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UFC Fight Night: Holohan vs. Smolka - Idiot's Guide to the Fight Pass Prelims

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David Castillo breaks down everything you need to know, and everything you don't about the Fight Pass prelims for UFN 76 in Ireland, which lost its Poirier vs. Duffy main event.

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It's a bedlam involving a Zuffa island of misfit toys for the UFN 76 prelims this October 24, 2015 at the 3Arena in Dublin, Ireland.

The Line Up

Lightweight Stevie Ray vs. Mickael Lebout
Middleweight Scott Askham vs. Krzysztof Jotko
Women's Strawweight Aisling Daly vs. Ericka Almeida
Welterweight Cathal Pendred vs. Tom Breese
Featherweight Darren Elkins vs. Robert Whiteford
Middleweight Bubba Bush vs. Garreth McLellan

The Odds

Mickael Lebout +425 Stevie Ray -550  
Aisling Daly -135 Ericka Almeida +115  
Krzysztof Jotko +115 Scott Askham -135  
Cathal Pendred +220 Tom Breese -260  
Darren Elkins -145 Robert Whiteford +125  
Bubba Bush -260 Garreth McLellan +220

The Rundown

Lightweight Stevie Ray vs. Mickael Lebout

Ray's 2-0 UFC record by two TKO's to start out his Zuffa career is a little misleading. Ray's southpaw game is less about throwing heavy leather and more about attrition; scoring takedowns, getting top control, and aggressively locking up submissions. He's stout on the feet with his posture, and poise. But he's not a big time striker, and sometimes lets the fight come to him a little too much.

That's why, despite the odds, Lebout is a pretty interesting potential upset pick. His striking game is active, which makes the bout for Lebout ideal stylistically; volume alone will be enough to force Ray into an uphill battle. He strings combinations together efficiently, and swiftly. This bout is more lopsided on the feet for Lebout than it is lopsided for Ray on the ground, which is why I favor Lebout despite the odds.

Middleweight Scott Askham vs. Krzysztof Jotko

Askham and Jotko are as meat and potatoes as you can starch. They're good fighters. They just aren't fighters you expect to see stick around for longer than two years. Askham can crack on the feet, where he's dynamic at range shifting from violent boxing, to violent kickboxing. But he's brutal in close quarters, and has the raw power to end fights in the pocket, and outside of it. Watch out for that left high kick in particular.

Jotko is pretty good at range too. He should be able to sift combinations at range through Askham's guard, which is what makes this fight interesting. However, without the raw power I can't see him taking over on the feet. His best opportunity is bringing the bout in close, where he can draw Askham into the smoke of attrition.

Women's Strawweight Aisling Daly vs. Ericka Almeida

Ameida didn't have a successful debut against Jennifer Carneiro, but she's got plenty to offer Daly. Her grappling skills are more or less all she has.

But she's willing to throw in order to score the takedowns necessary to grapple for opportunities, but she does her level best to punch not simply for the sake of punching.

Daly is all about rhythm; no matter how strange, she does an efficient job of swaying in and out of trouble while landing clean strikes of her own. In practice, she doesn't look very dangerous. But she keeps a stiff intensity that doesn't wane, and confuses her opponents.

I don't think Almeida is as outclassed as some pundits think. Daly is the certified favorite, but she's still a work in progress even on the feet. Almeida doesn't own Randa Markos' ferocity, but she's skilled enough to substitute fierce volition with absolute talent. It's a tough fight for both women, frankly.

Welterweight Cathal Pendred vs. Tom Breese

Pendred has taken a lot of heat for his fighting style, and everyone time we talk about it, and everytime Pendred gets antsy about it, it's just as valid as it was the first time. His style finally cost him against John Howard. I don't remember that fight, thank the gods.

What I do know is that the UFC is finally putting his style on the hot seat by giving him tough matchups. At 24 years of age, Breese, the Englishman getting prime time training at Tristar, will be well prepared to deal with Pendred's lumbering, oafish style. As you can see, the natural talent's there where the experience "fails".

This is actually one of the few highlights that doesn't really tell you Breese's strengths. Yes, he owns a pretty sick left kick from his southpaw stance. But he's technically robust, having improved his head movement, and tactical awareness. He's got what I like to call "poker fists": doesn't like to show his hands early, building up the velocity on his strikes as the fight wears on. Pendred absolutely has the potential to ugly this fight the only way he knows how, but without the size advantage, he won't muster up much momentum (or success).

Featherweight Darren Elkins vs. Robert Whiteford

Elkins has been a UFC mainstay/prospect spoiler for many years. Can he keep it up? Four years ago, I feel like this fight would have been Elkin's to lose. He's still a top control menance, and he's improved his striking throughout the years in subtle ways. But with his loss to Hacran Dias, I feel like his age is finally catching up to him in subtle ways. He's not old, but he's been through the grinder against elite competition for a lengthy stretch.

Whiteford is actually older, but has far less bouts on his dance card. With his Judo, I feel like the bout is far more even despite the justified odds. The thing about Whiteford is that with his close quarter grappling and boxing proficiency, I feel like he would have been a tough matchup for Elkins even in his prime.

Middleweight Bubba Bush vs. Garreth McLellan

Bush should make quick work of the South African from Fightfit Militia. Well, not quick work, but 'eventual work. McLellan isn't savvy enough on the feet to take advantage of Bush's defense, which is lacking. He's tough and durable, but not athletic and explosive (sound familiar?) like Bush. This fight should be every bit as ugly as it looks on paper, but at least someone should be getting finished.

Predictions

Lebout by Split Decision

Almeida by Triangle, round 3

Askham by Decision

Breese by TKO, round 2

Whiteford by Decision

Bush by TKO, round 2