Tim Burke: I'm honestly shocked that people think Belfort is going to TkO or KO Hendo. Really? He could sub him, but TKO him? Nyet, son. Dan Henderson by decision.
Anton Tabuena: Clash of the TRTitans! Okay, that was bad... Anyway, as much as the fan in me would want to see the H-Bomb detonate on Vitor's face, I just don't think it will happen. Belfort will probably be too quick for Hendo, and it will end up with him getting dominated. It will probably take a few bombs coupled with some back of the head shots to get it done, but I think it's Vitor Belfort by late TKO.
Mookie Alexander: It's going to happen. Dan Henderson is going to be knocked out for the first time in his career. Henderson either has to land the H-Bomb early or use his wrestling to put Vitor down and try and wear him out. H-Bomb seems more likely in that case. Beyond that, Vitor wins the TRT Bowl with speed, power, and precision. Vitor Belfort by TKO, round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: I have a real tough time with this one, and the fact that it's looking like we're picking a Belfort wash-out makes me nervous. This new version is Vitor is very impressive, no doubt. He's got the KO power from his youth, combined with a patience he never had, which is scary. He's the mature version of The Phenom, and that's a good thing. Meanwhile, Hendo is getting older, and it's been awhile since he looked really sharp all fight. I hate completely writing Dan Henderson off like this, but I think it's the right call. Vitor Belfort by KO round 1
Zane Simon: It's what I believe will be the first fight in UFC history in which both fighters were legally on steroids and in some way that feels damning. Whatever the effect, however, Henderson should look at switching to Vitor's doctor because he's obviously been on the good stuff. Hendo's hard head and Vitor's new patience mean that I think this gets out of the first round. After that though, I'm going Belfort all the way. Vitor Belfort by KO.
Dallas Winston: From what I remember of their first encounter, it was an entirely uneventful and fairly one-sided affair that hinged solely on Hendo's wrestling and top control. Oddly enough, that's also the last Hendo fight I can remember of that nature, as he blasted out Wandy after that and it's been all heat-seeking missiles ever since. It's not like it's a walk in the park for Hendo if he re-adopted that strategy, but it certainly seems like the most lucrative approach. Overall, Vitor has tweaked his style much more and, despite loads of unconscious opponents, Hendo has somewhat shrunken his repertoire. I'm taking Vitor, but Hendo's chin, toughness and power are still amongst the best in MMA, and that's a dangerous combination for Vitor, especially in a five-rounder. Which ... I think .... just changed my pick to Dan Henderson by late TKO.
Connor Ruebusch: I'm with Fraser in feeling a little anxious about Vitor's overwhelming pick majority here. Hendo beat Vitor with his wrestling the first time around, and while he hasn't gone back to that well in a long time, he could very well take the wise course and try to stifle Vitor over five rounds, or until he gasses. I'm just not confident that he will, though. He could have wrestled Shogun, Anderson, and Machida, and chose not to. He has too much confidence in his hands for his own good, and at this age, perhaps too much confidence in his chin. If Vitor plays the patient killer again, he could very well be the first man to knock Hendo out. Vitor Belfort by TKO, round 3.
Staff picking Belfort: Mookie, Stephie, Grant, DSM, Fraser, Zane, Anton, Connor
Staff picking Hendo: Dallas, Tim
Tim Burke: Such a good fight. Sarafian needs to get it done in the first half of the fight if he's going to win. And I think he will. Daniel Sarafian by TKO, round 2
Mookie Alexander: Is this for the lineal TUF Brazil 1 title? Or is this just to decide "the real TUF Brazil" champ after Sarafian pulled out with an injury? Ferreira getting rocked by Sergio Moraes multiple times concerns me, but he's got good power and his size will give Sarafian fits. Teenage Mutante Ninja Turtle by decision.
Zane Simon: Deep down I worry that Sarafian is going to be one of those fighters I want to be better than he ultimately will be. He seems drastically undersized at middleweight, but his boxy frame may make cutting to welterweight an inauspicious task that brings no better results. Mutante isn't a technical wizard, but he's a physical beast and big at 185 lbs. I'm picking Mutante, but I expect Sarafian will make it exciting. Cezar Ferreira by Decision.
Connor Ruebusch: There's a solid chance I'm only feeling Sarafian here because the memory of him getting jobbed against C.B. Dolloway is still all too fresh in my mind. That loss, and the injury that prevented him from fighting in the TUF finale make me feel like the man just deserves better. He's exciting, has dynamic grappling (recall the deep half sweeps on Dolloway), and throws flying knees like jabs. Mutante certainly has it in him to beat Sarafian, but I see him hurting Ferreira and pulling out the submission. Daniel Sarafian by Submission (arm triangle choke), round 2.
Staff picking Mutante: Mookie, Stephie, Fraser, Grant, DSM, Zane, Anton
Staff picking Sarafian: Dallas, Connor, Tim
Mookie Alexander: Feijao looked absolutely terrible in his last fight, but he hits hard and is a better striker than Pokrajac, who was almost finished by the legendary Ryan Jimmo. Feijao by KO, round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: I really dislike picking Feijao, who seems totally shot and just unimpressive. But Pokrajac? No way. Rafael Cavalcante by KO round 1
Zane Simon: Do I smell an upset brewing? No, no I smell Pokrajac getting blown out of the water. Rafael Cavalcante by KO.
Connor Ruebusch: I don't think that Feijao is shot. He's merely inconsistent. He's always had the potential to look either great or terrible on any given night, and Thiago Silva found himself in the Octagon with the latter. But Pokrajac just doesn't have the skills to beat Feijao on a good day, and Feijao has yet to turn up in such bad shape that he couldn't knock out a guy like Igor. Feijao by KO, round 1.
Staff picking Feijao: Mookie, Stephie, Fraser, Grant, DSM, Zane, Anton, Dallas, Tim, Connor
Staff picking Pokrajac:
Anton Tabuena: Not quite convinced about Thatch yet. Paulo Thiago by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Thiago hasn't advanced as a striker and he'll be punished for it. He's looked nothing like the former top 10 contender, and it looks like the period where he was wrecking Koscheck and Swick was his career peak. Brandon Thatch by KO, round 1.
Zane Simon: I really think having a second job as a fighter is not a good idea. I get that for many it's a necessity, so I'm not knocking it as a personal choice. I just don't think it creates good results in the long run. For Thiago I think it really lowered his ceiling. Thatch is massive, has great striking, and while his ground game may be a bit suspect I think Thiago will give him plenty of opportunities to land hard clean shots. Brandon Thatch by TKO, Round 2.
Connor Ruebusch: I saw Thatch's UFC debut live, and it was absolutely electric, but also a little scary. The feeling in the arena was that we were watching Thatch kill a defenseless creature, and we loved it. But I also felt a little guilty. Any fighter who can conjure up such confused feelings via sheer violence has it in him to beat Paulo Thiago, who hasn't looked good in years. Brandon Thatch by KO, round 1.
Staff picking Thatch: Mookie, Stephie, Grant, DSM, Zane, Dallas, Tim, Connor
Staff picking Thiago: Fraser, Anton
Fraser Coffeen: Ponzinibbio's only real shot at winning here is to keep this standing and outstrike LaFlare. He is indeed the better striker, with more power, but LaFlare is good at takedowns, good at top control. Ponzinibbio doesn't seem to have anything off his back either, so I see him being taken down, smothered and pounded out here by the superior grappler. Ryan LaFlare by TKO round 2
Mookie Alexander: Fact: "Ponzinibbio" is the Argentinian equivalent to "Fonzie" from Happy Days. Okay that's not really a fact, but it's definitely something I wrote. Anyway, LaFlare is going to takedown and do work from top position before a ground-and-pound TKO stoppage. Ryan LaFlare by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: LaFlare is not the kind of guy you bring in for a gimmie in Brazil. He's big, strong, and a fantastic grappler. I expect that Ponzinibbio may be a bit more athletic in a flashy way, but I also think he'll want to throw a lot of wide, looping strikes, and leave himself wide open for takedowns because of it. As unlikely as it seems for American's to get submissions on South American soil that's where my heart leads me. Ryan LaFlare by Submission, Round 1.
Staff picking LaFlare: Mookie, Stephie, Grant, Fraser, Zane, Anton, Tim, Connor
Staff picking Ponzinibbio: Dallas (not just being a contrarian either)
Anton Tabuena: Going for the underdog here. I think Stephens should be good enough to win on the feet, and Jason isn't exactly a top notch wrestler. Jeremy Stephens by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Here comes Rony boo-boo! Oh jeez ... I actually wrote that. Sorry guys, must've been smoking whatever Rob Ford is on. Okay, Jason is fun to watch and while I'm not comfortable with his striking defense against someone like Stephens, if he can get it to the floor he'll outclass Lil' Heathen. Rony Jason by submission, round 2.
Zane Simon: I can't help but feel that the desire to see Jeremy Stephens lose is stronger than the possibility. That being said, his tool kit is incredibly limited to headhunting kickboxing. He has power and aggression, but it's hard to know how good he'll look down a division at 145. I want to pick Stephens here, just because I know he has a shot, but then I went a remembered Jason's win over Mike Wilkinson, where he TKO'd and Technically subbed him at the same time. That's some kind of magic. Rony Jason by Magic.
Staff picking Jason: Mookie, Stephie, Grant, Fraser, Zane, Tim, Connor
Staff picking Stephens: Anton, Dallas
Mookie Alexander: Ehhhh, Pepey should be 0-3 in the UFC and probably out of here. I don't see how he beat Milton Vieira and he has obvious losses to Rony Jason and Felipe Arantes. This is Striker vs. Grappler and I think striker wins by preventing Pepey from taking it to the ground. Sam Sicilia by TKO, round 3.
Zane Simon: This is a tough fight to pick. Both guys are exceptionally flawed, with Pepey exhibiting an all offense jiu jitsu game that got him lit up against Felipe Arantes and Sam Silicia with the kind of wide open striking that puts him at major risk against all comers. I feel like Sicilia has the ability to hang around a bit longer however. He has a more physical, brutal style of fighting that I don't think Pepey is particularly equipped for. I think he'll have the TDD to keep this standing and he'll probably beat up on Pepey for the rest of the fight. Sam Sicilia by Unanimous Decision.
Staff picking Pepey: Grant, Fraser, Tim
Staff picking Sicilia: Stephie, Zane, Mookie, Anton, Dallas, Connor
Zane Simon: I will say this straight out, I am not impressed with Omari Akhmedov. I watched some film on him and his ground game is weak. He's not a bad striker, but it's not exceptional. Part of this may be due to the fact that he used to fight on a mat that appeared to be greased for all the footing it offered, but I don't know that he has what it takes to hang around in the UFC. I could be totally wrong and he could be another killer like several of his Russian counterparts. But Bodao is more proven for me right now. Thiago "Bodao" by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking Akhmedov: Stephie, Grant, Fraser, Anton
Staff picking Perpetuo: Zane, Mookie, Dallas,Tim, Connor
Mookie Alexander: My memory of Justin Salas is him getting knocked down 16 times in 50 seconds against Tim Means. Tavares is about as "gatekeeper-ish" as you can get at lightweight. He's never threatened to beat any contender but rarely loses against C-level fighters like Salas. I'll just keep the holding pattern here.Thiago Tavares by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: This is kind of an ugh fight for me. A lot of people picked against Salas when he fought Aaron Riley and he showed there what I already knew, he's a solid wrestle boxer. He's not exciting, he's not dynamic, but he wrestles and he boxes and he does both pretty well. The big unknown here for me is Tavares. Tavares has been a prospect since 2007, now he's older, and wiser (maybe) and he's still a prospect. Hell he's only 28. The question here is, is Salas the quality of fighter that beats Thiago Tavares? Shane Roller was. Since I just can't trust Tavares to show up I'm taking Salas here, but barely. Justin Salas by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Salas: Zane
Staff picking Tavares: Mookie, Stephie, Grant, Fraser, Anton, Dallas, Tim, Connor
Zane Simon: Why this fight is so far down on the card, I'm not sure. Adriano is a former Jungle Fight Champion and Strikeforce fighter with a win over Jorge Gurgel to his name. He's mostly a boxer and against Cruickshank that could be a blessing or a curse. If he can't get inside, Cruickshank has every bit of talent necessary to pot shot him for three rounds. If he can get in, Cruickshank's striking defence is terrible and Martins could maul him. I'll take Cruickshank because I think he's finding a groove, but this is a good fight. Daron Cruickshank by split decision.
Staff picking Cruickshank: Stephie, Fraser, Grant, Zane, Mookie, Anton, Dallas, Tim, Connor
Staff picking Martins:
Jose Maria vs. Dustin Ortiz
Mookie Alexander: Maria looked pretty decent against John Lineker before Lineker snatched his soul, ate it, and then missed weight again. Like Zane said, Ortiz doesn't really standout anywhere and I think Maria wins it going away. Jose Maria by decision.
Zane Simon: I always think of Jose Maria as a mini-Emanuel Newton. He has a herky-jerky throw anything at any time style that plays hell with more structured strikers. He almost KO'd John Lineker. Ortiz, on the other hand is not really great at anything. He's a Roufusport product but started more as a grappler and has picked up striking from his camp. He's got some solid physical gifts but I think he'll have trouble adjusting here. Jose Maria via TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Maria: Mookie, Stephie, Fraser, Grant, Zane, Anton, Dallas, Tim, Connor
Staff picking Ortiz: