UFC Kansas City is a free card on Fox that could easily have taken the place of UFC 210 on PPV (bizarre co-main event and head scratching main event of 210 not withstanding). The card is headlined by a Flyweight title fight between arguably the best Pound for Pound fighter in the world in Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and #3 ranked contender Wilson Reis. The card is scattered with recognizable names. From the main card, to the Fox prelims and down to the Fight Pass prelims, fight fans will see several established fighters that are fairly well known.
There are several solid fights on the Fight Pass prelims, however none of them made my top 3 “don’t miss” fights for one reason or another. Whether it’s Zak Cummings vs Nathan Coy not making it because I think it’s a lopsided fight in favor of Cummings or the Fight Pass headliner between Aljamain Sterling and Augusto Mendes because Sterling hasn’t lived up to the hype once his level of competition has increased, none of the Fight Pass prelims stood out to me in a “holy hell, I have to watch that fight” kind of way.
That being said, there are 3 fights that do stand out for me on this card (outside of the main event obviously).
Louis Smolka vs Tim Elliott
The fact that this fight is kicking off the Fox Prelims blows my mind. Tim Elliott is 5 months removed from having Demetrious Johnson in serious trouble in the 1st round of their title fight at the TUF Finale and Louis Smolka has consistantly put on great performances since his UFC debut in 2014 so the placement of this fight confuses me.
Tim Elliott (13-7) made his UFC debut back in 2012 and had initial success but was ultimately released in 2014 after going 2-4 during his time with the company. During his inital UFC tenure however he showed the kind of fighter he could be with a fight of the night performance against Jared Papazian and his other opponents weren’t exactly walk in the park fights with names like John Dodson, Ali Bagautinov and Joseph Benavidez featured on his record.
Upon his release from the UFC, Elliott went to Titan FC and won the Flyweight championship in his first fight with the promotion. He would successfully defend his belt twice before becoming part of the cast of The Ultimate Fighter: Tournament of Champions.
During The Ultimate Fighter, Elliott was ranked as the #3 seed and was coach Joseph Benavidez’s 1st overall pick for his team. He finished his first two fights with 1st round submissions before winning a tough semifinal fight by unanimous decision. He would go on to defeat Hiromasa Ogikubo in the Finale to earn a title shot against Demetrius Johnson.
Although he would ultimately be unsuccessful in his attempt to claim the UFC Flyweight title, Elliott arguably had the champion in the most trouble we’ve seen during Johnson’s reighn. With an early guillotine attempt that transitioned into a D’arce choke, both of which looked like they could finish the fight in the opening round, Elliott looked ready to shock the world. Even when the fight went back to the feet, he rocked Johnson with a left hand. Unfotunately for Elliott, Johnson survived the round and over the rest of the fight he showed why he is considered by many to be the best fighter on the planet as he took the unanimous decision victory.
Elliot will attempt to start himself on a path to a rematch with Johnson (or whoever the champion may be down the line) and that path starts with Louis Smolka standing in his way.
While Louis Smolka’s (11-3) career isn’t quite as detailed as Elliott’s, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t as entertaining a fighter as his opponent. Smolka made his UFC debut in 2014 with a win in his debut fight. He followed that up with a split decision loss but then ran off 4 straight victories, including 2 Perfomance of the Night bonuses for his KO of Richie Vaculik and his TKO of Ben Nguyen.
Unfortunately for Smolka, he’s currently on a 2 fight losing streak after a surprising submission loss to Brandon Moreno in October and a decision loss to Ray Borg in December. The fight against Borg however was contested at Catchweight due to Borg missing weight by 3.5 pounds.
Come Saturday night, “Da Last Samurai” will look to return to the form that earned him those Performance of the Night bonuses as he tries to finish Tim Elliott in impressive fashion.
Prediction: This is a fight where Elliott’s experience comes into play. Not to say that he has significantly more fights than Smolka, but he does have more fights against tougher opponents whereas this is a big step up in competition level for Smolka in my opinion. While I won’t be shocked if Smolka lands a KO strike or pulls off a submission, I think Elliott uses his wrestling to get this fight to the ground and avoids Smolka’s submission game to take a decision victory.
Patrick WIlliams vs Tom Duquesnoy
This is a fight that I have high expectations for. Of course now that I’ve said that this fight will probably be a complete snoozefest and if it is then I’d like to take this time to apologize for jinxing it.
Patrick Williams (8-4) is making his return to the cage after a nearly 2 year lay-off. So I’m basing the hype for him in this fight off of his last performance at UFC 188. After losing to Chris Beal via a vicious flying knee at UFC 172, Williams bounced back in a major way by putting Alejandro Perez to sleep in a blazing 23 seconds.
Will the 2 year lay-off affect Williams? Or will we see the fighter with 6 1st-round finishes and a 23 second victory get back to his highlight reel ways?
Tom Duquesnoy (14-1) is a prospect that European MMA fans in particular will know already despite this being his UFC debut. Prior to signing with the UFC, Duquesnoy held both the BAMMA featherweight and bantamweight championships simultaenously and successfully defended both belts.
Duquesnoy’s sole loss came by way of submission to UFC fighter Makwan Amirkhani in 2013. Following that loss, Duquesnoy has strung together 10 wins with the only blemish being a no contest due to an accidental groin kick in 2014.
Duquesnoy brings an impressive resume and a violent reputation with him to the UFC, it remains to be seen if that will be enough against Patrick Williams in Kansas City.
Prediction: I think being away from the octagon for almost 2 years is going to play a major role in the fight for Williams. Combine that long lay-off with an opponent as skilled and aggressive as Duquesnoy and I think it’s going to be a short night for the American. Duquesnoy by 1st round knockout.
Rose Namajunas vs Michelle Waterson
So maybe picking the co-main event as a “don’t miss” fight is cheating, but I don’t care, I think it deserves a spot on the list.
Rose Namajunas (6-3) is a fighter who I’ve been a fan of for a long time and possesses arguably the most impressive submission skill set in the Strawweight division.
Namajunas was a contestant on season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter and won Performance of the Season and Fight of the Season bonuses on her way to fighting Carla Esparza in the finale for the inaugural UFC Strawweight Championship.
While she lost to Esparza in the finale, Namajunas followed that fight with 3 straight wins, including a Performance of the Night submission win over Paige VanZant. A decision win over Tecia Torres set her up for a title eliminator fight with Karolina Kowalkiewicz. The split decision loss to Kowalkiewicz helped Namajunas add a Fight of the Night bonus to her list of accolades.
Namajunas will look to prove that the loss to Kowalkiewicz was an anomaly when she steps into the cage on Saturday night.
Michelle Waterson has fought at both Atomweight and Strawweight and was actually the Invicta FC Atomweight Champion for over a year. While in Invicta she earned 3 Fight of the Night bonuses and finished 2 of her opponents.
She moved from Atomweight to Strawweight upon entering the UFC in 2015 and has won both of her fights with the company by submission. After over a year from her UFC debut due to injury, Waterson returned against Paige VanZant in December and submitted her in the 1st round by rear-naked choke.
Waterson appears to finally be at 100% again and will try and replicate the success from her first 2 fights against Rose Namajunas.
Prediction: Ok, this one was tough for me because I honestly really like both fighters. I finally made my pick and it’s one that I fully expect to catch some flack for. I’m picking Rose Namajunas to submit Michelle Waterson in the 3rd round. Now does that mean that I don’t think Waterson has a shot? Not even close. Waterson could absolutely continue her hot streak and finish this fight herself. Maybe it’s my bias peeking through or maybe it’s just a gut feeling, but I’m taking Thug Rose to take out the Karate Hottie in Kansas City.
Those are my 3 “Don’t Miss” fights for UFC Fight Night: Kansas City and who I think wins each fight. Agree? Disagree? Want to let me know how badly I messed up in my picks from UFC 210? (I was right about 2 of the 3 fights to be fair, it’s not my fault Usman didn’t look to finish the fight)
Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.