Antonio Silva vs. Frank Mir
Anton Tabuena: How sad is it that the main argument on who wins a UFC headliner centers on ‘who is less shot’? Neither man has looked great recently and there will always be question marks on both, but stylistically I think Bigfoot takes this. Mir will have a tough task taking Bigfoot down, and he will have even more trouble dealing with the size and strength on the clinch. We of course have no idea on how both of their chins are in 2015, but Mir hasn’t won in almost four years. FOUR YEARS! His last win? A sub over Nog, where he was knocked down and hurt badly as well. I think the style match up already favors Bigfoot, and while no one can really answer the ‘who is less shot’ question, I will not pick a guy who hasn’t won since 2011. Antonio Silva by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Ugh. You know, this is a coin flip fight. Mir’s chin has taken a massive beating and he’s been KO’d or wobbled by guys who have never been known for powerful striking (Big Nog and Barnett). Mir’s last win was so long ago that Peyton Manning was still on the Indianapolis Colts roster. On the other side, who knows how big a drop we’ll see in Bigfoot with TRT banned? This fight ends in a KO and I think Bigfoot gets it. Antonio Silva, KO, round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: This is one of those brutal fights to pick, not because both guys are so evenly matched, but because you just don’t know where either one is at right now. Mir is 0-4 since 2011, Silva 0-2 with 1 NC since 2013. Both seem like they are pretty effectively done, so which one is less done? I guess I have to, begrudgingly, go with Bigfoot. Mir has increasingly over the years had problems with big guys who shove him around, and Silva should be able to do that. I’m just hoping that Mir is not on the same path as Penn and Shogun here. Antonio Silva by TKO, round 1
Zane Simon: No idea if Bigfoot looks like even a shadow of his former self in this fight, although frankly, I can’t imagine him coming back to competition if he looked as bad as he did against Andrei Arlovski last time out. For that reason, and that reason alone, I’ll take Bigfoot here, but it’s basically a tossup for potential terrible performance on either side. Antonio Silva by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking Bigfoot: Phil, Fraser, Rainer, Zane, Karim, Anton, Mookie
Staff picking Mir: Stephie, Roy, Tim
Zane, Dallas and Nate break down Mir vs. “Bigfoot” from this week’s Vivisection
Edson Barboza vs. Michael Johnson
Anton Tabuena: Barboza has had some highlight reel knockouts, but Johnson should be smart and technical enough to avoid being caught badly here. Michael Johnson by Decision.
Mookie Alexander: This fight should be 5 rounds and it sucks that it isn’t. Anyway … while what Fraser says is true, Guillard is also easily frustrated and prone to panic, which is why he never lived up to his potential. I’ve been riding the “Barboza is overrated” train for awhile, but the Bobby Green win was easily the best showing of Edson’s career. Patient, accurate striking at a distance and improved takedown defense are great tools to beat someone like “The Menace”. Now, biggest question mark is Barboza’s chin. If he can take Johnson’s best punches, then he’ll win this fight. If not? It’ll be the Varner ending all over again. I expect a stand-up war with Johnson unable to sustain any success with is takedowns, and Barboza just edges him out on points. Edson Barboza by split decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Barboza is a very impressive, flashy striker, but Johnson has the fundamentals to frustrate him, much as he did Guillard. I don’t see Johnson playing the game Barboza favors, and that should let him grind out a win. Michael Johnson by decision
Zane Simon: I’m probably being silly and wistful here, but I think Edson Barboza takes this one. Johnson can win, should win, has the tools to win. But, I think Barboza has been written off too soon as a fighter not learning or developing from his mistakes. He’s actually been fighting for less time than Johnson, and I have this idea that Johnson is going to spend a lot of time trying to solve Barboza at range and get pieced up for his trouble. That could easily be wrong. But, I’m going with my gut here. Edson Barboza by decision.
Staff picking Barboza: Mookie, Stephie, Zane, Karim, Tim
Staff picking Johnson: Phil, Fraser,Roy, Rainer, Anton
Cezar Ferreira vs. Sam Alvey
Mookie Alexander: This main card has way too much TUF Brazil 1 .. and Mutante is the only one from that show on the main card. Cezar Mutante by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: There’s a silly Spanish grindhouse-type sci-fi flick called Accion Mutante from the ‘90s which was a lot of fun. This incarnation of Mutante, despite muscular appearances, is generally not a lot of fun, and often short on action. On the other hand, Sam Alvey was pretty soundly beaten by Tom Watson, and then Dylan Andrews knocked himself out. That’s Kunimoto levels of uninspiring. Cezar Ferreira by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Sam Alvey seems like a cool dude. Very self aware, very good natured. As is the case, I want him to be a lot more competitive than he is. Cezar Ferreira has all the physical tools to dominate this matchup, and I really don’t see Alvey having any of the technical edge that would suggest he can overcome that physical gap. Cezar Ferreira by submission, Round 2.
Staff picking Mutante: Mookie, Phil, Fraser, Roy, Rainer, Zane, Anton, Tim
Staff picking Alvey: Stephie, Karim
Rustam Khabilov vs. Adriano Martins
Anton Tabuena: Rustam is just the better fighter overall. Rustam Khabilov by dominant decision.
Mookie Alexander: Dagestan suplex violence up in here. Rustam Khabilov by decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Big strong tough violent lightweights collide. Martins is just really powerful, but Khabilov owns almost all the key technical advantages, and his performances against Masvidal and Henderson only look better in retrospect. Rustam Khabilov by TKO, round 2
Zane Simon: If this were anyone outside the top 10 other than Rustam Khabilov I might give Adriano Martins a pretty good shot to win. He boxes well, he wrestles decently, and he’s a really powerful grappler. But, he’s not very fluid anywhere, and I can’t imagine him thriving in the clinch or with his wrestling against Khabilov. Khabilov also hasn’t shown any trouble dealing with better strikers, even if he’s not always a technical marvel there himself. This just seems like the perfect matchup for him. Rustam Khabilov by decision.
Staff picking Khabilov: Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Fraser,Roy, Rainer, Zane, Karim, Anton, Tim
Staff picking Martins:
Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Sean Strickland
Anton Tabuena: I still think Strickland is a legitimate prospect, and it would be really interesting to see how he performs now that he’s dropped to welterweight. If he cuts down properly as I expect him to do, physical advantages at that division should only compliment his top control and finishing ability. Sean Strickland by TKO.
Phil Mackenzie: Ponzinibbio showed that it was possible to get to him in his speciality last time out, but I doubt Strickland indulges him in trying. He’s a very strong top position player, who should be a bit more physically imposing at welterweight. Good finishing instincts as well. Sean Strickland by submission, round 3.
Zane Simon: I want to like Ponzinibbio’s game more than I do. He’s super powerful in his striking, and really a better takedown to GNP guy than anything. But he doesn’t do much of the latter these days, and while his striking is powerful, it’s also raw and defensively porous. Strickland is overly cautious in his counters and can get caught by opponents that rush in, but he’s also a huge, powerful wrestle-grappler and I think he’ll be able to get Ponzinibbio on his back and out work him. Sean Strickland by submission, Round 2.
Staff picking Ponzinibbio: Stephie, Roy
Staff picking Strickland: Mookie, Phil, Fraser, Rainer, Zane, Karim, Anton, Tim
Iuri Alcantara vs. Frankie Saenz
Anton Tabuena: This isn’t going to be remotely close. Iuri Alcantara by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Why does Alcantara keep getting steps down in competition after each win? Because a supposed top 10 bantamweight shouldn’t be fighting guys like Vaughan Lee and Frankie Saenz. Iuri Alcantara by TKO, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: I always feel like the Marajos have this weird symbiotic effect where we see Iuri fight and then expect Ildemar to be more exciting than he actually is, and then see Ildemar and downgrade our expectations of Iuri. Anyhoo, Saenz is technically primed to take advantage of Iuri’s main weakness, which is defensive wrestling, but I don’t think he’s physical enough to actually win. Add to this that Alcantara has apparently been training wrestling a lot over at Jackson-Winkeljohn(!). Alcantara normally picks up the first round (or a stoppage) in a whirlwind of violence, but then is big, strong, sneaky and scrambly enough to ensure that even in the lower gear he settles into afterwards he still picks up at least one more round against all but the strongest athletes. But I’ll take violence whirlwind because THIS IS BRASIL. Iuri Alcantara by TKO, round 1.
Zane Simon: I don’t want to give too little credit to Alcantara, but this is essentially a matchup between his physical gifts and Saenz’s technical abilities. Alcantara doesn’t do anything poorly, but he’s an elite fighter because he does everything with amazing speed and power. As the fight goes so do some of those tools. If he can’t finish Saenz early, I think he’s in for a really tough fight against a technical wrestle boxer with a great inside game, but even then I think he’ll do just enough to win a couple rounds. Iuri Alcantara by Split Decision.
Staff picking Alcantara: Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Fraser,Roy, Rainer, Zane, Karim, Anton, Tim
Staff picking Saenz:
Jessica Andrade vs. Marion Reneau
Phil Mackenzie: I expected Reneau to beat Dufresne, but not to look as dominant as she did. She’s got a good top game, is a much larger bantamweight than Andrade, and has decent-ish striking. Considering her age, an accelerated schedule of fights is probably a good idea. Andrade is much better than Dufresne though, and puts out a lot of volume. Jessica Andrade by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Andrade has proved to me that she’s a step above the bantamweight rank and file at this point in her career. A lot of people expected Pacheco to compete with her, and Andrade ran her over like it was nothing. I don’t know that she’ll have it easier with Reneau, who has more physical tools, but I still think Andrade is just more skilled and just as athletic. Jessica Andrade by Decision.
Staff picking Andrade: Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Fraser,Roy, Rainer, Zane, Karim, Anton, Tim
Staff picking Reneau:
William Macario vs. Matt Dwyer
Mookie Alexander: Tall guy is going to fall down funny again. William Macario by KO, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: Worryingly for Dwyer, I think the UFC have gotten a picture of him as one of those tall gentlemen who can fall down go boom real picturesque-like if they book him against KO artists. Macario is unpolished and his fight against Magny was a particularly vicious loss for a young fighter, but he’s got a this kind of lackadaisical venom to his punches and if he gets past Dwyer’s reach then bad things will happen. William Macario by TKO round 2
Zane Simon: Macario has to win this. Dwyer is big and tough, but he’s super raw everywhere. Macario should put a decisive beating on him, and if he doesn’t, then his potential needs to be severely re-evaluated. William Macario by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking Macario: Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Fraser,Roy, Rainer, Zane, Karim, Anton, Tim
Staff picking Dwyer:
Tiago dos Santos vs. Mike de la Torre
Phil Mackenzie: De la Torre is another good fighter made to look worse by a rough draw. A short notice fight against incredibly tough journeyman Mark Bocek outside of his natural weight class, then a fight against a legit blue chipper Brian Ortega (who subsequently Black Housed his piss test). However, I still like Trator to land more consistent offense over 15 minutes. Tiago Trator by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: De la Torre is solid and consistent, but he’s also a pretty finished product at this point, and no part of his game is really so technical that I think he can take over this fight for more than a minute here or there. Trator has a really nice consistent chipping muay thai attack and a good inside striking game. He may not have a ton of power, but he has the skill to work guys over round after round. Tiago Trator by Decision.
Staff picking Trator: Phil, Rainer, Zane, Anton
Staff picking de la Torre: Mookie, Stephie, Fraser,Roy, Karim, Tim
Douglas Silva vs. Cody Gibson
Phil Mackenzie: Good fight. Both men are better than their recent losses might indicate. I do like Gibson. He’s an enormous and physically overwhelming bantamweight who tuned up Manny Gamburyan pretty handily before strolling into a guillotine choke. I don’t think he makes that mistake again. Although, thinking about it, decision making is perhaps not his strongest skill. Cody Gibson by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: In a battle between underdeveloped, reasonably gifted fighters, coming out of small-ish camps, I’ll take the wrestler over the muay thai guy every time. D’Silva is so dependent on his physical tools to keep the fight where he wants it, and his striking isn’t good enough for him to dominate consistently there (even if he has huge huge power). Gibson is tough and tenacious and a good enough wrestler to take most people down. I think he’ll make an ugly fight of this and stay on D’Silva for the win. Cody Gibson by decision.
Staff picking Silva:
Staff picking Gibson: Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Fraser,Roy, Rainer, Zane, Karim, Anton, Tim
Ivan Jorge vs. Josh Shockley
Phil Mackenzie: Batman vs Shockley! That phrase, straight out of a pulp comic, may be as exciting as this fight gets. Brazilian grinder vs submission-minded American. Luckily unlike, say, Kelly vs Walsh, this fight is exactly where it belongs, at the bottom of the card. Sometimes fighting in Brazil gives the hometown fighters an extra injection of violence. Hope for that here. Ivan Jorge by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: This has ugly fight written all over it. Jorge fits that mold of the grappler that just can’t strike or wrestle, but is tenacious enough to make fights brutally slow and grinding. Fortunately for him, he’s getting a bout against a scrappy grappler/striker who is going to want to press Jorge everywhere and take the fight to him. I don’t think Shockley can keep up with Jorge on the ground, but he’s probably going to try and take him there. Ivan Jorge by decision.
Staff picking Jorge: Mookie, Stephie, Phil, Fraser, Roy, Rainer, Zane, Karim, Anton, Tim
Staff picking Shockley:
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