Rich Franklin vs.
Brent Brookhouse: It's a little sad to type this, but the Cung Le KO will probably be the last great Wanderlei moment. Franklin should have his way here, but I don't know that I really expect him to get the finish. Just a dominant decision win. But I'm perfectly fine Wandy proving me wrong. by unanimous decision.
Anton Tabuena: Rich Franklin will make Silva look bad here. I'm just more interested in seeing how much the time spent training in Asia have helped him tighten up his Muay Thai and BJJ. Rich Franklin by TKO.
Fraser Coffeen: Wanderlei Silva is awesome and one of the greatest Light Heavyweight fighters of all time. OK, we clear on that? Good. Because his chin is also shot and he's going lights out here. Sorry Wand. Rich Franklin by KO, round 1.
Ben Thapa: I think quite a few of you are discounting Wanderlei here. The first fight at UFC 99 was much closer than most people think; two of the three Sherdog writers scoring it for a play by play put up a 29-28 Silva scorecard. And that's with Wandy having his nose broken by Ace in the first round. I really do think we'll get the Wandy of the Bisping fight this time out. He's healthier than he's been in a while and the layoff has to be allowing his brain enough time to rest after being staggered by Cung Le and dropped by Leben. However, Franklin at his best now is good enough to beat Wanderlei at his best now. He just has to play smart, continue to use the left straights/hooks and kicks to the body that frustrated Wandy the first time around and avoid the swarms that had him in trouble last time. I think that is an easier route to victory for him than Wanderlei's standard swarm attack gameplan is for Silva. Franklin, decision.
Tim Burke: This fight is certainly more intriguing than Wandy/Belfort, but it's still pretty clear to me what's going to happen - Silva's gonna lose. I don't think it's gonna be a blowout or anything, especially since Franklin hasn't fought in 16 months. And he was training for a three-round fight. But I don't think Franklin is going to get caught like he did in the second round of their first fight, and he'll play a more cautious game from the outside. I hope this fight is as good as the first, but I don't have high hopes. Rich Franklin by decision.
Dallas Winston: Good fight-pickers are supposed to ignore their heart and listen to logic. However, when one of your all-time faves is fighting and common sense dictates he'll lose, you're screwed either way if you don't pick him: you're either unhappy about being right or in need of a soul-cleansing shower because you didn't believe. I'll never forgive myself for picking Schaub over Big Nog and Cung Le over Wandy. Wanderlei Silva by Pride-era KO.
David Castillo: I'm picking Wand, but not just with my heart: Franklin is up there in fight years as well. And he's always been relatively fragile. At what point does this begin to chew at his confidence? It's not an easy pick, but I think Wand will be able to rattle Rich throughout in another tough fought battle. Wanderlei Silva by Decision.
Staff picking Franklin: Stephie, Anton, Fraser, Brookhouse, Thapa, Tim
Staff picking Silva: Dallas, David
Fraser Coffeen: OK, let's get this out of the way right now - I didn't watch TUF Brazil. I know, I know, I am a terrible person, but between it not being on my TV and my focus on TUF Live, it just didn't happen. So all these TUF picks are based off of research, a bit of tape watching when possible, and blind luck. Let's go! Cezar Ferreira by KO, round 1
Ben Thapa: Cezar is not a world destroyer. He is oddly slow despite his athletic look and can be tagged. Elvis Mutapcic put his lights out with a counter uppercut. Sergio Moraes doesn't have that kind of power or technique standing. However, Antonio Braga Neto - another world champion BJJ player - controlled Mutante for 10 minutes to get a two round decision win. Moraes can do that - but he has to get it to the ground and he's less physical in the takedown department than Neto. Mutante is rather good at pushing most people he faces off and discouraging takedowns. Unless Moraes pulls guard and works another heelhook, I envision Mutante pushing him off and eventually getting the punches lined up enough to put Sergio out for the second time this year. Mutante, KO, Round 2.
Tim Burke: Ben covered it pretty well. Can Serginho sub Mutante? For sure. Will he? I highly doubt it. He'll lose the standup, and his takedown skills are probably not going to threaten Cezar very much. The potential is there for the upset, but I don't see it. And the real upsetting thing here is that Daniel Sarafian isn't taking out Mutante to win this whole thing. Cezar Mutante by TKO, round 2
Dallas Winston: Mutante's control and submission defense should see him through here, but Serginho is an ever-present sub threat with the equivalent of a puncher's chance. Not sure that Mutante can finish him though. Cezar "Mutante" Ferreira by decision.
David Castillo: It's a poor reflection on me to pick the guy everyone else is picking because I know nothing about TUF Brazil, so perhaps this is a reflection of not just laziness, but where TUF registers on our radars: which is to say, not much. Not trying to justify anything, but I won't pretend to be an expert here either. Cezar Mutante by Decision.
Staff picking Mutante: Anton, Fraser, Brookhouse, Ben, Tim, Dallas, David
Staff picking Serginho: Stephie
Brent Brookhouse: It's crazy how little people are going to know about the fights they're expected to pay for. Bezerra by decision.
Ben Thapa: The opening round fight between Rony Jason and Dileno Lopes could have been for the final. That's how good Dileno is, despite being outsized by nearly everyone else in the house. Pepey is a solid, entertaining fighter who can finish, but he's not in Bezerra's league. Pepey had by far the easier route to the finals and hasn't looked as good as Jason in doing it either. I see a finish and I see it coming on the ground. Rony Jason, sub, Round 1.
Anton Tabuena: BE Scouting Report! Jason by Decision.
Tim Burke: Jason's just a better fighter than Pepey. Pepey's clearly looking for the sub, but Rony's gonna be too cagey for him on the floor. And Rony's got the advantage in the standup as well. Despite Pepey's five-inch height advantage, he's only got an inch of reach advantage. Pepey got kind of lucky with his matchups, but that will end here. Rony Jason by TKO, round 2.
Dallas Winston: Rony Jason is a beast. His pre-TUF losses include "Junior PQD" of the Renovacao Fight Team (who almost beat Marlon Sandro in his Bellator debut), Renan Barao and a vet of 30+ fights in his Rony's 5th. Rony "Jason" Mariano Bezerra by TKO.
David Castillo: Jason's a solid fighter, and hasn't been a pushover for fighters with established pedigrees. Pepey won't have anything to offer except defeat. Rony Jason by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Jason: Anton, Fraser, Brookhouse, Ben, Tim, Dallas, David
Staff picking Pepey: Stephie
Brent Brookhouse: I keep pointing out that Russow isn't actually good and then he wins an ugly fight and people go "SEE?!" So, fine. He's good enough to beat middling talent in the UFC, but not good enough to beat true top level guys. Fabricio Werdum by decision.
Anton Tabuena: I would love to see Russow win, and land that BIG hammerfist, but I think Werdum takes this. Fabricio Werdum by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I was surprised by Werdum's stand-up against Nelson, which looked really solid. That's been a weakness for him in the past, and with it fixed, he has very good potential in the UFC Heavyweight division. As for Russow, he's like Nelson without the one punch KO power or threat on the ground, which means he'll be tough to finish, but shouldn't provide much of a challenge for Werdum. This is like one of those fights on a 1997 Vale Tudo show. Fabricio Werdum by decision
Ben Thapa: I do hope Fabricio decides to clinch after a few good strikes, get a single leg and dump the dazed Russow for some quick groundwork before a finish, but sticking to reality is better for my picks record. Werdum is going to batter Russow for three rounds in a repeat of the Nelson fight. And we need to get that weird face again as a victory celebration. Werdum, decision.
Tim Burke: I don't think this is going to be like the Nelson fight at all. I think Werdum will be happy to take it to the floor, and he can against Russow. Or he'll just let Russow take it down himself. Russow clearly wasn't scared of engaging Einemo on the ground, but will he feel the same way about Werdum? He nearly got caught in two triangles by Einemo at the end, so I would hope he'd have better sense than that. Either way though, I think Werdum actually gets a submission finish here. Fabricio Werdum by submission, round 2.
Dallas Winston: I have to admit, I was pretty shocked when Russow fearlessly engaged Einemo on the ground and shut him down with smart technique. He's also a solid boxer with good power and timing. Werdum's boxing has been slowly improving but his Muay Thai has skyrocketed under Master Cordeiro at Chute Boxe and Kings MMA. Additionally, Werdum's a big-ass heavyweight with an excellent chin and ultra-elite ground game. He'll sub Russo if it hits the ground but I expect Russow to sprawl and brawl and look for his overhand right and left hook ... but I still think Werdum will hold his own from outside and punish Russow in the clinch. Fabricio Werdum by decision.
David Castillo: Russow surprises me with his ability to be totally unspectacular, yet is capable of picking up victories. Not here though. Werdum has always been a top level HW with elite skills, and despite some strange performances (notably against Overeem), he's deceptively scrappy. Russow has nothing for Fabricio. Fabricio Werdum by TKO, round 3.
Staff picking Russow:
Staff picking Werdum: Stephie, Anton, Fraser, Brookhouse, Ben, Tim, Dallas, David
Ben Thapa: I wish Hacran hadn't gotten desperate during the TUF Brazil tryouts and done something stupid. He'd have been on the show otherwise and probably could have won through to the finals too. Instead, the UFC actually did a smart thing and signed him outright (upon the conditions that he not be that dumb again, I assume). Yuri Alcantara is a good fighter, but Hacran is going to put him down and sub him right quick. Hacran Dias, sub, Round 1.
Tim Burke: I like Dias and think he has a bright future, but Alcantara might be the most underrated guy in the UFC. I'd be very impressed if Dias could sub him quickly but I highly doubt it'll happen. Alcantara completely dominated Michihiro Omigawa in his last bout, though he did gas late. I believe that Alcanara will control the first two round and Dias will come back in the third, but it'll be too little, too late. Yuri Alcanatra by decision.
Dallas Winston: Let's relive one of my many embarrassing staff predictions: Brookhouse said he didn't see any way how Omigawa could beat Alcantara; I said I didn't see any way Alcantara could beat Omigawa. Alcantara was kind enough to prove me wrong in a number of ways. I'm super impressed with this kid and his well-rounded aggression. Yuri Alcantara by decision.
David Castillo: Alcantara is kind of a middling fighter with above average talent, but I'm not sure how to gauge his place in the division. The win over Omigawa I think said more about Omigawa than Yuri, and Dias is not someone that will be able to offer an approximation of what Mich was capable of, and therefore loses. Yuri Alcantara by Decision.
Staff picking Alcantara: Stephie, Anton, Fraser, Brookhouse, Tim, Dallas, David
Staff picking Dias: Ben
Ben Thapa: This is one of the fights I'm not so hot about. It's matching two guys who really didn't like each other on the show - which is understandable considering that Gasparzinho's natural attention-seeking tactics got amped waaayyy up for the show. The two are somewhat evenly matched, but Damm's been on bigger shows before and fought better guys. I see his experience at handling this allowing him to find more ways to win a unanimous decision. Damm, decision.
Tim Burke: Gasparzinho is, for lack of a better term, a pain in the ass. Damm could have made the finals himself if he didn't get hurt on the show. I see this one being all Rodrigo with takedowns and solid work on top. Rodrigo Damm by decision.
Dallas Winston: Rodrigo Damm has disgusting punching power and is a hard-nosed gamer overall. A decision is more likely, but I'll go with the overhand haymaker. Rodrigo Damm by TKO.
David Castillo: Anyone remember when Damm was considered a top level prospect after dropping Jorge Masvidal (but only dropping: worst stoppage I've ever seen in MMA...again...ever)? Yea, me neither. He continues to look terrible against the elite, but Gasparzinho ain't it. Rodrigo Damm by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Damm: Fraser, Brookhouse, Ben, Tim, Dallas
Staff picking Gasparzinho: Stephie, Anton
Anton Tabuena: When in doubt, pick the guy who has faced better competition. Heleno by Decision.
Ben Thapa: Massaranduba should be fighting at LW. He must be looking to get a quick win and then drop. He is a violent man in the cage for sure, but Heleno - despite not being a true MW himself - is still bigger, experienced enough to not get murked that quick. It could happen, but I think Drinaldo will be able to control the action and outwork the larger Heleno for a decision win. Massaranduba, decision.
Tim Burke: It still amazes me that Massaranduba made the show at middleweight, considering how much smaller he is than everyone else. The guy's an effin lightweight! He got the tar beaten out of him in the second round of his fight with Thiago Bodao, to the point that he couldn't even answer the bell for the third. It was sad, because he's tough as nails. Heleno is small for MW as well, so at least he has that going for him in this bout. Unfortunately, Delson's just too good for him methinks. He's certainly vulnerable to a big shot, but I think he can control the bout enough to get a decision. Delson Heleno by decision.
Dallas Winston: As mentioned above, it's too bad that Massaranduba is forced to fight up in weight, especially against an experienced grappler like Heleno, who subbed Jake Ellenberger and Tyler Stinson and has faced legit competition. Again, decision is likely, but I'll go with the finish. Delson Heleno by submission.
Staff picking Massaranduba: Fraser, Ben
Staff picking Pe de Chumbo: Stephie, Anton, Brookhouse, Tim, Dallas
Ben Thapa: Solid, solid, solid fight. Both guys are undefeated and both can war in all phases of the game. Despite Macapa's loss to Damm, I think he's usually a better fighter than Damm and Wolverine was looking terrific until he fell just short against Jason in the semi-finals. This is a coin flip fight and probably going to be either the Fight of the Night or a quick finish for one. My quarter ended up being tails and tails, thus Macapa, decision in Fight of the Night.
Tim Burke: Macapa disappointed me in the bout with Rodrigo Damm. He got taken down a lot and I thought a split-decision loss was pretty charitable towards him. On the other hand, Wolverine impressed me a lot more than I thought he would. Viana has really good boxing and took a round from Rony Jason in their bout before getting taken down and controlled in the third. I'm really torn on this fight, but I'm gonna go with Wolverine. Hugo Wolverine by decision.
Dallas Winston: Coin-toss fight. Wolverine by decision.
Staff picking Macapa: Fraser, Ben
Staff picking Wolverine: Stephie, Anton, Brookhouse, Tim, Dallas
Ben Thapa: Perpetuo (the really bald guy) has power in his hands, but can be outworked. I don't think Macarrao is the fighter to do it and will probably take a few shots that stagger him every so often. Perpetuo will have his option of finishing by sub or by KO. I suspect he'll go with the hammerfists again. Perpetuo, KO, Round 2.
Tim Burke: What Ben said. Thiago Bodao by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Macarrao: Stephie
Staff picking Bodao: Anton, Fraser, Ben, Tim, Dallas
Ben Thapa: Again, this isn't a fight that excites me a ton, but it's evenly matched. Both Marcos Vinicius and Galeto love to finish people - KO or sub, it doesn't matter. Galeto is 30, Vina is 32. Vina has more fights, but it's not an overwhelmingly strong list of fighters. Galeto's list isn't filled with killers either. In the end, this is another coin flip for me. Heads, heads for me, so Galeto, KO, Round 1.
Tim Burke: Vina was brought back after a loss to replace Rodrigo Damm, and he just went out and lost again. Pepey beat both these dudes to get to the finals, hence the "easy path" thing mentioned earlier. I'll go with Vina, but there's not much to choose between the two. Vina by sub, round 2.
Staff picking Vina: Anton, Tim
Staff picking Galeto: Stephie, Fraser, Ben, Dallas
Ben Thapa: I hate it when people say the guy who usually wins by KO/Triangle/Whatever is going to win this next fight by that same technique. However, Milton Vieira is INCREDIBLE at setting up the brabos and anacondas. Any groundwork will see him hunt that - and probably get it. Arantes knows that and will be looking to do everything he can to stay out of it, but just like Ronda Rousey does, Milton will find a way to put Arantes in a position where he has to stick out his arm and neck. Vieira, sub, Round 2.
Tim Burke: Milton's a one-trick pony, and Arantes is really tough to finish. Arantes is just the more well-rounded fighter. Felipe Arantes by decision.
Dallas Winston: Vieira has fought and defeated some legit competition, including my boy Luciano Azevedo, and is an absolutely stellar grappler out of BTT. Size and striking will be an issue but Miltinho is not a terrible striker, his wrestling is serviceable and he can make up for lost ground quickly on the mat with frenetic subs and scrambles. Milton Vieira by decision.
Staff picking Arantes: Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Vieira: Stephie, Anton, Ben, Dallas