UFC. He opened his career getting choked out by Jim Hettes but came back strong in his most recent fight by earning a decision over Daniel Pineda to secure his roster spot.
As for Redmond, he is a ground fighter with good leg locks and solid ground-and-pound when on top. His biggest flaw is his submission defense, as three of his five losses have come via tapout.
The Cage Warriors veteran was on a two-fight surge when he inked his contract with the UFC. However, in his UFC debut, he was utterly dominated by Mirsad Bektic in a lopsided effort.
Redmond may not be on the level of the UFC, which makes this a tough matchup for him. Whiteford is very solid and has improved at ATT, so he should thrive here.
Prediction: Whiteford def. Redmond via decision.
Mickael Lebout vs. Teemu Packalen
The lightweights will meet up next, as France's Mickael Lebout meets newcomer and late replacement Teemu Packalen of Finland. Lebout's original opponent was Jake Matthews, but he suffered an injury late in training camp.
Lebout is dropping from welterweight here to make his lightweight debut, meaning he will be a very large 155-pounder. He is a ground fighter who thrives from top position, throwing heavy strikes and performing submissions at a solid rate.
He signed with the UFC on a six-fight winning streak to take a late-notice bout in Poland. There, he dropped a decision to Sergio Moraes but showed great courage taking on a tough welterweight with UFC experience.
As for Packalen, the undefeated Finn is 7-0 but has only fought in his native country. He is a grappler in his own right, preferring the mat war and displaying good armlocks as well as solid choking ability.
He is also large for 155, standing at 6'1". His biggest win to date comes against Damien Lapilus, the brother of UFC employee Taylor Lapilus at Cage 24 in Finland.
Packalen looks to be a very solid prospect, but on late notice, a bout against a giant Lebout is tough to give him. It will be close, but France shall prevail.
Prediction: Lebout def. Packalen via decision.
Ilir Latifi vs. Hans Stringer
International light heavyweights are scheduled to fight next, as Sweden's Ilir Latifi meets up with Dutchman Hans Stringer.
Latifi is a wrestler with a low center of gravity, as he is short for the light heavyweight class but physically a brute. On the mat, he throws hammers from top position and has an underrated submission ability, making him a threat whenever he achieves takedowns.
He is 2-2 as a member of the UFC roster, only going to decision once in his tenure. He has taken losses to Gegard Mousasi and Jan Blachowicz but earned a knockout of Chris Dempsey and submission of Cyrille Diabate.
As for Stringer, he is a current member of the Blackzilian roster, where several Dutch fighters like himself have opened up shop. He is a striker with good chokes on the ground, showing he can contest his opponent wherever the fight goes.
He is 1-1 with the UFC right now, with both fights taking place in Brazil. He made his premiere by earning a decision win over Francimar Barroso, but his latest bout saw him get knocked out by Fabio Maldonado.
Stringer needs to hope his cardio holds up here because Latifi is aggressive and shoots frequently. That's why I think the Swede will walk away victorious, as his wrestling is the key factor.
Prediction: Latifi def. Stringer via decision.
Patrick Holohan vs. Vaughan Lee
The flyweights are up next, as British fighter Vaughan Lee takes on Irishman Patrick Holohan with a chance to move up the 125-pound ladder.
Holohan is a solid all-around fighter, having good boxing and submissions. The biggest knock on him is his wrestling, which was exposed in his TUF 14 elimination-round loss to Josh Hill and only other loss.
He is 2-1 in the UFC so far, sandwiching his only loss with two wins. He did get out-pointed by Chris Kelades, but he choked out Josh Sampo in his premiere with the company and earned a decision over Shane Howell in his most recent offering.
Then there's Lee, a 25-fight veteran from England dropping down from 135 pounds for his flyweight debut. He has solid striking but thrives when the fight hits the mat, as he is a submission machine.
He is 3-4 with the UFC thus far but hasn't fought in over a year. He is 1-2 in his last three, besting Nam Phan while falling to contenders Raphael Assuncao and Iuri Alcantara, showing he's had a tough schedule.
Lee is very underrated and I think the move to 125 will be good for him. He can handle himself upright and is better on the ground, so he should be able to make a successful premiere in his new weight class.
Prediction: Lee def. Holohan via decision.