After a week off, the UFC picks it right back up in Saskatoon, Canada, as top prospects Max Holloway and Charles Oliveira square off to see who could potentially challenge for the title in the future. Both are riding their own prospective winning streaks into the fight, with multiple finishes for each along the way. Two other up-and-down prospects will meet inside the octagon in the co-main event as Erick Silva hopes to continue to improve after putting together two solid performances over Mike Rhodes and Josh Koscheck. Neil Magny, on the other hand, had won seven fights in a row before seeing his streak snapped by Demian Maia earlier this month. With much to prove for these respective UFC contenders, only two will continue to see their stars rise this Sunday.
#5 Max Holloway (13-3) vs. #7 Charles Oliveira (20-4) Featherweight Bout – This is a very underrated UFC featherweight match–up in which the victor could move up in the standings to be possibly a fight away from a featherweight title shot. Holloway has had the pleasure of being the only man within the promotion to push the interim champ, Conor McGregor, to a decision since interim champ was signed to the roster. Holloway has been able to tread the fine line of consistency early in his career, while Oliveira has steered off the path quite a bit, but he may have finally found what works to put him back on the path to become one of the elite in the division. With the confidence and weight issues behind him, Oliveira has reeled off three submission victories in his last four fights, adding to his 12 submission wins in his career. To get to the gist of things in this bout, Holloway will look to execute a flawless take-down defense, while hoping to pick apart an aggressive Oliveira with counter shots. Oliveira will come forward with a purpose, using his range and sharp knees if he can grab a Thai clinch on Holloway. This is a tough one to call, as the both of them are pretty evenly matched up, and both could be future faces of the division. The feeling here is that neither gets finished, and with Holloway’s slight upper hand in volume and cardio, the edge leans toward the Hawaiian. Max Holloway via Split Decision.
Neil Magny (15-5) vs. Erick Silva (18-5) Welterweight Bout – The durable versus the explosive. It was quite the surprise to see Magny get rag-dolled by Maia not but a few weeks ago after his winning stint. Silva is possibly the most explosive UFC welterweight in the division, but durability-wise, he is the weakest. Magny is a sound technical fighter who uses his reach efficiently, and his sharp elbows and knees with vengeance inside the clinch. Silva thwarts all of his strikes early within the fight, where he really relies on finishing in the first round or bust. If Magny can calm the storm early, it is his for the taking past the second round. Just watching Magny completely collapse versus a very limited striker like Maia, can Magny really hold off Silva if he hurts him early? Doubt it. Silva finishes Magny within the first round, which is a huge value in fantasy. Erick Silva via Submission.
Patrick Cote (21-9) vs. Josh Burkman (28-12) Welterweight Bout – This is a make-or-break fight in the UFC for Burkman. The guy spent years clamoring for another opportunity to get back into the largest MMA promotion in the U.S. and has widely under-performed since being re-signed. Dong Hyum Kim dominated him through three rounds and eventually submitted him while Hector Lombard tore him apart even though the fight was overturned by the NAC. Cote, on the other hand, has won four of his last five fights, and really hung in there against one of the top strikers in the game, Stephen Thompson, before falling to a decision. Cote has the chin to hang in there and take a few shots from Burkman, but it is doubtful Burkman can take shots from Cote. This battle between the vets will be bloody, and will come down to durability. Cote has become the better mixed martial artist and should get the decision. Patrick Cote via Unanimous Decision.
Chad Laprise (11-0) vs. Francisco Trinaldo (17-4) Lightweight Bout – Laprise is the technically better overall fighter, and his output is usually high. Trinaldo can sometimes be reliant on his power alone. Fact is that neither have had a finish inside the octagon since 2013 (
Francisco Trinaldo), meaning both lean heavily on outlasting the other and earning the infamous decision. Fantasy implications are weak, so avoid this one at all costs. When it comes to the fight though, Laprise has the edge. Chad Laprise via Unanimous Decision.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier (6-1) vs. Tony Sims (12-2) Welterweight Bout – If Aubin-Mercier can just tighten up his striking and striking defense, he could become a legitimate force in the UFC welterweight division. The Canadian has won all six of his fights by submission, and is a choking expert on the ground. Sims has a background in boxing, and is very fluid in his striking game, which has led to many knockouts in his 14-fight career. Sims surprised in his short notice debut, and will more than likely be a cheap pick-up if needed. Aubin-Mercier should be a bit pricier being the heavy favorite going in, and is rightfully so. If the Canadian can put Sims against the cage and work a take-down, the fight could be over. If Sims can keep this standing, it could be tweetie birds for Mercier. Either way this fight goes, both fighters provide very intriguing fantasy value; just have to pick the right one. Olivier Aubin-Mercier via Submission.
#8 Maryna Moroz (6-0) vs. Valerie Letourneau (6-3) Women’s Strawweight Bout – Another fighter using the arm bar as their main weaponry to finish fights? Not a good sound for opponents when another UFC women’s superstar has been known to take multiple arms home in her day. Moroz is a powerful puncher with crisp boxing, but really rounds out her performances when she hurts her opponents standing, then straps on an arm bar for good measure to finish the fight. Letourneau could be considered a borderline-top UFC talent in the strawweight division, using a clever jab to confuse opponents, and leg kicks to mix it up. Moroz is the more athletic of the two, and has a knack for finishing fights. If there is any fighter in this UFC bout that has a fantasy factor, it is the Ukrainian Moroz. Maryna Moroz via Submission.
Saturday night may be one more shot for the “Hands of Stone,” Sam Stout, to prove that he still belongs in the big leagues. It is hard to imagine a lightweight division without entertaining striking coming from the Canadian, but after losing three of his last four inside the 15 minutes, the thought does come across. The highlight reel of Chris Beal may also continue Sunday night, as a man of many knees and a variance of striking, will kick the UFC prelims off with a bang. Couple other fighters to keep an eye on for fantasy purposes are Felipe Arantes and Marcos Rogerio de Lima. Follow the pre-fight coverage as the MMA Spotlight continues its coverage September 5 for Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson.
Commentary by Justin Huffman
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