Anton Tabuena: I'm not exactly unbiased here, but apart from a few scrambles, I think this fight will be contested mostly on the feet, and that's where Munoz will win. The Filipino has repaired his elbow and can actually move it properly now, so his boxing will be more crisp and less limited. Weidman may still have slightly more technical with his strikes, but Munoz has bigger power, and that may be the difference on this fight. Mark Munoz by Decision.
David Castillo: I agree with Anton. I think Weidman has a bright future, but I don't think he's fully matured. Munoz can take advantage of his limited boxing, not that Munoz is terribly adept either on the feet, but I think he's at least comfortable there. Mark Munoz by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Munoz definitely has the potential to batter Weidman on the feet here, as he has the superior hands and bigger power. But I also think Weidman has good striking defense, and better overall movement. I think it will be enough to avoid the power and steadily outpoint Munoz, but this is a real tough one to call. Chris Weidman by decision.
Dallas Winston: I've been hesitant to jump on Weidman's bandwagon but his submission of Lawlor was impressive. However, not only will Munoz be the first opponent he can't absolutely steam-roll with his wrestling, but Mark has the boxing and power to make standing encounters pretty hostile as well. Weidman might be a little smoother with his punches, head movement and defense, but Munoz' chin has been solid and I'm not sure Weidman can out-finesse him to a decision. Still, Leben taking Munoz down is a serious concern for Weidman's wrestle-sub mixture. Mark Munoz by decision.
Tim Burke: I really believe Munoz hasn't quite mastered MMA wrestling yet. He has brutal GnP and okay boxing, but nothing too awesome. Weidman is a better all-round MMA grappler to me, and is serviceable enough on the feet to not get blasted. I think it's Weidman's time to shine, and he's going to show how polished his game already is. I know it's crazy, but I'd even consider taking him by submission. I'll go the safe route though and say Chris Weidman by decision.
T.P. Grant: Munoz is the bigger name here, but I don't think the gap between their skill set is too very big here. When it comes to the grappling I feel like Weidman is actually a more finished product, Munoz is still trying adjust his wrestling for MMA. Meanwhile Weidman looks to be a beast on the mats. I give Munoz a slight edge on the feet due to his power, but he also has a habit of getting rocked in every match. Munoz wins if he can get on top of Weidman and stay there I think or if he is able to connect with a big shot, but I'd favor Weidman in a war of attrition. Chris Weidman by Decision.
Staff picking Munoz: Anton, David, Dallas
Staff picking Weidman: Fraser, Tim, Grant
David Castillo: This is the co-main event? Really? I'm just now learning how slim this card is. Seems like an easy enough fight to pick. Beltran is a slugger, with not much else to offer other than a cute nickname, and a good chin. This will probably be more savage this it needs to be. James Te Huna by TKO, round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: I don't know about Beltran at Light Heavyweight. I think one of his big advantages at Heavyweight was his ability to use his heart to push through the exhaustion and beat up his slightly more gassed opponent as the fight progressed. Fighting guys that won't gas as quickly, while also being forced to cut weight himself seems like a bad mix. The only question to me is, is it a bad enough combo that he gets stopped for just the 2nd time in the UFC? I think so. James Te Huna by TKO round 2
Dallas Winston: I can't think of a more unfavorable opponent for Beltran's 205-pound debut. At heavyweight, Beltran relied on his quick hands and decent agility to swarm the larger, slower fighters and size/strength played almost no role in his game. Now, by dropping down to light-heavyweight, he'll lose his quickness advantage and capitalizing on a size/strength advantage would require a significant change in style. Te Huna should present the same problems that Lavar Johnson did: he has unruly punching power, his hands are lightning fast and he'll be the more explosive and agile fighter. Beltran's lack of punching power should make him a sitting duck. (I rarely make bold predictions so look for this to blow up in my face.) James Te Huna by TKO.
Tim Burke: I can't cover it any better than they did. Beltran at 205 is not good against big strikers like Te Huna. I think he's gonna get blasted. James Te Huna by TKO, round 2.
T.P. Grant: I'm really not a fan of Beltran at Light Heavyweight. As Dallas pointed out Beltran relied a lot on his speed against larger heavyweights, but also his endurance which could also be affected by dropping a weight class. Te Huna will be faster than Beltran and hit harder. I don't think Beltran gets a win here. James Te Huna by TKO, Round 1.
Staff picking Beltran:
Staff picking Te Huna: Anton, David, Fraser, Dallas, Tim, Grant
Fraser Coffeen: I see no reason that Robertson can stop the plodding control of Simpson. Aaron Simpson by decision.
Dallas Winston: Oooh! I forgot this was Simpson's first cut to 170. I don't know why I'm so consistently whiny about fighters cutting weight lately ("What are you, a f**king park ranger now Walter?") but I'm skeptical about Simpson's drop and feel it's unnecessary. He was just starting to get comfortable with his boxing and blend it nicely with his takedowns, and getting edged out by a former light-heavyweight monster like Ronny Markes shouldn't discourage Simpson. He seemed pretty jacked at 185 and it's hard to imagine him 15-pounds lighter -- plus he already gassed out once at middleweight against Leben, so cardio is a concern. Robertson's only career loss is to the rugged Mike Pierce and he's a solid wrestler (3x D1 NCAA qualifier). So ... I have no idea. I'll play it safe with Simpson but Robertson upsets him if he gasses. Aaron Simpson by decision.
David Castillo: Even though Aaron Simpson has fallen from prospect grace, he's still a solid fighter, but his problem is that he continues to show no signs of improving his weakness. Cardio being one (which a cut to 170 won't fix), but his striking is still too rudimentary. This is relatively important because Robertson will be a stern test. Aaron Simpson by Decision.
Tim Burke: I think Simpson was only walking around in the 195 range, so a cut to welterweight makes sense if he does it right. He might have cardio issues still, and yes he has never been great at transitioning between striking and grappling, but he's still a wrestling powerhouse with heavy hands. I'm very sad that this isn't Fitch vs. Simpson, because I thought that was a great fight. Kenny Robertson keeps getting thrown in there with guys that can outwrestle him, which isn't good. Sorry Kenny. Aaron Simpson by decision.
T.P. Grant: Simpson had major cardio issues as a bulky middleweight. I fail to see how going down to Welterweight helps that issue. Throw in that he is pushing 38-year-olds and I really don't think this adds up to a good move for him. I think Simpson gasses hard and losses a decision. Kenny Robertson by Decision
Staff picking Robertson: Grant
Staff picking Simpson: Anton, Fraser, Dallas, David, Tim
Anton Tabuena: The Tristar Gym product should be good enough to defeat Vemola. Francis Carmont by Decision
Fraser Coffeen: Vemola hasn't looked all that good in any of his UFC fights, including his wins, though I do like him better here at MW. But I still think Carmont has enough tools to take him. Francis Carmont by decision.
Dallas Winston: Ahhh yes, Karlos "Battering Ram With a Brush-Cut" Vemola. He has the type of power in his hands and with his wrestling to make it an ugly night for anyone, but those tools are predictable and fairly primitive. Carmont is a good-sized middleweight that Vemola shouldn't be able to simply overpower and he's more diverse as well. Francis Carmont by decision.
David Castillo: Vemola is a bruiser, but a very limited one. He has the brute force to power out takedowns, or land what passes for a haymaker in a parallel universe, but Carmont should be more than capable of handling what Vemola has to offer. Francis Carmont by Decision.
Tim Burke: 43 time Czech national wrestling champion! Rawr! I thought he actually looked okay against Massenzio, who is a good wrestler and a black belt. Carmont is more well-rounded and probably the better fighter, but I don't like him. So I'm taking the huge dude. So there. Karlos Vemola by decision.
T.P. Grant: I'm taking Carmont as he is the better all-around fighter but this is a toss up. Francis Carmont by Decision.
Staff picking Carmont: Anton, Fraser, Dallas, David, Grant
Staff picking Vemola: Tim
Fraser Coffeen: It makes me sad that defeating Kid Yamamoto literally adds nothing to my perception of Lee at this point. Poor Kid. T.J. Dillashaw by TKO, round 1
Dallas Winston: I dunno -- Lee also took Chris Cariaso, who's proving to be for real, to a close split decision and it's tough to assess anything about Kid Yamamoto nowadays. I don't know what my problem with Dillashaw is but I'm just not sold on him yet. I'll pledge to finally give Dillashaw his due if it turns out I'm underestimating him again. Vaughan Lee by submission.
David Castillo: Very tough fight, but I think Dillishaw is talented enough to be a mainstay in the division, even if he's not quite top tier. His wrestling will be enough to keep Lee neutralized, but Vaugh is scrappy enough to make him work for it when he needs to. TJ Dillishaw by Decision.
Tim Burke: Dillishaw is still a wrestler. Lee hung with a couple of strikers, and still got taken down about 62 times by Cariaso and mounted about 25 times. I don't like him, but Dillishaw is going to have his way with Lee on the ground. Team Alpha Male Special. T.J. Dillishaw by decision.
T.P. Grant: Hmmmm, not impressed with Lee but also I have my rule about not picking guys from TUF that didn't win their season. I'll break my rule and go with Dillishaw as I think he was a fairly talented guy from that season. T.J. Dillishaw by Decision.
Staff picking Dillishaw: Anton, Fraser, David, Grant
Staff picking Lee: Dallas
Anton Tabuena: Just because he has a much better ground game. Rafael Dos Anjos by Submission
Fraser Coffeen: Njokuani really impressed me in that Makdessi fight, as he was able to perfectly use his Muay Thai game to outstrike another very accomplished stand-up fighter. Dos Anjos is good on the feet as well, but he can't compete with Njokuani there. On the ground, Rafael has a big advantage, though I don't think it will go there enough to make a difference. Anthony Njokuani by decision.
Dallas Winston: Njokuani's stand up looked sharper than ever against Makdessi, which I thought was entirely one-sided throughout. His performance against Castillo showed a renewed focus on takedown defense but, while he doesn't have Castillo's wrestling, dos Anjos is an intelligent submissionist. Additionally, dos Anjos has big power on the feet, quick hands and uses his striking as a smokescreen for tie-ups and takedowns. This is the hardest one to call on the card but I'll go with Njokuani for his Terminator-like Thai onslaught. Anthony Njokuani by decision.
Tim Burke: Njokuani always looks very good when he has good stylistic matchups, but he's still a fundamentally flawed, one-dimensional fighter to a degree. He's had some insanely easy matchups too. RDA will probably try to hang on the feet with him for a while, but eventually he's going to try and get it to the floor. And he will. Getting the finish won't be easy, but I think he can do it late. Go RDA! Rafael dos Anjos by submission, round 3.
David Castillo: I've always been high on Dos Anjos as a solid, action fighter/gatekeeper. He's got a killer instinct on the ground, which is what I love about him. He swings too wild for his own good, and he'd be wise to keep those haymakers limited against Njokuani, but I think he should pick up the victory here, in part, because he does a good job of transitioning from striking to grappling. All he needs is one takedown. Rafael dos Anjos by Decision.
T.P. Grant: The guys dos Anjos struggles have strong top games and westling. Njokunai will have size on his side but he needs to fight a fellow striker to have success. I think dos Anjols takes him down and taps him. Rafael dos Anjos by Submission, Round 2.
Staff picking Dos Anjos: Anton, Tim, Grant, David
Staff picking Njokuani: Fraser, Dallas
Anton Tabuena: Yes, I'm picking Bruce Leeroy.. again. Alex Caceres by Decision
Fraser Coffeen: I see Page going for it all early and Caceres managing to catch him. I may be crazy, but there it is. Alex Caceres by TKO round 1
Dallas Winston: Caceres was an unpolished diamond but is now drastically enhancing his technique in all aspects. Along with his exceptional instincts, he's a spidery bantamweight with an insane reach length (73") but still maintains his agility. Page is tough as nails with big power and a burly clinch game, but his strategy is no secret and his size disadvantage should be a major problem here (even though one punch can change everything for him). A decision is more likely as long as he doesn't get too over-confident and respects Page's skill and power, but I'll go bold with Bruce Leroy by submission (rear-naked choke).
Tim Burke: This one's kinda weird. There's no doubt about it - Caceres still sucks. But he's a terrible matchup for The Angel of Death. The long reach will keep Page on the outside and leave him unable to land bombs. And Cacares can most definitely submit him on the ground. I've never, ever done this before and I hope to whomever that I'm wrong, but - Alex Caceres by submisison, round one.
David Castillo: Everytime I pick against Caceres, he wins. A few years ago, Page might have fooled me into thinking he was good enough to beat even moderately talented fighters, but not this time. Damacio has big power, but that's mostly it. He's too workmanlike everywhere else, whereas, Caceres is actually pretty gifted on the ground. Yes, everyone hates his personality, but if he continues to progress, I'll no longer be rolling my eyes everytime I see his goofy entrance. Alex Caceres by submission, round 2.
T.P. Grant: I just can't pick Caceres to win. Damacio Page by Decision.
Staff picking Caceres: Anton, Fraser, Dallas, Tim, David
Staff picking Page: Grant,
Fraser Coffeen: More Flyweights? Huzzah! Cariaso looked pretty good at Bantamweight, and dropping down, he could be a quick contender. Chris Cariaso by submission, round 1.
Dallas Winston: As it turns out, Cariaso is kind of a beast. He's coming off a -- weird, but -- huge decision over perennial top-10 bantamweight Takeya Mizugaki and gave the surging Michael McDonald all he could handle. I like Ferguson because he's a gamer but this is his toughest opponent to date and he's dropped 3 of his last 4. Chris Cariaso by submission.
Tim Burke: Cariaso? Submission? Really? He's more of a standup, points-fighting decision machine. Well, I guess he wasn't against Vaughan Lee. But he will be here. Ferguson isn't UFC caliber, and Cariaso is going to kick his ass all over the cage. Chris Cariaso by decision.
David Castillo: Cariaso's win over Mizugaki can't be understated. He's not a world beater, but he's consistent, and makes very few mistakes. The same can't be said for Josh Ferguson. Chris Cariaso by Decision.
Staff picking Cariaso: Anton, Fraser, Dallas, Tim, David
Staff picking Ferguson:
Dallas Winston: Craig's debut win over Noke was hugely impressive and, unless Noke's injury was what made all the difference, I think he can reconstruct the same type of durable 1st round before turning up the offense in later rounds to out-point Natal. Andrew Craig by decision.
Tim Burke: I think Noke's injury DID make all the difference, and Noke still one a round. Sapo is serviceable everywhere and he should be able to take this if he doesn't gas out. Rafael Natal by decision.
David Castillo: It's hard to pick Natal without some hesitation. He's still a grappler who prefers to grapple only when he's not experimenting with his striking, which is rarely a good thing. And while his cardio is improving, it's still a factor. As for Craig, as everyone else noted, it's difficult to read too much into his win over Noke, who got stomped well before Craig's upset win over him. Rafael Natal by Decision.
Staff picking Craig: Anton, Dallas
Staff picking Natal: Fraser, Tim, David
Dallas Winston: The BE Scouting Report strikes again. I think Guimaraes will plow Stittgen to the floor and contain him for a decision if he can't finish, but the real winners here are Leland Roling and Rory MacLeod (smoogy) for their amazing work on this project. Marcelo Guimaraes by decision.
Tim Burke: Blah. Stittgen just isn't good. Marcelo Guimaraes by submission (guillotine).
David Castillo: This card is actually better, the lower on the card we get, Munoz/Weidman notwithstanding. That's as much insight as I can offer. See the BE Scouting Report. Marcelo Guimaraes by submission, round 2.
Staff picking Guimaraes: Fraser, Dallas, Tim, Grant, David
Staff picking Stittgen: Anton
Fraser Coffeen: Glad to see Tamura in the UFC, but he's out of his league here, as Assuncao is just too drafty and well rounded. Raphael Assuncao by decision.
Dallas Winston: I have no idea why, but I can't shake the feeling that Tamura is going to win. He's a decision-heavy fighter but finished his two biggest wins by TKO. Their styles are eerily similar but Assuncao's fought bigger and better competition (wins over lightweights Joe Lauzon and Jorge Masvidal) so I'll actually succumb to logic for once. Raphael Assuncao by decision.
Tim Burke: I still believe in Assuncao, even he did get trucked by Erik Koch. He's better suited for 135 anyway, and he can deal with Tamura's wrestling. Raphael Assuncao by decision.
David Castillo: Assuncao all the way. He's taken some tough losses, but his skills are still enough to get passed most fighters in the division, even respectable ones like Tamura. Jet lag kills another fighter coming from Japan. Raphael Assuncao by Decision.
Staff picking Assuncao: Anton, Fraser, Dallas, Tim, Grant, David
Staff picking Tamura: