Brent Brookhouse: I actually don't think that Jung is all that much better in the stand-up and I think Poirier is better on the ground and, after rewatching recent fights for both, I think he can own the clinch. It's going to be a very tough fight but one that I think Poirier takes. Dustin Poirier by decision.
Anton Tabuena: Logical pick would be Poirier, but I think Jung will find a way to win. Korean Zombie by Submission
KJ Gould: Poirier is a better fighter all around. Of course, I said the same thing about Hominick, but I can only presume Poirier won't rush head first into a Zombie-Fist. Dustin Poirier by decision.
T.P. Grant: I'm not sure what to make of Chan Sung Jung or Dustin Poirier. Both have shown excellent skills in their fights, both have holes in their game. I just feel like Jung is the more finished product currently. Poirier has an advantage on the mat, but Jung is a pretty able grappler, so I think a submission win would be difficult for Poirier. Jung enjoys a clear advantage on the feet and will use that to notch a win. Chan Sung Jung by Decision.
Dallas Winston: I would go so far as to state that, even after the Twister, people don't realize how stellar Chan Sung Jung's ground game is. Poirier has freakish talent for a 23-year-old purple belt, but I have to politely emphasize the difference in facing Grispi, Young, Garza and Holloway versus Roop, Garcia (twice) and Hominick. The Zombie has been concentrating on tightening up his striking -- they're close in hand speed but Jung has more power and the edge in submission grappling. Poirier might be the better wrestler, but not by much. Brains. Eat ‘em. Chan Sung Jung by submission.
Fraser Coffeen: I enjoy the Zombie, really I do, but I am still not sold on him as a world class fighter. He's got a tremendous amount of heart, good skills, and can capitalize on mistakes very well. But Poirier is, to me, a step above. Outside of Hominick, what is Jung's best win? Where has he looked super impressive against top talent? Poirier too is a bit untested, but I just think he has the stronger overall game by a fair margin. Dustin Poirier by decision.
Tim Burke: Dallas will probably poo-poo all over me for this, and I realize I used this in the last main event prediction and was totally wrong, but round 2 - Korean Zombie is kind of overrated. Quick KO's have never been something to read too deeply into (especially with the hindsight of Yagin vs. Hominick) and while his grappling is good, Poirier is pretty good too. Poirier just seems like the better fighter everywhere it goes. Dustin Poirier by decision.
Ben Thapa: I might have had the single worst night predictions-wise of any BE staff member in a long, long time for UFC on Fox 3. But this time is different! Poirier's record actually makes more sense as a title shot build if you go in reverse from Holloway to Grispi, but his finishing rate seems to have gotten much, much better. Jung too has the Garcia finish and the KO of Hominick, but those two came off stunning Garcia silly and perhaps because Hominick has gone chinny all of a sudden. Poirier's came by submission and were very controlled demolitions of Garza and Holloway. I suspect that Poirier is going to come in and be smoother, more controlled and ultimately raising his hand by decision over a very, very game Korean Zombie. Poirier, decision.
David Castillo: I'm always happy to see the Korean Zombie pick up a victory, but last time he was fortunate Hominick tends to flake out. Still, he's a solid fighter, and I expect this to be a solid all around scrap. Regardless, Poirier is more polished, perhaps less so on the ground (which just might be Jung's best asset), but more so on the feet, and I expect that to be the differnece. Poirier by decision.
Staff picking Poirier: Fraser, Brookhouse, KJ, Tim, Thapa, David
Staff picking Zombie: Anton, Grant, Dallas
Brent Brookhouse: I just don't see a path to victory for Lopez. Sadollah is mostly forgettable, but certainly capable at this level. Amir Sadollah by decision.
Anton Tabuena: Easy. Amir Sadollah by Decision.
T.P. Grant: Lopez hasn't fought in over six months and for all the crap Sadollah takes, he is an adequate gatekeeper for the UFC. Sadollah is solid in all aspects of MMA aside from wrestling, I think he finds the chink in Lopez's armor and gets the win. Amir Sadollah by Decision.
KJ Gould: I thought he was a comedian? Well, Amir isn't one ... Amir Sadollah by Decision.
Dallas Winston: I think Amir is still finding himself as a fighter. His Thai has looked great and his submission game is solid. Lopez has the fortitude, wrestling and punching-power advantage and could employ a control-oriented strategy -- in the clinch or with takedowns -- to score a decision. I think Amir's footwork and movement will prevent that. Amir Sadollah by decision.
Tim Burke: For all the crap he takes about being overpromoted by the UFC, Amir's decent. I was high on Lopez, but he looked brutal in his debut. I'll go with Amir by volume striking. Amir Sadollah by decision.
Ben Thapa: Should I pick the upset here? Nope. Amir Sadollah should ride those leg kicks and active hips to frustrate Lopez for the full three rounds. Sadollah, decision.
David Castillo: Still finding himself Dallas? I think Amir plateaued a long time ago. On the feet, he's technical enough to keep from getting blown out, and on the ground he's competent but being a marginal athlete is what makes him limited. Here he's less limited than Lopez, luckily for him. Sadollah by Decision.
Staff picking Lopez:
Staff picking Sadollah: Grant, Fraser, Brookhouse, Tim, KJ, David
Brent Brookhouse: This just feels like picking if you think Stephens can hit the home run or not. Cerrone should win if it goes to the cards and with his length I think he can avoid taking the one big Stephens shot that changes the game. Donald Cerrone by decision.
Anton Tabuena: Cerrone will have an advantage on the ground, but I think he's likely to be content to just stand with Stephens. That's going to be his downfall. Jeremy Stephens by Decision.
KJ Gould: Cerrone all day. Stephens hits hard, but he doesn't have the technical boxing excellence of Nate Diaz. We can't forget that Cerrone has shown to be the best Kick Boxer in the division by far, and he's competent enough on the ground to win there too. Donald Cerrone by KO.
T.P. Grant: I think this a good fight for Cerrone. Stephens is at a big height disadvantage, Cerrone is going to be able to work his kicks and use his reach advantage. And if Stephens gets inside, Cerrone is going to clinch and look to knee. If the fight goes to the ground Cerrone has the edge also. I feel like after working Stephens on the feet, Cerrone lands something hard and then locks on a submission. Donald Cerrone by Submission, Round 3.
Fraser Coffeen: Anton says Stephens standing with Cerrone will be the downfall for Cowboy?! Crazy talk. Cerrone pulls Stephens into a dogfight here, which is where Cerrone thrives. Donald Cerrone, decision
Dallas Winston: I've really grown to respect Stephens and think he's quite underrated as a lightweight. His power is still intact, his striking technique has sharpened and he deserves credit for making major strides with his wrestling/grappling. Plus, he's just tough as hell. That being said, Cowboy's combination of length, nasty Muay Thai and slick BJJ should be too much. Donald Cerrone by submission.
Ben Thapa: Stephens should be able to jam Cerrone up against the fence for a while and open holes for those insane power punches. The knockout of Rafael dos Anjos remains THE Mortal Kombat uppercut in the game for me - not the Junior/Werdum one. Cerrone has incredible durability though and will keep coming forwards again and again. Stephens by decision.
Tim Burke: I'm shocked anyone would pick Stephens here. The popeye KO's are great, but he was losing badly to RDA and Marcus Davis before he landed though. And Cerrone has a way better chin. And better technical striking. And submissions. Stephens has some wrestling, but it's really not that good and he'll just end up in an armbar or something. This is an excellent matchup up for Cowboy, and he's going to finish impressively. Donald Cerrone by submission, round 2.
David Castillo: Even if Stephens fought like he did against Pettis (doing his best Fitch impression), this would still be a terrible matchup. Cerrone has a fantastic chin, so the exchanges should be interesting, but I like Cerrone's more varied attack. Cerrone by Decision.
Staff picking Cerrone: Grant, Fraser, Brookhouse, Dallas, KJ, David
Staff picking Stephens: Anton, Thapa
Brent Brookhouse: Good match-up for Jabouin, who should look impressive in getting a nice stoppage win. Yves Jabouin by TKO, round 1.
KJ Gould: Short notice fighter brought in against someone that has looked consistently better since his UFC debut loss, though back to back split decisions has me concerned. He should finish this one though. Yves Jabouin by TKO.
T.P. Grant: Hougland is being brought in on short notice against a real UFC veteran. I think Jabouin gets the win here as he was already preparing for a grappling based fighter in Mike Easton. Yves Jabouin by TKO, Round 2.
Dallas Winston: Tough match up for Hougland. He's the better submissionist but will have trouble navigating through Jabouin's sharp kickboxing and, if he can close range, probably doesn't have the wrestling to force a ground-fight. This should be a hell of a fight because the only fighter to finish Hougland by TKO is Gilbert Melendez -- Hougland can take a punch and has a big heart. Yves Jabouin by decision.
Ben Thapa: Mike Easton is as grappling based as I am Asian (inside joke as I am half Nepali, but do not look it in the slightest). Jabouin should be able to batter Hougland for three rounds and cruise to the win. Getting overeager for the finish could work to his detriment, as Dallas points out, only Gil has knocked Hougland out and he can do some damage to a cocky fighter. Jabouin, decision.
Tim Burke: Canada! Oh, and Jabouin is way better. Yves Jabouin by decision.
David Castillo: Jabouin is very entertaining. For one round. I suspect this achilles heel of his could get him into trouble against even the msot mediocre of fighters, but not enough to lose him the match. Jabouin by Decision.
Staff picking Hougland
Staff picking Jabouin: Anton, Grant, Fraser, Brookhouse, Dallas, KJ, Thapa, Tim, David
KJ Gould: Long layoffs usually bother me, but I think there's a significant talent gap between the two that puts Maldonado clearly ahead. Maldonado TKO.
T.P. Grant: I can't pick against Maldonado because I'm a huge mark for him. I love his composed, accurate boxing and want him to win so we can more gifs of him putting coffin nails in guys. Fabio Maldonado by TKO, Round 3.
Fraser Coffeen: I like Maldonado's style quite a bit, but a year long layoff plus not looking great in the later rounds against Kingsbury is a bad combo. Igor Pokrajac by TKO, round 2.
Dallas Winston: Actually, Maldonado has only fought once per year in the UFC. His chin has been like a bank vault, he's the more technical striker, has more power, a better ground game and isn't prone to getting wobbled with punches like Pokrajac. Fabio Maldonado by TKO.
Ben Thapa: I agree fully with Dallas. Maldonado works the body/head combos very well and Pokrajac has had quite some time to improve considerably - and hasn't. Going with the better fighter and by finish too. Maldonado, KO, Round 3.
Tim Burke: Maldonado has more power than Pokrajac? I'd disagree with that assessment, and so would K-Sos. Maldonado might have a better chin and good boxing, but I think Pokrajac is a little underrated here. Maldonado looked good against Kingsbury because Kingsbury isn't very good. And Maldonado still lost. Plus, Igor's got the better ground game. Sorry guys, Igor all the way. Igor Pokrajac by submission, round 2.
David Castillo: Igor's no world beater, but I'm shocked at the mount of love for Maldonado. If he doesn't gas, I suppose he's a good pick, but he probably will gas. The layoff doesn't help either. I agree with Tim. Igor all the way. Igor Pokrajac by decision.
Staff picking Maldonado: Grant, Brookhouse, Dallas, KJ, Thapa
Staff picking Pokrajac: Anton, Fraser, Tim, David
Brent Brookhouse: MacDonald is a little shopworn. I know it makes me a joykill or something, but Lawlor's act just isn't funny. For that reason I'll be pulling for MacDonald. For the reason that MacDonald actually has a good game to match Lawlor, I'll be picking Jason. Jason MacDonald by submission, round 2.
KJ Gould: I never considered Lawlor to be great, and he goofs off too much. He does seem to be taking things more seriously these days, though. Macdonald was pretty good for a while, and tried to make a ‘TUF Killer' name for himself beating previous reality show alumni, but age is counting against him now and he seems to be on the decline. In a strange way these two might be meeting at a crossroads of their respective careers. Tom Lawlor by Decision.
T.P. Grant: Going with Tom Lawlor here based on his strong wrestling wearing out the much older MacDonald. Lawlor gets a front headlock choke after MacDonald gasses. Tom Lawlor by Submission, Round 3.
Dallas Winston: I'm not exactly sure of Lawlor's capabilities any more. I was hyped after he gave Simpson such a tough fight and expected him to do much better against Doerksen and Weidman. I have a ton of respect for MacDonald's submissions and his ability to enforce them. I'll go with Lawler by keeping it upright with wrestling and out-boxing J-Mac. Tom Lawlor by TKO.
Tim Burke: I've never been a fan of Jason MacDonald even though he's Canadian. Not sure why. I still think he'll have the better of Lawlor though. For all his antics, he's really not that good. Joe Doerksen submitted him, and MacDonald's still a better grappler than him. If J-Mac can avoid getting rocked in the first round, he can take this. Jason MacDonald by late submission.
Ben Thapa: The memory of Alan Belcher demolishing MacDonald is still fresh in my mind. With the revelation of Belcher's performance against Rousimar Palhares, where does this put MacDonald? Still not above Tom Lawlor, in my eyes. Lawlor will dirt up this fight and push the pace until MacDonald tires. Lawlor, decision.
David Castillo: A good fight for Lawlor in the sense that McDonald doesn't respond well to gritty, well rounded fighters, which for all of Lawlor's faults...versatility isn't one of them. Jason excels on the ground, but his wrestling isn't good enough to keep this fight where he wants it and he's simply not the better boxer. Lawlor by Decision.
Staff picking Lawlor: Grant, KJ, Thapa, Dallas, David
Staff picking MacDonald: Anton, Fraser, Brookhouse, Tim
Brent Brookhouse: If this were a more dynamic fight, I'd be worried about a short notice fight. What it is, though, is a wrestler against a guy with underdeveloped grappling who has a few tricks. LeVesseur doesn't need a full camp to know to keep his neck protected while getting his takedowns and grinding out the win. If his cardio holds up, I can't see any reason to not pick Marcus LeVesseur by decision.
KJ Gould: You've done nothing to warrant a move being named after you, your one trick isn't good enough to succeed at the high level, and you have a stupid beard, McKenzie. LeVesseur by TKO.
Anton Tabuena: I'm not that high on McKenzie, but he's not the one making his UFC debut on short notice. Cody McKenzie by Guillotine Choke.
T.P. Grant: I've never really been overly impressed with McKenzie's grappling and I think it has been well exposed his last few fights. LeVesseur is a very strong wrestler and if he is able to stay out of guillotine he should have little trouble out grappling McKenzie. Marcus LeVesseur by Decision.
Tim Burke: LeVesseur has an impressive wrestling resume and while he's not a top-flight MMA guy, he should be able to run through a one-trick pony fairly easily. Just a bad fight for McKenzie here. Marcus LeVesseur by decision.
Ben Thapa: McKenzie is surprisingly not a one trick pony as so many here think. It's just that he hasn't had a consistent camp for quite a while (is still moving around here and there) and didn't have the technique to threaten or finish Yves Edwards or Vagner Rocha on the ground. He still had good positions on them and is very crafty in getting fighters to fight his pace and distance. Going with the Alaskan Pirate here as I suspect LeVesseur will crack at some point during the frenetic grappling early on. McKenzie, submission, Round 1.
Dallas Winston: I like Cody McKenzie. He has a ton of raw potential and creativity and his striking has improved. I wouldn't quite call him a "one-trick pony" but I would insist that he has a great guillotine rather than say he's a great sub-fighter or grappler. The McKenzie-tine has come from the front headlock, so LeVesseur has to focus on head position during his takedowns. McKenzie's guard isn't all that dynamic, so I think this is LeVesseur's fight to lose. Marcus LeVesseur by decision.
David Castillo: McKenzie, as Thapa mentioned, is more versatile than he's given credit for. It's a tough fight for Cody, like any match (since Cody is limited everywhere besides the ground), but I think he reaches into his bag of tricks with success against the newbie. Cody McKenzie by submission.
Staff picking LeVesseur: Grant, Brookhouse, Fraser, Tim, KJ, Dallas
Staff picking McKenzie: Anton, Thapa, David
Anton Tabuena: KOREA! Dongi Yang by Decision.
T.P. Grant: I'll take Tavares here but Yang winning wouldn't shock me. Brad Tavares by Decision.
Tim Burke: I'm really not sure which way to lean here. I literally flipped a coin. Tavares it is. Brad Tavares by decision.
Ben Thapa: Dongi is 27. This is make or break time for him.Tavares still has some time left to live up to his prospect status at 24. Dongi took that Camozzi fight, despite the decision that went against him and took the first round of the McGee fight before fading badly. If he can sustain a constant work pace, he can outpoint Tavares with ease. However, I doubt he actually will do so. Tavares should weather the first round and then take the next two by virtue of being more prepared to fight at this level. Tavares, decision.
Dallas Winston: I really like both of these guys and think this will be a close one. Tavares blew me away in the Simpson fight and The Ox always seems to have a random defensive lapse. His clinch and wrestling are better than Tavares' but not better than Simpson's, so I'm hesitantly picking Tavares in a tight decision. Brad Tavares by decision.
David Castillo: Yang is sort of like a less imposing version of Tavares: with less power, and little less grit, I expect Tavares to win comfortably. Brad Tavares by TKO, round 3.
Staff picking Tavares: Grant, Brookhouse, Fraser, Tim, KJ, Thapa, Dallas, David
Staff picking Yang: Anton
Tim Burke: Prater got a gift with that Erick Silva DQ in his last bout. He's just not a UFC-caliber fighter to me, and Grant's lightweight debut against Shane Roller was impressive. Basically, Prater's got nothing for him here. TJ Grant by decision
KJ Gould: The rise of Grant continues. TJ Grant by Destruction.
Ben Thapa: Carlo Prater is an experienced fighter who has lost to every higher level guy he has fought in the last five years. He just leaves himself open for a submission or a tremendous punch again and again. T.J. Grant absolutely can hang around, batter Prater and take whatever finishing opportunity that pops up with aplomb. Grant, some kind of finish, Round 2.
Dallas Winston: Bad match up for Prater. T.J. Grant by decision.
David Castillo: Easy pickings. Grant is crafty as hell, whereas Prater is a journeyman through and through. T.J. Grant by submission, round 2.
Staff picking Grant: Anton, Grant, Fraser, Brookhouse, Tim, KJ, Thapa, Dallas, David
Staff picking Prater:
Brent Brookhouse: I have a feeling this might be one of the ugliest fights of the year. Rafael Dos Anjos by decision.
Anton Tabuena: He can probably get stifled, but I'm still picking Dos Anjos cause he has more ways to win this. Rafael Dos Anjos by Submission
KJ Gould: We were supposed to see the new and improved Shalorus in his last fight, one that had supposedly refined his striking under the guidance of Antoni Hardonk. We saw the same Shalorus that got pasted by Jim Miller. Dos Anjos is just better. Rafael Dos Anjos by Submission.
Fraser Coffeen: I was ready to pick Shalorus, but decided against it based on his recent showings. He seems like he's become too reliant on being tough, less on being skilled. Dos Anjos has really improved his stand-up over the years, and while some may say I'm insane for thinking Rafael can crack Kamal's notoriously strong chin, I think Shalorus's UFC days are done. Rafael Dos Anjos by KO round 3
Tim Burke: I don't care what anyone says, I still think RDA is awesome and this is his fight. Shalorus has fallen in love with his hands and it's his downfall. RDA is just more skilled everywhere except wrestling. Rafael dos Anjos by decision.
Ben Thapa: I really think dos Anjos has the talent base to put together a true title run. His grappling can be ADCC level. His striking is much better than people think. Yet he keeps losing to good wrestle-boxers and getting damaged in the face (the Clay Guida fight, the Stephens KO I mentioned above). Kamal is not that level of a wrestle-boxer, for Shalorous has one punch and one badly telegraphed shot set-up. Rafael should be able to punch the heck out of him for all three rounds. dos Anjos, decision.
Dallas Winston: Agree with the crowd here. Shalorus has better wrestling but a predictable brawling style. RdA has the wider arsenal of technical striking and should be able to negate takedowns with his deadly guard. Rafael dos Anjos by decision.
David Castillo: This should eb a sloppy fight, but Dos Anjos will take this easily. He might get frustrated, blasting Kamal with rights, lefts, and calf slicers while watching the ‘Prince of Persia' remain upright, but RDA is the better fighter. In a perfect world Guida would be fighting Shalorus. Dos Anjos by Decision.
Staff picking dos Anjos: Anton, Grant, Brookhouse, Fraser, Tim, KJ, Thapa, Dallas, David
Staff picking Shalorus:
Brent Brookhouse: One of the nicest stories coming out of this event should be Curran getting his first ever UFC win. I don't think Eduardo can stop that. Jeff Curran by decision.
Tim Burke: Curran's still serviceable, but he's pretty shot. I think Eduardo is just slightly better at this point. Johnny Eduardo by decision
Ben Thapa: This is bananas. Both these guys started fighting as teenagers back in the late ‘90s and are still in the game. Jeff Curran is not Pat Curran, although Pat owes a ton of his meteoric rise to the top of Bellator to his cousin. Jeff still has major problems being put down and held down. Eduardo can do it and is smart enough to avoid the proto-submissions Curran will set up and never actually threaten with. Eduardo, decision.
Dallas Winston: Again, I think there's a case for Curran beating Jorgensen. His kickboxing has become pretty technical and Eduardo's Thai is pretty wild and rugged. Ground-wise, I actually think Curran has the edge. This is probably bold, but ... Jeff Curran by submission.
David Castillo: It's a fairly competitive fight, because as talented as Curran is, he can end up struggling with anyone, but he's the more technical frighter here. Jeff Curran by decision.
Staff picking Curran: Anton, Fraser, KJ, Dallas, David
Staff picking Eduardo: Grant, Tim, Thapa
Tim Burke: I've never seen much in Cisco Rivera personally. Losing to Erik Koch is fine, but his bout against Reuben Duran worries me. He faded late, and as a late replacement here that's a concern as well. Soto got lit up by Mayday as a last-minute replacement, but I believe he's the more well-rounded fighter. It's either Rivera by TKO in early, or a Soto decision. I'll go the latter. Alex Soto by decision.
Ben Thapa: Going with Alex Soto by decision for exactly the same logic - although getting lit up by Mayday is something that the vast majority of bantamweight fighters would experience. Kid is good. Soto, decision.
Dallas Winston: Agree with Burke, but going with the latter. Francisco Rivera by TKO.
Staff picking Rivera: Anton, Fraser, Grant, Brookhouse, KJ, Dallas
Staff picking Soto: Tim, Thapa, David