Note - Former BE staff member Eugene Schelfaut (the guy with the all-time best pick % in staff history) is a guest predictor for this event. He also supplied the image for this post. Welcome back buddy!
Brent Brookhouse: I figured I'd be alone in picking Faber, but it looks like I'm not. This is the kind of fight that Faber thrived on at his best. Barao is capable and dangerous, but not so dangerous as to be able to keep away from Faber's wrestling and distance control in this fight. I also think Faber has the cardio of about four Baraos which will allow him to survive a tricky round one and two before running away with the decision over the later rounds. Urijah Faber by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: This is a winnable fight for Faber, and would finally give him that title that has been out of grasp for so long. It's easy to look at his recent title fight history and go with Barao here, but at the same time, Barao doesn't have the stand-up of Aldo or Cruz, or the wrestling of Brown. This is a tough fight to call, but I think Faber is crafty enough to pull it off. Urijah Faber by decision
T.P. Grant: Barao has some collected some real scalps in his seven years without a loss, but he has never faced a wrestler like Faber. The speed of Faber's shot and his scrambles I think will be the difference in the this fight. Barao has great striking, but way really made Aldo an impossible to solve puzzle for Faber was the reach advantage and that Aldo was as fast as Faber. I think Faber gets this on the ground and locks on a choke at some point. Urijah Faber by Submission, Round 4.
Tim Burke: When I first heard about this fight, I figured it was Barao's right away. After sitting down and analyzing it though, I've completely leaned in the other direction. My biggest thing is Barao's tank. He cuts a lot of weight (you can tell just by looking at pictures of him), and has slowed down late in fights before. Faber can go for days. Barao's going to have trouble with Faber's wrestling as well. I like Barao's standup, but Faber's crafty enough to not get blasted. I think Barao starts strong and fades late. Urijah Faber by decision.
David Castillo: Even though I think Barao has made real strides in his game, he looked so great against Pickett because Brad just got too wild. Faber, despite making some truly bone-headed moves, has never looked better as of late. His boxing continues to improve, and I think he'll be able to outbox Barao despite the reach disadvantage. I wouldn't be surprised if Faber wins the rubber match against Cruz, so this is no slight on Renan. Urijah Faber by Decision.
Dallas Winston: OK, well, I don't ever remember Barao gassing out, he might not strike in the same vein as Aldo but he's almost as deadly, I can't conceive Faber choking out a Pederneiras black belt and he easily shook off Jorgensen's takedowns, who has better wrestling credentials than Brown or Faber. I do feel that Faber is quicker and has a better transition game than any of those fighters or anyone that Barao's encountered, but when he can't frenzy on his opponent and has to stand and trade, he leads off his combinations with his hands dangerously low. I agree he's Barao's stiffest test but I'm still going with the phenom. Renan Barao by decision.
Eugene Schelfaut: Urijah Faber can control engagements for at least three rounds and seal a win in Barao's first 5 rounds affair. Faber's submission skills are up the the challenge on defense. Additionally, he will be looking for any attacks considered wild when it comes to the feet. I do not see a finish in either direction. Pockets of excitement frame a 49-46 unanimous decision win for Urijah Faber.
Staff picking Faber: Fraser, Grant, Tim, Brent, David, Eugene
Staff picking Barao: Dallas
Brent Brookhouse: Lombard is going to have the chance to shut up a lot of people and prove a big point. I don't see any reason to buy Lombard as an unstoppable wrecking machine yet. He's like a guy who has been beating high school chess club members and his dominance there has everyone expecting him to be able to compete at the grandmaster level. Boetsch isn't exactly a grandmaster level type guy in MMA, but he's a lot better than what Lombard has been dealing with. I just don't think Lombard's career has him ready for a fight like this. He looks good early, Boetsch doesn't go away and wears him out late. Tim Boetsch by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I like Lombard's power and his aggression, but the lack of experience against top level opposition really gets to me. I think Boetsch's power will give him trouble, as will his ability to fight in the clinch. Lombard has a future in the UFC, but I just don't see him steamrolling the Barbarian. Tim Boetsch by decision
T.P. Grant: Tim Boetsch is tough to get a read on, who is he? The guy that showed up in the first two rounds against Yushin Okami or the man that came out in the third round? The guy who threw Nick Ring around or the guy who got caught in a hammerlock by Phil Davis? Boetsch has come out saying he isn't afraid of Lombard and will strike with him, but I kinda feel like Boetsch wants to grapple with Lombard. If he does stand with Lombard I don't think it ends well for Boetsch and even on the ground I'm not sure this goes Boetsch's way. Hector Lombard by KO, Round 2.
Tim Burke: The size difference is big for me. Lombard is a tank, but he's 5'9 and could make 170 if he would shed some muscle. Boetsch is gigantic for 185. Lombard is known for being strong and mean, but come on - he's in there with Tim Boetsch, who is stronger and probably meaner. Lombard's gone deep in fights on multiple occasions, but Boetsch can sap his energy if he can lean on him. I've never been a huge fan of Hector Lombard, and I believe he's in for a rude awakening in the UFC. Tim Boetsch by decision.
David Castillo: This is either gonna "expose" Lombard, or will tell us nothing. Boetsch had to really dig deep to beat Okami. It was a big win, but not the kind of win that impressed with his ability: Tim has always been a plodder, and I think that's what makes him a bad matchup. The early storm will lose him the first few rounds against Hector, and Boetsch probably takes the 3rd, but it's still Lombard's to lose. Hector Lombard by Decision.
Dallas Winston: Lombard's competition has obviously been shallower but he's fought a ton of UFC vets and annihilated them. Boetsch will definitely be his biggest and meanest opponent, but Lombard is an Olympic Judoka who's fought and finished D1 wrestlers in Ebersole and Taylor. While I don't think Lombard will bully him by any means, Boetsch shouldn't be able to bully him either and that's imperative to his style, whereas Lombard usually prefers to bang anyway. I just see their wrestling, clinch and takedowns as being fairly equal with a huge edge to Lombard in grappling/striking technique, quickness and power. Hector Lombard by TKO.
Eugene Schelfaut: Tim Boetsch should be proud of his 3rd round revival against Yushin Okami at UFC 144; however, that magic will not be able to show it self against Hector Lombard, as he will be unconcious before the 3rd round. This will be Lombard's first exposure to the UFC audience and the pressure will be on the make it a good showing. Hector Lombard by 1st round TKO.
Staff picking Boetsch: Fraser, Tim, Brookhouse
Staff picking Lombard: Grant, David, Dallas, Eugene
Brent Brookhouse: Shocked that there was a bunch of gambling money coming in on Jordan. Kongo controls guys like this with kickboxing or by leaning on them against the cage. Cheick Kongo by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Kongo's fought tons of fights like this - rising prospect with decent stand-up. And he wins them all the same way. Unless he's gotten really old lately, I expect more of the same here. Cheick Kongo by decision
T.P. Grant: Going to echo Fraser here, a young brawling heavyweight is nothing Kongo hasn't dealt with before. Kongo is sneaky tough to takedown and good at escaping on the ground. If Jordan could come in with a gameplan to beat Kongo and execute it or just catch Kongo in a wild brawl, but I find it more likely Kongo wins. Cheick Kongo by KO, Round 1.
Tim Burke: This bout is kind of weird. Jordan's giving up a ton of height and reach. He hits hard, and Kongo's defense sucks, but that's a lot to overcome. He has okay wrestling, but Kongo's been in there with better than him. If it's kickboxing, Kongo wins rather handily. If Jordan takes it to the ground it gets more interesting, but not enough to sway me. Cheick Kongo by decision.
David Castillo: Kongo's frame is so misleading. He's built like Kratos, but with a mind like Forrest Gump (cage IQ-wise). Even as a kickboxer, Kongo can be hit or miss. There are times when he's a better functional wrestler, but Jordan will oblige him. Cheick Kongo by Decision.
Dallas Winston: I like Jordan's chances here. I believe Kongo should be the slight favorite but his striking defense and Fight I.Q. are concerns against a Greg-Jackson-trained and highly athletic fighter with diverse skills. I think Jordan can pull this off with intelligent movement to avoid staying in a clinch with Kongo or standing in front of his power shots. His agility should make him a viable takedown threat and he's smart in faking between level drops and power punches to lead his offense. Shawn Jordan by decision.
Eugene Schelfaut: Cheick Kongo is a man who fails to inspire great reaction either way for me. I just wish upon him a vague amount of ill and general displeasure. For better or for worse, he is an enduring member of the UFC's heavyweight division. And that does not look to change, for years, regardless of the result of his bout against Shawn Jordan. Is anyone waiting for Kongo to go on a tear after his loss to Mark Hunt refocuses his drive for the title? Kongo is just an entity which is there, and which wins more than not, and we just have to deal with it. I will feel another wave of displeasure as Kongo takes another victory here. Cheick Kongo by 2nd round TKO.
Staff picking Jordan: Dallas
Staff picking Kongo: Fraser, Grant, Tim, Brookhouse, David, Eugene
Brent Brookhouse: Ebersole's shtick just isn't for me. But he's the better fighter here. Brian Ebersole by decision.
T.P. Grant: Unless Ebersole is taking on a Top 15 Welterweight, I don't pick against him. Head's primary weapon is his jiu jitsu and Ebersole has already proven he can grapple with good submission guys. Ebersole is a veteran worth his salt and he earns a little more of it with a win. Brian Ebersole by TKO, Round 3.
Tim Burke: I'm not as big a fan of Hairrow as everyone else seems to be, and Head is a big 170. This is a tougher challenge than most people are expecting, and Head really does hit pretty hard, but Ebersole's experience will win out here. Brian Ebersole by decision.
David Castillo: I doubted Ebersole last time, and I still doubt him, but not against Head. Well, I do doubt him against Head, who can crack, and is no slouch on the ground, but since I keep getting every pick wrong that involves Ebersole, I'll finally stop picking against him. Brian Ebersole by Decision.
Dallas Winston: Head is a talented newcomer with great boxing, but he's shown a vulnerability to solid wrestlers with frenetic top-side striking. If it wasn't for Ebersole's impenetrable chin, I'd be wary of the upset, but his wrestling and ground and pound should see him through. Brian Ebersole by decision.
Eugene Schelfaut: Finally we are getting to the good stuff. Brian Ebersole is predictably off the center of things and has enough to win a decision. This win over James Head will be another rung toward Ebersole's eventual title shot. Believe it. Brian Ebersole by decision.
Staff picking Ebersole: Fraser, Grant, Tim, Brookhouse, David, Dallas, Eugene
Staff picking Head:
Brent Brookhouse: I fully expect Clements to knock his block off. Chris Clements by TKO, round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: This should be a stand-up Fight of the Night style war. Which is a fighting style Riddle loves. I expect he'll get beat up at first, but stay in it to make it close. Only question is will he keep it close enough to take the win? I suspect he will. Matt Riddle by decision
T.P. Grant: Clements is a powerful striker and Riddle is going to stand in front of him and try to strike. That hasn't worked out for Riddle so far in his career, and I don't think it will this time. Chris Clements by TKO, Round 3.
Tim Burke: Matt Riddle on a main card in 2012. HAHA CALGARY. If Riddle wants to strike, he's gonna miss a lot and get tagged a lot. Clements is pretty easy to take down though, and that should definitely be Riddle's main weapon of choice. This is ridiculously off the board and I'm counting on something that's probably not going to happen, but I think Riddle takes him down and submits him. Seriously. I really said that. Matt Riddle by submission, round 2.
David Castillo: Riddle had modest promise at one point, but he's so in love with that bizarre standup of his, I expect him to screw it up again, and not give himself the best chance to win. Clements by TKO, round 2.
Dallas Winston: I give Riddle a lot of leeway for his experience and I think he's smart enough to understand his skills. I don't get the scathing criticism of him "being in love with his stand up" because he employed his clinch and wrestling in just about every fight but Pierson, who's a good boxer with a Greco background. Clements teed off on Wisniewski, who'd rather chew on a punch than avoid it, and was still taken down and put into vulnerable positions on the mat. Matt Riddle by decision.
Eugene Schelfaut: I find myself unable to not root for Matt Riddle. Chris Clements loses a mouth piece and a win bonus. And probably some self respect. Matt Riddle by 1st round KO.
Staff picking Clements: Grant, Brookhouse, David
Staff picking Riddle: Fraser, Tim, Dallas, Eugene
Brent Brookhouse: I figure Ring makes a mistake that costs him the fight here. I'll guess that mistake comes on the ground. Court McGee by submission, round 1.
T.P. Grant: Oh no, is it really already time for another Court McGee fight? I find nothing about McGee's fighting style interesting. I feel like Ring is the better athlete and gets a win here. Nick Ring by Decision.
Tim Burke: Ring doesn't fight that smart, but neither does Court. Ring's the more versatile athlete in the cage and hits a lot harder. The Calgary pressure might get to him, but I think he'll pull this out. Nick Ring by decision.
David Castillo: These guys are similar in how impressively average they are despite their modest accomplishments. I like Court in this fight. Nick seems to just get stuck on autopilot for lengthy periods of time. I've seen maybe 2 of his fights, so that analysis is probably wrong. Nick Ring by Decision.
Dallas Winston: Shit, is everyone being harsh or is it just me? Ring's only loss is to a former-205er, leviathan 185er and D1 wrestler in Boetsch, and he was still out-striking him and holding his own in the clinch early. I don't think any "average" middleweight could do that. McGee is a gamer but rather limited when he can't enforce his wrestling, and Ring had no trouble doing that before. Nick Ring by decision.
Staff picking McGee: Brookhouse
Staff picking Ring: Fraser, Grant, Tim, David, Dallas
T.P. Grant: I'll take Delorme, he appears to be a real prospect. Roland Delorme by Decision.
Tim Burke: Yes, Delorme caught the Ninja of Love. But he was getting torn to shreds before he somehow caught Denis and submitted him. I doubt he can do the same to Cisco. First-minute KO. Francisco Rivera by TKO, round 1.
David Castillo: Gotta agree with Tim. I think Delorme got "lucky', and won't be able to duplicate that success against Rivera. Francisco Rivera by TKO.
Dallas Winston: I like Rivera's scary power but he's shown a trend for fading in later rounds and I'm not sure his takedown defense is up to specs. I'll take a chance on Delorme's chin, Judo and sub-grappling carrying him past a rough 1st round. Roland Delmore by submission.
Staff picking Delorme: Fraser, Grant, Dallas
Staff picking Rivera: Tim, Brookhouse, David
Brent Brookhouse: I'm legitimately angry that I'm going to have to watch this fight. Jimmo getting a spot in the UFC is a nightmare for people like me who don't have the option to "just not watch" his fights. Ryan Jimmo by decision.
T.P. Grant: Ryan Jimmo finally makes it to the UFC. And Zuffa has arranged for a soft landing place for Jimmo in Perosh, who is a solid fighter but is 40-years-old. I don't think Jimmo is going to have a great UFC run, in fact I think he is somewhat overrated but I do think he gets this win. Ryan Jimmo by Decision.
Tim Burke: Prepare to be bored, people. You think Jon Fitch is boring? Jimmo's nickname should be Valium. He seems like a nice dude, but he has zero finish. He barely beat Sokoudjou in one of the worst fights you'll ever see. He was supposed to face Glover Teixeira a couple of years ago, but waged a campaign against it and got MFC to change their minds. Wonder why. Anyway, Perosh is awesome and I really like him, but he's going to have a hard time getting Jimmo to the floor and he has some baaad striking. This is going to be some sort of weird karate display for 3 rounds, followed by a crappy robot dance. I'll be getting a beer. No matter what I pick, Go Hippo! Ryan Jimmo by decision.
Dallas Winston: Yes, that's right ... all those who enjoy a pleasant and respectful POV, just scan down to my neighborhood. I don't find Jimmo overly exciting but it's hard to discredit his phenomenal win streak. I've picked against Perosh regularly yet that clumsy and uncoordinated character always seems to find a way. I think he's implemented his unorthodox takedown game and insta-sub-finishes against opponents with better footwork, striking and range than Jimmo ... but Jimmo's takedown defense might prove me wrong. Anthony Perosh by submission.
Staff picking Jimmo: Fraser, Grant, Tim, Brookhouse, David
Staff picking Perosh: Dallas
Brent Brookhouse: Going with upside over experience. Mitch Gagnon by decision.
T.P. Grant: Going with Gagnon here and not because of Caraway's misogynist twitter tendencies. It is because Caraway came off a pretty unimpressive of TUF and was unimpressive himself. Gagnon looks like a prospect that could make some noise in this weight class. Mitch Gagnon by Submission, Round 2.
Tim Burke: Similar fighters, but Caraway's got more big-fight experience and probably a little better submission grappling game. Bryan Caraway by decision.
Dallas Winston: Gagnon's brute aggression and fearlessness might win him this bout, but Caraway's a technical wrestler with excellent submission grappling. Gagnon has the better stand up and everything will hinge upon who wins the takedown war. Bryan Caraway by decision.
Staff picking Caraway: Tim, David, Dallas
Staff picking Gagnon: Fraser, Grant, Brookhouse
T.P. Grant: Two journeymen Featherweights, both likely facing a cut if they lose. I'll take Pineda based on experience. Daniel Pineda by Decision.
Tim Burke: Pineda has more fights, but Carvalho has been around the game a lot longer. Carvalho is a black belt in BJJ and karate and has good judo as well. He admittedly looked terrible against Arantes in his debut, but Pato is a very good fighter. Pineda's go-for-broke style is going to get shut down by a smarter, craftier fighter and he's going to be frustrated for 15 minutes. I said that last time Pato fought too though. Antonio Carvalho by decision.
Dallas Winston: This a coin-flip for me. Carvalho is a technical machine with his kickboxing and grappling while Pineda is an offensive lunatic with no grasp of caution. From a style perspective, I'd normally side with the intelligent technician, but Pineda impressed me enough against Brown to believe that his ruthless onslaught will disrupt Carvalho's finesse and lure him into a brawl. Daniel Pineda by TKO.
Staff picking Carvalho: Tim, David
Staff picking Pineda: Fraser, Grant, Brookhouse, Dallas
T.P. Grant: Kuivanen was a pretty highly regarded European prospect while Clarke looks kinda like a guy the UFC is going to bring in for the undercard of Canada shows. Clarke might wrestle his way to a decision, but I feel like Kuivanen either finds a submission or lands a big strike at some point. Anton Kuivanen by Submission, Round 3.
Tim Burke: Kuivanen is just better at everything. Sorry Canada. Anton Kuivanen by decision.
Dallas Winston: Kuivanen looked solid in his debut but understandably struggled with Salas' D1 wrestling. Clarke can't mirror that prowess and Kuivanen should have a strong edge standing and in the clinch with the submission defense and scrambling to seal it. Anton Kuivanen by decision.
Staff picking Clarke: Fraser, David
Staff picking Kuivanen: Grant, Tim, Brookhouse, Dallas