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13th Jul 2016

UFC Sioux Falls: SportsJOE picks the winners so you don’t have to

The show goes on


MMA writers’ 2016 records

Darragh The Quizmaster Murphy: 70-38
Bourbon Ben Kiely: 64-44

Michael McDonald (17-3) vs. John Lineker (27-7)

DM: This one reminds me of my dilemma when considering the main event of UFC 200. If it ends in the first round, Lineker will be the one with his hand raised but, over five rounds, Michael McDonald will be preferred.

But, as Miesha Tate found out, thunderous starts can be devastating and I’m predicting the same to happen with John Lineker’s crazy power.

As bantamweights go, there are not many who hit harder than the aptly named ‘Hands of Stone’ and, as well rounded as McDonald is, I think he may get drawn into a brawl.

If this ends up with both men standing in the pocket and trading, as I suspect it will, then I have to lean towards Lineker landing more cleanly.

Lineker via KO (round one)

BK: If this turns out to be the slugfest everyone is hoping for, I feel like fleet-footed wild-man will control the chaos and drop the flat-footed Brazilian. Sure he looked rusty against Masanori Kanehara, but people keep forgettin’ things will never be the same again. 

Mayday took Renan Barao to the fourth round when he was just 23-years-old, now that he’s a little older, a little wiser he should have the requisite skill-set, physical attributes and IQ to defeat a flat-footed fighter such as Lineker. ‘Should’ doesn’t mean ‘will’, though and with the power Lineker packs in those fists, nothing would surprise me in this fight.

McDonald via submission (round two)

Mayday McDonald

Tony Ferguson (20-3) vs. Landon Vannata (8-0)

DM: There are tiers of fighter and Tony Ferguson is at the very, very top.

Quite frankly, Landon Vannata is not.

Ferguson could well be the first defence for Eddie Alvarez and you wouldn’t back against ‘El Cucuy’ in a title fight which speaks to how very dangerous he is everywhere.

Vannata has never encountered anyone like Ferguson thus far and, to be honest, I can see the obvious favourite winning this wherever it goes.

Ferguson via TKO (round two)

BK: I doubt that Vannata actually thinks Ferguson, one of the most improvisational fighters in the division, is predictable.

Put yourself in Ferguson’s shoes. He’s on the cusp of a title shot, he believes he’s the rightful heir to the lightweight throne and he knows everyone expects him to win this fight in devastating fashion against a promotional debutant who came in on late notice. If he does his thing and just thinks about this as a fight, he should cruise his way to victory.

However, if he doesn’t put this guy away early, all of a sudden the pressure starts mounting and all those headlines about his opponent calling him predictable will start swirling around his brain. All of a sudden he has a point to prove and he starts taking risks. That’s when someone as well-rounded as Vannata can get on top and catch him.

It’s still Ferguson’s fight to lose and I run the risk of looking like an even bigger fool than usual if I pick against him. Ferguson via submission (round two)

Tony Ferguson KO

Tim Boetsch (18-10) vs. Josh Samman (12-3)

DM: Tim Boetsch’s chin, at 35, is understandably starting to show signs of weakness.

He’s been knocked out twice in the last 12 months and Josh Samman’s superior athleticism should pay off here.

‘Anqa’ is a very intelligent fighter and knows that he shouldn’t let this descend into a slugfest where Boetsch’s chances of victory would improve considerably.

Samman via TKO (round two)

BK: With Boetsch entering into this fight off a three-fight skid, he’ll have extra incentive to win this one knowing that a loss will almost definitely result in him being handed his pink slip. He could throw caution to the wind, swing for the fences and catch Samman, but he could just as easily crumble under that kind of pressure.

In this battle of athleticism vs grit, I’m going for the former reign supreme.

Samman via KO (round one)Josh Samman head kick ko

Oleksiy Oliynyk (50-9-1) vs. Daniel Omielańczuk (18-5-1-1NC)

DM: This is the typical heavyweight clash that, if it doesn’t end in the first round, could turn into a right stinker.

Let’s pray that somebody lands early or Oliynyk gets Omielańczuk’s back. This one’s a pick ’em for me.

I’ll go with Omielańczuk with the knockout.

Omielańczuk via KO (round one)

BK: Heavyweights gonna heavyweight.

Oliynyk via submission (round one)

Rosholt gets Kod

Kyle Noke (22-8-1) vs. Keita Nakamura (31-7-2-1NC)

DM: A victory over Li Jingliang is no small feat and going the distance with a finisher like Tom Breese is a minor win in itself.

Kyle Noke isn’t a gimme but if this goes to the ground, I think Nakamura is the slicker guy.

Nakamura via submission (round three)

BK: If Tom Breese can’t finish Nakamura, I can’t see how Noke possibly could. I think the longer this goes on, the more likely Nakamura is to get the win, but in this scenario, the likelihood of anyone watching going into a boredom induced coma also increases.

Nakamura via decision.

Nakamura submission

Louis Smolka (10-1) vs. Ben Nguyen (14-5)

DM: Ben Nguyen should have the advantage on the feet here and Smolka, as much of a submission threat as he is, doesn’t excel in getting opponents to the ground.

In the past we’ve seen him get the tap after his opponents have initiated the grappling exchanges but Nguyen ought to know better.

He’ll pick Smolka apart and stuff any takedowns en route to a decision.

Nguyen by decision

BK: I absolutely love this fight, but the issue I have with it is that a potential future title contender’s momentum is going to be stalled, which isn’t really ideal for a division with a dearth of challengers for Demetrious Johnson.

Smolka is hittable and Nguyen is well able to connect with bombs, but Smolka’s awkward lanky frame mixed with his exceptional BJJ skills make him lethal on the mat. We know this from his fights against Paddy Holohan and Neil Seery, who aren’t exactly slouches on the ground either.

Smolka by decision

Smolka Holohan