UFC Fight Night Boston: Observer Staff Picks & Three Fights You Should Be Excited For
By Josh Nason
I hate the use of the word ‘stacked’ in MMA. It actually drives me nuts as it’s a throwaway term that promoters and pitchmen use to describe divisions and cards that actually aren’t stacked at all.
Having said that, I’d dare say the UFC Fight Night Boston card is about as close to ‘stacked’ as you possibly could get. Every fight from top to bottom has an intriguing storyline or familiar face in it, so much so that several of the fights aren’t getting the attention they deserve as a result.
Here’s three that stand out to me:
Michael McDonald vs. Brad Pickett - 135
There’s really no other way to say it: this is an awesome fight. We forget that McDonald last was seen challenging Renan Barao for the interim bantamweight title earlier this year on Fuel, losing via 4th round submission. But considering he had won eight in a row prior (including all four of his UFC appearances) and that he’s only 22 years old, I think we can give him a pass.
In his way stands the entertaining Pickett, looking to regain positive momentum after a split decision win over Mike Easton in April. He’s 3-2 in the UFC, but has taken home bonus money in four of those fights. At 34, he’s on the wrong side of his career but with the division still needing challengers, he’s a few more consecutive victories away from earning a title shot.
A win for either man puts them in a very good spot for another top bantamweight fight at the end of the year.
Uriah Hall vs. John Howard - 185
Hall got a surprisingly big reaction at Friday’s weigh-ins considering he’s going against a hometown favorite in Howard. After his great run through last season of The Ultimate Fighter, Hall (7-3) fizzled in the tourney final against Kelvin Gastellum. He’s in another big spot against an MMA veteran, so expect a lot more answers after tonight. If he can succeed and do so in a memorable way, he’s got a potentially big future ahead. Hall has charisma and people know it, which is a win/win for the UFC.
Don’t count 20-8 Howard out either. He got the shot due to an injury to Josh Samman and earned it by knocking guys out on the regional circuit. Since being cut in the summer of 2011, Howard is 6-1 with five wins coming via T/KO. At Wednesday’s workouts, he didn’t seem overwhelmed by fighting at TD Garden and seemed to embrace it. Actions speak louder than words and he could have some big actions Saturday.
Matt Brown vs. Mike Pyle - 170
Both guys have wanted a top fight at 170 for a while and now, they get it in each other. This is on the main card and deservedly so -- two veterans that are trying to get a big name in their next fight. There’s a lot to lose in this fight.
Since floating around Cutville, Brown (17-11) has ripped off five straight wins and impressively decimated Jordan Mein via 2nd round TKO in April on FOX. He may not be taking out huge names in his path of destruction, but he’s doing what the UFC wants: making a statement and winning in the process. With a win, he could easily justify getting the winner of Carlos Condit/Martin Kampmann (if that bout’s winner isn’t slotted for a title fight) or the winner Demian Maia vs. Jake Shields.
Since an August 2011 defeat due to the presence of myself and Mike Sempervive, Pyle has won four straight with three big T/KO finishes. Similar to Brown, he’s not taking out huge names (he last split decisioned Rick Story in May), but he’s winning and making a mark in doing so. A win here puts him in Maia/Shields territory as well as Robbie Lawler if the Rory MacDonald fight doesn’t happen there first.
The Observer Team Picks
(aka The Real Money Team)
- Dave Meltzer (57-26 -- .686): Wrestling Observer founder & writer
- Todd Martin (58-25 -- .698): Weekly FFD guest | LA Times | Sherdog
- Josh Nason (61-22 -- .734): Wrestling Observer web editor, social media guy
- Oliver Copp (51-32 -- .614) of combat sports insider fame
Chael Sonnen (27-13-1) vs. Shogun Rua (21-7)Sonnen:
Copp, Sempervive, MartinRua:
Nason, Sawyer, MeltzerAlistair Overeem (36-12-0-1) vs. Travis Browne (14-1-1) Overeem:
Nason, Sawyer, Sempervive, Martin, MeltzerBrowne:
CoppUrijah Faber (28-6) vs. Izzy Alcantara (28-4-0-1)Faber:
Copp, Nason, Sawyer, Sempervive, Martin, MeltzerMatt Brown (17-11) vs. Mike Pyle (25-8-1)
Nason, Copp, MeltzerPyle:
Sawyer, Sempervive, MartinBrad Pickett (23-7) vs. Michael McDonald (15-2)McDonald:
Copp, Nason, Sawyer, Sempervive, Martin, Meltzer
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