Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi
Zane Simon: Alright, I'm waffling a ton on this, but I'll stick to my dissection guns and go with Mousasi. I really think that he has the potent striking that could, if not exactly beat Machida, give him the kind of decision Machida tends to lose. Mousasi isn't a direct comparison to any fighter Machida has ever faced before, and I think his calm, rangy and controlled striking will make this a tough night. That said, I could totally see Machida springing the trap on Gegard and putting him to sleep. Don't take this as a vote of confidence, but Gegard Mousasi by Decision.
Anton Tabuena: This is a truly intriguing match up and one of few fights as of late that has me immensely excited to see unfold. It could have a nifty knockout finish, or a technical and razor close striking display that could go either way, but regardless, I'll be thoroughly enjoying watching this one play out. With their styles, I feel that Lyoto will be able to land more clean shots. Although as some of his bouts have shown, that doesn't always guarantee he wins that decision. Barring more judging incompetence, I have it as Lyoto Machida by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Patrick nails it on the head. Machida's last several fights have either ended in a KO for him, a stoppage loss, or a reasonably close decision (some have gone his way while others have not). I've thrown out Machida stopping Mousasi because it's just not gonna happen. I have a sinking feeling this could be a bit of a snoozer, or at least a technically intriguing fight that's not necessarily going to be hailed as entertaining. Mousasi is a very talented striker -- all-around fighter really -- and is getting a bit of a bad rap for the awful Jardine decision and injuring his knee vs. Latifi. I haven't seen a real "decline" in Machida as much as he's tweaked his style a bit from his early UFC days to the point where we almost never see him attempt a trip takedown. I hope we see a return of that because I'm not certain Machida can beat Mousasi on the feet. I'm torn on this, but I'll go with Lyoto Machida by split decision.
Patrick Wyman: This is an exceptionally difficult bout to predict, as neither fighter matches the blueprint that's proven successful for beating the other in the past: each is easily the most technically sound striker the other has faced. Machida's getting older, and if he can't land a knockdown strike, his fights tend to be razor-close. Mousasi's incredibly difficult to hit cleanly, and while his kickboxing in an MMA context isn't particularly powerful - he doesn't set his feet, largely for fear of being taken down - he has fantastic footwork, throws solid volume, and has sneaky-good low kicks that he can use to shut down Machida's movement. I think that's going to be enough to walk Machida down for the majority of the fight and take a close decision. Mousasi, split decision.
T.P. Grant: Oh man, what to make of this fight... Mousasi has been one of those guys we've been waiting to break through in a big way, while Machida I feel like we are starting a watch for the start of his decline. But Mousasi has been inactive for almost a year, and has been inactive quite a bit in the last few years. It is hard to gauge where Mousasi is as a fighter, so I will go with Machida and be pleasantly surprised if Mousasi has made the strides he would need to win this fight. My biggest concern there is that Machida is a low volume striker and fights in a way that does not always lend himself to impressing the judges. Lyoto Machida by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: I was skeptical of Machida's drop to 185, but he looked really great last time out. As for Mousasi dropping back down? I am concerned. He lacks a certain drive and discipline and that could make the cut tough. He is indeed a great technical fighter, but lately he has been low on spark if that makes sense. If they go 5 rounds, his style may be enough to sway the judges and get him the win. But I see Mousasi being a bit too methodical, a bit too lax, and Machida finding that hole. Lyoto Machida by KO round 1
Connor Ruebusch: Patrick's assessment is spot on, except that the lack of discipline in Mousasi's career needs to be taken into account. From a technical standpoint, Mousasi certainly has what it takes to give Machida serious trouble, but I also doubt that Mousasi can outlast the Dragon in a five round fight. My sincerest hope is that Machida will mix things up the way he did against Tito Ortiz, employing rangy kicks to frustrate Mousasi, and utilizing takedowns to throw him off when he gets in close. That seems unlikely given Machida's approach as of late--still, when's the last time he's had an opponent this dangerous on the feet with such suspect takedown defense? I will acknowledge that I'm picking with my heart here, but I do think Machida can make a good run at middleweight. Lyoto Machida by Machida Era 2.0
Staff picking Machida: Anton, Grant, DSM, Mookie, Fraser, Stephie, Dallas, Connor, Iain, Tim
Staff picking Mousasi: Patrick, Zane
Here's Kid Nate, Dallas Winston and Zane Simon breaking down the fight in the MMA Vivisection:
Francis Carmont vs. Ronaldo Souza
Anton Tabuena: Carmont is good, and he's well rounded, but so is Jacare. Even if he doesn't get to take Carmont down, I still think he is more than capable to win the fight on the feet. Jacare Souza by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: I'd love for Jacare to work his magic on the ground, but as Patrick said he might be able to keep it standing, but at this point I see nothing in Carmont's game that suggests he's a better striker than Jacare. He's definitely not more powerful, and his boxing isn't impressive, so can Jacare win this just with his striking? I think so. Jacare by unanimous decision.
Patrick Wyman: This is a much closer fight than the betting lines (Souza -450) would indicate. Carmont is much longer than Jacare, and a good-enough wrestler to keep the fight largely on the feet should he choose to do so. The question then becomes how just highly we should rate Jacare's striking, and I'd give him a slight edge in volume and a substantial edge in power. I'm not sold on Jacare as a real contender for Weidman's throne, but he's just dangerous enough on the feet to snag a decision over the bland stylings of Francis Carmont. Jacare, unanimous decision.
T.P. Grant: The only thing I think Carmont is able to do here is possibly make this a clinch war, which has in the past drained Jacare's energy. But really Jacare has the edge just about anywhere this fight takes place, and should take this fight. Jacare Souza by Decision.
Zane Simon: I really do think Carmont could win this, not will but could. He's such a hulking middleweight and has a Shieldsian stifling ability that allows him to shut down very productive fighters. But Jacare has every technical advantage here and no true disadvantages. So, barring some total failure in him to produce I think he takes this fight. Jacare Souza by Submission, Round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: I'm going out on a limb here and saying Carmont clinches and muscles his way to another ugly decision. He's bigger, he works well in the clinch on the cage, he can drain Jacare, and his takedown defense should be enough. Francis Carmont by decision
Connor Ruebusch: Carmont has solid striking, powerful wrestling, and decent jiujitsu. Jacare has solid striking, powerful wrestling, and incredible jiujitsu. I just don't see how Carmont can enjoy his usual ability to control the location and pace of the fight against a killer like Souza, and given how shoddy his bottom game looked against Magnus Cedenblad a little while back, he's in for a real hurting if Jacare drags him down. Jacare Souza by Submission, round 3.
Staff picking Carmont: Fraser
Staff picking Souza: Patrick, Mookie, Anton, Grant, DSM, Zane, Stephie, Dallas, Connor, Iain, Tim
Jacare vs. Carmont preview & prognostication
Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza looks to impress his countrymen and Dana White to get closer to a potential title shot against persona non grata, Francis Carmont.
Mookie Alexander: Not competitive. Erick Silva by whatever he wants, round 1.
Patrick Wyman: This is a squash match. Sato's gone on a nice little unbeaten run over the last four years, and it's ending at Silva's hands. Silva isn't a potential future contender - he's far closer to the end than the beginning of his prime, and is essentially a finished product - but he's still more than fast, powerful, and diverse enough on the feet to beat Sato like a rented mule. Should it go to the ground, Indio's better there, too. It's hard to find a path to victory for Sato here. Silva by KO, round 1.
Zane Simon: Much like the Carmont vs. Souza fight above I see the potential for Sato to make this a somewhat dull grinding affair, but unlike Carmont he doesn't have the raw athletic tools to compete with a fighter like Silva for any length of time. It could drag out, but I'd bet Erick Silva by KO, round 1.
Connor Ruebusch: How many times are we gonna do this "let Silva lose to top competition only to throw him somebody that will prove nothing about his potential for improvement" thing? Seriously. Erick Silva by TKO, round 1.
Staff picking Sato:
Staff picking Silva: Patrick, Anton, Grant, DSM, Zane, Fraser, Stephie, Dallas, Mookie, Connor, Iain, Tim
Viscardi Andrade vs. Nicholas Musoke
Mookie Alexander: If you can withstand Alessio Sakara's pro boxing, you're legit. Nicholas Musoke by unanimous decision.
Patrick Wyman: This has the potential to be a fun scrap between B-level prospects. I'm a little higher on Musoke than Andrade - a slick armbar over Sakara rates more highly than a quick KO of Bristol Marunde in my book - and I think his size and athleticism should be the difference here. Musoke, unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I'm expecting this to be a complete firefight between two guys who take a lot of chances and produce a lot of offense. Honestly though, I don't have the best bead on either fighter's actual specific skills. They can both grapple and Andrade has shown a lot more power, but I think Musoke has the better transitional striking and grappling game. Andrade hasn't proven an easy fighter to finish, so this probably goes to a decision with Musoke's superior athleticism and more fluid skill set making the difference. Nicholas Musoke by Decision.
Connor Ruebusch: So begins my long stream of uninformed, arbitrary picks. Brazil! Nicholas Musoke by Unanimous Decision.
Staff picking Andrade: Grant, Iain, Tim
Staff picking Musoke: Patrick, Anton, DSM, Zane, Fraser, Mookie, Stephie, Dallas, Connor
Andrade vs. Musoke preview & prognostication
UFC Fight Night 36: Machida vs. Mousasi pits welterweights Viscardi Andrade, and Nicholas Musoke against one another for a battle of hierarchy. Can Musoke muster the magic he found against Sakara, or will Andrade impress in front of the home crowd?
Andy Ogle vs. Charles Oliveira
Mookie Alexander: I've given up on Oliveira as a serious talent, he just has too many holes in his game he hasn't come close to fixing. Ogle isn't the guy to seriously exploit any of those (notably lack of head movement and general poor striking defense), but I have a weird feeling Oliveira might let Ogle hang with him for a few minutes before turning it on late. Charles Oliveira by submission, round 3.
Patrick Wyman: I actually like Ogle quite a bit as a fighter - he's a poor man's Ross Pearson, whom I really enjoy - but the disparity in raw talent should be pretty noticeable in this one. Oliveira's longer, more athletic, a better grappler...I mean, we could do this all day. Ogle's tough and he'll try hard, but this is too much. Oliveira by lopsided decision.
T.P. Grant: The shine is off Oliveira a bit as a prospect as his shortcomings have been laid pretty bare, he is still young and talented. Oliveira is still a much better fighter than Ogle. Charles Oliveira by Submission, Round 2.
Zane Simon: Ogle has shown a great knack for surviving against better fighters in the UFC thus far, and I'm looking for that trend to continue. I expect a gritty, but ultimately fruitless performance against the more talented Charles Oliveira. I do think there's every possibility that Oliveira gives up at least one round here, though. It's not much, but it's something. Charles Oliveira by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: From his time on TUF until now, Ogle has consistently surprised me. I thought he was one of the weakest links on that season, but he did better than expected. Really, that should be his nickname. Andy "Better Than You Expect" Ogle. Not catchy, I admit, but accurate. All that said, I'm still picking against him here, because he's just plain not good enough on the ground. But I'm ready to be wrong. Charles Oliveira by submission, round 1
Staff picking Ogle:
Staff picking Oliveira: Patrick, Anton, Grant, Mookie, DSM, Zane, Fraser, Stephie, Dallas, Connor, Iain, Tim
Cristiano Marcello vs. Joe Proctor
Mookie Alexander: Marcello is arguably one of the most one-dimensional fighters in the sport. Proctor isn't really someone I consider to be a potential standout, but he's good enough to win this one. Joe Proctor by KO, round 2.
Patrick Wyman: Proctor by being bigger, stronger, a better athlete, and much younger. Proctor, unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I haven't even seen one sign that Cristiano Marcello has any intention of grappling in a fight, whether it goes to the ground or not. It's just not who he is, he's Jorge Gurgel 2.0. Joe Proctor may not be the brightest prospect to walk through the tough gym, but he uses his skills and his strengths to the best of his ability, Marcello doesn't. Joe Proctor by Unanimous Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Marcello is so bizarre. A world class jiu jitsu fighter with some of the worst striking defense in MMA, Marcello fights all of his fights like Wanderlei Silva. Despite this seemingly terrible idea, he holds a UFC win over a completely legitimate opponent. I can't figure it out. Proctor is somewhat Joe Lauzon-ish in his use of strikes to set up subs, but without as good subs and with a better ability to keep the striking game going. Expect this to be a stand-up battle, which Proctor should win handily, although I don't think this is the slam dunk others are making it out to be. Joe Proctor by decision
Staff picking Marcello: Tim
Staff picking Proctor: Patrick, Anton, Grant, DSM, Mookie, Zane Simon, Fraser, Stephie, Connor, Iain
Zane Simon: I'm a little surprised that everyone's going with Jorge in this fight as, in my mind, it's basically dead even. Jorge may be a bit larger, but Damm has a long history of competing against larger fighters at a much higher level. Damm's only career losses tend to come when he can get out struck or outwrestled and Jorge may not be a terrible striker, but he's obviously a grappler first and foremost. This has all the makings of a bad kickboxing match (much like Jorge vs. Wisniewski) or an exciting back and forth scramble filled Jiu Jitsu-stravaganza. Either way I could see the fight being razor thin. I'll roll will Jorge here just because he's produced a lot more quick submission finishes and I think he could use his size to get something early, but really I see this fight as dead even. Ivan Jorge by Submission, Round 1.
Staff picking Damm: Iain
Staff picking Jorge: Patrick, Anton, Grant, DSM, Mookie, Zane, Fraser, Stephie, Dallas, Connor, Tim
Jesse Ronson vs. Francisco Trinaldo
Mookie Alexander: Wait, Ronson was unable to handle a giant lightweight grinder in Michel Prazeres, so you give him someone even better? Francisco Trinaldo by decision.
Patrick Wyman: What Mookie said. Ronson looked to be a decent prospect, but his takedown defense was badly exposed by Prazeres. Trinaldo's top game is no joke, either. Trinaldo, arm triangle, round 2.
Zane Simon: It's a rare day that a fight between two fighters I like and enjoy watching could be a fight I don't want to see, but this is that day. I don't understand this fight as I think it's just the worst possible matchup in the world for Ronson and the path to victory couldn't be clearer for Massarunduba. That said, if Ronson wins he will have proven a lot of people wrong and upped his stock in a big way. Francisco Trinaldo by Submission, Round 1.
Staff picking Ronson:
Staff picking Trinaldo: Mookie, Patrick, Anton, Grant, DSM, Zane, Fraser, Stephie, Dallas, Connor, Iain, Tim
Yuri Alcantara vs. Wilson Reis
T.P. Grant: I don't even care who wins this fight, this jiu jitsu in this fight should be off the chain. I will be massively disappointed if this a kickboxing match. I feel like Iuri is the better MMA fighter and lean his way, but here is hoping we get to see some great grappling. Iuri Alcantara by Decision.
Zane Simon: I hate to rain all over Grant's parade here, but I think a kickboxing match may be exactly what you're going to get with this fight. I think Alcantara is going to use his strong transition game and solid standup to keep Reis off the mats until late. Then we might see some grappling once he feels that Reis is too tired to get him in something clever. Iuri Alcantara by decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Great, great fight here. What the hell is this doing way down here on the prelims? Iuri Alcantara by decision
Patrick Wyman: I wouldn't at all be surprised if Reis worked his takedowns and top control here - Alcantara's takedown defense has never been fantastic - but Marajo is the more well rounded and dynamic fighter. Alcantara, unanimous decision.
Connor Ruebusch: I have nothing insightful to say about this fight, other than to agree with Fraser. Why is this fight hidden so deeply in the undercard? Alcantara is too dynamic for Reis. Yuri Alcantara by Unanimous Decision.
Staff picking Alcantara: Patrick, Grant, Mookie, DSM, Zane, Fraser, Stephie, Dallas, Connor, Iain, Tim
Staff picking Reis:
Felipe Arantes vs. Maximo Blanco
Mookie Alexander: Blanco is off to a good start having missed weight by 2 lbs before making it on the 2nd attempt so ... screw it. Felipe Arantes by DQ (Blanco soccer kicks him), round 1.
Patrick Wyman: No idea what's going to happen here, given Blanco's fantastic talent and basement-level fight IQ. Arantes has not-great takedown defense, so if Blanco goes that route he can win the fight from the top, but I think he'll want to strike. In that case, the balance tilts toward Arantes, who's a more polished and diverse striker. Arantes, unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Arantes showed a big hole in his game last fight, in that he can be lit up a bit by more artful boxers than himself, and kept at bay by long straight punches. Fortunately for him, that's nothing like how Blanco fights. There's still a possibility that Blanco turns on his elite level speed, power, and dynamic movement and just bulldozes Arantes here, but I think Arantes is capable and clever enough to keep the fight at range and use his own decent striking tools to keep Blanco off balance all fight. Felipe Arantes by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Fun fact, between these two fighters there are 3 NCs and 2 DQs, so expect something weird. Felipe Arantes by decision
Staff picking Arantes: Mookie, Patrick, Grant, DSM, Zane, Fraser, Stephie
Staff picking Blanco: Anton, Dallas, Connor, Iain, Tim
Ildemar Alcantara vs. Albert Tumenov
Patrick Wyman: Tumenov is an incredible talent, one of the brightest welterweight prospects in a loaded crop of recent signees. I think his athleticism, advanced counter repertoire, and power will be too much for Alcantara's grinding clinch and top control games here. It'll take Tumenov a little while to overcome the jitters and find the proper range for his counters, but eventually Alcantara will walk into a big shot as he tries to get his hands on the youngster. Tumenov, KO, round 2.
T.P. Grant: Have to echo pat here, Tumenov is super talented. The kid has serious power, a real feel for counter, and has pretty damn impressive takedown defense at times. He is smooth in grappling and has real killer instincts once he has an opponent hurt. Alcantara can handle a violent brawer, but Tumenov is a pretty polished fighter already and going to get better. Albert Tumenov by KO, Round 1.
Zane Simon: I was one of the few people to pick Igor Araujo over Ildemar Alcantara in Alcantara's last fight and I'm glad to see I'm not alone in picking against him here. I don't have anything against the guy, but as a fighter he is incredibly limited. He depends on fighters giving him a lot of time and opportunity to close distance so that he can lean on them against the fence and break down their cardio and posture. He doesn't have a good takedown game, he's not an exceptional grappler, and he can't really strike a match. Tumenov isn't just a better striker than Alcantara, I'd venture to say he's better in just about every area excepting pure BJJ. And I hope to see him really shine in his debut. Albert Tumenov by KO, round 1.
Staff picking Alcantara:
Staff picking Tumeov: Patrick, Anton, Grant, DSM, Mookie, Zane, Fraser, Stephie, Dallas, Connor, Iain, Tim
Douglas de Andrade vs. Zubair Tuhugov
Patrick Wyman: Close fight between a pair of great recent pick-ups. Both guys are capable strikers - Tuhugov has the better counter game, cleaner combinations, and a quicker pace, while Andrade holds a substantial edge in power - and that's really their bread and butter. Tuhugov likely has the better wrestling as well. Those are thin advantages, but just enough for me to think he'll pull out a victory. Tuhugov, unanimous decision.
T.P. Grant: Great match here between two strikers, and as Pat lays out it is a close shave. Tuhugov is quick and crisp with his stirkes, de Andrade is a power striker through and through. I'll take the speed and countering of Tuhugov here. Zubiar Tuhugov by Decision.
Zane Simon: This is such a hard fight to pick. D'Silva is really a very talented fighter. And Tuhugov, for his skill is not as polished or as dynamic a fighter as some of his Russian counterparts. He's still very good, and his striking is exceptionally crisp, but... man, this is tough. D'Silva not only has power, but he counters well, punches well off his back foot, and is entirely comfortable fighting out of either stance. Given his rock solid base I'm going to lean D'Silva just this moment, but by fight time that may change. Douglas Silva de Andrade by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking De Andrade: Anton, DSM, Mookie, Zane, Dallas
Staff picking Tuhugov: Patrick, Grant, Fraser, Stephie, Connor, Iain, Tim