Tim Burke: I hate picking bouts like this. Rashad should be the obvious pick because he can just plant Hendo on the ground and grind away if he likes. But he has always had a tendency to get lazy at certain points and get caught with a big shot. Against Hendo, that big shot will knock your ass to the moon. Can Evans re-focus after the Lil Nog loss and fight smart for 15 minutes? I'm leaning yes, but I'd much prefer to see the H-Bomb come out to play. Rashad Evans by decision.
Mookie Alexander: If Hendo doesn't land the H-Bomb then I don't see him winning. He could very well land it and end Rashad's relevancy at the top of LHW, but I would think Evans is smart enough to stay on the outside and then return to using his wrestling. He's the much faster fighter and just on that alone I see him outpointing Hendo on the feet and getting the takedowns and control necessary to win a decision. Rashad Evans by unanimous decision.
Anton Tabuena: We all know what Henderson brings to the table, and Rashad Evans should be smart enough to use his advantages in his speed and technical ability to avoid that mammoth of a right hand. I don't expect to see Rashad trade much, and he would probably take a more cautious approach, so this could be a really ugly bout. Hendo could win with one shot, but I think it's more likely to be Rashad Evans by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: At first, I was thinking this was a 5 rounder, so I wrote this entire paragraph about how Evans was going to be tentative to avoid the H-Bomb, but how that could only go so long before he gets caught. Then I discovered - nope, it's 3 rounds. Just in case there was any doubt that this is not a PPV worthy main event. I still think Rashad avoids engaging much, but over 3 rounds, I think he can succeed at that strategy, mix in just enough takedowns, and outland Hendo to get the close (possibly even split) decision win. Rashad Evans by decision
T.P. Grant: The dirty secret about Hendo is despite his excellent wrestling credentials, he isn't that hard to take-down. Anyone with reasonably good take-downs who fights Henderson and avoids the big right hand has been able to take him down. Evans' wrestling is more putting guys against the cage and then sucking their legs out from under them rather than blasting doubles, but Hendo is so stiff on the feet Evans shouldn't have much trouble getting Henderson to the mat. Once on the mat Evans likely can't finish Hendo, but it will wear Hendo down to the point where he will be ineffective going forward. Rashad Evans by decision.
David St. Martin: I think this fight has all the potential of being Hendo vs. Machida part two. By hook or by crook, Evans will do his best Machida impression to eek out a win. Rashad hasn't scored a stoppage over someone not named Tito Ortiz since 2008 (Griffin). Each of his past three fights have ended by decision. Expect to see Hendo using his flat footed gape as he chases Evans around the cage for 15 minutes. Evans via Dec.
Dallas Winston: Hendo is an anomaly for getting by almost solely on the H-bomb and backing it up with his wrestling background, the latter of which really just translates to rugged scrappiness. Rashad should have the agility, intelligence and wrestle-boxing to devise his own version of a Machida-like strategy, but 15 minutes is still a lot of time for nuclear fission to detonate somewhere on his face. Rashad Evans by competitive decision.
David Castillo: I'll follow the crowd on this one and do the sensible thing; which is pick Evans. I do think it'll be tough though, and not just because Evans has looked putrid recently. One of the things that makes it tough for me is that Hendo has shown a much improved grappling game. He was effective against Shogun, and he seems to have improved his scrambling game...a far cry from the Shields debacle where it looked like he had never defended a takedown in his life. This will be the deciding factor. Despite this, I like Evans' ability to phase-shift. Ineffective combos into takedowns will likely be the story of what I expect to be another lackluster fight. Rashad Evans by Decision.
Zane Simon: Alright, since I'm late to the party this time, I'll bite. Evans has looked terrible lately, Henderson has not. We can go on and on about how Evans is younger and more athletic, how his quickness and boxing will allow him to outpoint Henderson... But that's something that Machida could only just do (although I would argue that he did so), and considering that Evans couldn't drag the unmotivated version of himself past Nogueira, I don't see him getting by Henderson. I expect he'll come out hesitant, finally decide he needs to engage if he wants to have a shot at winning, and get hurt. Dan Henderson by KO, Round 2.
Staff picking Evans: Mookie, Anton, Fraser, Grant, DSM, Dallas, Stephie, David, Tim
Staff picking Hendo: Zane
Tim Burke: Stipe's striking defense is not good. Phil The Fries tagged him. Shane del Rosario won the first round against him. And Stefan Struve of all people stopped him. Roy can stop takedowns and find his chin. It is known. Roy Nelson by TKO, round 1
Anton Tabuena: Miocic should use his wrestling here to try and avoid that bomb, but I think one way or another, Nelson finds a way to eventually land it. Roy Nelson by KO.
Mookie Alexander: I like Stipe, but he can be tagged. I'd lose my religion mind if he managed to impressively defeat Roy Nelson after the way Struve had his way with him in round 2. Everybody hurts sometimes, including Roy ... screw it, I don't know that many R.E.M songs so let me just cut to the case and say Roy Nelson by KO, round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: Roy Nelson has pretty much completely given up on his ground game in favor of his hands. But in recent fights, he's also improved those hands, using more combos and variety to get inside and land that bomb. Which is pretty much exactly what I see happening here, despite Miocic's reach advantage. Roy Nelson by KO round 1
T.P. Grant: Ugh yeah, Nelson is the better fighter in pretty much every way except the in the "who looks more like a fighter" contest. Roy Nelson by TKO, Round 1
David St. Martin: I actually liked Miocic as a decent prospect. He's looking to rebound from a stoppage loss to Struve against a much better fighter in Nelson. Not sure how that's going to work. This fight doesn't make much sense for either guy, but I guess if Roy is looking to coast into a title shot this is a decent strategy. Better to get paid beating on mid-level guys than sit out a year, RASHAD. Nelson via TKO round 2
Dallas Winston: Miocic putting Big Country on his back is the most interesting aspect of this match, and also Miocic's best option to keep Roy guessing on the feet. Miocic's sub defense has been sound in the past but he's obviously yet to encounter a grappler like Roy. I'm also intrigued to see if Miocic will go back to his low kicks from outside to exploit Roy's lack of a distance weapon. I've doubted Big Country too many times in the past, so he gets my vote but Miocic is a live dog. Roy Nelson by TKO.
David Castillo: Not sure where the hype for Stipe ever came from, but the guy has just never impressed me much. He's often lethargic, and he's never been dynamic in the first place. I guess moderate power and journeyman competence take you very far at Heavyweight. Nelson is actually quite talented, and I'd expect his right hand to be the deciding factor in this borderline squash match. Roy Nelson by TKO.
Zane Simon: I was going to say "I don't know what Roy Nelson did to get this crappy fight," but I have a pretty clear idea. Blah, blah, blah, Miocic not bad, blah, blah, right hand, blah... Roy Nelson by KO round 1.
Staff picking Miocic:
Staff picking Nelson: Stephie, Mookie, Fraser, Anton, Grant, DSM, Dallas, David, Zane, Tim
Tim Burke: This is almost a mismatch. Nothing against Rosi, she's a great fighter. But Alexis is waaay bigger than her, and meaner than her too. I love that Sexton got a shot in the UFC, but they should have given her a more competitive fight. Alexis Davis by TKO, round 2
Mookie Alexander: I don't really have much reason to pick 125ers to have a high rate of success against established top 135 lbs talent in the women's division. Davis is stronger and as everyone else has said is the better fighter. Her Invicta performances have solidified her standing as one of the best in the world today and she'll get off to a great start in the UFC. Alexis Davis by unanimous decision.
Anton Tabuena: Did you know that Rosi Sexton is the only UFC fighter to have a PhD? Pretty cool, and while it's hard not to like her, I think Davis might be a little bit better. Alexis Davis by Decision.
T.P. Grant: Should be a fun fight but Davis is is just the better fighter. She is more skilled, especially on the ground and considering Sexton is moving up from a less talented division to face one of the best in the deepest division in the sport for women, I don't think this ends well for her. Alexis Davis by Submission.
David St. Martin: I like Alexis Davis here. She's a bit more well-rounded and a better grappler. Her strong performance over Shayna Baszler seals it for me. Davis via sub round 3
Dallas Winston: Sexton is better suited to flyweight and the move up isn't a good fit for her bulldozing style to implement her sub skills, especially against Davis, who has a stellar grappling game of her own. Davis will be a little stronger and probably has the sharper striking as well. Alexis Davis by decision.
Zane Simon: I can't help feeling that the UFC got Sexton past her prime, and unfortunately recent wins over Aisling Daly and Roxanne Modafferi don't mean as much as they used to. Davis has a lot more substance to her recent resume, and has proven to be competitive at 135 lbs. Sexton will be a tough out, but.. Alexis Davis by Unanimous Decision.
David Castillo: Sexton isn't bad, but Alexis Davis is actually one of the better fighters in the division, and her well rounded game (as well as her toughness) will be enough to get her the victory in this one. Alexis Davis by Decision.
Staff picking Davis: Stephie, Mookie, Fraser, Anton, DSM, Dallas, David, Zane, Tim
Staff picking Sexton:
Tim Burke: This is just like Barry/Del Rosario to me. If Jordan wants to take it down, he should be able to submit Barry. But SDR thought it was going to be so easy that he didn't even set up his sub attempts, and Barry escaped. Then he put SDR to sleep. The difference here is that I think Jordan is a little smarter and will know how to get it done. Shawn Jordan by submission, round 1
Mookie Alexander: I love watching Pat Barry fight. I hate picking his fights. He's never won 2 in a row in the UFC and this is clearly his best shot at achieving that. Pat is the better striker and hits harder than Jordan, but I definitely fear that he'll lose on a fluke KO or get submitted yet again. I'll just bank on Pat taking out Jordan early. Pat Barry by KO, round 1.
David St. Martin: It's just so hard to hitch your wagon to the fate of Pat Barry. It's too 'all of nothing' for me. Jordan is a man with a plan and Greg Jackson. He has seven first round TKO's. He pounces on people early and does enough to make refs jump in. Barry does almost the exact opposite, too often admiring his handy work. It's not that he's not taking his fight seriously, he just hasn't shown that killer instinct enough. He likes being in there a bit too much for someone who's never won back-to-back fights in the UFC. Jordan via TKO round 2
Dallas Winston: This is a tough one that I keep flipping back and forth on. Both fighters are well attuned to exploit the other's weaknesses, and Jordan still seems to be improving. Despite his impressive turnaround against Russow, the number of punches Jordan allowed to get through steer me toward "HD." Pat Barry by TKO.
T.P. Grant: A tough fight to call as neither are particularly great Heavyweights. I think Barry very well could get a knockout but I think Jordan clinches with him, tires him out a bit and then takes Barry to the floor, maybe even taps him as Jordan has shown he can take strong strikers down and submit them. Shawn Jordan by Decision.
David Castillo: I'll always feel silling picking Barry against a Greg Jackson-trained fighter, but I have a hard time underestimating his striking as well. ‘Dat speed', in other words. At heavyweight this is just not a commodity you'd expect out of someone that size, so expect Barry to utilize that speed, and then perform some archaic frat ritual afterword. Pat Barry by TKO.
Zane Simon: Do I like Shawn Jordan as a prospect? Yes. Do I trust him to beat Pat Barry? No. Barry's been around long enough to deal with a wrestle boxer who's neither a particularly good wrestler, nor a good boxer. It wasn't that long ago that Jordan was dropping a decision to Devin Cole. Barry may be a whimsical talent, but he's talent enough to handle this fight. Pat Barry by TKO.
Staff picking Barry: Stephie, Mookie, Fraser, Anton, Dallas, Zane
Staff picking Jordan: DSM, Grant, Tim
Mookie Alexander: Ryan Jimmo needs about 4-5 more exciting fights for me to erase his MFC disasters from my mind. As a result, I'm just going to "play it safe" and pick Jimmo by how he normally wins. Ryan Jimmo by unanimous decision.
David St. Martin: A little bit of a tossup for me but I have a bit more faith in an improved Ryan Jimmo. It's interesting to see guys from the same camp competing on the same card together. Jimmo and Rashad preparing together could be a blessing, but not if the majority of the coaching focus favored the headliner/meal ticket. Who knows. Jimmo via Dec
T.P. Grant: This one could end up being a wild, fun brawl, but it is Jimmo in there. I expect Jimmo to slowly but surely work Pokrajac over on the feet and then remove Pokrajac from the UFC, meaning we may never get to hear Kid Nate pronounce his name "poker-jack" again after this weekend. Ryan Jimmo by mind-numbing Decision
Zane Simon: This feels like a slightly dangerous pick to me. Pokrajac is the kind of fighter who has never particularly impressed me, even in victory, while Jimmo's UFC career has been impressive, even in defeat. Pokrajac would be on a two fight skid right now if it wasn't for Beltran's failed drug test and in a pure striker vs. striker matchup (which this will most certainly be) I have to take Jimmo, who has the more technical skills. Ryan Jimmo via Split Decision.
David Castillo: I don't like picking Jimmo, nor will I ever unless he single-handedly stops an unnecessary war and saves six babies from a burning cradle atop a tree, but I've gotta do the smart thing here and predict that he will...in fact...beatdown journeyman Igor Pokrajac. Jimmo is no spectacular talent, and this fight may even be somewhat difficult early on, but with his newfound use of power, I'd expect him to win comfortably. Ryan Jimmo by Decision.
Staff picking Jimmo: Stephie, Mookie, Fraser, ANton, DSM, Dallas, Grant, Zane, David
Staff picking Pokrajac:Tim
Tim Burke: I say it time and time again - I don't see what all the fuss is about when it comes to Tyron Woodley. Yes, Nate Marquardt is the only guy to expose him so far, but Shields can get this to the ground, or he can catch Woodley trying to take it to the ground and snatch him up in a guillotine. Woodley's going to be too in love with his hands and Shields is crafty enough to take advantage of that. Jake Shields by submission, round 2.
Anton Tabuena: Two very talented wrestlers. Shields should have a slight advantage on the ground, but Woodley should be miles better with his stand up, and I think that would be the difference. Tyron Woodley by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Shields is better at middleweight than welterweight. If he can't get Woodley on his back then the fight is already over. His striking is so bad that even Joe Rogan can't call him "a very underrated striker". Woodley also has power to trouble Shields on the feet and that's where the fight will be won. Tyron Woodley by unanimous decision.
Fraser Coffeen: It seems like ages ago that Shields was running through the EliteXC and Strikeforce divisions. His UFC run has been a total bust, with the only win coming against Akiyama - even more of a bust than Shields. I'm still not 100% sold on the Woodley train, but sold enough to pick him here thanks to his superior stand-up and strong wrestling. Plus, I think he's coming to the UFC to prove something and will continue to fight more aggressively, which I like. Tyron Woodley by KO round 1
T.P. Grant: Terrible matchup for Shields. While Shields is a good wrestler and a great grappler, he isn't going to be able to get Woodley down short of a sneaky trip from the clinch. And if Shields manages that he will need to catch the back and lock in a choke instantly. That pretty much represents Shields best possible hope of winning. More likely is Woodley keeps this on the feet and busts Shields up until he falls down and doesn't get back up. Tyron Woodley by TKO, Round 3.
Zane Simon: This is really a question of "Which Jake Shields shows up?" He's a fighter who I respect on a performance level, but who I've always found mechanical and tiring to watch as an actual fighter. But he has the ability to be competitive at middleweight and the sort of controlling top game that suggests he could put Woodley on his back and keep him there round after round. At the end of the day however, I have to go with my gut and say that Shields is no longer among the divisional elite. Tyron Woodley by Unanimous Decision.
David Castillo: Just a bad, bad matchup for Shields, who will encounter many more in the UFC. Shields needs the takedown in this fight, and won't get it with Woodley's pedigree. Jake, when he's not throwing those open-handed jabs, is most prone to the overhand right; Tyron's specialty. There's always one high profile fighter who has to be brutally dispatched, and tonight that fighter will be Jake Shields. Tyron Woodley by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Shields: Dallas, Tim
Staff picking Woodley: Mookie, Anton, Fraser, DSM, Stephie, Grant, David, Zane
Tim Burke: Sam Stout hasn't looked that awesome over the last year or so, but he should have enough to outwork a late replacement without a big win on his resume. I was actually considering picking Stout by sub, but he'll probably want to get back to his entertaining ways and he'll kickbox for 15 minutes. Sam Stout by decision
Fraser Coffeen: Krause has been pretty good in RFA, and is coming off a nice win over Toby Imada. But Stout is a rough debut opponent. Stout is fantastic at taking a still somewhat green fighter and just outpointing him relentlessly. That's what I see happening here. Sam Stout by decision
T.P. Grant: Fun fight checklist: are they lightweights? check. have they won a reasonable amount of fights in their careers? check. Ok this should be a fun fight. Stout hasn't looked great as of late, but he always comes to fight and Krause brings a fairly well rounded game into the cage. I'll go out on a limb and take Krause here. James Krause by Decision.
Zane Simon: You must be this (pinching motion) much better than Caros Fodor to beat Sam Stout. Considering that Stout hasn't been stopped since a Kenflo choke in 2006, and his recent losses are all to faster handed strikers, I don't see jack of all trade's Krause walking in and pulling off the upset. He's on a nice streak, but unless he's advanced a lot over the last few years it's Stouts fight to lose. Sam Stout by razor thin Unanimous Decision.
David Castillo: Stout is usually at his best in fights like these, where his opponent doesn't do any one thing great, and isn't particularly dynamic. I'd expect that trend to continue. Sam Stout by Decision.
Staff picking Krause: Grant,
Staff picking Stout: Stephie, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, DSM, Dallas, Zane, David, Tim
Tim Burke: Pierson's concussion issues scare me. Normally I wouldn't have a problem picking him because Robertson is exactly the type of guy that Pierson has consistently beaten in his UFC run. But I have a feeling he's not in top shape, and Robertson will be able to outwrestle him. Despite this pick, I'm a Pimp Daddy fan till the end so I hope I'm wrong. Kenny Robertson by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Pierson has been around for ages, and at age 37, at some point, he's just not going to be winning anymore. But lately he's looked good against the lower level UFC opponents he's faced, settling into a nice groove in his current position on the card. I don't see his run lasting much longer, but I also don't see Robertson as the man to end it. Sean Pierson by decision
Zane Simon: This is a weird fight... I like Pierson, he's continually surprised me with slicker than advertised striking. And Robertson, for his part, looked fantastic out grappling Brock Jardine. Considering that he's yet to put anyone away in the UFC and has struggled previously with controlling grapplers, I'm going to take Robertson here. He's younger and I have the feeling that he has the wrestle-grapple game to pick off most of the lower tier welterweights. Kenny Robertson by Submission, Round 2.
David Castillo: Tough fight to pick; it's Pierson's doggedness vs. Robertson's blue collar eccentricity. Pierson is probably the better fighter overall, and I certainly like him to gain the advantage on the feet, but I don't think he'll find his rhythm against Robertson, who I expect to eek out a close decision. Kenny Robertson by Decision.
Staff picking Pierson: Stephie, Anton, Fraser, DSM, Dallas,
Staff picking Robertson: Mookie, Zane, David, Tim
Tim Burke: I honestly forgot this fight was on the card. Figueroa was very competitive on the feet against Mayday in his debut and he was holding his own with Rivera before the KO. Delorme has a great chin, but his takedowns are going to be the key. If Figueroa can stay upright, he knocks Delorme out. If not, it's going to be a struggle on the ground and Figueroa will gas out. Man, this is tough. I'll lean towards the former, but I wouldn't bet on this fight. Edwin Figueroa by TKO, round 2
Mookie Alexander: Delorme gets punched in the face a lot and that worries me against a guy like Figueroa, but then I remember that Figueroa's wins involve getting kicked in the balls by Alex Caceres and TKOing Jason Reinhardt. If Delorme is smart he takes it to the ground and keeps it there. Roland Delorme by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Both fighters got blitzed by Francisco Rivera last time out, and both have otherwise mediocre resumes over their time in the UFC. However, where Figueroa is a generalist who squeaked by Alex Caceres despite gaining a two point handicap (via groin strikes), Delorme is a slick specialist with a penchant for submission grappling. Figueroa doesn't have the sort of counter wrestling/grappling track record to make me think he'll stay off the mat, and he doesn't have the dominate striking to take over on the feet. Roland Delorme by Submission, Round 1.
David Castillo: While it's true Delorme has the advantage on the ground, I don't think the gap is so wide as to make this a wash, whereas I do think the gap is wide in relation to their striking games. Edwin Figueroa by Decision.
Staff picking Delorme: Anton, Fraser, Mookie, DSM, Dallas, Stephie, Grant, Zane
Staff picking Figueroa: David, Tim
Tim Burke: If Maguire can make the cut effectively (and I believe he will), he should take it. He's just a better fighter overall than Clarke. It's his fight to lose. John Maguire by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Clarke is a gamer but there's not much else in his game that makes me think he can hang around the UFC much longer. Maguire will use his Gypsy Jiu Jitsu (or whatever he calls it) and will return to his winning ways. John Maguire by decision.
Zane Simon: Heart pick! I have no good reason to be so, but I'm a bit of a mark for John Maguire. I think it's mostly because he's refreshingly weird. He may never be a top fighter in the UFC, but I have the feeling that a move to lightweight will make his submission game more potent. On the flip side, Clarke is coming off two losses to fighters that have since been cut. John Maguire by Decision.
David Castillo: Maguire's not a bad fighter; think a garage cover band performed by 8th graders to TJ Grant's MTV rockstar (Think Soundgarden, not Five Finger Deathpunch). The move down in weight will help him because his losses were gradual, and systematic. He hasn't been really embarrassed in the UFC despite some ok competition at WW. He won't need much help against Clarke who is fairly one dimensional. John Maguire by Decision.
Staff picking Clarke:
Staff picking Maguire: Stephie, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, DSM, Dallas, Grant, Zane, David, Tim
Tim Burke: Bye bye, Dustin Pague. Yves Jabouin by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Pague isn't good and Jabouin beats fighters of his caliber with ease . That's all there is to it. Yves Jabouin by lopsided unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Dustin Pague has the ability to lose any fight he's in. Jabouin is not a top tier bantamweight, but he's entrenched in the middle of the division. I expect him to stay there. Yves Jabouin via TKO, Round 1.
David Castillo: I'm gonna go out a limb and say Pague's length and reach earn him a controversial decision. Pague isn't good, and Jabouin has the ability to lose to average fighters. Dustin Pague by Decision.
Staff picking Jabouin: Stephie, Mookie, Anton, Fraser, DSM, Dallas, Grant, Zane, Tim
Staff picking Pague: David