The UFC does actually have another fighter card this week that is not in Dublin and it’s called UFC Fight Night 45, or UFC Atlantic City if you’re allergic to numbers. Headlining the card are top ranked lightweights Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and Jim Miller, who square off in what is sure to be a tidy little scrap that will keep us all entertained. The rest of the card is what we have come to expect from a Fight Night card, but there are certain bouts that provide interest and intrigue, and below you can find out just that little bit more on what you can expect come Wednesday night.
(#6) Donald Cerrone vs. (#7) Jim Miller – 155lbs.
Due in part to the heavy promotion of this weekend’s UFC Dublin and the hot button topic of oversaturation, this fight has gone under the radar a little when really it is one of the more exciting fights I have seen booked for quite some time. It is against Cerrone’s nature to be in a dull fight and Miller is more often than not happy to oblige an opponent in the centre of the Octagon. While both men produce the goods on the regular, neither has been able to break out of the pack and secure a title shot despite their undoubted, and often unrivalled, talent. The winner of this fight will still likely be one or two wins away from contendership, but this could well represent the last chance for a run at the gold for the loser here.
While Cerrone is known best for his savage muay thai, ‘Cowboy’ has still notched 15 submission victories in his career and is dangerous everywhere. Miller will fancy his chances on the ground more than on the feet, but he is also known to engage in a brawl from time to time. I think this one will play out just about everywhere but will be decided on the feet, with Cerrone wearing away Miller one strike at a time before closing the show in impressive fashion.
Prediction – Cerrone via KO/TKO
(#13) Edson Barboza vs. Evan Dunham – 155lbs.
In his most recent outing, once again, Edson Barboza had his momentum shut down just at the point of contendership, this time as a result of a submission loss to Donald Cerrone rather than a TKO loss to Jamie Varner. Dunham is on a career worst stretch of 1-3, albeit against top competition, and could really do with a win here to kickstart his career. Dunham can cause something of an upset if he is able to get Barboza to the ground and keep him there, but the Brazilian has solid takedown defence and will likely keep this one standing long enough to brutalise his opponent.
Prediction – Barboza via KO/TKO
Rick Story vs. Leonardo Mafra – 170lbs.
Story’s career is now seemingly entrenched in the gatekeeper realm, with his recent form showcasing a series of fits and starts. Alternating wins and losses since 2012, Story has registered just three victories in seven bouts since mid-2011. Mafra makes his return to the UFC here, having been bumped from the promotion after a TKO loss to Thiago Perpétuo back at UFC 147 and will look to build on his current five-fight win streak. Mafra has been doing the business on the regional scene, but I expect Story to make a mockery of the form guide and dominate this one.
Prediction – Story via decision
Justin Salas vs. Jonathan Proctor – 155lbs.
Both fighters have gone 2-1 over their last three contests against less than stellar opposition and I struggle to see why these two have a main card spot over the Tibau-Healy or Gadelha-Lähdemäki (which happens to be the first ever UFC women’s strawweight bout) match-ups on the undercard of this event. Nevertheless, this bout is evenly matched with Proctor holding a slight advantage in grappling, the area where I feel this will be decided.
Prediction – Proctor via decision
(#7) John Lineker vs. Alp Ozkilic – 125lbs.
Having failed to make weight in three of his six UFC contests, whilst needing a second attempt on the scales before making the flyweight limit in his most recent bout, it really baffles me that Lineker is allowed to continue as a 125lb’er. Lineker has heavy, heavy hands for the flyweight division, but with questionable cardio he has struggled when up against the better fighters of the division. Ozkilic is a solid fighter with commendable wrestling, but Lineker is just better at hitting people and that is not a good thing for Ozkilic.
Prediction – Lineker via KO/TKO
Lucas Martins vs. Alex White – 145lbs.
Both men are finishers and I this one has the potential to be a pretty exciting affair. Martins is an aggressive fighter with solid striking, but with White possessing the more well-rounded game, I’ll side with the American here.
Prediction – White via KO/TKO