Tim Burke: I don't see Kennedy having much of anything for Bisping. Five rounds of outside kickboxing and stuffing takedowns. Michael Bisping by decision.
Anton Tabuena: Bisping is just the more technical and better overall fighter. Not sure why the odds have it this close to be honest. Michael Bisping by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Middle Easy tweeted this out (and after fact-checking, it's 100% true), Michael Bisping, perennial top 10 MW, has 0 wins against active UFC fighters. Dan Miller is the closest thing, as he fought last March (at welterweight, and lost), and Bisping beat Miller in 2010. I think Bisping outpoints him and never lets this fight end up with him on his back. Michael Bisping by decision.
Patrick Wyman: This is a bad matchup for Kennedy, and it seems relatively straightforward to me. Bisping's stuffed far better wrestlers than Kennedy over the years, and on the feet Bisping's output and all-around technical proficiency are going to be too much for the American to handle over five rounds. Kennedy's tougher than nails, so I doubt he'll get finished, but I'm not giving him much of a shot outside a hail-mary. Bisping, unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I do think that Kennedy is a surprising fighter. For a guy not particularly known for his striking he had no trouble knocking out Rafael Natal. For a guy certainly less well known for his grappling, he had no trouble rolling with Roger Gracie. But, in pure MMA terms, Bisping is a big cut above Natal and Gracie. He's got great takedown defense, solid foot movement, and the high output style to keep Kennedy on his heels all day. Bisping by Unanimous Decision.
Iain Kidd: Kennedy is definitely a top 10 fighter, and he's very good everywhere. Unfortunately, Bisping is just that little bit better everywhere, and it should be enough to carry him to a Unanimous Decision.
Staff picking Bisping: Patrick, Karim, Zane, Iain, Anton, Mookie, Grant, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Kennedy: DSM
Tim Burke: I like Noke, but...Canada. Patrick Cote by KO, round 2.
Anton Tabuena: Ring rust, it's real. Patrick Cote by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: Wait a minute, I get that Noke has had a long layoff, but Cote hasn't fought in over a year himself, and that win over Bobby Voelker is certainly contestable. I think Cote is well past his best and Noke has enough in his toolbox to pull off a win. Kyle Noke by decision.
Patrick Wyman: The big question mark here is Noke's long layoff, since he hasn't fought since September of 2012. Otherwise, he's the superior wrestler and grappler, while any striking edge in Cote's favor is relatively small and basically boils down to power, since Noke pushes a quicker pace and produces more volume. To top it all off, Cote is a longtime veteran, and it's only a matter of time before he begins to slide, if he hasn't already. Noke, unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I don't know what it is, but I just can't pick Kyle Noke in this fight. Patrick Cote looked miserable against Alessio Sakara, but I think he's otherwise been decent of late and while I once had high hopes for Noke, most of those vanished with his two fight losing streak. Now, coming off a year and a half layoff, I wonder how rusty he's going to be in the cage. I could see Noke taking it, but I'll go with Cote by Decision.
Staff picking Cote: Karim, Zane, Iain, Anton, Grant, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Noke: Patrick, DSM, Mookie
Zane Simon: These two really are almost mirror images of one another in terms of background and overall skill. Westcott is the better wrestler grappler, and Theodorou is the much better striker, but neither man has a wealth of experience or a martial arts background outside of MMA. I think Theodorou's size and athleticism is going to keep him from getting run over by Westcott in the clinch and his superior range striking skills will probably make the difference. Theodorou by decision.
Patrick Wyman: While it's popular to hate on TUF these days (I'm guilty of doing it myself), these guys are both solid MW/WW prospects. My reasoning for the fight itself mirror's Zane's. Theodorou is the better athlete and has a substantial advantage at range, while it's closer to an even matchup in the clinch/wrestling departments. I think Theodorou's ability to do damage at close range while dominating the striking should give him a comfortable decision. Theodorou, decision.
Staff picking Westcott: DSM, Tim
Staff picking Theodorou: Karim, Zane, Iain, Patrick, Anton, Grant, Mookie, Fraser, Stephie
Zane Simon: Unlike the other TUF Finale, a battle of generalists, this is very much a specialists match. Laprise is a very good, but not entirely dominant striker and Aubin-Mercier is a very strong judoka with some legit BJJ skills. I'm taking the judo trips and throws and what I expect to be a huge grappling strength advantage for Aubin-Mercier over Laprise's much better, but still hittable kickboxing. Olivier Aubin-Mercier by Submission, round 2.
Patrick Wyman: Once again, Zane hits it. Aubin-Mercier is a beast once he gets his hands on his opponent, and I doubt Laprise can keep him away the entire fight. At some point, this will hit the ground, and when it does Laprise is in trouble. Aubin-Mericer, submission, round 1.
Staff picking Laprise: DSM, Karim, Tim
Staff picking Aubin-Mercier: Zane, Iain, Patrick, Anton, Grant, Mookie, Fraser, Stephie
Dustin Poirier vs. Akira Corassani
Mookie Alexander: Only concern with Poirier is that he's hittable and Corassani is a competent striker. Aside from that? Akira is going down hard. Poirier is better everywhere. Dustin Poirier, submission, round 1.
Patrick Wyman: All credit to Corassani, who's gone from being a wild power puncher on the Ultimate Fighter to a fairly technical striker and solid all-around fighter, but he's not in Poirier's league in any phase of the fight. I think the Diamond dents Corassani's questionable chin with a hard shot and jumps on a submission. Poirier, submission, round 2.
Zane Simon: Unlike many fans, I've never really understood the dislike for Akira Corassani. He's a solid fighter with good hands and nice combination boxing. He's not a world beater, but he's always fun to watch. But, he's not a world beater, and Poirier very much is, or has the tools to be. He gave Cub Swanson all he could handle for three rounds and steamrolled Erik Koch. This is a big step back for Poirier and a fight he should win easily. Dustin Poirier by KO, Round 1.
Staff picking Poirier: Patrick, DSM, Karim, Zane, Mookie, Iain, Anton, Grant, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Corassani:
Anton Tabuena: Noons has lost 5 out of his last 7, and his last win was a very favorable stylistic match up against Sotiropoulos. Stout matches up well with Noons, and I think he will win the stand up battle. That being said, no one knows why this was suddenly bumped up to welterweight, so maybe there's one dude that has an injury, and in that case, all bets are off. Sam Stout by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: I thought Noons looked very sloppy against Sotiropoulos and he's just flat out regressed as a fighter. The problem is Sam Stout has never fought at welterweight, hasn't won consecutive fights in 3.5 years, and he's seemingly on a bit of a decline. So that leaves us with a coin flip. *flips coin*. Tails. KJ Noons by decision.
Patrick Wyman: I'm honestly not sure what to make of this fight. If Noons comes out looking as uninspired as he has in the past, Stout should comfortably outpoint him; on the other hand, the guys who have been making Noons look uninspired - Donald Cerrone and Josh Thomson among them - are far superior to the 2014 version of Sam Stout. Given Noons' takedown defense, it seems likely that this one will play out on the feet, and I'd have to give him the edge in that phase. Noons, unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: This has ugly ineffective fight written all over it. Both Noons and Stout are known for looking worlds better than their opposition while actually getting very little done in terms of strikes landed and damage done. Stout has become a more well rounded wrestler to augment his kickboxing, but his kickboxing also seems to have regressed because of it. I'll take Noons, because I think he has the takedown defense and the striking to control this fight, but I don't feel secure backing either man. KJ Noons by Decision.
Iain Kidd: I can't pick Noons here. He seems to struggle with pressure fighters who are able to deal with his volume, and Stout ticks that box. I think we'll see Stout make this fight ugly and take a close victory. Sam Stout by Decision.
Fraser Coffeen: These are two very similar fighters - both strikers who outpoint guys to win and can get outstruck to lose. When Stout loses, it's to the young, athletic guys who just outwork him, and I don't think that's the game Noons will play. This will be a boxing match, and at this point in their careers, I actually think Stout is the better boxer. Sam Stout by decision
Staff picking Stout: Iain, Anton, Grant, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Noons: Patrick, DSM, Karim, Zane
Zane Simon: I can't help but feel that Kaufman is kind of on a decline. Her recent performances have been uninspired to say the least. Fortunately for her, she's facing a fighter, who despite having fought her before, will be coming in on very little notice from a different weight class. I'd pick Smith if this were just a straightforward full camp situation, but it's not, so I wont. Sarah Kaufman by Decision.
Iain Kidd: These two had a really close fight first time around, and I feel like Smith has improved since then, while Kaufman has stagnated somewhat. The short notice nature of Smith coming in is concerning, but I think she will still take it. Either way I expect this to be a close bout. Leslie Smith by Decision.
Staff picking Kaufman: Patrick, DSM, Karim, Zane, Anton, Mookie, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Smith: Iain, Grant, Fraser
Ryan Jimmo vs. Sean O'Connell
Tim Burke: [Prediction redacted by the powers that be for unbelievably blatant fighter bashing against the guy who totally sucks. That's Jimmo.] Sean O'Connell by heart punch.
Mookie Alexander: I agree with what Tim Burke wrote (even though we can't publish it) ... but I am picking Jimmo. Ryan Jimmo by decision.
Zane Simon: I don't usually say this, but Sean O'Connell is not a very good fighter. Jimmo is a lot of things but bad at MMA isn't actually one of them (no matter what Tim Burke would have you believe). This has all the hallmarks of a short, one sided fight. Ryan Jimmo by KO round 1.
Patrick Wyman: Jimmo has the edge in every facet of this matchup. It'll take a little while - Jimmo is nothing if not methodical - but eventually he'll land a fight-ending barrage. Jimmo, KO, round 2.
Staff picking Jimmo: Patrick, DSM, Karim, Zane, Mookie, Iain, Anton, Grant, Fraser, Stephie
Staff picking O'Connell: Tim, Everyone else in the world
Anton Tabuena: Once again, all I'm hoping for is that he finally gets that first Kimura finish of his career. Dustin Kimura by Submission.
Mookie Alexander: What Anton said. Keep in mind that Roop has a loss by kimura to George Sotiropoulos, so this is possible. Dustin Kimura by Kimura.
Zane Simon: George Roop is such a hot and cold fighter. His win over a latter day Brian Bowles was nice, but his loss to Francisco Rivera is much more like what I expect out of him. He's always fun, never consistent and often incredibly hittable. That said, Kimura isn't exactly a striking savante and may have trouble taking down the much larger Roop. It's a close fight, but I'll take Kimura to show me something interesting, rather than backing the guy I know I shouldn't back. Dustin Kimura by Submission, Round 2.
Staff picking Roop: DSM, Karim, Iain
Staff picking Kimura: Zane, Mookie, Patrick, Anton, Grant, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Mark Bocek vs. Michael de la Torre
Zane Simon: De la Torre is a solid striker and exciting fighter making a really terrible debut against a top division gatekeeper who should be able to take him down and capitalize on his aggressive and wild grappling. Bocek by Submission, Round 1.
Patrick Wyman: Bocek's infinitely more technical and methodical wrestling and submission grappling should win the day here. Bocek, submission, round 1.
Staff picking Bocek: DSM, Karim, Zane, Iain, Patrick, Anton, Mookie, Grant, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking de la Torre:
Zane Simon: Team Australia had zero success against Team Canada on the show, and I'm pretty sure that trend will just continue here. Nordine Taleb by virtue of being Canadian... and having had much better success against much better competition. Nordine Taleb by TKO, Round 2.
Patrick Wyman: This will be the third shot the UFC has given Nordine Taleb, after he suffered an in-fight injury on TUF Nations and apparently lost in the elimination round of TUF 19 as well. I can see why: he's a talented striker and a really exceptional infighter, with great knees and elbows in the clinch. Grujic is...not any of those things. Taleb, KO, round 1.
Staff picking Grujic: Karim
Staff picking Taleb: DSM, Zane, Iain, Patrick, Anton, Grant, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Chris Indich vs. Richard Walsh
Zane Simon: I'd love to say there's some good science to picking two relatively young, unknown, inexperienced fighters from small camps, but there's not. Walsh seems to have more striking power, Indich seems willing to stand and trade. Richard Walsh by KO, round 1.
Staff picking Indich: Iain
Staff picking Walsh: DSM, Karim, Zane, Patrick, Anton, Grant, Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Mookie Alexander: Gagnon is nearly the nous form of "Gagner", which means "to win" in French. So logically, I can't pick against him. The conjugation is almost impeccable. Mitch Gagnon by submission, round 1.
Zane Simon: Tough as hell fight for Gorman to make his UFC debut. I think the UFC had high hopes of him as a favorite in TUF 18 before it became apparent that his leg injury was too severe to allow him to continue. That's why he's getting this shot. Still, nothing I've seen from Gagnon suggest that he's an easy fight for Gorman to walk into or that Gorman has any obvious skill advantage over him. They both hit hard, but Gagnon is the better grappler and I'll take him for the sub in this fight. Mitch Gagnon by Submission, Round 2.
Patrick Wyman: Weird fight. Gagnon should be a little higher up the food chain than Gorman, given that he's on a two-fight winning streak and Gorman's making his debut, but whatever. The Canadian is a seriously talented submission artist with a knack for scoring in transition, and while Gorman is a pretty decent and obviously powerful striker, I doubt that'll be enough. Gagnon, submission, round 2.
Staff picking Gagnon: Patrick, DSM, Karim, Mookie, Zane, Iain, Anton, Grant, Fraser, Tim, Stephie
Staff picking Gorman: