UFC FIGHT NIGHT 96 PREVIEW: Hiscoe’s previews and predictions for live FS1 card headlined by Lineker vs. Dodson

By Mike Hiscoe, MMATorch contributor

The UFC finds itself in Portland, Oregon this weekend for their seventh consecutive weekend show. It’s the promotion’s second visit to Portland with their only other event in the city being UFC 102 in August of 2009 headlined by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira defeating Randy Couture.

This particular show has a later than normal main card start time of 11 pm Eastern time but only 4 main card fights so it should finish around the usual time.

In the main event, former top flyweights John Lineker and John Dodson will meet in a bantamweight matchup with both men looking to solidify themselves near the top of their new division. Let’s take a look at some of the key fights:

Main Card

John Lineker vs. John Dodson (Bantamweight)

Both fighters are former flyweights who find themselves up a weight class, but both for different reasons.

After a slow start in the UFC Lineker became one of the most dangerous up and coming flyweights after his TKO wins over Azmat Gashimov, José Maria Tomé, and Phil Harris. In a division lacking credible title contenders, Lineker found himself in the conversation for a title shot rather quickly, only the promotion was hesitant to grant it to him after he missed weight in three of his first five UFC fights. After a convincing win over Ian McCall that would have likely put Lineker in a position to challenge for the title, he was forced by the UFC to move up to the bantamweight division after his fourth failure to make the prescribed weight.

Lineker has done well for himself in the bantamweight division, winning three in a row, and making weight each time in defeating Francisco Rivera, Rob Font, and most recently, knocking out former title contender Michael McDonald.

Unfortunately, Lineker missed weight for this fight with Dodson, coming in at 136.5 for the 135 lb fight. Lineker blamed a faulty scale, but this is five failed weight cuts in twelve fights, so there’s clearly a problem here now that it’s still happening at a higher weight class.

Dodson finds himself up a weight class for very different reasons. After two unsuccessful challenges at Demetruious Johnson’s flyweight title, Dodson moved up a weight class knowing he wasn’t likely going to get a third shot at the title at 125. He made a very successful return to the weight class earlier this year, blitzing Manny Gamburian in 37 seconds.

Lineker’s advantage is his power and Dodson’s is his speed but as we’ve seen, Dodson still carries some punching power at the heavier weight. While Lineker has a bit of a reputation as a knockout artist, he is able to go the distance with recent decision wins over Font and McCall. I’ve seen some pictures on UFC’s social media pages this week of Lineker and Dodson together, and Lineker is clearly the bigger man, so that size advantage may be the story of this fight. I expect Lineker to frustrate Dodson who won’t be able to get takedowns or control much in the clinch. Prediction: Lineker by Decision.

Will Brooks vs. Alex Oliveira (Lightweight)

Brooks, a former Bellator lightweight champion, was able to avoid succumbing to the first time octagon jitters that have plagued so many fighters coming in from other organizations with a good deal of hype. He won a serviceable decision over a tough Ross Pearson in July.

The colorful Oliveira has done well for himself since debuting with the promotion last year, most notably taking a short notice main event against Cowboy Cerrone that didn’t go his way. Oliveira missed weight badly for his fight, coming in at 161.5 lbs for a 155 lb fight. He may be overly depleted from a bad weight cut, or maybe he’s feeling great from not shedding the extra pounds. Either way, Brooks is not at all impressed with the Brazilian Cowboy and now has extra motivation going into the fight. Oliveira hasn’t fared as well against top level competition and Brooks is at or near that level so I think we see Brooks get a late submission over a tired out Oliveira. Prediction: Brooks by third round submission.

Josh Burkman vs. Zak Ottow (Welterweight)

Burkman returned to the UFC last year after an impressive run in WSOF that included a win over Jon Fitch. He hasn’t been quite as successful in this run, but he’s also been competing against some very tough 170 pounders like Patrick Cote and Paul Felder.

Ottow is a 13-3 fighter making his UFC debut, he’s won his last four fights but outside of a loss to former UFC fighter Jacob Volkmann, Ottow has yet to face top calibre competition.

This fight will be a good test for Burkman to prove he still belongs in the UFC, and it could be a big boost for Ottow’s career if he can beat a name fighter in Burkman on a UFC main card his first fight out. Ottow’s strength is his jiu-jitsu and Burkman has been succeptible to chokes throughout his career so we may see Ottow catch him midway through the fight. Prediction: Ottow by second round submission.

Louis Smolka vs. Brandon Moreno (Flyweight)

Smolka has been on a tear in the flyweight division, upsetting Paddy Holohan in Dublin last year and most recently defeating Ben Nguyen by TKO in July, winning performance of the night in the process.

Moreno is on the cast of The Ultimate Fighter season that is currently airing, he’s a late replacement for Sergio Pettis who had to pull out of the fight last week. Moreno is already out of the competition having lost to Alexandre Pantoja so he’s not putting a potential title shot in danger or anything. While young, and a champion in the World Fighting Federation, Moreno is untested and this fight should make for an entertaining showcase fight for Smolka to open the main card. Look for an early stoppage here. Prediction: Smolka by first round TKO.

Picks for the rest of the card:

Luis Henrique da Silva vs. Joachim Christensen: Henrique da Silva by TKO round 2

Andre Fili vs. Hacran Dias: Dias by submission round 1

Walt Harris vs. Shamil Abdurahimov: Harris by TKO round 3

Keita Nakamura vs. Elizeu Zaleski: Zaleski by TKO round 2

Nate Marquardt vs. Tamdan McCrory: Marquardt by TKO round 1

Jonathan Wilsom vs. Ion Cutelaba: Wilson by submission round 3

Cody East vs. Curtis Blaydes: Blaydes by TKO round 1

Ketlen Vieira vs. Kelly Faszholz: Vieira by TKO round 2

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