Ronda Rousey vs. Cat Zingano
Anton Tabuena: With her last few wins, I can’t really say this anymore, but screw it — Death. Taxes. Ronda Rousey by Armbar.
Mookie Alexander: Ronda Rousey is the UConn women’s basketball team and Cat Zingano is “the field”. Just because Zingano is a very good fighter who I’d probably pick to beat the rest of this division, doesn’t mean I believe she’ll come remotely close to winning against the champion. It’s a small sample size, but she clearly lost the 1st round to Amanda Nunes (ring rust can be attributed here) and the 1st against Miesha Tate. Zingano has been taken down a combined 4 out of 9 attempts in both fights. She is pretty damn durable, which is a tremendous asset to have against Rousey, but this is just going to be Rousey clinching, throwing, positioning, and armbarring. Ronda Rousey by armbar, round 1.
Fraser Coffeen: Now that Ronda has decided to mix things up and end fights with strikes, the ease of picking Rousey armbar round 1 has decreased. But picking her to win? That’s still pretty easy. Rousey remains a notch above every other woman in MMA today, and while Zingano is a very good contender who I see putting up a real fight and pushing the champ, I still don’t see any reason to pick against the dominance of the Rowdy One. So… Ronda Rousey by decision
Zane Simon: Rousey. Armbar. Round 1. Book it.
Staff picking Rousey: Mookie, Fraser, Phil, Tim, Karim, Dallas, Stephie,Roy, Zane, Anton
Staff picking Zingano:
Holly Holm vs. Raquel Pennington
Anton Tabuena: Pennington is by far the best opponent she’s faced in MMA, but Holm should still have the skills to win this. I doubt she looks dominant, but I still think it ends with a finish. Holly Holm by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: Connor broke it down extremely well in the Holm judo chop. Holm’s punches aren’t anything special, but make her a kickboxer and she’s really good. Her competition isn’t stellar (can it really be given how W135 is already a thin division in the UFC?) but Pennington is by no means a world-beater. It all boils down to Pennington being able to convincingly hold down Holm for the majority of the fight, and I don’t see it happening without hr getting hit all over the place. Holly Holm by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: This will either be a much harder or much easier fight than I think it will be for Holly Holm. Pennington isn’t nearly as athletic or skilled as Holm, but she is big and tough and strong, and sometimes, especially against fighters with a very focused style, that’s enough to get a win. On the other side, it could mean that she just gets pot shotted and picked apart from range. I’m picking Holm because I want to see a good performance out of her, but I could just as easily see her losing an ugly and controversial decision. Holly Holm by decision.
Staff picking Holm: Mookie, Fraser, Phil, Tim, Karim, Dallas, Roy, Zane, Anton
Staff picking Pennington: Stephie
Josh Koscheck vs. Jake Ellenberger
Anton Tabuena: Unless Ellenberger really gets mental issues in the fight, he should have all the physical advantages over Koscheck here. There are lots of question marks, but I’m picking the guy with all the tools to win. Jake Ellenberger by TKO.
Mookie Alexander: This is the sanitized version of Bigfoot vs. Mir. Ellenberger’s problems seem to be mental, and if that’s the case then I don’t know how much longer he should be fighting. Koscheck is just about physically shot and he’s absorbed a ton of punishment in his losses dating back to the GSP rematch. It’s really set up for Ellenberger to dominate, because he has the takedown defense to prevent Koscheck from putting him on his back, and he’s a little more varied (but way more powerful) than Koscheck in his striking, particularly in the clinch. I’m fully aware Ellenberger could throw this fight away, especially since he seems to be totally unable to win fights he cannot dominate/win in the 1st round, but I’ll count on him not to. Jake Ellenberger by TKO, round 2.
Fraser Coffeen: Mookie hit the nail on the head with his Mir vs. Bigfoot comparison. Like that fight, this is one where there are two fighters that I generally don’t like picking to win against pretty much anyone at this stage. But someone has to win, so we get to play “who is less shot?” And my answer, perhaps surprisingly, is Koscheck. Ellenberger just seems completely lost and off the rails in every way at this point, while Kos is merely shopworn. Very, very shopworn, but still. This could go either way and not surprise me at all, but I think this is the end of the line for Ellenberger. Josh Koscheck by KO, round 1
Phil Mackenzie: I actually think Ellenberger’s striking looked better in his last fight- plus, the way he threw it away looked more like a brain fart rather than a complete mental breakdown, which is a small and bleak comfort, but there you go. I also feel like his front-running tendency is at least in part dictated by his comfort level, and Koscheck’s outdated overhand / blast double approach driven by declining athleticism should be as comfy as a well-worn armchair for Ellenberger. I don’t think Kos gets the takedown, and he’s still a pretty woeful striker. Jake Ellenberger by TKO, round 1
Zane Simon: Jake Ellenberger’s competitive fire seems to be missing lately, but for Josh Koscheck the problems seem more physical, especially in his chin area. I could see Kos being competitive for a while, before getting hit with a really hard shot and put away. Jake Ellenberger by KO, Round 1.
Staff picking Koscheck: Fraser, Dallas
Staff picking Ellenberger: Mookie, Phil, Tim, Karim, Stephie,Roy, Zane, Anton
Alan Jouban vs. Rich Walsh
Mookie Alexander: “Filthy” Richard Walsh (who I now declare to be “Filthy Dick”) was screwed in his last fight against Kiichi Kunimoto. Jouban is a bad match-up for him based on what I’ve seen in his first two UFC outings. Alan pushes a nice pace, hits hard, and has the striking to really put a beating on Filthy Dick until he’s limp. Look for Filthy Dick to get in close to take away Jouban’s range striking. In the end, I believe Jouban can clean up Filthy Dick. Alan Jouban by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: Fun, close matchup of two guys who got ripped off in their fights. However, “losing” to Warlley Alves is a lot more explicable than “losing” to Kiichi Kunimoto. Walsh is still a really surprisingly skilled and physical fighter, but he’s going to want the clinch a lot in this fight. Jouban is long, active, and I think open stance pushes this towards being a contest which favours him due to the increased distance. Alan Jouban by unanimous decision
Zane Simon: Alan Jouban is faster than Walsh, but he’s not really the kind of “on his bike” striker that would stay away from Walsh’s powerful infighting game. Instead, Jouban tends to like to come forward too, and I think that Walsh is the more mechanically sound, powerful striker inside. Richard Walsh by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking Jouban: Mookie, Fraser, Phil, Karim, Dallas, Stephie, Roy
Staff picking Walsh: Tim, Zane, Anton
Tony Ferguson vs. Gleison Tibau
Mookie Alexander: This just feels like a slightly different version of Johnson vs. Tibau. So on that note … Tony Ferguson by TKO, round 2.
Phil Mackenzie: Ferguson is the harder hitter, the more active fighter, and he’s got the size to contest with Tibau. But. Tibau’s problems have often been against other southpaws- he’s surprisingly adept at slinging leather as opponents move into the space in open stance engagements, and that’s a big, wide-open area when you’re as gigantic as he is. I do think that Ferguson can outwork him, but frankly anyone who has any poetry in their soul at all will be rooting for an awesome Herculano Janigleison Alves split decision. Tony Ferguson by unanimous decision
Zane Simon: I dunno, it’s really hard to pick Tony Ferguson to win this. Could he? Yes, but he’d have to fight smart and consistently. Lately he hasn’t been doing that. I think it’s a very similar matchup to the Danny Castillo fight, and frankly Ferguson scraped by with a forgiving decision there. If he fights like that against Tibau, he’s going to end up dropping rounds en route to a loss. Gleison Tibau by Split Decision.
Staff picking Ferguson: Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Phil, Karim, Dallas, Stephie, Roy, Anton
Staff picking Tibau: Zane
Mark Munoz vs. Roan Carneiro
Anton Tabuena: I hate to say this, but if Munoz loses this, he really should hang it up. This should be his fight to lose. Mark Munoz by TKO.
Phil Mackenzie: That Munoz is way, way less of a favourite than Holly Holm says weird things to me about our perception of streaks and levels of competition. Has Munoz looked bad recently? Sure, that’s because he’s facing monsters. I don’t believe in a declining Munoz as much as I think he was just never all that good in the first place and very dependent on match-ups. Was Prime Munoz the Munoz who got embarrassed by Okami? Or the one who scraped past Maia after almost getting knocked out? However, unless injuries genuinely have caught up to him (significantly possible), and he really has fallen off in a more significant way than “can’t beat Machida / Mousasi / Weidman” he’s still going to mop up on lower or mid tier middleweights. Or in this case, welterweights. Particularly those with a grappling base. Mark Munoz by TKO, round 2.
Zane Simon: It’s very very easy for me to see Mark Munoz losing yet another fight with a disappointing performance. But, I really think Carneiro doesn’t have the tools to make that happen, neither with his strength, nor size, nor kickboxing. Mark Munoz by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking Munoz: Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Phil, Karim, Dallas, Stephie, Roy, Zane, Anton
Staff picking Carneiro:
Roman Salazar vs. Norifumi Yamamoto
Anton Tabuena: Best bet on the card. 0-3 in the UFC, 3 year absence, and he’s still a huge favorite because of name recognition alone. I’ll probably be sad after this match up because I believe it’s going to be Roman Salazar by Submission.
Mookie Alexander: Noticed how the title of this prediction never says “Kid”? Thought so. Roman “The Cable Guy” Salazar by unanimous decision.
Fraser Coffeen: Like any loyal Japanese MMA diehard, I’ll be quietly rooting for Kid in this one, but let’s face facts. The guy has not won a fight since 2010, and prior to that, he hadn’t won a fight since 2007. He’s also 37 years old in a division where, as Mike Brown can attest, old age makes a big impact, fast. The dream is dead folks. Sorry. Roman Salazar by KO, round 1
Phil Mackenzie: Kid looked very bad in his UFC fights. Unless we see some kind of baffling late-30s resurgence from him, he’s probably going to look significantly worse 3 years down the line. If there is anything left of Kid, he can take this, but I don’t think there is. Roman Salazar by submission, round 1.
Zane Simon: What the hell. I’ll operate under the foolish notion that Yamamoto wouldn’t be coming back if he couldn’t physically beat Roman Salazar. That’s not scientific, but Salazar is a really low bar. Norifumi Yamamoto by decision.
Staff picking Salazar: Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Phil, Karim, Stephie, Anton
Staff picking Yamamoto: Dallas, Roy, Zane
Dhiego Lima vs. Tim Means
Phil Mackenzie: Lima is the better striker, Means is the better clinch fighter, but Lima has the better takedown offense. Two areas for Lima to win the fight are what tilt a decent, rugged scrap in his direction, because Means will be constantly moving into his wheelhouse one way or the other. Dhiego Lima via unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: Tim Means seems like the better fighter everywhere except on the ground, and Lima isn’t all that great at getting the fight there. Lima is a decent striker going forward, but has terrible defense. Means hits hard and fights well against guys willing to try and press him with aggressive kickboxing. I think that helps him here. Tim Means by TKO, Round 3.
Staff picking Lima: Tim, Phil
Staff picking Means: Mookie, Fraser, Karim, Dallas, Stephie, Roy, Zane, Anton
Derrick Lewis vs. Ruan Potts
Mookie Alexander: ….And you thought public executions were a thing of the past. Derrick Lewis by KO, round 1.
Phil Mackenzie: I feel like it’s become a bit of a running theme recently where easy-pick squash matches like Oleynik-Russow and Perosh-Guto Inocente have flipped the script. Derrick Lewis should absolutely murder Potts within seconds, but weirder things have happened in the land of the big men than Lewis getting his shit Ruaned. I’m not going to pick Potts though. I mean, I’m not nuts. Who would be crazy enough to pick Ruan Potts to win a UFC fight? Derrick Lewis by KO, round 1
Zane Simon: … … … … … Derrick Lewis by KO, Round 1.
Staff picking Lewis: Mookie, Fraser, Tim, Phil, Karim, Dallas, Stephie, Roy, Zane, Anton
Staff picking Potts:
James Krause vs. Valmir Lazaro
Phil Mackenzie: This is a dark horse pick for FOTN in my opinion. I really like Krause, but his lack of power hurts him. Unless he can force scrambles and pick up submissions, his lengthy striking game just doesn’t have the pop in it to discourage his opponents. Lazaro is a really strong Muai Thai striker who hews away at his opponents. His slightly underwhelming fight against James Vick looked a little like octagon jitters, and I think that he’ll look improved against a very similar model of fighter in Krause. Lazaro tends to rely on his size to deal with range differentials for him and rarely fights long, instead throwing hooks and crosses in close and utilizing head movement, so I think Krause will rack up volume from the outside while Lazaro lands the more significant strikes. Valmir Lazaro by unanimous decision.
Zane Simon: I think Krause is the more consistent, technical performer, but I’ve been generally underwhelmed by his UFC run. Most notably, he seems to lack the strength or finishing ability to really hurt guys. He had Varner on a busted wheel and Varner still had to call the fight in his corner between rounds. Against Masvidal he just got manhandled. I could see Krause being the more active, accurate fighter, but also getting hit harder, possibly on his way to a TKO loss. Valmir Lazaro by TKO, Round 2.
Staff picking Krause: Fraser, Dallas, Roy, Anton
Staff picking Lazaro: Tim, Phil, Mookie, Karim, Stephie, Zane
Masio Fullen vs. Alexander Torres
Mookie Alexander: Us Alexanders have to stick together (except for Houston). Alexander Torres by unanimous decision.
Phil Mackenzie: I like to think of myself as somewhat diligent in researching my fight picks, but I have a limit in doing significant study. That limit is TUF: Latin America fighters. Fullen is the better wrestler which is significant at low levels, but his dreadful cardio on the show puts heavy question marks over his athleticism. Eh. Alexander Torres by unanimous decision
Zane Simon: When in doubt on TUF: LA pick Mexico. Masio Fullen by decision.
Staff picking Fullen: Fraser, Tim, Dallas, Zane, Anton
Staff picking Torres: Mookie, Phil, Karim, Stephie, Roy
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