UFC 121: Lesnar vs. Velasquez takes place from the Honda Center in Anaheim, California on Saturday, October 23. The main card begins on pay-per-view at 10:00 p.m. ET and the Spike prelims begin at 9pm ET, but the coverage here at Bloody Elbow will begin at 8pm EST with a live video stream show with Luke Thomas. For all of the coverage from the entire SB Nation network, go to our UFC 121: Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez event page. And, of course, enjoy the fights.
Brock Lesnar vs. Cain Velasquez
Luke Thomas: The more rational pick is Velasquez. More ways to win, more insurance surrounding his shortcomings. But I'm taking Lesnar. I admit what his athleticism means for the fight is hard to quantify, but it's real and important. I also think his cardio won't fade, so for me, a long fight does not favor Velasquez. If you keep Lesnar around that long, he's shown himself to be resourceful. Lesnar is a winner and finds ways to get it done. I think he clips Velasquez standing and unlike Cheick Kongo, won't concede the takedown afterward. Lesnar, TKO, round 4.
Kid Nate: Nothing is more exciting than a too close to call heavyweight title fight! Lesnar's got size and power, it might be even in speed, Lesnar might even be equal in conditioning, Velasquez has better striking technique, maybe better wrestling technique. Coin toss. Lesnar by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: The way Cain repeatedly ran into punches from Kongo showed some troubling defensive issues. In the stand-up we Cain will be probably busier and Brock will probably hit harder. They're different types of wrestlers but I don't expect Cain to try to go for the takedown so I figure it will be Lesnar's power offensive wrestling against Cain's defensive wrestling.The cardio Lesnar showed in being fresh for round 2 against Carwin is amazing for someone his size but I think if we end up in rounds 4-5 it will be Velasquez that is the fresher fighter. I just don't think we'll get to the 4th or 5th because Lesnar will have already finished the fight. Brock Lesnar by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan: If this goes past three rounds, I think Cain wins. Not because of superior cardio, but because he's made the fight look like Penn/Edgar 2 - lots of in/out movement, dynamic striking, and takedown attempts to set up strikes. In my mind, though, Brock is more likely to finish the fight, and that's a big deal in the land of heavyweights. Brock Lesnar by TKO, round 2.
Chris Nelson: While it's far from a lock, I do think Velasquez will hit Lesnar more, if not harder, than anyone to date. The champion showed a ton of heart in surviving an early scare against Shane Carwin, but Velasquez is a different beast entirely. Viva el rey. Velasquez via TKO, round two.
Nick Thomas: I picked Carwin over Brock and I'm going to pick Cain over Brock as well. No Lactic Acidosis this time. Velasquez by decision.
Leland Roling: Daniel Cormier, interestingly enough, is the key for Velasquez to win, and the fact that Velasquez is miles ahead of Brock in the stand-up department solidifies my argument that Cain is the more well-rounded fighter. Tough call, but Cain Velasquez via TKO.
Jonathan Snowden: Lesnar via TKO, round two.
Martin Kampmann vs. Jake Shields
Luke Thomas: Another really tough call. I could easily see either guy winning. I'm going to go with Shields by eventually controlling with the takedown. Shields by decision.
Kid Nate: I don't think Kampmann has the punching power to finish Shields quickly and Shields will win it on the ground. Shields by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: The Jake Shields back injury story didn't get enough play in the media. I have been asking around all week and there is a sense that Shields had a significant amount of time taken out of his training camp to deal with the injury and that it was closer to now than the 12-13 weeks ago that they put out there. Still, while I really respect Kampmann's game I just don't feel he'll be able to deal with the wrestling and controlling top game of Shields. Jake Shields by decision.
Mike Fagan: In addition to the back injury story, I've also heard completely unsubstantiated rumors that it's been rough getting back down to 170. Whether that's true or not, it still has to be a concern with Shields not having fought there in just over two years. I'm a huge Kampmann mark, so I'll make the case by saying that without having to worry about Shields' power, Martin can concentrate on keeping the fight standing and win the fight there. Martin Kampmann by decision.
Chris Nelson: Not a terribly tough fight to call. Kampmann's grappling isn't bad, but Shields is next level by comparison. I expect Kampmann to be on the defensive for the majority of the fight, though he may prove tough to finish. Shields via decision.
Nick Thomas: I picked Kampmann over Thiago and I'm going to pick him again here. Kampmann by decision.
Leland Roling: Shields' grappling acumen is much higher than Kampmann's, and while I think Kampmann can definitely provide a stiff challenge on the ground for more competent ground fighters -- he won't be able to handle Shields. Shields via decision.
Jonathan Snowden: Shields by decision.
Diego Sanchez vs. Paulo Thiago
Luke Thomas: Diego's hard to KO and able to control Thiago. Another tough call, but I'll do a reversal on how I was feeling earlier about this fight. Sanchez by decision.
Kid Nate: I'm not seeing good things for Sanchez here. Thiago has more punching power and should be able to hang on the ground. Thiago by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Sanchez set himself up nicely here. If he loses it's because he isn't a 170 pounder and is returning to 155 for good. Still, I think he'll simply outpace and outwork Thiago to take the decision. Diego Sanchez by decision.
Mike Fagan: I think John Hathaway's loss to Mike Pyle adds credence to the idea that we didn't see the best Diego Sanchez at UFC 114. As long as Tony Robbins gives him a rousing prefight pepper, I've got Diego Sanchez by decision.
Chris Nelson: I think Thiago has a good chance of neutralizing Sanchez' frenetic pace, and maybe even catching a sub from guard. More likely, though, Sanchez scores with takedowns and ground-and-pound on his way to a win on the scorecards. Sanchez via decision.
Nick Thomas: Thiago will handle Sanchez like he did Swick. Thiago by decision.
Leland Roling: Diego's wrestling/grappling ability could neutralize Thiago over the course of three rounds, but I'm banking on an improved Thiago after his last fight. Thiago via decision.
Jonathan Snowden: Thiago by submission, round three.
Matt Hamill vs. Tito Ortiz
Luke Thomas: Ortiz looked shredded at the weigh-ins, but I'm not buying it. Even if his style weren't outdated he's had two long layoffs both involving careful rehabilitation. This is Hamill's to lose. Hamill by TKO.
Kid Nate: Unless Tito is utterly shot he'll take this. Unfortunately it's a very real possibility that Tito is done as a top-level athlete. Hamill hits harder and should be able to keep the fight standing. Hamill by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: I like Hamill, but I don't like like Hamill. Let's not forget that even in a losing effort Tito was able to get some things done against Forrest Griffin. I don't think Hamill reacts well at all to getting hit and Ortiz will find ways to land elbows even if it's off his back. Eventually I think Ortiz just catches up and overwhelms Hamill for long enough to get a decision win. Tito Ortiz by decision.
Mike Fagan: How many times do I have to hear Tito claim he's finally healthy going into a fight? Matt Hamill by decision.
Chris Nelson: Reading the lead-up to UFC 121, it seems like a lot people don't realize that Hamill is only a year younger than Ortiz. Though obviously the more worn and torn of the pair, I've still got to pick Ortiz for his experience and underrated sub game. Ortiz via submission, round two.
Nick Thomas: Hamill is going to destroy Ortiz. Hamill by decision.
Leland Roling: Ortiz's awful brand of kickboxing needs to go away. Hamill isn't much better, but he is... better. Unless Ortiz magically finds his explosiveness, Hamill wins this one over three rounds. Matt Hamill via decision.
Jonathan Snowden: Ortiz by decision.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Brendan Schaub
Luke Thomas: I want to pick Schaub, but I just can't quite commit. Gonzaga is so inconsistent it's hard for me to be confident about him, but he is battle tested. I guess that's the difference. Gonzaga by TKO.
Kid Nate: I've seen Gonzaga fold after getting hit hard too many times to pick him but I've never seen Schaub come back from a beating either. Another coin toss, Schaub via TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: Schaub is getting better and better while Gonzaga seems to just be resigning himself to being a paycheck collecting gatekeeper. Gabe could absolutely pull this off but I'm going to roll with Brendan Schaub by TKO, round 1.
Mike Fagan: Interesting fact of the day: in their combined 23 fights, Gonzaga and Schaub have never gone to a decision. With the advantage in the submission game, I'll take Gabriel Gonzaga by submission, round 1.
Chris Nelson: Gonzaga is maddeningly inconsistent. If his recent pattern holds true, he should win this fight, but Schaub is a young home run hitter with good coaches and training partners. Only thing that seems certain is this doesn't leave the first round. Schaub via TKO, round one.
Nick Thomas: Hard fight to pick. But if Gonzaga can take Carwin down, he can take Schaub down. Gonzaga by decision.
Leland Roling: Schaub's power concerns me, but his inexperience is definitely a minus against a well-rounded Gabriel Gonzaga. As inconsistent as Gonzaga is, I have to go with him over Schaub via his grappling prowess. Gabriel Gonzaga via submission.
Jonathan Snowden: Gonzaga by decision.
Spike TV "Prelims" (Televised):
Ryan Jensen vs. Court McGee
Luke Thomas: Jensen does have some decent grappling and scrambling ability, although he folds under pressure. McGee also hasn't faced nearly the competition. Close fight, but neither stand out. Jensen by TKO.
Kid Nate: Very even fight, I don't expect it to be pretty for the fans on Spike TV either. Jensen's no world beater, but I think McGee was part of the weakest TUF class ever. Jensen by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Court is going to look surprisingly dominant here. Court McGee by decision.
Mike Fagan: I agree with Nate that Court was part of one of the weaker TUF casts. I still think he should beat Ryan Jensen though. Court McGee by decision.
Chris Nelson: Not explicitly a showcase fight for the TUF winner, but one he should still take handily. McGee via decision.
Nick Thomas: McGee looked good against McCray and will do the same here. McGee by decision.
Leland Roling: McGee keeps this fight on the feet and boxes his way to a decision win. Court McGee via decision.
Jonathan Snowden: Jensen by decision.
Patrick Cote vs. Tom Lawlor
Luke Thomas: Cote will squeak by on points standing because I don't see any surprise guillotines from Lawlor. Cote by decision.
Kid Nate: Cote has to have some serious ring rust but Lawlor will be outclassed on the feet and Cote is hard to bring down. Cote by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: Lawlor is tough and he's a good enough fighter to be completely overlooked her. But I don't think he's as good a fighter as Cote. As long as Patrick has himself back in the right kind of fighting shape and is good mentally he'll take this. Patrick Cote by TKO, round 2.
Mike Fagan: Cote's lost to anybody with any sort of wrestling background. Tom Lawlor by decision.
Chris Nelson: Lawlor isn't a bad fighter by any means. I just don't think his skills don't live up to his entrance gimmicks. Cote via TKO, round one.
Nick Thomas: Lawlor is not going to stop Cote. Going with my fellow Canuck. Cote by decision.
Leland Roling: Tough call, but Lawlor's inability to actually finish guys when they're hurt puts him in a bad position here. He usually gasses quickly due to all the energy he outputs, and I think Cote can weather that storm if it happens. If not, Cote is the better striker. Patrick Cote via decision.
Jonathan Snowden: Cote by decision.
Mike Guymon vs. Daniel Roberts
Luke Thomas: Never been a big believer in Guymon. Roberts gets the nod. Roberts by KO.
Kid Nate: Not convinced Guymon is UFC caliber. Roberts by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: Guymon is in that limbo where he's almost good enough to hang in the UFC, but not quite. Roberts is going to submit him. Daniel Roberts by submission, round 2.
Mike Fagan: Roberts is going to wrestle Guymon's UFC career away from him. Daniel Roberts by decision.
Chris Nelson: I think the loss to John Howard was a bit of a fluke, and Roberts seems built to last a while in the welterweight division. Roberts via decision.
Nick Thomas: Roberts with the takedowns. Roberts by decision.
Leland Roling: Roberts via TKO.
Jonathan Snowden: Guymon by submission, round two.
Sam Stout vs. Paul Taylor
Luke Thomas: Stout's too tough and has too many weapons for the limited Taylor. Stout by TKO.
Kid Nate: Should be a slobber knocker. Stout will outpoint Taylor. Stout by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: If Stout's technique weren't enough to make me pick him, ring rust for Taylor is. Sam Stout by decision.
Mike Fagan: It's really unfortunate that this isn't televised because it'll be a much better fight than either of the Spike prelims. Still, with four hours of programming to fill, I'll be shocked if we don't see this somewhere on the telecast. As always, never pick British fighters, so Sam Stout by decision.
Chris Nelson: I might be tempted to pick Taylor if he weren't coming off a nearly year-long layoff; plus, last time he tried to make 155, it didn't go so good. Stout via decision.
Nick Thomas: Taylor will have the reach advantage but he'll be coming in with some ring rust. My fellow Canuck, Stout by decision.
Leland Roling: Stout is the better stand-up fighter in this showdown with Paul Taylor. Sure, Taylor has a solid kickboxing game on the feet, but he's going to get pummeled by Stout's boxing. Stout via decision.
Jonathan Snowden: Stout by KO, round one.
Chris Camozzi vs. Dongi Yang
Luke Thomas: I'm not sure Yang is anything to write home about, but he's got the size and strength to muscle Camozzi around. Yang by TKO.
Kid Nate: Not sure I'm sold on the Yang hype, but Camozzi hasn't impressed. Yang by TKO.
Brent Brookhouse: Dongi Yang by TKO, round 1.
Mike Fagan: Whatever Chris Nelson says. Dongi Yang by TKO, round 2.
Chris Nelson: This will be Yang's first bout at 185 lbs., and while I generally prefer not to pick guys making first-time cuts, I like the Korean to take the fight to Camozzi here. Yang can be a bit passive in the clinch, but there's a reason he's notched eight straight wins by TKO. Yang via TKO, round two.
Nick Thomas: This is going to be a close fight. I'm going to give it to Camozzi with the slight reach and height advantage. Cammozzi by decision.
Leland Roling: Yang via TKO.
Jonathan Snowden: Cammozzi by decision.
Gilbert Yvel vs. Jon Madsen
Luke Thomas: I actually think this is another gimme fight for Madsen. How many are we up to now? Madsen by decision.
Kid Nate: Another lay and pray fest from Madsen. Potential Judo Chop here on the art of the stall. Madsen by decision.
Brent Brookhouse: I expect we'll hear how loud the Anaheim crowd can boo during this one as Madsen lays on top for the loooong, drawn out win. Jon Madsen by decision.
Mike Fagan: I'm still waiting for the Derek Suboticki article in which he decries an organization for employing a fighter as dirty and "bad for the sport" as Gilbert Yvel. Jon Madsen by decision.
Chris Nelson: Yvel is still a legit test for any young, up-and-coming heavyweight, but I see Madsen grinding one out here. Madsen via decision.
Nick Thomas: Tough last UFC fight for Yvel. Madsen by decision.
Leland Roling: Yvel isn't half bad off his back and he's a powerful puncher, but Madsen should win. Yvel's gas tank will be his demise,. Jon Madsen via decision.
Jonathan Snowden: Yvel by KO, round two.