Brent Brookhouse: I pick a lot of upsets, I'm aware (Chris will point out that I've picked against Silva at 205 both previous times). It makes life more fun and all that. But, from the day this fight was announced I've been touting that this isn't as easy a fight as people seem to think it is. Bonnar is a flawed fighter, Silva is better. But how many people have completely dominated and embarrassed Stephan Bonnar? He was competitive with guys like Jones and Evans. The Coleman fight was a career lowpoint, for sure. But even if you think that's the "real Bonnar" this isn't a fight where that style really matters.
He's shown a new willingness to use his wrestling and topgame in recent fights and that makes him dangerous for Silva. If I were picking this fight with the idea that someone blows up my house if I'm wrong, I'd take Silva. But I've simply had too much fun shouting about Bonnar winning for a few weeks that I've convinced myself the impossible will happen. And what the hell fun is life if you can't make wild proclamations like Stephan Bonnar by decision.
Tim Burke: Brent busting out the double paragraph prediction. Wow. Still though - Brent be crazy. Bonnar doesn't have the wrestling to threaten Silva, and he cuts easily. The size advantage isn't even that great (about 225 for Bonnar in the cage vs. 207 for Anderson). The bottom line is that Silva hurts faces. This is paint-by-numbers, folks. Anderson Silva by TKO, round 2.
Mookie Alexander: The choice is so difficult to make. Is Anderson Silva going to soundly outstrike him for a quick KO/TKO? Drag it out for a later round TKO? Cuts stoppage? Go for a submission? Give Bonnar a monstrous beating but go the distance? Decisions decisions. The 1st Chael Sonnen fight served as a blueprint on how to beat Silva minus triangle defense. Here's the problem - Chael is one of the top 3 MMA wrestlers in the sport, Stephan Bonnar is not. It will be ugly and painful as expected. Anderson Silva by TKO, round 2
Ben: I have this sinking feeling that Anderson is going into this fight with the intent to carry Bonnar to the three round decision. This feels an awful lot like Jack Johnson vs. Stanley Ketchel (minus the size disparity thing). Maybe Bonnar will get uppity and start fighting for real - which would force Anderson to deliver some explosive action as he does in his title fights. I doubt it though. Cruise control is the name of Anderson's game here. Silva, decision.
T.P. Grant: I was one of the those people that spouted the "there are weight classes for a reason" and "he is just too big" when Silva faced off with Forrest Griffin. That would matter if Silva relied heavily on being bigger and stronger than his opponents. But he relies on speed and technique, two things that will be amplified when he faces off against a moderated skilled Light Heavyweight like Bonnar. The American Psycho has a dim ray of hope to out grapple Silva, but at some point he will get trapped on the feet, hit hard, and finished. Anderson Silva by TKO, Round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: There's no way I'm picking Bonnar here, though I have this weird gut feeling he's going to win. But I was worried when Silva fought James Irvin too, which proved to be pretty dumb. So the question is, how does Silva win? I think Bonnar makes this a fight, and if it was a 5 rounder, I'd go with Silva TKO R3. Since it's just 3, I think Silva wins the first two, but doesn't pull the trigger in the 3rd and lets Bonnar ride it out. Anderson Silva by decision
Dallas Winston: I appreciate Tom's comment about speed here. Anderson's already lightning at middleweight and almost inhumanly fast against the bigger 205ers, thus the tidy dispatching of Irvin and Griffin. When that unfathomable quickness and agility is combined with the sport's best footwork and kickboxing, this should be a free for all in striking encounters. The sliver of hope for Bonnar is his kitchen sink for a chin, massive size advantage and under-rated BJJ acumen. If Bonnar finds a way to clinch up or even get close enough to get his hands on Silva, he absolutely has a legit chance to make something happen. In addition to Sonnen, let's not forget that Silva was taken down and mounted by Travis Lutter, who's far from a wrestling juggernaut. Realistically, Silva should blow Bonnar out of the water but I can buy the "Rocky" storyline because Bonnar is just a tough and likable guy. Anderson Silva by decision.
Chris Hall: I really want to live in a world where Stephan Bonnar upsets Anderson Silva. Not because of the "Rocky" story or even to see an old dog get a big win. No, I want to see the chaos. But it's not going to happen. The weak arguments about Bonnar's size and Silva's weakness to wrestling are just straws to grasp it. Don't let Brent try to talk you into it, either (and yes, he picked both Irvin and Griffin to beat Silva. Let that sink in for a second). The real question is how Silva will win. I'm going with Anderson Silva by TKO.
Staff picking Silva: Ben, Grant, Fraser, Mookie, Dallas, Tim, Brenda, Anton
Staff picking Bonnar: Brookhouse
Brent Brookhouse: Maldonado has decent offense, bad defense and is a slow starter. Add in a lack of any real shocking power and that's a horrible combination to face Teixeira. Teixeira starts fast and hits really hard. That should be enough to put Fabio to sleep in the first. Glover Teixeira by TKO, round 1.
Tim Burke: Maldonado's striking defense is bad. Glover hits like a truck and is great at finishing fights. The only thing that gives me pause is that Teixeira does fade a bit late. If Maldonado can weather the storm and get into the second half of the fight, he has a reasonable chance of taking a decision. I doubt that happens though - Glover's going to drop him and submit him. Glover Teixeira by submission, round 2
Mookie Alexander: Props to Maldonado for taking part in this mauling. Maldonado's offensive boxing and body attack is lethal, but he's open to punches and knees as evidenced in the Pokrajac fight, and Glover is a vastly superior fighter. Teixeira by submission, round 1
Ben: I do like Maldonado's style of attack, however, Glover basically knocks people's heads clean off with those cinder block fists. Unless Fabio comes out and reveals a dramatic alteration of his baseline fight style, Glover is going to come away with a highlight reel victory here. I can't see any Junior dos Santos vs. Roy Nelson type decision going on here with the pure fury Glover can put out. Teixeira, KO, Round 1.
T.P. Grant: Maldonado is a lot of fun to watch, but he gets hit... a lot. And when Teixeira hits mid-level Light Heavyweights, they fall down and don't tend to get up. Glover Teixeira by TKO, Round 2.
Dallas Winston: I'm intrigued with Maldonado's style: though billed as a boxer, he's really a gritty in-fighter who likes to bury his head in his opponent's chest and wheel out sharp and unending combinations of 6-10" punches. Like a lot of hardcores, I'm also a sucker for those thumping body shots that sound like he's clubbing a slab of raw meat. As finitely technical as Maldonado's style is, it relegates him to gradually chipping an opponent down by volume. Teixeira is a head-hunter seeking decapitation with every strike, and isn't the type to lay back on the cage and trade medium velocity punches -- he'll look to stay moving of his own accord in open space and sight in his John Hackleman style haymakers, ala Chuck Liddell. The beauty is that his submission game is venomous, making Texeira a ridiculously potent offensive fighter. Maldonado is hard to finish but, due to his grinding in-fighting, lacks the firepower to put Teixeira away. Glover Teixeira by decision.
Chris: Fabio has far too many defensive holes to be favored against a guy like Teixeira. On top of that, it's already been proven that the judges just don't rate his incredible body work for him to take a decision. That aside, he's also shown some very impressive durability. Glover by decision.
Staff picking Maldonado:
Staff picking Teixeira: Ben, Grant, Fraser, Mookie, Brookhouse, Dallas, Chris, Tim, Anton
Brent Brookhouse: I can never pick against Nogueira, and I think "I can never pick Herman" is going to become a part of my standard process. Herman fights stupid and isn't even that good when he fights smart. Nogueira always has some trouble though, so let's say Herman wins the first before Nog catches him in the second. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira by submission, round 2.
Tim Burke: Dude, it's Big Nog vs. a guy who says BJJ doesn't work. Are you kidding me? Dave Herman's gonna be taking a goddamned nap, and I'm going to laugh my way through the entire thing yelling ZHOO ZHITSOO! Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira by submission, round 2.
Mookie Alexander: I'm really tempted to pick Herman because I think Big Nog is shot. But like Yves Edwards, this is a sentimental pick and hopefully this does go to the ground because it's been a looooooong time since Big Nog took anyone down. Big Nog via submission, round 1
Ben: Anyone who picks Dave Herman is either a gambler taking a flyer or an idealist in a world full of cold-hearted realists. I'm kind of tempted to do so myself, but Dave is probably going to fall prey to a submission here after something crazy he launches goes awry. Big Nog, sub, Round 1.
T.P. Grant: The only reason I would pause in taking Big Nog is the fact he is coming off a major injury, but I think a 60% Nogueira still beats Herman. Nogueira looked very good against Mir before getting caught in that kimura, he seemed to have shed several years that were weighing him down in previous fights. If he comes out with that same kind of energy, he should walk right over Herman, who at the best of times seems only partially interested in MMA. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira by TKO, Round 2.
Dallas Winston: Damn it ... my two favorite heavyweights. I have no idea if I'm being purely objective here, but I'm trying: Herman's a freakish wrestler and Nog's not a dominant takedown guy, which could take Nog's exorbitant submission advantage out of the equation. If that's the case, I see this fight about even. Nog has the more polished technique with head movement and in-the-pocket jousting but Herman has the more diverse arsenal and power advantage. Defense barely even factors in for either -- which is why you gotta love these guys. Nog has always been hittable but Herman has a really obvious flaw in shrinking his head back from punches for just shying away from them. I hate to see either lose but, though I think Herman is an excellent bet at the monumental +360 to +380 odds, I'll go with Nog for having the more proven heart and endurance at the top level.(If none of the staff picks Herman I might take him ... just because.) Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira by submission.
Staff picking Herman:
Staff picking Nogueira: Ben, Grant, Fraser, Brookhouse, Mookie, Dallas, Chris, Tim, Anton
Brent Brookhouse: Silva seems to have a few holes in his game that are right in Fitch's wheelhouse. Assuming Fitch can avoid an early flurry or two and get the fight down, the rest of the fight should be easy for him. Silva will bounce back though, he's got a lot of upside. Jon Fitch by decision.
Tim Burke: Yes, I'm an unashamed Jon Fitch fan. The Hendricks KO didn't happen. It just didn't. This is a good bout for some Fitching. Silva's damn explosive, but he's going to get dragged into a dog fight and he won't have the cardio to last all three rounds in my estimation. Fitch's standup is underrated as well, and I think he can even hold his own on the feet with the prospect. I truly, honestly believe that Fitch is still a top-five welterweight in the world and he's gonna put a stop to the Silva hype train here. Jon Fitch by decision.
Mookie Alexander: The prevailing pattern I noticed from the last two Brazil cards is that referees are very quick to force a stand-up. Basically this means that Jon Fitch will either have to start coming remotely close to a finish or he'll have to routinely advance position and throw some hard ground-and-pound. I think Silva has enough TDD to survive a typical Fitch decision win, outpoint him on the feet and pull out a close victory. Erick Silva by decision.
Ben: Fitch gonna Fitch. Erick Silva has been a terror of late - however, he has never faced anyone remotely as good as Jon. The fight will probably feature some very aggressive circling before a striking battle turns into a clinch that segues into a display of just how freakin' good Jon Fitch is at controlling and grinding his opponents to smithereens. I actually expect a Fitch submission victory here in the second or third, as Silva realizes he can't get his strikes off cleanly and slowly tires of fighting the human boa constrictor off. Fitch, sub, Round 3.
T.P. Grant: A very interesting fight, the UFC could be very well be giving a bright prospect in Silva an unnecessary set back. People seem to think that the Hendricks knockout has invalided everything Fitch has ever done in his career. They let their hate of his fighting style blind them to the astonishing accomplishments in Fitch's career. Silva is a game fighter and could really turn into something, but this is a huge jump in competition for him. Jon Fitch by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I like Silva, and have high hopes for him, but I'm not going to write Fitch off based solely on the Hendricks loss. Fitch is just really, really good at holding people down, and I've seen nothing that leads me to believe Silva can stop that. Jon Fitch by decision
Chris: Heading into this week, I really had this fight as a coin toss. Silva has looked great in every UFC fight so far. But even against Brenneman he left unanswered questions about his takedown defense and cardio. Those are just the weaknesses a grinder like Fitch can capitalize on. However, I'm beginning to doubt that now. I don't think Jon Fitch is the same guy that held #2 in the division for years. It's been over two years since he's picked up a win and he hasn't looked great in either fight since then. Erick Silva by TKO
Dallas Winston: There was some good and bad with Silva overcoming Brenneman. It showed he has the technique, footwork and strength to defend high-level takedowns, but Brenneman still took him down and also got the rear waist cinch. Silva's strike selection left a little to be desired as well, as he threw a spinning back kick from close range -- twice -- and attempted an upward knee after he allowed himself to be steered back onto the fence. Fitch will not tolerate such mistakes and answer each with 5-minutes of top-side neutralization. I'm rarely one to side with an unproven prospect over an established vet, but Silva's defense was stable enough to convince me that his outrageous offense -- both striking and submissions -- will be too much for the fairly one-dimensional Fitch. Erick Silva by TKO.
Staff picking Fitch: Ben, Grant, Fraser, Brookhouse, Tim
Staff picking Silva: Mookie, Chris, Dallas, Anton
Brent Brookhouse: Everyone seems significantly down on Davis, and not because he lost to Rashad Evans, but rather because he doesn't seem to be improving at the speed one would expect. He still moves awkwardly on the feet and doesn't have a solid enough striking game to really make the leap to contention. But these are still fights that he should win. Phil Davis by submission, round 1.
Tim Burke: I still find it weird that people put so much stock on a shaky opening minute by Davis in his first bout with Prado. It meant nothing. I'm tempted to take Davis by decision, but I think he can submit a blue belt. Phil Davis by submission, round 1.
Mookie Alexander: Davis is still the better fighter and I only assume the betting line on him has lowered because this fight is in Brazil. Phil Davis by submission, round 1
Ben: Eye pokes aside, Phil should stifle Wagner here. The two barely engaged last time and Davis actually took the one significant punch Prado threw without trouble. I really hope we see another cool kimura here, as Phil puts his strength advantage to good use on the ground. Davis, sub, Round 2.
T.P. Grant: Davis was in trouble for about thirty seconds in the first fight with Prado, but that doesn't change my view of this fight. Davis is physically larger, stronger and he is a much more skilled grappler. Davis looks very out-of-sorts on the feet and that could open a chance for the heavy handed Prado, but much more likely is a Davis takedown and submission. Phil Davis by Submission, Round 1.
Dallas Winston: I'm far from a drama queen (just kidding) but their brief encounter did change my mind. Granted, that change was from "snowball in hell" to a legitimate chance for Prado, but there was a certain vibe that I interpreted as favoring the Brazilian Thai machine. In the big picture, it's quite a stretch to choose an inexperienced, singular specialist with no A-level competition against a top-shelf 205er with unreal wrestling credentials, but I'm convinced Prado could pull it off. Little Nog was a handful for Davis to take down and Prado packs the dynamite to turn out the lights with one shot -- I also liked the adjustments he made with his strikes and stance to counter level drops. I'll go Davis but have a feeling about Prado. Phil Davis by submission.
Staff picking Davis: Ben, Grant, Fraser, Mookie, Brookhouse, Tim, Dallas, Anton
Staff picking Prado: Chris
Tim Burke: Story can win this fight. People are down on him, but losing a 29-28 decision to Martin Kampmann and a bout against a wrestler on one day's notice isn't that bad. He looked great in the first round of the Kampmann fight, bashing to the body and countering well. If Maia wants to stand with him, he's going to have a hard time dealing with Story's pace and body work. Unlike everyone else here, I don't see this being a good fight for Maia at all. I loved the way he jumped Dong Hyun Kim and tried to take the fight to the floor immediately in his WW debut, but he'll have a tougher time doing that to Story. I think the bully takes this over one over the technician. Rick Story by decision.
Mookie Alexander: That Rick Story bandwagon sure is empty, isn't it? Well I don't blame them as he hasn't really looked great since the first two rounds of the Thiago Alves fight. I had my doubts about Maia at 170 but he looked outstanding against Stun Gun, albeit in a 45 second fight. I'm hesitant to pick Maia by submission because he hasn't recorded one in three years and Story's never been submitted. Demian Maia by 30-27 decision
Ben: On paper, Story is stylistically right in Maia's wheelhouse. He bulls forwards constantly and puts leather on target without fear. Almost all of Maia's magic comes when he's able to work around an opponent bulling forwards (see Chael Sonnen's wonderflip, Munoz's narrow escapes etc.) and Demian's been getting better about avoiding damage on the feet and ground. Maia, sub, Round 2.
T.P. Grant: Story is a bully fighter, he likes to get in close and rip hooks to the body, muscle guys around in the clinch and then drag them to the ground and beat them up there. This is a perfect fight for Maia, he will not get physically overwhelmed by Story the way Dustin Hazelett did back at UFC 117. Maia will be able to take Story down, as he isn't the strongest counter wrestler and once on the ground this fight is all Maia. Demian Maia by Submission, Round 2.
Dallas Winston: Story's a little cleaner on the feet with more power, but this is not a favorable match up. Most of his striking success is predicated on faking takedowns, and Maia shouldn't be afraid of that. Even if Story keeps this standing entirely, which I don't think he can do, I'm not sure he has the hands to out-strike Maia convincingly. I expect Maia to bull-rush with wild kicks and overhands and work trips from the clinch or just hop onto Story while he's still standing. Demian Maia by decision.
Staff picking Maia: Ben, Grant, Fraser, Brookhouse, Mookie, Chris, Dallas
Staff picking Story: Tim, Anton
Tim Burke: Rony Jason isn't exactly going to be winning any titles in the UFC, but he's miles ahead of Sam Sicilia. Like Fraser says below, all he basically has to do is avoid haymakers and counter, which is something he does very well. He's going to pop and drop Sicilia, and choose whether to get the TKO or sub. I'll go sub. Rony Jason by submission, round 1
Ben: Rony Bezerra is quite a bit better than Sam Sicilia. This should be a finish for Jason and I suspect it'll come on the ground from punches after a stun and knockdown. Jason, KO, Round 1.
T.P. Grant: Sicilia is a pretty solid fighter, but Jason is a dangerous grappler. This won't be a free pass on the grappling like Sicilia's fight with Marcello was, Jason will look to get this to the floor and finish the fight. Sicilia has a puncher's chance, but I see the Brazilian taking this one. Rony Jason by Submission, Round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: Sicilia is a one punch KO fighter with no back-up plan who loses all defense when he attacks. Jason is a counter-striker able to land heavy shots while backing up. This is an easy pick. Jason by KO, round 1
Staff picking Jason: Ben, Grant, Fraser, Mookie, Brookhouse, Chris, Tim, Dallas, Anton
Staff picking Sicilia:
Tim Burke: I love this fight. Two monster 55ers going at it. But Tibau has a huge experience advantage, better wrestling, and he's five years younger. While I definitely like Massaranduba and think he'll be a good lightweight, he's not as good as Tibau. Gotta go with the guy who has 16 UFC fights under his belt. Gleison Tibau by decision.
Ben: Joe Rogan is going to go ape over how large both these guys are for 155. I can't pick against Massaranduba, who's put his opponents in more danger recently than Tibau has in his last 10 fights. Massaranduba, decision.
T.P. Grant: Tibau is a veteran and strong grappler, but Trinaldo is just more dynamic at this point. Tibau will want to slow this match down and spend as much of the match on top of Trinaldo as possible, but I find it far more likely that Trinaldo gets the win. Francisco Trinaldo by Decision.
Staff picking Tibau: Fraser, Mookie, Tibau, Tim, Dallas, Anton
Staff picking Trinaldo: Ben, Grant, Brookhouse
Tim Burke: This is one of the hardest picks on the card. Brandao is exciting, Gambino's smarter. I'm leaning towards Brandao's ball-out attack putting Gambino down early. But I really want to pick Gambino here and if the fight even goes past the first round I think it's all him. Bah, I'll go with the better overall fighter. Joey Gambino by decision.
Ben: I think this one is geared towards Brandao getting a win, rather than a super-fun match-up. I would really like to see Gambino come in and shock the world, but I don't think it happens. Brandao, KO, Round 3.
T.P. Grant: The clear winner of this fight is anyone watching, this promises to be an all action fight. I like Brandao, but I think Gambino is a cut above him. While he did lose his first UFC fight to Steven Siler, I think that fight says more about Siler currently that it did Gambino. I think Gambino takes Brandao down and beats him up. Joey Gambino by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: This is a tough one. Brandao is good, but I think he's too reckless. He doesn't focus on control on the ground, which will allow Gambino to get up and out of bad positions. He should also be able to push Brandao into the cage. But still, Brandao has more options to win, and I think is more explosive. I'm torn here, but I'll go with the Brazilian. Diego Brandao by submission, round 1
Staff picking Brandao: Ben, Fraser, Mookie, Chris, Dallas, Anton
Staff picking Gambino: Grant, Brookhouse, Tim
Tim Burke: I think this is clearly Serginho's fight to lose. His striking is amusingly effective at times, and he's a killer on the floor. Forte is in danger both at distance and on the ground. I don't really see many ways he can take the fight. Sergio Moraes by decision
Ben: Hardest fight to pick on the prelims. Forte is a Team Nogueira prospect who seems to fight pretty smartly and has decent power. Moraes is an extremely good jiu jitsu player (mostly top game) who has a ton of heart and can be surprisingly effective on the feet. I think Moraes is overall the better prospect, but Forte has more ways to win. So, because I'm down in the staff picks, I'm going against my gut and picking Moraes, sub, Round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: Ben is nuts. Forte has one way to win, and one only - clinch, takedown, control from top. Trouble is, Moraes is quite dangerous off his back. But that doesn't matter - I suspect Moraes uses his Leonard Garcia style striking to turn in a Dana White stand-n-bang crowd pleaser. Which he'll win thank to power, volume, and chin. Sergio Moraes by decision
Staff picking Forte: Dallas
Staff picking Moraes: Ben, Grant, Fraser, Mookie, Brookhouse, Tim, Anton
Tim Burke: Camozzi doesn't possess the power that has given Cane trouble in so many other fights. His fight IQ isn't that great though, and he panics under fire (after Nedkov clipped him, he ran straight into the cage wall trying to escape). Despite that, I believe that Cane could maybe make a solid run at 185 if he handles the cut well. Camozzi is well-rounded, but I think he's going to lose a striking battle here. Luiz Cane by decision.
Ben: Feeling like either Cane wins a decision or Camozzi sparks a big punch off his chin and he goes down. Picking between the two is rough, but I think Camozzi has trouble getting the big punch off cleanly and gets worn down throughout the rest of the fight. Cane, decision.
T.P. Grant: Both of these guys are fringe UFC fighters, but I feel like Cane is the slightly better fighter. Camozzi is a southpaw, which has given Cane fits in the past but I don't feel he is a high level of striker. Luiz Cane by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Cane really stunk against Nedkov, and he hasn't fought since. He's best when using his reach to strike from the outer edge of range, but Camozzi is not bad at using kicks and clinch work to close the distance. I see him making this a dull cage battle, but controlling his way in that position to a victory. Chris Camozzi by decision
Staff picking Camozzi: Fraser, Brookhouse
Staff picking Cane: Ben, Grant, Mookie, Chris, Tim, Dallas, Anton
Tim Burke: Neither of these guys are great fighters. Madadi has plenty of holes too, but he's a lot better than Marcello on the feet. Could he get overzealous and end up in a sub by trying to be too aggressive on the ground? Maybe, but I tend to doubt it. I want to pick him to finish, but I think he's going to end up going the full 15. Reza Madadi by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Marcello shouldn't be in the UFC and Madadi will make sure of that. Madadi by KO, round 2.
Ben: Reza is going to put Cristiano to sleep. He's big enough, fast enough, smart enough and talented enough to do basically anything he wants in this fight and that is probably going to be a ridiculous KO. Sorry, Professor Marcello, you're going to get cut after this. Madadi, KO, Round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: Marcello's stand-up is a disaster, and Madadi surely knows it. So he can get the KO win here for sure. But I also think he'll want to win on his own terms - on the mat, with nasty ground and pound. And while Marcello's dangerous on the ground, I don't think he can hold off the aggression of Madadi. Reza Madadi by TKO round 1
Chris: Mookie has this right. There's really no reason for Marcello to have another fight in the UFC without picking up any wins. This fight is Madadi's fight to lose. Reza by TKO, Round 1
Staff picking Madadi: Ben, Grant, Fraser, Mookie, Brookhouse, Chris, Tim, Dallas, Anton
Staff picking Marcello: