Bubba McDaniel (20-6, 0-0 UFC) vs. Gilbert Smith (5-1, 0-0 UFC)
McDaniel and Smith meet in a bout chosen to be highlighted on the main card, and there has been a little build-up to the fight. McDaniel suffered two losses during his stint on the show as he was the wildcard fighter but was fully eliminated by Uriah Hall. McDaniel does have a six-fight win streak coming into this fight. Smith is less experienced but has won five of his six professional fights overall. Smith lost early in the competition but has scored four of his five wins by submission.
Fight Breakdown- McDaniel has a good overall skillset and 19 of his 20 wins have come by knockout or submission with 15 of those wins coming by KO or TKO. His six losses, though, have seen him finished in each of those, and he was finished in both of his losses on the show, though both came to the finalists, Uriah Hall and Kelvin Gastelum. Smith is a wrestler with a good submission game as evidenced by his four wins by submission. He was doing a good job using his wrestling on the show against Luke Barnatt before Barnatt finished him with a devastating knee. Smith likely has a future as a welterweight, so he will be giving up some size to McDaniel, who has fought at 185 pounds for all of his career.
McDaniel will have a height advantage so he will be looking to use his jab to keep the fight at a distance. He is a better striker than Smith so Smith should be looking to get on the inside of McDaniel’s reach as quickly as possible and pressure with the takedown set-up. McDaniel comes from the Greg Jackson Camp, so he should have a solid gameplan in place to fight Smith. Smith needs to plant this fight on the mat and work his ground game in. McDaniel has the better conditioning so he will be looking to drag the fight into the later rounds where he will have the advantage. A quicker fight favors Smith while a longer fight favors McDaniel. It will be all about whether the fight stays on the feet or goes to the ground. I favor the wrestler in this bout.
Why It Matters- The winner will get another fight in the UFC while the loser may not get the same opportunity, so this is a huge fight for both McDaniel and Smith. McDaniel has been waiting for a long time to get his shot in the UFC as he is a veteran of 26 fights, and a loss could make this the only chance he gets. Smith may have more of a chance in the future as he doesn’t have the milage that McDaniel does, but a loss would be disappointing for him as well. This is a big moment for both, and with it being selected for the main card, it is a chance for both to show why they may have a bright future in the UFC.