And so begins a three-week slog of events until UFC 267.
As the first of three under-par fight cards, UFC Fight Night 194 is very much a one-fight event as only the main event carries any weight or major importance.
While there is the chance to see fun fighters like Randy Brown or Alexander Romanov, and a solid flyweight contest on the main card, UFC Fight Night 194 seriously lacks the intrigue or quality that MMA’s top promotion should be offering.
Mackenzie Dern (11-1) vs. Marina Rodriguez (14-1-2)
Both Dern and Rodriguez are down for a scrap so this could become a solid five-round battle on the feet.
While I would give the latter the advantage should this be a stand-up bout, I think the disparity on the mat is heavily weighted in Dern’s favour.
Admittedly, Dern isn’t a brilliant wrestler but her aggression and physicality allow her to ground her foes and control the contest from there as she searches for a submission.
It should be a tough test for both women but the quality of Dern’s grappling is always hard to overlook.
Pick: Mackenzie Dern
Randy Brown (13-4) vs. Jared Gooden (18-6)
Gooden provides a high output on the feet but outside of his work rate, I can’t see him besting Randy Brown.
Brown’s the rangier fighter, a better grappler and has fought better competition throughout his UFC tenure.
Maybe Gooden’s egregious weight miss will give him a big physical advantage but on paper, Brown should win this handily.
Pick: Randy Brown
Tim Elliott (17-11-1) vs. Matheus Nicolau (16-2-1)
This has all the makings of the fight of the night. Both operate at a high pace and are technical in their skillsets.
While Nicolau may have the nod on the feet due to his power, Elliott is more than eager to mix in his grappling when he can and knows how to string his striking and wrestling together.
It’s a tough fight to pick as both are quality flyweight contenders but I think Elliott’s wrestling will see him pick up rounds on the judges’ scorecards.
Pick: Tim Elliott
Sabina Mazo (9-2) vs. Mariya Agapova (9-2)
I don’t think I can recall a faster U-turn on someone’s potential than that of Mariya Agapova.
From a dominant promotional debut, Agapova was handed another opportunity to showcase her skill set but was soundly defeated by losing record holder Shana Dobson last time out.
With a highly questionable gas tank and seemingly operating on pure aggression, Mazo should be looking to wear out the Kazakhstani with her greater output and as long as she gets out of the opening stanza, Mazo should take this.
Pick: Sabina Mazo
(Last Predictions: 3/4, Total: 97/169, 57% Success Rate)
(Success Rate: 2016: 61%, ’17: 60%, ’18: 58%, 19′: 57%, 20′: 67%)