Max Holloway vs. Charles Oliveira
The main event for UFC Fight Night 74 is a solid one with Holloway vs. Oliveira. I’m hesitant to call this a classic striker vs. grappler match as both have shown well rounded skills, but it is clear that Holloway’s specialty is striking whereas Oliveira’s is the ground game. It’s very important to note that Holloway has shown his improved ground game lately and Oliveira has shown he can use muay thai. For me, I think the key here is who can implement there game. I believe Holloway will be looking to use movement throughout where Oliveira ultimately wants to get this to the ground. Despite most picking Holloway, I think the fight is a tossup with a possible slight edge to Oliveira. Oliveira can likely hang with Holloway on the feet for quite a while, but I really don’t think Holloway can hang with Oliveira on the ground for long at all. In a 5 round fight, this means it’s likely to hit the mat at some point. My pick here is Oliveira by submission, but either way, I have a hard time seeing this go 5 rounds.
Erick Silva vs. Neil Magny
I can see a route to victory for Magny here if Silva gasses which is a definite possibility, but I don’t see an edge for Magny any other way. Silva has the better striking, better clinch, and better ground game. I also think Magny has the potential to be swarmed early here when Silva is his strongest. At this point, Silva should have learned that he cannot gas himself if he doesn’t get the early finish. It’s hard to rely on Magny surviving here coupled with Silva gassing hard, so Silva is my pick. I look for Silva to get this one done within 2 rounds, likely by (T)Ko.
Josh Burkman vs. Patrick Cote
This should be a fairly close fight, but for whatever reason, it does not hold my interest much. Cote has shown a big improvement in takedowns and positional grappling. I think a lot of that has to do with the element of surprise as most thought of him as a brawler looking to strike. I think he’ll have a hard time with that here against the faster, more athletic Burkman who also can threaten the neck. I look for Cote to never really find a groove here and Burkman to get the win. I think the fight will be closer than the scorecards show, but I have Burkman getting a unanimous decision.
Chad Laprise vs. Francisco Trinaldo
This is one of those fights that I’ve gained quite a bit interest in since a lot of people are writing off Trinaldo. Trinaldo just proved doubters wrong, and I think he has a chance to do it again here. Despite most people wanting to strike with Trinaldo, it’s interesting to note that his losses have been due to grappling. Hallman beat him with grappling, Chiesa beat him with grappling, and Tibau beat him with grappling. When going against guys who strike a lot, he has done better than expected. I think this may be the case here. Laprise likes to keep control with footwork and I think he’ll have pretty good success. The issue is if Trinaldo can land some kicks and force exchanges. I also think Trinaldo is much better on the ground. The official pick here is Laprise by decision, but I think Trinaldo makes this much closer than expected and he does have a chance to pull off the upset.
Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Tony Sims
This is a major stylistic clash as Aubin-Mercier will clearly be looking to grapple and Sims will be looking to keep it standing. I’ve read a lot of back and forth where people are arguing for Sims being able to keep this standing and where others think he’ll be smothered. I think this fight is likely to have a mixture of both, but I think Aubin-Mercier will be able to establish longer periods of control once he gets Sims to the ground. Aubin-Mercier has shown a suffocating game once he grabs you, and I don’t think Sims will be able to escape that easily. I look for Sims to be able to keep distance, but not have enough success to get anything going. The pick is Aubin-Mercier via decision or late submission.
Marnya Moroz vs. Valerie Letourneau
I think the expectations for Moroz are a bit too high after her win over Calderwood. Moroz is about to head in there against a fighter who has fought Kaufman, Davis, and Gadelha. Letourneau hung in there with Gadelha to a split decision. On the other hand, we have Moroz who has not been out of the first round since her first professional fight. He opposition is not nearly as good, and I think it will show here. I see Letourneau using her size and positional grappling to grind this one out. Moroz may have her moments and make it scary, but Letourneau should be able to get this done. I have Letourneau by a pretty clear cut, controlling decision.