UFC: Sioux Falls (Prelims) Breakdown and Predictions

-220 Devin Clark (6-0) vs +185 Alex Nicholson (6-2)

Light Heavyweight (205)

Devin Clark: Local Sioux Fallsian fighter Devin “Brown Bear ” Clark did not disappoint when Dana and his “Looking For A Fight” crew came to town. Clark beat Rafael Viana to win the RFA light heavyweight belt and the earn call up to the big leagues.

An undefeated  wrestler who wont shy away from a slug fest, Clark will have the amazing opportunity of being the first fighter to set foot in the octagon in his hometown of Sioux Falls.

Alex Nicholson: This ATT Orlando fighter had a dozy of a debut, he was matched up with heavy handed Latvian Misha Cirkunov. Nicholson’s flashy kicks and spinning techniques were not the best game plan for this dominant grappler. Cirkunov snagged a neck crank on Nicholson’s previously broken jaw and got the tap.

Nicholson’s second UFC bout will give him the chance to even up his record at 1-1 and hopefully showcase his creative striking repertoire.

The Fight: Nicholson will need to reel in the high risk spinning techniques if he intends to stay on his feet. Clark will be pushing the pace in this one and be able to land enough take downs and maintain top control long enough to pull of the decision. Clark Unaniomous Decision

-105 Rani Yahya ( 21-8-0 1 NC) vs +115 Matthew Lopez (8-0)

Bantamweight (135)

Rani Yahya: When you talk about Jujitsu specialist in MMA Rani Yahya has to be one the first names to leave your mouth. Out of his 21  professional wins 18 have come by way of submission.Yahya can be a little too comfortable fighting off of his back which has resulted in decision losses if he cant secure a submission.

6-2 in his UFC bouts, this would be Yahya’s third consecutive win and would give him a strong case for a spot in the bantamweight top 15.

Matthew Lopez: Reign training centers Matthew Lopez is yet another prospect to get signed on Dana’s “Looking For A Fight”, he pounded out Eli Finn in his last match to get the call up.

Lopez is a very highly touted prospect at a great camp who has displayed a well rounded game. At 29 he is a little long in the tooth for a prospect but he’s now in a position to make a run in the worlds premier fighting organization.

The Fight: Yahya will represent a major leap in competition for Lopez. Even though Lopez has dealt with black belt grappelers, Yahya is another level black belt.

Yahya will be able to come out on top in the scrambles on the ground and do enough to win the decision. Yahya Split Decision

-310 Scott Holtzman (8-1) vs +260 Cody Pfister (12-5-1)

Lightweight (155)

Scott Hotzman: Former XFC lightweight champion and Tennessee Volunteer, Scott Hotltzman impressed in his UFC debut where he put on a one sided beat down on Anthony Christodoulou. His second bout was not quite as impressive, he lost a hard fought decision to Drew Dober.

Holtzman splits his training between his native Tennessee and Arizona’s The Lab. Holtzman is a strong grappler with hard strikes that will be a tough out for the lightweight division.

Cody Pfister: Mr.Pfister went 10-3-1 on the regional Midwest circuit before getting the call to the show. 1-2 in the UFC Cody’s last bout was a loss to “Super” Sage Northcutt who guillotined him in the second round.

Pfister is a well rounded young fighter that will do very well on smaller circuits, but unless his game drastically improves he wont be able to keep his UFC roster spot much longer.

The Fight: Holtzman’s strength, experience and work with an elite camp with give him the advantage in the match up. Holtzman will defend early Pfister shots and do some damage on the feet before scoring a take down of his own and locking up a RNC in the second. Holtzman RNC 2nd

+135 Cortney Casey (4-3) vs -155 Cristina Stanciu (5-1)

Strawweight (115)

Cortney Casey: Arizona native Cortney “Cast Iron” Casey now trains full time out of Maui, Hawaii. Casey earned he shot in the octagon after she finished four fights in a row in the first round. Once in the octagon Casy’s outcomes have not been as positive, Shes 0-2 dropping decision losses to Joanne Calderwood and Seo Hee Ham.

Casey excels in the standup and clinch and is decent fighting off of her back, but has lost fights from spending too much time on the bottom something she will need to remedy in this match up.

Cristina Stanciu: The first representative of Romania to compete in the UFC, 22 year old Stanciu lost her debut to the #8 Ukrainian Maryna Mornoz  in a one sided decision.

Stanciu is well rounded, but very green her take down defense is lacking and her technique is sloppy. But what she lacks in experience she makes up for an effort and athleticism.

The Fight: Casey have the more refined technique but lack the pure strength. Stanciu will start out on fire but fade as the fight continues, leaving an opening for Casey to take control of the stand up and score enough on the ground to nab the decision.Casey Unanimous Decision

+210 Eric Spicley (8-0) vs -250 Sam Alvey (25-8)

Middleweight (185)

Eric Spicely: Widely considered the best Jujitsu fighter on the 23rd season of TUF, Eric Spicely showed high level grappling on the show earning a spot on the semi-finals where he would lose to eventual winner Andrew Sanchez.

Spicely is still 8-0 in he professional career, with all of his bouts taking place in the Northeastern CES promotion. The Rhode Island based fighter will be fighting the hardest opponent of his career by far when he steps in against the journeymen Sam Alvey.

Sam Alvey: “Smilin” Sam has had mixed results since his stint of the sixteenth installment of TUF. 3-3 with three highlight reel knockout wins, two lackluster decision losses and one TKO loss at the hands of Derek Brunson.

The Team Quest product undoubtedly has raw power, but has faltered lately because the book on Alvey is out. He is a counter striker to a fault, in his last fight with Elias Theodoreau Alvey failed to pull the trigger all three rounds and lost a decision to Elias who threw one shot and quickly moved out of striking range.

Alvey will need to start engaging his opponents in striking exchanges, he might not come out on top 100% of the time but it will make for exciting fights, as well as give him job security for many years to come.

The Fight: This is a Classic striker vs grappler, Alvey being the striker will be well prepared for Spicely’s take down attempts and be able to pepper him with shots in the clinch while defending, before uncorking a left straight that turns Spicely’s light out.Alvey Knockout 2nd

-175 Lauren Murphy (9-2) vs +150 Katlyn Chookagian (7-0)

Bantamweight (135)

Lauren Murphy: Hard Scraping Alaskan Lauren Murphy holds nothing back when she steps into the cage.She went 8-0 and collected the Invicta bantamweight title in her pre UFC career. Her first fight was against perennial top 5 fighter Sara McMann, she lost a back and forth fight by split decision.

Now 1-2 overall in the big show, Murphy will be in desperate need of this win. Despite her Purple belt in BJJ Murphy prefers to slug it out on the feet and hopes to have a willing dance partner in this bout.

Katlyn Chookagian: Amateur kickboxer and BJJ purple belt under Renzo Gracie, Chookagian earned her debut by going 7-0 in the Northeast women’s circuit.

A well rounded fighter that has good clinch striking and decent top control it will be interesting to see how Chookagian reacts to the jump up in competition. A lifelong featherweight we will see how she deals with larger opponents.

The Fight: Both of these ladies tend to be slow starters and pick it up as the fight progresses. Murphy will have too much size, experience and power, she will get a late in the fight TKO in a fight where she is spending a large amount of time thwarting take down attempts. Murphy TKO 3rd

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