Cain Velasquez vs Junior dos Santos
Anton Tabuena - If the shoulder injury doesn't affect his performance that much, I would give the slight edge to Cain. He's faster, has better wrestling, better cardio and he's the more dynamic fighter standing up. Dos Santos has more power with his strikes, and has excellent takedown defense that could stop Cain's shots, but if Velasquez survives the early onslaught, I think the fight tilts to his favor as he can slowly wear down the Brazilian as the fight pushes on to the later rounds. Cain Velasquez by late TKO.
Leland Roling - I won't be surprised at all if Cain wins, but I'm a bit biased since my entire sports career was derailed by shoulder injuries. They aren't easy to overcome, and Dos Santos? I think he's been slept on by many fans in the takedown defense department. I think Dos Santos keeps this fight standing for the majority of the fight at makes it a difficult night for Velasquez, eventually taking him out. Junior dos Santos via TKO, Round 3.
Tim Burke - I'm actually surprised how much the betting line has shifted towards Cain in the last few days, especially with rumors of a camp injury. I've gone back and forth on this fight a hundred times, but in the end I think that the combination of Cain's injury and layoff, Kongo getting to his chin, and JDS being a monster has me leaning towards Cigano. Junior dos Santos by 3rd round TKO
Matt Roth - As weird as this is to say because it's so overused, this really will comedown to Cain's ability to get the fight to the ground. I don't believe he's got the hands or chin to get into a stand up fight with Dos Santos. The layoff also scares me. It's gonna be a great heavyweight fight but this is Junior Dos Santos by TKO in the 2nd.
Fraser Coffeen - Wow. I'm late to the game, and I expected to come and find a Velasquez sweep. Cain's got the speed and the more well rounded game. He's good enough on his feet to cause JDS troubles, and his footwork will help protect his chin. He has takedowns to get it down, and I see no reason why dos Santos will be able to escape once it goes there. It's certainly possible JDS tags him, but this is Cain's. Cain Velasquez by TKO in the 2nd.
Dallas Winston - JDS's ground game hasn't been tested since "Mamute", a killer grappler, subbed him early in his career, so the threat of the takedown could throw off his confident boxing. This might be terribly short-sighted but I can't help but recall the way Kongo's tight, powerful striking and athletic takedown defense made Cain more vulnerable than ever before. Junior dos Santos by decision.
Staff Picking Velasquez: Anton, Fraser
Staff Picking dos Santos: Tim, Roth, Leland, Dallas
Clay Guida vs Ben Henderson
Anton Tabuena - Ben Henderson is just better on all facets of the game. Guida can try to control him on the ground and try to wear him out, but I think Bendo is much better than that, and I also think he can match Guida's pace and cardio. Ben Henderson by Decision.
Leland Roling - After watching Ben Henderson absolutely destroy Jim Miller, it's difficult to see how Clay Guida wins. There's always a relentless, attrition-based gameplan, but ‘Bendo' doesn't seem to fade in the face of that type of adversity. Overall, I think he's the more technically sound fighter, and he'll dominante Clay on Saturday. Ben Henderson via decision.
Tim Burke - I still don't think Clay Guida is that good, and nothing is going to make me change my mind on that. His gameplan is deceptively simple, his standup is average, and his heart won't be enough to overcome the holes in his game. Henderson's a better wrestler and striker, and has gone into deep waters plenty of times. This is all Bendo in my eyes. Ben Henderson by dominant decision
Matt Roth - Guida's looked solid but does beating Anthony Pettis really make you a title contender? Henderson is far more completed and a scrappier fighter. He's also made massive improvements and is the only guy that I can really notice fight better whenever he gets angry. He's gonna be furious tomorrow and just press forward. It's a shame no one will see it on Fox but this is Ben Henderson by TKO in the 3rd.
Fraser Coffeen - Don't write Guida off here. He has a very strong top game, and he's moved away from the desire to stand and bang and get Fight of the Night. That said, Henderson dealt with Miller's wrestling, and I think he'll deal with Clay's. This one will be decided by the end of round 1 - either Guida can keep him down or he can't. I say he can't. Ben Henderson by decision.
Dallas Winston - I was thoroughly floored by both of Bendo's UFC showings. Bocek has tremendous takedown strength and Miller is ultra-smooth off his back. I don't see Clay out-wrestling or out-striking him and Bendo should be stronger and quicker. Ben Henderson by submission in the 3rd.
Staff Picking Guida:
Staff Picking Henderson: Tim, Roth, Leland, Fraser, Dallas
Leland Roling - Poirier's brutality and pace should give him the edge in this fight, although it might be more prudent to strike from range against Garza. If Poirier wades in too far, he'll get entangled by Garza's gangly frame and put to the ground. Poirier stays outside, mixing it up on the feet and edging Garza out round-by-round. Dustin Poirier via decision.
Tim Burke - I believe this would be a surefire candidate for fight of the night if it was on another card. Poirier's the more gifted athlete and probably the better all-round fighter in my eyes. I just can't get past Garza losing to Michael Johnson on TUF 12, and while his last two finishes have been unreal, he hasn't impressed me with what he did before them. Dustin Poirier by decision
Matt Roth - Dusting Poirier is one bad dude. He's possibly one of the top featherweights that no one knows about and with a win over Garza should be on a track to a title shot. Garza has looked good in his two finishes but Poirier is on a whole ‘nother level. Dustin Poirier by decision.
Dallas Winson - Leland makes an astute observation about the range. Garza is a terror in close and Poirier would be wise to pick away on the fringe. Garza's only loss was to Zhang with a few days to prepare. Garza is being ridiculously overlooked and I'll take a chance and pick him for the upset. Pablo Garza by decision.
Staff Picking Poirier: Tim, Leland, Roth, Anton, Fraser
Staff Picking Garza: Dallas
Cub Swanson vs Ricardo Lamas
Leland Roling - I actually like this match-up a lot, mainly because both fighters possess skills that can pave a path to victory. Swanson's long layoff makes me cringe however, and Lamas, while not the most skilled fighter, could overpower Swanson and wrestle him to death. Ricardo Lamas via decision.
Tim Burke - Cub Swanson is a beast on the feet when he wants to be. He's pretty useless on his back though, and that's right where Ricardo Lamas is going to plant him. I like watching Cub fight, and if Lamas decides to trade with him it'll be a really entertaining fight. But Lamas isn't gonna do that forever. Strike, takedown, win round. Rinse, repeat. Ricardo Lamas by decision
Matt Roth - The big game changer for me in this fight is that Lamas has some solid wrestling. I'm not sold on Cub's skills and honestly, I don't think anyone should be. He's got decent stand up but not much else. Lamas has the wrestling and grappling advantage. Just seems like a safe bet and pick the guy with the wider skillset. Ricardo Lamas by decision.
Dallas Winston - I won't argue with any of the votes for Lamas above, particularly due to his wrestling and overall toughness. Cub's a bit of a sentimental fave and I love his gameness and diversity. Cub Swanson by decision.
Staff Picking Swanson: Anton, Dallas
Staff Picking Lamas: Tim, Leland, Fraser
DaMarques Johnson vs Clay Harvison
Leland Roling - Not much to go on here, but Johnson has fought tougher competition in the past, and I believe he's a bit more seasoned than Harvison. DaMarques Johnson via decision.
Tim Burke - I'm sorry, but this fight just doesn't interest me at all. Harvison's...not good. Johnson is a little better. That's all I got. DaMarques Johnson via submission.
Matt Roth - Bah. If this was a PPV this would be the first fight on the main card. Thankfully this isn't a pay per view. I guess DaMarques Johnson with DaSubmission.
Dallas Winston - No offense to Clay, but I think he got lucky because Edwards gassed horribly. He could progress eventually but he's not at Johnson's level right now. DaMarques Johnson by TKO.
Staff Picking Johnson: Tim, Leland, Anton, Roth
Staff Picking Harvison: Fraser
Norifumi Yamamoto vs Darren Uyenoyama
Anton Tabuena - Don't let me down Kid. Norifumi Yamamoto by TKO.
Leland Roling - I like Uyenoyama, but he's bitten off more than he can chew here. Kid takes advantage of his training stateside and Darren's long layoff, eventually finding the mark and knocking him out. Kid Yamamoto via KO.
Tim Burke - Now this is a fight I like, and it's not because I'm a Kid fanboy. It's because I like watching Darren U. fight. Go find Uyenoyama vs. Hideo Tokoro from Dream 4, and enjoy. Uyenoyama's win over Katsumura was awesome as well, but issues with Shooto have held him out of the cage/ring for 14 months. Unfortunately for Darren, Kid's not going to roll with him...he's gonna try and kick his legs off and knock him out. He's going to have a very hard time taking Kid down, and he's going to suffer for it. I hate picking this and I hope I'm wrong, but I've got Kid Yamamoto by late TKO.
Matt Roth - What the hell happened to Kid Yamamoto? I like Uyenoyama a lot and figure that he's probably the safer bet. Kid just hasn't been good against non-hand-picked competition in the last couple of years. Uyenoyama's layoff worries me but he's more consistent in my eyes. Darren Uyenoyama by submission.
Dallas Winston - For the Kid we've all grown to know and love, Uyenoyama, while a deserved UFCer and exciting talent, should be a perfect match up for him. Kid's persevered through a litany of sub specialists and his striking and wrestling should be too much. BC is tough to finish but I'm going out on a limb and picking a stoppage. Kid Yamamoto by TKO in the 2nd.
Staff Picking Yamamoto: Tim, Leland, Dallas, Anton
Staff Picking Uyenoyama: Fraser, Roth
Mackens Semerzier vs Robert Peralta
Leland Roling - Peralta is the better striker, and I think he keeps this on the feet and proves once again that people have been sleeping on him for way too long. Robert Peralta via decision.
Tim Burke - Everyone's always sayin' that Mackens is "better than his record indicates". I'm not one of those people. Peralta can hang with almost any featherweight on the feet and Semerzier just doesn't have the chops to stop him or decision him. Mackens is still living off a fluke sub win over an injured Wagnney Fabiano. Someone please stop the insanity. Robert Peralta by decision.
Matt Roth - Robert Peralta is pretty dang solid. Mackens looks good in fights but never wins them. This isn't a career that forgives lack of wins because of good performances. I feel comfortable with picking Robert Peralta by decision.
Dallas Winston - Peralta has a deceiving big brother strength. He's just tough as nails everywhere and I like his subtle Taekwondo adaptations. I'm pretty torn on this but think Semerzier can lullaby him into a striking match and hit surprise takedowns to inch ahead on the cards. Mackens Semerzier by decision.
Staff Picking Semerzier: Dallas
Staff Picking Peralta: Tim, Leland, Anton, Fraser, Roth
Alex Caceres vs Cole Escovedo
Leland Roling - Caceres got his shot in the UFC way too early. He just doesn't have the experience, and Escovedo has all sorts of experience and skill. Easy win for Cole. Cole Escovedo via submission.
Tim Burke - Alex Caceres sucks. He could drop to amoebaweight and he'd get submitted by a virus. Cole Escovedo by submission
Matt Roth - At this point I'm just convinced that Joe Silva hates Alex Caceres. Cole Escovedo via submission.
Dallas Winston - I think everyone is too hard on Caceres. He's a young kid with great instincts who's been thrown into the fire early in his career. He'll also be a rather large BW which could be scary considering his quickness. However, Cole's my boy. His performance against Barao is even more impressive now and the guy deserves a win. Cole Escovedo by submission in the 3rd.
Staff Picking Caceres:
Staff Picking Escovedo: Tim, Leland, Anton, Fraser, Dallas, Roth
Mike Pierce vs Paul Bradley
Anton Tabuena - This could be very ugly, or very entertaining. Either way, I see Pierce winning. Mike Pierce by Lopsided Decision.
Leland Roling - Pierce is a relentless, blue-collar wrestler who is improving in both the grappling and stand-up departments. He should be able to run over Bradley. Mike Pierce via submission.
Tim Burke - Two wrestlers. One with heavy hands. One with terrible technique on the feet. I'm going with the more refined fighter. Mike Pierce by decision
Matt Roth - Going with my dawg Mike Pierce. Heavy hands. And better set ups on takedowns. Paul Bradley just doesn't have the skill set or footwork. Mike Pierce by decision.
Dallas Winston - This fight is actually a rematch. Pierce beat Bradley by decision in a small Pennsylvania show and he'll do the same. He's a better version of Bradley and the Hendricks fight could have gone either way. Mike Pierce by decision.
Staff Picking Pierce: Tim, Leland, Anton, Fraser, Dallas, Roth
Staff Picking Bradley:
Aaron Rosa vs Matt Lucas
Leland Roling - Rosa looked like crap against Beltran. He was far more accurate and quicker against Wagner at TFC 17, and that version of Rosa would make for a better outcome. If he shows up, he can beat Lucas, who isn't an overly impressive prospect, but he has knockout power. Tough call, but I'll go with Rosa. Aaron Rosa via TKO.
Tim Burke - On talent alone, Lucas blows Rosa out of the water. But Rosa's waaaay bigger than Lucas, and I think that will make a huge difference. Aaron Rosa by submission
Matt Roth - I'll be honest. I really don't care. Rosa has looked like crap. Lucas is way more well rounded. That usually is a good way to figure the winner. Rosa isn't scrappy enough to deal with it. Matt Lucas by decision.
Dallas Winston - Rosa's cut might actually hurt him. He's not the most graceful cat and he's now in a pool of quicker and more agile fighters. Lucas is extremely takedown-oriented and, while the crowd won't dig it, I don't know if Rosa can stop his shots or sub him. Matt Lucas by decision.
Staff Picking Rosa: Tim, Leland, Anton, Fraser
Staff Picking Lucas: Dallas, Roth