Demetrious Johnson vs. John Dodson
Brent Brookhouse : I just don’t see Dodson having a great shot here. He’s fast, Johnson is as fast if not faster. Johnson has better wrestling and I like his striking more. Dodson probably has the power punching edge but that doesn’t really matter if he can’t land. Demetrious Johnson by decision.
Tim Burke: There has been a lot of focus on Dodson’s speed, but I think the focus should be on his hands. Can he clip Mighty Mouse? I really don’t feel like he can, at least not enough to hurt him or stop the fight. Johnson’s wrestling makes all the difference in the world here. Demetrious Johnson by decision.
Mookie Alexander: I will not (again) pick against Demetrious Johnson and end up getting burned. Dodson has a lot of power for a smaller guy, but Mighty Mouse is frustratingly hard to hit and he recovers well even when he does get cracked. I give the wrestling advantage to Mighty Mouse although I don’t see him holding Dodson down for an extended period of time. Unfortunately I don’t think this is the type of fight that will get casuals excited no matter how fast the pace is, but Demetrious’ talent can’t be denied and he will deliver another solid performance to defend his belt. Demetrious Johnson by unanimous decision.
T.P. Grant: I don’t think Dodson is the man to unseat Johnson. Everything Dodson does, Johnson does better. Johnson is the better wrestler, the better grappler and is as good a striker. The one edge Dodson does have is in punching power, but I think much of that comes from facing less than fantastic competition. Johnson has been in with some of the best Flyweights this young division has to offer. Demetrious Johnson by Decision.
David Castillo: Dodson’s best chance is to be aggressive, and swing for the fences early, otherwise Mo will just grind out the victory. Which is what will likely happen. Johnson is too saavy and smart whereas Dodson is at times, aimless, and apathetic. No insight here: I expect this match to look a lot like Edgar/Henderson, but with a clear winner. Demetrious Johnson by Decision.
Staff picking Johnson: ZP, Stephie, Mookie, Grant, Fraser, David, Brookhouse, Anton, Tim, Dallas
Staff picking Dodson:
Quinton Jackson vs. Glover Teixeira
Brent Brookhouse : It’d be fun to think "oh man, now you pissed Rampage off and he’s gonna be out to prove something!" But isn’t that what part of the story was with the Bader fight too? Can Jackson win? Sure! Will he? I doubt it. It’ll be fun if he does though. Glover Teixeira by decision.
Tim Burke: I’m gonna do it. I’m picking Rampage. He’s an excellent counterfighter and Teixeira leaves himself wiiiide open when he throws strikes. If the gameplan is to take Rampage down, why is that so easy all of a sudden? Teixiera isn’t Jon Jones. Throw in Glover’s tank issues, and you have the makings for an upset. This isn’t about motivation, or acting, or leaving. It’s about the skills matchup. And Rampage matches up very, very well with Glover here. Quinton Jackson by TKO, round 2.
Mookie Alexander : T.P echoes my thoughts below, I want to pick Rampage, but I can’t. This is the exact type of fight that’s a pain in the ass to predict because when he’s on his game, he can beat Teixeira. But it’s just as likely that Rampage simply phones this in, picks up his paycheck and heads off to whatever organization picks him up. Much like "Which BJ Penn will show up?", I’m not going to pick based on "full potential Rampage". Teixeira will pepper Rampage on the feet, avoid the left hook, and end Rampage’s UFC career with a loss. Glover Teixeira by lopsided decision.
T.P. Grant: I just cannot pick Jackson right now. He has been mentally checked out of the fight game for a while now. He presents stylistic problems to Teixeira, but I don’t know if Rampage will be in the right shape or frame of mind to take advantage of anything. Glover Teixeira by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen : Time for a Rampage Jackson reality check. The last time he decisively won against a top 10 opponent was Hendo in 2007. The last time he looked like he actually gave a crap was against Lyoto in 2010. New Rampage, old Rampage... whatever. The guy doesn’t care anymore. The only tough question here is, will Glover finish him. I suspect not, though am prepared to be wrong in that regard. Glover Teixeira by decision
David Castillo: I’m tempted to pick the upset, like I did with Saffiedine. If only Rampage wasn’t more interested in calling acting "gay", and making videos for sub-humans. I do think Quinton has what it takes to beat Glover- a guy who continues to ride a hype train that’s been built on destroying the Kingsbury’s and Eastmans of the world. Granted, I’m no skeptic- he’s talented as hell, does what great fighters do to lesser fighters, is a beast on the feet, and once outpointed Dean Lister in a grappling match. Still, a motivated Rampage has the chin to withstand Glover’s onslaught, and if the Maldonado fight was any indication, the power to put Glover to sleep. Will he? Screw it...I’m picking rampage. Glover will be inside enough to allow Rampage a shot at his chin, the crowd will go nuts when the fight turns into Barry/Kongo, and Jackson will go back to making stupid videos and pretending to be Denzel Washington; for a guy with Quinton’s personality, it seems like a fitting swan song. Quinton Jackson by TKO, round 1.
Staff picking Jackson: David, Tim, Dallas
Staff picking Teixeira: ZP, Stephie, Mookie, Grant, Fraser, Brookhouse, Anton
Donald Cerrone vs. Anthony Pettis
Brent Brookhouse : Cerrone is a really, really good lightweight. And I still think that Pettis beats him pretty handily here. It’s going to be a good fight, I don’t really see much potential for this to disappoint. But I think Pettis has control for basically all 15 minutes, but this should be a 5 rounder. Anthony Pettis by decision.
Tim Burke: I’ve been torn on this fight ever since it was announced. I still believe that Cerrone is a better technical kickboxer in the cage than Pettis is. Pettis is more athletic for sure, but Cerrone is more accurate. Pettis is also coming off an injury layoff. All hail the WEC! Donald Cerrone by decision.
Mookie Alexander : Just pencil this in for FOTN. The only thing to criticize about this fight is that it’s not 5 rounds, but it’s not a main event so it can’t go 5. I’m concerned about Pettis’ relative inactivity since 2011, but there’s no denying his talent. He does a good job of landing quality shots without taking punishment, and while Cerrone is clearly a formidable striker, he is susceptible to defensive lapses at the risk of over-aggression. The only edge I’d give to Cerrone is his submissions game, which he does an excellent job of using after hurting his opponent. I’ll go with Pettis based on his dynamic and powerful striking + athleticism, but Cowboy absolutely should not be written off here. Oh, and WEC NEVER DIE! Anthony Pettis by decision.
T.P. Grant: Bust out the blue gloves and the Versus logo because we are gonna party like it is 2009! An instant WEC classic being held in the UFC and I can’t wait to watch it. I think Cerrone’s very physical style, superior strength, and tough clinch fighting will give him the edge. Pettis struggled with the physical styles of Guida and Stephens and Cerrone has much better striking than either of those fighters, is larger, and is an underrated grappler. Donald Cerrone by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Great fight here and super close. A lot of people kind of wrote Pettis off after a rough start in the UFC, but Cerrone is a good opponent for him. Cowboy is a good striker, but he can be outstruck, and I think Pettis will do that here. I don’t see it going to the ground, but if it does, Cerrone is better, but not by a significant enough margin to make a major difference. Anthony Pettis by decision
David Castillo: The only thing I don’t like about this fight is that we still don’t know if Pettis can deal with wrestle-boxers: it’s hard to erase the memory of his Stephens fight, nevermind the Guida match. Having said that, this is the main event for me. ANd I think Pettis takes a fairly comfortable decision. He’s more calculated on the feet, with very little wasted energy. I expect this to be a much more technical affair than some might assume, but to me, that just makes it more interesting. Anthony Pettis by Decision.
Staff picking Cerrone: Grant, Tim, Dallas
Staff picking Pettis: ZP, Stephie, Mookie, Fraser, David, Brookhouse, Anton
Erik Koch vs. Ricardo Lamas
Brent Brookhouse: I think Koch is going to dirty this fight up and make it very uncomfortable for Lamas. I think he can bother him early and finish him off around the halfway mark of the fight. Erik Koch by TKO, round 2.
Tim Burke: I love this fight. Koch is better standing, but his long injury layoff worries me a bit. Lamas’ wrestling is the key here - if he uses it effectively, he can take a decision. But I have a feeling he’s going to get knocked out with a head kick or something before he gets the chance. Erik Koch by TKO, round 1.
Mookie Alexander : If you’re reading this from the top of the article downwards, I am indeed picking all 4 main card fights to go the distance. That doesn’t mean they’ll be boring, but it’s just a gut feeling. Koch hasn’t fought in 16 months, Lamas has clearly found his calling at 145, and as entertaining as Koch is to watch -- well, as long as Jonathan Brookins isn’t wall-and-stalling him for 15 minutes -- he did lose to Chad Mendes back in the WEC. Lamas’ wrestling is not at Mendes’ level, but he has a very solid all-around game that poses problems for Koch, and the wrestling disparity is the primary reason for me picking him. Ricardo Lamas by unanimous decision .
T.P. Grant: I like both these fighters, Koch is a fantastic young fighter and Lamas is a gritty veteran. I think this one comes down to the long layoff of Koch and the fact Lamas is very well rounded. I think Lamas gets Koch down and grinds him down. Ricardo Lamas by Submission, Round 3.
David Castillo: If it goes to a decision, Lamas wins, but I think Koch has enough power to cut that hour glass short. Lamas has always had trouble with guys who can crack, and even though Koch isn’t necessarily a one hitter quitter type, he’s accurate, and I think he eventually finds Ricardo’s chin in this one. Erik Koch by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Koch: David, Brookhouse, Anton, Tim
Staff picking Lamas: ZP, Stephie, Grant, Fraser, Mookie, Dallas
T.J. Grant vs. Matt Wiman
Tim Burke : Another awesome fight. I was very surprised that Grant beat Evan Dunham, and he’s not getting the credit he deserves. Wiman most definitely needs to keep Grant off of him. He tends to lose kickboxing battles and handles nearly everyone else with his grit and determination though. I hate going against the Canadian and I’ll be happy no matter who wins, but I like Wiman here. Matt Wiman by decision.
Mookie Alexander : I love this fight so much. Grant is known as a submissions guy, but he impressively picked apart Evan Dunham, something only Melvin Guillard was able to do. Wiman avoided Paul Sass’ "Sassangle" and pulled off an armbar win on the Brit. This is a pick ‘em fight to me. I’ll give the edge to Wiman based on the striking, where he is a little more technical and more powerful. If Grant can pull off the W that is huge for his contender aspirations. Wiman has fought in the UFC long enough that while he probably isn’t going to get a title shot any time soon, has proven more than capable of handling anyone outside of the top 10-15 in the 155 lbs division. Matt Wiman by decision .
T.P. Grant: I, like Mookie, love this fight. Two really good mixed martial artists who should be fun to watch fight no matter where the fight is taking place. Also like Mookie I see this as a toss up fight. Grant is a grappler with underrated striking, while Wiman is a wrestle-boxer with underrated submissions, though maybe not so much after armbaring Sass. I’ll go with Grant, he has looked like a beast since dropped down to Lightweight and I think he is marching towards contention. T.J. Grant by Decision.
Anton Tabuena: Was anyone surprised that T.P. Grant picked T.J. Grant? Matt Wiman by Decision.
David Castillo: Awesome fight. Grant’s the cleaner fighter though. As good as Wiman is, he’s still reckless. I mean, Thiago Tavares landed blistering punches on him for god’s sake. Matt’s improved only a little since then, but is more or less the same guy bouncing up and down all the time. Plus Grant’s size will play a factor. T.J. Grant by Decision.
Staff picking Grant: Stephie, Grant, Fraser, David
Staff picking Wiman: ZP, Mookie, Brookhouse, Anton, Tim, Dallas
Clay Guida vs. Hatsu Hioki
Brent Brookhouse: This has the potential to be really interesting to watch, or being brutally boring. It all hinges on if the fighters risk danger by attacking for the win, or if they try to avoid danger and allow it to be a slow, boring positional battle. Either way, it should be a Guida win. Clay Guida by decision.
Tim Burke: This is just a weird fight. If Guida can hold down Pettis, he can hold down Hioki. As much as I like Hioki’s style, he has to be the one in charge of the grappling to get anywhere, and I can’t see how he outgrapples Guida here. I just can’t. I WANT to, but I can’t. Clay Guida by decision.
Anton Tabuena: Hioki looked bad on his last fight, but cmon guys, Guida shouldn’t be able to beat him on the ground. Hatsu Hioki by Decision.
Mookie Alexander : Alright, I come into this with bias of being a Guida fan. But I think this will be a fun fight. There should be some great scrambles and hopefully Guida abandons shoulder strikes from closed guard for advancing position. A lot of his tentativeness on the feet I believe (beyond his historically unremarkable striking) comes from fighting guys who are more likely to pose problems on the feet than on the ground. Hence, he was barely active on the feet against Gomi and Pettis, stopped throwing punches from a reasonable range against Maynard after the 2nd round, but had absolutely no issues slugging it out with Ben Henderson and Diego Sanchez in the early stages of those fights. Hioki won’t be able to cope with Guida’s wrestling, and although he poses a submission threat that I think Guida will be able to effectively neutralize. Clay Guida by unanimous decision .
T.P. Grant: Guida has finally moved down to Featherweight, but did he do it too late and miss his peak as a fighter? This fight might give us a hint to the answer. The Guida of 2011 would have been a real player at Featherweight, but the Clay Guida match was a real head scratcher. Guida should be able to do his thing against Hioki, wrestle him, grind on him and stay super active. But if Guida is too inside his own head Hioki might pull it out. I’ll take Guida in the safe pick. Clay Guida by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: The fighters coming over from Japan have typically struggled against your classic grinding wrestlers, and that embodies Clay Guida. He fell in love with his striking too much against Maynard, and it cost him, but I think he and Greg Jackson play it smart this time and ride out a wrestling based win. Clay Guida by decision
David Castillo: As much as people despise the Guida/Maynard scrap, I find myself rewatching bits of that fight every now and then. If there’s not a youtube compilation of prizefighters deliberately eating punches out of either frustration, or faux-bravado, then there should be. Anyway, I’m tempted to say Hioki goes all Yasuke Endo on Guida, but I doubt it. Guida will successfully keep it on the feet, where he probably wins just by confusing Hatsu. Though he seemed to understand that his performance was terrible against Gray in his recent blog (sort of), so maybe he’ll be a sincere kind of active and not just stand-and-mosh again. I’m probably gonna hate watching this fight. Clay Guida by Decision.
Staff picking Guida: Stephie, Mookie, Grant, Fraser, David, Brookhouse, Tim
Staff picking Hioki: ZP, Anton, Dallas
Ryan Bader vs. Vladimir Matyushenko
Brent Brookhouse: Matyushenko is breaking down a bit, I think that’s pretty easy to see. Bader is...good enough. Not spectacular, not a special fighter. But good enough to win fights like this. Ryan Bader by TKO, round 2.
Tim Burke: The 42-year-old Janitor is coming off a long injury layoff and has had his chin dented by Gustafsson the last time he was in the cage. Bader’s striking is still pretty ugly, but he packs a ton of power. Bader’s also the better, more athletic wrestler nowadays. I just don’t see Matyushenko having a good night. Ryan Bader by TKO, round 1.
Mookie Alexander : Two ways Bader can win this - He can fire away his powerful right hand and Matyushenko will sure enough fall like a ton of bricks. He can also grind out a decision with his wrestling, which isn’t a slam dunk even against 2013 Vlad. I’ll go with option #1. Ryan Bader by KO, round 2.
T.P. Grant: I have nothing but respect for Vlad, the man has had an awesome career, but he is 42-years-old and Ryan Bader isn’t Jason Brilz. Bader has had his rough spots, but he is still a Top 10 guy at Light Heavyweight and should be able to land some right hands on Vlad and stop his takedowns. Ryan Bader by TKO, Round 1.
Staff picking Bader: Stephie, Mookie, Grant, Fraser, David, Brookhouse, Anton, Tim, Dallas
Staff picking Matyushenko: ZP
David Mitchell vs. Simeon Thoresen
Tim Burke : Mitchell hung in there with two good submission guys in Whataburger and Thiago and didn’t get subbed. Can Thoresen do it? I don’t think so. But I think Thoresen is the better grappler overall and he can take a decision. Simeon Thoresen by decision.
Mookie Alexander : I forgot that Mitchell was in the UFC. He won’t be after this weekend. Simeon Thoresen by submission, round 1.
T.P. Grant: Two submission aces meeting up we could get some excellent grappling or, more likely, some awful kickboxing. Mitchell has nice guard skills but has very little wrestling or striking and often ends up pulling guard in fights. Thoresen on the other hand, while not a fantastic striker, is at least competent with his strikes and is a pretty good wrestler. Thoresen will dictate this fight to Mitchell and should come away with the win. Simeon Thoresen by Decision.
Staff picking Mitchell:
Staff picking Thoresen: ZP, Stephie, Mookie, Grant, Fraser, David, Brookhouse, Anton, Tim, Dallas
Shawn Jordan vs. Mike Russow
Tim Burke : My problem with Jordan is his level of competition. He’s a big, athletic 250-pounder with some good skills, but Russow isn’t like anything he’s faced before. Russow can take a beating and dish it right back, plus he has some underrated submission skills that will give Jordan some trouble on the mat. Hammerfist of Doom FTW. Mike Russow by submission, round 2.
Mookie Alexander: I’d be willing to completely throw away a fight in the BE staff predictions race just so I can wax poetic about Mike Russow’s hammerfist of doom. I find it amazing that any state -- although Texas probably wouldn’t be a shock -- would license Mike Russow to fight. He is a man possessed with a nuclear-grade weapon in the shape of a closed hand and it’s an unfair advantage. When he finished Todd Duffee with his "human whack-a-mole mallet" of a hammerfist, I feared for all humanity. Would it be possible for any human being to responsibly use such a violent technique ever again? Why do you think Fabricio Werdum decided to stop Russow on the feet instead of even passing an inkling of a thought in his brain about pulling guard? I’m predicting a Russow KO, followed up by a federal investigation into how Mike acquired this much power. Not even Che Mills has this level of weaponry. Mike Russow by KO, round 1
T.P. Grant : All kidding aside Russow is actually a solid gatekeeper for the UFC heavyweight division. Shawn Jordan had a chance to move up the heavyweight ladder but turned in a real stinker against Cheick Kongo. I don’t think Jordan is anything special but I think he is more than able to survive whatever Russow has to offer. Shawn Jordan by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: People picking Jordan are nuts. Yes Russow got nuked by Werdum, and he’s by no means an elite fighter, but he gets the job done, ugly though it may be. The guy has a head of iron, and an ability to stay in it for the full 15 minutes. Against lower level Heavyweights, that’s enough for a win. Russow’s only defeats come against serious high level guys, and that’s not Jordan. Mike Russow by KO, round 2
Staff picking Jordan:ZP, Stephie, Grant, Anton
Staff picking Russow: Mookie, Fraser, David, Brookhouse, Tim, Dallas
Pascal Krauss vs. Mike Stumpf
Tim Burke: Krauss’ nickname is Panzer. That’s a cool nickname to me. It’s better than having a last name than ends in an f. Pascal Krauss by submission, round 2.
T.P. Grant: Krauss got sent back the drawing board the last time he was on Fox and we will see if his time off has been well spent. Stumpf has also been away from the Octagon for some time, well over a year in fact. Krauss is well rounded while Stumpf is more of a ground fighter who will look to replicate Hathaway’s success against Krauss on the ground. I think we see Krauss make some strides in his striking and his grappling and take this one in three rounds. Pascal Krauss by Decision.
Staff picking Krauss: ZP, Stephie, Mookie, Grant, Fraser, Krauss, Brookhouse, Anton, Tim, Dallas
Staff picking Stumpf:
Rafael Natal vs. Sean Spencer
Tim Burke: I don’t think anyone could possibly explain Spencer better than Grant does below, so I’ma just go with that. But I’ll throw in a finish just for fun. Rafael Natal by submission, round 2.
T.P. Grant: Spencer got plugged in on short notice and represents a big shift in opponent for Natal, who was preparing for Magnus Cedenblad, primarily a grappler. Spencer is mainly a boxer with very smooth footwork and pretty decent wrestling. Spencer likes to mix in takedowns to catch grapplers off balance and work some quick GnP before standing back up and going back to striking. That said Spencer doesn’t have big power, and Natal has a huge edge in terms of ground fighting. Spencer is also lacking in terms of checking kicks and defending against knees in the clinch. I’ll take Natal in a fight that could end up being rather competitive in stretches. Rafael Natal by Decision.
Staff picking Natal: ZP, Stephie, Mookie, Grant, Fraser, David, Brookhouse, Anton, Dallas
Staff picking Spencer: