Mauricio Rua vs Dan Henderson
Brent Brookhouse - Shogun isn't a reliable whirlwind of violence anymore. He's a bit more plodding, he fades noticeably as the fight wears on and he has bad knees. I just don't like him to stop Henderson early which means I like Dan to eventually catch him as Shogun slows down. Dan Henderson by TKO, round 3.
Leland Roling - I still can't get over the fact that Dan Henderson is effective despite an antiquated, one-dimensional style of fighting that doesn't utilize his perceived strength in wrestling. Somehow, showing his cards doesn't put him on the losing end often. With that said, my stubbornness to pick Henderson reigns supreme. Rua beats him from range, avoids the right hand, and takes home a win on the scorecards. Mauricio Rua by decision.
Matt Roth - I'm a Shogun fan but I'm concerned that he's just not the same fighter he once was. A big win over Forrest Griffin doesn't change the fact that his UFC career has been underwhelming. Henderson is getting older but he's still super dangerous with his overhand right and ridiculous chin. The fight will go two rounds but I doubt that Shogun can hang with the elite of the division anymore. Dan Henderson via TKO in the second.
Tim Burke - A lot of people are concentrating on Hendo's chin, thinking Shogun has to knock him out to win. Henderson drops decisions too, and Shogun has the striking to keep Hendo at bay for five rounds. He likes takedowns from the clinch which is tough against a guy like Dan, but Hendo can be taken down, and I think he will be in this fight. I see no reason to think Shogun is "done" just because Bones ran through him. I got Mauricio Rua by decision.
Anton Tabuena - It's not just the Jon Jones bout. To be honest, I think that apart from the Machida fight, Shogun just hasn't looked that good in the UFC. He may be 40, and the less technical striker of the two, but if Shogun looks slow and sluggish at any point (he has been for most of his UFC fights now), Hendo can/will land that bomb of a right hand to put his lights out. Dan Henderson by TKO.
Fraser Coffeen - This is the kind of fight where Hendo thrives. Shogun will start strong, but Hendo is good enough to get through any early troubles. As the fight continues, I see Shogun fading a bit, which is when that giant right hand will end his night. Dan Henderson by KO in the 3rd.
Dallas Winston - I want to pick Shogun, badly, even though I have nothing against Hendo. Shogun's mobility has looked horrendous against everyone in the UFC except Machida. Somehow, Hendo has gotten significantly better using a painfully basic set of tools, but his iron chin, strong clinch, submission defense and the scariest right hand around gets him the W. Dan Henderson by TKO.
KJ Gould - Shogun should be able to put on a great performance if the pattern of his past fights in the UFC are anything to go by. The heir-apparent to Wanderlei Silva's Chute Boxe style of MMA devestation I think he has more tools in his belt than Henderson and can win by submission if necessary. Hendo's right hand is always a factor both standing and on the ground, but he's not used his wrestling that much in recent fights and his reliance on one weapon may cost him this time around. Hendo's still got an iron jaw, and Shogun isn't going to be as plodding as Wanderlei Silva having footwork that'll make him more difficult to catch comparatively. If Shogun can't get a submission, I can see him taking a decision but it'd be nice to see a kneebar out of him again. Shogun by Submission.
Staff Picking Rua: Tim, Leland, KJ
Staff Picking Henderson: Roth, Anton, Brent, Fraser, Dallas
Brent Brookhouse - Le lacks power which is the real issue here. His chin isn't all that great either. So he doesn't have the power to hold Silva at bay and he doesn't have the chin to deal with the fury Silva will bring once he gets inside. Wanderlei Silva by TKO, round 1.
Leland Roling - Le has already talked about kicking Silva to death, so if Wanderlei were smart... he'd catch the leg, sweep him, and put his BJJ skills to use on the ground where Cung isn't so comfortable. Will that happen? Probably not. What will happen? Cung gets swarmed on at some point and gets demolished in an epic ode to the Pride era. Wanderlei Silva via KO.
Matt Roth - A fight that is fun but between two fighters who are beyond the twilight of their careers. Le hasn't fought in over a year and Wand's chin is just shot to pieces. It'll come down to Wanderlei's ability to figure out Cung's footwork which is harder than it seems. Wand just isn't the same guy. I'm picking Cung by hook kick to the chin. Yep, Wand is getting Leko Buster'd in the 2nd round.
Tim Burke - Cung is flashy, but doesn't generate an amazing amount of power with his hands. Are kicks to the body going to stop Wandy? I don't think so. I think Le is the guy that is going to catch shots to the chin, and all it takes is once. I might be crazy here, but I think Silva's got this. Wanderlei Silva by TKO.
Anton Tabuena - Maybe losing 7 out of 9 will finally make people stop picking Wand because of past glory? I hate to say it, but truth is, he's past his prime and all those wars haven't been good to his body and his chin. I don't think he can handle taking hard shots anymore, so unless he clips Cung early, Wand is going to get picked apart by a more dynamic striker until his aging chin fails him. Cung Le by TKO.
Fraser Coffeen - I hate picking Wanderlei these days, but here's the thing - Cung Le is an outside fighter. He stands at range and picks his opponents apart. Silva will push inside and get the fight close and dirty, which is not the place Le likes to fight. The story of Cung having no power is exaggerated - he has big power, but it's in the kicks, not the fists. The way to stop Silva these days is with punches to the chin, and again, that's not Le's game. I just see this as a bad stylistic match-up for him, and though I don't favor Wanderlei against almost anyone, I will here. Wanderlei Silva via KO.
Dallas Winston - What kind of psychedelic nightmare have I awoken to? One of my favorite all-time fighters is reduced to having a Scott Smith-like puncher's chance against a Strikeforce level, TMA stylist? Love me some Wandy, but a berserk flurry is too dicey to consistently rely on as your only hope. Cung's footwork is mint, his striking is scalpel-like and his clinch and wrestling are fiercely under-rated. It feels like kicking a puppy, but ... Cung Le by TKO.
KJ Gould - Silva's chin is gone, and I'm not sure if Le had a chin to begin with - he's just been generally very good at fighting at range with his kicks until he got lazy against Scott Smith. Silva succeeds by being able to get up close and in your face but really this plays right into Le's strengths who times his various side kicks better than anyone else in the sport. If a shot to the body doesn't crumple Silva, a roundhouse to his dome will likely shut the lights off even if it's glancing. Sad to say, but I think this is the last time we'll see the Axe Murderer fighting in MMA - at least as it pertains to the Zuffa run shows. Cung Le by KO.
Staff Picking Silva: Tim, Brent, Leland, Fraser
Staff Picking Le: Anton, Dallas, KJ, Roth
Brent Brookhouse - I really enjoy watching Brian Bowles fight and I think he is getting overlooked a little bit here. I think it's more which Faber we see show up. The Faber that fought Eddie Wineland will have trouble with Bowles, the one that fought Dominick Cruz isn't going to have an easy time with him, but he should be able to win. Urijah Faber by decision.
Leland Roling - Bowles can't outwrestle Faber, and Faber is the speedier striker on the feet. Faber doesn't have the knockout power that Bowles' possesses, however, which makes this an intriguing fight on the feet. If Faber's smart, he powers through Bowles' defenses, wears him out, and makes this a battle of attrition. Urijah Faber via decision.
Matt Roth - I love this fight. This is the unofficial main even in my eyes as it really does have the most immediate and significant title implications. As far a match up it really depends on which Urijah Faber shows up. And it depends on that Faber's ability to get the take down. I think he can get Bowles to the ground quick enough to not get punched in the face. After that it'll be an active ground game. Urijah Faber via decision. He'll get a title shot. AGAIN.
Tim Burke - I really want to pick Bowles here, but wrestling will be the difference. Faber can dictate where the fight takes place, bottom line. I don't think this is going to be a very exciting fight, to be honest. Urijah Faber by decision.
Anton Tabuena - Faber would be the logical pick, but I think there's a very real chance for an upset here. Faber will strike Bowles for several portions of this bout, and Bowles can end it there. Brian Bowles by TKO.
Dallas Winston - I'm looking at this like the main event: one fighter is quicker and more dynamic but the fight is likely to be contested where his opponent excels, and the simple weaponry of a supercharged right hand (as long as he doesn't break it for a 3rd time), good chin and beefy clinch should get Bowles the win. Brian Bowles by decision.
KJ Gould - Faber strikes me as the more well rounded fighter, but Bowles has more fight ending ability. I'm not sure if Faber has what it takes to keep Bowles on his back which is the only way I see him winning the fight via judges decision. That's a long time to fight while trying to protect your chin, and Faber can get reckless if he feels he has momentum on his side. UFC clearly want Faber as the face of their lower weights for the sake of profitability but I think Cruz has his number, and Bowles could prevent Faber from ever showing us otherwise. Bowles by TKO.
Staff Picking Faber: Tim, Brent, Leland, Roth
Staff Picking Bowles: Anton, Fraser, Dallas, KJ
Martin Kampmann vs Rick Story
Brent Brookhouse - Kampmann is actualy the kind of fighter Rick Story matches up well with. I'm not even super high on Story as a fighter, but I like him in this fight. Rick Story by decision.
Leland Roling - I actually love Rick Story's style. Call it boring or ‘leg humping' as Tim stated, but it's the blue collar work ethic that gets it done despite the absence of the technical talents that other fighters possess. Story needs to be wrestling-centric for this fight while also maintaining pressure on the feet. If he does that, he's golden. Rick Story via decision.
Matt Roth - Kampmann is a great fighter but I just don't think he understands the way that fights are scored. He'll outbox Story and go for submissions all night. But it won't win him the decision. Rick Story via decision.
Tim Burke - Kampmann has done a much better job against wrestlers than he gets credit for, but Story isn't a "leg humper". He's a Fitch-type guy that just drains resources from his opponent, and isn't afraid to brawl his way into that type of position. Kampmann isn't going to knock him out and he's not going to get somewhere positionally dominant for long. I've got Story all the way. Rick Story by decision.
Anton Tabuena - Kampmann has fought better wrestlers, and better fighters than Rick Story. Martin Kampmann by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen - I just can't shake the image of Kampmann stuffing Diego's takedowns, which is what I think will happen here. Kampmann will keep the fight mostly standing and outpoint Story on the feet. BUT, I also can't shake the image of Diego with his hand raised. Story should be able to control the ground game a little bit. The question is, will the judges reward Kampmann's superior striking, or Story's ground game. Traditionally, it's the ground that wins it. Rick Story by (controversial) decision.
Dallas Winston - Maybe I'm just flirting with Anton? I like The Hitman's precision kickboxing, agile footwork, technical takedown defense and under-rated submission game here. Martin Kampmann by decision.
KJ Gould - Kampmann's been out a fair time, and while Story lost to Brenneman it was on short notice following a string of impressive wins over solid opponents. Story's been more active and apart from the most recent hiccup has been consistent. Kampmann has good striking and submissions but I think this fight is a bit too much to come back to after an 8 month layoff. Rick Story by Decision.
Staff Picking Kampmann: Anton, Dallas
Staff Picking Story: Tim, Brent, Leland, Fraser, Roth, KJ
Stephan Bonnar vs Kyle Kingsbury
Brent Brookhouse - I'm on the other side of the coin than Burke here. This is a brilliant fight to really get the crowd going for the PPV portion of the card. Complaining about Stephan Bonnar fights is like complaining about Micky Ward fights. No, they're not worldbeaters, but they bring it and have enough talent and skill to not have it seem like an amateur fight in a barn. Kingsbury is an okay fighter and might be able to grind this one out, but I'm picking with my heart. Stephan Bonnar by TKO, round 3.
Leland Roling - This should be a fun scrap in terms of entertainment value, but I'm convinced that Bonnar is going to get lit up like a Christmas tree by a highly-underrated Kyle Kingsbury. Kyle Kingsbury via decision.
Matt Roth - This is on the main card. This fight is on the main card while Miguel Torres is fighting on Facebook. There is no justice. Stephan Bonnar is essentially retired at this point. But he's also got more all around skills. I'm flipping a coin and saying Bonnar by decision.
Tim Burke - It bothers me that this gets a spot on the main card over so many other more relevant fights. Neither fighter is particularly good. Sure, it might be a sloppy brawl that fans in the bar will OMG over, but I just can't get into it. That being said, Bonnar's the more well-rounded guy and I think he'll take it. Stephan Bonnar by decision.
Anton Tabuena - Tough fight to pick. I'm guessing Randy Cou... I mean Kyle Kingsbury can pull it off though. Kyle Kingsbury by Decision.
Dallas Winston - I'm thoroughly impressed with Kingsbury, who has a nearly unparalleled 205-pound physique made even deadlier with his explosive Thai clinch. Kingsbury by decision is the safer choice, but I'm going sentimental and guessing that Bonnar's heart kicks into action when Kingsbury fades late. Stephan Bonnar by submission.
KJ Gould - Eh, I'm not sure. I wasn't sure if Bonnar was going to continue to have a career after losing to Mark Coleman a couple of years back. His recent couple of wins are OK while Kingsbury has had more relevant opponents making his way up the division. Of course Bonnar hasn't fought since December of last year and he's not getting any younger, and I always tend to factor in ring rust and time away in my fight picks. I think Bonnar's still tough, but I think Kingsbury can get a decision win as he has done in his most recent fights. Kyle Kingsbury by Decision.
Staff Picking Bonnar: Tim, Brent, Dallas, Roth
Staff Picking Kingsbury: Anton, Leland, Fraser, KJ
Ryan Bader vs Jason Brilz
Leland Roling - At 36 years old, there isn't a whole lot making anyone believe Brilz has a chance in this fight. Of course, the same could be said for Tito Ortiz. I don't think another upset is going to happen though. Ryan Bader via TKO.
Matt Roth - Anyone else get the sneaking suspicion that Jon Jones broke Ryan Bader? I've heard absolutely nothing out his camp regarding this fight. I don't think Brilz is good but Bader just isn't the guy we thought he was. I'll still pick him but his days in the top 10 are behind him. Shame to say that so early in his career but the truth is the truth. Ryan Bader via TKO.
Tim Burke - Bader's a physically powerful, big light heavyweight. Brilz is resilient, but he's not gonna be able to hang with Bader. I think Ryan goes back to his roots and gets back on the W side in the most efficient manner possible - with his wrestling. He'll wear down Brilz and get a late finish. Ryan Bader by late TKO.
Anton Tabuena - Bader will make a statement after that embarrassing loss against Ortiz. Ryan Bader by TKO.
Dallas Winston - Brilz is seriously under-rated but I think Bader does everything just a little better than he does. Brilz is crafty with transitions and scrambles but I don't think it's enough. Ryan Bader by decision.
KJ Gould - Brilz' wrestling won't be an advantage in this fight. Bader's got to come in focused after a rather embarrassing loss to Ortiz, right? I think a loss for either guy could be career ending but I still tend to think Bader has more upside and should bounce back from his recent losses with a definitive win. Bader by TKO
Staff Picking Bader: Tim, Anton, Leland, Fraser, Dallas, KJ, Roth
Staff Picking Brilz:
Michael McDonald vs Alex Soto
Brent Brookhouse - McDonald went from this guy who seemed like this destructive force to a guy you know is really good but doesn't quite have that same aura. I think he's still clearly going to win this one and I'll even pick him to get it all back on track. Michael McDonald by TKO, round 1.
Leland Roling - Soto isn't a great prospect, but he has potential. Unfortunately, Michael McDonald has the potential to become a future champion. He's also well-rounded and highly-effective both on the feet and on the ground. Soto is in for a long night. Michael McDonald via TKO.
Matt Roth - It's a shame that Joe Silva is tossing Alex Soto to the wolves. He's got potential to be a solid fighter but I think McDonald is just too much for him. There are questions about his ability to put away a hurt opponent but I just don't think that's gonna be a concern tomorrow night. Michael McDonald by TKO.
Tim Burke - Mayday kinda scares me. He has more potential than anyone at 135, but he has seemed very complacent in his last two fights. It almost seemed like he lacked the killer instinct necessary to be the best. I know little about Soto and I tend to think McDonald will be okay in this fight, but it's something to pay attention to going forward. If Mayday finishes this, I'll get back in the driver's seat of the hype train. If he wins by decision - alarms should be going off. Michael McDonald by decision.
Anton Tabuena - There's a reason why he's one of the most promising prospects in the UFC. Michael McDonald by lopsided Decision.
Dallas Winston - I think Cariaso deserves some credit for pushing McDonald to the limit. Mayday is an animal on the feet and on the ground and I've seen nothing from Soto that makes me believe he can hang in either aspect of combat. Michael McDonald by submission.
KJ Gould - McDonald should have this. This should be the safest bet of the card. McDonald by submission.
Staff Picking McDonald: Tim, Anton, Brent, Leland, Fraser, Dallas, KJ, Roth
Staff Picking Soto:
Tom Lawlor vs Chris Weidman
Brent Brookhouse - Weidman is simply the guy here with greater talent. Chris Weidman by decision.
Leland Roling - I'm a little concerned for Weidman here as he still tends to wade in with strikes versus setting up takedowns and exploding through his opponent. Lawlor could take advantage in those moments by lighting up Chris. Overall, however, I think Weidman's wrestling dominates. Chris Weidman via decision.
Matt Roth - USA! USA! USA! USA! Chris Weidman by decision.
Tim Burke - Tom Lawlor is like Jesse Ventura - by the time he steps into the ring/cage, you've already seen his best stuff. Weidman's a stud, and he's gonna prove it again in San Jose. Chris Weidman by decision.
Anton Tabuena - Wrestling. Chris Weidman by Decision.
Dallas Winston - I'm a stubborn bastard about making new prospects earn their place with even a semi-elite win. Weidman has looked solid but we're talking Sakara and Bongfeldt here. Lawlor out-muscled a 205-pound Kingsbury and boxed up a D1 All American in Aaron Simpson. His uppercuts are crisp against wrestlers and he hates the human neck in the clinch. Filthy. Upset. Tom Lawlor by decision.
KJ Gould - Not as safe a bet as Soto vs McDonald, but Weidman is a better wrestler at least in credentials, has Serra Jiu Jitsu and Longo Boxing dedicated to developing him as a fighter and generally as more going for him. Lawlor has experience and the skill of weigh-ins shenanigans. Weidman by decision.
Staff Picking Lawlor: Dallas
Staff Picking Weidman: Tim, Anton, Brent, Leland, Fraser, KJ, Roth
Gleison Tibau vs Rafael dos Anjos
Brent Brookhouse - Tibau on prelims against non-contenders is when he wins. But that's not really how you pick fights. Rafael dos Anjos has the right toolset to beat Tibau. dos Anjos by decision.
Leland Roling - People are going to start seeing the real talents that Rafael dos Anjos' possesses. He's improved considerably, especially on the feet, and Tibau is about to find that out the hard way. Rafael dos Anjos via decision.
Matt Roth - People are sleeping on dos Anjos. It's possibly because of his knockout loss to Jeremy Stephens. I'm more concerned that he's been relegated to Facebook when he's a viable contender for the LW belt with two more wins. Rafael dos Anjos by decision.
Tim Burke - I know I'll be in the minority on this, but I'm a big RDA fan and I think he can hang with Tibau. Gleison really doesn't bring much other than takedowns and a huge frame. Dos Anjos is a better striker and grappler, IMO. I think he can hold off Tibau's hugeness and win a decision. At least I hope so. Rafael dos Anjos by decision.
Anton Tabuena - Dos Anjos has better striking and better jiujitsu. Tibau, can try to grind him out on the ground, but I think Dos Anjos will be good enough to avoid that. Rafael Dos Anjos by Decision.
Dallas Winston - Hi. I'm that guy holding his hand up for a high-five on a deserted island I guess. RdA is quicker and has the more polished kickboxing but I think Tibau pulling off a grinder while avoiding subs is more likely. Gleison Tibau by decision.
KJ Gould - Tibau's going to try to suck the fun right out of this fight. He also has one of those heads that just looks like it's hard to KO and his losses have only been by decision or submission barring two very early stoppages in his career including one to Nick Diaz way back in UFC 65. I just think Tibau grinds out a victory over Dos Anjos, whose ability to KO becomes a non-factor as a result. Tibay by Decision.
Staff Picking Tibau: Dallas, KJ
Staff Picking dos Anjos: Tim, Anton, Brent, Leland, Fraser, Roth
Miguel Torres vs Nick Pace
Brent Brookhouse - Torres is really good, as trendy as it got for a while there to pretend that he never was. I suppose it's a necessary backlash to his being overrated for a while and placed into "top three pound-for-pound" discussions without having a full enough body of work. He's prone to brawls but he has gotten away from that side of himself and actually uses the skills at his disposal now without putting himself in as much unnecessary danger. Miguel Torres by TKO, round 2.
Leland Roling - Pissed off Miguel Torres is better than Twitter comedian Miguel Torres. Miguel Torres via submission.
Matt Roth - I don't think I could pick Nick Pace out of a line up of guys named Nick Pace. Miguel Torres made some changes to his camp and seems to be in the mindset of an angry fighter. I think he's on a path to reestablish himself in the division. Miguel Torres by triangle choke.
Tim Burke - I think Torres beat Demetrious Johnson and got hosed. If he can do that, he can beat Nick Pace. Miguel Torres by submission.
Anton Tabuena - As far as I'm concerned, Torres is on a three fight win streak, and this one will make it four in a row, and a title shot. Miguel Torres by Decision.
Dallas Winston - Torres went from p4p god to under-rated prelim guy. His reach and height are crazy for a bantamweight and I feel he's more experienced and adept where Pace specializes (subs and striking). Miguel Torres by decision.
Staff Picking Torres: Tim, Anton, Brent, Leland, Fraser, Dallas, KJ, Roth
Staff Picking Pace:
Matt Brown vs Seth Baczynski
Brent Brookhouse - If Brown can pick up a few wins at this level I think we'll see him as a 2012 staple of Fuel TV events. Matt Brown by submission, round two.
Leland Roling - Baczynski gets no love at all despite smoking his last three opponents and earning his way back into the UFC. He looked solid in his regional fights, and his return at UFC Fight Night 25 was solid. Well-rounded and 6'4" tall is an immense advantage for him here. He beats down Brown. Seth Baczynski via submission.
Matt Roth - So an ostrich, an emu, a penguin, and a chicken walk into a bar. Bartender says "Awww hellnaw, that just ain't gone fly." Matt Brown by I don't care.
Tim Burke - I can't muster up the will to analyze this poopy sandwich of a fight. Matt Brown by TKO.
Anton Tabuena - This is probably getting old, but... Luke Thomas by Decision.
Dallas Winston - And everyone laughed insolently when I called Matt Brown "The American Kazushi Sakuraba." Just go with it. Matt Brown by submission.
KJ Gould - Matt Brown is a BAMF. Baczynski has one of those polish type names I hate trying to spell. Matt Brown by submission.
Staff Picking Brown: Tim, Brent, Fraser, Dallas, KJ, Roth, Anton
Staff Picking Baczynski: Leland
Shamar Bailey vs Danny Castillo
Brent Brookhouse - This is a weird fight. I still don't fully understand Shamar Bailey being in the UFC. I figure Castillo roughs him up and stops him on a cut over his left eye. That's my oddly specific stoppage method of the night. Danny Castillo by TKO, round two.
Leland Roling - Bailey can't outwrestle Castillo for three rounds. He also can't outstrike Castillo from range because he just isn't that good at it. As long as Castillo stick to small combinations from distance, he should be good to take a decision. Danny Castillo via decision.
Tim Burke - I can't stand Danny Castillo. Everything about him screams "change the channel" to me. I know Bailey's a big dog, but at least he can wrestle. That's about all Castillo's good at as well, so this fight is closer than it appears. Shamar Bailey by decision.
Dallas Winston - Castillo is the only fighter to beat Poirier. His wrestling is decent but he's a madman who brawls with haymakers. I was definitely impressed with Bailey's chin, heart and improved stand up against Dunham but think he'll have to make it an ugly control-Snuggie to win. Lose/lose. Danny Castillo by decision.
Staff Picking Bailey: Tim, Fraser, Roth
Staff Picking Castillo: Anton, Brent, Leland, Dallas, KJ