Luke is busy dealing with the radio show today and real life got in the way of him getting picks in for tonight's show. The rest of us are here to pick up the slack though.
Phillipe Nover vs. Efrain Escudero
Kid Nate: I'm going to have to buy the hype on Nover here. He was very impressive in all his fights on the show. Nover by KO.
Brent Brookhouse: I really think people are shorting Efrain here, we're heaving the finale talked about like it's the Nover Show. I do like Phillipe to win here but I wouldn't be shocked for even half a second were Efrain were to take the win here. That being said I have to go with what makes the most sense to me and that is Phillipe Nover by decision.
Mike Rome: I'm taking Nover, though Efrain is a live dog. I hate picking these kind of fights since it's hard to know much about either guy, but I think Nover is just more skilled. Nover via TKO.
Nick Thomas: Nover, the next GSPderson Silva. Can't wait to see this fight. Would love an upset... but I'm going with Nover by vicious TKO.
Mike Fagan: It's hard to pick against Phillipe here based on the hype and what we saw from in on the show. A lot of the arguments I hear for Efrain revolve around getting a full training camp and training professionally for the first time. Thing is, Phillipe gets those advantages too. This could very well end up as the best finale fight since Griffin/Bonnar. Phillipe Nover by decision.
Cannon Jacques: In my opinion, Nover is the best fighter from the entire TUF 8 season. He's extremely well-rounded, but Escudero is a really solid wrestler. It won't be particularly easy although I believe Nover's overall game will be too much. Nover by TKO, round 3.
Ryan Bader vs. Vinicius Magalhaes
Kid Nate: In the rock/paper/scissors world of one-dimensional MMA fighters, guys with outstanding wrestling and little else have a big edge over guys with outstanding jiu jitsu and little else -- they can choose to keep the fight standing. If Bader has the discipline to win ugly (see Sonnen, Chael) he should be able to outpint Vinny. But being inexperienced, I predict he'll lose his head, take the fight to the ground and regret it. Magalhaes by submission.
Brent Brookhouse: While the advantage belongs to Vinny on the ground I think Bader is a good enough wrestler who HAS to be working to maintain position and not give up any submissions that he can survive there. That being said there is no reason for him to bother going to the ground at all, Vinny's stand-up looks pretty bad and the real reason that he beat Krzysztof is that he was given the gift of a pointless clinch where he could pull guard. Bader by decision.
Mike Rome: Vinny will submit him as soon as Bader's instincs take over and this hits the ground. Bader has terrible standup too. Vinny via submission.
Nick Thomas: Bader is going to try to keep this standing as long as he can. I give it a round or two, then Magalhaes by submission.
Mike Fagan: It's imperative for Ryan Bader to keep this on the feet because I think it's elementary once this fight hits the ground. Even standing, I'm not sure how it goes because I don't think either is particularly polished on their feet. Vinny impressed me with the win over Krzysztof, and I'll take him here too. Vinicius Magalhaes by submission, round 2.
Cannon Jacques: Bader's skill lies in his wrestling. However, he should want to stay off the ground since Magalhaes is a world class BJJ player. With that said, I don't believe Bader's game is to the point where he's entirely comfortable abandoning his bread and butter to avoid a dangerous ground fighter like Magalhaes. It won't take long once it gets to the ground. Magalhaes via submission, round 2.
Kevin Burns vs. Anthony Johnson
Kid Nate: I was surprised that Burns was able to hang with Johnson's power in the first fight. Sure the eyepoking was BS, but I didn't expect him to survive long enough for that to matter. Burns' awkward stand up seemed to really throw Johnson off. All the same, Johnson should be able to get the nod as long as he's not getting poked in the eye. Johnson by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Johnson by blowout here. Burns fought over his head last fight and it doesn't hurt that Johnson was battling blurry vision for the majority of the fight. Johnson by TKO, round 1.
Mike Rome: I think Johnson comes out with a lot of firepower and very little gas tank. Burns was able to survive just fine, I think he will weather the storm and beat Johnson late. Kevin Burns via submission.
Nick Thomas: It's redemption time. I'm hoping for a Johnson KO, but Johnson by decision is more likely.
Mike Fagan: I bet on Burns in their first fight, and I regretted that decision two minutes into the fight. Burns claims that his left hand is healed so he can throw more strikes, but I'm not sure how it's going to help him. Anthony Johnson by TKO, round 3.
Cannon Jacques: Johnson is an extremely powerful, dangerous striker. Just ask Tommy Speer. He'll avenge his controversial loss to Burns. Johnson by TKO, round 1.
Wilson Gouveia at vs. Jason MacDonald
Kid Nate: I think Gouveia is going to be too physical for MacDonald. The leg kicks should batter him and I don't see MacDonald getting it to the ground. Gouveia by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Something about this fight screams "ugly" to me. MacDonald can probably win this if he is careful enough. MacDonald by decision.
Mike Rome: This is a pretty uninspiring fight. Gouveia has more skills, but I expect Macdonald to grind out the decision. Macdonald via decision.
Nick Thomas: I got burned by Goulet, but I just can't predict against fellow Canucks. MacDonald by decision.
Mike Fagan: Battle of two guys that have hit their ceiling, in my opinion. Even in his losses, I think MacDonald has looked good over the past few years while also racking up a few solid wins. He looked as good as anyone has against Demian Maia in the UFC. Jason MacDonald by decision.
Cannon Jacques: This is a difficult one to pick. MacDonald's ability to hang in there with Maia for two and a half rounds before being submitted impressed me, albeit in a losing effort. I can't see either guy catching the other in a submission or finishing with strikes. I believe this will be a close fight. MacDonald by decision.
Junie Browning vs. Dave Kaplan
Kid Nate: I really don't like seeing Browning gettng TV time. He's got a power edge over Kaplan but I'm hoping the gods of karma will let Kaplan fight as well as he thinks he can rather than at the underwhelming level we saw on the show. Kaplan by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Look, Junie couldn't handle the pressure of having to live in a house with other dudes...or the pressure of fighting without a crowd...or the pressure of WATCHING other guys fight. He is the better fighter but he is mentally weak and I don't think he is going to respond well to the pressure of the big stage...at least I hope he doesn't. Kaplan by decision.
Mike Rome: I think Kaplan is not so good and Junie is getting good training at Xtreme Couture. I expect a first round KO and the beginning of an annoying Junie hype train. Browning by KO, round 1.
Nick Thomas: I'm sure Browning is coming in with a solid gameplan working with Xtreme Couture. Browning by TKO. But Kaplan can't get knocked out?!
Mike Fagan: I may end up boycotting this fight, but we'll see. Junie has a -400 tag on him at the books, and I'm not sure if that's a result of all the attention he's received or training at Xtreme Couture or Nover destroying Kaplan or what. What he brought on the show doesn't really warrant that kind of chalk. Even though Junie seems to have his head on a little better post-show, I'm not sold on his UFC anxiety going away and I'll take Dave Kaplan, by decision.
Cannon Jacques: Although Browning is a walking time bomb and really hasn't shown himself to be deserving of the attention he's received, the guy is a talented fighter. Provided that he doesn't implode and somewhat sticks to a decent gameplan, I like his chances against Kaplan. Browning by submission, round 3.
Krzysztof Soszynski vs. Shane Primm
Kid Nate: Soszynski is very well rounded and powerful and that should give him the edge over Primm. Soszynski by TKO in 2.
Brent Brookhouse: The thing about Soszynski is that he isn't NEARLY as good as people seemingly randomly decided that he was once he got on the show. He was a middle of the pack guy in the IFL. Primm is a "get me over" fight though as it is clear that Soszynski is wanted in the UFC. Soszynski by TKO, round 1.
Mike Rome: Soszynski via TKO. Too much power.
Nick Thomas: If this stays standing... Soszynski by TKO.
Mike Fagan: Krzysztof was supposed to be the Mac Danzig of this season. Oops. Still, he's better than Primm and he'll take it. Krzysztof Soszynski by TKO, round 1.
Cannon Jacques: This is Soszynski's fight to lose. He's just the better fighter at this point. Soszynski by TKO, round 2.
Eliot Marshall vs. Jules Bruchez
Kid Nate: Marshall's jiu jitsu and experience should pay dividends against the very green Bruchez. Marshall by submission.
Brent Brookhouse: Was this really necessary? Marshall is a good fighter, but what benefit is there to putting him in against someone with no experience? Marshall by submission, round 1.
Mike Rome: Oy, this fight is asking for a broken limb. Marshall by submission.
Nick Thomas: Marshall needs this win badly. Marshall by submission.
Mike Fagan: Jules Bruchez is making his pro debut. Marshall has 6 fights of experience and a black belt in BJJ. 'Nuff said. Marshall by submission, round 1.
Cannon Jacques: Bruchez is far too inexperienced to pull this one out. Marshall will take him down, and that will be the beginning of the end. Marshall by submission, round 1.
Kyle Kingsbury vs Tom Lawlor
Kid Nate: I'm straining to have a comment to make here. Nope, nothing to say. Lawlor by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Kingsbury by TKO, round 2.
Mike Rome: After reading everyone else's opinions, I am going to go with...Kyle Kingsbury.
Nick Thomas: The bigger, stronger Kingsbury wins this.
Mike Fagan: Tom Lawlor is the dude who knocked Dave Kaplan out (or not according to Kaplan). That's about all I think he'll be known for in the world of MMA. Kingsbury's in the same boat, but I think he's more polished at this point. Kyle Kingsbury by decision.
Cannon Jacques: Neither of these guys are UFC-ready at this point in their respective careers. Both need seasoning, but I feel that Kingsbury is just a little ahead. Kingsbury by decision.
Shane Nelson vs. George Roop
Kid Nate: I doubt either one of these guys will be in the UFC very long. Nelson by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Is there anything worse than the ass-end of the ultimate fighter undercards? Nelson by submission, round 1.
Mike Rome: Boy does this undercard suck. Nelson via submission.
Nick Thomas: Nelson is underrated. Nelson by submission.
Mike Fagan: If Junie Browning didn't exist, Shane Nelson would have been the uber-villain of TUF 8. That said, he's a better fighter than Roop. Shane Nelson by submission, round 1.
Cannon Jacques: Nelson is a bit better. He trains with BJ Penn. I don't know if that is a significant factor in this encounter, but I don't have anything else to say. Nelson via submission, round 2.
Rolando Delgado vs. John Polakowski
Brent Brookhouse: Polakowski can bang a little bit and I'm kind of partial to stikers. Polakowski by TKO, round 1.
Mike Rome: Polakowski via TKO.
Nick Thomas: An injured Roop handled Polakowski. Gotta go with Delgado by submission.
Mike Fagan: Polakowski by hugging.
Cannon Jacques: Delgado's only hope is to get this fight to the ground. I don't believe he can since MMA matches are traditionally started standing. Polakowski is a decent striker with no ground game, but it shouldn't matter here. Polakowski by TKO, round 2.