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7/14/16: Top Five Takeaways From UFC Fight Night 91 “McDonald vs. Lineker”
5. Baffling strategies lead to predictable results: Louis Smolka and Tim Boetsch had some key advantages over Ben Nguyen and Josh Samman, respectively, and both Nguyen and Samman opted to play right into them. Nguyen is a much better striker overall than Smolka, but he thought he could hang with him on the ground. It worked for a time, until it didn’t, and Smolka beat him up badly from there. Samman opted to wrestle with Boetsch, and predictably that ended with him getting busted up and finished. Overconfidence in areas your opponent has you out-classed doesn’t tend to work out well.
4. Let’s get an event to Hawaii already: Speaking of Smolka, he’s one of a number of entertaining Hawaiian fighters populating the UFC’s roster right now, and it’s about time the UFC bring a card on out to the state. B.J. Penn can return later this year, Max Holloway’s ready to face a top end featherweight in his home state, and Smolka’s ready whenever the UFC puts it together.
3. Short notice fights a blessing for some, a curse for others: Lando Vannata had a thrilling debut on Wednesday night in the UFC, nearly upsetting Tony Ferguson in a fight above his weight class that he took on very short notice. This is why it’s always a risky proposition for a fighter to take on a short notice opponent. There’s almost always less to lose for the fighter stepping in than the fighter already scheduled, and Tony Ferguson here nearly lost everything he’d been working for here. This is something we’ve seen time and again, especially over the last several months.
2. Tony Ferguson’s lucky, still in line for title fight: On that note, Ferguson came back from some extremely iffy spots in the fight and emerged with a win. The finish was fantastic given everything that happened through the previous ten minutes, and he’s now got eight straight wins. Though the Nate Diaz-Conor McGregor rematch could bring a new challenger to usurp his spot, he’s the name in that No. 1 contender spot right now.
1. John Lineker may just be UFC Champion this time next year: John Lineker’s destruction of Michael McDonald is as elite a win as he’s gotten yet in the UFC, and he’s probably not more than a win away from a title fight in the UFC. While T.J. Dillashaw has earned his rematch with Dominick Cruz, don’t be surprised to see Lineker get the next shot after that, and don’t be surprised if he winds up beating either of them. He’s got crazy good finishing instincts, and though he’s one of the shortest fighters in the division it’s not stopping him from getting his hands on everyone. Had he been able to make flyweight consistently he may have been the one to dethrone Demetrious Johnson. He’ll have his chance against Cruz or Dillashaw by this time next year.
[Photo (c) Bill Streicher via USA Today Sports]
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