Tim Burke: Do I think Weidman has what it takes to beat Anderson Silva? Maybe someday. But not after nine pro fights, and not with Anderson Silva still at top speed. Despite all the hype about Weidman's all-round game, I just don't see what how he's supposed to win. He's not going to submit Silva. He's not a Sonnen-style wrestler that will control from the top for 25 minutes. And he's not winning on the feet. Anderson's going to do what he always does - see what his opponent has for him early, figure it out, then win. It's that simple to me. Anderson Silva by TKO, round 3.
Anton Tabuena: People keep giving that ‘styles make fights' argument, and while Weidman is indeed the most intriguing match-up available for Silva stylistically, I just can't pick him to win based on actual performances from both men. Maybe Weidman has fulfilled his massive potential, maybe the 38-year-old in Silva has suddenly aged, and maybe the reflexes that he relies on heavily has slowed down and will start to fail him. Those are possible scenarios, sure, but there just aren't enough actual evidence on those for me to pick Weidman. Not just yet. Anderson Silva by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: To me, Weidman's potential is so high that I could see him being penned as one of the greatest talents the UFC has ever seen. I've had to put some thought into this one and while I think Weidman is a stylistic nightmare for Silva, it's not like Anderson is one to be taken down easily or absorbs substantial damage on the ground. If Weidman wins this he has to finish within 2 rounds, which could be possible if he shows his strength and punishing top game to be at an elite level. His striking has improved greatly since his debut vs. Sakara, but Anderson Silva is just much better than everyone on the feet. I'll provide a cop out answer -- Weidman wins round 1 and then Silva shows us why he's the 2nd best fighter in MMA history (behind Phil Baroni). Anderson Silva by TKO, round 2.
T.P. Grant: I've gone back and forth on this fight, not because I think Weidman is anywhere near as accomplished, but because their styles match up very well. Weidman's strengths fit nicely into Silva's weaknesses and vise versa. Silva is a master of distance on control and that is going to be a huge challenge for Weidman, and who wins that distance battle likely makes or breaks the fight. In the end I think it is most likely Silva wins, he is so good and talented and has been doing this for a long time. BUT, I think Weidman is going to be an elite Middleweight and to rise to that level at some point he is going to have to beat someone that no one thinks he can beat. It has been a while since MMA has given fans a jump out of their seat upset, we almost got it with Jones vs Belfort and I think Weidman will close the deal. Chris Weidman by Submission, Round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: There's been a growing pro-Weidman sentiment for the past few weeks, and it's really hit a fever pitch this week. I simply ask - why? What am I missing? Because I see this as another guy who's not Anderson Silva and is going to get Silva-d into oblivion. There is this nagging feeling in my gut that I'm being too impulsive here and that maybe folks are right - maybe Silva is at the end of his very impressive line. But I have seen nothing from Silva lately that makes me think that's true. Anderson Silva by KO, round 2
David St. Martin: It's funny that St-Pierre and Weidman are teammates because this might be a 'GSP-Hughes 1' type moment. It took GSP losing to Hughes - and maybe getting stopped by Serra - to help make him the champ he is today. Weidman might not be quite ready yet, but will be soon. I think that's a decent argument not to pick Weidman, but I'm gonna do it anyway. I don't really buy the inexperience argument after watching Rousey rule the world at 7-0. Weidman isn't a guy who needs cage time in order to develop. It's all about honing that potential to make his fights simply performances. Weidman by TKO round 4
Zane Simon: I'm with Fraser here, Weidman is a good fighter, but his experience at the top end of the division is limited and suspect. It's simply too little for me to feel like I've seen enough to see him beating Anderson Silva. Am I prepared for him to surprise me, sure. When that many people are picking him for an upset it's foolish to assume that they've all got it totally wrong. Weidman's got the jiu jitsu, he's got the wrestling, and he's got the blind stupid belief in himself, but I doubt that will be enough. Anderson Silva by KO, Round 2
Connor Ruebusch: Anderson is Anderson--we all know that. But the Spider isn't half as unbeatable as his opponents tend to think him to be. Okami is no magician on the feet, and he was able to force the clinch with Anderson. I think that Weidman will not only be able to do the same, but utilize some of his excellent clinch takedowns to bring the champ down to the ground. I can see this being back and forth, but Silva's stalling guard game doesn't bode well for him against a grappler of Weidman's ability, who won't simply give the champion wrist control and wait patiently to be triangled. The only real question is, will Chris Weidman have the gas tank to swim in the deep waters? His conditioning might be lacking, since he just recently spent several weeks smashing Mark Munoz' head into a pulp. A beating like that can wear a guy out. Chris Weidman by Submission, round 3.
Dallas Winston: Making a fight prediction pretty much boils down to a style and experience/level of competition comparison. Style wise, yes ... Weidman comes across like a supercharged Sonnen, and I'll again credit him devoutly for exhibiting such impressive three-dimensional skills. But that's the whole point of earning "three-D" accolades -- you have the horsepower to be a bad match up for anyone. The other side of the prediction formula is obviously all Silva, as his knees and elbows alone have just about finished the same number of opponents that Weidman's ever faced in MMA. Weidman's tackled two elite opponents and has exactly one marquee win. That means you have two choices: a potential-based pick for the promising but inexperienced youngster or the greatest martial artist on earth because ... he's the greatest martial artist on earth. Anderson Silva by Matrix KO.
David Castillo: As much as I hate doing it, I've gotta go with Weidman. Silva is a damn freak, but he's a 38 year old damn freak. This wonderful, violent old man has to look old at some point right? Even disregarding that, I still think Weidman is a stylistic nightmare. Unlike Sonnen, Chris will actually do something with the takedown; his ability to finish on the ground is phenomenal, and Silva is still a guy that struggles defensively on the ground. Chris Weidman by submission, round 2.
Staff picking Silva: Mookie, Fraser, Anton, Zane, Dallas, Tim
Staff picking Weidman: Grant, DSM, Stephie, Connor, David
Tim Burke: This is a strange fight. But they really want to get Edgar a win to break his losing streak, and he's going to get it. While I like Oliveira, he's in way over his head. Frankie Edgar by decision.
Anton Tabuena: This was definitely set up to make Frankie Edgar look good again. I don't have a huge problem with it though, as Edgar deserves lighter competition after losing his last 3 bouts, and having to run through a gauntlet of elite competition since 2010. It's a necessary bout for Edgar as he tries to rebound, but I don't think we'll see anything shocking or surprising here. Frankie Edgar by a routine one-sided Decision.
Mookie Alexander: This is such an obvious squash match and there is nothing to make me believe Oliveira can win this. Zilch. Zip. Nada. If Oliveira isn't finished or isn't on the wrong end of a 10-8 round then that's a "moral victory". Edgar will box circles around him and while he doesn't have much in the way of consistently dangerous power, Oliveira's head movement is borderline non-existent and he'll just eat an accumulation of strikes before going down and out. Frankie Edgar by TKO, round 2.
T.P. Grant: While I don't expect this to be a super competitive fight I do expect it to be entertaining as Oliveira is a flawed fighter when it comes to defense but he loves to throw offense. Edgar is going to wrestle-box him into the ground though. Frankie Edgar by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Edgar may be on a 3 fight losing streak, but he'll have to have really fallen apart to lose this one. The tough debate is: finish or no finish? Considering he finished Maynard, and that Oliveira's defense is suspect, plus that Edgar will prefer to keep it standing over grinding it out on the mat with the submission specialist, I go finish. Frankie Edgar by TKO round 1
David St. Martin: I'm just excited to see Edgar fight a three-round bout. He's only had one non-five-round fight since 2011 and that was his fourth round KO of Gray Maynard. Before that you have to go back to '09. I love Oliveira but he just hasn't shined against top tier guys. Jim Miller, Donald Cerrone and Cub Swanson are tough sledding for anyone. Here comes more. Edgar by TKO round 2.
Zane Simon: I really want to pick Oliveira. I like his style, and he seems to have a great deal of potential, but he's been given zero time to season and this won't help. He's flashy on the feet, but takes defensive risks that more competent fighters have been easily able to take advantage of. I doubt those are things he's suddenly fixed, training almost never works like that. And if that's the case I expect a short night of work for Edgar. Frankie Edgar by TKO round 1.
Connor Ruebusch: I would really, really like to see Edgar lose this one... I'll never forgive him for his second "fight" with BJ Penn. But I already made the risky pick with Weidman in the main event, so I've got to go with the obvious favorite, which is Frankie Edgar by Unanimous Decision.
Dallas Winston: As I mentioned in the Tete-a-Tete with Nate, this seems like such an easy and logical win for Edgar that it starts to seem like the ingredients for an upset. Frankie will be expected to beat or walk through almost anyone who doesn't have a belt at 55/45. The combination of that "foregone conclusion" feeling for Edgar and the fact that he's been unbelievably consistent matched with Oliveira's absurd offensive potency and the under-appreciated advantage of having nothing to lose leaves the door open for some surprises. I'll stay even-keeled and take Edgar but feel the prediction deserves to be accompanied by an "Upset Alert" admonishment. ‘CHOUT FOR UPSHETS YOU GUIZE.
Frankie Edgar by decision.
David Castillo: Pretty simple fight to pick. While Oliviera may be able to use his range, Edgar will be able to zip in and out like he always does, going to a judges decision in the process. Which, frankly, I don't mind. I enjoy his style, but I especially enjoy his style when it's against opponents who can't handle his speed. ‘Da Bronx' will be one of those guys. Frankie Edgar by Decision.
Staff picking Edgar: Mookie, Grant, Fraser, Anton, Stephie, DSM, Zane, Connor, David, Dallas, Tim
Staff picking Oliveira:
Tim Burke: I'm not a fan of Tim Kennedy to say the least, but I'm not picking Gracie because of that. I'm picking Gracie because Kennedy's going to play into his game - probably get a takedown and then get tied up. Even if he doesn't, Roger can get his own takedowns. Roger Gracie by submission, round 2
Anton Tabuena: I think Roger will eventually manage to get a takedown from the clinch, and then it will be business as usual for him. Takedown, pass, choke. Roger Gracie by Submission.
Mookie Alexander: The last three appearances by Gracies in the UFC (Royce, Rolles, and Renzo) have all been HORRIBLE to watch. Is the fourth time going to be any different? Roger is a huge middleweight whose submission skills are sublime. On the ground he's better than Kennedy and as TP Grant says below, Kennedy isn't exactly the type of fighter who can bust Roger up in a striking battle. Roger Gracie by unanimous decision.
T.P. Grant: Everyone is going to voice the classic gameplan to beat a Gracie, keep him standing and box him up. The problem, Tim Kennedy's best skill is his grappling. His striking isn't all that good, and Gracie a grasp on basic striking fundamentals and uses his reach well enough to frustrate Kennedy on the feet. Gracie has better takedowns than he is given credit for and on the ground, well it is Roger Gracie. Roger Gracie by Rear Naked Choke, Round 2.
David St. Martin: Short of a home run KO shot I'm not sure how Kennedy prevails in this one. Gracie has been working his striking non-stop for years and he hasn't forgotten about being the best grappler in the world. A tentative first round will eventually lead to a Roger takedown and inevitable submission. Gracie by Sub round 2.
Zane Simon: The biggest problem in this fight is really that Kennedy is not a striker. He's a guy who likes to punch his way into the clinch and then grind people out with strong grappling and decent submissions. Gracie may be less polished standing than Kennedy, but he's not so much less polished that I don't think he can survive, and I think Kennedy's punch & clinch instincts will drive him into making the kind of mistakes that will get him subbed early. Roger Gracie by Submission, Round 2.
Connor Ruebusch: Tim Kennedy has less-than-serviceable striking, decent takedowns, and good submission skills. Roger Gracie has serviceable striking, good takedowns, and suberb submission skills. Not much thought needed for this one. Let's just hope Tim Kennedy's recent criticisms of UFC fighter pay weren't redacted too late for his own good. Roger Gracie by Submission, round 2.
David Castillo: Gracie has not been lights out, but he still does a lot of things really well for a guy that also happens to be a complete neophyte in the cage. This is sort of the perfect matchup: he's fighting a guy who doesn't do any one thing great, which means Gracie can still win with his brilliant, elite grappling ability. I expect him to. It'll be a tough match, and maybe even a controversial one but Kennedy has always been one step behind the real contenders. Gracie may not be a contender at this point, but the high ceiling that hinges on his ground game should be the difference in this one. Roger Gracie by Decision.
Dallas Winston: Huh. Didn't expect to be on a desert island for this one. Kennedy has never been submitted. He's been taken down exactly once in his premiere fights, and that was by Rockhold, who set it up nicely but couldn't do much with it. So it's tough for me to think that a guy whose core competency is takedown/submission defense will be taken down and submitted; especially because Kennedy -- and everyone else -- knows Roger has one way to win, and Tim's a tough and smart fighter who trains with a camp known for well-crafted strategies. Roger's length will be key but I just don't think his speed, footwork and striking are up to par for this one. Tim Kennedy by decision.
Staff picking Gracie: Mookie, Grant, Fraser, Anton, Stephie, DSM, Zane, Connor, David, Tim
Staff picking Kennedy: Dallas
Tim Burke: This fight is really hard to call. Munoz' MMA wrestling has always been kind of overrated, and while Boetsch has some creds, his isn't exactly awesome either. Boetsch wins by imposing his will on guys, and that's going to be very hard to do on Munoz. This might be a 15-minute clinch battle, and while I would normally lean towards Boetsch if that did happen, I'm not going to here. I think Mark's layoff is going to be more of a help than a hinderance, and he's going to squeak out an ugly fight. Mark Munoz by split decision.
Anton Tabuena: I think Munoz should be the better MMA fighter overall, and whatever slight advantages Boetsch may have standing, he can make up with massive power. That being said, there are a lot of question marks that make it very hard to pick him. Apart from a long injury-riddled layoff, Munoz also battled depression and massive weight gain which saw him balloon to over 250 lbs. He looks to be in tremendous shape now, but will letting himself go still have an effect on his performance? As a lot of his time during camp was also spent working hard to get back into peak condition, so did that lessen the time he could've put in focusing on actually improving his skills, and game planning instead? Will ring rust play a factor? Those are all serious factors to consider when thinking about choosing Munoz. Lucky for me, I'm Filipino, and I don't really need to use my head on this pick. Mark Munoz by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Mark Munoz's takedown percentage in the WEC and UFC (via FightMetric) is 15/65. That is a 23% success rate with 5 of those 15 takedowns coming against Chris Leben. He will not take down Boetsch thus nullifying his best asset: ground and pound. He also won't outstrike him as Boetsch has proven he can take punishment and deliver a beating of his own. Munoz has obviously dedicated a lot of his time into losing almost 100 lbs, and so far the results are impressive, but when you compare the skills of the two fighters I find it difficult to pick Munoz definitively in any category. Tim Boetsch by TKO, round 2.
T.P. Grant: As Mookie has pointed out, Munoz is a pretty clear example that not all wrestling success transfers to MMA. Munoz has powerful striking, especially on the ground, but is unrefined on the feet. I don't really see how Munoz gets at Boetsch in any meaningful or consistent way. I think this turns into a rather plodding match in which Boetsch wins at least two rounds by a reasonable margin. Tim Boetsch by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: This is a tough one as it's two guys who I think have both been ranked too highly for some time. They both have good wins, make no mistake, but they're also both quite flawed. Munoz's layoff is a concern for me, as is the fact that he got so out of shape during that time. I feel like ultimately he's going to be a far better MMA wrestling coach than MMA fighter, and this may be the fight to send him that way. Tim Boetsch by decision
David St. Martin: It's great to see Munoz in a better place after his layoff but it might be too little too late. At 35, it'll be interesting to see how much he has left in the tank. Boetsch is a tough rebound because he never goes quietly. It's going to take an effort I'm not sure Munoz can muster to put him down. Boetsch via Decision
Zane Simon: While Munoz has arguably had the more success in his MMA career, Boetsch has been much more consistent. Following a long layoff, I'll take the fighter who's more likely to fight his game irrespective of outside influence. Also Boetsch pretty well fits the mold of the kind of fighters Munoz has struggled with in the past.
Connor Ruebusch: I actually think that folks are overselling Munoz' striking, and underselling Boetsch's. Boetsch has some really nice front kicks, decent punches, and good clinch strikes which, when coupled with his trailer park Judo, make him a real powerhouse at middleweight. His short-lived rise to the top might have been a fluke, and he may not be in the top ten of that division much longer, but he has the right tools to beat a fighter like Munoz, who has proven to be a very nice guy, and a very underwhelming fighter. Tim Boetsch by TKO, round 3.
David Castillo: Munoz struggles to find a rhythm in fights, and I think Boetsch is just a terrible fight for him given this last specific layoff. This feels like a fight where Munoz tries to do too much, and when he realizes Boetsch is still standing after his initial onslaught, will be unable to regain any edge on the bout. Plus I like Tim's ability to pick Munoz apart on the feet. Not only can he win through points, with his front kicks, but he's got a mean uppercut, and some nifty but crude Judo. Or so I've heard. Tim Boetsch by TKO, round 3.
Dallas Winston: Who is a better wrestler at middleweight than Munoz? I can think of Weidman and Okami. So he's one of the three best wrestlers in the world at 185, which doesn't seem like the glaring flaw that it's being painted as. Per Mookie's reference of FightMetric stats on Munoz's takedowns, Boetsch, in his five fights since moving to 185, has hit 13 of 38 of takedowns. However, 11 of those were against Ring and Grove, leaving him with a 2 for 11 ratio against Okami (0 for 1), Lombard (0 of 9) and Costa (2 of 8). Or maybe I'm just stat-fighting. Either can take the other down but it will be based on set-up, instinct and timing. Boetsch seems to struggle when he can't barge into range and shove people around; his clinch-range strikes are devastating but he seems uncomfortable with combinations and rhythm from outside. He definitely has the chin/durability edge but I think Munoz keeps him at bay with defensive clinching and uses the threat of takedowns to counter Boetsch's forward aggression. Mark Munoz by decision.
Staff picking Boetsch: Mookie, Grant, Fraser, DSM, Zane, Connor, David
Staff picking Munoz: Anton, Stephie, Dallas, Tim
Tim Burke: I've always underestimated Cub Swanson, and I'm going to continue to do that here.
While Swanson is flashier, I believe that Siver is a better kickboxer and he can keep Swanson from doing anything crazy. And Swanson isn't going to get him to the floor. I'm going with the guy that kicks harder and with more accuracy. Dennis Siver by decision.
Mookie Alexander: My personal pick for FOTN. Swanson has improved tremendously and it looks like he's entering the peak of his career. I expect this to remain standing for at least 80% of the fight, in which case I think Swanson's athleticism, quickness, and creativity on the feet will be too much for Siver to handle. Cub Swanson by unanimous decision.
T.P. Grant: This one is going to be good. Siver has looked at Featherweight, better than many thought the rather bulky Lightweight could. But I think Swanson will have the speed edge in this one, while Siver I feel is the better kicker. If Siver can slow this match down and make it a more tactical affair I think he comes out a winner, and expect Siver to try to work in a takedown or two to keep Swanson honest. But I think Swanson is going to pressure and turn this into his kind of fight. Cub Swanson by Decision.
Zane Simon: Cub Swanson is definitely on a tear of late, but I can't shake the memory of Siver's win over Phan out of my mind. That's not to say that Phan and Swanson are at all similar, they're not, but Siver utterly dominated and dismantled him. I have this feeling that Siver is going to come out and put on the performance of his career. Dennis Siver by Unanimous Decision
Connor Ruebusch: I have to go with Cub on this one. His boxing, while unorthodox, is looking sharper than ever, and he's one of those rare little guys with serious dynamite in his fists. His BJJ game is also very clever. If Siver tries taking him down to keep him guessing, I could see his nonexistent neck getting wrapped up in one of Cub's textbook guillotines. Cub Swanson by TKO, round 3.
David Castillo: I think people are underrating Siver in this one. Cub's eccentric style will be the x-factor, and will likely be enough to win, but he's still prone to getting hit. And Siver is adept at sticking with low kick, high kick, right hand, left hand all day...all day. It's how a German eats. I'm still picking Swanson because I need to get some "prognostications" right for once. Cub Swanson by TKO, round 2.
Dallas Winston: Castillo nailed it: Cub's a fan favorite because he has an incredible conglomeration of skill and goes balls out, which translates to electric offense and defensive liabilities. Cub's a forward-moving risk taker and Siver is a static counter-puncher looking to blast his fists through openings. I expect the exchanges to be volatile and the slightest mistake will spell doom. Cub has to be extra careful on his wild entries but I like his diversity here. Cub Swanson by decision.
Staff picking Siver: Zane, Tim
Staff picking Swanson: Mookie, Grant, Fraser, Anton, Stephie, DSM, Connor, David, Dallas
Tim Burke: It depends how Craig wants to fight. I think he has some wrestling, so if he wants to go to the floor he might just do that. If he chooses to kickbox with Leben, it might turn out badly for him. I'm not saying that Leben is back and is going to make a run or anything, but I'm not as convinced as my compatriots are about how good Craig is. He beat Noke after Noke blew out his knee in the third round, and was almost KO'd by Rafael Natal. He's hittable, and Leben likes to hit people. I hope we can see Leben put the stamp on this kid, son. Chris Leben by KO, round 2
T.P. Grant: Leben has been around for so long and gone through so many ups and downs it is very easy to forget he is just 32-years-old. Given there is a lot of wear on his tires has he has over 30 pro fights and has made his wares as a banger. But I think Leben has a little left in the tank and the Portland Zombie returns to feast on Craig's brains. Chris Leben by KO, Round 1.
Zane Simon: Chris Leben has become a fighter of slowly diminishing returns. His win over Wanderlei is a bright spot for a fighter that generally hasn't looked the same since a magical run back in 2010. Do we really believe, at this point, that fighters can magically rejuvenate their careers? It'd be one thing if he was losing fights due to poor game planning, technical gaps, or some other sizable, but fixable flaw, but he looks to be much the same fighter he was when he was winning, just older and slower, and I doubt he'll have fixed that. Andrew Craig by Unanimous Decision.
Connor Ruebusch: The fact that Anderson was considered to have "exposed" Chris Leben back in the day is extremely upsetting. Did the MMA world once actually think that Leben was any kind of gifted striker? He's always been a sloppy brawler with a granite chin, and not much else. He showed improved BJJ in his last bout against Brunson, but I don't think that'll be enough to stop Craig from taking another boring decision over him. Andrew Craig by Unanimous Decision.
David Castillo: Craig should take this. He's not a bad fighter, but more importantly, he'll be able to mix it up against a guy who has been declining for some time. On top of that, Leben is an emotional guy. There won't be anything graceful to this proceedings, so expect Leben to get caught, either on the feet, or on the ground. I just can't pick a guy with Leben's checkered past. Andrew Craig by submission, round 2. .
Staff picking Craig: Fraser, Stephie, Zane, Connor, David, Dallas
Staff picking Leben: Mookie, Grant, Anton, DSM, Tim
Tim Burke: It looks like they're trying to give Parke a non-threatening opponent to ease his way into the UFC officially. I don't expeect this to be exciting or have a finish, but Parke should win. Norman Parke by decision.
T.P. Grant: Two fighters coming off less than thrilling wins over TUF fighters. Tough call to make as it is tough to judge either fighter based on their level of competition. I'll lean Parke based on his work with Alliance. Norman Parke by Decision.
Zane Simon: I have an undying love for the smaller Japanese promotions, and want to see their fighter succeed globally. In that vein I'll stay true to type and pick Tokudome to take this in a rousing decision. Kazuki Tokudome via Split Decision.
David Castillo: Parke is gonna try to clinch all day, and there's a good chance he'll be rewarded for it without doing anything else. However, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that just this once, the gods will smile on an Asian fighter whose fate rests in the hands of the judges. Judo jostling will look better to them than clinch-and-pray. Kazuki Tokudome by Decision.
Staff picking Parke: Mookie, Fraser, Grant, Stephie, DSM, Dallas, Tim
Staff picking Tokudome: Anton, Zane, Connor, David
Tim Burke: Weird fight. Herman hits hard, which is Gonzaga's kryptonite. But Herman's kind of chinny himself, and he's pretty wild. Gonzaga can probably get takedowns on him too, and he can definitely finish it there if he wants. But as usual, it's Gabriel Gonzaga so he probably won't do that. This is really tough to pick. I'll throw a weird one out there and say that Gonzaga will chop him down with kicks and get an eventual stoppage. Gabriel Gonzaga by TKO, round 2.
Anton Tabuena: Trying to analyze which guy is more "focused" on MMA isn't going to help, with both guys being huge question marks on that department. Gonzaga should have the better technical ability both on the ground and standing though, so that's enough for me to pick him. Gabriel Gonzaga by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: I've about had enough of Dave Herman, but I have a feeling that he's not a good matchup for Gonzaga. It doesn't take too much to Gonzaga's chin, and I think Herman will find it. Dave Herman by KO, round 1.
T.P. Grant: Two fighters not totally committed to the sport meeting up in what could be Herman's last UFC fight. Gonzaga is a great grappler with good striking, who really would like to just run his gym and compete in grappling tournaments, but needs the income MMA provides. Herman is fantastically talented but spends his time playing trampoline ball instead of doing real training. Gonzaga tends to lose to real heavyweights, with the loss to Schaub being the notable exception. Gonzaga is the better grappler and his kicking game could be the difference on the feet. The only way Herman wins is landing a big punch. I think Gonzaga out lasts Herman and gets him down late in the fight and gets a choke. Gabriel Gonzaga by Submission.
Fraser Coffeen: Gonzaga's jiu jitsu is overrated as he doesn't really use it all that much. And there's an idea that jiu jitsu is Herman's kryptonite, but he was doing well defending against Big Nog before getting caught. It's still a weakness for him, but not enough that Gonzaga will exploit it before getting tagged by Herman's superior stand-up. Dave Herman by KO round 1
Zane Simon: Picking either of these fighters to win seems like something of a setup for disappointment. I know Dave Herman can't cut it at the highest level, and every time I get really invested in Gonzaga he seems to lose badly. At the end I have to pick the fighter who's given me more. Gabriel Gonzaga by Unanimous Decision.
David Castillo: Gonzaga just needs to land that right hand of his to get Herman squirming, and once he does, he'll submit Dave. Not sure why some of the readers think Gonzaga will have difficulty doing this just because it took Nog awhile to get going. Gonzaga is a better grappler than Nog. Straight up. He's not a better fighter than Nog, but that's still enough to beat the forever apathatic Dave Pee Wee Herman. Gabriel Gonzaga by Submission, Round 2.
Staff picking Gonzaga: Grant, Anton, Stephie, DSM, Zane, David, Tim
Staff picking Herman: Mookie, Fraser, Connor, Dallas
Tim Burke: Oliveira is tough. But he's in there with Edson Barboza. That's not good for anyone's well-being. I honestly don't think he'll finish the fight though. Edson Barboza by decision.
Mookie Alexander: This is going to be a rough night for people named Oliveira. Edson Barboza by violence, round 1.
T.P. Grant: Edson Barboza by spinning shit, Round 1.
Zane Simon: Remember when this was going to be Barboza vs. Makdessi... those were the days. Magic was in the air, the birds were singing, the sun was high. Sigh. Edson Barboza by KO.
Connor Ruebusch: Wait, this was originally supposed to be Barboza vs. Makdessi?! FFFFUUUUUU...! Edson Barboza by KO, round 2.
David Castillo: No disagreements here. Barboza will win. Oliveira will make it look competitive at first by trying is hardest to clinch. Which is to say he'll make it look competitive until it isn't. Edson Barboza by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Barboza: Mookie, Fraser, Grant, Anton, Stephie, DSM, Zane, Connor, Dallas, David, Tim
Staff picking Oliveira:
Tim Burke: Baczynski has a horrible nickname, but he's a mid-level guy at welterweight and he usually has pretty entertaining fights. Melancon hasn't fought in almost two years and has nothing to indicate to me that he can beat Baczynski. Baczynski will get it to the floor and submit him early. Seth Baczynski by submission, round 1
Zane Simon: A unanimous decision loss to Mike Pierce ended a 6 fight winning streak for the "Polish Pistola," with three coming via KO/TKO and another two by submission. Conversely Melancon has a two losses in his last five fights to current LW Isaac Vallie Flaag, and someone named Adam Schindler. Unless something dramatic has changed for Baczynski in recent months, this should be a walk. Seth Baczynski via TKO, round 2.
David Castillo: There are few fights in which the size difference is metaphorically and literally insurmountable. This is one of those fights. It'll look like Sapp/Nog if Sapp had a gas tank. Seth Baczynski by TKO.
Staff picking Baczynski: Mookie, Fraser, Grant, Anton, Stephie, DSM, Zane, Connor, Dallas, David, Tim
Staff picking Melancon:
Tim Burke: I generally like grinders and even I don't like watching Mike Pierce fight (or listening to him talk). Why can't he just fight Rick Story already? That's about the only thing I'd be interested in. Mike Pierce by decision.
Mookie Alexander: I get that maybe 5 people like watching Mike Pierce fight, but he's a pretty good top 15 caliber welterweight, something Mitchell isn't. Pierce has heavy hands for a KO and can grind out a decision against clearly inferior opposition. Maybe he needs a finish to get off of Facebook and I think he'll provide it. Mike Pierce by TKO, round 3.
Zane Simon: Speaking of Mike Pierce, here he is. Languishing, for no particular reason, as the first fight on the Facebook card. Maybe the beating he'll put on David Mitchell will rocket him back up the card for his next fight, before another split decision loss to a top 5 fighter sees him back in the depths. Mike Pierce by TKO.
Connor Ruebusch: I do actually like seeing Mike Pierce fight. I enjoyed his scrap with Koscheck, despite the result, and I think he's a solid welterweight. He shouldn't be on the Facebook prelims, but he should have an easy enough time crushing David Mitchell, who I assume is the same guy from Peep Show. Mike Pierce by Unanimous Decision.
Dallas Winston: Mike Pierce has proven to be on par with elite welterweights, even if he doesn't deserve to be ranked there. Mike Pierce by decision.
Staff picking Mitchell:
Staff picking Pierce: Mookie, Fraser, Grant, Anton, Stephie, DSM, Zane, Connor, Dallas, David, Tim