For reasons that remain entirely unclear to me, the UFC is putting on yet another show this month. It's arguably the worst card in the history of the UFC on FOX franchise, but here we are.
What: UFC on FOX: Holm vs. Schevchenko
Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
When: Saturday, the three-fight Fight Pass preliminary card starts at 4:30 p.m. ET, the four-fight Fox preliminary card starts at 6 p.m. and the four-fight Fox card kicks off at 8 p.m. ET.
I spoke to Johny Hendricks' striking coach Steven Wright about this bout. He couldn't have been more effusive with praise for Shevchenko, noting her credentials and ability to score when opponents engage. Here's the rub: Holm is unlikely to engage her. While he noted two southpaws colliding can sometimes make for surprising action fighting, Holm's ability to work from behind, getting on her feet after hitting and only working on her terms makes her a tough fight for Shevchenko. The adopted Peruvian will chew opponents to pieces to the extent they decide to throw, but if they stick and move? It could make for slow action.
Barboza has sometimes shown a weakness for punishment. He'll lead from the front and then give the fight away. It'd be foolish to assume Melendez can't find a way to the Brazilian's chin and then close the show with his well-rounded game. All things being equal, however, I don't see that as the likeliest outcome. Melendez is older than he used to be (well, duh; I mean the argument hes a youthful member of the division is no longer true) I'm not sure his game has evolved as much as it has needed to of late. Worse, he's coming off of a layoff. Barboza, meanwhile, is red hot. Look for the East Coast Superfriends member to control distance en route to a decision win.
Francis Ngannou vs. Bojan Mihajlovic
Mihajlovic is going to try to barrel Ngannou into the fence or to take him down outright. I suspect he'll have some success. What I don't expect is for this to work over the long haul. Ngannou's power is outrageous and takedown defense likely good enough over time to let his striking prowess shine.
This is about as close to impossible to call. Both are unrefined. Both have a fair amount of offensive skill. Both, however, are willing to accommodate bad positions because they're put there. Both act on aggression more than planned offense. Honestly, this is about as close to a coin flip as MMA gets.
From the preliminary card:
Frankie Saenz def. Eddie Wineland
Darren Elkins def. Godofredo Pepey
Kamaru Usman def. Alexander Yakovlev
Michel Prazeres def. J.C. Cottrell
Alex Oliveira def. James Moontasri
Jim Alers def. Jason Knight
Dmitry Smoliakov def. Luis Henrique