And so begins a three-week battle of events until UFC 267.
As the first of three under-par match cards, UFC Fight Night 194 is largely a one-fight event, as only the main event has any weight or major significance.
While there is a chance to see funny fighters like Randy Brown or Alexander Romanov and a solid flyweight competition on the main map, UFC Fight Night 194 seriously lacks the intrigue or quality that MMA’s best commercials should offer.
Mackenzie Dern (11-1) vs. Marina Rodriguez (14-1-2)
Both Dern and Rodriguez are down on a scrap, so this could be a solid five-lap match on their feet.
Although I would give the latter the advantage if this were to be a stand-up match, I think the difference on the mat is heavily weighted in Dern’s favor.
Admittedly, Dern is not a brilliant wrestler, but her aggression and physique allow her to ground her enemies and control the competition from there while looking for a submission.
It should be a tough test for both women, but the quality of Dern’s fight is always hard to overlook.
Select: Mackenzie Dern
Randy Brown (13-4) vs. Jared Gooden (18-6)
Gooden gives a high output on his feet, but outside of his work speed I can not see him bested Randy Brown.
Brown is a rangier fighter, a better grappler and has fought better competition throughout his UFC season.
Maybe Gooden’s fearsome weight loss will give him a huge physical advantage, but on paper, Brown should win this practical.
Select: Randy Brown
Tim Elliott (17-11-1) vs. Matheus Nicolau (16-2-1))
This has all the possibilities for tonight’s match. Both operate at a high pace and are technical in their skills.
While Nicolau may have nodded his feet because of his power, Elliott is more than eager to meddle in his fight when he can and knows how to strike his blow and wrestling together.
It’s a tough match to choose as both are quality pilots, but I think Elliott’s wrestling will see him collect rounds on the referees’ scorecards.
Select: Tim Elliott
Sabina Mazo (9-2) against Mariya Agapova (9-2)
I do not think I can remember a faster u-turn on anyone’s potential than Mariya Agapova’s.
From a dominant promotional debut, Agapova was given another opportunity to showcase her skill set, but was safely defeated by losing record holder Shana Dobson last time.
With a very questionable fuel tank and apparently operated on pure aggression, Mazo should seek to wear out the Kazakhs with her greater performance, and as long as she comes out of the opening penalty, Mazo should take this.
Select: Sabina Mazo
(Last predictions: 3/4, Total: 97/169, 57% success rate)
(Success rate: 2016: 61%, ’17: 60%, ’18: 58%, 19 ′: 57%, 20 ′: 67%)