Luke Thomas: Here's the reality: Couture can't win a striking match and can win a wrestling match. Which one will it be? I'd say it depends more on the aggressor in Couture than the sparring-fighting style of Vera. I think this one is ultra close and I can easily see either man winning, but I have to think Couture can beat an opponent who just doesn't fight with a sense of urgency. Couture via decision.
Kid Nate:There are two questions in this fight: 1) Is Randy Couture finally too old to compete at the elite level? and, 2) Is Brandon Vera going to be able to close the deal and live up to his potential. I'm going to have to go with the odds here. Father Time is inevitably going to beat us all, Randy Couture included. Brandon Vera by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: Everything comes down to where the fight takes place. People greatly overrate Vera's wrestling. If Randy wants to he can clinch him, take him down and rough him up. If Couture does decide to play the boxing game like he did with Nogueira he is going to lose. I just keep looking at their recent fights. Randy has been fighting Brock Lesnar and Nogueira, Vera has been dragging guys like Reese Andy and Soszynski to decision or leg kicking Mike Patt (who was brought in to be a punching bag for Vera). I don't think Vera has the mental game or the wrestling to beat Randy, unless Randy decides to play the striking game for any reason other than closing distance. Randy Couture by decision.
Mike Fagan: Only Brandon Vera can beat himself in this fight. Couture's smart enough and in good enough shape to appear competitive, but his days beating top flight competition decisively are over. Brandon Vera by decision.
Eugene Schelfaut: Randy Couture grinds Brandon Vera against the cage for the first round and in the second he frustrates the Vera from on top in half-guard. In the last frame, however, he does both, leading Randy Couture to win by TKO, round 3.
Leland Roling: Randy's wrestling and clinch game should be the key to damaging Vera against the cage. I think Vera is sturdy enough to withstand most of it, and Randy should cruise to a decision victory here. Randy Couture via unanimous decision.
Mike Swick vs. Dan Hardy
Luke Thomas: Give me Swick's speed, better opposition, better team, and desire to push his career to help him persevere. I think Hardy is incredibly overrated, so he can prove me wrong with a win over Swick, but I just don't see it. Swick via decision.
Kid Nate: Swick will be able to do what Marcus Davis couldn't do: take Dan Hardy down and thoroughly dominate him on the ground. Swick also has the reach and speed to more than hang with Hardy on the feet. Swick by submission, round 3.
Brent Brookhouse: I like Hardy here as I like his striking a little bit more than Swick's. Obviously Swick may decide to take the strategy of takedowns like against Marcus Davis...but I have a feeling he wants to try to be exciting and "earn" a title shot. In the middle of an exchange Hardy is going to flip Swick's light switch off. Dan Hardy by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan: For no reason whatsoever, I hate Mike Swick. So while my head says Swick, I'm going Dan Hardy by TKO, round 1.
Eugene Schelfaut: Hardy will not find it easy to gain momentum during the fight against Swick. You will be able to see the loss in Dan Hardy's eyes before it becomes actual. Mike Swick by submission, round 2.
Leland Roling: I want to pick Dan Hardy, and I'll certainly be rooting for him to pull off the upset. The problem is that Hardy's striking is highly hyped as something that it isn't. Akihiro Gono actually outstruck Hardy for two straight rounds. Swick might not be able to do the same, but I think he can potentially blanket Hardy on the floor. Mike Swick via decision.
Michael Bisping vs. Denis Kang
Luke Thomas: As much as I want to pick Kang here, I can't. For a fighter who pushes the action, a poor defensive fighter in Kang just leaves too many holes. Then again, we don't know how that KO from Henderson affected Bisping, so it's a risky play either way. Bisping via TKO, round 2.
Kid Nate: Kang has shown he'll find a way to lose, no matter how much of a skill edge he has in a fight. Until he circled into Dan Henderson's right hand, Bisping had the total winner's attitude. I'm going to guess he'll recapture that form. Bisping by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Bisping is better standing. He fought dumb against Henderson, but he has very solid boxing technique. He is also very hard to keep on the ground. I don't see Kang having a very good chance at all here. Bisping by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan: Will Kang have mental diarrhea in the cage again? As long as he can keep his head straight, he has more avenues to finish. Kang by TKO, round 2.
Eugene Schelfaut: Of the two, I have less confidence in Denis Kang. Bisping will be solid throughout a fight played out on the feet, but in no way particularly impressive. Maybe the home nation advantage tips the scale. Michael Bisping by TKO, round 3.
Leland Roling: I want to pick Denis Kang, and I will. He's training at American Top Team once again, and his knockout power will be on showcase against Bisping's chin. He'll test Bisping following his devastating knockout loss to Henderson, and he also happens to be well-versed on the floor as well. Denis Kang via TKO, Round 2.
James Wilks vs. Matt Brown
Luke Thomas: I am going to smash James Wilks. Brown via TKO, round 2.
Kid Nate:Not a fight I can muster up any excitement about. I think Brown will be too physical for Wilks' limited game. Brown by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: This is going to be an enjoyable scrap. People are overlooking Brown's development as a fighter overall because he got into another firefight with Pete Sell. Matt Brown by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan: Brown's not a title contender, but he's always good for a fun fight. And with fitting nickname and a striking resemblance to the Bloody Elbow fuhrer, I'm going to go Matt Brown by TKO, round 2.
Eugene Schelfaut: Brown grew, a little, on me after the victory over Pete Sell and that alone should be enough for the victory here. Matt Brown by KO, round 1.
Leland Roling: Tough fight to pick as Wilks has shown an ability to use his reach to strike, but Brown has improved immensely over the last couple of fights. I think he can damage Wilks standing and win this one. Matt Brown via TKO, Round 2.
Ross Pearson vs. Aaron Riley
Luke Thomas: Riley has enough chin and experience to give Pearson problems late in the fight, but he'll have dropped two rounds by then. Pearson by decision.
Kid Nate: Aaron Riley is the epitome of an MMA journeyman. He should eat the undersized Pearson for breakfast. Riley by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: This feels like a coin flip to me. Pearson's size is an issue but Riley is always at risk to disappoint. Aaron Riley by decision.
Mike Fagan: Can we start talking about a TUF curse? Mac Danzig and Amir Sadalloh have turded it up lately. Neither recent English champ looks like he'll do much either. And Pearson looks like he could make 145. Aaron Riley by decision.
Eugene Schelfaut: Not feeling this one, but I'll go with the TUF 9 winner. Ross Pearson by decision.
Leland Roling: For some strange reason, I have a feeling Riley is going to have his hands full with Ross Pearson. I'm not sure exactly how this will go down, but I think Pearson will use his controlling style to blanket Riley in the clinch and on the floor. Ross Pearson via decision.
Terry Etim vs. Shannon Gugerty
Luke Thomas: Gugerty's talented, but not nearly as polished or battle tested as Etim. Etim, by submission.
Kid Nate:Etim has too much of an advantage on the feet and should be able to fend off Gugerty's submissions after he's taken down. Etim by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: Etim isn't out of his depth if it ends up on the ground, Gugerty is out of his depth when it is standing. Easy call: Terry Etim by KO, round 1.
Mike Fagan: Anyone else think Etim looks like Paulie Malignaggi? Terry Etim by exciting kickboxing, round 2.
Eugene Schelfaut: Eventually, Etim will get through with strikes and he has enough defense from bottom position to make me feel secure in that. Terry Etim by TKO, round 1.
Leland Roling: Etim's striking is the real difference maker in this fight. His clinch Muay Thai knees and kickboxing ability should pummel Gugerty, Terry Etim via TKO, Round 1.
Paul Taylor vs. John Hathaway
Luke Thomas: A guy as aggressive as Taylor is just bound to make mistakes. Hathaway by submission.
Kid Nate: Taylor is the more dangerous on his feet. Taylor by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: Taylor's experience and power is hard to pick against here. Paul Taylor by TKO, round 3.
Mike Fagan: America. Fuck yeah. Hathaway by decision.
Eugene Schelfaut: I'm thinking Taylor will put Hathaway under early with a flurry, but I'm laying my pride down on John Hathaway who wins by decision, round 3.
Leland Roling: While Taylor holds the edge standing, Hathaway's ground game is far superior to that of Taylor, and Taylor will find himself in some trouble. John Hathaway via decision.
Matt Riddle vs. Nick Osipczak
Luke Thomas: Riddle is going to positively body this kid. Riddle by TKO, round 1.
Kid Nate: Matt Riddle is going to overwhelm Osipczak. Riddle by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: If this makes the broadcast somehow I'll be hoping it's a short one. Nothing is fun about having to type Osipczak over and over during a liveblog. Matt Riddle is the better fighter and he is a lot to handle. Matt Riddle by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan: Not every Team Rampage fighter has sucked. Matt Riddle by TKO, round 2.
Eugene Schelfaut: I like when things fall into neat groupings. Three decision wins for Riddle and four first round finishes by Osipczak. I like things like this because it is edgy when I turn against them to make my win. Matthew Riddle by KO, round 1.
Leland Roling: I'll go against the grain and take Nick Osipczak by surprising Sanshou Kung Fu kicks. Nick Osipczak via KO (Head Kick)
Paul Kelly vs. Dennis Siver
Luke Thomas: Siver's submission prowess will not be enough for the defensive Kelly. Kelly by decision.
Kid Nate: Two fighters who are only UFC-caliber in Europe. Kelly should be able to win this one with aggression. Paul Kelly by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: NBA Europe wasn't any good and this fight won't be either. Paul Kelly by decision.
Mike Fagan: English fighters suck, but German fighters suck more. Paul Kelly by decision.
Eugene Schelfaut: Paul Kelly will use the better part of fifteen minutes claiming his, and our, victory from top position. Paul Kelly by decision.
Leland Roling: Paul Kelly will use his size as a lightweight to top control Siver to death. Paul Kelly via decision.
Alexander Gustafsson vs. Jared Hamman
Luke Thomas: Hamman is too experienced. Hamman by TKO.
Kid Nate: Gustaffson by decision.
Mike Fagan: Gustafsson has a ton of letters in his name. Gustafsson by smother alphabet decision.
Eugene Schelfaut: Dude has a hound on his chest. Alexander Gustafsson by TKO, round 1.
Leland Roling: Tough, tough fight to call. Hamman's strength of record is solid, but Gustafsson has the lengthy reach and boxing pedigree to be a real menace. I'll go out on a limb and pick Alexander Gustafsson via TKO, Round 2.
Andre Winner vs. Roli Delgado
Luke Thomas: Delgado has skills but winner is too much of a power puncher and a far better athlete. It's his fight to lose. Winner by decision.
Kid Nate: Delgado by submission.
Brent Brookhouse: I really enjoyed Winner on TUF so Fagan is wrong. He is not wrong in his assessment of Delgado. Andre Winner by TKO, round 1.
Mike Fagan: I may be the only person who like Winner from the show. And Roli Delgado sucks. Andre Winner by decision.
Eugene Schelfaut: I am not good enough with the puns for this. Andre Winner by TKO, round 1.
Leland Roling: Roli Delgado's BJJ black belt that he got in a week isn't helping him beat Winner. Andre Winner via TKO, Round 1.