Brent Brookhouse: Tate's game just plays into what Rousey wants to do a bit too much here. Rousey's striking isn't very developed, but Tate's game isn't to stand up and beat her up on the feet. Rousey will get her hands on her and will put the fight on the fight and finish things off quickly. Ronda Rousey by submission, round 1.
Anton Tabuena: I won't be surprised if Miesha Tate can win this since she will obviously have better striking than Ronda, but I just can't pick her knowing that her strong suit, wrestling, hasn't really been that dominant. I don't think she can keep things standing against a fighter like Rousey, as the Olympian has taken down far superior wrestlers and Judokas than Tate... and once it goes to the mat, it's definitely going to be, Ronda Rousey by Armbar.
Fraser Coffeen: I don't buy the idea that Rousey is invincible. She's incredible on the ground, and at the takedown from the clinch, but her ability to secure that clinch could still use some work. Against a precision striker, she'll struggle to grab the clinch, and she'll pay. But Miesha Tate? Not that precision striker. Ronda Rousey by armbar, round 1
Ben Thapa: I don't think a precision striker would beat Ronda. She needs to get straight up kneed in the gut as punishment for the upright judo-ish stance she loves so much. That's where Cyborg could come in (if she can make 135 by hook or crook). Miesha is going to drive forwards into Ronda for takedowns as the rush and adrenaline kicks in. Ronda knows exactly how to toss people doing that and then armbar them lickity-split. I'd love to see Miesha work some Dan Hardy-like armbar defense and work her way out while retaining top position. Hoping I get to see that here before Ronda adjusts and gets that arm even faster. Rousey, sub, Round 2.
Tim Burke: Sarah Kaufman has a chance to beat Ronda. Miesha Tate? No way. This fight is so easy to call that some MMA pundits and I weren't debating the winner, or even the finish. We were debating what minute of the first round the sub happens. Most took the first. I took the second. Ronda Rousey by armbar.
T.P. Grant: Man everyone is picking Rousey. I thought at least someone would pick Tate. Don't look at me, there is just something I like about Rousey. Tate is the better striker, but I don't think she has the accuracy or power to put Rousey down as she comes into the clinch. On the mat, I think Tate is very able, but if Rousey is on top she has a massive advantage. I think at some point the former Judo Olympian grabs onto an arm. Ronda by Armbar.
Dallas Winston: Mr. Grant, I am that someone. I was initially thinking Rousey, like everyone else seems to be, but Miesha is consistently under-rated and has really earned my respect. She's far from a one-dimensional wrestler and has good submission knowledge and defense, she defeated a reputable Judoka in Hitomi Akano -- which was her second fight of the evening -- and she's far more experienced. Miesha Tate by decision.
David Castillo: Rousey is simply one of those fighters who will get by on one dimension at the highest levels because that dimension is simply that good. Her transitions are phenomenal, and I honestly think Tate is gonna get clowned. Tate's game is too blue collar for Ronda, resume be damned. Ronda Rousey by armbar.
Staff Picking Tate: Dallas
Staff Picking Rousey: Fraser, Thapa, Tim, Grant, Anton, KJ, David, Roth, Brookhouse
Brent Brookhouse: If Thomson were more active and not dealing with injury after injury, I'd be pretty confident in him to win here. But Thomson has been out of action since December of 2010. That's far too long, not to mention that I tend to pick Noons pretty much every fight just because I find him a blast to watch. So, I'm going to stick with the more active Noons to pull off the win. K.J. Noons by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Poor Thomson has gotten totally lost in the shuffle in recent years, mainly due to injuries and his loss to Melendez. But the guy is still 10-2 in his last 12 and is a very dangerous striker. Noons vs. Masvidal really opened my eyes on Noons as a guy with very good boxing, but who can be figured out and defeated. Thomson's huge layoff gives me pause, as there is a worry that his time is done, but I think he's still got life left in him. Josh Thomson by decision
Ben Thapa: Thomson might be the one guy who can tell J.Z. Cavalcante and Jason High that he has seniority in the line to the fightmakers' door. The injuries have had their toll, but he's had terrible luck just getting a fight. If this is the Thomson that fought Kawajiri to a decision, I like his chances. Noons is really hard to keep on the ground or hurt much, but Thomson can probably deal with the boxing and the hair flips effectively enough to take a few rounds. Thomson, decision.
Tim Burke: I love this fight. For all the hype KJ gets for his boxing, he seems to fight down to the level of his opposition. He looked horrid against Conor Heun and Jorge Masvidal. Thomson has a much more varied striking game and if he goes back to using the push kick as a pseudo-jab like he did against Melendez the first time, KJ will never get near him. I don't even think The Punk takes this to the ground. He doesn't need to. Josh Thomson by decision.
T.P. Grant: As said above, Josh Thomson is really quite a good lightweight and KJ Noons might be one of the more overrated lightweights out there. Thomson is going to jab KJ at range and take him down once in the pocket. Josh Thomson by Decision.
Dallas Winston: Wow. Well, all the pro-Thomson picks make my inspirational speech about his unappreciated skill unnecessary. I've also been impressed with Noons though his technical boxing seems to be getting sloppier. I don't hold the Masvidal loss against him because I think Jorge is a brute and I do buy into the notion that a broken hand waylaid his performance against Gil. However, Josh has been on the shelf forever and did not look sharp in his last two, so I think this is the biggest fight of his life by far. Josh Thomson by decision.
David Castillo: Kind of shocked at the universal agreement, because it's not like Thomson is immune to a lackluster performance, but I think he'll be motivated against the increasingly overly fond of his own quixotic boxing (?) KJ Noons. It's not a great matchup for Josh on paper, but he should get by in a closely contested affair.
Staff Picking Noons: Brookhouse
Staff Picking Thomson: Fraser, Thapa, Tim, Grant, Anton, Dallas, KJ, David, Roth
Paul Daley vs Kazuo Misaki
Brent Brookhouse: Well, this should be fun to watch if nothing else. Paul Daley by TKO, round 1.
Anton Tabuena: This is going to be ugly. Paul Daley by KO.
Fraser Coffeen: Last time Misaki fought a heavy-handed slugger was Melvin Manhoef. Misaki, as he is prone to do, waded in and slugged it out. And he got knocked out. Substitute Daley for Manhoef, and you've got the same result this time. Paul Daley by KO, round 2
Ben Thapa: Kazuo Misaki has the warrior spirit. However, employing the tactics of "engaging the enemy in his preferred milieu" does not make him a winning warrior every time out. His ferocious battles with Jorge Santiago are the stuff of legend, but he lost them both. Daley should find plenty of opportunities to throw those left hooks and to display his improving sprawl. Daley, KO, Round 1.
Tim Burke: Love this fight too, but a ton of unknowns on the Misaki side. The cut to 170, Stateside for the first time in a while, etc. He's got a lot of miles on him, and while he does have cool takedowns, they're not going to work on Paul Daley. And he sits around in the pocket way too long to avoid getting tagged. Semtex all the way. Boom. Paul Daley by KO, round 1.
T.P. Grant: Interesting fight because you never know with Paul Daley, because if he gets take down he in is in deep trouble. That said Miskai gets his way too much on the way in and Daley's the owner of the most lethal left hook in MMA. I think Daley lands a heavy punch before Misaki gets a takedown. Paul Daley by KO, Round 1.
Dallas Winston: I was geeked when this fight was first announced and haven't had time to think about it much. I'll never forget Misaki holding his own with Hendo in the clinch and then kind of handling him in their rematch. As burly as he is in tie-ups, Daley's takedown defense is actually solid for clinch-based takedowns and he still has one of the (if not the) best left hooks in the sport. Semtex by genuinely angry and something-to-prove knockout.
David Castillo: Daley can get stuck in fights where the bout that should heavily favor him on paper manifests itself in counterintuitive fashion: see the Masvidal, and Thompson fights. That's why I think it's so interesting that he's fighting Misaki, who in his prime seemed to take bouts that were terrible for him on paper (Henderson, Akiyama, and Kang when he was on a tear despite the injury in the tournament). That avant garde, new age logic leads me to believe Misaki will take this in an upset. In addition to Daley's one dimensional-ness, and general lack of professionalism (and the fact that I what had to have been the worst week of anyone for UFC 144 on picks). Kazuo Misaki by decision.
Staff Picking Daley: Fraser, Thapa, Tim, Anton, Dallas, KJ, Roth, Brookhouse
Staff Picking Misaki: David
Ronaldo Souza vs Bristol Marunde
Brent Brookhouse: Are you kidding me right now? Jacare by TKO, round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: I don't want to be a jerk here, but this fight is ridiculous. Ronaldo Souza by submission, round 1
Anton Tabuena: Yes, Fraser, this is ridiculous. Jacare by anything he wants.
Ben Thapa: Bristol Marunde might be one of the best names I've ever heard. His brother Jesse (give me a quiet moment to remember the departed) had immense potential as a strongman, which is a combination of good genetic potential and an otherworldly work ethic. That combination probably runs in the family, but Marunde's home turf of Northwestern America hasn't exposed him to the level of grappler that Jacare Souza resides upon. Souza might be the single best athlete to come out of the Brazilian jiu jitsu world in the last ten years, but his MMA career hasn't shown the same levels of success. I still think he beat Luke Rockhold though. Kudos to Bristol for the step-in, but this is a rough, rough match-up for him. Souza, submission, Round 1.
Tim Burke: Big opportunity for Marunde. Too bad there's an angry Jacare on the other side of the cage. I wouldn't wish that on my worst enemy. Jacare Souza by submission, round 2
T.P. Grant: Jacare should win this fight any way he pleases. I think this goes very similar to the Robbie Lawler fight; Jacare takes him down, gets a dominate position, lets Marunde wear himself out trying to escape and locks in a submission. Jacare Souza by Submission, Round 2.
Dallas Winston: The Crocodile by hunger, all day. Jacare by submission.
David Castillo: No chance for an upset here. Jacare was dangerously close to winning that fight against Rockhold, and so I think we're talking about a minstay in the division. Against an absolute lamb. Jacare Souza by submission.
Staff Picking Souza: Fraser, Thapa, Tim, Grant, Anton, Dallas, KJ, David, Roth, Brookhouse
Staff Picking Marunde:
Scott Smith vs Lumumba Sayers
Brent Brookhouse: Pick with my head or pick with my heart? Smith is absolutely shot and has taken a lot of punishment in his career. Sayers isn't really anything special but he's not a broken down shell of a mid-tier fighter like Smith. I still think that Smith can find space to land a bomb and pull this off. Scott Smith by KO, round 2.
Ben Thapa: Sayers should have a fun time feasting on the punching bag that is Scott Smith. I picked Antwain Britt over him last time I saw Sayers in action and was shown up by a quick KO. Smith has been basically fighting to make a check for years now and he might have forgotten how to win. Sayers, decision.
T.P. Grant: Smith seems like a spent force to me, too many wars over the years have worn him down. Sayers is a brawler, so Smith has a chance in this fight for sure but I think Smith's amazing ability to weather storms is going to fail him. Lumumba Sayers by TKO, Round 1.
Tim Burke: Sayers is a mover by trade who used to box that knocked out Antwain Britt somehow. He doesn't even really have heavy hands. I'm not sure how that happened. But Scott Smith has been one my favorite underdog fighters forever and how often is he boring? He's got one more sick KO in him. I know it. Scott Smith by KO.
Dallas Winston: 100% picking with my heart here. Scott Smith by KO.
David Castillo: Scott Smith is the proverbial "spent force". Credit where credit is due: he was a .500 fighter who got name recognition off of improbable comebacks, but his chin has clearly deteriorated, and I don't see how he manages another miracle against a rugged fighter like Sayers. Lumumba Sayers by TKO, round 2.
Staff Picking Smith: Fraser, Tim, Anton, Dallas, Roth, Brookhouse
Staff Picking Sayers: Grant, Thapa, KJ, David
Sarah Kaufman vs Alexis Davis
Ben Thapa: Over/under on how many Tweets we'll see from Tim Burke tonight during the Kaufman fight? Five? Seven? I like Davis, but Kaufman's got some really fine combination boxing. Hopefully, she's working on putting some pep in her game, instead of cruising to another decision win by onslaught of head punches. Kaufman, KO, Round 2.
T.P. Grant: Kaufmann has got this one. Sarah Kaufman by Decision.
Tim Burke: @MMASarah all day. I hate it when two Canadians fight each other and I'm a Davis fan too, but come on now. She's gotta get Sarah to the floor, and that's really, really tough. Victoria represent. Bring on Rousey. Sarah Kaufman by decision.
Dallas Winston: Kaufman beat main-eventer Miesha Tate and will be determined to get back into the spotlight. Sarah Kaufman by TKO.
David Castillo: Good, competitive little scrap. At least on paper. Two highly ranked fighters, but it's a terrible style matchup for Davis, who will be forced to box with Kaufman who is the superior striker by a wide margin. Sarah Kaufman by decision.
Staff Picking Kaufman: Fraser, Grant, Tim, Anton, Dallas, KJ, David, Roth, Brookhouse
Staff Picking Davis:
Caros Fodor vs Pat Healy
Brent Brookhouse: Very good fight between two good, not great, talents. Fodor's tenacity is impressive and Healy is very smart. I'm going to go with Fodor just out of his constant improvement. Caros Fodor by decision.
Ben Thapa: This is the fight that should be in place of Sayers/Smith. These two fighters are in their athletic prime and coming off two very fun finishes of decent-to-good fighters. Oh, Maximo, you broke my heart - and Pat Healy, you won it with your ruggedness. Fodor won't go down without throwing everything he possibly can though. This is gonna be a SCRAP. Healy, decision.
T.P. Grant: Again I'm going with experience here. Both are fighters are young men, but Healy has some serious scalps under his belt and much more time under the bright lights. Pat Healy by Decision.
Tim Burke: Healy's a hoss with a ton of experience for sure. But Fodor has impressed me greatly in his last two fights against James Terry and Justin Wilcox. Those are both big, physical dudes like Healy and this is gonna be a great, close fight. I'm gonna lean towards The Future though. Caros Fodor by decision.
Dallas Winston: I'd say these are two of the most underlooked lightweights around. Pat Healy has an enormous fight IQ but I've under-rated Fodor too many times in the past. The Future by decision.
David Castillo: Like Dallas, I'm just now realizing how solid this card is, and this fight is a perfect example. Fodor has consistently fought above my expectations, and continues to improve, so I feel like momentum will the deciding factor in this fight, and Fodor has it. Again, it's such a close fight on paper, I'm going with my gut on this one. Caros Fodor by decision.
Staff Picking Fodor: Tim, Dallas, KJ, David, Roth, Brookhouse
Staff Picking Healy: Fraser, Grant, Anton
Ryan Couture vs Conor Heun
Brent Brookhouse: I don't think Couture has a single thing for Huen here. Conor Heun by TKO, round 2.
Ben Thapa: Heun is bigger, stronger and has more power than Mini-Couture. The Magno Almeida elbow-break notwithstanding, I don't see Couture isolating an arm. If Couture wins, it's by triangle or guillotine and it's probably after getting beat up for a while. Heun should take this, but I'll take a chance on the improbable. Couture, submission, Round 2.
T.P. Grant: If Ryan Couture is going to step up and get a his first serious lightweight win, this is the time. Heun is a solid veteran and ideal for testing out a prospect like Couture. While it is entirely possible that Couture could slap a submission on Heun, I think the veteran pulls this one out. Conor Heun by Decision.
Tim Burke: I'll never get over Couture being choked unconscious at the end of the second round in a fight, and the fight not being stopped. They woke him up, sent him out for the 3rd, and he came back and won. I'm not sure if it's good or bad, but it's a story at least. He's not physical enough to hang with Heun though. Sorry Randy Jr. Conor Heun by TKO, round 2.
Dallas Winston: This is a reasonable step up for Couture but Heun is a gamer who will look to make a statement. Conor Heun by submission.
David Castillo: I think Ryan Couture is a decent fighter, but it's a terrible matchup for him because he's a young, inexperienced, and not very talented fighter with a lot of pressure on him fighting an experienced, rugged, moderately dynamic veteran. Conor Heun by decision.
Staff Picking Couture: Thapa, KJ
Staff Picking Heun: Fraser, Grant, Tim, Anton, Dallas, David, Roth, Brookhouse
Roger Bowling vs Brandon Saling
Brent Brookhouse: Bowling is simply much better. Roger Bowling by TKO, round 1.
T.P. Grant: Two local guys on the undercard. The difference is Bowling has fought on five Strikeforces cards, while Saling is being brought on purely as a local guy. One look at their film and it is clear Bowling is lightyears ahead of Saling, crisper stand up and much better wrestling. Roger Bowling by TKO, Round 1.
Ben Thapa: I'm so glad Bowling isn't fighting Bobby Voelker anymore. Let him show if he's got any more improvements left in him with a series of steps upwards in opponents. After the super quick KO victory last time, the proper step up would be to get a fun battle with a fighter who loves getting finishes or going out on his shield - like Brandon Saling! Bowling, KO, Round 2.
Tim Burke: I like Bowling. I prefer Darts though. Roger Bowling by TKO, round 2
Dallas Winston: Bowling still has a huge upside despite his disappointments in the Voelker trilogy. Roger Bowling by athleticism (TKO).
David Castillo: What a great card for Strikeforce, but just as Renzo Gracie vs. Michiyoshi Ohara was to Pride, this fight is an example of Strikeforce matchmaking at its most expedient. Saling is toast. Roger Bowling by TKO, round 1.
Staff Picking Bowling: Fraser, Grant, Thapa, Tim, Anton, Dallas, KJ, David, Roth, Brookhouse
Staff Picking Saling: