UFC Saskatoon: SportsJOE picks the winners so you don't have to
UFC on a Sunday? What on earth is going on?
The next challenger at 145lbs could well be decided come Monday morning. It's quite a big "could", though, with the likes of Frankie Edgar not willing to go anywhere.
But the main event of UFC Saskatoon is a fascinating clash between arguably the most talented Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor in the entire sport and a prodigy who's recent record is definitely championship material.
Our MMA writers' records look like this thus far.
Darragh The Quizmaster Murphy: 108-68
Bourbon Ben Kiely: 106-70
Max Holloway (13-3) v Charles Oliveira (20-4-1NC)
DM: I'm amazed that nobody is giving Charles Oliveira a chance against Holloway.
I'm going to say that Oliveira's Jiu-Jitsu is just behind Demian Maia's in the UFC and the fact that the striking of Do Bronx has improved so much has me believing that he has more tools in his locker.
Holloway comes out on top in the toughness department but grittiness can only get you so far. This could well go the way of Holloway but I see this as the fight where Oliveira finally comes good and he'll get hold of one of Holloway's long limbs early on while he's dry. Oliveira via submission (round one)
BK: Holloway may be only 23, but in fighting years he's roughly 32. The Hawaiian has had an impressive 12 fights in the UFC, making him one of the most experienced athletes on the roster.
His striking looks like it has reached the elite level in recent bouts and the longer this fight goes on, the more you have to favour him.
Oliveira has a clear advantage on the mat, but he'll have a tough time taken the fight there when Holloway starts letting his hands go. Holloway via TKO (round three)
Erick Silva (18-5-1NC) v Neil Magny (15-4)
DM: This fight is so easily broken down. If we see the second round, Neil Magny takes it all day long but it just comes down to whether or not he can hold off the wave of artillery that Silva brings into the opening frame.
If Magny has one main weakness, it's in the realm of submission defence as three of his four defeats have come by way of choke.
Silva is an absolute wizard at coming out with a barrage of strikes and when his opponent is worried about protecting his chin, The Tiger can jump on a choke.
The fact that Magny is coming in on just two weeks' notice also doesn't fill me with confidence. Silva via submission (round one)
BK: Although he hasn't looked quite right since Dong Hyun Kim gave him the "Stun Gun" special, you'd like to think Silva will come good against a far inferior fighter in Magny.
Magny likes to work the long game by wearing down his opponents over the duration of a fight. If he tries to do this against someone as explosive as Silva, it will have the same effect as trying to put out a house fire with baby wipes. Silva via KO (round one)
Patrick Côté (21-9) v Josh Burkman (27-11-1NC)
DM: Hmm, two veterans (old fellas) who have only a few fights left in them.
Cote wins the striking battle in both technique and power and the only hope that Burkman really has is slapping on a guillotine choke if Cote attempts a lazy takedown.
I don't see Cote being any bit lackadaisical in front of his hometown crowd and he'll take a unanimous decision. Cote via decision
BK: Here's the obligatory auld lad exhibition of the event. The term "crafty veteran" will get thrown around, which translates as "neither fighter is all that great, but they've been around the block enough times to make this exciting".
I think the Canadian has that little bit more left to offer and has been in far less wars of late than Burkman, who will be hoping to avoid a three-fight skid. Côté via TKO (round two)
Chad Laprise (10-0) v Francisco Trinaldo (17-4)
DM: Trinaldo's victory over Norman Parke proves that he's a problem for many at lightweight but he has the perfect style for Laprise to counter.
The Brazilian is a huge 155lb-er and his come-forward, plodding style plays right into the technical kickboxing of Laprise who can pick his shots over three rounds. Laprise via decision
BK: The Canadian is too strong, too technical and too tactically sound to lose this one.
While Trinaldo is dangerous opponent both standing and on the mat, I think Laprise is too smart to get suckered into making a mistake. He should be able to out-work the Brazilian and get the nod from the judges. Laprise via decision
Olivier Aubin-Mercier (6-1) v Tony Sims (12-2)
DM: Olivier Aubin-Mercier is more than a 1/2 favourite with the bookmakers but when you've got the knockout power of Tony Sims, anything can happen.
I'd be almost certain that this fight won't go all three rounds as the 21 combined fights between the pair have only gone the distance twice.
Aubin-Mercier is the stronger guy and can drag this fight to the mat and continue his sub streak. OAM via submission (round one)
BK: This seems like the archetypal "give the home crowd something to cheer about" bout. Sims is in there to lose. Aubin-Mercier via submission (round two)
Maryna Moroz (6-0) v Valerie Letourneau (7-3)
DM: I can't wait to see Maryna Moroz again and find out how much to read into her shock victory over Joanne Calderwood.
I'm in no way calling that victory a fluke but I think Valerie Letourneau has far too much experience for the Ukrainian.
Letourneau has been in there with some of the best fighters in the world and has wins over Elizabeth Phillips and Jessica Rakoczy but my pick is more based on gut feeling here. Letourneau via decision
BK: We finally get to see Maryna "The Jo-Jo Slayer" Moroz back inside the Octagon. This bout may appear far easier than her promotional debut on paper, but that may not actually be the case.
First of all, she's taken on Letourneau in the Lion's Den. Also, the Canadian will have no supposed "Octagon jitters" as she's looking to make it three wins out of three in the UFC.
However, I feel that Moroz is part of this new wave of modern female mixed martial artists who are slowly replacing the tough veterans such as Letourneau. I expect the European to take a relatively comfortable victory here. Moroz via decision