As a white belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (even with a few stripes!), I feel that I am highly qualified to deliver cutting-edge, professional grade mixed martial arts predictions and analysis.
In other words, feel free to laugh at my getting all of these fights wrong. Also, throw me your picks in the comments section. Feel free to say why as well, even if it's just because "he's ATHLETIC and EXPLOSIVE."
Urijah Faber vs. Renan Barao
I think this is going to be an excellent, back and forth battle. Ultimately, I'm going with Barao by decision. The guy's just got so much momentum on his side, his camp is familiar with Faber, and I think that on the feet, he's more fluid in his striking and may actually be quicker overall.
I also think that Faber may be surprised, and become frustrated, at how hard it will be for him to take Barao down, which may also play havoc with his gameplan, particularly if I'm right and Barao presents the quicker and more diverse threat on the feet. I still can't get Faber/Wineland out of my head where Faber really had to work for the takedown and those Nova Uniao guys have astonishingly good takedown defence for guys with zero wrestling background. It's really one of the remarkable things about that camp and it could stop Faber from dictating the pace, which has been a crucial element in his entire career that has often decided whether he wins or loses.
At the risk of sounding like a fanboy, I'm going with Lombard by first round TKO.
Boetsch has the tendency of being a slow starter. While Lombard's occasionally tiring out might bode well for Tim if he gets it to the third, this could easily be a case of slow starter versus fast starter. Also, Lombard's power is freakish. I could see Boetsch becoming timid and wary as a result, particularly after he tastes it.
Also, for all the praise Boetsch has gotten over his huge upset and miraculous comeback against Yushin Okami, it doesn't change the fact that Boetsch was being soundly outstruck by Okami in the first. That doesn't bode well for a fight with Lombard, who is likely to be looking for the knockout...also in the first round.
And as far as the judo goes - Lombard probably won't use it offensively, but good luck trying for those redneck judo tosses, Tim.
I'll go with Kongo by TKO. I think Jordan is a good enough wrestler and supremely athletic to stop wrestlekongo from showing up, but that's not how Kongo wins this fight anyway.
Jordan has power, but he's shown himself to purely be a brawler at this point. Lots of hooks and he leaves his chin open. This is a recipe for disaster against a guy like Kongo, who has a more technical approach and some good straight punches. I just can't help seeing Kongo catching Jordan's chin with something clean and straight as Jordan charges in.
Really interesting question though: how will the MMA fanbase judge Kongo should Jordan beat him? Will it be that Kongo is past it, busted, and suddenly old or will we be hopping on a brand new Shawn Jordan hype-wagon, much like Hunt after his knockout of Kongo and Browne after his draw with Kongo
I think Ebersole is going to use his experience and sheer toughness and tenacity to wear Head out and grind him out. If there's one thing Ebersole has shown in his fights, it's that his experience counts for a lot. He has a high fight IQ, doesn't panic, and is constantly thinking in there, and has great survival instincts to boot. I enjoy watching him if only because, let's face it, he's hardly the most athletically gifted guy out there, and yet time after time, he finds a way to win.
Honestly, much of my picking Ebersole comes out of the fact that he's just straight up beaten guys who are better than Head. Ebersole plays the veteran here and capitalizes on Head's mistakes, either finding a late submission or taking a decision.
Let's be honest, this is a joke of a main card fight. Really, I couldn't care less about it. On that note, I'll go against the grain (apparently) and roll with Clements by decision, just because Matt Riddle just doesn't seem like a very good fighter. Clements' fight with Wisniewski may have been too competitive and close for my liking, but he has some nice momentum behind him and he's Canadian. So whatever.
I think these guys are very evenly matched and have a lot in common. Both have solid ground games with decent guards and both like to strike from the outside (unfortunately, with little fight-ending power). Both are also pretty tough and durable, neither of them having ever been finished in their respective careers.
I honestly think this is the closest fight on the card to being a toss-up....though I foresee a lot of pot-shotting and point-striking that results in a fight that's not particularly entertaining. If forced to choose, I guess I'll go with McGee by a very close decision, for reasons unknown. Maybe because I think his conditioning is a little better and the fact that he has tons of heart.
I'll be honest, I really want Jimmo to win. As a Canadian who watched a lot of MFC, I can't help but root for him...even if he is the Jon Fitch of stand-up. Seriously, if you've ever watched his fight with Sokoudjou, you'll know that that was basically a 25 minute staring contest. A lot of people think Soko won and gripe about it (while I scored it for Jimmo) but, quite honestly, there were no winners in that fight.
I see most people have chosen Perosh, but I can't help it; I'm going with Jimmo by decision. He's the far superior technical striker in this fight and has proven, throughout his career, to have strong hips and naturally excellent takedown defence. I'd say he's never been submitted either, but he's never been in there with a submission grappler of Perosh's quality.
That said, his takedown defence and frustrating striking should be enough to beat Perosh. I realize Perosh has looked great lately, but Jimmo has much better takedown defence than a Tom Blackledge or Cyrille Diabate, certainly as good as an elderly Cro Cop's. Interestingly, Jimmo's sprawl reliant takedown defence reminds me a bit of Cro Cop's as well.
As for the rest of the fights, whatever. I either don't know enough about both fighters to make an informed prediction, or the guy I'm rooting for (and hence picking...purely based on what I want) is probably set to lose. For what it's worth, my picks are Delorme, Caraway, Pineda, and Kuivanen, though I'd really like it if Gagnon and Carvalho won their respective bouts and think that they both definitely have a shot, particularly Gagnon.