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UFC Fight Night 89 predictions

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Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

The UFC comes back to Canada with a massively consequential welterweight bout paired with an equally intriguing welterweight co-main event.

What: UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson

Where: TD Place Arena, Ottawa, Canada

When: Saturday, the four-fight Fight Pass preliminary card starts at 6:45 p.m. ET, the four-fight Fox Sports 2 preliminary card starts at 8:30 p.m. and the five-fight FS1 card kicks off at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Rory MacDonald vs. Stephen Thompson

This is the toughest call I've seen in some time. MacDonald is coming off of an epic fight that surely took years off of his career. The question is whether it's the years we're in now. Thompson has never been better after starching a former champion in the division in a way no one else could. The key for me is MacDonald's ability to adapt. To the extent he needs to fight a certain way, he does. Not perfectly, of course, but he usually gets the job done. Thompson's style of fighting is more esoteric, but MacDonald is the chameleon. He'll have to pressure Thompson backwards to win and kill off any free space, but unless he's deeply damaged from the Robbie Lawler fight, MacDonald is up to the task.

A pick for Thompson is absolutely justifiable. Truly, if I were a gambler, I'd stay away from this one. Forced to make a selection, however, I'll side toward the Canadian.

Pick: MacDonald

Donald Cerrone vs. Patrick Cote

This is another very tough call. Cerrone's tall and not so outsized for this weight class. Then again, Cote is a big welterweight. The French Canadian is also not as diverse a striker as Cerrone, but is a heavy-hander boxer who has fought as high as light heavyweight. Can Cote find a way to tie up with Cerrone and leverage his size advantage? Will the American be able to keep things at range long enough to let his diverse striking arsenal come to life? It's impossible to say, but I'll side - barely - with the guy who has a lot of answers in a lot of different phases of the game

Pick: Cerrone

Steve Bosse vs. Sean O'Connell

Bosse isn't an unstoppable marauder, but he should be enough for O'Connell. The American can slug it better than he's shown in certain fights, but he can over be overpowered. That's precisely how the former hockey enforcer shines. I expect the Canadian to take some lumps along the way before landing a a quick, heavy strikes in the first or second round that sets up the beginning of the end.

Pick: Bosse

Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Thibault Gouti

While he may be short of the best wrestling in the division, he's a strong talent for everyone else. Gouti has respectable jiu-jitsu, but likely not enough of a guard to make Aubin-Mercier honest. There's even less of a chance he has the requisite takedown. Hard to say if they'll be a finish, but this should be Aubin-Mercier's to lose.

Pick: Aubin-Mercier

Valerie Letourneau vs. Joanne Calderwood

The Canadian proved against the strawweight champion her ascension is no accident. She was overwhelmed in the end, but proved to have respectable defense, incredible toughness and powerful combination. Calderwood is good as the fight trends towards brawling. She'll also have the size advantage, but Letourneau should have the speed edge, which she'll need to get on her horse, keep her back off the fence, and operate at range. Calderwood could make this ugly and steal the fight, but Letourneau's veteran experience should help her make enough of the right decisions to carry through.

Pick: Letourneau

From the preliminary card:

Jason Saggo def. Leandro Silva
Misha Cirkunov def. Ion Cutelaba
Tamdan McCrory def. Krzysztof Jotko
Joe Soto def. Chris Beal
Elias Theodorou def. Sam Alvey
Randa Markos vs. Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger
Colby Covington vs. Jonathan Meunier
Ali Bagautinov def. Geane Herrera