UFC Dublin has been a show five years in the making, with the UFC waiting for the right opportunity to take the trip to Ireland’s capital city for the first time since 2009, and in Conor McGregor they have found their opportunity. In terms of utilising an athlete to fully capitalise on a forgotten market, the UFC have found the goose that lays the golden egg in McGregor, with the event having gone down in history as the fastest selling show the UFC has ever put on.
Now, let’s get on with what we’re all here for – the WHOATV UFC Dublin preview.
(#13) Conor McGregor vs. Diego Brandao – 145lbs.
This is the reason why we’re in Dublin, folks. Or more accurately speaking, he’s the reason why we’re here, folks. Conor McGregor. McGregor has taken the UFC by storm since making his promotional debut just over a year ago and only a torn ACL has slowed him down, but even then that didn’t prevent him from goading the rest of the featherweight division while he recuperated and only further heightened the anticipation of his return. Originally slated to face Cole Miller, until Miller withdrew through injury, McGregor now takes on The Ultimate Fighter 14 winner, Diego Brandao.
Brandao will likely continue to employ his usual aggressive, swarming tactic in the early going and it is usually successful against opponents who are not exactly light on their feet or aware of how to circle away, neither of which you could label McGregor as. McGregor is an incredibly nimble and diverse striker who will be able to stay out of Brandao’s reach in the early going, picking off the Brazilian until the cardio problems that have plagued Brandao’s time in the UFC arise once again and allow for McGregor to blow the roof off of the O2 Dublin with a conclusive finish.
Prediction – McGregor via KO/TKO
(#13) Gunnar Nelson vs. Zak Cummings – 170lbs.
Nelson is as cerebral as it gets. Equally adept on the feet as he is on the floor, the Icelandic is the real deal and one of the top prospects in the welterweight division and the UFC as a whole. Zak Cummings, while game, is not on Nelson’s level. Nelson takes this one with relative ease and by whichever way he fancies. My only hope is that next time we see him it’s not on a European event, as that might indicate that the UFC is ready to get the Gunnar name moving.
Prediction – Nelson via submission
(#10) Brad Pickett vs. (#3) Ian McCall – 125lbs.
Brad has not exactly taken kindly to McCall’s continued disparaging remarks after their proposed fight from earlier in the year was cancelled as a result of an injury to McCall and it’s clear that come fight night Pickett will not be looking to pull any punches, but then when does he ever. Pickett transitioned to the flyweight division smooth enough in defeating Neil Seery back in March, but would have been expected to been a little more dominant. McCall’s UFC career continues to be stop-start, only registering the one win since signing on back in 2012, which was in his last outing against Iliarde Santos last August. I feel that the break in competition for McCall will be decisive, with Pickett the sharper man, but if McCall shows no sign of ring rust, it could be a very different outcome altogether.
Prediction – Pickett via decision
Norman Parke vs. Naoyuki Kotani – 155lbs.
Save for a point deduction due to grabbing of an opponent’s shorts in his last bout, Norman Parke would be 4-0 in the UFC instead of 3-0-1. Kotani returns to the UFC on the back of a 13-fight win streak, but with 12 of those fighters failing the Wikipedia test, it’s safe to say that Kotani’s recent record is a tad padded and is likely being used to ensure a Parke win.
Prediction – Parke via KO/TKO