UFC 146 Staff Picks And Predictions

via media.ufc.tv

Junior dos Santos vs. Frank Mir

Brent Brookhouse: On the feet, it's advantage JDS. On the ground, it's Mir with the edge. But getting it from the feet to the ground isn't going to be easy for Mir. Mir does have a little pop in his punches, but dos Santos should be more than able to not get caught and stopped. Junior dos Santos by TKO, round 2.

Anton Tabuena: I'm still ‘pissed' about Overeem's test... Frank Mir doesn't have good takedowns, and Junior Dos Santos has excellent takedown defense. So unless he makes a silly mistake, Mir is likely to get blasted here. I'd actually hope that Mir pulls guard just to make things more interesting. I doubt it would help though. Junior dos Santos by KO.

KJ Gould: It starts on the feet, and Mir almost always eats more shots than he lands against a superior striker. JDS is a more powerful boxer than Nogueira and I really can't see him making the same mistake as Noguiera and attempting a guillotine choke while pulling guard on a stunned Frank Mir. Mir gets dropped, and if he's not out cold, JDS will either let him back up, or swing hard at his head if he's turtled. Junior dos Santos by KO

T.P. Grant: I know I pointed out Junior dos Santos' defensive liabilities when he throws punches, but I'm not crazy. Frank Mir is likely not the guy to take advantage of those openings. The most likely outcome of this fight is dos Santos smashing Mir with punches until he collapses to the ground. Even if Mir gets a takedown I doubt he will be able to keep dos Santos down but I do think if dos Santos engages in a grappling match Mir has a good chance of getting a submission. But that just isn't going to happen, so Mir needs to rely on landing a big punch before dos Santos and that just plain isn't likely. Junior dos Santos by KO

Tim Burke: Mir's standup is predictable. Cigano's isn't. As stated above, Mir doesn't really have the takedowns to get it to the mat and JDS is smart enough not to engage him there willingly. Seems pretty easy to call for me - Mir gets caught with a big shot, goes down, gets pounded out. Junior dos Santos by KO, round 1

Fraser Coffeen: I hate the way people are already jumping all over dos Santos and viewing him as unbeatable. Mir in fact has the tools to beat him on the mat. The trouble is, Mir gets too enamored with his striking, and while that striking has greatly improved over the years, he still is slow to respond when he gets hit (see the Carwin fight for a great example). Against a power puncher and finisher like JDS, that's doom. Junior dos Santos by KO, round 1

Ben Thapa: Have you ever seen that video of the sloth trying to cross the road and someone picks it up, only to have R. Kelly's I Believe I Can Fly play? Frank Mir has been the sloth trying to cross the road for quite a while now. He wins in impressive, bone-breaking and brain-crunching fashion against the lower level guys. But then he, like the sloth, looks across that expanse of asphalt towards the Promised Land of More Trees/Holding The Title Belt Again. I fully respect Mir's skill package, but still believe that it would take divine intervention for Mir-Sloth to cross the asphalt and beat Cigano here. That was one tortured metaphor, but referencing I Believe I Can Fly on Bloody Elbow is worth it. Two Saints, KO, Round 1.

Dallas Winston: To play devil's advocate, I think most are assuming that JDS has sharpened up his grappling and submission defense since Joaquim "Mamute" Ferreira armbarred him in 2007. Other than the sparse takedown defense he showed against Gonzaga and Carwin (who both got him down briefly), assumptions are all that's available because he simply hasn't been locked in a ground battle with a talented submissionist. So, that, along with Mir's propensity to pull off the impossible, give this match a certain appeal. Unfortunately, Mir has struggled against lumbering power punchers and JDS is a lightning-fast KO machine. Mir's wrestling, particularly with trips and throws in the clinch, has improved, but the speed and elite boxing of JDS should be surgical weapons against Mir. Junior dos Santos by TKO.

Staff picking Dos Santos: KJ, Anton, Grant, Tim, Brookhouse, Fraser, Thapa, Dallas
Staff picking Mir:

Antonio Silva vs. Cain Velasquez

Brent Brookhouse: KJ beat me to it just below, Cormier set out how you beat Silva and Cain is a guy who can emulate that very well while putting his own twist on it. Cain Velasquez by TKO, round 3.

Anton Tabuena: Velasquez should be able to take advantage of his huge speed advantage here. Cain Velasquez by TKO.

KJ Gould: Cain Velasquez follows the blueprint Daniel Cormier set down, only hopefully without breaking his hands in the process. He'll be too quick and too hard for Bigfoot to take down and this is a perfect bounce-back fight for him to get him a rematch with JDS. Cain Velasquez by TKO.

T.P. Grant: Antonio Silva is a good heavyweight, but Cain Velasquez is a great heavyweight. Silva likes to strike but Velasquez's hand speed is such that Silva will likely get the worst of the exchanges. When Silva gets in trouble on the feet he shoots for double legs and that isn't going to do much of anything against Velasquez. I think this is the first time we see Velasquez back in his pre-injury form and I expect an impressive showing from him. Cain Velasquez by TKO.

Tim Burke: Silva's always been a lumbering striker but he does possess a lot of power. Cain's only had 80 seconds of cage time since coming back from his shoulder surgery, so it's still tough to get a good read on exactly how it affected him (if at all). I think Velasquez is smart enough to use his wrestling instead of trying to box with Silva, and he'll get some quality cage time on his way to a W. Cain Velasquez by decision.

Ben Thapa: I'm not sure Cain lands the thudding crack of doom punch that Cormier landed on Bigfoot. I do know that Cain's modus operandi of getting his opponents down and then sitting in knee on belly to launch massive punches to the head is very hard to beat. Bigfoot is quite skilled, but he keeps getting tagged and his guard is not Werdum-level yet. After being patient for a round, Cain will come out in the second, slice right through the guard after a single leg and batter Bigfoot for a while before the referee stops it. Velasquez, KO, Round 2.

Dallas Winston: Yup -- speed will make the difference here. Cain will have the speed advantage with his hands, footwork and overall cage mobility. I would not overlook Bigfoot's improved boxing and 5" reach advantage, nor the fact that he'll probably have a huge submission edge on the mat. I can see him replicating the Kongo fight and slicing a long and straight right hand down the pipe and then pouncing with a top-side grappling assault but, on paper, Cain's quick hands, accurate striking and wrestling advantage should see him through. Cain Velasquez by decision.

Staff picking Silva:
Staff picking Velasquez: KJ, Anton, Grant, Tim, Brookhouse, Fraser, Thapa, Dallas

Dave Herman vs. Roy Nelson

Brent Brookhouse: Herman has decent ability, but he also is mentally absent more than not and gets himself in stupid positions. He also hasn't really taken steps to shore up the holes in his game. Nelson has good power and good grappling. He has his own liabilities, but those come from physical issues that aren't going to be fixed. Ever. He's not dropping to 205, and if he does he'll have to become a completely different fighter. So stop it. Roy is the better fighter here though. Roy Nelson by decision.

KJ Gould: Two guys with talent, two guys who haven't been taking things as seriously as they could have been in the past. Herman looked useless when he was mounted in his last fight, I can see Roy Nelson powering him down to the mat and keeping him there, finishing perhaps with a mounted crucifix. That's assuming Nelson doesn't knock him out standing beforehand. Roy Nelson by TKO.

T.P. Grant: As KJ has already stated these are two talented fighters who just haven't dedicated themselves 100% to the sport. Physically speaking, Herman is imposing, but Nelson is more skilled in just about every department. Herman isn't going to be able to knock Nelson out and on the ground Nelson enjoys a healthy advantage. I think we see some vintage Roy Neslon ground-and-pound to finish up this fight. Roy Nelson by TKO.

Tim Burke: I don't think Herman's a particularly talented fighter. I think he has some good standup, but that's about it. Herman has a speed advantage on the feet, but Nelson can win this anywhere it goes. The only tough choice is between decision and submission. Since Roy always loses decisions, I'll go with the alternative. Roy Nelson by submission, round 2.

Ben Thapa: It's been a long time since we saw a Roy Nelson submission win - six years and eighteen fights ago to be exact. He has continually chosen to punch from his advantageous positions in the intervening time since that arm triangle win and this should go exactly the same. I rather like Herman's studied nonchalance and often hilarious words on fighting and his balls to the wall brawling style greatly entertains. He isn't the best on the ground, but he's still going to go out on his shield or surprise the heck out of his opponent with a series of goofily accurate punches. Nelson's chin is granite and he should be able to weather the first round storm and then work on Herman after a clinch'n'dump to get that good position for a KO finish. Nelson, KO, Round 2.

Dallas Winston: Well ... first off, I have to argue about Herman's talent. The kid never wrestled in high school but was red-shirted by Indiana University and qualified for the D1 NCAA championships his sophomore year. Despite his jab at BJJ, he finagled an omoplata finish in Bellator. Actually, I think he's exorbitantly talented and that's why he's come this far, but his Fight IQ and lack of a go-to strategy are clear concerns. I'd also say that he noticeably toned things down against Struve and was more calculating rather than lovably insane. Plus, he's a 6'4" D1 wrestler and incredibly athletic; his striking is quicker and much more diverse than Nelson's but his striking defense is atrocious. Nelson is the safe pick for sure but everything hinges on either landing the meat-hook or scoring a takedown, so I'm going with a sentimental favorite by something unexpectedly awesome. Dave Herman by decision.

Staff picking Herman: Dallas!
Staff picking Nelson: KJ, Anton, Grant, Tim, Brookhouse, Fraser, Thapa

Shane Del Rosario vs. Stipe Miocic

Brent Brookhouse: I was never particularly high on Del Rosario, not that he's a bad fighter, but I never saw him as a top level prospect when people were selling him as such. Miocic has his own failings but I like him here. Del Rosario is good enough to win, but I think Miocic's game translates into winning 2 of 3 rounds. Stipe Miocic by decision.

Anton Tabuena: I'm obviously picking the Filipino here. Hopefully the accident hasn't hampered his skills that much. Shane Del Rosario by TKO.

KJ Gould: This one's a tough pick for me. I've been sleeping on Miocic, but he's looked good so far. Being wobbled by Phillip de Fries in his last fight is worrying though, since Del Rosario has shown he can finish with fists as well as knees. He's also shown some submission ability, having won fights with an armbar, omoplata and a triangle choke in the past. Miocic may have the UFC experience, but only two fights worth, and Del Rosario has shown he has more tools at his disposal to finish a fight. The X-Factor could be Del Rosario's year plus layoff. Shane Del Rosario by Decision.

T.P. Grant: Going to go against the grain here, but I think Shane Del Rosario will be badly hindered by his time away from training. I think he might have rushed returning to action and I'm going with Miocic after Del Rosario slows down badly after the first round. Stipe Miocic by Decision.

Tim Burke: Who knows what SDR we'll see in the cage on Saturday, but the Del Rosario from before had stellar muay thai and loved to grab the cage. Miocic isn't as well-rounded on the feet but has the wrestling to take the fight where he wants it. Neither have excellent defense standing so we could either see a quick knockout, or Miocic grinding away until Del Rosario gets tired. It's a really tough call, but I'll lean towards Stipe. Stipe Miocic by decision.

Fraser Coffeen: Del Rosario has a place in my heart for bringing the Muay Thai credentials, but Miocic is no easy task on the feet himself. It's a close one, but I put a lot of value on ring rust, and I think that becomes the difference maker here. Stipe Miocic by TKO, round 2

Ben Thapa: This is kind of a toss-up because we do not know which of these guys is going to show up with their A game tomorrow night. The Miocic A game probably beats the Del Rosario A game and he has enough toughness from wrestling to grind through the rough patches. However, if he comes out gassed and fighting his C game, Del Rosario probably jumps all over him and gets the early finish. I suspect Miocic can handle the pressure and training camp better this time around, so going with Miocic, KO, Round 3.

Dallas Winston: This fight is a pile of question marks: SdR hasn't dealt with many legit wrestlers and was still taken down on occasion, but has the more threatening striking and submission arsenal. Miocic gassed badly against Beltran and got clocked by De Fries, but his boxing is pretty sharp and his wrestling is phenomenal. I'm not sure how good his submission defense is, but I think he's capable of falling back on takedowns and either snaring a top-side submission or out-hustling SdR for 2 of 3 rounds. Stipe Miocic by decision.

Staff picking Del Rosario: Anton, KJ
Staff picking Miocic: Grant, Tim, Brookhouse, Fraser, Thapa, Dallas

Lavar Johnson vs. Stefan Struve

Brent Brookhouse: Johnson has been a great story and all, and Struve's chin can be dented, but he recovers well enough and Johnson can be taken down easily enough that it's Struve's fight to lose. Stefan Struve by submission, round 1.

Anton Tabuena: If Struve stands with him, he will get KO'd again... But I think he's smart enough to take him down and finish it easily. Heck, even Pat Barry dominated on the ground. Stefan Struve by Submission.

KJ Gould: Johnson has shown some serious power in his last couple of fights, and although he's coming in on short notice, he's fought recently enough to still be in shape. Struve seems incapable of using his reach for his striking, so it may come down to Struve needing the fight on the ground to end it by submission. Johnson's not as much of a threat as Mark Hunt, and if Pat Barry can take him down, surely Struve can, right? We'll have to see. Stefan Struve by Submission.

T.P. Grant: Lavar Johnson doesn't really pose new problems for Stefan Struve. He is a big, strong striker with serious KO power. The question is how does Struve approach him and I think since the Travis Browne loss Struve has begun to understand that he is not a striker and should stick to his grappling. Struve should take Johnson down and submit him, but when it comes to Stefan Struve I never really feel all that sure. Stefan Struve by Submission.

Tim Burke: Johnson's just too easy to take down, even for Struve. Once it's there, it's game over. Stefan Struve by submission, round 1.

Fraser Coffeen: This is an interesting match, as both men play to the other's weakness. Struve is prone to the KO - Johnson is a KO beast. Johnson is weak on the mat - Struve has a very underrated submissions game. Struve should win this no trouble, though I fear him getting pulled into a shoot-out. But I'm hoping he plays it smart here. Stefan Struve by submission, round 1

Ben Thapa: All of you are saying that Struve will fight differently than he has in the past. Every single person he has fought has hit him pretty good right in the head. When Lavar hits you in the head, tweety birds happen. All he has to do is get a couple of glancing blows or one clean shot and the trip attempts and takedowns will cease immediately. It's what he did to Barry and what he'll do to Struve. Johnson, KO, Round 1.

Dallas Winston: Fraser and Thapa summed it up. Struve's striking defense and defensive footwork is ghastly; Johnson's submission defense is the same. I'm going with Struve but I think Johnson has a great shot because Struve has rarely even attempted takedowns, much less landed them consistently. I like both guys and won't be upset no matter who wins. Stefan Struve by submission.

Staff picking Johnson: Thapa
Staff picking Struve: KJ, Anton, Grant, Tim, Brookhouse, Fraser, Dallas

Diego Brandao vs. Darren Elkins

Brent Brookhouse: Brandao's wildness will hurt him in the long-run if he can't tone it down a few notches. Elkins isn't good enough to really make him pay over three rounds though. His best hope is that he can lean on Brandao and tire him out, but that's not a reason to pick someone. Diego Brandao by TKO, round 2.

Anton Tabuena: I haven't been impressed with most of the recent TUF winners, but this guy looks very promising. Diego Brandao by TKO.

KJ Gould: Elkins may be 3-1 in the UFC, but two of those wins comes against Tiequan Zhang and Michihiro Omigawa. I think he looks better on paper than he actually is, and UFC are going to build as many new Brazilian stars as they can. Brandao is going to look to take Elkins head off and as he showed in the TUF finale, has the ability to submit from his back while stunned, at least against this level of competition. This should be Brandao's fight to lose. Diego Brandao by KO

T.P. Grant: Elkins 3-1 record in the UFC looks impressive at first glance, but then you see that his win over Duane Ludwig was an injury stoppage and his other two wins came against Tiequan Zhang and Michihiro Omigawa. And then you go back and watch his fight with Charles Oliveira and you start to understand why Joe Silva paired him with on the UFC's most exciting TUF champions in some time. Brandao is going to kill Elkins. Diego Brandao by KO.

Tim Burke: I've gone back and forth on this a few times now. Elkins debatably lost against Omigawa, but he stood with him the whole fight. I thought he might be able to use his wrestling to outwork Brandao (and he still might), but I didn't quite realize how good Dennis Bermudez' wrestling was until the Garza fight, and he was able to neutralize that. I still don't think Elkins should be at +300 with the skills he has, but I'm going to go with the TUF winner. Diego Brandao by TKO, round 2.

Ben Thapa: Like Burke says, Elkins has evolved from the fighter Oliveira absolutely murked into someone that is quite decent. Brandao is going to have a much harder time here than he did against Bermudez in terms of seizing a limb to work with or crack a skull open with something ridiculous. However, I think Elkins is going to fade as time goes on and Brandao will land more and more. Brandao, decision.

Dallas Winston: I don't think Elkins gets enough credit, probably because two key wins were a TKO by injury (Ludwig) and a controversial decision (Omigawa) that could've gone either way. His boxing and submission grappling seems to have improved, though neither Tiequan Zhang or Omigawa are juggernauts off their back or on the feet. Brandao, despite looking like a beast on TUF, has some suspect losses in which he was finished, so I look at this fight as about even but think Elkins' style will be tougher to impose flawlessly for all 15 minutes. Diego Brandao by submission.

Staff picking Brandao: KJ, Grant, Anton, Tim, Brookhouse, Thapa, Dallas
Staff picking Elkins: Fraser

Edson Barboza vs. Jamie Varner

Brent Brookhouse: I'll be pulling for Varner because I kind of like the guy and he does have a game that can beat a guy like Barboza. But I like Edson here to beat up on a Varner that is too interested in standing up with a better striker. Edson Barboza by decision.

Anton Tabuena: I'm glad Varner got another shot in the big leagues, but unfortunately for him, it's going to be against Barboza. Edson Barboza by TKO.

KJ Gould: Edson Barboza's spinning wheel kick KO against Terry Etim may have been the best UFC kick knockout of all time. Coming in at a perfect 10-0, I can't see him do anything else but flatline Jamie Varner, who hasn't been a factor in the division for some time, even going back to his last few fights in WEC. Varner has won his last 3 out of 4 fights in regional promotions, but against poor and past their prime competition. I just don't see him having anything for Barboza. Edson Barboza by Brutality (KO)

T.P. Grant: I've nothing but respect for Jamie Varner, a true veteran of the sport whose body has just been beaten up by his long career. Taking a fight on short notice against a kid like Barboza is gutsy on Varner's part, but I don't think the risk will pay off. Maybe Varner is able to expose a grappling weakness in Barboza, but more likely is Barboza leg kicks Varner into the ground. Edson Barboza by TKO.

Tim Burke: Varner's wrestling is good enough to take this fight if he commits to it 100%. He never does though, and constantly thinks he has to prove something on the feet first. What might be interesting is that Varner hasn't made 155 since he left the WEC, and coming in late might be hard on him. The Worm has never been knocked out in his career, and I think he'll keep it that way. But he's going to lose. Edson Barboza by decision.

Fraser Coffeen: I'm glad to see some positive feelings about Varner, who seemed to get a very bad reputation during the late WEC days. He's a talented boxer and wrestler with a good all around game. The trouble is, Barboza is way more diverse on the feet, and that's the difference maker. Edson Barboza by decision

Ben Thapa: I think there is a pattern of strikers taking their foot off the gas a little bit when going up against short-notice replacements. Barboza should be easily able to land whatever strikes he wants, while fending off the takedown attempts and clinchwork, but the unknown factor of the takedown threat will leave him more hesitant than he was against Etim. Barboza, decision.

Dallas Winston: Another devil's advocate note: Barboza has never faced an opponent who excels in both wrestling and striking. Ross Pearson was the closest but Varner is a much better wrestler. That's all I got for this one -- Barboza's footwork, takedown defense, sweeps and striking have looked unreal thus far and I don't think Varner can withstand it for all 3 rounds. Edson Barboza by decision.

Staff picking Barboza: KJ, Grant, Anton, Tim, Brookhouse, Fraser, Thapa, Dallas
Staff picking Varner:

C.B. Dollaway vs. Jason Miller

Brent Brookhouse: I think Jason Miller isn't a very good fighter anymore. He had a decent period of success but now he's just...nothing special. Dollaway is also not particularly good, Miller should be able to take him. But a Dollaway win wouldn't shock me, and that's not hedging, that's just truth. Jason Miller by decision.

Anton Tabuena: He's not good enough to beat Bisping, but I think he's good enough to beat Dollaway. Mayhem Miller by Decision.

KJ Gould: I think no one appreciates how bad Jason Miller looked in his last fight, quite as much as he does. This is do or die for Miller, and Dolloway is a more even match up for him than Michael Bisping. Having said that, Dolloway has lost his last two fights by (T)KO, so it may come down to who wants it more. Miller's striking shouldn't be a worry for Dolloway, but his experience and submission savviness might be. Dolloway's wrestling could be good enough to keep the fight standing, and now I'm dreading a bad kickboxing fight that ends with a tepid decision. Jason Miller by Decision.

T.P. Grant: Like KJ, I fear to think what this fight will look like if these two fighters cancel out each other's grappling, ugly would not even begin to describe it. Miller looked awful against Michael Bisping, but this is a serious step down for him. I don't think Dollaway can hang with Miller on the ground and I do think Mayhem gets the fight there somehow, even if he has to pull guard. Once there I think Miller is too much for Dollaway and hands the former TUF finalist his walking papers. Jason Miller by Submission.

Tim Burke: I'm a Mayhem fan, but this fight is probably going to be anything but entertaining. It's just such a weird style matchup. Dollaway has more power on the feet, Mayhem's probably better overall though. Mayhem's better on the ground, but Dollaway's the better wrestler. It adds up to a bunch of meh. Jason Miller by decision.

Ben Thapa: I think Miller has ADHD when it comes to footwork. He gets so excited about what he can do with his power that he forgets the fundamentals which allow the channeling and utilization of that power. Also maybe how to breathe right too. Those were his biggest problems against Bisping and I don't think he's faced those demons in training to a point that he's going to knock out Dollaway. Miller's quite capable on the ground, but he's still pretty much lost every ground battle in recent years - apart from the much smaller and way more decrepit Kazushi Sakuraba. Dollaway should get the decision win here after a couple takedowns and outpoint Miller handily on the feet. Dollaway, decision.

Dallas Winston: Dollaway has been hard to assess: he latched on the sweet, Marcelo Garcia style elbow-lift guillotine on Doerksen and then the Peruvian necktie on Jesse Taylor. That indicated encouraging strides with his submission grappling, and he'll definitely have the better striking and wrestling here. However, he's been clipped on the feet in his recent losses and I can't help but think he'll revert to his wrestling, and "Mayhem" is a wily technician on the mat. Jason Miller by submission.

Staff picking Dollaway: Thapa
Staff picking Miller: KJ, Grant, Anton, Tim, Brookhouse, Fraser, Dallas

Dan Hardy vs. Duane Ludwig

Brent Brookhouse: On the feet, Ludwig wins a decision. On the ground, Hardy wins a decision or maybe catches a submission. I think Hardy WILL decide that he should "go to war" and stand while trying to put on a show. THat means he gets picked apart and loses. Duane Ludwig by decision.

Anton Tabuena: Call me crazy, but I think Hardy will refuse to stand and bang, and instead, he'll take it to the ground. Ludwig has such a questionable ground game, and I think after having a long time to reflect on his career, Hardy would be smart enough capitalize on those holes. Dan Hardy by Submission.

KJ Gould: Two guys taking up spots from other Welterweights outside the UFC? Quite possible. Two guys who can put on an entertaining kickboxing match? More than likely. Hardy hasn't fought since August 2011, losing his 4th fight in a row to a retiring Chris Lytle. He's taken the time off to refocus his career, but you have to think Lorenzo Fertitta's love of those who ‘war' can only keep a losing Hardy under Zuffa contract for so long. Ludwig is capable of winning this since Hardy struggled with the striking of the aforementioned Lytle, and Ludwig is a more technical, accurate striker. Hardy might be able to KO Ludwig, but he's only ever been able to clean KO Rory Markham in the last 8 years of fighting. I think we'll see the same ol' Hardy, and the same ol' Ludwig, and the better striker wins. Duane Ludwig by Decision.

T.P. Grant: An accomplished kickboxer, Duane Ludwig was the guy that back in 2000 your friend would tell you "once this guys figures out that ground stuff he is going to be a killer." While he never took to grappling twelve years later Ludwig is still a dangerous fighter on the feet. Luckily for Ludwig, his opponent, Dan Hardy, also has a severe allergy to grappling. This fight is going to take place right in Ludwig's wheelhouse and I don't think he is going to lose a kickboxing match to Hardy. Duane Ludwig by Decision.

Tim Burke: There's a difference between crowd-pleasing and stupid. I know Fertitta likes Hardy because of his style, but Hardy's biggest asset in terms of future employment is a W. Ludwig is extremely one-dimensional, and Hardy will exploit that by taking it to the ground. Hardy's not exactly a wizard there either, but he knows enough to get the job done. Dan Hardy by submission.

Fraser Coffeen: I don't buy into the idea that "surely THIS time Hardy will go to the ground!" He's had plenty of chances to do that, and he hasn't taken them. He's going to stand and bang, and he's going to do so against a superior striker. Duane Ludwig by decision

Ben Thapa: Ludwig has put in some work on his ground game - but he still makes mistakes now and then. Those mistakes left him with a badly broken foot against Elkins and with Josh Neer putting him to sleep super quick. Against Osipczak, he made more mistakes that left him mounted and taking some hard strikes, but survived long enough to get the split decision win. Hardy can finish better than Osipczak and should be smart enough to seize upon the positional opportunities to get a KO finish. Hardy, KO, Round 2.

Dallas Winston: Bang is actually not as incapable on the mat as most believe. Sure, he's far from a standout, but he's been toiling away on defensive grappling for almost a decade now and his Muay Thai is ridiculous. I think he'll pick Hardy apart standing and hold his own in grappling exchanges -- I'm more concerned with Hardy's left hook finding his chin. Duane Ludwig by decision.

Staff picking Hardy: Anton, Tim, Thapa
Staff picking Ludwig: KJ, Grant, Brookhouse, Fraser, Dallas

Paul Sass vs. Jacob Volkmann

Brent Brookhouse: You know what would be cool? If after he wins, they just don't interview Volkmann. Jacob Volkmann by decision.

Anton Tabuena: Sass is 12-0 and has looked very impressive recently. The 23-year-old has a bright future ahead of him, but I think Volkmann will stifle his game over the duration of the bout. I hope I'm wrong, but I think it's Jacob Volkmann by Decision.

KJ Gould: Volkmann is 5-0 at Lightweight since dropping down from Welterweight, and is a big step up in competition for Paul Sass. Sass has been tricky with his use of legs to wrap up his opponents with fight ending triangle chokes or heelhooks, but it's been against guys that are fairly new to the game themselves. Volkmann, fighting out of Minnesota MMA and coached by Greg Nelson, is just one of those awkward fighters almost everyone will have a hard time with, and while Sass' guard has served him well thus far in finishes, Volkmann will likely drag him into deep water and stifle him for the duration. Jacob Volkmann by Decision.

T.P. Grant: Sass is a fun fighter from a Luta Livre background, but I just feel like he is going to get Volkmannized. I won't rule out a dramatic heel hook or triangle finish but I think it is far more likely we get a conservative decision out of Volkmann. Jacob Volkmann by Decision.

Tim Burke: Volkmann's a savvy grappler and it's going to be very, very hard for Sass to catch him. This will be another grinding Volkmann decision win. Jacob Volkmann by decision.

Ben Thapa: Volkmann gonna control Sass and threaten those brabo chokes all day long. Only chance for Paul to win is by grabbing a leg and considering how mighty Volkmann is in the scramble, that's going to be a long shot. Volkmann will win yet again and for the love of all the gods that smile benevolently on me, let him actually shut down his weirder side and give a straight "That was awesome. Love you fans. Thank you sponsors and family" speech. Volkmann, decision.

Dallas Winston: Sometimes, I love it when you have a strong instinct on a fight and it turns out to be the polar opposite of everyone else. I dunno -- Aoki-like in his submissions is Sass, Joe ... and I don't think Volkmann's submission defense can repel the onslaught for 3 rounds. Paul Sass by submission.

Staff picking Sass: Dallas?
Staff picking Volkmann: KJ, Grant, Anton, Tim, Brookhouse, Fraser, Thapa

Kyle Kingsbury vs. Glover Teixeira

Brent Brookhouse: I feel like I should pick Teixeira here, but for some reason I can't get past how much I feel size and strength are being underrated here. Teixeira is the better fighter, but I'll take Kingsbury to win an unimpressive decision. Kyle Kingsbury by decision.

T.P. Grant: My pick in this fight comes down to I just plain think Teixeira is a better fighter. Kingsbury has a big size and strength advantage but I think Teixeira is better striker and much better grappler. The Bonnar fight really exposed some big holes in Kingsbury game, Teixeira is going to stand with Kingsbury and he doesn't like the way things are going take him down a dominate him positionally. Kingsbury slows down in a big way towards the end of his fights, I think Teixeira finishes him in the later rounds. Glover Teixeira by Submission.

Tim Burke: I've waited for sooo long for Glover to get to the UFC, and he's finally here. He's a finisher and I think Kingsbury is massively overrated. It should be fun while it lasts, but...Glover Teixeira by TKO, round 1

Ben Thapa: Teixeira is going to stun and drop Kingsbu multiple times over the course of this fight. Kyle is a big, tough fighter for sure and won't go away easily, but Glover has fireballs for fists and a better ground game. Teixeira, KO, Round 3.

Dallas Winston: Kingsbury's size and clinch is no joke and good enough to eke out a win against Maldonado, but Teixeira just out-matches him with top-notch striking and BJJ. Glover Teixeira by TKO.

Staff picking Kingsbury: Anton, Brookhouse
Staff picking Teixeira: KJ, Grant, Tim, Fraser, Thapa, Dallas

Mike Brown vs. Daniel Pineda

KJ Gould: It's sad to say, but considering Mike Brown has fallen so badly in his career, and Joe Silva won't throw him any softballs, Pineda takes the decision. Daniel Pineda by decision.

T.P. Grant: Pineda strikes as the kind of fighter that is at his best when he has a grappling advantage and the same could be said for Mike Thomas Brown. The problem is that Pineda isn't a stellar grappler, in fact he seems to feast on fighters with pretty weak ground games. While MTB has never looked the same after the Aldo loss, I think he is able to out-grapple Pineda for fifteen minutes. Mike Thomas Brown by Decision.

Tim Burke: Tough fight to call. If Brown is not completely shot, he should be able to control the surprisingly good Pineda. He's got better stand-up and wrestling and can hold his own in the grappling department if his body is up to it. I hope it is. Mike Brown by decision.

Ben Thapa: I think the best way for Pineda to win this is to take a leg and make like Imanari. However, MTB has gotten much better since that grisly broken leg and the Nam Phan fight showed that he's able to keep a higher pace for three rounds again. MTB should display some very solid submission defense against a game Pineda and get the decision win. I keep picking against Pineda and he's surprised me both times, but MTB is too defensively strong to do what he did against Mackens Semerzier and Schilling. Brown, decision.

Dallas Winston: I'm a little concerned about Brown's slide lately but his boxing is still sharper, his wrestling is better and he steered clear of Rani Yahya's submissions. Mike Brown by decision.

Staff picking Brown: Grant, Anton, Tim, Brookhouse, Thapa, Dallas
Staff picking Pineda: KJ, Fraser

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