It's the fourth UFC show in seven days and incontestably, the least important of them all. Still, the main event features an important bantamweight clash plus important women's fights on the prelim card.
What: UFC Fight Night: McDonald vs. Lineker
Where: Denny Sanford Premier Center, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
When: Wednesday, UFC Fight Pass has two fights starting at 6 p.m. ET; FOX Sports 1 has four prelims starting at 7 p.m. ET with the main card at 9 p.m. ET.
McDonald poses an interesting test for Lineker because they share similar abilities. Both have good wrestling and scrambling and both are very heavy hitters. They possess different striking styles and use their power somewhat differently, but there is overlap. The difference for me is Lineker's ability to take a shot. It's not that McDonald has a bad chin. Far from it, actually. He's quite durable. It's that of the two, Lineker's ability to absorb damage is better, which is remarkable when one considers McDonald's composure under fire. The wrestling between the two will largely be negated, which means this will come down to striking. And if that's the case, it's just hard to see McDonald putting his lights out first.
MMA is crazy and crazy things happen with a relative degree of regularity. That will have to take place here for Vannata to win. It's a simple as that.
This is a pick I really struggled with. Here's how I suspect this fight will go. Either Boetsch will not attempt enough takedowns or will get caught somewhere along the way and Samman's explosive striking or opportunistic chance-taking will allow him some kind of favorable position. From there, he'll bomb on Boetsch or submit en route to a great stoppage win. The other possibility is that Samman, who has had problems with takedown defense and scrambling to his feet, will be controlled for three rounds by a no-nonsense approach to the game by the superior wrestler in Boetsch. Both of these scenarios seem plausible to me. I'll flip a coin and go with the upset.
Oliynyk obviously has a lot of experience, who should help mitigate the ring rust he might've accumulated over the last couple of years of inactivity. Omielanczuk is strong and powerful, but gasses and isn't the grappler Oliynyk is. This might get ugly and slow in parts, but overall, Oliynyk has the ability to find a grappling context where he can dominate. That could mean a horrible fight against the fence or prolonged periods of nothingness in turtle, but either way, Oliynyk is the more skilled of the two.
The Japanese fighter is well rounded and properly sized for the weight class, generally. That said, Noke is a very big welterweight with what should be good enough defensive wrestling or offensive wrestling, depending on the context. In short, I just don't see Nakamura applying sustained offense here. If Noke can avoid clinch scenarios he doesn't start and get on top when he needs to - both very doable tasks - this is his fight to lose.
This is a tough one to call. Nguyen is the better athlete, or, at least, the more phyiscal of the two. He'll likely get takedowns when he needs them and marry that with stinging ground and pound. But Smolka is more than just resilient. He finds ways to turn the tables in scrambles and has decent use of reach on the outside. I expect Nguyen to have his way early, but Smolka should take over as the bout progresses.
From the preliminary card: