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MMA DFS Playbook – UFC Fight Night 89
Welcome back to all of my fight fans! The UFC heads to Ottawa, Canada for the first time in company history for UFC Fight Night 89. Rory MacDonald squares off with former training partner Stephen Thompson with big time title implications on the line in the main event. The co-main event pits veterans Donald Cerrone and Patrick Cote against each other. This will be the last card taking place before the historic weekend of UFC 200 goes down, where the UFC will put on 3 events in 3 days. Make sure to come back in July for those, but for now, let’s get to the fights in Ottawa! As always, pay attention to potential pre-fight injuries and withdrawals.
Stephen Thompson ($9,800) vs. Rory MacDonald ($9,600)
The main event in Ottawa sees the #1 and #2 ranked welterweights face off as Rory MacDonald takes on Stephen Thompson in a fight with huge title implications. Thompson is riding high on a 6-fight win streak, including his destruction of former welterweight king Johny Hendricks. Meanwhile, MacDonald finally makes his return to the cage after a devastating TKO loss to Robbie Lawler. MacDonald was ahead on the scorecards before he was finished in the final round of a fight that was an instant classic. Both guys are the class of the division, and whoever wins this fight is sure to be at the front of the line for a title shot. The key to victory for Thompson is obviously going to be his advantage in the stand-up game. He’ll have to win the exchanges on the feet, and avoid any takedown attempts from MacDonald, should he choose to shoot. MacDonald is too skilled on the mat to attempt to try to win the fight there, so Thompson will have to trust in his mix of karate and kickboxing skills. He will have his hands full, as MacDonald is no slouch on the feet. He’s one of the most well-rounded fighters on the planet, and will give Thompson fits wherever the fight takes place. Though Thompson will enjoy an advantage in the stand-up, it really won’t be as lopsided as believed. I look to MacDonald’s fight with Tarec Saffiedine, where on paper, he was also believed to have a disadvantage on the feet. MacDonald tore right through Saffiedine in a bout that rarely went to the mat. Though Saffiedine and Thompson share different styles, MacDonald will be able to take what Thompson throws at him, and will stay competitive in the striking exchanges. If Macdonald can mix in some takedowns, and control Thompson on the floor as well, he should have a clear path to victory. I see the fight being a technically sound contest, where both fighters will have their moments. The pick for me is MacDonald in a close decision.
Donald Cerrone ($10,200) vs. Patrick Cote ($9,200)
In the co-main event, Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone makes his 31st UFC/WEC appearance when he squares off with fellow long-time veteran Patrick Cote. Both men are on a tear, with Cerrone winning 9 of his last 10, and Cote riding a 3-fight win streak. This fight is simple to break down, and it’s no secret what both fighters are going to try to do. It would not shock me even in the slightest if the entirety of this bout is contested on the feet, and I’m positive Cerrone and Cote have no problem obliging. This one is going to be fun, and could be over quick. Cerrone has a tendency to catch a submission after a knock down, and with Cote’s history of being submitted, that outcome could definitely happen here as well. I have rarely ever picked against “Cowboy” and I don’t plan on it here. The pick is Cerrone by TKO.
Steve Bosse ($10,700) vs. Sean O’Connell ($8,700)
This is another bout where fireworks are likely. Light Heavyweights Steve Bosse and Sean O’Connell both try to gain ground in the division with a victory. Bosse was last seen brutally knocking James Te Huna out in 52 seconds, while O’Connell was the victim of a brutal KO by Ilir Latifi in 30 seconds. It’s entirely possible, and more than likely, that this fight ends the same way. Unfortunately for O’Connell, Bosse hits way too hard for him to be able to compete for too long, and sooner rather than later, he’ll hit the canvas after a Bosse bomb lands. O’Connell just doesn’t have the size, nor the skill to match up well with Bosse, and the pick is Bosse by 1st round KO.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier ($11,000) vs. Thibault Gouti ($8,400)
Canada’s Aubin-Mercier looks to right the ship when he takes on Thibault Gouti in a lightweight affair. Aubin-Mercier’s momentum was halted in January when he was soundly beaten by Carlos Diego Ferreira. Gouti was last seen in February when he was dismantled in 24 seconds by Teemu Packalen by rear-naked choke. This is Aubin-Mercier’s fight to lose. His grappling is top-notch, with 5 rear-naked choke submissions in 7 wins. With Firas Zahabi in his corner, he’ll be more than ready for anything Gouti has for him. He’ll impose his will on the floor with takedowns before eventually catching a submission over the unproven Gouti. The pick is Aubin-Mercier by rear-naked choke in the 2nd round.
Valerie Letourneau ($10,100) vs. Joanne Calderwood ($9,300)
Valerie Letourneau takes on Joanne Calderwood in the UFC’s first ever women’s flyweight contest. We last saw Letourneau take strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk the distance in a fight for the strawweight championship. Most thought Letourneau was going to be knocked out quick in that fight, but she showed legitimate skill and heart in all 5 rounds. Calderwood has won 2 of her 3 fights with the promotion, and looked very impressive in her Fight of the Night victory over Cortney Casey a year ago. This is a tough one to call, but I’m taking Calderwood to upset Letourneau. Though Calderwood’s striking is not quite on the level of Jedrzejczyk’s, it should be good enough to carry her to a victory if she can keep the fight on the feet. Should the fight hit the mat, she is skilled enough to get it back to the feet where she is more comfortable. Calderwood will win the striking exchanges, and she’s my pick to win by a close decision.
Tamdan McCrory ($10,600) vs. Krzysztof Jotko ($8,800)
At middleweight, Tamdan McCrory continues his career resurgence when he battles Poland’s Krzysztof Jotko. After retiring following his bout against John Howard in 2009, McCrory retired to have more time with his family. He returned to MMA in 2014, and made his return to the UFC back in December, following 2 quick wins in Bellator. In his first fight back with the UFC, he submitted the talented Josh Samman by triangle choke. He faces another stiff test in Jotko, who has won his last 3 bouts dating back to 2014. Jotko hasn’t faced any one close to the caliber of McCrory yet in the UFC, but has done enough to win 4 of 5 fights. At 6’4″ and possessing incredible jiu-jitsu skills, McCrory is going to be a lot for Jotko to handle. With 13 finishes in 14 wins, I’m taking McCrory to win by submission late again, taking home another impressive win in the 3rd round.
Chris Beal ($10,000) vs. Joe Soto ($9,400)
Another exciting fight on the preliminary card takes place when bantamweights Chris Beal and Joe Soto look to end losing streaks. After scoring a highlight reel KO over Tateki Matsuda in 2014, Beal has lost his last 2 bouts, both by decision. Joe Soto’s first fight in the UFC was a memorable one, as he fought TJ Dillashaw for the belt after Renan Barao was hospitalized during the weight cutting process. Soto gave a spirited effort for over 4 rounds before being knocked out by the champ. After such a good performance, he was expected to contend with the best of the division, but that hasn’t been the case. With both men desperate for an impressive victory, this should be a great fight. Soto will have to contend with Beal’s impressive athleticism to win this fight. Beal’s flying-knee KO over Matsuda showed his ability to end a fight at any moment, and Soto has been prone to the KO as of late. In one of the tougher fights to call, I’m taking the former Bellator featherweight champ to upset Beal. Soto’s experience against big name fighters will prove beneficial in dealing with a fighter of Beal’s caliber. Both guys will have their moments in the fight, but Soto wins by split decision.
Elias Theodorou ($10,300) vs. Sam Alvey ($9,100)
In the Fight Pass headliner, TUF vets Elias Theodorou and Sam Alvey fight in a middleweight contest. Like his cast mate Olivier Aubin-Mercier, Theodorou saw his 3-fight win streak halted, losing by decision to Thiago Santos. In his last fight, Sam Alvey was the victim of a Derek Brunson TKO, halting a 3-fight win streak of his own. With 22 knockouts between the two, expect yet another fight on this card to be contested mainly on the feet. I look for Theodorou to win this fight using his kicking game. Alvey is more of a straight boxer, so if Theodorou can mix up his attacks with kicks, he should be able to take advantage of Alvey on the feet. In a close fight, Theodorou is my pick by unanimous decision.
Ali Bagautinov ($10,800) vs. Geane Herrera ($8,600)
One-time flyweight challenger Ali Bagautinov opens the card against prospect Geane herrera. Bagautinov has dropped his last 2 bouts, including his title loss to Demetrious Johnson, after which he was suspended for a year for testing positive for erythropoietin (EPO). He then dropped his next bout to Joseph Benavidez, so he’ll look to hit the reset button on his career when fights Herrera. After dropping his debut to Ray Borg, Herrera earned his first UFC win when he stopped Joby Sanchez by TKO. While Herrera has a bright future, he’s running into a stiff test early in his UFC career. Bagautinov is a sambo, wrestling, and jiu-jitsu champion in Russia, and is coached by arguably the best MMA trainer in the world, Greg Jackson. Bagautinov gets back on track by outclassing Herrera, winning by submission in the 2nd round.
Rory MacDonald ($9,600)
Steve Bosse ($10,700)
Joanne Calderwood ($9,300)
Joe Soto ($9,400)
Ali Bagautinov ($10,800)