B.J. Penn vs. Frankie Edgar
Mookie Alexander: For all intents and purposes, it’s 1-1 heading into the 3rd fight, because scoring the 1st fight for Edgar MUCH LESS 50-45 is criminal. Alas, the record stands as 2-0 and the 2nd fight made it abundantly clear how much better Edgar has become compared to Penn. Unless Edgar has hit a sharp decline or Penn really is rejuvenated on the 194th attempt, this is Edgar’s to lose. Edgar was able to school him when he was younger/less beaten up and I see no reason to believe that changes when comparing them today. It’s likely to be a carbon copy of their 2nd fight and I wouldn’t be shocked if we end up getting another corner stoppage if Edgar can really pour on the domination. Frankie Edgar by 50-45 decision.
Anton Tabuena: I’ve always thought that if BJ Penn wanted to be the first 3 division champ in UFC history, he could’ve done it at featherweight instead of foolishly moving up in weight all the time. I think the drop is a great move for him, but I think Edgar is a really tough match up stylistically, especially now that he’s 35 and coming off a long layoff. I think he’ll lose this one, and then he will probably hang it up after. If I’m right, that would be really unfortunate as I still think he has the skills to beat a few top 10 featherweights like Clay Guida (or Nik Lentz), who in my opinion, should be the guy he was facing for this comeback in the first place. I hope I’m wrong, but it’s likely to be Frankie Edgar by Dominant Decision.
Paul: There’s only one fight with enough data to pick on this card! Edgar at 76.6% most likely by decision at 49.6%
Fraser: Penn is a wild card here based on both his time off and his drop down to 145. And assuming he can make the cut, I think it’s a really good move for him – fat BJ has never been the best BJ. He looked to be in quite good shape on TUF, so I think he comes in lean, fast, and looking better than he did last time out (which, admittedly, is not saying much). All that said, Edgar is just the superior fighter at this point, even if Penn comes in motivated and on point. The one question is if it goes to a decision, how will judges take to Edgar’s style? A controversial decision is highly likely here. Frankie Edgar by decision
Staff picking Penn:
Staff picking Edgar: Mookie, Paul, Fraser, Anton, DSM, Stephie, Karim, Iain
Corey Anderson vs. Matt Van Buren
Mookie Alexander: I didn’t watch TUF. Supporting a bad product is part of what makes the Detroit Lions a perennially awful football team. Anyway, Corey Anderson’s nickname is “Beastin 25/8” which is absolutely the worst nickname I think I’ve ever seen this side of “Awesomely Awesome” Audinwood. The only thing stopping me from picking against him just on that alone is the fact that he’s fighting the deceased 8th President of the United States, which tells how how poor this season of TUF apparently was. Corey Anderson by decision.
Fraser: I suffered through this season just to make these picks, so let’s hope I get this right. Van Buren is one of those gutsy, slightly sloppy fighters who can do well enough on the regional scene. Meanwhile, Anderson is a very good wrestler with developing boxing skills, but still some holes in his game (understandable as he has less than 2 years pro experience). There’s no doubt in my mind that Anderson has the higher long term upside, and I see him being the member of this cast to have the biggest impact in the UFC – the question is just if he is ready to show that upside now. I think the answer is yes. Corey Anderson by decision
Staff picking Anderson: Fraser, Anton, DSM, Stephie, Mookie, Karim, Iain
Staff picking Van Buren:
Eddie Gordon vs. Dhiego Lima
Mookie Alexander: Again, I didn’t watch TUF this season (aside from Pendred vs. Gordon), so my opinion is useless. However, “Truck” Gordon is a bad nickname when “Flash” is there for the taking. He loses just on that alone. Dhiego Lima by submission, round 1.
Fraser: Gordon gets here through physicality as he was able to work the favored Cathal Pendred in the semifinals. He’s a Serra Longo trainee, so has solid fundamentals all around, but nothing that stands out as particularly strong. His best bet is to keep this as a standing brawl, as Lima is a good grappler who can snatch submissions quickly when you make a mistake. He’s a good striker too, though more technical than Gordon. If they brawl on the feet, Gordon can perhaps rough Lima up, but I see this ending up on the mat and Lima being able to get the job done. Dhiego Lima by submission
Staff picking Gordon:
Staff picking Lima: Fraser, Anton, DSM, Mookie, Stephie, Karim, Iain
Guto Inocente vs. Derrick Lewis
Mookie Alexander: Two years out of competition (thanks Alistair Overeem!) + Way undersized vs. Lewis (Note: This was written before the weigh-ins so scrap this if Inocente weighs in at 260 somehow) + Lewis hitting really hard = Derrick Lewis, TKO, round 1.
Staff picking Inocente: Fraser, DSM, Stephie, Iain, Karim
Staff picking Lewis: Anton, Mookie
Justin Scoggins vs. Dustin Ortiz
Mookie Alexander: Wow! Ray Borg and Justin Scoggins in back-to-back weeks? You mean you can unearth quality fighters in a thin division without dedicating a season of TUF to them? Scoggins is just a whirlwind of violence with impressive KO power and a well-rounded skill set. This by no means though is an easy fight for him. Ortiz, while no future contender, is far superior to pretty much everyone Scoggins has faced. This is the best fight on the card INCLUDING the main event, and I think a back-and-forth thriller swings Scoggins’ way. Justin Scoggins by split decision.
Staff picking Scoggins: Anton, DSM, Stephie, Mookie, Iain, Karim
Staff picking Ortiz: Fraser
Kevin Lee vs. Jesse Ronson
Mookie Alexander: I’m a fan of Ronson’s body work and feel that while he probably needs some fights outside of the UFC, he can edge one out over another solid but still unpolished fighter in Lee. Jesse Ronson by split decision.
Staff picking Lee: Anton, Stephie, Karim
Staff picking Ronson: Fraser, DSM, Mookie, Iain
Jumabieke Tuerxun vs. Leandro Issa
Anton Tabuena: I would’ve expected this match up to be on the Macau card, but nevertheless, these two Asian MMA stars will tangle in Vegas. Issa should have better BJJ, and slightly more technical striking, but Bieke will have a huge power advantage, and quite possibly a slight edge in wrestling. Normally I would pick the more well rounded fighter, but I think this will be contested on the feet for stretches and that makes it a tougher pick. The previously undefeated Chinese star didn’t seem to handle adversity very well, so if Issa – who should have the more diverse offensive arsenal here – puts the pressure on and lands early and often, maybe he can make Bieke fold. On the other hand, for all of Issa’s improvements in his Muay Thai, his striking defense can still be suspect at times, and Bieke does have the power to end it once he slips. Tough pick, but I’m leaning towards the latter, where Bieke eventually lands his overhand shot. Jumabieke Tuerxun by TKO.
Staff picking Tuerxun: Anton, Stephie, Mookie, Iain, Karim
Staff picking Issa: Fraser, DSM
Adriano Martins vs. Juan Manuel Puig
Mookie Alexander: Goodness me, the hot takes that will come from the baseball writers when they find out that Yasiel Puig is doing MMA … oh wait this is not him. Adriano Martins by submission, round 2.
Fraser: Fun fact – Adriano Martins is the only fighter on the entire 6 fight prelim card to hold a win in the UFC. Make of that what you will. Adriano Martins by decision
Staff picking Martins: Fraser, Anton, DSM, Stephie, Mookie, Iain, Karim
Staff picking Carreon:
Patrick Walsh vs. Daniel Spohn
Fraser: Battle of the TUF Light Heavyweight semi-finalists, as these two were eliminated by Anderson and Van Buren last time out. Both guys have wrestling ability and like to use both wrestling and striking in their games. In the wrestling department, Walsh has the significant edge, but standing, it’s all Spohn. He didn’t look great with his striking against Van Buren, but Walsh’s hands down style of defense got him brutalized by Anderson, and Anderson is not quite as polished a striker as Spohn yet. Walsh does have a ridiculous chin, so it might be tough to get the KO, but Spohn should hit him a lot (A LOT) and eventually find it. Daniel Spohn by KO
Staff picking Walsh:
Staff picking Spohn: Fraser, Anton, DSM, Stephie, Mookie, Iain, Karim
Sarah Moras vs. Alexis Dufresne
Fraser: Moras is a surprisingly tough and durable fighter with some good wins over Tara LaRosa and TUF champion Julianna Pena. She’s a bit slow on the feet, and has some technical flaws, which make her vulnerable to the early attack from the aggressive Dufresne. But Moras should be able to deal with that, then use her grappling edge to finish things off. Sarah Moras by submission
Staff picking Moras: Fraser, DSM, Mookie, Stephie, Iain, Karim
Staff picking Dufresne: Anton
Robert Drysdale vs. Keith Berish
Mookie Alexander: Berish is a Ring of Combat guy with an 18 second win over Patrick Walsh, so I might just pick him for the lulz, but I’m assuming the UFC would want Drysdale to do his thing and do it well. Robert Drysdale by submission, round 2.
Anton Tabuena: Touch gloves, takedown, pass, finish. Robert Drysdale by Submission.
Staff picking Drysdale: Fraser, Anton, DSM, Mookie, Stephie, Iain, Karim
Staff picking Berish:
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