Mookie Alexander: For Mendes to win this fight, he probably needs a decrease in output from Aldo, a few takedowns, and heavy top control, and the only time Aldo has been on his back and taking shots for several minutes was when he was clearly sick and gassed vs. Mark Hominick. I can't see Mendes' whippings of average-to-downright terrible strikers like Guida, Lentz, Elkins, and Meza as evidence that he can win a stand-up battle with Aldo. And generally speaking, when we talk about Mendes' striking, it's mostly his boxing. There's not much in the way of kicks or knees or elbows in the clinch, so I can't see Mendes winning it on the feet. He can win it by tiring Aldo out early. Basically, implement Kenny Florian's gameplan but with the bonus that Mendes is a far better wrestler. It's easier said than done (and it's also boring), but that's about his best chance. Aldo's speed, precision, strength, and ability to inflict enough damage in the early rounds wins him a close-ish rematch. Jose Aldo by unanimous decision.
Anton Tabuena: I think this bout will be much closer than what most people think. To me, Aldo hasn't been looking great on his past few fights, and I'm thinking that has to do with some complacency, but mostly with his weight cuts. If his team hasn't figured out a way to properly cut down, he will be in trouble here. Aldo is obviously still the safe pick, but I think Mendes has a very good chance of surviving on the feet to slowly wear Aldo down in the clinch. I'm going for the upset. Chad Mendes by late TKO.
Paul Gift: My comments are in my BE Analytics UFC 179 preview piece. At only 53.2 percent to win, this is no gimme for Aldo by any stretch of the imagination. Both fighters have reasonably high chances of a decision win or knockout. Subs, not so much. But the edge goes to Aldo. Jose Aldo by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Maybe it's the combo of Weidman/Silva and Dillashaw/Barao, but I have been feeling the possibility of a Mendes win more lately - significantly moreso than when this fight was first announced. But the problem I keep coming back to is not just the first fight, but also what's been going on since. Mendes has improved his striking game, but not enough that he can outstrike Aldo - one of the top in the business right now. He's been showing off his skills against a pretty OK level of opponent, but he hasn't beaten anyone that makes me think he can take out Aldo. So while the gut may feel for Mendes, I can't go against my brain on this one. Jose Aldo by decision
Zane Simon: This is such a tough fight for me to pick. I really do think that Mendes has gotten a lot, lot better. His footwork and combination striking are both improved. His overall technique is just better and more natural than ever. However, he was nowhere close to beating Jose Aldo the first time around. Aldo just has all the boxes checked when it comes to the technical side of MMA and it's very very hard to pick against that. I do think that, sooner or later, his late fight complacency will end up costing him his title. He tends to essentially try and coast out the last two rounds of a fight, and that's a really bad thing, but I just don't know that Mendes is the guy to take advantage of that. Jose Aldo by Decision.
Staff picking Aldo: Mookie, Paul, Phil, Karim, Fraser, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Mendes: DSM, Anton
Anton Tabuena: Phil won't win standing up, and I think he will have trouble taking him down. Glover Teixeira by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: I don't see anything to suggest Davis wins this. Unless Glover's TDD, which was quite good against Jon Jones, suddenly disappears, Teixeira is going to destroy him on the feet. Davis can't phase-shift effectively, lacks power in his strikes, and his takedown arsenal is extremely limited. I won't pick a KO because Davis seems to have a good chin, but this is going to be a beating. Glover Teixeira by unanimous decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I'm not super high on Glover all things considered. That Bader fight still lingers in my mind as showing a lot of his limitations. That said, Phil Davis is not the man to exploit those limitations. I expect this to look an awful lot like Rumble vs. Davis, and that is not a good look for Mr. Wonderful. Glover Teixeira by decision
Zane Simon: Phil Davis is a very good fighter. Phil Davis is a very good fighter. Phil Davis is a very good fighter. Phil Davis is a very good... Glover Teixeira by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking Teixeira: Mookie, Paul, DSM, Phil, Fraser, Anton, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Davis: Karim
Phil Mackenzie: The eternal questions of any Fabio Maldonado fight: Can you punch him in the head hard enough to stop him hitting you inna belly? Can you take him down without getting too tired? Because if you get tired, guess what's going to happen. That's right. He's going to hit you. Inna belly. Look forward to some silly, bloody, rib-roasting, sloppy, competitive, "why-is-this-third-on-the-main-card" entertainment from everyone's favourite body-puncher who looks like he'd be more comfortable driving buses. Fabio Maldonado by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I love Fabio Maldonado, and will probably pick him in a variety of fights that he has no real business winning. This isn't one of those fights, though. Stringer is exactly the kind of not great at anything fighter that tends to get stuck in a clinch/inside boxing battle with Maldonado and ends up paying the price. Fabio Maldonado by Decision.
Staff picking Maldonado: Mookie, DSM, Phil, Karim, Fraser, Anton, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Stringer:
Mookie Alexander: Bad bad bad match-up for Martins. Elkins is going to grind him out. Darren Elkins by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Not really sure about this one. Elkins is awful hittable sometimes, and Martins has some pretty good power. Although I think there's a good chance Elkins has plateaued, and Martins is improving, I still think "The Damage" remains the safe pick. Darren Elkins by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: You know what, I'm really starting to come around on Lucas Martins. He's still far too much of a damage sponge, but he's put enough technique behind his muay thai to make his athleticism really shine through. However, I'm not all that sold on his takedown defense and he tends to kick in high volume to the body, making him susceptible to single legs and trips. Eventually, I think he just lets Elkins spend too much time on top. Darren Elkins by decision.
Staff picking Elkins: Mookie, Paul, DSM, Phil, Karim, Fraser, Anton, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Martins:
Mookie Alexander: This could hopefully turn out to be a good ground battle instead of my feared outcome of mediocre kickboxing that the UFC would deem a "WAR" and worthy of FOTN. Hard to get a read on either man based on their UFC performances. Toss-up fight for me and I side with Ferreira's jiu-jitsu edge in this one. Carlos Diego Ferreira by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Like most others, I'm going to pick based around the dubious MMAth of how these two men did against the Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man of the lightweight division, Ramsey Nijem. But it probably means nothing. I don't know how this fight goes, and neither do you. It could be awful standing slop, it could be a great grappling match, or one guy could really have clicked in his striking. Carlos Diego Ferreira by unanimous decision?
Zane Simon: Beneil Dariush just isn't strong enough to be a lightweight. Carlos Diego Ferreira is stronger and faster and more aggressive. He may be technically sloppier, but unless he, like Tony Martins, gasses out after the first, this should be his fight to win. Carlos Diego Ferreira by KO, Round 2.
Staff picking Ferreira: Mookie, DSM, Phil, Karim, Fraser, Anton, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Dariush:
Phil Mackenzie: One of my personal favourite fights on the card, I think this is one which may show the value of frequently fighting. "Patolino" is the superior athlete with far more natural power, but Magny has really learned a lot about controlling volume and just plain how to win in the octagon over the course of his incredibly busy 2014. I think this may be an example of a fight where the more seasoned young fighter shows off his experience, a la Whitaker-Rhodes. Macario is very talented and it wouldn't necessarily surprise me if he blew Magny's doors off, but Neil Magny by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: If Patolino were more of a BJJ guy I might pick him to win this fight, but while he's a nicely technical and diverse boxer, I think he'll spend too much time at the kind of range where Magny really does well. Magny's biggest struggles have come when he tries to turn striking matches he's winning into grappling battles he's losing, but I don't think Macario is going to threaten him there. At that point, Magny is the more diverse and higher output kickboxer. Neil Magny by Decision.
Staff picking Magny: Mookie, DSM, Phil, Karim, Fraser, Anton, Zane, Stephy
Staff picking Macario:
Mookie Alexander: This is a horrible looking fight, isn't it? Kotani was totally hopeless against Norman Parke and Yan Cabral was upset by Zak Cummings. Cabral is pretty damn one-dimensional and Kotani probably isn't cut out for the UFC (even on his 2nd try). God, there are so many uninteresting fights on this card and this is one of them. Yan Cabral by submission, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: Cabral looked pretty bad last time out, Kotani looked abominable. Next. Yan Cabral by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Can we all just take a moment to weep over the fact that Cabral holds a win over Kazushi Sakuraba? Worse, he looks like he is likely to go down in the history books as Saku's final ever opponent. Oh Saku. Yan Cabral by submission, round 1
Zane Simon: This should be a fun fight as long as both guys are eager to engage on the ground. Kotani actually has decent boxing and Cabral has some nice kicks, but neither man can maintain the kind of output on their feet to make for anything better than a bad kickboxing match. On the ground, however, it could be tons of fun with a BJJ vs. Catch matchup. Hoping for that, picking Cabral either way. Yan Cabral by Submission, Round 2.
Staff picking Cabral: Mookie, DSM, Phil, Karim, Fraser, Anton, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Kotani:
Mookie Alexander: I personally think Scott Jorgensen has been declining for quite some time, and the Eddie Wineland fight confirmed it for me. His last outing against Danny Martinez was classic Jorgensen fun, but he was dropped in that fight and continues to show an eroded chin and he never really had any speed. Reis probably isn't the fighter to exploit Jorgensen's weaknesses, especially in a striking contest, but he might have enough to win over the judges on the ground in a closely contested fight. Wilson Reis by split decision.
Phil Mackenzie: I do like a good few of these prelims, and this is another excellent one. Both men have struggled with opponents who possess superior speed and athleticism (making Jorgensen's decision to drop to 125 particularly counter-intuitive), but they are well-matched here in every phase, and both are notably capable of putting on fun, scramble-heavy grappling matches. I think Jorgensen's slight power advantage may be slightly outweighed by Reis's speed, and "Young Guns" also has a tendency to make puzzlingly poor decisions in scrambles every now and again, which is enough to tilt me towards the Brazilian. Wilson Reis by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I'm just not sure that Scott Jorgensen does enough things really well to win fights against good competition any more. He's still a great wrestler and scrambler, but his striking seems to have regressed. Reis is a great wrestler and scrambler as well, and he should have the submission advantage. I'll look for him to take a very close decision by controlling just a little more of the ground game. Wilson Reis by decision.
Staff picking Jorgensen: DSM, Karim
Staff picking Reis: Mookie, Paul, Phil, Fraser, Anton, Zane, Stephie
Mookie Alexander: Excellent fight and I'm leaning towards the Alpha Male prospect. Fili may have lost to Max Holloway but he was highly competitive and still maintains that level of high-volume in his striking that could make the Arantes fight fun. Andre Fili by TKO, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: Fili was beating Max Holloway before he didn't, and I think we're learning that Holloway is pretty darn good. It was exactly the kind of tough fight which I expect a prospect like Fili to rebound from looking better than ever. Arantes is the real deal, and this is another stealthily great match-up, but Andre Fili by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I'm really not sold on Fili yet. He's fun and aggressive, but I don't know that he has the technique anywhere to be the kind of fighter he wants to be. Arantes is not great if you can back him up with technical striking, but I think he has the power in his muay thai game to get by Fili. Felipe Arantes by decision.
Staff picking Arantes: Fraser, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Fili: Mookie, DSM, Phil, Karim, Anton
Phil Mackenzie: This fight has serious potential to be fireworks in every phase. I think Burns has a slight kickboxing edge, but honestly this fight is a coinflip, and hopefully a pretty great one one. Gilbert Burns by unanimous decision
Fraser Coffeen: Super close fight here, but when in doubt on a Brazilian card, go with the Brazilian. Gilbert Burns by decision
Zane Simon: Christos Giagos doesn't look bad, and he's certainly an exciting athlete, but Burns is a true "blue chipper" and should be able to get a solid win here, even if it's a very back and forth fight. A lot will depend on how much Burns' striking has continued to improve under Henri Hooft. Gilbert Burns by Decision.
Staff picking Burns: Mookie, DSM, Phil, Karim, Fraser, Anton, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Giagos:
Tony Martin vs. Fabricio Camoes
Fraser Coffeen: Camoes is a good, underrated fighter - or, more accurately, he was. But he hasn't won a fight in nearing three years, and he's just not relevant in any way anymore. I like him, and would love to see the veteran win here, but I think he's done. Tony Martin by submission, round 1
Zane Simon: Fabricio Camoes is a much better fighter than he'll be remembered for and seems to be a really solidly powerful striker, but Martin is a bit of a monster at lightweight and has the kind of power submission and wrestling game that I'm not sure Camoes can handle. If it goes past round one, I'd definitely favor Camoes, as Martins has a limited gas tank, but Tony Martin by Submission, Round 1.
Staff picking Martin: Mookie, Phil, Karim, Fraser, Anton, Zane, Stephie
Staff picking Camoes: DSM