The 3 most likely upsets at UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson
The UFC heads to Canada this weekend for an exciting Fight Night featuring tons of home-grown talent and exceptional matchups.
Top welterweights Rory MacDonald and Stephen Thompson face off in the main event in a bout that could decide the next 170-pound title contender while UFC veterans Donald Cerrone and Patrick Cote try to gain their footing in that very same division.
The rest of the card features a bunch of great matchups, but here are three fights where there's a good chance the underdog will get his, or her, hand raised.
Outside of champion Robbie Lawler, Rory MacDonald and Stephen Thompson are the two best welterweights in the world.
MacDonald has won eight of his last 10 fights, with his only losses coming against Lawler in two all-time great fights. He's long been considered one of the division's best fighters, and former champion Georges St-Pierre has dubbed him the face of MMA in Canada.
Thompson, meanwhile, has been on an absolute tear since a 2012 loss to Matt Brown, winning six straight including four by knockout. His first-round knockout of former champion Johny Hendricks was probably his best performance in the Octagon, to-date.
MacDonald and Thompson sit at No. 1 and 2, respectively, in the rankings and are at almost even odds on many Vegas sportsbooks. So the bout is expected to be closely contested.
Thompson holds advantages over MacDonald in striking accuracy, where he lands 50.6 percent of his strikes compared to 42.7 percent for his opponent, which is right around the UFC average. And with five knockouts on his record and a knockdown average of 1.78 per 15 minutes, far above the UFC average of .29, Thompson is the more powerful fighter.
MacDonald can no doubt strike with the best of them, but if Thompson can keep this fight standing, he has a good chance of upsetting one of the best welterweights ever.
Donald Cerrone has lost just one fight since 2013, against lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos, and enters his welterweight tilt against Patrick Cote as the favorite.
But in just his second welterweight UFC fight, Cerrone, who is ranked fourth in the UFC lightweight division, should tread lightly against former middleweight contender Cote.
Yes, Cerrone was able to put away welterweight Alex Oliveira relatively easily, but the Brazilian "Cowboy" took that fight on short notice and it was only his fifth UFC fight. Cerrone is one of the more talented fighters on the roster, but he's going to have his hands full with Cote, at welterweight.
Since dropping to welterweight from middleweight, Cote has won back-to-back fights by knockout and has looked like he one of the division's top 15 fighters.
Cerrone is the far more active fighter, landing 4.69 strikes per minute but also absorbed 4.75 strikes per minute. And getting hit that many times as a former lightweight, by a former middleweight, won't be fun. Cerrone is certainly talented enough to win this fight, but we wouldn't be surprised if Cote sneaks out of Ottawa with a win.
Two of the best fighters in the UFC strawweight division take a crack at one another in the UFC's first-ever women's flyweight bout.
Letourneau is coming off a loss against Joanna Jedrzejczyk where she became the first fighter to stand and trade with the champion for five rounds. Though she lost, her performance showed true resilience and rightfully earned her a spot in the division's top five.
Calderwood has been up and down during her time in the UFC. But in her Fight of the Night performance against Cortney Casey last July, "Jojo" put her skillful Muay Thai striking on display and took a step toward living up to the potential she showed while fighting on the 20th season of "The Ultimate Fighter."
She throws punches in bunches, as seen by her insane 6.67 strikes landed per minute, and she's incredibly accurate, landing over 54 percent of all strikes thrown. Letourneau lands 4.4 strikes per minute, but defends at a much better rate than Calderwood, avoiding 60 percent of strikes thrown her way.
Our bet is that Calderwood and Letourneau throw a bunch of punches and kicks, but Calderwood lands more en route to an upset win.
UFC Fight Night: MacDonald vs. Thompson goes down Saturday, July 18 from Ottawa, Canada and airs exclusively on FS1. Stick with us throughout the week for interviews with the stars from the event, as well as pre-fight analysis and any breaking news leading up to the big night.