Brent Brookhouse: Rockhold is going to have to work to get the win, that's not really a question. But he's the better fighter. That is enough to make me pick him. I think on the feet he holds a big edge and he should be able to dictate where the fight takes place (and he isn't exactly at a disadvantage on the ground). Luke Rockhold by decision.
T.P. Grant: I'm really looking forward to this fight as I think it will result in fun grappling exchanges and that Kennedy is game enough on the feet to make it interesting. Rockhold is a master of scrambling back to the feet and while Kennedy has some unorthodox grappling, I doubt he'll be able to catch Rockhold in any submissions or keep him down. Striking-wise Rockhold holds a clear advantage. Kennedy is tough though and won't be finished, I predict a fun five rounds where Kennedy maybe wins a round or two but Rockhold the fight. Luke Rockhold by Decision.
David Castillo: Should be a tough fight, and I don't expect it to be easy for Rockhold. One of the things that worried me against Jacare were the first several rounds, where Luke was essentially outboxed. But he adapted well, and think we'll see something similar occur in this fight. Kennedy will have some modest success early, and Rockhold will systematically gain the advantage for a comfortable victory. Solid scrap, and what interests me most is seeing how much Rockhold improves. Luke Rockhold by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: You know, I tend to enjoy Strikeforce shows quite a bit. They do a nice job balancing good match-ups with quick 1 round slaughters, which makes for a fun evening. And yet, for some reason, my brain always struggles with Strikeforce picks. So let's see how this one goes. For this fight, I think it's close, as both men bring a lot to the table. I prefer Rockhold on the feet and Kennedy on the ground, but when you add in the long layoff for Kennedy, I lean towards the champ. Luke Rockhold by decision
Dallas Winston: I think this Strikeforce card is money; all the match ups are exciting but also really tough to call. The big X-factor here is Kennedy's combination of wrestling and top-side grappling. His submission defense is solid and made even more deadly by his constant pressure and ground-and-pound frenzy. Rockhold's slick striking has overshadowed his cunning guard game, he's slightly more wrestling-oriented than your typical sub-guy and has a background in Judo as well. Standing, Rockhold has impressive reach (77"), superior footwork and the bigger toolbox. If Kennedy can hit takedowns consistently, it will change the complexion of the fight -- but Rockhold's movement, striking and scrambling should prevail. Luke Rockhold by decision.
Tim Burke: I like Rockhold's game more than Kennedy's, but I don't know if I agree with everyone else. I think Kennedy is the better wrestler and he can push Rockhold a lot more than people would imagine. Rockhold's reach on the feet is big, but if Kennedy can bully him on the inside he can negate it. I just have this feeling that Kennedy learned a lot from his last three fights and he's going to win a super-close decision to claim the belt. Tim Kennedy by split decision.
Staff picking Rockhold: Grant, David, Fraser, Brookhouse, Dallas
Staff picking Kennedy: Tim
Brent Brookhouse: Marquardt always lets himself get controlled in fights like this. I see no reason to expect anything otherwise. Woodley has stalled out as a fighter, which is a damn shame, but he still has the right style and skills to take a horribly boring decision. Tyron Woodley by decision.
T.P. Grant: This is a tough fight to predict. Starting with Woodley, a highly touted prospect who just has not evolved, and in some ways has regressed as a fighter. His totally inert offense is to the point where he is struggling to convince judges he beat Jordan Mein. Marquardt on the other hand has so many questions coming into this fight. What will he look like at Welterweight? What will he look like after the long layoff? He claims to be off TRT now, and if so, how will that affect his conditioning? Woodley clearly has a wrestling edge and the last time Marquardt was faced with a strong wrestler he lost a narrow decision. Considering Marquardt hasn't fought in well over a year, I'll take Woodley in a blah decision. Tyron Woodley by Decisio... zzzzzzz.....
David Castillo: I expect Marquardt to look sharp, to be honest, and even Marquardt at his sharpest, he was always still prone to wrestlers, despite being relatively adept in that area. I think he should give Woodley some scares on the feet, but Nate's crafty standup has only come in handy against guys who weren't one-note in the way that Woodley is one-note. Tough fight to pick, but I think Woodley will wrestle his way to a decision. Tyron Woodley by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Like David said, even at his best, Nate Marquardt was going to struggle against Woodley, as he has issues with real controlling wrestlers. Marquardt may have a big strength advantage here thanks to the cut, which will help, but I think the year off and first time actually fighting at 170 will negate that. Tyron Woodley by decision.
Dallas Winston: Despite being a former King of Pancakes and winning half his fights by submission, Nate's not much of a guard player and much better attacking in transitions or from the top. I think a heated barrage of aggressive striking will favor him much more than the cautious counter-striking game he played against Okami and Sonnen betwixt takedowns. Even though everyone probably wants Nate to win, that along with the concerns of his long layoff and new weight class leaves too many question marks to pick him. Disclaimer: Okami and Sonnen are both bigger, more technical from the top and more experienced than Woodley, who didn't necessarily contain Semtex with ease. I'm giving Marq a better chance than most, but ... Tyron Woodley by decision.
Tim Burke: I'm going against the grain again. Woodley is massively overrated. He has had his bell rung by lesser strikers, and does absolutely nothing on the ground once he gets it there. Marquardt doesn't always fight smart, but there's something being overlooked here - Marquardt had trouble with 210 pound wrestlers. Not 190 pound wrestlers. That's a major difference to me, and I don't think you'll see Woodley blanketing Nate for five rounds tomorrow night. Nate Marquardt by TKO.
Staff picking Marquardt: Tim
Staff picking Woodley: Grant, David, Fraser, Brookhouse, Dallas
Brent Brookhouse: I think Jardine is toast as far as being a top level fighter is concerned. But I don't know that I see any way that Gracie really has his way here. Jardine keeps it standing and pecks his way to a decision. Keith Jardine by decision.
T.P. Grant: You won't find a bigger fan of Roger Gracie the grappler than myself, but I recognize that Roger Gracie the MMA fighter has some serious holes in his game. I think the move to middleweight is a good one, but it doesn't solve that athletically Roger just isn't that well suited for MMA. I don't think he'll ever be a reigning major champion, but I think his ground skills give him more than enough to beat Jardine. Roger has shown he isn't inept on the feet and he'll survive Jardine's sloppy assault and once on the ground it is all over. Roger Gracie by Submission, Round 1.
David Castillo: Honestly, at this point in Jardine's career, I don't even expect Keith to last long on the feet. Jardine often gets caught, no matter who it is, and with the reach advantage, I expect Roger to find his range. Jardine is strong enough in the clinch to avoid the takedown. It's a bizarre prediction, but I like Gracie to catch him with something early in the fight. Roger Gracie by TKO, round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: I was all set to write up an argument about how Gracie will stand up with Jardine and this will be his undoing, but then I realized - so what if he does? Jardine doesn't have the KO power to stop him anymore, and I don't see him outpointing him for 15 minutes. I still think Gracie stands, getting himself into some scares early, but eventually catches Jardine, knocks him down, and subs him from there. Roger Gracie by submission, round 2.
Dallas Winston: Remember that one time I picked Jardine to beat Rockhold? Well, I picked him to beat Mousasi as well and that didn't turn out so bad. Alas, even though he probably has a better chance of beating Roger than the aforementioned with his quick and unorthodox striking and timely takedown prowess, Roger's length, height and seemingly improved boxing should carry him to a decision or pave the way for a sub. Roger Gracie by submission.
Tim Burke: I'm not flushing Jardine completely down the drain like everyone else (except Brent), but he can't keep it standing. His takedown D isn't that good. Soe he's going to have to grapple. He's a very underrated grappler, but we're talking about Roger Gracie here. I'm going to go safe and say sub, but I wouldn't be surprised if they went all 15, even if it's on the ground. Roger Gracie by submission, round 2
Staff picking Gracie: Grant, David, Fraser, Dallas, Tim
Staff picking Jardine: Brookhouse
Brent Brookhouse: Larkin is too good on the feet for Lawler except that Lawler has better one shot power. I think Larkin can do enough to avoid getting clipped with the one hard shot so I like him to look very good in winning a decision for his biggest career win. Lorenz Larkin by decision.
T.P. Grant: I can't get the mauling King Mo put on Larkin out of my head. Anyone who tries to trade with Lawler is still pretty likely to end up gif fodder after Lawler knocks their head off, so I'll take Robbie here. Robbie Lawler by TKO, Round 2.
David Castillo: I don't read too much into Lawler's KO of Manhoef. Yea, it was nice, but Robbie was seconds away from getting his leg kicked into the nose bleed seats. Larkin is not as wild as Melvin, despite possessing less power, and I think he'll put on a technical show in victory. Lorenz Larkin by Decision.
Dallas Winston: Robbie has always struggled with precision kickboxers and it's risky to rely on pure power to overcome the technical gap. However, Lawler still has excellent boxing combinations and timing, giving him much more than a basic puncher's chance. In girth more than height, I thought Larkin was a pretty hefty-sized 205er, so I'm interested to see how his quickness and takedown defense pans out with the drop. Like Cung Le, I think Larkin needs to trade a little flash for traditional effectiveness and refuse to get too relaxed if he's up on the cards. This is another close call. Lorenz Larkin by decision.
Tim Burke: This is going to be a really tough cut for Larkin. Larkin can definitely outpoint Lawler on the feet, but I think he's gonna gas. Robbie Lawler by decision.
Staff pickng Larkin: David, Brookhouse, Dallas
Staff picking Lawler: Grant, Fraser, Tim
Brent Brookhouse: Wilcox was rolling and then things got weird for him. Masvidal is a little too slick on the feet and the ground here. Jorge Masvidal by submission, round 2.
T.P. Grant: This seems like a bounce back fight for Masvidal his fight for the title. Wilcox is doesn't seem ready for this level of competition. Jorge Masvidal by TKO, Round 3.
David Castillo: Both fighters here are pretty inconsistent. This is exactly the type of fight that Masvidal fumbles, and for Wilcox...well, he looked so good against a not-yet-dead JZ, and then got smashed by Fodor, I don't know what to think. I think Wilcox will land the odd shot, and could make it a scrap if he sticks to wrestling, but regardless of where his head is at, Masvidal is durable, and that should be the difference. Jorge Masvidal by Decision.
Dallas Winston: This will be straight-forward mauling via short jackhammers and takedowns versus smooth footwork and boxing artistry. Masvidal has never faced a burly wrestler like Wilcox and Wilcox has never faced a technical marksman like Masvidal. Overall, I think Masvidal's cage generalship, under-rated wrestling and high-level boxing will give him the edge. Jorge Masvidal by TKO.
Tim Burke: Masvidal is a huge headcase and has trouble getting motivated for fights that aren't at the level he's accustomed to. He's a way better boxer for sure, but Wilcox is a beast at 155 and could body Masvidal around if he wanted to. I'll take Masvidal, but I have like, zero confidence in the pick. Jorge Masvidal by TKO.
Staff picking Masvidal: Grant, David, Fraser, Brookhouse, Dallas, Tim
Staff picking Wilcox:
Brent Brookhouse: Grind, grind, grind, win. Pat Healy by decision.
T.P. Grant: I'll play odds here and just assume the gritty wrestler is going to out grind the Japanese fighter. Hirota is a good fighter, but you got to have that wrestling ability to cut it in North American MMA and I don't think his is at that level. Pat Healy by Decision.
David Castillo: Tough fight for the DEEP Lightweight champ. On the feet, he'll have his best chance, but he won't have that opportunity against Healy. I think this will be a tough fight for Pat early, and I don't think Hirota will get blown out, but Healy should pick up the victory with his typical sturdy show. Pat Healy by Decision.
Dallas Winston: Hirota is actually a feisty clincher with a stout Judo game, but he wins by pressuring opponents in entanglements with control and grinding clinch strikes. Healy is a large and durable lightweight with scintillating sub-grappling and Hirota, while perhaps the more precise and effective striker, probably lacks the power to put Healy away. Healy does have some suspect finish losses on his record but should be well suited to negate Hirota's offense and enforce his own. Pat Healy by submission.
Tim Burke: Grinding all day long. Hirota's in trouble. Pat Healy by decision.
Staff picking Healy: Grant, David, Fraser, Brookhouse, Dallas, Tim
Staff picking Hirota:
Brent Brookhouse: Two "meh" prospects who I don't think too highly of. One is better than the other. Jordan Mein by decision.
T.P. Grant: Two fairly young guys with a pretty impressive number of fights between them. I'll take Mein as he showed some spirit against Woodley. Jordan Mein by Decision.
David Castillo: Mein is still a fairly decent fighter, although a little too workmanlike. Still, he's a better fighter than Stinson. Jordan Mein by Decision.
Dallas Winston: Huh ... I'm really high on both of these prospects. Stinson is a gangly welterweight with big power and laser-beam straights, but Mein has an uncanny ability to find his rhythm and dominate the tempo with his highly refined kickboxing. I think Stinson will be hell on wheels in the first but eventually succumb to Mein's slick angles and diverse arsenal. I'm thinking that this will be a gruesome crowd-pleaser as well. Jordan Mein by decision.
Tim Burke: "Meh prospect"? HOW DARE YOU BROOKHOUSE! Jordan Mein is the future! This fight is going to rule, and you will all be yelling "daaaaamn" at your TV/computer screen at least once. In the end though, Mein is just better everywhere than Stinson. And he's gonna prove it tomorrow night. Jordan Mein by submission, round 3.
Staff picking Mein: Grant, David, Fraser , Brookhouse, Dallas, Tim
Staff picking Stinson:
Brent Brookhouse: Grind, grind, grind, win. Jason High by decision.
T.P. Grant: Going with High here all the way. He is a quality fighter and while Moore is a tough guy, I'll take the strong grappling of High. Jason High by Decision.
David Castillo: I don't know when Jason High stopped being a prospect (ok, yea, I do), but his performance for this weekend will not betray the old view of High. He's a quality fighter, and a quality tweeter. Jason High by Decision.
Dallas Winston: High's only losses are legit and his wrestling and submission medley should be too much for Moore to deal with. Jason High by decision.
Tim Burke: Easy call. KC Bandit all the way. Jason High by decision.
Staff picking High: Grant, David, Fraser, Brookhouse, Dallas, Tim
Staff picking Moore:
Brent Brookhouse: I don't think Duarte is very good, but I think Ryan Couture is worse. Either guy could win, which isn't me hedging, it's a product of the kind of fight it is. Joe Duarte by decision.
T.P. Grant: Ryan Couture has developed into a pretty solid fighter, and mostly based in his BJJ game. Duarte is also a submission grappler first kind of guy, so this fight could go two ways; awful kickboxing match or entertaining grappling match. In either case I favor Duarte. Joe Duarte by Decision.
David Castillo: It's amazing to think there was a time when Duarte was rumored to be "the next Anderson Silva", until losing to the official "next Anderson Silva" (is there a sport more unimaginative with their compare and contrast hyperbole?) on TUF, only for both to flame out, never to be heard from again. Still, they were unfair comparisons, and Duarte has come into his own. And so has Ryan Couture for that matter. It's a tough fight for both guys, but I like Couture to wear down Joe in a competitive scrap. Ryan Couture by Decision.
Dallas Winston: I thought Couture's last win over Conor Heun was pretty authenticating. Duarte is a decent test but I see Couture's wrestling and sub-grappling being a level higher. Ryan Couture by submission.
Tim Burke: It might sound mean, but I honestly couldn't care less about this fight. Ryan Couture by decision.
Staff picking Couture: David, Fraser, Dallas, Tim
Staff picking Duarte: Grant, Brookhouse