Ben Henderson vs.
Brent Brookhouse: I had the first fight extremely close and I think this one will be as well. I think it comes down to if Edgar will mix in more wrestling this time or not. While I think Henderson should be favored, I'm going to go with my gut and trust that Edgar will make the changes needed to take three rounds. It's going to be tough but I think a few more takedowns make it an Edgar fight. Frankie Edgar by decision.
Anton Tabuena: I didn't think that the first fight was even close. I think the rematch goes the same way, but this time with a finish. I think he hurts Frankie, and eventually ends it with a submission. Benson Henderson by late submission.
Mookie Alexander: For the longest whilewas the guy known for starting slowly and getting into trouble early, well now that's Frankie Edgar for the last 3 fights. I gave the first fight to Ben Henderson because he landed the harder strikes and Edgar did zero with his takedowns. It's not simply a case of Henderson seemingly being two weight classes larger than Edgar, but I just don't see what Edgar can do to eek out a win. He couldn't hold Henderson down, he has great boxing but minimal punching power, and there's no way Henderson is getting submitted. Ben has more ways to win than Frankie and I see him landing damaging shots and keeping a high pace and busy workrate to win more convincingly than last time. Henderson by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Based on the first fight, I don't see that Edgar has anything to offer Henderson that the champ won't be ready for. Dare I say, Bendo has The Answer for Frankie Edgar? And no, that won't be the last time you hear that line this weekend. Or the first probably. But it's true - Henderson knows how to deal with Edgar, and he'll do it again here. Ben Henderson by decision
Jack Slack: I see this fight going one of two ways, either Frankie comes out and spams his knee pick, grabbing up the points through flurries and takedowns for 5 rounds, or Bendo keeps kicking at Edgar and stopping the smaller man from circling, then beats him up in head on exchanges. Of course, Bendo could completely forget what gave him success in the first fight, not kick, and allow Frankie to circle as he has done to all his other opponents, but I just can't see that happening. Ben Henderson by Decision
David Castillo: I hate picking against Edgar because I think if he'd just stop getting blasted to hell once a round every fight, he'd irritate his critics even more and win most of this fights more comfortably, with the same form of boxing people hated him for in beating Penn (not that I discount the first fight as controversial). Still, it's a glorious fight. Edgar's ability to get deep into a double leg so quickly is his best chance, and I think if he focused on that, he could win the wrestling contest (Benson's defensive wrestling is better than his offensive wrestling IMO). As is, I don't think he will. And Henderson has more firepower. Benson Henderson by Decision.
T.P. Grant: Who ever wins this fight, we all win. I'd be perfectly ok if Henderson and Edgar ascended to Mt. Olympus to battle each other for eternity. Edgar is a super tough guy and has excellent scrambling ability, but I feel that Henderson is just the more technical fighter. Edgar is a little faster and has better cardio, but Henderson has a strength advantage. On the feet Henderson has more diverse and powerful striking and on the ground I feel he is the better overall grappler. I'm wary to pick against Edgar, especially since it is looking like a clean sweep for Henderson, but I'll take who I think is the better overall fighter. Benson Henderson by Decision.
Tim Burke: Edgar is a master at adjusting strategy for rematches, even if it sometimes goes to hell early. I think he'll do his best to turn it into more of a wrestling match since he doesn't really have The Answer to the leg kicks. I'm with Fraser, I think this fight will be disappointing compared to the first one. But while Henderson has size and strength on his side, I think Edgar's a much smarter fighter. I'm going with the little guy. Frankie Edgar by decision.
Dallas Winston: This should be all about pace and leaving a meaningful mark in the judges' eyes in each round. Both fighters are obviously talented but have a steady-paced style that often lacks significant ownership of the fight's ebb and flow. While I think Henderson is rolling right now, Edgar does have the better chance of leaving a more memorable mark with his in-and-out flurries and occasional takedowns, and I agree with Tim that the rematch favors his game-planning. I'll feel stupid for under-rating Edgar -- again -- if he wins, but I think Henderson will out-work him in the greater number of rounds. Ben Henderson by decision.
Staff picking Henderson: Anton, Mookie, ZP, Fraser, Jack, David, Grant, Dallas, Stephie
Staff picking Edgar: Tim, Brookhouse
Brent Brookhouse: This is a bad fight for Melvin. If he comes in reckless and looking for the quick KO as is his old style, he's going to end up making a mistake that either gets him on the ground and subbed or clipped with a Cerrone shot. If he tries to be patient and work to win rounds, he's going to get picked apart by Cerrone's length and pace. I'd prefer a Guillard win, but I don't see it. Donald Cerrone by submission, round 1.
Anton Tabuena: I don't think Guillard can pick Cerrone apart like Diaz did. I think this is going to look a lot more like his bout against Jeremy Stephens, but this will probably end up with a slick sub. Donald Cerrone by Submission.
Mookie Alexander: I'm tired of picking Melvin Guillard to come through and make a title run. He's had too many fights not to "get it" by now. Cerrone is the exact type of fighter he struggles with, and I fully expect Cerrone to weather Guillard's attack, and take whichever route he pleases to get a rear-naked choke win. Cerrone via submission in round 1
Fraser Coffeen: This should be a fun fight. Cerrone is too skilled on the feet to get tagged by Guillard's heavy hands, and I don't see Melvin outstriking him for 15 minutes like Diaz did. Cerrone is a finisher on the ground, and Guillard still has a big hole in his submission defense game, but I think this will mainly stay on the feet with Cerrone using a wider arsenal of strikes to outpoint the Young Assassin. Donald Cerrone by decision
Jack Slack: Cerrone looked fantastic in his outing against Jeremy Stephens, whereas Guillard has looked fairly mediocre in each of his last three. If I were feeling cruel I would pick Cerrone by submission because it seems no-one rates Guillards submission defence. In truth this will likely be a back and forth fight but I can see Cerrone using his running low kicks to hack away at the less technically sound Guillard. If Cerrone attempts to brawl with an opponent who is much better at standing toe to toe - as he did against Nate Diaz - his overconfidence could get him knocked out rather than simply wobbled in this one. Donald Cerrone by Decision
David Castillo: For a guy as talented as Guillard, he sure does have a lot of bad matchups. And this is one of the worst. To be fair, Cerrone can be a bit reckless himself, but Melvin will do what he always does: confound fans with a false sense of potential just because he can throw punches real fast, and get dummied on the ground because he's just not talented in the grappling department, or potentially lose on the feet because he has no sense of rhythm or defense. Donald Cerrone by Decision.
T.P. Grant: Both fighters tend to keep fights standing, in Cerrone's case it a matter of preference while for Guillard it is out of necessity. Cerrone got busted up on the feet for the first time by Diaz, but the Diaz brothers have a reputation for doing that to quality strikers. I think Cerrone's kicking ability could be the difference in this fight if it stays on the feet, but Guillard is only ever a few punches from winning a fight. This really should be a fun fight, but I think the only way Guillard wins this is by TKO, while Cerrone has more paths to victory. Donald Cerrone by Decision.
Tim Burke: First off, I don't think Cerrone submits Melvin here. He won't be able to take Melvin down and keep him there, so the only submission you're likely to see is a triangle. Melvin's defense isn't good, but he's actually learned to defend the triangle well since Neer caught him a long time ago. I guess a guillotine is possible, but meh. On the feet, Cerrone's more technical but Guillard hits way harder. Melvin has cracked chins that looked pretty impenetrable (Evan Dunham, for one), but I don't think he's going to be able to find Cowboy's. Donald Cerrone by entertaining decision.
Dallas Winston: There's really no logical case for Guillard here. He deserves the rep of a devastating striker but much of that stems from facing so many grappling-based opponents. Cerrone has the edge almost everywhere: chin, height, reach, striking diversity and technique, defense, fight I.Q., offensive wrestling and submissions. Even if he struggles to or can't take Guillard down, the simple act of threatening with them will make Guillard hesitant to plant and throw and more likely to drop his hands in anticipation of defending. Guillard might be quicker and more explosive, and he definitely has more power, but I don't think that's enough. Donald Cerrone by submission.
Staff picking Cerrone: Anton, Mookie, Fraser, David, Grant, Tim, Dallas, Brookhouse, Stephie
Staff picking Guillard:
Brent Brookhouse: I was tempted to pick the upset, but I think Shields can get takedowns and just work position and stay busy enough to just take all three rounds in a snoozer. Jake Shields by decision.
Anton Tabuena: I'm very interested in seeing Shields make a run at middleweight. This will be a tougher bout that most people expect it to be, but I still think he takes this. Jake Shields by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Shields' move to middleweight is a great decision. There are too many welterweights who would stifle his very limited game. Herman has looked outstanding since his return from injury both in his stand-up and his grappling, and he has underrated punching power that Shields would be best to avoid. It should be put into perspective though that Herman's recent opposition isn't exactly cream of the crop. I'm hoping for a highly technical ground battle and Shields is superior in that field. Shields via submission in round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: I agree that Shields at MW is a smart idea, and I think he can make a title run here. He has the tools to finish Herman, but I fear he'll play a smart, conservative game and not overextend himself, choosing to control to a decision win instead of close the show. Jake Shields by decision
Jack Slack: I don't like watching Shields fight, but I do enjoy winding to his finishes. Shields is simply one of the best submission fighters in the game today, though he's looked rather less frightening lately. Shields should have this. Of course Herman has shown how well he can fight off submissions in his surprisingly decent showing against Jiu Jitsu deity, Demian Maia. We could be in for another disappointing Shields showing if he decides to channel "Lumpinee Jake" and test his horrific stand up against Herman. Jake Shields by Submission
T.P. Grant: Ed Herman is no scrub on the ground, he has been using his grappling in new and exciting ways since coming back from injury, but Jake Shields is one of the best submission grapplers in MMA. He struggled at Welterweight, but if he looks as this move to Middleweight as fresh start and starts grappling like the Jake Shields of pre-2009 UFC Middleweights could be in for a nasty surprise. One thing to consider Herman doesn't get submitted because he is a poor grappler. When faced with good grapplers Herman doesn't shell up on the ground, he engages them and as a result the majority of his wins and losses have come via submission. Against Shields this approach will likely result in a submission. Jake Shields by Submission, Round 2.
Tim Burke: I was initially thinking the same way as Fraser, that Shields will be looking for a W more than anything and will fight conservatively, but Grant makes a very good point - Herman will probably try to grapple with him, to his own detriment. Shields is clearly the better fighter, but how will he win? I hope submission, but I'm still leaning decision. Jake Shields by decision.
Dallas Winston: I'm kind of fascinated to see how Herman approaches this fight. His takedown defense is pretty sound and not unlike the way his grappling is described above; he's more inclined to stuff the initial advance and then attack with counter-throws than play it safe. His striking has been looking sweet but not against upper-tier competition, so I don't know if he can or will attempt to sprawl-and-brawl. That's probably his best shot, as Shields is a straight up killer on the mat: his library of submissions and sweeps and his positional intelligence are extraordinary, and in all positions. He also doggedly pursues takedowns and has a knack for transitioning after a failed low single and making something happen. Jake Shields by decision.
David Castillo: I'm tempted to try my luck with another out of left field pick that can't be justified by any rational person...and despite how good a chance I think Herman has, who is superior on the feet and has proven himself a capable grappler, I'm not gonna do so again. Even though these things are true of Herman, he isn't a great defensive grappler, and I feel like Shields knows what's at stake, and will respond accordingly.
Staff picking Shields: Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Jack, David, Grant, Tim, Dallas, Brookhouse, David Stephie
Staff picking Herman:
Brent Brookhouse: Unfortunate that injuries lead to a fight that is below what Okami should be doing and way ahead of where Roberts is right now. Yushin Okami by TKO, round 2.
Anton Tabuena: Easy. Okami by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: As tempting as it is to pick Buddy Roberts because of his awesome name, Okami is the better fighter in every facet of the game. Okami's first two rounds against Tim Boetsch shouldn't be forgotten completely because he was violently KO'd afterwards, he is still a top middleweight and should win with ease. Okami by decision.
Jack Slack: We'll see if the UFC middleweight division continues to have no answer for the southpaw jab. A technique that simply doesn't work on decent boxers without great set ups. Okami doesn't have great set ups, but the Middleweight division doesn't have decent boxing. The end of this fight is also when I'll aim to start watching the event. Okami by Decision
T.P. Grant: Could Roberts turn into a solid Middleweight? Yeah. But beating Caio Magalhaes doesn't mean he is ready for Okami. Yushin Okami by Decision
Tim Burke: FREEBIRD!!!...is gonna lose. Where's Terry Gordy when you need him, he'd kick Okami's ass. Oh yeah, he's dead. Yushin Okami by TKO, round 2.
Dallas Winston: Roberts did show impressive prowess with takedown defense and boxing, and also has a noodley reach length and serious athleticism. Still, that respectable performance was against a shorter, more inexperienced and limited middleweight at the bottom of the ladder, and Okami has cemented his status somewhere toward the top. Yushin Okami by decision.
David Castillo: Roberts isn't capable of getting beat up, and then destroying Okami in the clinch like Boetsch, so yea, a complete waste of time for Okami.
Staff picking Okami: Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Jack, David, Grant, Tim, Dallas, Brookhouse, Stephie
Staff picking Roberts:
Brent Brookhouse: Good, close fight with Holloway being a bit more the kind of striker I like, plus he seems to have a better "fight IQ" than Lawrence. Max Holloway by decision.
Anton Tabuena: Is it just me, or does this bout feel like the UFC matchmakers want to showcase Lawrence's striking skills? Justin Lawrence by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: The UFC put this on the main card fully knowing this is going to be a crowd-pleaser. Neither man has anything to offer on the ground and they've excited with their striking. Holloway has crisper punching and superb body shots, but he lacks serious power, which Lawrence has. Logically I should pick Lawrence, but I'll go against the grain. Holloway by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I'm probably making a mistake here, but I'm pretty excited about this fight. It's going to be just a fun stand-up battle with all kinds of wacky stuff thrown in. Lawrence has the edge in power, and I see him finding Holloway's chin eventually. Justin Lawrence by KO, round 2
T.P. Grant: Not a big believer in either fighter, but Lawrence is more well rounded and with real cracking power in his strikes. Holloway seems like a game fighter but he gets reckless. At some point Lawrence will hit Holloway and he won't get up. Justin Lawrence by TKO, Round 3.
Tim Burke: Meh. I think Holloway's an animal. Lawrence has nice striking, sure, but Holloway is more well-rounded (slightly). Max Holloway by decision.
Dallas Winston: At age 20 and 22, these guys are the future. I'd disagree that Holloway gets reckless, as his composure has been unfailing and Lawrence has erred in strategy, and I'd also consider Lawrence a little more well-rounded for the offensive wrestling and submission defense he's shown. I think Holloway, the taller and longer fighter with the better reach game, is also a cleaner striker than Lawrence, but his lack of power is a concern. I think he can out-point Lawrence but I see Lawrence's takedowns, aggression and power leaving a better impression on the judges. And this should be an incredible fight. Justin Lawrence by decision.
David Castillo: Holloway would have a better shot if his shots allowed Lawrence to respect him, but he doesn't, so they won't. It's a very winnable fight for Max, But I always err on the side of a stronger offense in fights like these, thus I choose Lawrence. Justin Lawrence by Decision.
Staff picking Lawrence: Anton, Fraser, David, Grant, Lawrence
Staff picking Holloway: Mookie, Tim, Brookhouse, Stephie
Brent Brookhouse: I don't really see any reason to pick Hayden, even if I don't think Bermudez is particularly great. Hayden is going to get wore out early, finished late. Dennis Bermudez by TKO, round 3.
Mookie Alexander: Hayden looked terrible in his debut and Bermudez is a bad matchup for him. Bermudez by decision.
T.P. Grant: I really don't want to devote mental faculties to this fight any more than I need to, so I'll say that Bermudez can crack on the feet and Hayden might have the submission chops to tap him, but I find it unlikely. Dennis Bermudez by TKO, Round 2.
Tim Burke: Bermudez surprised the hell out of me againt Pablo Garza, showing a relentless game against a good grappler. He also hits pretty hard. If Garza couldn't get close to subbing him, there's no way Tom Hayden will. Dennis Bermudez by TKO, round 2.
Dallas Winston: Well, Hayden's a wrestle-boxer so I don't think he'll sub Bermudez and his debut was on short-notice against a steep lightweight in Camoes, and he still showed shades of a high-level boxing game. I think his length and striking technique will be a handful for Bermudez, who did shock me against Pablo Garza. Bermudez' hands are basic but hefty and having the option to rifle for takedowns gives him my nod. Dennis Bermudez by decision.
David Castillo: I'm with Tim. Bermudez isn't an exciting fighter on paper, and he seemed to struggle more than he should have inside the TUF house, but a few strikes go his way, and he's the TUF champion, not to mention, he impressed against the very capable Pablo Garza. His punching power will be the difference. Dennis Bermudez by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Bermudez: Anton, Fraser, Grant, Tim, Brookhouse, Dallas, Stephie, David
Staff picking Hayden:
Brent Brookhouse: Someone makes a mistake here and gets hurt because of it. I'll go with Hamman's wild attack getting him the win. Jared Hamman wins by TKO, round 1.
Mookie Alexander: Hamman's best and worst asset is his breathtakingly reckless stand-up. It's a gamble against a solid striker like Kuiper but I think Hamman can absorb his punishment, dish out some of his own, and test Kuiper's suspect cardio in the thin air by pushing a fast pace. Hamman by decision.
T.P. Grant: Hamman is crazy aggressive and Kuiper has power in his strikes. Kuiper has a chance if he can convince Hamman to walk into something in the early rounds, but as the fight wears on on it will favor Hamman. Jared Hamman by Decision.
Tim Burke: Kuiper had Sapo hurt but couldn't finish and dropped a decision. Hamman throws bombs but can easily be caught as well. This is a really tough call. I think Kuiper is the better fighter overall, so I'm going to go with him. Michael Kuiper by decision.
Dallas Winston: Hamman is a veritable lunatic who slings haymakers and brawls with limited technique. Kuiper is shockingly technical on the feet and with his Judo in the clinch, especially for such a youngster (age 23). Though he's much more inexperienced, I think Kuiper's composure and well-rounded fundamentals will keep Hamman from just running him over and enable him to find Hamman's chin during his wild flurries. A decision might be likelier, but ... Michael Kuiper by TKO.
David Castillo: I enjoy watching Hamman fight. I imagine refereeing a Hamman fight is like being a cop in a bad action film, where you've got ten seconds to cut the blue wire, or the red one before the place explodes. And the crazy thing is, Hamman isn't a great striker. He just throws strikes like he is. Still, he's tough, and I could see him winning, but I like Kuiper's more measured pace, and ability to get him there to victory. Michael Kuiper by Decision.
Staff picking Hamman: Mookie, Hamman, Grant, Brookhouse, Stephie
Staff picking Kuiper: Anton, Fraser, Tim, Dallas, David
Brent Brookhouse: Ken Stone is better than you'd think if you just looked at his record and saw the stoppage losses. He can be a real handful and I think he can be at his best against a guy like Perez. Ken Stone by TKO, round 2.
T.P. Grant: I'll go out on a limb and take the Jackson product in Perez. Erik Perez by Decision.
Tim Burke: Ken Stone is a good fighter despite being viciously KO'd a couple of times. I liked his fight with Dustin Pague, and I think he'll be able to shut down Perez's submission game and claim a decision. Ken Stone by decision.
Dallas Winston: Stone has definitely unveiled some high-level tactics with his kickboxing and grappling that are overshadowed by his devastating losses to top fighters. He's a 3-dimensional fighter with crisp kickboxing and timing on the feet, a wrestling base and what seems like a feisty guard game. I think he can clip Perez on the feet and pounce. Ken Stone by submission.
David Castillo: Stone all the way. At the risk of sounding too broad, he's the better fighter. Ken Stone by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Stone: Anton, Mookie, Fraser, David, Tim, Brookhouse, Stephie, Dallas, David
Staff picking Perez: Grant,
T.P. Grant: Not sure how else to say this, not a big believer in Pague. I think Camus takes this one. Chico Camus by Decision.
Tim Burke: Meh. Pague has the big-fight experience while Camus does not. Dustin Pague by decision.
Dallas Winston: Yeah, Pague might not be a world-beater but his size, tenacity and growing confidence is too hard not to pick over a debutante. Dustin Pague by decision.
Staff picking Pague: Anton, Mookie, Fraser, David, Tim, Brookhouse, Stephie, Dallas, David
Staff picking Camus: Grant,
Mookie Alexander: Actual fact, this is the 10th UFC fight of Nik Lentz's career. And all 10 have been on the preliminary card. I'm 99.99% certain that's a record since Forrest Petz had 7 fights all on the prelims. Lentz by decision.
T.P. Grant: Mitsuoka was the guy they brought in to get Gomi a win at UFC: Japan. Lentz is going to grapple him into the ground. Nik Lentz by Decision.
Tim Burke: Lentz is going to be a big grappling monster at 145. Mitsuoka's gonna get smoked. Nik Lentz by decision.
Dallas Winston: I'm oddly excited for this fight. Mitsuoka is for real and, though he might get outwrestled, he won't get trucked by Lentz. He subbed UFC competitors in Rodrigo Damm, Samy Schiavo and Brian Cobb, stopped Gleison Tibau, Steve Berger and Gerald Strebendt with strikes and decisioned Joachim Hansen. He's also a longtime wrestler; Lentz should have the edge there, Mitsuoka is the better submission fighter and they both have average striking. I was an inch away from taking Mitsuoka for the upset but will play it safe. Nik Lentz by decision.
David Castillo: Gotta correct Dallas on one thing: Tibau suffered some bizarre injury, and the fight was stopped as they scrambled to the ground. Just saying. He's right about everything else though. Except for one other thing; I'm not playing it safe. Lentz' best chance is makeing this fight a slugfest. If they grapple, I like Mistuoka, who is very crafty, as he proved Hansen. Lentz tends to grapple, so I think this plays into Mitsuoka's game. Gomi may be the shadow of the corpse of the shell of his former self, but Eiji simply got caught after dominating, and Gomi could suffer from muscular dystrophy and still have the power to punch a hole in the moon. So it's not the embarrassing loss it should be (keep in mind I'm picking Eiji to win the fight: not to convince the judges). Eiji Mitsuoka by Decision.
Staff picking Lentz: Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Grant, Tim, Brookhouse, Stephie, Dallas
Staff picking Mitsuoka: David