The UFC rolls on with the second of four cards throughout the month of September in the form of Saturday night’s (September 17, 2016) UFC Fight Night 94 from the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, Texas.
In the main event, surging lightweight Dustin ‘Diamond’ Poirier will look to prove he’s truly ready to be placed among the top names of the talented 155-pound division when he meets perennial top 10 contender Michael Johnson, who will be competing inside the Octagon for the first time since his disappointing loss to Nate Diaz last December.
In the co-main, two middleweights seeking a spot in the top-heavy 185-pound fray will throw down when Uriah Hall meets Derek Brunson. Hall has show flashes of both brilliance and inconsistency lately, while Brunson has looked like a runaway freight train, albeit against lower-ranked competition. Based on how these two fighters’ bouts have played out in the past, this fight has the potential for some serious fireworks.
Find out who we picked to win these two pivotal bouts below.
Dustin Poirier vs. Michael Johnson:
With four straight dominating wins over increasingly more difficult opponents, it’s a surprise to me that the odds have Poirier, who comes in at only a -157 favorite according to BigOnSports.com, picked so slightly. True, ‘Menace’ has long been a force in arguably the UFC’s deepest division, but there are several question marks about his mental state after he’s taken the entire year off following his loss to Diaz.
I believe Johnson has the wrestling advantage, yet he seems focused on using predominantly striking, something I believe could get him in trouble against the recent bulldozing form of the ‘Diamond.’ Johnson may have retooled his game in the time off, but Poirier seems ultra-confident and ultra-powerful after moving back up to 155. ‘Diamond’ by second-round TKO.
I like the new version of Poirier; he’s a real killer at lightweight. Surprising us with a renewed vigor against Joe Duffy and Bobby Green, ‘Diamond’ has shown improvements in all departments. He faces in Michael Johnson a proven beast, but MJ has suffered two straight losses. In his fight against Nate Diaz, ‘The Menace’ was taught a valuable boxing lesson. This remains a tough fight to pick though, as either man is very hard to beat on any given day. This fight will come down to who establishes the jab in the stand up and the control in the grappling exchanges. For my money, it’s going to be a decision for Poirier.
This fight may seem like a fairly even contest at first glance, but I see “The Diamond” earning a decisive victory here. Johnson’s speed and power cannot be overlooked, but he’s struggled as of late, dropping two consecutive bouts. Poirier, on the other hand, has won four straight since moving up to 155-pounds. He’s looked stronger, faster, and rejuvenated, and I see him continuing his winning trend in Texas. Poirier by unanimous decision.
Derek Brunson vs. Uriah Hall:
This fight is another that could have ‘Fight of the Night’ written on it, as both Hall and Brunson bring heated action in their own respective ways. ‘Primetime’ obviously uses his flashy Karate-based striking background, while the more hard-nosed Brunson brings a pressure-heavy, brute force striking game in addition to some power wrestling tactics. With momentum in his favor, BigOnSports.com has Brunson a -179 favorite, with Hall a +154 underdog.
Hall has exhibited the full potential that he brought over from TUF 17 in the Octagon, and he’s also been seen coasting too often to be a top contender. However, his emphatic win over Gegard Mousasi last year proves he can defeat the best when on his game. Brunson has steamrolled through competition as of late, winning four straight including three in a row by TKO. He’ll give “Primetime” fits with his pressure and takedown attempts, but I think Hall will be able to stay out of range just long enough to outscore the Jackson’s MMA product. Uriah Hall by decision in a close bout.
I love this fight. Hall has proven to be an absolute beast when he’s on form, and Brunson is one of those naturally explosive knockout artists you just love to watch. Unfortunately for ‘U-Hall,’ the Ultimate Fighter veteran can suffer from dips in form. He is coming off a disappointing loss to Robert Whittaker, but history tells us Hall will be rampant in trying to regain his form. Technique and a wider arsenal wins this fight, as I pick Hall for the first-round knockout.
In my opinion, the co-main event could very well feature a striking battle between two explosive strikers. Hall has proven himself to be one of the most exciting strikers in the division, although he is coming off of a disappointing setback loss to Robert Whittaker. Prior to that, however, “Primetime” scored an emphatic stoppage victory over Gegard Mousasi, proving that he could finish anyone in the 185-pound class. Brunson, on the other hand, also packs serious power as he’s scored three straight TKO victories and four straight wins overall. This fight is a toss up for me and I could see it playing out multiple ways, but I’ll go with Hall by way of third-round stoppage.