The UFC makes its long awaited return to the Emerald Isle this weekend with UFC Fight Night 46, or UFC Dublin as it is more commonly known. Headlined by local favourite and rising star Conor McGregor’s featherweight bout against Diego Brandao, the first event in Ireland since2009 is sure to be a success. As well as being populated by fights of divisional relevance, UFC Dublin’s fight card is expectedly packed with homegrown talent and this is certainly the case on the undercard, so let’s get on with the preview.
Ilir Latifi vs. Chris Dempsey – 205lbs.
We all know Ilir Latifi, right? He’s the guy who stepped up on four days’ notice to fight Gegard Mousasi and save last year’s UFC event in Sweden. He got beat, but that didn’t matter as he’d done everyone a solid and he actually didn’t look too terrible in losing. Ahead of his next and most recent bout, Latifi was given longer than a typical Amazon delivery period to prepare and it showed. Latifi thoroughly dominated Cyrille Diabate, finishing the fight with a guillotine choke. Dempsey will be making his UFC debut here and like Latifi, it will be on short notice, just not quite as bad – around two weeks. While Dempsey is on an eight-fight win streak and with perhaps a slight advantage in wrestling over Latifi, the short notice nature of his appearance, as well as the full camp that is behind the bigger, stronger Latifi, I feel this will not be the debutant’s night.
Prediction – Latifi via submission
Neil Seery vs. Phil Harris – 125lbs.
While this is a rematch from a bout at BAMMA 3, I think we can pretty much disregard that the previous fight even happened when analysing here as it was in 2010 and fought at featherweight. Both men have improved since then and both men have found themselves in the biggest MMA organisation in the world. Despite losing out to Brad Pickett in his UFC debut, Seery looked impressive on short notice and against a much more fancied fighter. Harris, on the other hand, has looked less than impressive of late, winning just the one fight since 2012 and having been finished in each of his last three losses. Harris may well threaten with his judo, but Seery should be able to keep Harris at bay with his superior striking.
Prediction – Seery via KO/TKO
Cathal Pendred vs. Mike King – 185lbs.
Neither man performed as they would have liked to in their shared, and the latest, series of The Ultimate Fighter, but they have both been given the chance to show what they can do with a proper fight camp and time to prepare by the UFC. Pendred, a natural welterweight, continues to flirt with the middleweight division here and could struggle to overpower the bigger man, King. That being said, Pendred will hold an advantage in the clinch, as well as substantial backing from the crowd and I think he will do just about enough to eke out a decision.
Prediction – Pendred via decision
Tor Troeng vs. Trevor Smith – 185lbs.
A former TUF veteran, Troeng could not carry the momentum he gained from defeating Adam Cella in his UFC debut last year in to his most recent outing, losing via unanimous decision to Rafael Natal. Smith also lost last time out, having been TKO’d by Thales Leites taking his UFC record to a less than handsome 1-2. Troeng is a solid, well-rounded fighter who possesses the kind of in-cage savvy that will see him stay away from Smith’s submission game and coast to a fairly straightforward decision victory.
Prediction – Troeng via decision
Cody Donovan vs. Nikita Krylov – 205lbs.
This one is the typical battle to stay in the company kind of bout that is found on most UFC undercards, with Donovan having lost his last two and Krylov going 1-2 over his last three. Neither man is of any threat to the division, but Krylov is just that bit worse.
Prediction – Donovan via submission
Patrick Holohan vs. Josh Sampo – 125lbs.
Ireland’s Holohan failed to make it out of the elimination round of TUF 18, but is undefeated on the European MMA circuit. Sampo suffered his first UFC defeat last time out to the surging Zach Makovsky and I think he has enough about him to best a Holohan who hasn’t fought professionally since 2012.
Prediction – Sampo via decision