With the UFC 205 press conference stealing the majority of the limelight this week, the promotion’s event in Portland has flown under the radar.
The four-fight main card is set to be headlined by two bantamweights loaded with punching power in a fight which could have serious title implications.
It’s time to take a look at what fights to keep an eye out for on an interesting card.
John Lineker vs John Dodson
Both John Lineker and John Dodson would be considered small bantamweights at just 5′ 3″ each but what these two men lack in height, they make up for in power. With a combined 22 knockouts in their careers, one would expect this fight to end inside the distance, but it’s never as simple as that. Neither man has ever been finished by strikes, which begs the question, what are the paths to victory in this fight for either man and how will they get it done?
When Dodson was a flyweight he was widely regarded as the fastest man in the division. Making him the fastest man in the UFC’s fastest division – no easy task, to say the least. The ferocious speed of The Magician seems to have translated well since making the move to bantamweight and was on show for all to see in his 47-second blitzing of Manny Gamburyan in August of this year.
While the speed and power of Dodson were never brought into question, it was his cardio at flyweight which became an issue, notably in his two fights against flyweight and pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson where he seemed to fade at the latter end of each fight.
What Lineker brings to the table are a completely different set of skills when compared to the flyweight champion. Lineker employs a plodding style where he chooses to wade forward in an effort to land wild hooks to the body or head. The nickname Hands of Stone is a fitting one in this case, as if Lineker lands clean chances are it’s lights out. Just ask the Brazilian’s last opponent, Michael McDonald.
Although Lineker is lacking defensively as a fighter, his granite chin seems to compensate adequately. His forward aggression and tendency to square up whilst throwing strikes can leave him susceptible to takedowns, which Ali Bagautinov took full advantage of during their fight. The Brazilian has, however, developed a threatening guillotine choke to dissuade opponents from seeking a takedown as was evident in his fights with Ian McCall and Francisco Rivera.
The aim of Lineker is to walk his opponent down and eventually drag them into a firefight but against an opponent as quick and powerful as John Dodson this may not be an easy task.
“The Magician” is unquestionably the quickest opponent Lineker has ever faced, and this is the clear path to victory for the American in this bout. Dodson’s good footwork coupled with constant movement will likely frustrate the flat-footed style of the Brazilian who is always willing to take a punch to give one back. It is important for the American not to get drawn into a slugfest here as the odds would surely favour Hands of Stone in such a fight.
Look for Dodson to counter the lazy kicks of Lineker with either a punch or takedown. The Magician had some success catching kicks against a much more competent kicker in Demetrious Johnson so look for him to take advantage here against an opponent who continuously drops his hands while throwing laboured kicks. What Dodson needs to avoid here is his habit of being inactive as the Brazilian will stalk him from bell to bell and capitalise on any misstep the American makes.
I expect Dodson to claim the victory here as he is the superior fighter from a technical standpoint, but the power Lineker possesses is not to be taken lightly and can change a fight at any moment.
John Dodson by KO/TKO
Will Brooks vs Alex Oliveira
The co-main event of the evening sees Will Brooks make his second appearance in the UFC’s octagon, taking on the Brazilian Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira.
Former Bellator lightweight champion Will Brooks made his octagon debut in July of 2016, picking up a unanimous decision victory over Ross Pearson in a fight which was closely contested from bell to bell.
Many felt that the debut of Brooks was largely underwhelming, considering the hype that surrounded it. It must be noted, however, that his opponent was a veteran of over 20 fights in the organisation and a tough match-up for anyone in the division.
Alex “Cowboy” Oliveira will be making his seventh appearance in the UFC’s octagon on Saturday night and making his return to the lightweight division where he has fought just once before, losing on that occasion via armbar to Gilbert Burns.
Will Brooks’ wrestling is the clear path to victory for him in this fight as the Brazilian has been taken down in the past by lesser wrestlers than Brooks such as Donald Cerrone and Burns, who both finished him by submission.
The stand up of Cowboy could trouble the American initially but expect to see Brooks dominate here and pick up the victory via grinding decision.
Will Brooks via decision
Josh Burkman vs Zak Ottow – Josh Burkman via KO/TKO
Louis Smolka vs Brandon Moreno – Louis Smolka by submission
Fionnán Rowan, Pundit Arena