Brent Brookhouse: The term "puncher's chance" exists for a reason. So, you can't look at this fight and say "no, Vitor can't possibly win." But who is the last "good" fighter that Vitor stopped in a real light heavyweight fight (195 pound catchweights don't count as that is not 205)? Randy Couture on a fluke eyelid cut at UFC 46? Marvin Eastman at UFC 43? That's why it's so insulting to have Dana publicly say that people are crazy if they think Vitor doesn't deserve the shot. He doesn't DESERVE it, he's just a guy willing to take it. Jones is so much better than Vitor. He's better than Vitor has ever been, even adjusting to relative talent levels in the early 2000's. Jon Jones by TKO, round 1.
Tim Burke: Vitor has fast hands. We get it. But how is he going to overcome the reach disadvantage? Does anyone really think Jones is going to trade with him in the pocket? I think Jones will take a little while to feel him out and get some cage time, but we all know what's coming eventually. Jon Jones by TKO, round 2.
Mookie Alexander: I know there's the whole "Vitor can KO anyone" thing that is used as the reason to give him a chance in this one. Historically, in title fights, he has failed to bullrush top-level fighters and he's unable to adjust. Heck, he's at a striking disadvantage in this fight since Jones is far more diverse than him. As long as Jones doesn't fight like an idiot he'll take Vitor down with ease and hellaciously smash him. Jones by TKO via elbows and punches in round 1.
Anton Tabuena: If Vitor stay outside and waits for too long, like his recent fights, he will have big trouble against Jones. As a fan, I really wish he can find a way to get inside those go-go gadget arms, to land big punches, but that's something I wouldn't bet on. I think Jones lands the few, but better shots from range, then finds a way to take Vitor down from the clinch and finish him from there. Jon Jones by TKO.
Fraser Coffeen: I see this one going down quite a bit like Vitor vs. Silva. Belfort will be too tentative, get stuck on the outside where Jones's reach will cause him all kinds of trouble, and then, at some point, Jones will unleash and that will be that. My only debate is what round it will happen in. Jones has gotten a bit more cautious lately, so I'll say Vitor lasts the first 5 minutes, but I am fully prepared for Jones to prove me wrong. Jon Jones by KO, round 2
David Castillo: Simple pick, as Jones will have the advantage everywhere the fight takes place. Jones is ridiculous enough against guys bigger than Vitor who still can't stay out of reach. I wouldn't be surprised if we see a brief "scare" (Jones getting hit with a solid punch) because Jones still has defensive liabilities, but he should get this to the ground and submit Vitor in short order. Jon Jones by submission, round 3.
Jack Slack: As far as gimme matches go this is only slightly more respectable than Jon Jones versus Chael Sonnen. Sonnen has no ways to finish a fight, Vitor has one. Vitor has never shown a great deal of heart, so if he doesn't win this in the opening seconds, expect him to give up and get ground down in the early rounds. Jon Jones TKO, Round 2
Dallas Winston: I have absolutely nothing against Bones but there's something inherently just about the idea of Vitor winning. From a career standpoint, like B.J. Penn, Belfort has been held to the standard of a superstar because of his obvious potential, even though his inconsistencies didn't really warrant it. On the personal side, he's been through some rough times and seeing him weep tears of joy as Dana begrudgingly adorns him with the belt would be one of those unforgettable memories. Technically, the reason Belfort has been accompanied by lofty expectations is because the legendary "Vitor flurry" is the most beautiful occurrence of striking violence. Jones did fumble with lightning-fast southpaw outbursts against Machida but I expect him to engulf "The Phenom" like an octopus and work chokes on the fence or the ground. Jon Jones by submission.
Ben Thapa: I'm surprised that everyone is picking a Jones finish (mostly KOs). The Rampage fight went four rounds and the Rashad Evans fight dragged on for the full five. Vitor may not have the technical knowhow to crack Jones more than a couple times each round, but I don't think Jones will get aggressive enough to finish the Young Dinosaur on the feet or on the ground. Recall that Belfort is very capable on the ground, even if he primarily looks to neutralize and sweep off his back instead of hunt submissions. Jones by decision.
Staff picking Jones: Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Stephie, David, Grant, Brookhouse, Jack, Tim, Dallas, Ben
Staff picking Belfort:
Brent Brookhouse: I'll be the unpopular guy here and say that there's a 50/50 chance this fight is kinda boring. The good news is, the other 50% is probably that it's an instant classic. I think Benavidez's strength and power takes it here over a 5 round fight, but it should be fairly close and I don't really expect a finish. Joseph Benavidez by decision.
Tim Burke: I think the fight is closer than the oddsmakers have it, but Joe B. has the advantages in the areas that Mighty Mouse excels. He's not going to be much faster than Joe, and Benavidez is the better wrestler. Joe also has better boxing and more power. I'm not a fan of his, but I gotta go with JoeJitsu. Joseph Benavidez by decision.
Mookie Alexander: I'm hesitant to pick Benavidez because I don't think I've picked Johnson to win in any of his last 3-4 victories. Johnson has the speed advantage but Benavidez has better wrestling and certainly more powerful hands. I'll go with Joe B in this one but honestly I just want an excellent inaugural flyweight title fight. Benavidez by decision.
Anton Tabuena: I think Joe has bigger power, but Johnson will be faster and will be able to land more. Tough choice really. I think Johnson can win a dominant decision, but 5 rounds of trying to avoid a big punch while also defending those takedowns will be tough. I think it's a toss up that can go either way, so I'm picking the guy who's more likely to end the fight. Joseph Benavidez by TKO.
David Castillo: Johnson showed me something in the rematch against McCall, but Mighty Mouse still messes around too much; lots of empty movement. Against Benavidez, who can can move just as much, that simply won't fly. The standup should be interesting, but I think Joe is the stronger of the two, and will be able to grind out the victory. Joseph Benavidez by Decision.
Dallas Winston: I've had a gut feeling toward Johnson on this. Along with Anderson, Edgar and Machida, Mighty Mouse belongs in the "Top Motion in MMA" category. I think he's going to be a full level faster than Joe-B Wan Kenobi and his striking delivery is absurdly quick and unpredictable. Benavidez has come a long way with his striking but I think it's a case of his power, timing, instincts and the threat of his takedowns more than anything, and his wide-swooping punches could offer straight-down-the-pipe options for DJ. He's easily the stronger guy and better wrestler but Johnson has the better scramble/transition game. I'll take the ‘dog. Demetrious Johnson by decision.
Ben Thapa: This is going to be a squeaker of a decision and the Mighty Mouse will out-flurry Benavidez in three out of the five to get the judges' call. Joe-B is a terrific fighter and standing in front of him for a power punch or a guillotine is a mistake many, many opponents have made. However, Johnson won't be in front of him long enough for the punches to land just right like Urushitani was. Johnson, decision.
Staff picking Benavidez: Anton, Mookie, Fraser, Stephie, David, Grant, Brookhouse, Tim
Staff picking Johnson: Dallas, Ben
Brent Brookhouse: Bisping is generally a smart fighter who can occasionally make really dumb mistakes (circling into Henderson's power). He's also the victim of a large part of MMA fans being stupid and, similar to Rashad Evans, has been saddled with a reputation of having a "bad chin" even though it wouldn't seem to make a lot of sense. He has been stopped once...after a thunderous punch from Henderson. He's been shook a little bit a few times, but chin isn't just about punch resistance it's about recovery, and Bisping has recovered well after being stung. I wouldn't say he has a good chin, I'd say he has an average, completely normal chin. Stann hits hard, which means he can get the stoppage, but Bisping is much more technically sound and also has better wrestling and a better ground game. So I'll take the better fighter and trust that he can avoid the KO. Michael Bisping by decision.
Tim Burke: This is most definitely Bisping's fight to lose. He is a much better technical striker, has better wrestling and BJJ. He still likes to get tagged a bit to wake himself up, but Stann isn't Dan Henderson. To be honest, Stann's power is a bit overrated to me. Bisping's the best bet on the card. Michael Bisping by decision.
Mookie Alexander: If Michael Bisping doesn't win this fight I think we can drop him ever becoming a title contender. It'd be yet another loss to a top 10 opponent and he already has zero wins over any top 10 fighter. I think Bisping is better than Stann overall, and his wrestling is really underrated. Stann is pretty bad off of his back (see Phil Davis and Chael Sonnen fights) and Bisping has very sharp ground-and-pound. Make all the jokes you want about his striking power, Bisping has got a great top game and will batter Stann for the finish. It'll be a feeling-out process in round 1 and Stann will be taken down and stopped with punches and elbows. Michael Bisping by 2nd round TKO
Anton Tabuena: Bisping the better MMA fighter. He has more technical kickboxing, better submissions, and likely to have better wrestling as well. That being said, I think for 15 minutes, this is going to be mostly a stand up fight as opposed to a complete MMA bout, and with Stann's power advantage, this will be a much closer contest than it is on paper. It's a tough pick, and as a fan, I will be rooting for Bisping, but I have a feeling Stann will manage to land one of those bombs that will turn the tide. Brian Stann by TKO.
Fraser Coffeen: I was never sold on Bisping. He always seemed to me like a guy who was fine, but nothing great in any area. But he looked really good against Mayhem and Sonnen, combining a more violent attack with a higher degree of strategy. A few years ago, I think Stann could have sucked Bisping into a shoot out, but now, I like The Count to play it safe, but at the same time lay down a hurting. Michael Bisping via decision
David Castillo: For all the flak Bisping gets, and perhaps deservedly so, it's hard to deny how solid Mike is in pretty much every facet of the game. He still strikes like he's on roller skates at times, but it's not as bad as it used to be, and he phase shifts well. I wouldn't be surprised if Bisping wins a fight determined by superior top control. He's shown a propensity in the past for wrestling, where his ground and pound is quite effective. As for Stann, he's got power, but not enough to keep Bisping honest enough to squander opportunities for 3 rounds. Despite the Hendo fight, Bisping has a good chin. Michael Bisping by TKO, round 3.
Dallas Winston: My panties were first Bisping-twisted after "The Count" jeered "go back to wrestling!" after the Hamill fight. In retrospect, maybe that's because Hamill seems like the least deserving of any taunts. Now, I kind of like Bisping and have always respected his skills. Dropping for takedowns seems like a must: for scoring credit, for the chance to exploit Stann's grappling defense but mostly to take the edge off Stann's KO power and make him hesitant to plant his feet and tee off. That goes for open space and in the clinch, because Stann loves to go high with single and double collar ties and attacking his waist will force him into defense mode. I envision this going a lot like Bisping vs. Leben but with the former sprinkling in takedown attempts to diversify his offense. Michael Bisping by decision.
Ben Thapa: Enough analysis has been given above. Bisping is a better fighter and should win this handily with a dominant decision that is going to look much more like the Mayhem Miller fight than Stann fans will like. Bisping, decision.
Staff picking Bisping: Mookie, Fraser, Stephie, David, Grant, Brookhouse, Tim, Dallas, Ben
Staff picking Stann: Anton
Tim Burke: I highly doubt that a year off has hurt Hamill's game. If anything, it has just allowed him to heal up a bit. He'll bring the same skills to the table - solid wrestling, average boxing, good chin, a lot of heart. Hollett was brought in to lose to Hamill. He's solid enough, but has lost against even every B-level fighter he's faced. This one seems easy to me. Matt Hamill by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Hamill is gunning for that Jones rematch! Hamill by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I hate picking fights like this. Hamill is just such a wild card here, as it's impossible to know how he will be on fight night. Had this been Hamill vs. Vlady, I would have picked The Janitor in a heartbeat. Now? I'm torn. But screw it, I say the ring rust is too much and that Hamill takes this too lightly and pays the price. Roger Hollett by KO, round 1
David Castillo: Hollett is a classic example of looking more imposing than he actually is. Not that Hamill is some kind of lock, but he's generally pretty tough, so I don't expect one shot to do it. If Matt can drag him into ‘deep waters', then I expect Hollett to slowly succumb to some Carwin form of Acidosis. I honestly don't how to analyze the matchup though, as it's difficult to say how the ring rust will affect Hamill. Matt Hamill by TKO, round 2.
Dallas Winston: Questions abound with both fighters, summarized best by Hamill's layoff and drive after the quasi-retirement and Hollett's true worth at the top level and how much his knee injury played into his losses to Newton and Heath. Considering those risks, I feel much more comfortable gambling on Hamill, even though his striking defense is ultra-sketchy and hasn't improved. Hollett has searing power and countering skills at close range, and his mean left hook and uppercut could find a home. However, he'll have to capitalize quickly and effectively as Hamill drops levels to counter in-fighting and Hollett's takedown defense doesn't seem up to specs. Matt Hamill by decision.
Ben Thapa: We deaf grapplers must unite against the non-sympathetic hearing masses. Even if this one happens to be Canadian. Hollett is a good fighter who has been shaky in the past. Don't be put off by the heart scare. However, I genuinely think Hamill will plant Hollett on the ground and work to a a stoppage by a thunderous flurry of elbows and fists that neither he nor I can actually hear. Hamill, KO, Round 2.
Staff picking Hamill: Mookie, Anton, David, Tim, Dallas, Ben
Staff picking Hollett: Fraser, Stephie, Grant, Brookhouse
Brent Brookhouse: Swanson's recent performances have given others more faith than I have that he's suddenly flipped a switch and gotten better than he has been at any other point in his career. Oliveira was overrated, now he's probably a bit underrated because it's always one extreme or the other with people. Oliveira is a touch better and, assuming he decides he wants to be on the ground, is much better in that area. Charles Oliveira by submission, round 2.
Tim Burke: Oliveira is way more athletic, he's faster, he's better on the ground, and he's more polished (except for his sometimes-scary striking defense). Cub is still Cub. I love what he did to Ross Pearson, and Swanson will put on a helluva show against guys that will stand and trade with him. But Oliveira won't do that for 15 minutes. He'll jump on him and strangle him long before the final horn. Charles Oliveira by submission, round 2.
Mookie Alexander: At last, something involving a Cub's relevancy in September! Anyway, I'm a huge Oliveira fan, but this is a bad matchup for him. There's a big concern I have with his striking, and it's his head movement. Actually, he hasn't shown much head movement which is why both Cerrone and Brookins were able to land so well. Swanson has serious KO power and I'm not sure this fight will go to the ground as a result. Swanson by KO in the 2nd round.
Fraser Coffeen: Both guys have real skills and weaknesses to their games, and what makes this so interesting is how those skills play right into the opponent's weakness. Oliveira has striking issues, that could get him KO'd, while Swanson has ground issues that could get him tapped. I go back to the old UFC days and say that, inevitably, the fight ends up on the ground. Charles Oliveira by submission, round 1
David Castillo: Both guys being talented, but loose cannons is essentially what makes this fight so difficult to pick. On the one hand, we've seen Charles be defensively liable on the feet. On the other, we've seen Swanson be defensively liable on the ground...in both cases, their opponents excel where they're lacking. I'm not sure Cub has the power to put Charles away so easily. But I'm not sure Swanson is strong enough in the clinch to avoid being put on his back. And the coin flip says...Charles Oliveira by Decision.
Dallas Winston: The appeal of this match is that Oliveira and Swanson are crowd pleasers, mostly because they'll fearlessly take risks and pounce on the slightest opportunity, then use sheer creativity and talent to escape the unfavorable position if they're not successful. Cub is an all-time personal favorite, and I'm not entirely sold on Oliveira: the opponents he trampled were all 2-dimensional and facing a serious disadvantage in at least one aspect and he's never had to battle through alarming adversity. Though it feels wrong, I'm assenting to logic and taking Oliveira for his sick grappling coupled with his length and clean Thai combinations. Charles Oliveira by submission.
Ben Thapa: Fraser has this one exactly right. It's a terrific match-up in terms of styles - so good that I call this one the hardest to pick on the main card - and betting on which one wins out has probably driven some people nuts already. I'm flashing back to Do Bronx's work against Efrain Escudero (although Cub is a better fighter), where the striking led directly into a flashy rear naked choke. Something of that ilk is about to happen again. I feel it. Hopefully, my wallet doesn't take the hit. Oliveira, submission.
Staff picking Oliveira: Anton, Fraser, David, Grant, Brookhouse, Tim, Dallas, Ben
Staff picking Swanson: Mookie, Stephie
Brent Brookhouse: Vinny was fighting some real junk on the M-1 circuit and still looked incredibly vulnerable at times. He's also been off for almost a full year. I probably should pick him, but I just don't trust anything about him and think Pokrajac can catch him early. Igor Pokrajac by TKO, round 1.
Tim Burke: Vinny seems like a good dude, but I still don't think he's UFC-caliber. How can you measure how much someone has improved when he's fighting guys that wouldn't even crack the top 50 in their weight class? I think Pokrajac catches him early and pounds him out. Igor Pokrajac by TKO, round 1
Mookie Alexander: Striker vs. Grappler, but Magalhaes' striking has improved enough that I even give him a slight chance on the feet as well. I see him getting Igor down and submitting him easily. Magalhaes by submission in the 1st round.
Anton Tabuena: Welcome back, go choke him out. Vinny Magalhaes by Submission.
David Castillo: Just to reiterate, I think Vinny understands what his strengths are, and will do everything in his power to get the fight to the ground where we can ‘ooh' and ‘aah' his ground acumen. Still, I expect an ugly fight like the rest of his bouts in M-1. Vinny Magalhaes by Decision.
Dallas Winston: Pokrajac has always been another face in the crowd but I've grown to respect his grit and nasty striking. Vinny's size advantage will be helpful in grounding the fight but Pokrajac's a banger at close range with feisty takedown defense. Igor Pokrajac by TKO.
Ben Thapa: Vinny is really one of the smartest fighters to interact with online. However, smart doesn't necessarily translate over superbly to fightin' and his M-1 career showed that. The Zayats head kick KO came after being given fits in the striking game and he couldn't get the ground game going there. Pokrajac is less good on the ground than Zayats, but better than Nemkov - who Vinny had to take three rounds to put away with a terrific gogoplata. I think we'll see another third round sub here as Vinny slowly constricts Igor's gas tank to a crumpled shell of itself through top game pressure. Magalhaes, sub, Round 3.
Staff picking Magalhaes: Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Stephie, David, Grant, Ben
Staff picking Pokrajac: Brookhouse, Tim, Dallas
Tim Burke: Evan Dunham is still a very underrated fighter, and he's done very well against wrestlers so far. Sure he got popped by Guillard with the first punch of the fight and never really recovered, but he's generally got a pretty good chin and grapples very well. I like T.J. Grant and think he has a lot of potential at lightweight, but Dunham is just a bad matchup for him right now. Evan Dunham by decision.
Mookie Alexander: If Dunham doesn't just throw away the first round like he normally does, he should win this easily. This is a sleeper for FOTN and I'm hoping for plenty of scrambles and submission attempts. Dunham has the clear edge in striking, though, and that will be the difference here. Dunham by decision.
Anton Tabuena: Dunham should win this pretty easily. Evan Dunham by a lopsided Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Great fight here, but I'm surprised that some think this is a clear win for Dunham. Grant has looked really good at 155, despite my fears that the weight cut would be too much for him. I think he ties Dunham up, gets it to the ground, and out grapples him for the win. T.J. Grant by decision
David Castillo: Dunham is still too slap-happy on the feet for me to ever pick him with confidence, and I think TJ's size will be a factor here. Once it hits the ground, it's Grant who will have the edge. TJ Grant by Decision.
Dallas Winston: The good and bad with Dunham is that he's B+ to A- level in three dimensions (striking, wrestling, subs). As the age old term "hybrid fighting" was intended, this gives him the luxury to pinpoint his opponent's weakness and exploit it, but is cause for concern when tangling with an outright specialist. Grant is a devastating submission grappler, strong for 155 and improved as a striker. Per that formula, the burden is on Grant to enforce his best scenario. He's smart and commits to long punches before tying up and pursuing takedowns but I'm leaning Dunham as long as he respects Grant by circling persistently and keeping space. Evan Dunham by decision.
Staff picking Dunham: Mookie, Anton, Grant, Tim, Dallas, Ben
Staff picking Grant: Fraser, Stephie, David, Brookhouse
Tim Burke: Benoist has looked good in the UFC thus far, but I wonder how much he has recovered from the death of his twin brother. That happened about a month before the Baczynski fight, and he has said that he wasn't there mentally that night. It's really tough to make calls on fights like this. I do think Pierson has the wrestling and sub defense to make sure he doesn't get worked on the ground, and he can win a standing battle. Sean Pierson by split decision.
Dallas Winston: This as tough as any to call on the card. I didn't realize what Tim revealed above about Benoist's brother either. Pierson is a guy I'd generally pick against mid-level talent but I have Benoist pegged as a solid prospect and he showed some innovative wrestling transitions in his last. Lance Benoist by decision.
Staff picking Benoist: Mookie, Fraser, Stephie, David, Grant, Brookhouse, Dallas, Ben
Staff picking Pierson: Anton, Tim
Tim Burke: Hettes is going to work. This is going to be the submission of the night. Jimy Hettes by submission, round 1.
Mookie Alexander: This is a showcase fight for Hettes. Hettes by submission (RNC).
David Castillo: It might be difficult tying a speedster up like Brimage, but Hettes will get there eventually, and seal the deal. Jim Hettes by submission.
Dallas Winston: I think Brimage could become one of those hard-nosed TUF products who ends up hanging around and earning respect, ala Bruce Leroy. I also like that he's been immersed with UFC talent after having only 4 pro fights, which usually signals an outburst of improvement and maturity. I agree with Castillo in that Hettes will struggle to ground the quick mini-fire-hydrant. Though Hettes is tall for 145 (5'10") with solid Judo, that's not the best weapon for toppling a short, beefy-built striker with incredible quickness. Logic points to Hettes but, at odds in the +360 range, Brimage is the best chance-bet on the card. Jim Hettes by submission.
Staff picking Brimage:
Staff picking Hettes: Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Stephie, David, Grant, Brookhouse, Tim, Dallas, Ben
Tim Burke: I like Thoresen, but he's a specialist and he hasn't faced anyone like Baczynski before. Thoresen is used to having the height/reach advantage but he won't here, and Seth is good everywhere. It's unlikely he'll get submitted, and he should be able to take a decision. Seth Baczynski by decision.
Dallas Winston: Actually Thoresen will have the reach advantage, mostly because his length is Bones-like (79" reach). Still, I've been super impressed with Baczynski's heart and his height and strength make him a mauler in the clinch. Should be a bad match up for Thoresen. Seth Baczynski by TKO.
Staff picking Baczynski: Anton, Fraser, Stephie, David, Brookhouse, Tim, Dallas
Staff picking Thoresen: Mookie, Grant, Ben
Tim Burke: This one's kinda weird. Watson looks good against strikers and bad against grapplers. Gagnon's a grappler. I'm leaning towards team Canada here. Mitch Gagnon by guillitone, round 1.
Mookie Alexander: Watson looked atrocious in his last fight and Gagnon is more than capable of tiring him out on the ground and getting the W. Gagnon by decision.
Dallas Winston: Watson is another cat who seems to ooze future potential and his size/length is unparalleled for 135. He fights like he's unsure of his strengths but has shown shades of brilliance in his striking and sub-grappling. Gagnon is the safer pick but I'll take a chance on "The Gazelle." Walel Watson by decision.
Staff picking Gagnon: Mookie, Fraser, Stephie, Grant, Brookhouse, Tim
Staff picking Watson: Anton, David, Ben, Dallas
Tim Burke: Charlie's got that wrestling. Noke is a good, well-rounded fighter that's probably a better fighter at 170, but the wrestling is the fight-changer. Remember Noke vs. Kris McCray on TUF? Noke had no answer for it. I'm rooting for Noke, but it's gonna be Charlie Brenneman by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Brenneman is a poor man's Clay Guida. He has mediocre striking, lacks effective ground-and-pound, but he has very good wrestling, tenacity, cardio, tremendous heart, and grinds out guys who aren't top 15 opposition. This is a no-brainer. Brenneman by decision.
Dallas Winston: Noke was buried and contained under lesser wrestlers. Charlie Brenneman by decision.
Staff picking Brenneman: Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Stephie, David, Grant, Brookhouse, Tim, Ben, Dallas
Staff picking Noke: