Brent Brookhouse: Cung's gas tank is the biggest issue. He gets tired, he also seems like he gets bothered by getting hit after the first round. Cung will win round 1 before Rich figures out his rhythm and takes over as Le fades. I don't see a stoppage so I'll go with Rich Franklin by decision.
Tim Burke: I don't see Cung having much of a shot here, especially if it goes deep. He might be able to take a round or two by frustrating Franklin and not letting him establish his range, but eventually, like always, Le's output will drop. And Rich will be all over it. If Le had more power this might be a harder pick. But he doesn't. Rich Franklin by TKO, round 4.
Mookie Alexander: Easy fight to pick. Franklin has only been stopped by Brazilians, and Cung Le isn't one. Anyway, Franklin has the superior gas tank, better chin, ground game, and that combination of the three leads to Rich taking over the middle rounds before finishing a tired Cung late. Rich Franklin by TKO, round 4.
Fraser: Part of me thinks this is closer than expected, and that Le has a shot here. Trouble is, I don't see him having the power to stop Franklin, and while he may use his kicks to control things in the early going, his cardio will come back to bite him over 5 rounds. Rich Franklin by decision
Ben: I agree strongly with Burke. Cung will fade and Franklin will take over in the later rounds. I predict a finish too, which should entertain the Macau crowd on top of what promises to be a fun card (too bad no Lim/Mitchell though). Franklin, KO, Round 4.
T.P. Grant: Ok so I'm a big fan of Cung Le, he is one of the first fighters I actually watched in any sort of martial sport, and nobody enjoyed his fight with Patrick Cote as much as me. He has no chance against Franklin, on the ground Ace has him totally outclassed and while Le is more technical on the feet I think Franklin will be able to make it ugly and muscle up on Le. Rich Franklin by TKO, Round 2.
Dallas Winston: I'm too busy to lend opinions on each fight, but since I'll probably be the only one picking Cung Le: I really think he's the superior fighter and that this is a decent-to-winnable match up for him. To cut to the chase, the only aspect that entirely deflates that POV is his trend of gassing miserably to the point of near death -- which, I realize, is far from something that's easy to overlook. A prime condition Cung Le will compensate for Franklin's moderate height/reach advantage with arguably the best and most dynamic fringe-striking in MMA and his underrated wrestling and clinch should do the same for Franklin's submission grappling edge. Franklin is an excellent kickboxer ,but his style is built around landing wide loopers that are thrown in odd trajectories with his elbows raised, sorta like a casting punch. That's how he develops his power, but it also results in some holes that a precision marksman like Cung can exploit. Cung isn't a one-shot guy, but Rich does not do well with a constant barrage of pressure. Cung Le by TKO.
Staff picking Franklin: Mookie, Coach, Fraser, Grant, Tim, Brookhouse, Ben
Staff picking Le: Dally
Brent Brookhouse: Silva is going to wreck him here. Nedkov can do some things offensively on the feet but Silva can do things better and more violently. Nedkov will go to sleep early. Thiago Silva by KO, round 1.
Tim Burke: Nedkov's boxing is not pretty, to say the least. Both Silva and Nedkov have bad defense on the feet, but Silva is the much more polished striker. Both are good on the ground as well, but Silva has deceptive takedowns that even Nedkov's wrestling might not be able to stop. And Silva's a beast on top. I know Silva has talked about bringing the heat again, but I think the Blackzilians have him thinking win first, face smash later. So I'll go the safe route. Thiago Silva by decision.
Mookie Alexander: From what I remember of the Nedkov vs. Cane fight, Nedkov was getting tagged early and often, it's just that Cane has non-existent striking defense and a very bad chin. Thiago Silva has a major striking advantage and he'll use that to the fullest extent. Thiago Silva by KO, round 1.
Fraser: I'm of the opinion that Nedkov is largely underrated, Silva overrated. But I still can't get behind a Nedkov win here, as this is just a terrible match-up for him. Nedkov is gritty, but he has big holes in his striking game that an aggressive Silva will take full advantage of. Thiago Silva by KO, round 1
Ben: I actually like Nedkov here. Silva looked like he was completely unable to pull the trigger against Gustafsson and got dropped early. Thiago says he's fixed everything, trashes his old camp and all the usual jazz a fighter who doubts himself and his preparation will employ to cover up his weakness. Nedkov's been largely silent and should continue his lucky undefeated streak with two rounds to Silva's one. Nedkov, decision.
T.P. Grant: This fight has fireworks written all over it, both guys are fight finishers with serious killer instincts. I haven't seen a lot of Nedkov, but based on what I have seen I think Silva is the more rounded striker as well as overall fighter. I'll take Silva, but I'll hedge by saying that Nedkov certainly has enough power to knock out Silva. Thiago Silva by TKO, Round 3.
Staff picking Nedkov: Ben
Staff picking Silva: Mookie, Coach, Fraser, Grant, Stephie, Tim, Dallas, Brookhouse
Dong Hyun Kim vs.
Tim Burke: Kim's length can keep Thiago's donkey kong punches at bay, and he is probably the better overall grappler as well. I really like Sam The Eagle, but this is just a bad matchup for him.by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Logically, I should pick Stun Gun, but Paulo Thiago is one of those guys I will never pick against. Actually, I don't think I've picked against him since losing to Jon Fitch. I'm going to continue that streak. Paulo Thiago by decision.
Fraser: Back to back losses aside, Kim remains a very good fighter. He's never broken through to the top of the division, and I don't think he ever will, but he's a solid, dependable fighter. Thiago has struggled lately and hasn't defeated anyone of note since February 2010. Kim has the wrestling and adaptability to grind this out. Dong Hyun Kim by decision
Ben: I love Paulo Thiago as a fighter. He backs down from no challenge and gives his all. However, I don't see his guillotine or looping punches working against the inexorable pressure game and tighter strikes of Kim. Kim, decision.
T.P. Grant: Not sure what black magic Demian Maia used to cause Kim's back to lock up from across the cage, but I doubt Thiago knows that particular BJJ technique. Kim has good striking and a smothering top game, both of which I think will be more than able to stifle Thiago's attacking style. Dong Hyun Kim by Decision.
Staff picking Kim: Coach, Grant, Fraser, Tim, Dallas, Brookhouse, Ben
Staff picking Thiago: Mookie, Stephie
Brent Brookhouse: Gomi still has the pop to knock anyone out, but Danzig is just better right now. Mac should be able to get inside and eventually find the way to the floor and just own the fight from there. Mac Danzig by decision.
Tim Burke: Clearly this will be a Danzig win by submission. But I don't care, because The Fireball Kid is one of my favorite all time fighters, and he's going to knock the vegan right out of Danzig's skull with his right hand! Remember the last time you fought a Japanese guy in Asia, Mac? You're gonna get got, son! Takanori Gomi by murder death kill!
Mookie Alexander: Sentimentally, I want Gomi to win. But save for one Tyson Griffin KO shot, he's been practically unwatchable in the UFC. Danzig isn't anything more than a gatekeeper, but he'll probably get this fight to the ground and submit Gomi from there. Mac Danzig by submission, round 2.
Fraser: Gomi forever! Takanori Gomi by KO, round 1
Ben: Gomi's boxing dropped off a cliff in the last few years. Danzig isn't a wunderkind of the feet, but I think he can stymie Gomi's lazy jabs and bat Gomi around for a couple rounds. I predict at least one moment where Danzig is stunned, but Gomi cannot quite get the kill. No submission because Gomi is actually fairly decent on the ground when he's not dazed and confused from the Diaz barrage or caught by Guida or sliced through by Florian. Dang, now that I talk it out loud, it's really hard to pick Gomi anymore. Thus, I do this: Danzig, decision.
T.P. Grant: Pride, it done died. Mac Danzig by Decision.
Staff picking Danzig: Mookie, Grant, Stephie, Brookhouse, Ben
Staff picking Gomi: Coach, Fraser, Tim, Dallas
Brent Brookhouse: Will Jon Tuck be bad enough for Zhang to win? No. Jon Tuck by TKO, round 2.
Tim Burke: I can handle the commentary on this one - "And heeere we go! Zhang immediately drops for a guillotine out of nowhere. He's back up. He has dropped for another guillotine, and his opponent is still on the other side of the cage. Joe, what's he doing?" "Who knows, Mike. Oh wait, Jon Tuck just jumped on him and punched him in the face a few times." "And it is alll over!" Jon Tuck by TKO, round 1
Mookie Alexander: After the Darren Elkins fight I concluded that unless they blatantly feed him a can like Jason Reinhardt, there are no fighters on this current UFC roster he could beat -- Pablo Garza would beat him in a rematch -- and that's including bantamweights, flyweights, and Cody McKenzie. Jon Tuck by decision.
Ben: I am pretty sure Zhang has an elaborate gameplan built by his coaches each time out. But much like Leonard Garcia, it goes out the octagon once the punches start flying. Tuck should get a finish here and since he's a much better grappler than Zhang, it'll be a submission. Tuck, submission, Round 2.
T.P. Grant: This fight will go like just about every Tiequan Zhang fight: he will look bad against a hand picked fighter he should beat, he will go after a dozen guillotines and not get a single one, and he will likely lose. Jon Tuck by Decision.
Staff picking Tuck: Mookie, Fraser, Grant, Stephie, Tim, Dallas, Brookhouse, Ben
Staff picking Zhang: Coach
Tim Burke: As sure as the sun rises and sets, Takeya Mizugaki alternates between wins and losses. So it shall be. Takeya Mizugaki by decision.
Mookie Alexander: This is a no-brainer. Mizugaki by decision.
Ben: The Miz here is better than the Miz elsewhere. Less entertaining though. Mizugaki, decision.
Staff picking Hougland:
Staff picking Mizugaki: Mookie, Coach, Fraser, Grant, Stephie, Dallas, Tim, Brookhouse, Ben
Brent Brookhouse: Caceres has improved more than I thought he was going to. I'm not saying I think he's good, but he may have a higher upside than I initially thought. Tezuka is cannon fodder for a guy that Dana and Co like. Alex Caceres by submission, round 2.
Tim Burke: I still think Caceres is a goofy, limited fighter. But he does have decent submission skills, and he's taking on a D-level decision opponent here, on late notice no less. This should be pretty simple. Alex Caceres by submission, round 2
Mookie Alexander: As much as the Caceres bandwagon is starting to fill up, neither of the men he's beaten has won a UFC fight. Damacio Page and Cole Escovedo are a combined 0-6. I really don't know much about Tezuka, so I'm just going to assume the UFC is trying to give Alex another win. Alex Caceres by decision.
Fraser: Caceres is really not all that bad and has shown consistent improvement. I never thought he would turn out to be one of the lasting fighters from the recent TUF, but I think he has a real shot at a relevant UFC career. Weird. Alex Caceres by submission, round 1
Ben: Tezuka is going to surprise you all. Tezuka, submission.
T.P. Grant: The UFC is giving Caceres a win here. Alex Cacaeres by Submission, Round 1.
Staff picking Caceres: Mookie, Coach, Fraser, Grant, Stephie, Tim, Dallas, Brookhouse
Staff picking Tezuka: Ben
Brent Brookhouse: Size matters, so does skill. Lineker has an edge in both. John Lineker by decision.
Tim Burke: This fight should be on the main card. Lineker is bigger, stronger, he hits harder, and he's an all-round better fighter than Urushitani. Eventually Lineker is going to overwhelm him. Will he get the finish? I want to think he can, but it's a flyweight fight. I'll lean towards it going all 15. John Lineker by decision.
Fraser: I said it when he debuted, by Urushitani was a weird pick-up for the Flyweight tournament. He's a good striker in Japan, but that's not the same as a good striker internationally. Lineker will be stronger and have a significant ground advantage. John Lineker by submission, round 1
Ben: Fraser and Burke said it well regarding Lineker's potential and theoretical advantages over Urushitani. I'm still supremely ticked off at Wallid Ismail and the other managers for basically abandoning Lineker by himself at a UFC event and leaving him to be taken in by another kindly manager for the weight cutting process, media and so on. What makes this even worse is how all over Erick Silva Wallid is. Lineker has more potential for a championship than Erick does and his taking it to Gaudinot before the hail mary submission shows how good he can be even in the face of disaster. Better process here, better cut and better fight for Lineker. Lineker, KO, Round 1.
Staff picking Lineker: Mookie, Coach, Fraser, Grant, Stephie, Tim, Brookhouse, Ben
Staff picking Urushitani: Dallas
Tim Burke: DeBlass is a solid sub fighter dropping to 185. Fukuda is a workhorse wrestleboxer that's never been submitted. DeBlass got on top of Cyrille Diabate and couldn't submit him. I don't think he'll finish Fukuda either. Riki Fukuda by decision.
Ben: The sentimental story is DeBlass - especially with New Jersey, Long Island and New York City being hit so bad by the hurricane. But he's shown a tiny gas tank in the past and Fukuda is going to be very tough to submit. Rikki-tikki-tavi should outwork Tom for the decision with a scare or two on the ground. Fukuda, decision.
Staff picking DeBlass: Coach, Grant
Staff picking Fukuda: Mookie, Fraser, Stephie, Tim, Dallas, Brookhouse, Ben