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UFC on Fox 12: Brown vs. Lawler staff picks and predictions

Check out who the Bloody Elbow staff is picking for each fight from tomorrow night's UFC on Fox 12 in San Jose, California.

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Matt Brown vs. Robbie Lawler

Anton Tabuena: Both guys are durable, and while Brown has a less predictable striking game with his wide array of strikes that comes from his wild style, I still think Lawler should be the more technical striker. He also should have more power here, and that's what's going to win it. This should be fun either way, but I think it's going to be Robbie Lawler by TKO.

Mookie Alexander: Wow. We're really talking about these two for the right to face the welterweight champion. This is 2014. I really think that needs some more recognition considering where these two were at the start of 2012. Brown's road to victory is his lethal Muay Thai and vicious clinch game, but I just don't see him being able to really get Lawler to play that game. Lawler's striking is powerful everywhere and I believe that he has the power to even KO Brown with a head shot. Brown is durable, tough, but much like Mark Hunt's run, it'll end at the hands of a clearly superior fighter, but this is Matt Brown, so we know he won't go down without engaging in one hell of a war. Robbie Lawler via TKO, round 3.

Kyle McLachlan: Matt Brown is full of surprises as of late, as he just keeps getting better. Robbie Lawler is very durable, more explosive and quicker of hand and foot, and I think he'll break Brown to the body. Jordan Mein and Erick Silva both badly hurt Brown to the breadbasket, and I can see Lawler being able to finish Brown unlike those two. No doubt this will be a tremendous shootout while it lasts. Robbie Lawler, by TKO, round 2

Patrick Wyman: If this takes place mostly in the center of the cage, it's Lawler's fight to lose: he's a more polished, technical striker at range. If most of the action happens close to the fence, it's Brown's fight to lose: he's the best infighter at welterweight, and possibly in the entire UFC. The former seems more likely to me, given Lawler's solid footwork and the speed necessary to get his strikes off first. I think he catches the glass-livered Brown with a kick or counter knee to the body to put him down. Lawler, KO, round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: Lawler is faster, stronger, more durable, has much cleaner striking at distance and is the clear favourite. However, he often takes his time to figure out a fight. If he shells up against Matt Brown like he did against Hendricks, things could go south for him very quickly, because Matt Brown, given time to get his offense rolling, is a nuclear powered, titanium-bladed woodchipper of doom. Lawler by TKO, round 2

Zane Simon: I took Lawler in the Vivi with Dallas (and for all the reasons listed above), but if for nothing else than the sake of dissent I'll take Brown, here and now, today. Both guys have no problem taking two to give one back, and it's in those kinds of fights that Matt Brown really seems to do his best work. When someone is willing to stand inside with him and see who's tougher, it's always Matt Brown. Lawler, for all his great technical skill and polish, seems happiest when the fight is getting a bit sloppy. When he can pick you apart he will, and he's no doubt a killer. But, I don't see Brown settling on this fight at range, so I'll go with the upset and take Brown to continue his ridiculously unlikely roll to the top. Matt Brown by TKO, round 3.

Staff picking Brown: Karim, Zane, Paul
Staff picking Lawler: Patrick, Kyle, Phil, Fraser, Mookie, DSM, Rainer, Anton, Stephie, Dallas

Anthony Johnson vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira

Anton Tabuena: I'm glad he made it through camp without pulling out, but all I can think about this style match up is ‘Poor Nog'. Anthony Johnson by KO.

Mookie Alexander: Speed, athleticism, and prime vs. downswing all work against Lil' Nog. Unless Johnson just shuts off any sort of output and becomes tepid, the KO is going to come. His high kicks are lethal and his finishing instincts are insanely good. Nogueira won't get him to the ground and Rumble really just had to avoid the left hook of Lil' Nog on a consistent basis to have full control of the stand-up. Anthony Johnson, KO, round 2.

Kyle McLachlan: Lil' Nog is a wise old veteran, who may be able to throw ‘Rumble' off his timing somewhat. However, Johnson has the speed advantage, is far more athletic and strong, and looks to be in his prime, as well as being much more active as of late, so I can't see him being mesmerised as Rashad Evans was. I see a Sokoudjou-esque head kick knockout. Anthony Johnson, by KO, round 1

Patrick Wyman: Johnson's in his prime, and Lil' Nog isn't. Even if the venerable Nogueira were close to his physical peak, I'd still pick Rumble to paste him; he'll have massive advantages in speed, athleticism, size, and striking skill, while Nogueira doesn't have the offensive wrestling to put himself in position to make use of his excellent ground skills. He doesn't throw enough volume on the feet to win a decision, either. Johnson, KO (right high kick), round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: One of the more telling things for this one was seeing the Road To The Octagon, where Rumble was actually training, and Nogueira was hitting mitts. Rarely a good sign. He's hellaciously shopworn and Rumble is coming into his own. I agree with the headkick suggestions above. Rumble by KO, round 1.

Zane Simon: If I was being contrarian above, and taking Brown to win, I just can't do the same for Lil' Nog. I love watching him fight, I like his style, but Anthony Johnson today should be one of the 5 or so best light heavyweights in the world. That's how impressive his dismantling of Phil Davis was. Maybe he regresses with a different matchup and this becomes a somewhat uninspired grind, where Rumble's cardio becomes a concern, but I think he'll keep form. Anthony Johnson, KO, Round 2.

Staff picking Johnson: Patrick, Kyle, Fraser, DSM, Karim, Zane, Rainer, Anton, Paul, Stephie
Staff picking Nogueira: Dallas :)

Clay Guida vs. Dennis Bermudez

Mookie Alexander: Bermudez as a top 10 fighter isn't something I'm sold on, especially since he was quite fortunate to get the nod vs. Max Holloway and Matt Grice. But this is a bad matchup for Guida. Bermudez is built like a brick shithouse and has excellent takedown defense. His striking isn't polished but he's got power in his hands and can certainly trouble Guida on the feet a lot more than the reverse. Guida can definitely get a submission in a scramble, as Bermudez is still a bit suspect in his in-fight decision making, but I actually think Bermudez wins this easily. Dennis Bermudez by unanimous decision.

Kyle McLachlan: I wasn't sold on Bermudez during his season of The Ultimate Fighter, although he impressed me most in his loss to Diego Brandao. Since then he has shored up the holes in his game, although his striking defence still leaves a lot to be desired. Guida showed real punching power for the first time I can remember against Kawajiri in his last fight, and with Bermudez's wrestling ability this looks to be one that will be contested on the feet. It may well be a titanic tussle, but I'll give Bermudez the edge based on his speed edge and youth. Dennis Bermudez by decision

Patrick Wyman: Another fight in which my reasoning follows Kyle's. Bermudez is the more active and technical striker, and his takedown defense is nearly impenetrable - he's stuffed 20 of 22 attempts - which will make it difficult for Guida to get him down. There's a chance that Guida could grab a guillotine in transition (Bermudez has a bad habit of leaving his head in on takedown attempts), but I think this matchup favors Bermudez's volume striking, more technical wrestling, and physical ability. Bermudez, unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: This is one of those fights where Clay Guida seems primed to lose a fun but clear-cut decision. The wrestling and scrambling should be relatively even, but Bermudez has shown a great knack for picking up damaging ground and pound from positional changes, which Guida never really got the hang of, as he is just not a very good phase shifter in general. Bermudez has a lot more power everywhere, and has shown that unlike his early fights, he carries it late. Expect him to just land more round-winning offense. Bermudez by unanimous decision.

Fraser Coffeen: I think people sometimes confuse what they perceive to be a newer, more boring style from Clay Guida with an actual dip in his skillset. You can argue that he should have lost this fight or that fight, but at the end of the day, Guida beats guys that aren't elite. Since his 2007 loss to Roger Huerta, he has not lost to a fighter who has not won or challenged for a world title, and that's not Bermudez.. I agree that Bermudez has the better striking, and that his takedown defense is good, but Guida doesn't need the takedown to outwrestle you. Look for him to push this into the cage, make it an ugly grind, and get enough offense in to tip the judges in his favor. Clay Guida by decision

Zane Simon: Bermudez has improved a ton as a fighter since his days on TUF. His hands are sharper and crisper and he throws with a more judicious outlook. His defense is perhaps, less than amazing, but steadily improving, and he appears stronger than ever. His biggest question remains a general lack of focus. It often feels like he can make really basic mistakes in the heat of a fight. Fortunately for him, Guida isn't the type of fighter to capitalize on basic mistakes. He doesn't have reliable power (as was further shown by his complete inability to follow up on Kawajiri once he had him hurt) and he doesn't have a reliable submission offense. His wrestling is there, but last time out Bermudez looked like a grown man playing pee-wee football with a kid. If he looks close to that strong against Guida, he's got this fight in the bag. Dennis Bermudez by decision.

Staff picking Guida: Fraser
Staff picking Bermudez: Patrick, Kyle, Phil, Mookie, DSM, Karim, Zane, Rainer, Anton, Paul, Stephie, Dallas

Josh Thomson vs. Bobby Green

Mookie Alexander: Believe it or not, this is an interesting fight if Green had a full camp behind him. Ignoring the well-earned reputation of being a testicle terminator, he's aggressive and is a really well-rounded fighter. But Thomson has what it takes to outpoint him, is savvy enough not to lose a ground battle with Green, and ultimately win on the scorecards. Josh Thomson by unanimous decision.

Kyle McLachlan: Great to see Green back, but this is a bad matchup for him if he can't make Thomson lead. Green relies on a reflex-based defence to offer a shot, pull back and catch his opponent coming in. Thomson has great lateral movement himself, as well as being the far better grappler. I can see ‘The Punk' putting a beating on Green as the fight goes on. Josh Thomson by unanimous decision

Patrick Wyman: I'm taking Green for the upset here. Thomson's great weakness has always been his lack of offensive output, and volume is Green's greatest asset; he's also a supremely underrated wrestler and a good-enough grappler not to get submitted by Thomson on the ground. Green, unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Green is an excellent fighter, but I think the safe pick is Thomson. Green is coming off an injury, is on short notice, and has documented personal problems. Sometimes this kind of thing inspires a fighter to really perform above and beyond what they're capable of, but I don't like picking with my heart. Thomson's superior wrestling and excellent kicking game will probably get it done, although it may be worth noting that there's a solid chance that Green is actually the faster fighter. Josh Thomson by decision

Zane Simon: If you haven't read Marc Raimondi's piece on Bobby Green, do it now... and then realize that even though you really want him to win, he doesn't have much of a chance. I hate the idea of mitigating circumstances clouding a fight, but couple the fact that Green's personal life sounds like a mess right now with the short notice on which he's taking this fight and I'll just hope it's competitive. Josh Thomson by decision.

Staff picking Thomson: Kyle, Phil, Fraser, Mookie, DSM, Karim, Zane, Rainer, Anton
Staff picking Green: Patrick, Paul, Stephie, Dallas

Daron Cruickshank vs. Jorge Masvidal

Mookie Alexander: Masvidal has an uncanny ability to make fights a lot more difficult for himself than he needs to (see: Chiesa, Michael), which also makes his bouts all the more fun to watch. Cruickshank beating Erik Koch is a big deal, especially being able to outstrike the highly touted Roufusport fighter. But I can't shake off the image of him losing easily to Adriano Martins and John Makdessi fairly recently. The veteran wins this one. Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision.

Kyle McLachlan: Wow. Just wow. You know this is going to be all kinds of fun. Both guys are more well-versed than they're given credit for, and in recent fights Masvidal seems to have finally started demonstrating some semblance of fight IQ. He's more of a canny veteran than Cruickshank, so I think that will be the difference here. Jorge Masvidal by decision

Patrick Wyman: I'm almost certain Masvidal will drop the first round, but after that, his crisp boxing, underrated wrestling, and the exhausting nature of Cruickshank's kick-heavy style in the face of pressure should give the second and third to the Cuban. Masvidal, unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Masvidal is an excellent technical brawler and his high-pressure style is exactly what Cruickshank has struggled with in the past. However, Cruickshank has been improving on his space control and actively discouraging opponents to come in on him- the double headkick combo he landed on Erik Koch was something you can only do with a lot of practice and a lot of athleticism. In addition, Masvidal has that tendency to get caught up in the fight and not mind his P's and Q's defensively, so seeing him walk, chin up, straight into a headkick is a distinct possibility. He's cockroach tough though. Jorge Masvidal by unanimous decision

Fraser Coffeen: Great, great fight here and also super close. This may end up being a Masvidal sweep on our end, but don't let that fool you into thinking this is a lopsided fight - it's really close. I just give the slight edge to Masvidal in most areas. Jorge Masvidal via decision.

Zane Simon: I'd love to see Cruickshank win this, and if Masvidal starts really slow and fights really poorly early (something he's classically known to do) Cruickshank has a really good shot. Unfortunately, if Masvidal can kick it into gear, he has precisely the kind of aggressive inside boxing and grapple/wrestling game to totally work Cruickshank over. It's much more likely that the latter happens, than that he gets KO'd inside the first round, so Jorge Masvidal by submission, round 2.

Staff picking Cruickshank: DSM, Karim, Stephie, Dallas
Staff picking Masvidal: Patrick, Kyle, Phil, Fraser, Mookie, Zane, Rainer, Anton, Paul

Kyle Kingsbury vs. Patrick Cummins

Anton Tabuena: Y'all are seriously picking Cummins? Really? Kyle Kingsbury by Decision.

Mookie Alexander: Kingsbury hasn't fought since 2012 and if not for a total gift decision vs. Fabio Maldonado he'd be 0-4 in his last 4. Patrick Cummins once tossed Daniel Cormier into the pool and it wasn't even a full hour after he had eaten. Advantage is Cummins here. Patrick Cummins via TKO, round 1.

Kyle McLachlan: Cummins became somewhat of a punchline when he stepped in at short notice to fight Dan Cormier. But Kingsbury has been out a while, was getting beat up on the regular towards the end of his last UFC stint (I felt Fabio Maldonado should've got the decision against him as well) and Cummins looks to be a pretty decent fighter, better stand-up than expected, as well as being a good top control guy. Kingsbury is downright ponderous, whereas Cummins looks to have some upside. Patrick Cummins by decision

Patrick Wyman: Kingsbury gave up four takedowns to Stephan Bonnar, who's nowhere near the wrestler Cummins is, and after a couple of years on the shelf I doubt he'll have a ton to offer here. Cummins is limited and always will be, but he has enough to win this. Cummins, KO (ground and pound), round 2.

Phil Mackenzie: The only thing that gives me slight pause is Cummins horrendous reaction towards getting hit. Regardless, I think this one probably plays out a little like Palelei-Rosholt: one guy with a place where he can really hurt the other (in this case the clinch), but who is completely checkmated from ever being to actually get to it by the other guy's skillset. Patrick Cummins by unanimous decision.

Zane Simon: This feels weird, because, logically, this is a very close fight. Cummins is green as green gets and getting totally shitkicked by Daniel Cormier can't have been that great a learning experience. His win over Roger Narvaez (who normally fights at middleweight) was nice, but it was a win over a late call-up fighter moving up a division. Not a place to hang your hat. So, we have a strong wrestler with developing boxing against an athletic, veteran brawler with a strong clinch game. We're all picking Cummins, but there's no real solid evidence to suggest he's got this fight in the bag, it's just a good style matchup for him. Patrick Cummins by TKO, Round 2.

Staff picking Kingsbury: Rainer, Anton
Staff picking Cummins: Patrick, Kyle, Phil, Fraser, Mookie, DSM, Karim, Zane, Stephie, Dallas

Hernani Perpetuo vs. Tim Means

Patrick Wyman: A battle of two frustrating guys who hesitate to pull the trigger. I think Perpetuo has more technical skill and a slight advantage in speed, and in a striking match I'll take him by a nose. Perpetuo, unanimous decision.

Phil Mackenzie: Given that he was fighting in the UFC for the first time, and that he was given a horrifically tough matchup in Jordan Mein, Perpetuo did an acceptable job of acquitting himself last time out. Traditionally, talented (semi) young fighters (particularly international ones) need at least one fight to get those octagon jitters out of the way. Means is a gritty, tough dude, but he has questionable fight IQ which somewhat negates his experience advantage. Perpetuo by TKO, round 2.

Zane Simon: Ugh, this is a fight between two fighters I really like, who have underperformed and (in Means case) regularly disappointed me. Perpetuo's last fight ended looking better than it really was, as he got pretty badly beat up for two rounds and then came back to fight strong in the third. Means feels like he can compete with anyone when his mind is right, but he so often fights to the pace and level of his opposition, letting them get off first and find openings. Still, I have more faith in him as the veteran striker with some power in his hands, so I'll take Means here, but this is really just a case of which fighter actually shows up aggressive. Tim Means by Decision.

Staff picking Perpetuo: Patrick, Kyle, Phil, Fraser, DSM, Stephie
Staff picking Means: Mookie, Karim, Zane, Rainer, Anton, Dallas

Mike De La Torre vs. Brian Ortega

Patrick Wyman: Ortega's a really, really talented young guy with solid striking and wrestling capped off by absolutely venomous BJJ (he's a 23-year-old legit black belt). De la Torre put on a better-than-expected performance against Mark Bocek, but Ortega is the real deal. Ortega, submission (triangle choke), round 1.

Phil Mackenzie: De la Torre did a great job against Bocek who was a style nightmare and a great grappler, although probably on the downswing at this point. He's also dropping down two weight classes, which is both a plus and a minus, for reasons which shouldn't have to be articulated. Given the general solid well-roundedness of MMA Lab products, and the aforementioned tendency for all but the blue-chippiest blue chips to underperform in tough UFC debuts, I'm going to take a flyer- De La Torre by unanimous decision

Zane Simon: This is the kind of fight I just hate to pick. When I scouted De La Torre for his debut I could see that he has a lot of power and a lot of athletic gifts that he makes good use of. I still thought he was going to lose to Bocek and he did, but acquitted himself better than expected, with his TDD early. So, essentially here, you have a hard hitting brawler with an athletic sprawl game, against a high octane submission artist with developing standup. The later this fight goes, the more it favors Ortega and I'm just not sure De La Torre has the consistency in his hands to put this away. So, Brian Ortega by Submission, Round 3.

Staff picking De La Torre: Phil, Fraser, Rainer, Dallas
Staff picking Ortega: Patrick, Kyle, Mookie, DSM, Karim, Zane, Anton, Stephie

Akbarh Arreola vs. Tiago dos Santos

Mookie Alexander: Get out of here. JDS vs. Chris Arreola? This is an amazing Boxing vs. MMA fight come to li----oh it isn't that? well I was going to pick JDS so I have to stay consistent in picking my dos Santos'. Tiago dos Santos via decision.

Zane Simon: Dos Santos has shown himself to be a strong prospect with a good record and well rounded skills coming, as yet another Jungle Fight Champion, into the UFC. His Muay Thai game is polished and venemous, his clinch is dynamic, and his ground game is good enough to survive. Arreola is a seasoned vet from the Mexican circuit who has fought plenty of solid competition, and often failed to do well against them. He has a decent outside kicking game and a good submission offense, but is very willing to pull guard and has very little skill with his hands. Dos Santos feels like exactly the level and type of competition that has troubled Arreola in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Tiago dos Santos by KO, Round 2.

Staff picking Arreola:
Staff picking dos Santos: Patrick, Kyle, Phil, Fraser, Mookie, DSM, Karim, Zane, Rainer, Anton, Stephie, Dallas

Steven Siler vs. Noad Lahat

Phil Mackenzie: Another one where I wouldn't be surprised by an upset- Lahat is the superior athlete. However, Siler is a high volume brawler and scrambler, and his main problems have largely come from being out-muscled by bigger, stronger men. It's conceivable that Lahat could do that, but like Green, he sounds as though he is struggling to get his head together at the moment (with the situation in Israel). Siler brings a ton of pressure and underrated finishing potential to the table, so unless Lahat can really put forward a stable, mature performance, look for Siler to either pick up round-winning offense or potentially finish him. Steven Siler by TKO round 3.

Zane Simon: Noad Lahat, like Mike Rhodes and Brian Houston, feels like a prospect that got to the UFC too soon. He is a great athlete and has some legit skill, but doesn't seem to have put that all together into something that can consistently generate offense against something better than the lowest levels of competition. Essentially, he's got a big learning curve to overcome, and until I've seen him do it, it's hard to pick him in a fight like this. Siler is aggressive has a good wrestling and grappling attack and is functional on his feet. 3 years from now, this may be Lahat's fight every time, but right now, Steven Siler by decision.

Staff picking Siler: Patrick, Kyle, Phil, Fraser, Mookie, DSM, Karim, Zane, Rainer, Anton, Stephie, Dallas
Staff picking Lahat:

Andreas Stahl vs. Gilbert Burns

Zane Simon: Andreas Stahl reminds me a lot of Tor Troeng. He has fast hands, and thows decent combinations standing, but can be very hittable. Most of his striking is built around the idea of getting him into the clinch or in on a double leg. His takedown game isn't great, but it's persistent. Once on top he's got some decent ground and pound, and lightning quick transitions for submissions. Unfortunately, Burns is almost certainly the superior grappler, and very likely the superior athlete as well. And in his time with the Blackzilians, he appears to be working on a strong foundation of fundamental kickboxing. So, I expect Burns to be the more powerful striker and better grappler and overall more technical fighter. Gilbert Burns by Submission, Round 2.

Staff picking Stahl: Kyle, Fraser, Dallas
Staff picking Burns: Patrick, Phil, Mookie, DSM, Karim, Zane, Anton, Stephie

Juliana Lima vs. Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Zane Simon: What I've seen from Jedrzejczyk suggests that she could be in the top 5 fighters in her division. She's not there yet, but she's got that kind of talent. Lima will very likely test her sprawl game, but I haven't seen anything in her strikes that suggests she'll be competitive standing with the powerful dynamo that is JJ's kickboxing game. I don't know that Jedrzejczyk finishes this fight, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's one sided and ugly. Joanna Jedrzejczyk by decision.

Staff picking Lima: Kyle
Staff picking Jedrzejczyk: Patrick, Phil, Fraser, Mookie, DSM, Karim, Zane, Anton, Stephie, Dallas