Brent Brookhouse: Miller’s striking is good enough to hang for the little bit of the fight he’s going to have to spend on the feet. That isn’t to say that Guillard doesn’t have the pop to end it if he gets in a few good shots, but I think Miller’s game is more suited to win this match-up than Guillard’s. Melvin isn’t easy to take down but Miller will mix things up enough to confuse him, get to the ground and work to a submission. I think Melvin is way too in his own head, when he’s got a good run going he’s more dangerous and I think, coming off a loss, the second the fight hits the ground he’s going to freak out a bit and leave the opening for Miller to finish. Jim Miller by submission, round 1.
Leland Roling: I have a creeping suspicion that Guillard may somehow destroy Miller’s chin in the opening frame and shock fans. But I’ll subdue my gut feeling and go with the grinding, blue-collar efforts of Miller here. His wrestling is solid, and he has savvy submission skills. Hopefully, he knocks off the low percentage attempts and puts himself into more dominant positions in this fight. I wouldn’t sleep on Guillard, but if pressed for a decision, I’ll go with Miller. Jim Miller via submission, Round 2
Tim Burke: Joe Silva did well with this matchup. On the surface, this is a very tough fight to pick. Guillard has better hands, Miller has a better chin. Both have great wrestling. Miller has the sub advantage. Guillard has the size advantage. To me, it’s about takedowns. Despite what people think about Guillard, he gets taken down a fair amount. He’s just very adept at getting up, normally. I think Miller can keep him there enough to win the fight, and could even get the sub. It’s that simple for me. Jim Miller by decision.
Anton Tabuena: I think Jim Miller is by far the better overall fighter, but as always, their stylistic match up makes it harder to predict. I think Guillard is good enough to keep this on the feet long enough to land a few hard shots. The question is, when he lands, will he be able to stop Miller who has a strong chin and is known to be one of the toughest dudes in the UFC? Cause if he can’t finish, I don’t think this bout will be staying standing for 15 mins, and the longer it gets, the more chances Miller gets to lock in a submission. It’s never happened before, but I’m going with my gut here and picking the upset. Melvin Guillard by TKO, Round 1.
T.P. Grant: A lightweight barn burner. Burke hit this right on the head, fantastic bit of match making by Joe Silva. Guillard and Miller are excellent stylistic foils, both are aggressive fighters: Miller with a grappling background, Guillard from striking. Guillard has very good counter wrestling, but he isn’t immune to takedowns. I think MIller gets him down and locks on a submission. Jim Miller via Submission, Round 1.
David Castillo: This is easily one of the worst matchups for Guillard in the division: a scrappy, tough as nails, crafty grappler who also happens to be a competent boxer with a lights out submission game. Melvin can’t rely on one big punch to end it, meanwhile, Jim has just enough power to rattle Guillard’s sort of questionable chin (well not really, but I don’t like the fact that Lauzon and Stevenson hurt him with minor punches), and once he latches on to a submission it’s over. I don’t mean to be overly critical of Guillard, but his five fight win streak convinced some people that he was elite when his competition in those wins, and his losses combined to argue otherwise: of Melvin as simply a very talented, but limited gatekeeper. With Guillard’s back against the wall, I wouldn’t be surprised by a Stephens-like performance. Thankfully, Miller would never allow that. Jim Miller by rear naked choke, round 3.
Fraser Coffeen: When Guillard wins, it comes from outworking his opponents on the feet and landing that big power punch. That’s not going to work here. Miller has a tough enough chin to not get KO’d and is a workhorse. Henderson brought the perfect strategy against him and executed it flawlessly, but that kind of game just isn’t in Melvin’s playbook. Jim Miller by submission, round 1
KJ Gould: Both guys are coming off less than stellar outings where obvious mistakes in strategy were made. The question is who has made a better correction and will they be able to implement their strongest area to beat the other man. Guillard relied too much on his athleticism to try and blast Joe Lauzon out early, he got reckless with his own defense resulting in him getting countered on the feet and submitted on the floor. Miller tried an all-or-nothing standing arm triangle on Ben Henderson and then got smashed on the ground when he spent too long looking for a finish off of his back. I’m almost certain Guillard has had it drilled into him by Greg Jackson to be more composed and methodical, coupled with his physical talents that might be enough to defeat Miller, who I suspect may drop to Featherweight for his next fight. Guillard by TKO
Dallas Winston: At first glance, Miller’s triple threat of BJJ, boxing and wrestling would seem to be sheer Kryptonite for Guillard’s known weaknesses. What makes this intriguing is that he’s not an outright dominant wrestler or a power puncher and Melvin has made great strides in footwork, takedown defense and scooting his back to the fence to stand. The swaying factor for me is Miller’s pure toughness and rugged chin, which should see him through the rough spots and bide him enough time to finagle a sub. I could see Melvin forcing the ref to step in if he catches Miller and/or stuns him and pounces with GnP, but Miller’s big heart and sick BJJ should prevail. Jim Miller by submission.
Staff Picking Guillard: Anton, KJ
Staff Picking Miller: Tim, Grant, David, Fraser, Dallas, Leland, Brookhouse, Roth
Duane Ludwig vs. Josh Neer
Brent Brookhouse: This might be kind of fun. Neer is dangerous but I think Ludwig is better suited to the kind of fight they’re going to have here. I also can’t stand multiple time drunk drivers (especially ones that run from the cops at 100 MPH, risking hundreds of lives and then have the balls to say the cops were too rough after the arrest) and I’ll never pull for Neer to win another fight in his life. Duane Ludwig by KO, round 1.
Leland Roling: Neer looked great against Keith Wisniewski, but that was a given considering Wisniewski couldn’t even push away Neer in the clinch. Ludwig comes from a kickboxing and Muay Thai background, and the clinch isn’t an unknown place for him. I imagine Ludwig maintains range and peppers Neer from distance while avoiding his sharp elbows, taking the decision. Duane Ludwig via decision.
Tim Burke: I can’t believe this is co-maining in 2012. Ludwig owns the standup advantage, but anyone with any brains (and wrestling) puts Ludwig on the floor. Neer floors it and elbows him into oblivion before setting up the sub. Josh Neer by submission.
Anton Tabuena: Neer might be a bit undersized at welterweight, but Ludwig isn’t the biggest guy either. I think Neer wins this on the ground. Josh Neer by TKO.
T.P. Grant: Neer is going to take Ludwig down and beat him up on the ground. It seems pretty straight forward to me. Josh Neer by TKO, Round 2.
David Castillo: I didn’t realize how utterly thin this card was until having to predict this co main event. To be fair to both guys, they’ve more or less earned a proper fight (not TV time per se). Ludwig had a pretty good scrap with Amir, but expect Neer to do as everyone says: take him down and beat him up. However, I believe Ludwig is rejuvenated now that he’s the official record holder for fasted knockout in the UFC. That’s my scientific analysis on top of that fact that Neer doesn’t always fight to his strengths. Duane Ludwig by TKO, round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: Ludwig is better standing, Neer is more well rounded. Normally there I go with the well rounded guy, but I’ve liked Bang in his recent outings, and I think he pulls Neer into a kickboxing battle here, which he wins. Duane Ludwig by decision
KJ Gould: I’m not sure why Ludwig is still competing in the UFC, other than an additional token gesture for finally correcting his fastest KO in UFC history accolade. While Neer’s not a world beater he is by far more complete and can finish by strikes on the ground. Neer by TKO
Dallas Winston: I have a ton of respect for both guys. Neer is a raw scrapper and his natural toughness is his best aspect. He has good length, solid boxing and has really made his slashing elbows a key part of his arsenal. Ludwig is one of the better Thai purists in the game so this should be a case of "Bang" trying to out-finesse the brawler. I expect him to employ good footwork to chip away from the fringe. Neer will look to follow behind his one-twos and clinch up to either smash Ludwig with dirty boxing and short elbows or work takedowns. Ludwig will have to be selective with his kicks so Neer doesn’t snatch his leg. Earlier in the UFC, Neer had to focus heavily on his wrestling and BJJ but, while he’s improved there, I think the gap on the feet is much larger. Duane Ludwig by decision.
Staff Picking Ludwig: David, Fraser, Dallas, Leland, Brookhouse, Roth
Staff Picking Neer: Tim, Anton, Grant, KJ
Mike Easton vs. Jared Papazian
Brent Brookhouse: I don’t really buy Easton as being all that great, maybe I’ll be proven wrong eventually but I don’t think this is the fight that proves much. Mike Easton by decision.
Leland Roling: Papazian is a solid addition to the UFC, although he should be in the flyweight division. Easton’s power is the major difference here. Mike Easton via TKO.
Tim Burke: Papazian’s actually not bad at all. His fight with Abel Cullum was pretty good, and he’s got a good chin. Easton’s at a different level though. Mike Easton by decision.
Anton Tabuena: I agree with Tim. Both are talented, but I think Mike Easton is better. Mike Easton by decision.
T.P. Grant: Prospect vs Prospect! Young fighters clashing, anything can happen. That said I’ve been a fan of Easton for a while and the guys at Alliance MMA rave about this kid. Mike Easton via Submission, Round 3.
David Castillo: Papazian will prove to be game, but being ‘game’ doesn’t mean much in the context of winning, and Easton is simply the more talented fighter. His original opponent, however (Ken Stone), would have been my pick. Mike Easton by decision.
KJ Gould: I like to support Hayastan guys and see them do well, but Papazian doesn’t fit the typical mold of crazy Armenian with judo and possible leglock skills. Easton is with a more proven MMA camp plus has his first UFC fight under his belt and out of the way, in front of his hometown no less. Just wild speculation, but I’d imagine Easton will just look more comfortable fighting his second UFC fight with Papazian feeling the pressure of his UFC debut. Easton by Decision.
Dallas Winston: I’m usually the last one to whine about things like this but, out of all the match ups on this card, this just strikes me as an odd choice for the main. Still, I love watching the Hayastan crew and these are worthy prospects. It’s quite unsettling that Papazian was triangled by Shad Smith (not for that reason) and Easton is just a tough S.O.B who won’t be so tentative in his second go-around. Mike Easton by rear-naked choke.
Staff Picking Easton: Tim, Anton, Grant, David, Fraser, KJ, Leland, Dallas, Brookhouse, Roth
Staff Picking Papazian:
Pat Barry vs. Christian Morecraft
Brent Brookhouse: I’d much rather watch Pat Barry fight than Christian Morecraft, but I like Morecraft to grind out an ugly win here where he gets in trouble early but rides out the last two rounds. Christian Morecraft by decision.
Leland Roling: Does time heal all wounds? How about your fight IQ? If Barry has learned anything from his recent roller coaster ride, he should win here. He must remain patient and stop going berserk at the first sign that a guy is hurt. If he can do that, Morecraft will get finished quickly. Pat Barry via KO, Round 1.
Tim Burke: Can Morecraft get it to the ground? I don’t think it’s an automatic win if he can, but he’s not gonna win the standup. I’ll go with the sentimental pick though, because everyone knows HD’s a good dude. Pat Barry by KO.
T.P. Grant: Pat Barry is just an awesome dude, but his MMA career is not a good place right now. Since the end of 2008 Barry is 2-4 in the UFC, and while Morecraft isn’t a world-beater he is an up-and-comer who is consistently improving his game. I think Morecraft is going clinch with Barry, take Barry down and wear him down. Christian Morecraft via TKO, Round 3.
David Castillo: Until Barry picks up some kind of killer instinct, I’ll never pick him with confidance, even against a journeyman like Morecraft. I still can’t shake that image of Mirko Filipovic of all people scoring the RNC with no hooks. Unbelievable. The guy will never be any good, but at least he’s entertaining when he’s upright. Morecraft is more well rounded, and can submit once they go to the ground. Christian Morecraft by submission, round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: Reread everything I wrote about Neer and Bang, and apply it here. Although Barry has not much impressed me lately, I am hoping the change in camps will help him improve TD defense and force the fight to stay standing. I hope. Pat Barry by TKO, round 2.
KJ Gould: Come on Pat, Morecraft is tailor made for you to look good against. Destroy his legs and take his head. Barry by KO
Dallas Winston: I was shocked at how fluid the massive Morecraft was off his back versus McCorkle, who finished in the top-five of the ADCC qualifiers with only 6 months of BJJ. As mentioned in the Dissection, Barry should be able to revert back to his steady stream of leg kicks and use his monumental speed advantage to dismember Morecraft or sting punches and get out of dodge. Morecraft is a goliath with decent wrestling and a slick sub-game, so he’ll devour "HD" for the slightest mistake. Pat Barry by TKO via leg kicks (!).
Staff Picking Barry: Tim, Anton, Fraser, KJ, Leland, Dallas
Staff Picking Morecraft: Grant, David, Brookhouse, Roth
Jorge Rivera vs. Eric Schafer
Brent Brookhouse: Rivera is a weird guy to watch. He has fights where he looks completely shot and then goes on a little run where he looks like a new man. This is a good match-up for him where he should be able to keep it on the feet and bust up Schafer. Jorge Rivera by decision.
Leland Roling: Rivera should have the takedown defense to avoid Schafer’s shots, leaving him in a well-known predicament... being beaten to a pulp while he turtles to the ground. Jorge Rivera via TKO.
Tim Burke: Schafer possesses a good ground game and a good chin. But I’ve never been all that impressed with his takedowns, and Rivera is still a crafty, tough fighter. I think Rivera beats him up on the feet and Schafer just takes it. Jorge Rivera by decision.
Anton Tabuena: Schafer will win this on the ground, and Rivera will get cut. Eric Schafer by Submission
T.P. Grant: Two veterans on the downside of their careers. Both are moderately well rounded and entertaining but aren’t going to set the world on fire. I just have a weird feeling Schafer pulls this one out. Eric Schafer via Decision.
David Castillo: My brain cells have had to organize themselves to make sense of fights involving Duane Ludwig, Josh Neer, Pat Barry (all featured), and suddenly it hit me: this card is basically UFC 55 minus Sean frikkin Gannon. It’s utterly mediocre, but I expect it all to be a bizarre, fun sort of mediocre. Rivera against Schafer is not what I singed up for, but I think Jorge will score on the feet, and pick up the win. If there’s one thing that has been moderately impressive about Jorge’s career it’s that he’s improved steadily on the feet and even developed power along the way. I still maintain he was looking alright agaisnt Bisping, even though his cardio doesn’t exist. Jorge Rivera by TKO, round 3.
KJ Gould: These guys have really lucked out to still fight under the UFC banner. Rivera is getting too old and Schafer has never come across as well rounded or athletic. Schafer is younger, and he ought to have been improving his striking with team Duke Roufus, right? I don’t know. It’s hard to pick a guy who’s been used to pad Michael Bisping’s record, and both of them have played that role. Schafer by Decision.
Dallas Winston: Castillo?!?! Sean Gannon is the man -- plus he’s a police officer and your comments and personal info have already been passed along. Focus, Dallas! OK. I see this fight going exactly like Simpson vs. Schafer with the caveat that Rivera can’t wrestle as well as Simpson, but people’s heads just fall off when he punches them. Yes … their heads just fall off. Jorge Rivera by referee intervention due to strikes.
Staff Picking Rivera: Tim, David, Leland, Dallas, Brookhouse, Roth
Staff Picking Schafer: Grant, Anton, Fraser, KJ
Kamal Shalorus vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov
Brent Brookhouse: Not a fight I’m looking forward to live blogging. Luckily, copy-paste makes Nurmagomedov not a huge pain. Shalorus should get a win here. Kamal Shalorus by TKO, round 2.
Leland Roling: I’m definitely interested in this fight, mainly because we axed Khabib on the 2012 Scouting Report due to his soft strength of record and seemingly one-dimensional style. Can AMA Fight Club improve his weaknesses and make him well-rounded? We’ll find out. Shalorus can wrestle, and I’m going with what I know of Khabib already... he possesses good wrestling, and a suspect technical grasp of the submission game. Gotta go with Kamal. Kamal Shalorus via decision.
Matt Roth: Early vote for fight that I really don’t want to do results for because the names are just too impossible. Shalorus is just better at everything than Nurmagomedov. The only question for me is that this is the first fight where Kamal has changed camps and that can kill a fighter’s career if it was a bad move. But I’m going with the known known and picking Kamal Shalorus by Decision.
Anton Tabuena: Easy. Shalorus by Decision.
Tim Burke: Shalorus has ugly standup but heavy hands, a terrible tank, and really good wrestling. Nurmagomedov, from what I’ve seen, has pretty good wrestling, okay subs, and okay hands. I think Shalorus is a bad matchup for Khabib, and Shalorus will take a decision (if he doesn’t pass out from exhaustion before the final bell). Kamal Shalorus by decision.
T.P. Grant: Kamal is going to refuse to use his wrestling, he is going to fling wild hooks, he is going to gas out in three minutes and he will win a split decision. Kamal Shalorus by Decision.
David Castillo: I wasn’t even sure Shalorus was still fighting. Still, I think he’s an interesting fighter. The only thing that has defined him is his wrestling, and his ability to completely withstand that high kick that landed flush from Jim Miller that didn’t even cause Kamal to blink. That wild, sloppy as hell striking of his will ge tthe job done. He’s nothing if not good at intimidating his opponents, and Nurmagomedov will be intimidated. Kamal Shaluros by TKO, round 2.
KJ Gould: I believe since his loss to Jim Miller, Kamal made the decision to move from Austin, Texas to Santa Monica, California, with a brief stop at Las Vegas, Nevada to train his submission game - which was already partly Catch and Wrestling based - with Neil Melanson at Xtreme Couture. He’s also been improving his striking at Anthony Hardonk’s gym in CA, so could we see a more technical, well rounded Prince of Persia take the stage? Most are picking him based on his raw striking power alone. Shaluros by TKO.
Dallas Winston: Shalorus is a straight up bruiser who seems to genuinely dislike his opponents in the heat of battle and, sometimes, their nether regions. He’s got a wicked (albeit inaccurate) inside low kick, he’s a wild brawler on the feet with a decent chin and can always fall back on his wrestling. Nurmy has made impressive strides for such a young fighter and he’ll be pretty good everywhere but excellent nowhere. Kamal Shalorus by TKO.
Staff Picking Shalorus: Tim, Anton, Roth, Grant, David, Fraser, KJ, Leland, Dallas, Brookhouse
Staff Picking Nurmagomedov:
Charlie Brenneman vs. Daniel Roberts
Brent Brookhouse: Clearly the UFC sees Brenneman’s win over Rick Story as a fluke. Bouncing him way down to the prelims for an FX card seems to show that. Still, better fighters usually win. Charlie Brenneman by decision.
Leland Roling: Brenneman gives Roberts the blue-collar treatment. Grinds him out to a decision with superior wrestling. Charlie Brenneman via decision.
Tim Burke: I’ve never really felt that Roberts was UFC-caliber despite his submission game, and Brenneman is just a lot better than him. Easy pick for me. Charlie Brenneman by decision.
Anton Tabuena: Brenneman is one of the more talented guys in the division, and I think he’s much better than Roberts. Charlie Brenneman by Decision.
T.P. Grant: This one seems pretty easy to me. Brenneman’s only UFC losses are to a LHW (Anthony Johnson) and an elite wrestler (Johny Hendricks) and Daniel Roberts is neither of those things. Charlie Brenneman via Decision.
David Castillo: Easy pick here. Roberts is heralded for his jiu jitsu, but compared to other grapplers, there’s nothing about his game that especially stands up, and he’s not dynamic enough from his back to counter Brenneman’s top control. Charlie Brenneman by decision.
KJ Gould: Picking the stand out wrestler here. It just makes the most sense. Plus that hair … Brenneman by decision.
Dallas Winston: Wow … I’m a little surprised no one picked Roberts, even though I’m not either. Brenneman is fairly one-dimensional and Roberts has the edge standing and with subs. Still, that one dimension should be good enough to negate the rest. Charlie Brenneman by decision.
Staff Picking Brenneman: Tim, Grant, Anton, David, Fraser, KJ, Leland, Dallas, Brookhouse, Roth
Staff Picking Roberts:
Fabricio Camoes vs. Tommy Hayden
Brent Brookhouse: Camoes probably should win this, but I’m going with the young American with the high finishing rate to make a big splash with an impressive win. Tommy Hayden by decision.
Leland Roling: Nothing I’ve seen from Hayden has impressed me, but this will be the step-up in competition he needs. This should give us a better sense of where he stands. Unfortunately, I think it’s too much. Camoes is far from a world beater, but he can beat Hayden. Fabricio Camoes via decision.
Tim Burke: I’m happy Morango got another chance in the UFC. Aaand that’s all I have to say about this fight. So...what did the fisherman say to the bartender? "Pick a cod, any cod!" Fabricio Camoes by decision.
T.P. Grant: Another salty veteran vs undefeated prospect match up, Camoes getting a second shot in the UFC, this time at Featherweight. Hayden trains under Jorge Gurgel, and like Gurgel he has great jiu jitsu and unlike Gurgel he uses it. Camoes is no stranger to the ground game being the proud owner a Gracie black belt. I think Camoes gets this fight to the mat and gives the youngin’ a lesson. Fabricio Camoes by Decision.
David Castillo: Camoes is an alright figher with just the right matchup in this one. his win over Efrain Escudero got him back into the UFC, and a win over Hayden, who isn’t all that special on the feet, will keep him there. Fabricio Camoes by decision.
Dallas Winston: I actually think Camoes is kind of a beast. He’s a frenetically paced scrambler with good wrestling and sick submissions and I never really thought he deserved the axe originally. Fabricio Camoes by submission.
Staff Picking Camoes: Tim, Grant, Anton, David, Fraser, KJ, Leland, Dallas, Roth
Staff Picking Hayden: Brookhouse
Daniel Pineda vs. Pat Schilling
Brent Brookhouse: Pineda is going to trounce him. Schilling’s record is meaningless (see Dallas’ pick) Pineda by TKO, round 1.
Leland Roling: I’ll go against the betting line here as Schilling took a play out of the Jason Reinhardt school of record padding. Pineda has fought far better competition. Both guys are aggressive, so anything can happen... but I’ll go with experience. Daniel Pineda via TKO.
Tim Burke: I haven’t taken the time to watch tape on either guy, but all the early betting was on Schilling so I’ll go with him. Crappy analysis FTW. Pat Schilling by submission.
T.P. Grant: Pineda is an aggressive top position beast, but he is not a well rounded grappler. Schilling is aggressive on the feet and on the mat, with a good submission attack. Schilling has the means to win the fight where ever it ends up, so I’ll play those odds. Pat Schilling via Submission.
David Castillo: Tough fight to pick, in my opinion, mainly because both guys are aggressive and the exchanges will likely turn it into a coin flip. But Schilling is a bit more polished. Pat Schilling by TKO, round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: Schilling has never been pushed past the first, and if Pineda can do that, in Schilling’s UFC debut, it could cause him troubles. But I don’t think he can. Pat Schilling by KO, round 1
Dallas Winston: When Leland says "record padding," that’s putting it lightly. From the prelims Dissection: "While Pineda will have a significant edge in experience with four-times as many fights, Schilling's past level of competition leaves much to be desired. His opponents have a poor cumulative record (14-31) and two are yet to win (0-1, 0-7). In fact, he's only beaten one fighter with a winning record, which was Tom Waters (4-3)." Daniel Pineda by TKO.
Staff Picking Pineda: Leland, Dallas, Brookhouse, Roth
Staff Picking Schilling: Tim, Grant, Anton, David, Fraser, KJ
Joseph Sandoval vs. Nick Denis
Leland Roling: Nick Denis. What can I say... dude slammed Nick Mamalis into unconsciousness after he was being wrestled to death. Nick Denis by TKO.
Tim Burke: The Ninja of Love finally gets his long-overdue callup to the big leagues. Nick’s puttin the stamp on kids, son! Nick Denis by KO.
T.P. Grant: Nick Denis is an interesting fighter and powerful Bantamweight. Denis is a very active and aggressive fighter from all positions, wearing down opponents. I think Denis starts off his UFC run with a W. Nick Denis via TKO, Round 2.
David Castillo: Despite the image of Denis in my head of him getting his head dribbled off the canvas like a basketball with Sandro’s right hand, he’s the perfect matchup for Sandoval, whose wild striking will be neutralized by Denis’ top game. Nick Denis by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Kyokushin karate? Awesome. Go Denis go! Nick Denis by decision.
Dallas Winston: The Ninja of Love via cuddle-jitsu. Which means knockout. Nick Denis by TKO.
Staff Picking Sandoval:
Staff Picking Denis: Tim, Grant, Anton, David, Fraser, KJ, Leland, Dallas, Brookhouse, Roth