UFC Fight Night in Dublin is all wrapped up and thankfully we made it through the card without getting another fight cancelled. In fact, we even got some good fights out of it, especially Louis Smolka’s back-and-forth thriller with Paddy Holohan, as well as Nicolas Dalby’s furious rally to draw with Darren Till after nearly getting his head knocked off at the end of round 1. As ever, the Irish fans delivered the noise and made even the worst bouts on the card palatable with their incredible enthusiasm.
It’s been ages since I’ve done Fights to Make, so I have to dust off the cobwebs and put on my fantasy matchmaking hat, which smells a lot like beer because Tim Burke was using it, and possibly using it as a cup. Hey, I don’t judge these choices.
Louis Smolka. This is an interesting time for the flyweight division. Smolka cements himself as a new potential top 10 fighter all while being not quite ready to compete with the elite. So how does the UFC handle a situation like this? They’ve pushed Cejudo as the next big thing at 125 and have booked him accordingly without going overboard, but Smolka obviously isn’t Cejudo. The division is really not deep enough for prospects to develop in the same way lightweights can. It’s a tough call, but I think Smolka will get one more fight against unranked opposition before vs. the winner of Ryan Benoit/Ben Nguyen (UFC 193).
Patrick Holohan. I’m actually hoping Holohan goes up to 135, because he looks like he’s knocking on death’s door every time he weighs in. If you don’t have the cardio to hang with the better athletes at flyweight, you pretty much don’t have a chance. Holohan is fun to watch but I don’t think he has what it takes skillwise or athletically to contend at 125. But for the sake of this post, I’ll keep him in the division, where he will face Willie Gates.
Norman Parke. For two rounds at least, Parke had one of his better showings inside the Octagon, but he did tire in round 3 in an otherwise comfortable win against the offensively impotent Madadi. Sadly, the excitement out of this fight peaked when Parke threw the handbag at the weigh-ins. He’s not really in any strong position to face ranked opposition when he came into the contest with two (admittedly contestable) defeats, but he’s steady and just on the outside looking in. I can see him against the winner of Joe Lauzon/Evan Dunham in early 2016.
Reza Madadi. There’s really not much to be said about Madadi’s performance. It was ugly to watch and he looked as old and as limited as could be for all but about 2 minutes or so vs. Parke. Maybe it’s cage rust after being in jail for 14 months, maybe it’s the fact that Parke isn’t a good matchup for him, but he looked bad. I think he faces Carlos Diego Ferreira in a loser gets cut matchup.
Nicolas Dalby. That was a hell of a rally by Dalby, as he was clearly two rounds down and only a dominant 3rd round would at least have him avoid the first loss of his career. Not only did he hurt Till repeatedly, but he nearly got the dramatic finish. Ultimately he settles for a draw (the correct score, mind you), and he keeps his unbeaten record intact. I don’t know if they’ll do an immediate rematch because the UFC rarely ever books those after draws, so I see Dalby taking on George Sullivan.
Darren Till. If he’d gotten the finish in round 1 we’d be having a whole different conversation about Till right now. Instead, it’s more levelheaded discussion about the Englishman being a good striker but still a work in progress, and he admits as such. He’s just 4 years into his career and has a lot of developing to do, but when he was winning the fight, he looked damn good. One of Andreas Stahl/Santiago Ponzinibbio (Fight Pass card in Las Vegas) could be a suitable next opponent for him.
Neil Seery. His self-assessment of his career — essentially not a title challenger, but will fight anyone — is both honest and accurate. He’s a fan favorite and it’s nice to see that he’s managed to carve out a good bit of success in the UFC as a 36-year-old flyweight. Much of the division is either booked or way above Seery’s talent level, so I see him getting Chris Kelades, who is coming off a win over Chris Beal.
Jon Delos Reyes. The Guam native is 1-3 inside the Octagon, having been stopped in all of his losses, and his only win is against Roldan Sangcha-an, who is 0-2 in the UFC. Unless the UFC’s matchmakers feel like he can be used as filler for shows in Asia down the line, I have a feeling that’s the last we see of Delos Reyes in the UFC for the time being.
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