Tim Burke: Do I think it goes the same as the first one? No. Do I think Silva has a short here the second time? Hell no. Silva’s good, but not great. He uses his size well and hits hard, but he’s pretty plodding. Cain’s hands are fast, he’s technical, and that would win him the fight just on the feet. Throw in the gigantic wrestling advantage and it’s a blowout. Cain Velasquez by TKO, round 2
Mookie Alexander: At first I thought about picking Bigfoot just to be the one person on the staff to finally pick him. That thought gave way to reason and rational thought, and short of Bigfoot hitting Cain on the ear like JDS did, there’s no reason to pick against Velasquez. He’s just too quick, too strong, and pushes too fast of a pace for Bigfoot to keep up. I just hope that Bigfoot doesn’t lose the remaining 5% of blood left in his body. Cain Velasquez by TKO, round 1.
T.P. Grant: Bigfoot is a good Heavyweight, the UFC Heavyweight division has gone through a bit of a renaissance and there are a bunch of good heavyweights running around. Cain Velasquez is a great Heavyweight. He is likely the best wrestler in the division, he dangerous on the ground, and on his feet, and on top of that he is a phenomenal athlete. He beats Bigfoot anywhere the fight goes. This is going to be just about as one sided as their last fight. Cain Velasquez by TKO, Round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: Second verse, same as the first. I don’t see what in Bigfoot’s game allows him to avoid the same fate as last time. Cain Velasquez by KO round 1
Zane Simon: I can’t stand how uniform the staff is here with their picks. Does nobody have a mind of their own, is nobody willing to take a chance? Fine, I will. Cain Velasquez by TKO round 2
David St. Martin: I'm not sure how much has changed since their last fight so this is fairly cut and dry for me. Silva's win over Overeem really just told me more about Alistair. It didn't convince me Bigfoot had now somehow emerged as a true threat to Cain's title. I'm giving Silva an extra round to survive this time around. He's wily, after all. Cain Velasquez via TKO round 2
Connor Ruebusch: Is Bigfoot tough as hell? Yes. Can he stop the wrestling and relentless pace of Cain Velasquez? Not a chance. Cain Velasquez by TKO, Round 2.
Chris Hall: There's really no way to predict this any but for Cain. Just two fights ago he completely smashed Bigfoot, then followed that up with probably his best performance to date when he the title back from JDS. So, Despite Silva looking good in his own last two outings, I gotta go with Cain Velasquez by TKO.
Staff picking Velasquez: Stephie, Mookie, Grant, Fraser, Zane, DSM, Tim, Connor, Chris
Staff picking Bigfoot:
Junior dos Santos vs. Mark Hunt
Tim Burke: I keep picking people to beat Mark Hunt and I keep ending up wrong. Every other time, I was incredibly happy to be wrong, but this time he’s facing a guy I have a ton of respect for. Plus, JDS is just the better mixed martial artist. He’s shown he can wrestle, and he’s a BJJ black belt. Stefan Struve fought a stupid fight against Hunt, and JDS isn’t going to make the same mistake. Even on the feet I think JDS could outpoint Hunt in a three-round kickboxing fight, but that’s a lot more dangerous obviously. Personally, I see JDS introducing a new wrinkle into his game and submitting Hunt. But what do I know? Hunt has made me look dumb four times in a row, I’d hardly be surprised if he did it again. But I gotta go with JDS here. Junior dos Santos by submission, round 2
Mookie Alexander: I am picking JDS without much hesitation, but this is one of those fights where I’d be happy with either man winning because JDS is incredibly talented and Mark Hunt … well Mark Hunt. Grant is smoking crack if he thinks JDS will KO him in a round, but yes, dos Santos is faster and is way quicker than Hunt. He’s not going to be a sitting duck for punishment like Struve and Kongo, and he doesn’t have to fear the takedown for the first time since the Yvel fight. Hunt’s best chance at victory is landing the left hook and hoping JDS’ chin crumbles into dust. PRIDE NEVER DIE and all that, but JDS is the better fighter and he’ll show it tomorrow night. JDS by 30-27 unanimous decision.
T.P. Grant: Remember that whole good vs great thing I did like 5 seconds ago? The same thing applies here. Mark Hunt has turned into a nice Heavyweight, a good MMA fighter. Junior dos Santos is great, a beast of an athlete with lethal punching power and excellent speed. While dos Santos’ defensive abilities on the feet leave something to be desired and he can get tired in matches, Hunt shares those problems to something of a greater degree. In the end dos Santos isn’t going to stand there and let Hunt unload punches. So sorry Mark Hunt fans, but the rally ends here, likely dramatically. Junior dos Santos by KO, Round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: This is a brutal pick to make. I have been on the Mark Hunt train for some time (now is a good chance for me to go on record as saying that, not only did I pick him to win against Struve, Kongo, AND Rothwell, I am the only BE staff member to have picked him over Rothwell. Suck it Burke!). I didn’t pick those just because I love Mark Hunt - I picked them because I saw Hunt winning. This one? It makes me sad to say this, but I don’t see it. Here’s my issue - exactly how does Hunt win this? By KO over the hard-chinned JDS? By decision against an opponent with better cardio? JDS is a smart fighter who is not going to stand n bang with the Samoan, allowing him to use his reach to pick Hunt apart over 3 rounds and win a decision. But I’ve been on the Hunt train for too long, and I refuse to get off now. For the first time, I’m not picking him because my brain says he’ll win - I’m picking him because my heart wants him to. Mark Hunt by KO, round 2
Zane Simon: I’m right in line with Fraser. I like to think that had I been around for the other fights I would have picked Hunt in them, but this is really a tough one. If nothing else I haven’t seen a lot of evidence that JDS will actually do anything other than stand and trade with Hunt. He may still win that fight, punch for punch. But I like Hunt’s chances, and I love his story. Mark Hunt by KO.
David St. Martin: JDS already fought a quasi version of Hunt in the form of Roy Nelson, in which he barely broke a sweat. With all that Nike pressure bearing down on him I fully expect Junior to fight the safest bout of his career. He's either going to uncharacteristically take Hunt to the ground or flee from him a la Kalib Starnes. This one could be a snoozer unless Hunt connects. JDS via Decision
Connor Ruebusch: DSM isn’t the first person I’ve heard comparing Hunt to Roy Nelson, but Mark Hunt is more than just a granite-chinned power puncher. I mean, he is a granite-chinned power puncher. But so much more, too. And JDS is the best possible top 5 fight for him, except perhaps for Bigfoot. Whereas JDS wins fights with his jab, Mark wins fights by countering the jab. Whereas JDS has made a career beating up wrestlers, Mark Hunt made his career by beating some of the best kickboxers in the world. JDS might have a Nogueira blackbelt, but he’s no Nogueira. I see no reason to believe that JDS will shy away from a fight on the feet with Hunt. And I see plenty of reasons why that fight should the way Mark Hunt wants it to go. Mark Hunt by KO, Round 2.
Chris Hall: #RallyForMarkHunt
Staff picking Hunt: Stephie, Fraser, Zane, Connor, Chris
Staff picking JDS: Mookie, Grant, DSM, Tim
Tim Burke: I just wrote a preview about this (my first preview in a long-ass time), and I explained it in there - Glover’s biggest advantage is on the ground, and he needs to not engage for long in the pocket against the ham-fisted Te Huna. Can Glover get him down? That’s my biggest question mark here. JTH is definitely in this fight if Glover wants to stand with him. But Glover’s going to try and replicate the Rampage fight here, with more success. Glover Teixeira by submission, round 2.
Mookie Alexander: I completely scrapped what I wrote on Tuesday and decided to just pick Te Huna instead of Glover. I’ve been going chalk for much of the year and this seems like the type of fight that merits an upset pick. Te Huna has a damn good uppercut and fast hands, and you could argue he’s the best opponent Glover has faced in the UFC to date -- that includes faded Rampage. Could Teixeira submit or KO him? Sure. He’s the much better fighter and James’ chin has been dented plus he’s been submitted multiple times, but I’m going to ride the Te Huna train on this one just to play the Brent Brookhouse role of being different. James Te Huna by TKO, round 2.
T.P. Grant: Te Huna is kind of where Teixeira was about a year ago. A good Light Heavyweight whose risk when compared to his name valued meant it was hard for him to find the right guy to fight. A tough match for both guys, but I feel Teixeira is better equipped to emerge from the other side the victory. Glover Teixeira by Decision.
Zane Simon: In actuality, I’ve been really impressed by Te Huna’s UFC career, and fairly underimpressed by Glover’s. It feels like Te Huna is constantly snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Conversely Teixeira seems like a frontrunner. He starts incredibly strong, but fades and opens defensive holes as time goes on. His win over Rampage was... not impressive. But the fact is that even as a fading front runner Teixeira has too many tools for Te Huna. I think he gets this done early. Glover Teixeira by KO, round 1.
David St. Martin: Te Huna seems fairly over-matched in this fight and Glover's going to put him in positions where his toughness won't be able to bail him out. My only questions is how soon Teixeira gets a stoppage. Teixeira via TKO Round 2
Connor Ruebusch: I like Te-Huna in this matchup. Glover gathered a lot of hype after he received Chuck Liddell’s stamp of approval, but I haven’t seen enough from him to really validate that hype. If he can get Te-Huna to the ground, then I think he stands a very good chance of winning. But Te-Huna is a very live dog on the feet, and has the wrestling to keep it there. Could Teixeira knock him out? Sure: the man has crazy power. But I think this one ends up looking a lot like Te-Huna vs. Beltran, probably with Te Huna getting rocked a time or two along the way. James Te-Huna by Unanimous Decision.
Chris Hall: I don't think it's unfair by any means to say that Glover is the better fighter in this match. He's more well-rounded and excels where Te Huna is weakest. However, like Muckie, I find myself smelling an upset in this one. It's a real possibility that Teixeira choses to trade in the pocket for too long and gets caught. Te Huna by TKO.
Staff picking Teixeira: Stephie, Grant, Fraser, Zane, DSM, Tim
Staff picking Te Huna: Mookie, Connor, Chris
Tim Burke: Size isn’t a factor to me, since Grant’s a huge 155er as well. Wrestling is the difference to me. Gray’s one of the few guys that has a nickname that suits him perfectly (unlike, say, The Spider - what kind of spider kicks you in the face?). He bullies guys around with his wrestling and still-underrated boxing. Grant really opened a lot of eyes when he stopped Matt Wiman, but I don’t see him having the tools necessary to overcome Maynard. It’s just a bad style matchup for him. About the only thing that worries me a bit is Gray is 34 and has been out for a year. But wrestlers are durable - he’s not on the downside of his career yet. Gray Maynard by decision.
Muckie Alexander: Gray Maynard is a massive lightweight, and according to Mike Goldberg his walking weight is between 700-875 lbs. As someone who loves watching TJ Grant fight (dating back to 170 lbs), I have not picked TJ Grant since he beat Carlo Prater, and while I think he can hang with Gray on the feet, Maynard is an elite wrestler and he’ll use that to control and tire out TJ. Oh, you were expecting some sort of "The hard way it is, Earnest" reference? I don’t play that game. Gray Maynard by decision.
T.P. Grant: Torn on this one. I want Grant to win because I think he is a fun fighter and a new name near the top of the Lightweight division would be a good thing. But Maynard I think will win. Gray Maynard by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Man, between this and the Hunt/JDS pick I’m having a real war of feeling vs. reason with this card. Reason says Maynard takes this - people have kind of forgotten just how good he is at shutting opponents down and wearing them out. But gut says that Maynard has never fully recovered mentally from not winning the 2nd Edgar fight. I just am not positive he has that same fire anymore, so I’ll pick Grant to pull off the upset. T.J. Grant by decision
Zane Simon: While I do think that Fraser’s right, that Draw against Edgar still weighs on Maynard, I think those two fights, as well as his shame-fest against Guida show the fighter as he really is. Maynard is a great wrestler, and he hits hard, but he’s slow as continental drift, is intensely hittable, and for all his great wrestling was entirely unable to hold down Clay Guida or Frankie Edgar. Grant isn’t as fast as either of those fighters, but I think he’s a better striker and as strong as anyone in the division, even Maynard. T.J. Grant by TKO round 2.
David St. Martin: A tough call for me. If Maynard could stick to a bit more regular of a schedule I wouldn't have second thoughts about picking him here. I just worry his inactivity could end up working against him with someone high motor like Grant. Even so, Grant's four-fight win streak doesn't do a lot for me. Two of those wins are against guys who aren't with the promotion. Maynard via Decision
Connor Ruebusch: The third fight with Frankie Edgar told me all I need to know about Gray Maynard. He rocks Frankie with an uppercut; Frankie recovers. So what does he do? Hunt for the uppercut like his life depends on it. Gray Maynard lacks creativity. When something frustrates him, he seems to rely on dumb chance to overcome it. T.J. Grant, however, is a very creative and multi-dimensional fighter. Grant is a bit like Chris Weidman in my mind. Good wrestling, good submission grappling, and good striking. But his real strength is that you don’t know which he’s going to beat you with until you’re in the Octagon with him. T.J. Grant by Unanimous Decision.
Chris Hall: Going into this fight I was leaning toward picking Grant for the upset. Then, BE member Patrick Wyman reminded me that T.J. is taking a 37% takedown defense rate into a fight with one of the UFC's most notable grinders. The stats just don't add up for Grant and Maynard will probably be close to another title shot after Saturday night. Gray Maynard by decision.
Staff picking Grant: Stephie, Fraser, Zane, Connor
Staff picking Maynard: Mookie, TP, DSM, Tim, Chris
Tim Burke: K.J. Noons brings great hair to the UFC. That’s all I got. I believe that his vaunted boxing is overrated and while he does do good body work (an apparent weakness of Cerrone’s, if you’ve seen his last few fights), he’s going to get lit up by Cerrone’s kickboxing game. I highly doubt Cerrone takes it down, but if he ends up on his back, a triangle is probably coming. Cowboy’s getting back in the good books Saturday night. Donald Cerrone by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Noons is going to get steamrolled. Cerrone is better than him at virtually everything, and Noons doesn’t have the power to trouble Cowboy. The only question is whether or not Donald can actually stop KJ. I don’t think he will, but if he does it’ll be by submission and not KO or TKO. Donald Cerrone by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I’ve picked Noons a bunch of time and been burned by him. I think I’m letting memories of circa 2007 cloud my vision of modern day K.J. Noons. And modern day Noons has only won 1 of his last 5. He’s still elusive enough to go the distance I think - though maybe I am, even still, overrating him. Donald Cerrone by decision
T.P. Grant: Cerrone is a good Lightweight who can hang with all but the very best in the division. KJ Noons, well, isn’t that. He just struggled mightily with Ryan Couture in a fight that likely should have gone his way, but still. Cerrone wins this one. Donald Cerrone by Decision.
Zane Simon: Cerrone getting blasted by Pettis really lowered his stock in my eyes, but quite frankly it didn’t lower it down to a level where I think he loses this fight. Noons is a great boxer, but he doesn’t have a ton of power, and without that Cerrone’s combination of solid kickboxing and Jiu Jitsu should give him the tools to take Noons constantly out of his element. Donald Cerrone by Decision.
David St. Martin: Cerrone should be able to cruise here, but you never know. Fighting a guy making his UFC debut on the tail of winning just once in five outings in Strikeforce wouldn't keep me up at night. Unless Cerrone pulls an Overeem he should come out pretty clean on this one. Cerrone via Decision
Connor Ruebusch: As much as I love picking against the rest of the staff, I don’t really see any way for Noons to take this one. It’s almost certainly going to be a decision, with Donald Cerrone chopping merrily away at K.J.’s lead leg the entire time. Though I don’t think this will be as one-sided as the staff picks make it appear, I don’t think that KJ will be able to penetrate even Donald Cerrone’s porous defense. Donald Cerrone by Unanimous Decision.
Chris Hall: Thisis another fight that really only makes sense to pick one way. Even though Cerrone has been falling just short of the elite fighters at LW, he's still a lot better than Noons. Cerrone by decision.
Staff picking Cerrone: Stephie, Mookie, Fraser, Grant, Zane, DSM, Tim, Connor, Chris
Staff picking Noons:
Tim Burke: Fact - Mike Pyle is 107 years old. He has to be. He’s been training in Vegas since 1924, stayed there through WW2 and the Korean War, took some time off for Vietnam, and went back when Randy Couture offered him a free wheelchair. I honestly don’t know how he keeps winning, especially since he has power now somehow. Seriously though, Story’s bully game is probably going to be Pyle’s kryptonite. He’s not going to drop Story, and he’s not going to go all Demian Maia on him. He doesn’t lose decisions either, so I think Story gets the finish. Rick Story by TKO, round 2.
Mookie Alexander: I have no idea how Mike Pyle suddenly became a dangerous and powerful striker, but he’s won his last 3 by KO or TKO. He could give Story problems with his knees from the clinch, wrestling and his submission game, but I see Story keeping this on the feet, winning the striking exchanges and wearing out Quicksand with some heavy body shots. Pyle also gets finished in just about any fight he loses, so I’m going to go with Rick Story by TKO (punches), round 2.
T.P. Grant: Rick Story is a slightly higher level of gatekeeper than Pyle. Rick Story by TKO, Round 2.
Zane Simon: I don’t know why, but I really like Pyle’s range and striking accuracy in this fight. I think it’s that it feels like a bit of a trap fight for Story, who’s beat better opponents but not recently, and who’s lost to worse. I expect Story to come out strong and aggressive early, get hit hard, and find himself pulled under. Mike Pyle by TKO, round 1.
Connor Ruebusch: Of all the wrestle-boxers in the UFC, Rick Story has some of the best actual boxing. He throws excellent combinations, works the body, and is relatively hard to hit despite his pressure style. Mike Pyle’s resurgence is impressive, but I’ve already made my heartwarming comeback-story pick for this card. Rick Story by Unanimous Decision.
Staff picking Pyle: Stephie, Fraser, Zane
Staff picking Story: Mookie, Grant, DSM, Tim, Connor
Tim Burke: I have a feeling this is going to look like the Bermudez/Garza fight. Holloway can scrap, but his gangly frame is going to make it hard to stay upright against the compact wrestler. Dennis Bermudez by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Bermudez has massive liabilities defensively, but Holloway has not developed any sort of big power for me to be concerned about this one. Dennis’ wrestling will be the difference in this fight and I think he finishes Holloway with some ground and pound. Dennis Bermudez by TKO, round 1.
T.P. Grant: Holloway has a decent body attack, but he is not impressive when backing up. I think Bermudez puts the pressure on him, gets him on the mat and then its all over because Holloway is not a good grappler. Dennis Bermudez by Submission, Round 1.
Zane Simon: I know Bermudez has good punching power, but honestly I don’t think he’ll put Holloway away. I still think he’ll win, but it’ll be grind, rinse, repeat.
Connor Ruebusch: Holloway has decent striking, but Dennis Bermudez already proved against Matt Grice that he’s indestructible. I think he’s got the grappling to outwork the young Holloway and grind him to a decision. Dennis Bermudez by Unanimous Decision
Staff picking Bermudez: Stephie, Mookie, Fraser, Grant, Zane, DSM, Tim
Staff picking Holloway:
Tim Burke: TUF vs. TUF. Someone get me a beer, this is going to be awesome! Wait, the one guys just wrestles? And the other dude’s probably not that good at wrestling? I might fall asleep just making this prediction. Colton Smith by unani
Mookie Alexander: I actually like the idea of matching up fighters from the US version of TUF with the international TUFers … except this fight. Colton Smith could go down as the least exciting TUF winner in the history of the show. I’d rather FX just put on 15 minutes of ads than the inevitable tedium we’ll get tomorrow night. Colton Smith by unanimous decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Smith is a serious bore, but the man knows how to wrestle his way to a decision. I just hope he has, at some point, bought some new tights. Colton Smith by decision
T.P. Grant: You see the thing about Colton Smith is... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz Colton Smith by Decision
Zane Simon: This is where giving prominent spots to TUF winners really doesn’t pay off. Whittaker’s an exciting fighter, but that’s because he’s largely a striker. Colton will get him down hold him down and and go into full fun absorption mode. Colton Smith by unanimous decision.
Connor Ruebusch: Let’s just say this: were Colton Smith not a TUF winner, he’d be just one loss away from Dana declaring him to be "clearly on the downside of his career" and cutting him. Colton Smith by unanimous decision.
Staff picking Smith: Stephie, Mookie, Fraser, Grant, Zane, DSM
Staff picking Whittaker:
Tim Burke: Okay, I’m back and well-rested. Why is Trujillo even fighting Nurmy? Generally a 3-0 guy doesn’t get a 1-0 guy who beat Marcus LeVesseur. Is it the wrestling/sambo thing? I guess so. But Trujillo’s gonna learn that you don’t mess with Dagestanis. Or eagles. Eagles are assholes, they’re second on the asshole bird list behind swans. Anyway, Khabib Nurmagomedov by submission, round 1
T.P. Grant: If Sambo was easy they’d call it wrestling Khabib Nurmagomedov by SAMBO!
Zane Simon: Khabib has already flirted with the top ten of the division. Trujillo crushed Marcus Levesseur, but so did Cody McKenzie. He’ll hang out in the division for a bit because he looks to be an exciting fighter, but I expect the loss to be bad. Khabib Nurmagomedov by whatever he wants whenever he wants it.
Connor Ruebusch: I like picking underdogs. So sue me. Abel Trujillo by TKO, Round 3.
Staff picking Trujillo: Stephie, Connor
Staff picking Nurmagomedov: Mookie, Fraser, Grant, Zane, DSM, Tim
Tim Burke: I find it kinda funny how much hate Stephen Thompson gets around these parts. Sure, he was overhyped. But it’s not like he’s Jake Shields out there or something (sorry Jake). He still has a good striking game, and a year off might have helped him round out his game a bit. I think he can take out Burrell, especially if Burrell chooses to engage in fisticuffs on the feet. Stephen Thompson by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: My picks are likely already a disaster on this card thanks to Grant and Hunt, so let’s keep it going with the Karate love. Thompson got worked by the much smarter Matt Brown last time out, but Burrell is not at that level, he’s willing to trade, and he’s been KO’d before. Stephen Thompson by KO round 1
T.P. Grant: Thompson is an elite striker. No super elite! No, world class. He was in Chuck Norris’ karate striking thing and won, I saw it on YouTube so he has to be badass. And he is son-in-law to a BJJ guy whose name I recognize, so his ground must be sick also. Stephen Thompson by crescent kick into a flying gogoplata, Round 1
Zane Simon: This is a surprisingly close fight. Thompson took a close loss to Matt Brown, who’s since turned that into an incredibly legitimate stain on his record. Burrell, for his part looked great in his debut bout with Yuri Villefort. I think there’s a very good chance that the more Wonderboy fights the more his mystery is solved. Nah-Shon Burrell by split decision.
Connor Ruebusch: Wonderbody was certainly overhyped, but I think he’s got more than enough creativity on the feet to starch a relatively by-the-numbers striker like Nah-Shon Burrell. Stephen Thompson by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking Burrell: Stephie, Mookie, Zane, DSM
Staff picking Thompson: Fraser, Grant, Tim, Connor
Tim Burke: Brian Bowles hasn’t fought in forever. Mike Pyle wasn’t even alive the last time Bowles fought, and as we know by now, he’s 107. Bowles last fight was so long ago that I think John Nash covered it in the Martial Chronicles. Okay okay, I’ll stop. If Bowles is anything like the Bowles of old, he won’t have many problems with Roop. If he’s rusty, it could be a different story. And it is easy to break your hand when you punch a skeleton. Just sayin. Brian Bowles by TKO, round 2
Mookie Alexander: This is such a scary fight to pick and to watch. Bowles’ hands are so brittle that they might literally disintegrate just by touching gloves. Anyway, unless Bowles’ long layoff has the worst possible effect on him, he should win this against Skeletor George, whose lack of nutrition is currently grounds for an ABC telethon. Brian Bowles by TKO, round 2.
T.P. Grant: All things equal, Bowles wins this but I think the year and half layoff due to hand injuries takes a toll and we get a real ugly fight here that Roop squeaks by in. George Roop by Decision.
Zane Simon: Bowles is a likely candidate to lose from the lead. I expect him to come out strong against the ever game Roop. But I’m thinking this will be more a late career rejuvenation than a last hurrah. Brian Bowles by Unanimous Decision.
Connor Ruebusch: Roop is a scrappy guy, but aside from his knockout of the Korean Zombie and the awesome teep he showed against Josh Grispi, he hasn’t done a whole lot to really impress me. Brian Bowles on the other hand, is the type of guy you’d expect to be fighting out of Team Alpha Male, if Urijah hadn’t whooped his ass so thoroughly back in 2011. He’s coming off a long layoff, but the combination of his wrestling and powerful hands will probably spell Skeletor’s doom. Brian Bowles by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking Roop: Stephie, Grant
Staff picking Bowles: Mookie, Fraser, Zane, DSM, Tim
Tim Burke: I’ll let everyone else cover the Heathen jokes. If he can make featherweight comfortably and doesn’t end up in handcuffs before the fight, he should be able to take out Payan without much trouble. Jeremy Stephens by TKO, round 2
Mookie Alexander: Jeremy Stephens will be 27 years old on Sunday and it feels like he’s 32. He’s had 15 UFC fights and is still the same wild striker that he was when he first came into the organization. You could even argue he’s regressed based on how Yves Edwards merced him. I’m sure though that he’ll be kept even with a loss tomorrow night because the UFC needs to "stick it to the Iowa police". Estevan Payan by unanimous decision.
T.P. Grant: This drop to Featherweight feels like desperation on Stephens part, and a desperation weight drop rarely goes well. Estevan Payan by Decision.
Zane Simon: Part of me wants to say I want Jeremy Stephens to lose, but that’s really more on Dana than him. I don’t actually know if he’s a criminal, and while I strongly suspect he is, the memory of Dana throwing fits pre UFC on FX 5 vilified both him and the fighter as much as anything. So removing my moral discomfort, Payan has never had a fight nearly this big in his entire career, and considering that it’s the opening card on Facebook, that means something. Stephens may not have progressed a ton in the past half decade, but unless he’s regressed he’ll win this. Jeremy Stephens by TKO.
Connor Ruebusch: Literally the only thing I know about Estevan Payan is that he was spectacularly knocked out by Yahir Reyes in Bellator a few years ago. It’s not a lot to go on, but I think he’ll drop a decision to Jeremy Stephens this time, because I’m not interested enough to research him further. Jeremy Stephens by Unanimous Decision.
Staff picking Stephens: Stephie, Fraser, Zane, DSM, Tim, Connor
Staff picking Payan: Grant, Mookie