Anton Tabuena: I just hope McMann can keep it standing long enough to make this interesting. Despite every single hyperbole I've seen people throw out about Rousey's striking, past fights have shown that she still loses her crisp boxing and demotes to that stereotypical "punch like a girl" technique the moment she gets tagged. Regardless of how confident she is about her improved stand up, that is still her weak spot where other girls can easily take advantage. That being said, she will always have her Judo, and I think she will be the far better grappler between the two. Death, Taxes, and Ronda Rousey by Armbar.
Mookie Alexander: I really don't see how McMann's credentials measure up to Rousey's. McMann may have been the first American woman to win an Olympic medal in freestyle wrestling, Ronda Rousey invented the Olympics and picked up 6 golds in the swimming plus a pair of silvers in bobsled. Rousey has it all. Oh, the fight? Well it comes down to who is the more well-rounded fighter. McMann is an outstanding wrestler but I'm not sure she'll be able to keep the fight standing too long nor will she be able to significantly trouble Rousey with her striking. So what does that leave us with? Rousey's most competitive fight to date and the same result. Ronda Rousey, armbar, round 2.
Patrick Wyman: This is a fascinating matchup, and I think it's a lot closer than the betting lines (Rousey -400) indicate. McMann has never been taken down, and she's probably capable of putting Rousey on her back should she choose to go that route. I don't think she will, which means that this fight will probably transpire largely on the feet. Neither is exactly a killer there, but Rousey's younger and a more dynamic athlete with better striking coaches, and that's enough to think that she'll have the edge. The most likely scenario is Rousey outworking McMann in the early rounds before snatching a late armbar in transition. Rousey, submission (armbar), round 3.
T.P. Grant: I feel that McMann is going to get some Wrestling over Judo picks here, which is something of an over generalization. Grappling is grappling, and Ronda is the better overall grappler of the two. McMann very well could make Ronda worker harder for takedowns than Ronda has pervious had to work in MMA. Ronda may fail to get takedowns at times, perhaps for an entire round be forced to strike and clinch fight. But in the end neither are fantastic strikers, Ronda will get McMann down at some point and there she had a big advantage over McMann. Ronda Rousey by Armbar, Round 4.
The Judo career of Ronda Rousey
BE Grappling Team Member Ananse takes a detailed look at the famed Judo career of UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey.
Zane Simon: I can't help but feel like the secret to beating Ronda Rousey lies in either of two talents. You either have to be a crushingly powerful jiu jitsu grappler (in the Claudia Gadelha mode) or a volume striker with strong positioning and footwork (in the Tecia Torres mode). Neither of these things even starts to describe Sara McMann. She's a great power wrestler with decent ground and pound from top control. But, that's the antithesis to success against Rousey and her striking game is really only built to feed into her wrestling. I think she'll end up clinching early and often despite herself (much like Tate) and will get subbed because of it (much like Tate). Rousey by Armbar, Round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: The Rousey armbar 1 streak has ended, which adds some intrigue to her picks. McMann is a talented fighter, no doubt, but her striking remains a bit unrefined, and her greatest strength is to take Rousey down... which is exactly where Rousey is happy to be. McMann does have good takedown defense, but Rousey's judo based takedowns are a different animal. And once it goes down, I like Rousey's grappling much more than McMann's. Screw it, I'm going back to the classic. Rousey by armbar round 1
Iain Kidd: This has the potential to be Rousey's toughest matchup yet. Carmouche showed that a powerful grappler can cause her problems, and McMann fits that bill much better than Liz did. In addition, Ronda is coming off of the quickest turnaround of any champ in history, and she has more media obligations than most actors, let alone fighters. That being said, this fight, like all Rousey fights, comes down to one question: Can McMann finish Ronda before Ronda locks in an armbar? My money is on no. Rousey by Armbar, Round 2.
Stephie D: Ronda has always been a determined person, and along with that determination comes fierce belief in herself. She hates to lose, thus she applies herself more. She's a bit of a prodigy as far as picking up new skills. Many people like to bag on her striking, but it's come leaps and bounds in a very short amount of time. Every time she makes the slightest misstep in her game, she's quick to fix it in her next outing. While Sara may be her biggest challenge yet, it's a challenge I feel Ronda will overcome. Rousey by armbar, round 2
Connor Ruebusch: I think Zane's analysis is on point. Someone with Tecia Torres' striking skillset would trouble Ronda greatly. And while McMann is physically capable of executing such a gameplan, I don't think she's disciplined enough on the feet to stick to it. This fight will end up on the ground at some point, and we know who rules those waters. Ronda Rousey by Armbar, round 3.
Staff picking Rousey: Patrick, Grant, DSM, Zane, Fraser, Iain, Stephie, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Connor, Dallas
Staff picking McMann:
For a change of pace, here's some video analysis of the final three fights on the UFC 170 card by our own Kid Nate, Dallas Winston and Connor Ruebusch. They dive deep into Ronda Rousey vs. Sara McMann, Daniel Cormier vs. Patrick Cummins, and Rory MacDonald vs. Demian Maia.
Anton Tabuena: I still think Cormier wouldn't be a large light heavyweight by any means, which is a testament to him manhandling large heavyweights. We all know how this will turn out, so the only thing that interests me is how Cormier's cardio will look at 205. Daniel Cormier by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Cummins' path to victory is bringing in a boiling cup of coffee into the cage and throwing it at Cormier's face. Actually that would get him DQ'd so never mind. Cormier by something violent. Daniel Cormier by KO, round 1.
Patrick Wyman: Cormier is better at absolutely every facet of MMA than Patrick Cummins. He's a better athlete, he has better coaches, he has infinitely more experience, and he has the benefit of a full training camp. This is a squash match, and we shouldn't pretend that it isn't. Cormier, KO, round 2.
T.P. Grant: Cummins is going to the mat selling this fight, but he wasn't even in camp when he took this fight, he will be in no kind of shape to compete with a guy like Cormier, I don't care what happened at a wrestling practice however many years ago. Daniel Cormier by TKO, Round 2.
Zane Simon: The only narrative worth selling here is that Cummins has a snowball's chance in hell of winning and we should all be pretty shocked and impressed if he can make it to the final bell. Cormier by KO, Round 2.
Stephie D: Cormier via manslaughter in one of the rounds.
Connor Ruebusch: I love how the UFC have decided that it's a better idea to sell the shit out of this ridiculous squash match rather than putting one of the other much more deserving fights on this card in the main event slot. Whatever. Daniel Cormier by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Cormier: Patrick, Grant, DSM, Zane, Fraser, Stephie, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Connor, Dallas
Staff picking Cummins:
Anton Tabuena: Am I one of the very few guys who like this match up? Since dropping down Maia has gone back to his grappling roots instead of a sloppy kickboxer, and I think he will constantly try to pressure MacDonald until he can take it to the ground. Can he do that enough to win? It will be tough, but I don't think Maia will allow it to be as boring as some people think. Rory MacDonald by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Oh this has high potential to be a terrible fight. I don't think Maia can muscle MacDonald to the ground and start squeezing the blood out of him, but I wouldn't count it out considering how easily he (briefly) ragdolled Dong Hyun Kim. Rory has not been impressive, but the Ellenberger win is still a big deal, and he shouldn't be written off as a top 10 guy when he actually has a win against one, as uninspiring as it may be. MacDonald's inability to throw combinations and follow up with his jabs is something Lawler was able to exploit, but Maia ain't the guy to repeat it. The Canadian wins but it won't set the world on fire. Rory MacDonald, unanimous decision.
Patrick Wyman: Rory's limitations, namely his good but not outstanding athleticism and lack of top-end power on the feet, should be clear to us at this point. Wrestling and grappling aren't among his flaws. If he doesn't want the fight on the ground, it probably won't go there, and if it does it'll be with him on top. I'm almost certain that Rory's insane base, powerful ground striking, and keen submission defense would allow him to win the fight from top position if he decided to go that route. If not, he throws a great deal more volume than Maia on the feet. Either way, the fight favors Rory. MacDonald, unanimous decision.
T.P. Grant: I want to pick Maia here mightily, but MacDonald has bent his athletic gifts away from the natural violence he showed early in his career to more of a neutralizer's game. I see this fight having a great potential to be absolutely horrid and for MacDonald to continue to turn fans off to his fights. If it hits the mat, Maia has the edge clearly, but MacDonald is likely good enough to survive 5 minute intervals. Rory MacDonald by Decision.
Zane Simon: Alright, I can't pick MacDonald right now, not with his recent performances where he's looked entirely too strong in his convictions that he's some sort of kickboxing god. Not only does he not put a lot of power in his strikes, but he's not a comfortable combination puncher either. Ellenberger showed (in the brief flashes where he wasn't mentally prepping his grocery list) that MacDonald can be bullied to the ground. He may pop back up, but Maia is exactly the type of fighter who can use that opportunity to backpack MacDonald and do something vicious. I'm looking for a Maia vs. Dong Hyun Kim like performance (perhaps without the injury) and taking the Brazilian. Damian Maia by Submission, Round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: I've been very impressed by Maia's WW run, as we all have, and I agree that Rory Mac has been a bit lacking at times lately. Still, I like Rory's chances to keep this standing, and while he may not be that kickboxing God, he's definitely the stronger striker here. If MacDonald can force Maia back into ugly Maia-kickboxer mode, he takes this in what may be kind of a stinker. Rory MacDonald by decision
Iain Kidd: However this turns out, I have visions of this fight being terribly uneventful much like Fraser. That being said, I think Maia drags Rory to the ground long enough to eke out a victory.
Stephie D: Remember Abu Dhabi when Anderson didn't engage with Maia much and the fight ended up being a real stinker? Let's hope that doesn't happen here, especially after seeing Rory Mac's last couple performances. Maia via decision
Connor Ruebusch: I know I keep repeating myself on this point, but I just don't have that much confidence in MacDonald's ability to keep this fight standing. Name me one "superior wrestler" that Maia has not managed to drag to the mat, excluding his bizarre run of middleweight kickboxing matches. When Maia wants you down, he's gonna get you down. It's a risky call, but I think that Maia has the tools, basic though they may be, to back Rory up on the feet and clinch up with him. From there, it's Maia's world. Demian Maia by Unanimous Decision.
Staff picking MacDonald: Patrick, Grant, Fraser, Mookie, Anton
Staff picking Maia: DSM, Zane, Iain, Stephie, Tim, Connor, Dallas
Mookie Alexander: Mullet Man is why GSP retired. GSP is scared to fight the newfound KO threat that is Mike Pyle, and for good reason.... Mike Pyle by KO (capoeira kick), round 1.
Patrick Wyman: Hard to predict what's going to happen here between two oft-concussed welterweights. Pyle's a savvy-enough submission grappler that I doubt Waldburger's skill in that area can win the fight for him, while I'd also give the Mullet an edge in wrestling and clinch striking. Waldburger might be the better pure striker, though it's not a given, and at the end of the day I think Pyle's experience and extremely polished game will be enough to grind out a close decision. Pyle, unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Pyle tends to lose to fighters that have significantly more to offer in their striking accumen. Waldburger isn't a terrible striker, but he's not way better than Mike Pyle. At that point, I think Pyle can use his savvy, his surprising power, and his well rounded skills to compete with and edge out Waldburger in all facets of the fight. Mike Pyle by Decision.
Stephie D: Pyle via old man strenf
Connor Ruebusch: I'm not sure why this fight is on the main card, particularly when Davis vs. Eye and Assuncao vs. Munhoz are both on the prelims, while this one seems like the ideal prelim headliner to convince folks to buy the PPV. Regardless, it should be a fun fight, with Pyle's durability and striking winning the day. Mike Pyle by KO, round 2.
Staff picking Pyle: DSM, Patrick, Fraser, Iain, Stephie, Zane, Mookie, Anton, Dallas
Staff picking Waldburger: Grant, Tim
Anton Tabuena: Please let us see that ninja celebration again. Stephen Thompson by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: That this is on the main card over multiple top 10 fighters on the prelims is problematic to me, but that doesn't make this a bad fight. I prefer Thompson's striking abilities over Whittaker, but I'd give Whittaker the edge in boxing. Going with the move diverse skillset of Thompson, but this is a pretty even fight on paper. Stephen Thompson, unanimous decision.
Patrick Wyman: It's surprising that Whittaker is a slight underdog here. He's younger and a much more explosive athlete than Thompson, with better ability to dictate the range and cover distance, and he's a much more powerful if not quite as polished a striker. I think the hype around Thompson overshadowed just how raw he really was when he came into the UFC, and he's shown real improvement in his last couple of outings. This should be a close fight, but I'll take the more dynamic fighter every time. Whittaker, unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I feel a little weird going against Pat here, so often I feel like he has a direct channel to my fight picking logic. But, I didn't especially like what I saw out of Whittaker in his bout against Court McGee. Most notably, it's that he's so often such an intensely one dimensional striker. He boxes and... well, he boxes. I think he's a better boxer than Stephen Thompson, but I think Thompson has the complexity of tools to keep Whittaker off balance and catch him with something unexpected. Stephen Thompson by KO, Round 1.
Connor Ruebusch: I find this to be a much better main card fight than Pyle vs. Waldburger, but what do I know? I see Thompson's reach being the key here. Whittaker has great boxing, but he's at his best countering opponents who rush headlong into his range. Wonderboy is likely going to use his kicks and long straight punches to stay on the outside and force Whittaker to come forward, allowing the Kenpo fighter to utilize his excellent lateral movement and counter him. Stephen Thompson by TKO, round 2.
Staff picking Thompson: DSM, Fraser, Iain, Stephie, Zane, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Connor, Dallas
Staff picking Whittaker: Patrick, Grant
Anton Tabuena: I'm sorry, I won't pick a fighter who would lie about weed, and then threaten journalists who exposed the truth. She probably wants to fight Brent more than Davis here too. haha. Alexis Davis by Decision.
Zane Simon: Okay, first things first, I have very little desire to go with Eye in this fight, but I think she's going to win it and I don't tend to roll with a lot rooting bias when it comes to fight picks. The big difference for me, when I watch these two women compete is athleticism. Eye and Davis are both prone to spending a lot of time in standing exchanges where raw athleticism can tend to play a pretty large roll. Eye may have some defensive flaws when she strikes, but she appears much faster and more fluid on her feet than Alexis Davis does. I don't see Davis being able to repeat her performance against Carmouche, who's striking is really definied by it's almost complete absence, and while I do think that she could drag the fight to the ground and grind out a sub or a decision, I think Eye's quick feet and scrambling will keep her upright. It might be close, but Jessica Eye by Decision.
Connor Ruebusch: Eye's a big underdog in this fight, but it's actually a very competitive matchup. Davis probably doesn't have the striking acumen to punish Eye's flaws on the feet, and Jessica's ability to keep Kaufman from muscling her around in the clinch and against the fence has convinced me that Davis won't be able to outwrestle her for the duration of the fight. On the feet, Eye has more advantages. Jessica Eye by Unanimous Decision.
Staff picking Davis: Grant, Patrick, DSM, Fraser, Iain, Stephie, Mookie, Tim, Anton
Staff picking Eye: Zane, Dallas, Connor
Patrick Wyman: I had Munhoz ranked eighth on my prospect list. He's a nasty submission grappler with surprisingly proficient wrestling and solid striking chops, like a slightly more dangerous Rafael dos Anjos. The problem here is Munhoz is making his debut on short notice against a legitimate top-5 bantamweight. I think he can make it respectable, but Assuncao is incredibly well rounded and has finishing ability in every phase, which should be too much for Munhoz to handle. Assuncao, unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I'm not terribly sold on Munhoz as a striker. His technique is alright, and he has speed, but I haven't seen much from him in the way of power. Obviously his takedown and sub games are great, but the same can be said of Assuncao, who I think is really at the peak of his ability right now. There are a ton of UFC fights I think Munhoz could walk right in and win, but this just doesn't feel like one of them. Raphael Assuncao by unanimous decision.
Connor Ruebusch: This fight is absurd for two reasons. First of all, the UFC continues to give Assuncao irrelevant matchups despite the fact that he is clearly the top contender for a bantamweight title shot right now--which makes me think that the UFC really doesn't want him vying for the belt. Second, this isn't even headlining the prelims? Assuncao is ranked #3 in the world, and Munhoz is a heavily hyped prospect. All hating aside, Assuncao has every advantage in this fight. Munhoz's best asset is his grappling, and Assuncao is a stellar submission grappler with stout takedown defense. Munhoz seems to fancy himself a striker as well, but Assuncao just beat (convincingly, in my eyes) the post-Ludwig version of TJ Dillashaw on the fight--in other words, Munhoz doesn't have a chance in a boxing match. Raphael Assuncao by Unanimous Decision.
Staff picking Assuncao: Patrick, Grant, DSM, Fraser, Iain, Stephie, Zane, Mookie, Tim, Anton, Connor, Dallas
Staff picking Munhoz:
Patrick Wyman: This is a great matchup between two really good up-and-comers. Sterling has the better resume and more (well-deserved) hype, from myself among many others, but Gibson's an exciting and promising prospect in his own right. The rangy (5'10") California product is a JUCO All-American wrestler with a nice clinch game, solid striking, and good scrambling, with a decent submission arsenal to complement the rest of his skills. The problem is that while Gibson is a capable offensive striker, his defense is just slightly better than terrible, and everything that he does well, Sterling does a little bit better. Gibson's length and aggressiveness should make things interesting early, but eventually I think he'll give up a bad position in a scramble and allow Sterling to lock in one of his rear-naked chokes in the second. Sterling, submission (rear-naked choke), round 2.
Zane Simon: What Patrick said, but a round earlier. Sterling by submission (RNC) round 1.
Staff picking Gibson: Tim
Staff picking Sterling: Patrick, Grant, DSM, Fraser, Iain, Stephie, Zane, Mookie, Anton, Connor, Dallas
Zane Simon: Sampo is really fun, solid fighter who is capable in all areas, and most importantly rock solid in his defense. He's a bit more versatile than Scott Jorgensen, but probably a somewhat lesser athlete. Makovsky, on the other hand, looks to be one of the divisional elite and I think that his natural talents, along with his absolutely superb wrestling and strong kickboxing, will see him through a close fight. Zach Makovsky by Decision.
Patrick Wyman: I've been a big fan of Fun Size going back to his underrated run in Bellator. He has some of the best phase-shifting and transitions in all of MMA, and he's just now hitting his actual prime as a fighter. Sampo is one of the UFC's best recent signings at flyweight, but Makovsky is a more dynamic athlete and does a much better job of blending his skills together. Makovsky, unanimous decision.
Connor Ruebusch: I don't know why I wasn't more hyped about Makovsky earlier, but he's clearly destined to be a standout in the flyweight division, and he has a very good chance of making a run at the title. Beating Jorgensen the way he did is incredibly impressive, and he sports a much more cohesive and well-blended game than Sampo. Zach Makovsky by TKO, round 3.
Staff picking Makovsky: Grant, Patrick, DSM, Fraser, Iain, Stephie, Zane, Mookie, Anton, Connor, Dallas
Staff picking Sampo: Tim
Mookie Alexander: Keep in mind that as much as Cormier/Cummins is a mismatch, Koch/Oliveira is a squash match that was booked from the very beginning. Erik Koch, KO, round 2.
Patrick Wyman: I don't really have a problem with giving Koch a gimme - he's faced a murderer's row of competition recently, and he's moving up a weight class - but I think this fight is closer than it appears. Oliveira's a big, strong lightweight, and it'll be interesting to see how Koch adjusts to that kind of challenge; interesting, that is, until Oliveira walks into a straight left or a sneaky high kick. Koch, KO, round 2.
Zane Simon: I quite honestly love this fight. It should be a one-sided beating, but the operative word is should. Both Koch and Oliveira have a ton to prove right now and I'm always a fan of fighters where both fighters are really under the gun to show their skill. Erik Koch is better at 75% of the skills needed to win a fight, so he's the easy pick. But, he has to do more than just show up here. Koch by TKO, Round 3.
Connor Ruebusch: I'm with Pat on this one. Squash matches are totally fine, just not as co-main events. Nor should they be sold as anything but squash matches. The UFC's plan is clearly for Koch to make a triumphant return to lightweight, and a fight like this is a pretty fool-proof approach to that goal. Erik Koch by KO, round 2.
Staff picking Koch: Patrick, Grant, DSM, Fraser, Iain, Stephie, Mookie, Zane, Tim, Anton, Connor, Dallas
Staff picking Oliveira:
Patrick Wyman: Cedeno was the last cut before the top 25 on my Searching for Future Champions prospect list. He's the kind of explosive athlete who really jumps off the screen at you, with a diverse and unorthodox striking arsenal of wild kicks and powerful punches backed up by solid wrestling, grappling, and a grinding approach when it's necessary. It's hard to dig up anything on Chavez, and that's rarely a good sign. Cedeno, unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Cedeno feels like the very definition of a hit or miss prospect. He's not that young, he's not that experienced, but he's powerful and exciting and has a nice collection of talents. He's really a very solid wrestler and his flashy striking complements it well. Chavez is... well... not a very good fighter. He's got some surprising takedown defense, but otherwise his game is predicated on getting into the clinch and wearing fighters down with his limited striking arsenal. If he were a better athlete I might give him an edge just for his stifling abilities, but he's not, so I think he's getting lit up. Cedeno by KO, Round 1.
Connor Ruebusch: I can't muster any excitement for this fight, but that's hardly the fault of either of these fighters. I think the UFC, in their sudden attempt to bloat their roster with as much talent as possible, has really miscalculated this one. Neither of these guys is really ready for the UFC, in my opinion. Still, Cedeno's got the crazier strikes and the better technique, so I'm going with him. Yosdenis Cedeno by Unanimous Decision.
Staff picking Chavez:
Staff picking Cedeno: Patrick, Grant, DSM, Fraser, Iain, Stephie, Mookie, Zane, Tim, Anton, Dallas