Liz Carmouche vs. Katlyn Chookagian
Chookagian is 8-0 in her career and won her UFC debut back in July over Lauren Murphy, but she’s in for a tough one against Carmouche. Oddly enough, Carmouche’s last win was also against Murphy, but in April 2015.
Time off is the biggest factor in this fight, but we’ve also got to wonder if the good Carmouche is still out there. My guess is no, but it won’t be a walk in the park for Chookagian. Expect this thing to go the distance in a somewhat boring fight.
Pick: Chookagian -170
Jim Miller vs. Thiago Alves
It’s a battle of 33-year old UFC vets and a very tough one to call. Miller is in better form coming off back-to-back wins, but you can’t fault Alves for his last loss to Carlos Condit. Alves’ inactivity is a major issue in this fight – Miller has fought four times, and won twice since Thiago has been in the octagon. Alves is unquestionably the more talented fighter, but it’s certainly worth the price of admission to take Miller.
Pick: Miller +140
Vicente Luque vs. Belal Muhammad
Muhammed has been the UFC’s equivalent to what they call in the NBA “bum-killers.” Meaning, he beats guys you’ve never heard of, but struggled the one time he stepped up in competition. Luque kind of falls in between. The former TUF competitor is not an easy out, but he’s certainly nowhere near the level of Alan Jouban, the only man to beat Muhammed. There’s just not enough value to go with Luque though. It’s not saying Luque can’t win this fight, because he absolutely can wrestle his way to a win, but +125 just isn’t enough.
Pick: Muhammed -145
Rafael Natal vs. Tim Boetsch
Boetsch got a win he needed in the worst way his last time out against Josh Samman, but there’s just no overlooking the three fight losing streak prior to that. With a TKO loss to Ed Hermann, a KO loss to Dan Henderson, and a submission loss to Thales Leites all on Boetsch’s record, he’s a good candidate to get KO’ed or submitted in this one as well. Natal has the power in his hands to do it, but he’ hasn’t been a knockout artist for much of his career. Should be a rather close fight, but in the end, Natal should take each round and unless he clips Boetsch early, it’ll go to the cards.
Pick: Natal -150
Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Michael Johnson
This might be the fight of the night… if Johnson brings his absolute best fight. There are people out there that truly believe the best fighter in the Lightweight Division is Khabib and not either of the two men (Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez) who will fight for the belt later in the night.
It’s hard to doubt Johnson, who’s most recent win was a massive one over a red-hot Dustin Poirier, but Khabib is just too darn good to go against. The man is 23-0, has a win over former champion Rafael dos Anjos, and seems to be getting ducked by every big name fighter in the division. Nurmagomedov was less than dominant in his last fight against Darrell Horcher, but he eventually got it done by way of TKO.
This one is a much higher profile fight for Khabib and appears to be the perfect spot for him to finally stake his claim at the belt. He’ll be at his best, and when that’s the case, there might be an argument for him not only as the best Lightweight, but maybe even the best pound-for-pound. Gimme Khabib.
Pick: Nurmagomedov -270
Frankie Edgar vs. Jeremy Stephens
Frankie Edgar has logged more time in the Octagon than any other fighter currently on the UFC roster. He’s fought the best of the best and has held the belt at another weight class, but since coming down to Featherweight, there’s been a pattern. When he fights for the title, he loses. When he fights anyone else, he wins. It’s time for that to end.
Jeremy Stephens has been on a mission and looked spectacular in his last fight against former champ Renan Barao. +270 is just enough to hope for the crazy upset and possibly an overconfident Edgar fighting very near his New Jersey home. There’s really no reason Frankie should lose this, but it’s just seems like one of those matchups that will shock everyone and go to the dog. Not only are we going with Stephens, it’ll be the first time Edgar ever get’s KO’ed. Boom!
Pick: Stephens +270