After a successful UFC 200, the most stacked card of all time, UFC brass are wasting no time getting back to business. The promotion will be making its next stop in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Wednesday to put on UFC Fight Night 91: Michael McDonald vs. John Lineker. As usual, the bookmakers too have wasted no time in setting up wagers on the next round of MMA fights.
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UFC 91 kicks off at 9 PM ET / 2 AM BST on Wednesday, 13 July. This will also be the first MMA event since the sale of the UFC to talent agency WME-IMG (William Morris Endeavor, International Management Group) for a reported price of around $4 billion.
We don’t expect any immediate changes to the way events are run as there will be a transitional period during which the Fertitta brothers stay on and reports that Dana White will remain as president. Fight Night 91 should look and feel just like any other fight card to date. Things will certainly change in the future, but this week’s event will be recognizable to all MMA fans.
Fight Night 91 Full Card
The original main event matchup featured a bout between Tony Ferguson (20-3) and TUF-winner Michael Chiesa (14-2). That match was going to be a real treat as Tony Ferguson has now reeled off seven straight victories (five finishes) while Michael Chiesa is on a three-fight win streak that includes two finishes.
Sadly, Chiesa ruptured a disc in his back and had to pull out. He’s now looking forward to at least eight weeks of physical therapy in an effort to avoid surgery. As someone who has been there and done that, I can tell you this injury is no joke. All the best to Mr. Chiesa.
The new headline event will be a bantamweight fight between Michael McDonald (17-3) and John Lineker (27-7). This fight does not have immediate title implications, but it could have a ripple effect on the future of the division. Both Michael McDonald and John Lineker have displayed brilliance in the past that were enough to get some people talking about future title challenges.
After amassing an impressive 19-3 record between 2007 and 2013, Michael McDonald fell completely off the radar with zero fights between December 2013 and January 2016. A multitude of injuries that required at least two surgeries sidelined his career in a big way. However, McDonald made a statement in his comeback fight this January with a 2nd round rear-naked choke victory over Masanori Kanehara that earned him Performance of the Night honors at UFC 195.
John Lineker moved up to the 135-pound weight class after failing to make weight four times in the 125-pound class. He moved up to the bantamweight division two fights again to face Francisco Rivera at UFC 191. He won that one then followed that with a victory over Rob Font in May of 2016. He has now won his last four (although only 2 of those were at his current weight class).
Lineker’s weight problems have been a major distraction, but he is actually one of the most promising up-and-comers in the division. He is now 6-2 in the UFC, 27-7 overall and is known for his devastating standup. Nine of his victories have come by way of KO or TKO, but he also has five submission victories that indicate a very well-rounded game.
As for Tony Ferguson, he’ll still be making an appearance – albeit against a fighter far lower in the rankings. Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson (20-3) will square off against Lando Vannata (8-0) in a lightweight match that holds little upside for Ferguson and all the upside in the world for Vannata.
El Cucuy is looking for his title shot as Eddie Alvarez stands as the new champion with only Khabib Nurmagomedov standing between Ferguson and a title shot. Nurmagomedov’s inability to stay healthy means that Ferguson could get his shot any day now. A dominant victory over Chiesa would have probably put him at the top of the challenger’s list. Now, the best he can do is pad his record and avoid accumulation of ring rust against a UFC rookie.
That UFC rookie we speak of is no slouch, however. His lack of experience in the Octagon belies a perfect 8-0 MMA record in other organizations. He also trains out of Jackson-Wink MMA, which spits out champions like an assembly line plant. Vannata has nothing to lose in this fight. If he loses (which I should note is the likely outcome), well, it was against one of the top-3 lightweight fighters in the world. On the other hand, a victory here would instantly make Vannata a hot commodity and all but guarantee him a lucrative UFC contract.
Here’s the order of events for Wednesday night:
- Headliner: Michael McDonald vs. John Lineker
- Tony Ferguson vs. Lando Vannata
- Tim Boetsch vs. Josh Samman
- Aleksei Oleinik vs. Daniel Omielanczuk
- Kyle Noke vs. Keita Nakamura
- Louis Smolka vs. Ben Nguyen
- Lauren Murphy vs. Katlyn Chookagian
- Eric Spicely vs. Sam Alvey
- Cortney Casey vs. Cristina Stanciu
- Scott Holtzman vs. Cody Pfister
- Rani Yahya vs. Matthew Lopez
- Devin Clark vs. Alex Nicholson
Fight Night 91 Betting Odds
MMA betting related to smaller events such as Fight Night 91 usually revolved around two major markets: picking the winner of the fight and round totals. Per custom, we’ll be focusing on the matchup markets with today’s odds comparisons. You can visit each betting site below to bet on the fights and collect a real money signup bonus if you sign up for an account.