Brent Brookhouse - Penn's accuracy on the feet and ability to be the one dictating where the fight takes place is the key to this fight as far as I'm concerned. Diaz and his willingness to just walk forward and throw non-stop will actually be a detriment in this fight. B.J. Penn by decision.
Leland Roling - I've bounced back and forth on the logic in picking Nick Diaz in this fight, but at the end of the day -- it's difficult to look past what Penn can do to opponents with porous defenses. Diaz, while possessing an insane offensive output, is one of the worst defensive fighters standing, mainly because he's throwing leather rather than defending. Noons took advantage of that in both fights, and Penn, who's far more accurate and powerful with straight punches, will too. I wouldn't put it past Penn to take down Diaz and smother him from the top either. B.J. Penn via decision.
Anton Tabuena - Tough fight to pick and I've been going back and forth in my head about the reasons why either guy would win. Both have good chins, good boxing, good jiujitsu. Penn is better with wrestling, while Diaz wins the cardio battle by a mile. It would be funny if Penn tries to ‘Fitch' Diaz, because he can, although I don't think that's going to happen. On a stand up battle, Penn is much more technical, but if Diaz can use his reach and push his pace, and land constantly to the body, he could win this. It could go either way, but I'm going for the upset though. Nick Diaz via Decision.
Tim Burke - I just don't see many ways Diaz can win this fight. It's not a good style matchup for him and I don't think he's as good as his Strikeforce run made him out to be. Dare I say it, BJ might be the better boxer. And that's Nick's only chance, so I'm gonna go with B.J. Penn by dominant decision.
Fraser Coffeen - I admit it right off the bat, this might be bias talking, because I really am not a big fan of B.J. Penn. But I honestly think Diaz takes this. Penn has never been as much a force at Welterweight, but more than that, all that I've read from him just seems to show that his head is not in the best place. And he's a fighter that desperately needs focus and drive to perform to his best. I don't think we see the best B.J. Penn here, and I think Diaz's pace and high output of punches is enough to outlast that version of Penn. Nick Diaz by decision
KJ Gould - I think there's only one reason for Penn to have spent time training with Matt Hughes in Iowa: get some wrestling in with similar weight fighters you won't be facing down the road. With that in mind logically Penn will use his jab but if he feels Diaz crowding him trying punches in bunches, Penn will take him down and it'll be his top game versus Diaz's guard game. Plus this is the first fight in a long time Diaz will have been in a fight that allows elbows on the ground and he's shown to cut up easily in previous fights. I think he might hang in there and not be finished and all it takes from Diaz is one well placed bodyshot to turn the fight in his favour. Penn seems the sensible choice. BJ Penn by Bloody Elbows.
Matt Roth - It's crazy that even after all the baloney, Diaz still finds himself in the main event role. He's definitely good and has a ridiculous chin and cardio. I just don't think he beats BJ. And if he does? Power to him, I'll eat crow and put him in the top 3 of the division. I just don't see it happening. To me the fight really is a case of "anything you can do I can do better". BJ Penn by Bloodier Elbows than what KJ was talking about.
Staff Picking Penn: Tim, Leland, KJ, Roth, Brent
Staff Picking Diaz: Anton, Fraser
Cheick Kongo vs Matt Mitrione
Brent Brookhouse - Mitrione's stand-up game has some mighty big holes in it. He has power but he leaves openings. If he decides to make this a stand-up fight I think he gets blasted. If he just looks to make it rough in the clinch and even work takedowns he'll be better served. I think Kongo ends up winning two rounds here for the decision. Cheick Kongo by decision.
Leland Roling - Where exactly is the intersection between Mitrione's rise and Kongo's fall? That's the question to answer. One would surmise Kongo still has the skills to beat a guy as green as Mitrione, but it's difficult to say that considering his last two performances and Mitrione's development under Duke Roufus. In my mind, it's a toss-up, and when in doubt -- always bet on Roufus. Matt Mitrione via TKO.
Anton Tabuena - Mitrione can use his size to muscle Kongo to the fence and wear him out a bit, to get a better shot at winning... But if this becomes purely a stand up battle, which I think it will, then Kongo takes it. Mitrione has shown huge improvement in his game, but I'm not sure if it will be enough to win a stand up war against a guy like Kongo. Cheick Kongo by Decision
Tim Burke - I'm really not sure what to think of this fight. Kongo has very good striking but he's somewhat predictable. Mitrione has looked good so far in his career but there's something about his striking that bugs me and I can't put my finger on it. I'm going to go with Kongo just because he's willing to change up his game if he's losing at one particular aspect. Cheick Kongo by decision
Fraser Coffeen - Kongo's predictability has made me overlook the fact that he is slipping a bit. He didn't do well against Browne, and I can't forget him getting tagged by both Pat Barry and Frank Mir. A few years ago, he could have outstruck Mitrione or taken him down. But I think time has caught up to him, and he's not the same gatekeeper anymore. This is a really close one though. Matt Mitrione by KO
KJ Gould - Never in the deepest, darkest recesses of my mind did I ever think I'd enjoy watching Meathead fight in the UFC, nor expect him to be as successful as he has been since The Ulitmate Fighter. Kongo's chin is questionable but it's offset by fast recovery, and I still think it'd be a bad idea of Mitrione to headhunt as Kongo can land with precision while under fire. Mitrione training with Randy Couture and Neil Melanson intrigues me to see what part of the clinch and ground game they're able to impart on him and Kongo's biggest challenges have often been on the ground if you can get him there. Mitrione is deffinitely athletic enough to power Kongo to the mat even if he resorts to a good ol' fashined Football tackle. I just think as dangerous as Kongo can be, Mitrione has more upside and continues to evolve. Matt Mitrione by TKO (Ground'n'Pound)
Matt Roth - It was almost two years ago following the season 10 Ultimate Finale that I proclaimed that Matt Mitrione was a future top 10 heavyweight. Most of you laughed at me. Some of you even thought I was crazy. Well here we are, Mitrione is about to break into the top 15 with a win over Kongo with his next bout lining him up for the top 10. How you like me now? I like Mitrione and I've made no secret that he's one of my favorite fighters in the heavyweigh division. He wins tomorrow night with punching power and athleticism. Matt Mitrione by TKO.
Staff Picking Kongo: Tim, Anton, Brent
Staff Picking Mitrione: Fraser, Leland, KJ, Roth
Mirko Filipovic vs Roy Nelson
Brent Brookhouse - If Mirko wasn't completely hesitant to let his strikes go in fights at this point in his career I'd actually pick him. I just think about Nelson eating shots from Arlovski and even if I think about Mirko's horrible fight with Mir which went much better than Nelson's fight with Frank. You know what? Screw it. Mirko "Cro Cop" by TKO, round two.
Leland Roling - I can't believe my eyes. Fans don't believe Mirko is back? Shame on you. In all seriousness, Nelson should win. Pick Nelson if you want a safe bet. When it comes to Pride legends on their last leg, screw it. Let's have some fun. Mirko ‘Cro Cop' via decision.
Anton Tabuena - As with all Cro Cop fights, (and a bit of Wand's lately), I keep hoping he will win, but my mind says otherwise. Mirko will probably have his moments, as he did during the bouts against Schaub and Mir, but it's just a matter of time. His opponent will eventually find his aging chin that will end the night, leaving the few remaining PRIDE fans sad. Roy Nelson by KO.
Tim Burke - We've been hearing about the rebirth of Mirko's intensity for like seven fights now. I don't think Roy Nelson is the guy to wake him up. Nelson is the kind of guy that Cro Cop would pick apart back in the day - a slow, plodding striker who usually looks for a home run shot. But this isn't the same Mirko, and Roy should be able to knock him out late in the fight. I'm still hoping for a Cro Cop renaissance though. Throw those kicks, dammit! Roy Nelson by TKO.
Fraser Coffeen - Cro Cop is prone to being hit by an overhand punch. Cro Cop is easy to KO. Nelson has a powerful overhand punch with KO power. What more need be said? Roy Nelson by KO
KJ Gould - I think Nelson wants to be taken seriously more than Filopovic wants to fight. This new introspective Mirko doesn't fill me with confidence his head is in the right place when it comes to in-fight mentality. Nelson has power, he also has grappling and Cro Cop isn't as much of a physical roadblock was Frank Mir or Junior Dos Santos. I just can't see how Nelson loses this unless he decides he wants to hug mid-fight and join Mirko in a duet while on a road trip somewhere down the line. Nelson by KO
Matt Roth - Roy looks like an english lit teacher. He also looks to be in the best shape of his career. Cro Cop has talked about how this is likely the final fight of his career. I think that means either Cro Cop has mentally checked out or he wants to go out in a blaze of glory. I'm hoping it means going out swinging but I doubt it. Nelson by KO.
Staff Picking Filipovic: Leland, Brent
Staff Picking Nelson: Tim, Anton, Fraser, KJ, Roth
Scott Jorgensen vs Jeff Curran
Brent Brookhouse - Poor Curran, he's fought so many legitimately good fighters in his career and he just doesn't have it in him at this point to get the wins. Jorgensen is simply the better fighter at this point. Scott Jorgensen by TKO, round two.
Leland Roling - Jorgensen's wrestling is good enough to keep this standing where Curran always has problems. Unless Jeff brings this to the ground and smothers Jorgensen in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he's in for a long night. Scott Jorgensen via decision.
Anton Tabuena - I'm still pissed they were thinking of putting whatshisname on the main card over a Jorgensen fight. Scott Jorgensen by TKO.
Tim Burke - I respect the hell out of Jeff Curran, and every guy that fights below 155 should too. But the reality is that Curran can't hang with the best guys at 145, and Scotty is one of the best. I'm extremely happy this made it onto PPV, even if it took like seven tries. But this will be Jeff Curran's swan song in MMA, I believe. He will retire when Jorgensen gets his hand raised. Scott Jorgensen by decision.
Fraser Coffeen - Hometown pride and a love for the sport's veterans will have me rooting for Curran, but this is an insane welcome back fight for him. At this stage in his career, he's just not up to the challenge of a top 5 fighter like Jorgensen. Sorry Big Frog. Scott Jorgensen by Decision
KJ Gould - Jorgensen is younger, stronger and a wrestler. I just can't see Curran being able to overcome this since Jorgensen isn't a rookie, either. Jorgensen dictates where the fight goes and I can see it stay standing until he floors Curran and finishes. Jorgensen by TKO.
Matt Roth - Scott Jorgensen is just better at this point. Curran was good but that was age ago and the Big Frog just ain't that guy any more. Scotty by his signature guillotine.
Staff Picking Jorgensen: Tim, Anton, Fraser, Leland, Roth, KJ, Brent
Staff Picking Curran:
Hatsu Hioki vs George Roop
Brent Brookhouse - Roop is a much more "tricky" fight for Hioki than people are realizing. I think Roop manages to use his cage experience to corner Hioki and open up a bit and should be win a couple rounds. George Roop by decision.
Leland Roling - For the love of God, Hioki.. don't try to convince everyone you can strike. That's all I ask. If you do that, you're dead to me. Dead. Hatsu Hioki via submission.
Anton Tabuena - Hioki is not the Korean Zombie. Hatsu Hioki by Submission.
Tim Burke - I always believed that the only thing holding Hioki back from being a superstar is his mental game. He doesn't always show up 100% mentally for fights, and it costs him dearly. He should have no problem focusing on this fight though, and Roop is a good style matchup for him. There is going to be a ton of pressure on him and I don't think he'll live up to people's lofty expectations in his first bout, but he'll get the W. Hatsu Hioki by decision
KJ Gould - I never thought much of Roop from The Ultimate Fighter, and while I think a bit better of him as a Bantamweight since rebuilding in the WEC Hioki does have a level of submission grappling we haven't generally seen at Featherweight in the UFC thus far. He also has a good chin, taking some hard shots from the likes of Marlon Sandro and still going on to win the fight. Hopefully Hioki shows he's still in his prime and injury free and doesn't fallen victim to the UFC Japanese Curse that has struck down many of his comrades. Hioki by Submission.
Matt Roth - I love me some Hioki. I really do. I just don't think this is a good fight for him. Yes, he has cage experience. Yes, he's run through absolutely everyone in the past couple of years. But, I just think Roop is a tough fight for him. He's made a ton of improvements and I think has the tools to beat Hioki. George Roop by TKO.
Staff Picking Hioki: Tim, Anton, Fraser, Leland, KJ
Staff Picking Roop: Roth, Brent
Brent Brookhouse - I'm dealing with a nasty flu and I think it's making me pick somewhat more erratically than usual...so here we go with another underdog. Siver isn't getting taken down and in the stand-up he's much more technical and capable than Cerrone. I've actually grudgingly grown to like Cerrone over the past year (in the cage anyway, the hat and attitude still irk me for whatever reason) but this is a bad fight for him. Dennis Siver by decision.
Leland Roling - I'm torn. I like how Cerrone has matured, and I'd love to see him win this match-up. I have this odd feeling that Siver's chaotic flurries of power punches and kicks will light up Cerrone at some point. Cerrone isn't exactly terrible at using his range, but he isn't great either. I'll take Cerrone, but Siver is a 2-to-1 underdog. I think you know what that means. Donald Cerrone via decision.
Anton Tabuena - This will be a very interesting bout and another toss up. Cerrone has a better ground game, but I doubt that would come into play here. Both guys are pretty talented standing up, with Siver probably being a bit better. I want Cerrone to win, and he can definitely do so if he uses his length and his kicks properly, but I think Siver takes this. Dennis Siver via Decision
Tim Burke - I'm a big fan of Cowboy, but I think this is where he gets derailed in the UFC. I don't think he can win a kickboxing battle with Siver and I'm pretty sure he won't be able to take him down. That spells trouble. Dennis Siver by decision
Fraser Coffeen - Another super close and hard to call fight here. On the one hand, I think Cerrone can push the pace and land a higher volume of strikes, so that if they go the distance, his output will tip the cards in his favor. On the other hand, I don't think he can really hurt Siver, whereas Siver has the power to drop Cerrone and take the rounds based on damage. In the end, I think those big shots will add up, but I wouldn't be shocked for Cerrone to get the decision win, whether he deserves it or not. Dennis Siver by decision
KJ Gould - We're long overdue another Spinning Siver Sidekick Stoppage, but I'm not sure if this is the fight we'll see it re-emerge in. Cerrone has looked solid against Paul Kelly and Charles Oliveira and this fight with Siver is the right step up in competition in the UFC Lightweight division he needs to establish himself as a possible title threat. I expect the winner of Ben Henderson and Clay Guida to be next in line for a shot at Frankie Edgar and with a win for Cerrone I can't see him being too far behind in line. Cerrone's experience and all around game should be enough to beat the German based striker who apparently has some Judo in his background though we've rarely seen it. Cerrone by decision.
Matt Roth - This should be an obvious pick for me. Cerrone has skills and has been killing dudes lately. I just don't like that he's so open about how often he drinks. That's not something an athlete should be doing. He also has been talking about matches beyond Siver. I'm picking him but man I don't like that pick. Cerrone by Submission.
Staff Picking Siver: Tim, Fraser, Brent
Staff Picking Cerrone: Leland, KJ, Roth
Brent Brookhouse - I have the advantage of writing my picks after everyone else and after the weigh-in so I know that Grifin didn't make 145 while Bart did. Griffin having an extra three pounds on him and not having killed himself to make weight should be the difference. But he's leaving with less money thanks to being three pounds off. Tyson Griffin by decision.
Anton Tabuena - I just hope he can make it exciting. Tyson Griffin by Decision.
Tim Burke - I think Bart's going to have trouble with the cut to 145, and it's going to sap his cardio. Griffin can outwrestle him and outwork him, and Bart will fold late. Griffin by dominant decision
KJ Gould - I still can't get over how far Griffin has fallen. When he was making waves at Lightweight, even in a hard fought loss to a debuting Frankie Edgar, everything about him said ‘future lightweight champion'. Featherweight is a weaker but developing division and while Griffin got a decision over Manny Gamburyan I think he really needs to impress against Palaszewski for people to take notice of him again. Palaszewski hasn't fought in nearly a year and while I don't think Griffin's wrestling is as good as Kamal Shalorus' it should be enough to stifle the Polish-American in a similar fashion. Tyson Griffin by decision.
Staff Picking Griffin: Tim, Anton, Fraser, Leland, KJ, Roth, Brent
Staff Picking Palaszewski:
Brandon Vera vs Elliot Marshall
Brent Brookhouse - Ugh, no thanks on this fight. Brandon Vera by decision.
Leland Roling - Vera makes me want to hate him when he speaks. I can't help it. If he actually believes PED's are what made him get absolutely owned on the ground against Thiago Silva, he's delusional. Silva still out maneuvered him in that fight, and that's a technique issue. Anyways, I'll buy into Vera's return being a bit more exciting. Brandon Vera via TKO.
Anton Tabuena - Getting embarrassed on the ground against Thiago Silva made people forget that for the first time in several fights, Vera actually came out aggressive standing up, and he actually won all the striking exchanges on that bout. If this gets decided by a stand up battle, which Vera should be able to do being the superior wrestler, he's going to run through Marshall. Brandon Vera by TKO.
Tim Burke - This could be the most boring fight ever. Marshall's not likely to give Vera the room to strike, and it's probably going to turn into an ugly clinch battle. I'll take Vera via superior wrestling, but I hope it's a lot better than I think it's gonna be. Brandon Vera by decision
KJ Gould - I think the UFC must really like Vera. I'm wondering how much of this is out of sympathy considering he had his face caved in by Jon Jones, and his nose imploded by a drugged up Thiago Silva. Silva was so high he started playing Vera like a bongo when they fought. Stylistically everything about this match up suggests ‘Bounce-Back Fight' for Vera. He just should not lose to Elliot Marshall who I could have swore retired not that long ago. He may well do again after Vera's finished with him. Brandon Vera by TKO.
Staff Picking Vera: Tim, Fraser, Anton, Leland, KJ, Roth, Brent
Staff Picking Mashall:
Ramsey Nijem vs Danny Downes
Anton Tabuena - Here are Downes' advantages in the fight: He's definitely one of the scariest and most intimidating dude in the sport. He also has better striking, and a lot of heart. So while he can be smothered by Nijem's wrestling, I think Downes will find a way to win this. Danny Downes by Decision.
Tim Burke - Despite the loss to Jeremy Stephens, I think Downes has a bright future just because of his heart, but there are a lot of holes in his game. He won't have the height advantage he usually has against Nijem, and Nijem's wrestling will likely be the difference. I like Downes and I want him to win, but logic says Ramsey Nijem by decision.
KJ Gould - Nijem has solid wrestling and a good submission game, and while Downes has shown he can submit off of his back it was against a relative unknown at a regional show. While I've underestimated WEC guys going over to the UFC at Lightweight and below Downes only fought twice for WEC going 1-1. He won't be able to out-muscle Nijem like Tony Ferguson did and doesn't have the grappling to give him any problems either. Nijem lives to fight another day and should get a comfortable decision if not a submission. Nijem by decision
Staff Picking Nijem: Tim, Fraser, Leland, KJ, Brent
Staff Picking Downes: Anton, Roth
Chris Camozzi vs Francis Carmont
Leland Roling - I'm not a huge fan of Chris Camozzi, but he can use his reach effectively. Unfortunately, Carmont can match his size, and this drop to 185 lbs. for the French-fighter who trains at Tristar was a genius move. I think both men stack up well, so it's a toss-up in my mind. Francis Carmont via TKO.
Tim Burke - Most people don't know who Carmont is, and that's with good reason. I'm honestly shocked he got a UFC contract, because I've never thought he was all that good. I guess being GSP's friend worked out well for him. Camozzi's no superstar either, but I think he has enough skill to keep Carmont at bay. A finish is unlikely. Chris Camozzi by decision.
Staff Picking Camozzi: Tim, Anton, Fraser, KJ, Brent
Staff Picking Carmont: Leland, Roth
Dustin Jacoby vs Clifford Starks
Leland Roling - I'm a huge fan of hating on guys from my own area, mainly because Illinois MMA is lacking any real competition for legitimate talent coming out of the region. Case in point is Carson Beebe. But Jacoby trains at H.I.T. Squad, and he's 6'3". Big obstacles for Starks to face on short notice. Dustin Jacoby via TKO.
Tim Burke - My guess is that Leland is the only one who of us who has even seen these two guys fight. I honestly haven't done enough research to adequately break this down, so I'll go with the guy who didn't fight two weeks ago. Dustin Jacoby by TKO.
KJ Gould - Peer pressure. I can't handle it. I'll trust our resident prospects expert fully on this as I have no idea who either guy is.
Staff Picking Jacoby: Tim, Anton, Fraser, Leland, KJ, Roth, Brent
Staff Picking Starks: