Tim Burke: Clearly most fight fans are on Nogueira's side here. And while his boxing flies under the radar a bit, Werdum's standup is much improved and he's going to have a big cardio advantage. I hate to say it, but I think Nogueira's many past injuries are going to catch up to him here. Fabricio Werdum by TKO, round 3
Mookie Alexander: Nothing against Fabricio Werdum, but I want Big Nog to win. Will it happen? I highly doubt it. Werdum is just better (and healthier) than Nog right now and he'll probably win with his improved striking. Fabricio Werdum by unanimous decision.
Connor Ruebusch: When they fought in 2006, everyone knew that both men were masters on the ground, so we'd see some fun grappling exchanges, but Nog was expected to tool Werdum on the feet. And that's pretty much how it played out. It's funny that, seven years later, the situation is exactly the same, except that it's now Werdum who has the massive striking advantage. Nog winning this would be a phenomenal upset (and would probably ruin all of the UFC's heavyweight matchmaking hopes), but I don't see how he can do it. Fabricio Werdum by unanimous decision.
T.P. Grant: Nog might be able to box Werdum up a little, but don't underrate Werdum's current striking. He is actually a fairly competent striker who won't just walk into a cross from Nog. In the clinch I give both the striking and wrestling edge to Werdum, on the ground Werdum is the better grappler, and I feel Werdum has all the physical advantages: strength, speed, cardio, coordination, etc.. Fabricio Werdum by Decision
Fraser Coffeen: There was a time when I thought Werdum's striking was not simply "average and overrated" but was actively bad. Those days are long gone though. He showed really good strikes against both Nelson and Russow, and I expect he'll do the same here. I wish this would be a crazy ground scramble a la Mir vs. Nog II, but instead, I think it will be a slow picking apart on the feet a la Mir vs. Nog I. Fabricio Werdum by TKO, round 3
Zane Simon: I know I'm underrating Nogueira on the feet here, after all he was having his way with Frank Mir (who is at least competent) before he ended up on the wrong side of a submission. But Werdum has a long history in Muay Thai, stretching back years. And while his application of it has been hot and cold he was able to neutralize Alistair Overeem in a viciously boring fight, and put a beating on Roy Nelson. Right now I think he has too many tools for Nogueira, and if it were a three round fight I'd say UD, but at 5 rounds I'm saying Fabricio Werdum by TKO, round 4.
David St. Martin: My fondest memory of Big Nog will always be when a good buddy of mine flew to Vegas to bet $10K on Brendan Schaub. Amazing. Alas, I feel those days might be coming to a close for Nog. Submitting Dave Herman doesn't do much for me. Werdum has much more relevant wins over top 10-ish guys like Antônio Silva, Roy Nelson and Mike Russow. Oh, and Fedor. Werdum via Dec.
David Castillo: Even though the first fight is a terrible indicator on the surface, I still feel like it acts as a nice retro-blueprint. As in, despite all odds, I still like how Nog, no matter how battered, worn down, and decrepit he looks...still boxes so well. His fundamentals haven't left him, and by comparison, Werdum is still the head-down-eyes-closed gunslinger that has caused him trouble on numerous occasions. I'm not a diehard Nog fan (not that I don't love the guy) like most MMA fans, so this isn't a pick based on emotion. Stupidity? Perhaps, but not emotion. I like Nog to outbox Werdum. Nogueira by Decision.
Dallas Winston: Man, I really haven't had time to scrutinize this one yet. While my first inclination is in line with the majority, on the other hand, Werdum, while massively improved, isn't necessarily equipped to capitalize on the the concerns about Nog (chin, hand speed, quickness, etc.). Werdum's not a powerful nor polished striker; his Thai has become quite effective and his boxing was never that bad, but I don't think he can take Nog out with his hands. A clinch knee could do the trick or some well-placed elbows on the ground could force a stoppage, but Nog's boxing is still a full level above Werdum's and I don't think his sub-grappling will be adversely affected by his high mileage. Big Nog by decision.
Staff picking Nogueira: David, Dallas
Staff picking Werdum: Stephie, Connor, Grant, Mookie, Fraser, Zane, DSM, Tim
Tim Burke: Here's what I know - Santos is a sub guy that didn't sub anyone on the show, then lost. Another guy got injured, and he got the spot in the final. Macario knocked two of his three opponents out, and has knocked out five of his six legit opponents this far. Yes, this is a longwinded way of saying I read all that on Wiki and didn't watch the show. And save your stupid "B-but MMA's your JOB man!" comments. If I'm putting 10 hours into watching something in Portuguese, it's gonna be watching City of God five times in a row. William Macario by TKO, round 1
Mookie Alexander: I didn't watch a second of TUF: Brazil. So I relied on the episode replays. Santos is the better fighter and as soon as he gets it to the ground that will be a wrap against the inexperienced Macario. Santos also submitted GSP in Abu Dhabi, so he exposed GSP before Matt Serra did. Leo Santos by submission, round 1.
T.P. Grant: This is gonna be a fun fight, some old school Muay Thai vs Brazilian Jiu JItsu action ala Chute Boxe vs BTT. Macario has been striking since his teens and has collected local and state titles in boxing and muay thai. Santos is a sublime BJJ grappler, interestingly from a lineage with no Gracies in it, tracing his lineage back through Oswalda Fadda and Luiz Franca directly to Mistutyo Maeda. You might recognize Santos as the guy who beat Georges St Pierre by flying armbar at the 2005 ADCCs. Unless Macario shows some really fantastic takedown defense or lands an early, fighting changing, strike, I see Santos getting the win here. Leo Santos by Submission, Round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: It's tempting to pick Macario simply because Santos is getting in here via injury. Plus, if you've been here long, you know of my love for the Muay Thai guys. But young striker vs. crafty grappler is a bad match-up for the strikers. Ultimately, it should be easier for Santos to get it down then for Macario to keep it up. Leo Santos by submission, round 1
Zane Simon: Both these fighter have something to offer. There's video out there of Macario KOing someone from the guard, so you know he can pack a punch, and he looked good in his last, pre-TUF, fight. But he appears to have weak takedown defense, and while he won recently by submission that doesn't put him anywhere near Santos' level on the ground. As long as Santos doesn't suddenly decide he needs to please the crowd with a wild striking display he has a really clear route to victory. Leo Santos by Submission, round 1.
David St. Martin: When you don't watch TUF Brazil you're really forced to get creative with these picks. Oh, one of them submitted GSP by flying armbar at Abu Dhabi? Good enough for me. Santos via Sub round 1?
David Castillo: I haven't been that impressed with Santos as an MMA fighter. No amount of flying armbars on a (then) BJJ novice in GSP will erase getting knocked out by Jean Silva. Still, I'd expect Macario to provide little in the way of opposition. Don't be shocked if this becomes competitive though (even if brief). Leo Santos by Submission, round 2.
Dallas Winston: Damn. I thought I was going to be the lone pick for Leo here. His decision loss to Santiago Ponzinibbio on the show was pretty close, so it was natural for him to get the shot for breaking Ponzinibbio's hand with his head in the semifinals. Personally, based on the comments above, the heart Leo showed in his MMA debut over Takanori Gomi earned my respect despite the KO loss to Jean Silva, which was just his 3rd pro fight and the only time he's been finished. Also, I think Macario is a pretty good wrestler, who landed and stuffed plenty of takedowns en route to the finals. I'm worried Macario can adhere to a sprawl-and-brawl strategy to exploit Leo's forgettable stand up, but will go with my boy nonetheless.
Staff picking Macario: Tim
Staff picking Santos: Stephie, Grant, Fraser, Zane, DSM, David, Dallas
Tim Burke: Steroids and weed and fake urine, oh my! I'm actually having a hard time with this fight. Feijao is obviously the better striker. But I'm not convinced about his takedown D. Mo blew out his knee early in their fight, and Romero just jumped around him for five minutes and didn't even really try to take him down. Still though, Silva likes to brawl a little too much for my taste, and he didn't look good in the Nedkov fight either. Rafael Cavalcante by TKO, round 1
Mookie Alexander: I legitimately want to pick "overturned to no contest" for this one. Anyway, Thiago Silva has not looked good since wiping out Keith Jardine and his striking defense + chin is just a terrible combination against someone like Feijao. This will be a fun fight, and it will also be short. Feijao by KO, round 1.
Connor Ruebusch: I count myself as one of the few people who was never very impressed by Thiago Silva, and against a potent well-rounded fighter like Feijao, I don't like his chances much at all. Feijao's got the Muay Thai, BJJ, and the chin to finish Silva however he wants. Of course, it'll probably be on the feet. Feijao by TKO, round 2.
T.P. Grant: Silva hasn't officially won a fight since 2009 when he knocked out Keith Jardine. He is an athletic brawler who isn't always fighting to his advantage. I feel Feijao is a little more thoughtful on the feet and isn't going to get put away by Silva's stunning, but rarely KO, power. Rafael Cavalcante by TKO, Round 3.
Fraser Coffeen: First ever UFC fight between two guys coming off on No Contest drug suspensions? I'm too lazy to do the research on that, but it sounds right. Go Fuel! Thiago Silva by decision (that may or may not eventually get overturned)
Zane Simon: The Logical part of me wants to pick Cavalcante because he's been really very good against everyone not named Dan Henderson lately. But Thiago Silva, for all his recent drug stupidity, has only ever lost to Rashad, Machida, and Gustafsson, I'm not sure that Cavalcante is on that level. Then again I'm remembering that Silva had some trouble with Nedkov. Rafael Cavalcante via KO, Round 2.
David St. Martin: Loss, Win, Loss, No Contest, Loss, No Contest. My god. How is Silva even still in the UFC. I had some 'picking No Contest' jokes but they've been made above by better men. Feijão via TKO round 2 ... later ruled a NC.
David Castillo: Feijao, despite still being a minor headcase, has what it takes to beat Silva. I never understood the hype surrounding Thiago other than his throat-slit gesture...which looks intimidating obviously...but that demeanor never seems to play out in actual combat the bongo-Vera drums notwithstanding. Feijao is the better striker, and I think he lands some blistering right hands in this one for the impressive finish. Rafael Cavalcante by TKO.
Dallas Winston: I think Feijao has been a consummately underrated talent, even after he upset King Mo with some brilliant Thai clinch-work. I was unsure about Thiago, but thoroughly blown away by the ease with which he man-handled Brandon Vera. Now, since he's looked somewhat uninspiring since, I'm still kinda unsure. Feijao by decision.
Staff picking Feijao: Mookie, Stephie, Connor, Grant, Zane, DSM, David, Tim, Dallas
Staff picking Silva: Fraser
Tim Burke: I still don't understand why they don't just book Sarafian against Cezar Mutante to find out who really won TUF Brazil 1. Sarafian's well-rounded and comes strong early. Mendez is likely going to fold under the pressure since he doesn't have the top-level wrestling to offset it. Daniel Sarafian by submission, round 1
Mookie Alexander: I know this is a Fuel show, but there are 3 different fights on the prelims that are just way more deserving of a main card slot than this. Daniel Sarafian by KO, round 2.
Connor Ruebusch: Sarafian showed in his last fight that he's an explosive fighter with confidence in his hands, a deft ground game (dat deep half sweep!), and a limited gas tank. Eddie Mendez has shown, in every fight I've seen of his, that he has no capacity whatsoever to impress me. But hey, that worked out pretty well for C.B. Dolloway, didn't it? Still, if the judges are watching this time, Daniel Sarafian by TKO, round 2.
T.P. Grant: Sarafian isn't a finished product, but Mendez is just raw. Daniel Sarafian by TKO, Round 2.
Zane Simon: What I saw out of Sarafian against Dolloway was a good fighter, who didn't have a good game plan. Even if that doesn't change, I don't think he'll need one to defeat Mendez. I think he'll be able to get Mendez down and out of his depth fairly quickly. Daniel Sarafian by Submission, Round 1.
David St. Martin: LPT: always pick the guy who actually has a Wikipedia page. Someone get out there and make one for Eddie. Sarafian via Sub round 2.
David Castillo: Sarafian has a decent game that I think will serve him well against undercard journeyman so long as they can't capitalize on his cardio. Daniel Sarafian by Submission.
Staff picking Mendez:
Staff picking Sarafian: Mookie, Stephie, Fraser, Grant, Zane, DSM, Connor, David, Tim, Dallas
Tim Burke: Honestly, there aren't a ton of welterweights in the UFC that I'd pick to beat Jason High nowadays. I think he has the skills to be a top 15 guy in the division. Unfortunately, I think that Erick Silva still has the ability to be a top 5 guy. All Silva's done is wreck submission grapplers so far and if it was possible to choke out Jon Fitch, he'd probably be fighting top 10 competition right now. If High can weather the early storm and tire him out, he could take the last two rounds. But I have to go with the Silva blitz taking High out early. And maybe we can get another cool cage flip. Erick Silva by TKO, round 1
Mookie Alexander: Glad that Jason High is FINALLY back in the UFC after the rare "one and done" against Charlie Brenneman. Can Jason use his wrestling to grind out a decision win against Erick? I think he can get Silva down, but Silva isn't easy to hold down, and let's not forget he's aggressive anywhere the fight takes place. It's not like Silva was completely smashed by Jon Fitch; that was a competitive fight against an elite welterweight (until round 3), and Silva is going to take this one against a game Jason High. Erick Silva by TKO, round 2.
Connor Ruebusch: Jason High hasn't looked bad in his recent fights by any means. And he definitely shouldn't get cut from the UFC again after a single loss. But let's ignore Dana White and remember that a hard-fought loss to Jon Fitch is nothing to be ashamed of. Erick Silva is still a very impressive prospect, and his capacity for quick finishes is not to be ignored. High will probably go the Charlie Brenneman route, and I suspect he won't have any more success than Charlie Brenneman did. Erick Silva by submission, round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: Silva is the easy pick here, but High is pretty underrated. Fitch showed that you can grind your way to a win over Silva, and High is capable of doing just that. Still, I think Silva is explosive enough to catch him at some point, but this is a close one. Erick Silva by KO round 1
T.P. Grant: This is a closer fight than I think many will give it credit for, High is a good wrestler and grappler. He could very well prove Silva's better on the floor. I want to pick High here, but I just can't pick against the flashes of serious talent we've seen from Silva. Should be a good fight and it'll be good to see High back in the UFC. Erick Silva by Decision.
Zane Simon: I really hope that the Kansas City Bandit isn't one and done in the UFC again. For as well as Fitch controlled Silva over the second half of the fight, he had some trouble early. Against someone who's not quite as controlling as Fitch, I think that Silva can really dominate. Respect to High, but this isn't a good fight for him. Erick Silva by TKO, Round 1.
David St. Martin: I thought Erick Silva would be in line for a title shot by now. Four straight wins (Prater counts), two of which came within 40 seconds. High hopes took a nose dive once he ran into Jon Fitch, but I think he bounces back here. Silva via TKO round 2.
David Castillo: Silva proved he could handle the wrestle-boxers that permeate the WW division. Sort of. Despite losing, I thought Silva showed why he's still raw, but a solid prospect with a shade of blue rather than a fresh coat of paint. High is a wrestle-boxer that doesn't always know when to switch, and has proven to be a bit "chinny". Still an excellent fight all around though, and I wouldn't be shocked by Silva crumbled again, but I like his ability to scramble and take advantage (of his advantage) on the feet. Erick Silva by Decision.
Staff picking High: Stephie
Staff picking Silva: Mookie, Fraser, Grant, Zane, DSM, Connor, David, Tim, Dallas
Tim Burke: I really like Rony Jason. He was great on TUF Brazil 1 and he came to throw down with Sicilia. I think he got caught up in the moment a bit in that fight and lost his rhythm because Sicilia was coming so strong. He's generally an excellent counterstriker and has good instincts overall. While Wilkinson goes like to strike, I think he's going to get caught with a counter early and often. Then the crying will commence. Rony Jason by TKO, round 2
Mookie Alexander: I echo Fraser's thoughts below, Jason is pretty damn reckless on the feet and won't get away with that against better featherweights. Wilkinson is not one of those better featherweights. Rony Jason by TKO, round 1.
Connor Ruebusch: Apparently Mike Wilkinson is an American professional basketball player, so I really don't see what business he has being in the Octagon with Rony Jason. Rony Jason by TKO, round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: I'm not totally sold on Jason, as he showed some real defensive striking issues against Sicilia. But Wilkinson is a ground fighter who won't win those striking exchanges, while Jason is I think good enough to deal with Wilkinson's ground game. Rony Jason by KO round 1
Zane Simon: Like Fraser said above, Wilkinson is just too limited a fighter to expose the holes in Rony's game. I feel like I'm picking a lot of stoppages in this card, which means that it will probably end up with a ton of decisions, but Rony Jason by incredibly emotional TKO Round 2.
Staff picking Jason: Stephie, Fraser, Zane, DSM, Grant, Connor, Tim, Dallas, David
Staff picking Wilkinson:
Tim Burke: I think this is actually going to be a pretty good fight. Sure, it doesn't make sense from a matchmaking perspective. But Lee's pretty decent on the feet, and I don't think he's the type of striker to let Assuncao establish his unique standup game. Truthfully, Assuncao has a bigger advantage on the ground here and should probably try to take it there. He hasn't shown much desire to do that in the WEC or UFC thus far, but we'll see. I expect a good striking battle edged out by Assuncao. Raphael Assuncao by decision.
Mookie Alexander: You've got to be joking. Assuncao beats Mike Easton on short notice (sustaining a broken arm in the process!) and he gets Vaughan Lee next? This has to be a booking solely to give Assuncao an impressive win in Brazil against a completely overmatched opponent. Raphael Assuncao by submission, round 1.
Connor Ruebusch: I feel bad for both fighters here. Assuncao is having his time wasted with a matchup far below his rep. And Vaughan is being given this fight even though his last win was over Motonobu Tezuka (who?). Bad matchmaking here, plain and simple. Raphael Assuncao by submission, round 2.
Zane Simon: Bad matchup for Lee everywhere the fight goes. Assuncao has tightened his game up into something special, and I see a run to a title shot in his near future. For Lee, I'm seeing a continuation of his win/loss/win/loss UFC career. Rafael Assuncao by total domination.
David Castillo: Assuncao had a rough stretch for awhile, but recently he's picked up from where he left when he was a man to be feared, and wasn't easy pickings even for guys like Urjiah Faber. With his technical, compact boxing and excellent jiu jitsu, I like him to beat Lee and calm and calculated fashion. Rafael Assuncao by Decision.
Staff picking Assuncao: Stephie, Connor, Fraser, Zane, DSM, Grant, Tim, Dallas, David
Staff picking Lee:
Tim Burke: I'm really surprised Arantes is the favorite here. He's a durable fighter, but Pepey is pretty damn good. He's tall and long for a featherweight, which should negate Arantes' muay thai to a degree. And he's definitely better on the ground. I think Pepey can control the fight anywhere it goes and he should be able to win all three rounds. Godofredo Pepey by decision.
Zane Simon: I know MMA Math isn't cool, but when two fighters share the same opponent as their most recent fight I think it's legitimate to look at those fights as a guideline to how these two will match up. Unfortunately it doesn't offer much as Felipe Arantes fought Milton Vieira to a draw and Castro took a split decision. Dead ends aside Arantes hasn't fought in almost a year. Godofredo Castro by Split Decision.
Staff picking Arantes: Stephie, Fraser, Mookie, Grant, Dallas
Staff picking Castro: Zane, DSM, Connor, Tim
Tim Burke: Man, these fights are tough to call. Sure, Alcantara is dropping two weight classes after a win over Wagner Prado. But Silva usually fights at 155. Just on size alone I have to go with Alcantara. Ildemar Alcantara by TKO, round 2
Connor Ruebusch: Not knowing either of these guys very well, I guess I'll go with Zane. Ildemar is a welterweight who has proven he can fight effectively all the way up to heavyweight. A guy who can make that cut versus a former lightweight will have a huge size advantage, and Alcantara's experience should be enough to put an end to Silva's win streak. Ildemar Alcantara by Unanimous Decision.
Zane Simon: Ildemar Alcantara is huge at welterweight, and while he's not the smoothest striker in the world, Buscape has spent the bulk of his career at lightweight. Between two decent, but not great submission fighters the fact that one is roughly twice the size of the other should skew this fight pretty heavily. Ildemar Alcantara by Unanimous Decision.
Staff picking Alcantara: Stephie, Fraser, Zane, DSM, Grant, Mookie, Connor, Tim, Dallas
Staff picking Silva:
Tim Burke: Remember when Damm TKO'd Jorge Masvidal in Sengoku in 2008 (the only guy to ever do so)? Yeah, he's 2-6 since then. Mizuto Hirota by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Let me just say in advance that Hirota isn't going to contend just because he dropped a weight class, such as the common thing to say when a Japanese fighter is undersized in the UFC. Anyway, Damm stopped being a good prospect a long time ago and I see Hirota boxing circles around him. Mizuto Hirota by unanimous decision.
Connor Ruebusch: Oh my God. The guy from the Aoki arm break/flip off fight is in the UFC? I see Damm trying to take this to the ground and employing his accurate ground and pound for the finish. And if it stays on the feet, Hirota outstruck my boy Kikuno, so... Mizuto Hirota by TKO, round 3.
Zane Simon: I feel like I missed out on the part of Damm's career where it made sense that he was a really good prospect. I've never really seen him look anything more than passably mediocre. Conversely Hirota always seems to look good, even in losing efforts. I think he'll put it all together for this fight and breeze past Damm. Mizuto Hirota by Unanimous Decision.
Staff picking Damm: Fraser, DSM, Grant
Staff picking Hirota: Stephie, Zane, Mookie, Connor, Dallas
Tim Burke: I'm not sure what to make of this fight. They're both lower-tier middleweights and don't have a ton of upside. Vemola can toss people around the cage like monkeys toss their poop at zoo visitors, but I wouldn't say he's all that skilled. Can Magalhaes show somethng he couldn't against the Freebird? I doubt it. Karlos Vemola by decision.
Mookie Alexander: Wow, there's just so little to get excited about on this card. I see nothing in Caio and i see nothing in Vemola to make me believe either one of them is going to be a UFC mainstay. I'll go with Vemola based on his 150 time Czech wrestling champion credentials. It's as meaningful as being the #1 Muay Thai fighter out of Bolivia. Karlos Vemola by decision.
Connor Ruebusch: When watching this undercard, it is advised that you repeat the following mantra to yourself: "Nog in the main event, Pride never die. Nog in the main event, Pride never die..." Good luck. Karlos Vemola by unanimous decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Vemola easy. I mean, he IS a Czech wrestling champion, right? What's that you say Coach Mike? Oh... well, screw it, he still is a better MMA fighter. Karlos Vemola by decision
Zane Simon: Once again a mediocre fight, most likely decided by size. Karlos Vemola by Unanimous Decision.
Staff picking Magalhaes: Dallas
Staff picking Vemola: Stephie, Fraser, Mookie, Zane, DSM, Grant, Connor, Tim
Tim Burke: This is a great first fight for Braga Neto. Roger Gracie basically gave Smith five minutes of standup to get some cage time in and couldn't really get anything going. Braga Neto's not going to give him that opportunity and he's going to sub him ASAP. Antonio Braga Neto by submission, round 1
Mookie Alexander: Poor Anthony Smith. He left Strikeforce having lost to Roger Gracie and he joins the UFC fighting Antonio Braga Neto. The outcome will be the same. Antonio Braga Neto by submission, round 2.
Connor Ruebusch: Like Mookie said. Anthony Smith must have a too-high salary from Strikeforce for the UFC to give him this as his first fight. Antonio Braga Neto by submission, round 1.
Zane Simon: I actually thought that Smith looked pretty good against Roger Gracie before an eye gouge threw off his timing and depth perception. But however the fight got to the ground, he looked lost once it was there. And Braga Neto is one of the few fighters at middleweight who can claim similar grappling credentials. Antonio Braga Neto by Submission.
Staff picking Neto: Mookie, Stephie, Fraser, Zane, DSM, Grant, Tim, Dallas
Staff picking Smith: