Standings: We’re going to keep track of our writers’ records to mock and/or judge them. Standings will follow the English Premier League’s Relegation rules. If you have the worst record in the Rosenthal League at the end of the week, your ass gets sent to…
…..THE WINSLOW LEAGUE!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!
Post-Bellator, and pre-UFC, here’s where we’re at.
Nolan Howell: 3-1, .750
TC Engel: 2-2, .500
Chris Groves: 2-2, .500
Luke Irwin: 1-3, .250
Christian Diaz: 0-0
Josh Hall: 0-0
Tim Hickey: 0-0
Connor Dillon: 0-0
Daniel Galvan: 0-0
TBA (Probably TC).
ONTO THE PREDICTIONS!
UFC Interim Bantamweight Championship: Renan Barao (31-1) (c) vs. Michael McDonald (15-1)
TC Engel: Wow, what a fight. Barao has been a favorite of mine for a long time, and I’m glad he’s finally getting the recognition he deserves as one of the top fighters in the world. That being said, Mayday is one of the hardest hitters in the lower weight classes, and he throws with good technique. In addition, his combinations are creative but still effective. The major factors in this fight, to me, both fall on Barao’s side: Calibre (I’m Canadian, deal with it) of competition, and five round experience. Mayday, in his UFC career, has beaten Edwin Figueroa, who may be fighting for his job in his next fight, Chris Cariaso, who has since dropped a weight class, Alex Soto, whose nickname is Extremo, and the since cut Miguel Torres. While Torres is a name, he has faded immensely since being a P4P contender in the WEC. Barao, however, has run the gauntlet, including wins over Brad Pickett, Scott Jorgensen, and Urijah Faber. Clearly, Barao has faced a much higher calibre of competition. Additionally, while McDonald has never gone five rounds, Barao did in his last fight, and while he faded in the fifth, still controlled Faber and won all five rounds. These two small edges have me leaning towards Barao. Barao by Unanimous Decision
Luke Irwin: With the exception of maybe Francisco Rivera (who put McDonald’s brother to sleep in forty seconds in December 2011), McDonald has the hardest hands in the world at bantamweight. That much power for a smaller fighter is extremely rare in just about every corner of the fight world. Unfortunately for McDonald, one of those rare mystical places is where Renan Barao spends every day; Nova Uniao. Ribeiro, Aldo, Sandro, Dantas, Nunes, Leonardo Santos. The place is just crawling with exceptional Bantamweights, Featherweights, and Lightweights. Michael McDonald may throw fire, but if there’s one place in the world that you can prepare for dynamite from a small package, it’s Nova. Mayday has only seen the second round four times in his 16-fight career. I think Mayday pours it on early, but Barao takes him into uncharted territory and does enough in the later rounds to juuuuuuuuust do enough to edge the decision. 48-47, 47-48, 48-47. Renan Barao by Split Decision.
Josh Hall: This is a tough fight to call. Barao has one of the most incredible undefeated streaks ever going right now, and McDonald has only lost once, and he avenged that with a finish. Barao’s stand up is the more technical in my opinion, while McDonald hits harder. I’m going with Barao via close decision.
Connor Dillon: It’s the streak versus the boy wonder! I think Barao is an updated and more tactful version of Miguel Torres, McDonald’s last opponent. I think leg kicks will hobble McDonald and take away his base, but his punches could take Barao’s head off at any second. Hmmm. I’m gonna go with my gut on this one and say McDonald will win after not liking his legs getting smashed. McDonald via Knockout.
Chris Groves: McDonald has always struck me as primarily a boxer, he has heavy hands and relies on them. I don’t believe he has any noteworthy grappling(wrestling or BJJ) background. Barao on the other hand is quite multi-dimensional. He can strike, work submissions, and has solid offensive and defensive wrestling skills. On the feet, Barao have to avoid Mickey D’s killer power, and I think Barao’s kicking game will be crucial in him winning in that department. If McDonald is a bit too much to handle, I give the grappling advantage to Barao, and I foresee him being able to take the less experienced fighter down and either submit him or work for a decision. My Pick: Renan Barao
Tim Hickey: For the first time since September of 2007, England gets to see a live title fight. They are in for a treat, as this is a fantastic matchup. Barao owns one of the most impressive win streaks in MMA (currently unbeaten in 29 fights) but he is in for some trouble with the 22 year old phenom that is Michael McDonald. McDonald has shown that he possesses the most feared power in all of the 135 lbs division, and has KOed his last two opponents in the 1st round. He needs to be aggressive early and not let Barao pull him into deep water, which the champion would have the clear advantage. I think McDonald comes out quickly and looks for a finish fast. McDonald via KO Rd 2.
Christian Diaz: I like McDonald a ton..but I don’t think that he’s quite there just yet. Barao on the other hand seems to have his skill set perfectly figured out, in addition to having a monster camp for training purposes. Barao via decision.
Daniel Galvan: Renan Barao’s staunch takedown defense should be able to nullify Michael McDonald’s wrestling game, keeping the bantamweight contest primarily on the feet. Although McDonald possesses some of the heaviest hands at 135, Barao should be able to evade counter strikes and score points on the feet with his jab, leg kicks, and speed. Barao via Decision.
Featherweight Bout: Cub Swanson (18-5) vs. Dustin Poirier (13-2)
TC Engel: I love this fight. I don’t care who wins, because it’s going to be apeshit awesome. Swanson probably has a small edge on the feet. Poirier probably has a small edge on the ground. I can’t remember the last time, apart from Aldo, Swanson fought someone with a reach advantage, though, apart from the utterly useless George Roop. I’m unsure of Swanson’s ability to get inside on Poirier and do damage, and for that reason only, I cautiously choose Dustin Poirier by Unanimous Decision
Luke Irwin: SQUEEEEEEE!! This fight is going to rule. Dustin Poirier via 3rd Round Submission.
Josh Hall: Dustin Poirier was knocking on the door for a title shot only two fights ago, while Cub Swanson has turned his career completely around with three consecutive KO wins. I think the pressure of Swanson will be too much here, and he becomes the first person to knock out Poirier (which means Poirier probably submits him).
Connor Dillon: Woohoo, this one will rock the house. Swanson has come back from a double flying knee knockout loss to Jose Aldo with anger in his punches. He’s knocked out a good amount of opponents. Porier is a Louisiana native coming back from a loss to the Korean Zombie in the Fight of the Year of 2012, winning his last fight against Jonathen Brookins via Brabo Choke. In the end, I think it comes down to who can implement their game plan. Will Swanson keep it standing and unleash his rage? Or will Porier make this a constant quick and dirty scramble? I think Porier and Swanson start another fight of the night candidate, before Porier takes control and catches Swanson with a front choke in a scramble. Porier via Submission.
Chris Groves: Poirier gets hit quite often, and is taking this fight on less than full notice. Meanwhile, Cub has dynamite in his hands and likely an ever improving grappling game to help him keep it where he wants it…on the feet. No extensive prognostication required from me here. My Pick: Cub Swanson
Tim Hickey: WEC 4 Life. The co-Main event is an exciting fight between two of the best 145 pounders in the world with Cub Swanson meeting Dustin Poirier. Swanson has been on a roll lately, KOing his last 3 opponents. He has been barking up the title shot tree, but this will be his stiffest test. Poirier rebounded from a FOTY lost to The Korean Zombie to defeat Jonathan Brookins in December, and is poised to climb back up the ladder. I think Poirier survives the early onslaught of Cub, and takes it home Poirier via UD.
Christian Diaz: If Poirier gets into a slugfest like he did with Brookins, he’ll get his lights turned off. Really, I can’t deny Swanson’s hot streak in addition to having Jackson in his corner. Cub Swanson via close decision.
Daniel Galvan: For me, this fight is the toughest to call on this card. My head tells me that Dustin Poirier should win this fight by imploring a tactical approach with his reach advantage and grappling, but my heart is telling me that Cub Swanson will continue his resurgence as a top featherweight by knocking out Poirier, a fighter that is probably too aggressive for his own good. I’ll go with my heart. Swanson via KO, round 1.
Light Heavyweight Bout: Cyrille Diabate (20-8-3) vs. Jimi Manuwa (12-0)
TC Engel: Well, this certainly is a FUEL card. Diabate’s 4-2 in the UFC, which surprised me, with losses to Alex Gustafsson and Anthony Perosh. Diabate’s most impressive fight, to me, was his victory of Tom DeBlass, a very high level grappler, on the Sweden card last spring. While DeBlass came in on short notice, it was the exact type of fighter that would have run through Diabate in the past, but Diabate more than survived the ground attack, winning a unanimous decision. Admittedly, I’ve only seen one fight of Manuwa’s, his UFC debut against Kyle Kingsbury, but I didn’t see much there that led me to believe he can beat anyone worth anything in the UFC. That, combined with Diabate’s reach advantage of six inches, pushes me to Diabate’s side. Cyrille Diabate by Unanimous Decision
Luke Irwin: Diabate via Submission. BAHAHA, I kid, but seriously, Chad Griggs is bad. I think Diabate gets a tad too comfortable in his kickboxing, throws a haphazard kick and gets caught. Jimi Manuwa via 2nd Round KO.
Josh Hall: Diabate is a highly technical kickboxer with a much improved grappling game, while Manuwa hits like a Sherman tank on the feet, with 11 KO wins in 12 fights. Diabate has to keep his range successfully or get the fight to the ground in order to win this fight, and I think Manuwa will get in for the big strike at some point. Manuwa via KO.
Connor Dillon: Manuwa is a fresh prospect who just got done beating the bejesus out of Kyle Kingsbury. Diabate is an older fighter (39) who’s a good test for up and comers like Manuwa. Personally, I think Manuwa wins this handily, but with some trouble from the experienced Diabate. Manuwa via TKO.
Chris Groves: Many will point to Diabate’s submission win over Chad Griggs as evidence that he is making some great strides in his grappling/submission game. The fact of the matter is that it happened because Chad Griggs is simply far less capable on the ground than Diabate (Diabate was taken down and subbed by Anthony Perosh, remember that). Cyrille also only went for the sub because he had just rocked Griggs badly on the feet. Jimi Manuwa has POWER and I would hope a capable enough ground game/Take-down D to keep this one standing. Diabate has proven to be fairly hittable in the past, and at 39, it is not likely that he is getting better. It’s not youth vs experience here, it’s youth vs old age….and youth wins it. My pick: Jimi Manuwa
Tim Hickey: This honestly has KOTN written all over it. Manuwa has finished every single fight he has been in, and has 11 (T)KO’s out of 12 victories. Diabate is a former K-1 kickboxer who has had moderate success in his MMA career. Diabate has gone 4-2 in his UFC run, but all his wins have come against low level competition. If the same Jimi Manuwa shows up that straight up skull fucked Kyle Kingsbury back in September, this could be a short night for The Snake Manuwa via 2nd Rd KO
Christian Diaz: Diabate subbed the toughest guy in the bar and barely beat up a gassed submission artist…but he looks like the grandson of Tio Salamanca. Manuwa brutalized Kingsbu which seems to be what’s hot on the streets these days…eh, screw it..Manuwa, TKO 1.
Daniel Galvan: Technique is clearly on the side of Cyrille Diabate against Jimi Manuwa, better known as England’s most fearsome man, but at 39 years of age, father time is surely not on his side. Manuwa should be able to overwhelm him with his scary power early. If not, expect Diabate to expose Manuwa’s motor in the later rounds. Manuwa via TKO, round 1.
Welterweight Bout: Gunnar Nelson (10-0-1) vs. Jorge Santiago (23-10)
TC Engel: This fight is awesome. Nelson is an incredible submission grappler who has never been defeated. Santiago is a veteran coming in on short notice who has never lost by submission. His achilles heal has always been his susceptibility to being knocked out, which I have an extremely hard time seeing Nelson doing. I do, however, think he can control Santiago the way Demian Maia did, and while it may not be the prettiest win, it’ll still be a win. Gunnar Nelson by Unanimous Decision
Luke Irwin: Nelson has a bunch of hype coming in, but Santiago has seen just about everything there is to see in a fight. Maia couldn’t submit him, Misaki couldn’t, Horn couldn’t, Belcher couldn’t. Nelson won’t. Nelson will, however, control him on the ground enough to take a decision. Gunnar Nelson via Unanimous Decision.
Josh Hall: This is a fun matchup with a rising prospect in Nelson against the experienced veteran Santiago. Nelson is a submission specialist, but Jorge has never been subbed in a 35 fight career. I’m going with Nelson by decision, due to the ground defense of Santiago.
Connor Dillon: It’s Santiago’s third trip to the UFC, and probably his last. His specialty, throwing himself into the punches of his opponents and grabbing legs trying to imitate Paul Harris, will only get him so far. Nelson is an exciting fighter, but his UFC debut was against a ridiculously balooned DeMarques Johnson, that he won mostly because Johnson didn’t have enough time to cut properly. I think the vet Santiago will win one more time in the UFC, before getting knocked cold in his next. Santiago via Decision.
Chris Groves: Some people say that Santiago’s last two fights were at Welterweight, yet the infallible Wikipedia says they were both Middleweight bouts. What I’m getting at is that Santiago is taking this fight on short notice, and so he’s also making the Welterweight cut on short notice. Neither is a good thing against Nelson, who has a pretty killer BJJ game on the ground and years of Karate experience to aide him on the feet. Santiago has plenty of mileage on his body and his chin. Short notice + Potentially heavy weight cut + pressure to finally get another win in the UFC = bad news for Santiago. My Pick: Nelson
Tim Hickey: Let me get this out there to start. I think Gunnar Nelson is the best prospect in MMA right now. I think he could potentially be a future champion in this sport. He has a very good striking base from his background in Goju-ryu karate and is a black belt in BJJ under Renzo Gracie. Santiago is the perfect measuring stick for him at this point in his career, as he is a crafty veteran who has never been submitted in his 35 professional fights. This is Jorge’s first fight at welterweight, and it will be interesting to see how the weight cut affects him. This might just be fanboy talk, but Nelson via 2nd Round Sub
Christian Diaz: Santiago hasn’t exactly been beating any opponents of great note since his 2nd UFC release, while Nelson is apparently the second coming of Thor. Beating up on a short notice DaMarques Johnson isn’t necessarily the greatest accomplishment, but I’m willing to buy into the hype. Nelson via Decision.
Daniel Galvan: Damn, this fight makes me happy. Why the hell are some British fans complaining about this card? It’s great. It really is. You get to watch two of the top three bantamweights in the world collide. You get to watch two of the best and most exciting featherweights in the world fight. You get awesome fights like Nelson/Santiago, Riddle/Mills, and Gomez/Harris. Do you know how many UFC cards my home state of Texas got last year? Zero. Yeah, screw you guys. Nelson via submission, round 2.
Light Heavyweight Bout: James te Huna (17-5) vs. Ryan Jimmo (17-1)
TC Engel: If you’ve only seen Jimmo’s UFC debut, I encourage you to watch his MFC fights to understand why I root against him at all times, despite being one of the few Canadians in the UFC. Jimmo’s boring, and his power is not what it looked like against Perosh. te Huna is a very good striker with great power. Jimmo’s going to have a bad time. James te Huna by first round knockout
Luke Irwin: I don’t want to say a fighter’s UFC debut was an aberration…but Ryan Jimmo’s UFC debut was an aberration. That was not the Ryan Jimmo I’ve watched for years, and I hardly think, after nearly 20 fights, that he’s drastically overhauled his game to become a deadly knockout artist. This fight is going to be terrible. JTH is a man who swings early, often, and angrily, and Jimmo is a man who’s allergic to most forms of contact and some harsh staring. One day, James te Huna will fight Jimi Manuwa, and the ensuing collision will finally knock our destroyed planet into the sun to finish the job. Ryan Jimmo by decision.
Josh Hall: Really tough fight to call. Te Huna hits as hard as anyone at 205, but his cardio is highly suspect, as is his submission defense. Jimmo has far more technical standup and vastly superior cardio. He only has 2 sub wins in his career though, so it is questionable whether he can take advantage of that weakness in Te Huna’s game. The 7 second KO aside, Jimmo has been a notoriously slow starter in his career, with 6 of his last 8 wins via decision. Since I have to choose, I’ll say Te Huna by KO with 1st round pressure.
Connor Dillon: Jimmo’s first UFC fight ended quickly. Very quickly. It was an exciting win coming from someone who didn’t seem anything but a controlling kind of guy. Te Huna on the other hand is someone who came to bang every chance they got. He’s got strong standup, but his ground game (if you can get him down) is still a little questionable to me. I think Jimmo can and probably will take Te Huna down, but once there it’ll come down to whether or not Jimmo can keep pressure at a high and distance at a low. I think Jimmo is more than capable of grinding out a win, but with that lightening quick knockout in his last fight, I think he’ll test the stand up before Te Huna hurts him. Te Huna via TKO.
Chris Groves: Despite his spectacular insta-KO over Anthony Perosh in his last fight, Ryan Jimmo is much more a ‘point fighter’. James Te-Huna is a bit more of a brawler, but he’s certainly developing. Jimmo is going to look to take it home with a mostly stick-and-move strategy that I think will be effective. Or he might knock a dude out in 7 seconds again, either way. My Pick: Ryan Jimmo
Tim Hickey: For those not familiar with Ryan Jimmo outside of his 7 second KO of The Hippo Anthony Perosh, let me say this. Ryan Jimmo is not that exciting. I was forced to sit and watch through his fight in MFC with Sokoudjou and I think I would rather be struck in the nuts repeatedly than ever have to watch that again. But this is an interesting fight as really the winner of this gets propelled to the next level of LHWs. James Te Huna hits like a bear on methamphetamines and if he can avoid having Jimmo pressing him against the cage and trying to grind him for 3 rounds, he has enough power to turn this fight around with one punch. Unfortunately for him, I think Jimmo will wear him down over 3 uneventful rounds Jimmo via UD.
Christian Diaz: I think Jimmo is too composed to get into a war with Te Huna. Might not be the most exciting fight, but I think Jimmo should easily out point him. Jimmo via decision.
Daniel Galvan: There are a few narratives that I think could play out here. One is James Te Huna adding another highlight reel win to his library by pushing the pace and landing his power shots. The other is Ryan Jimmo returning to his old, boring self by counter striking, fighting on the outside, and clinching. I’m on the fence on this one. Hold on, let me just check which camp Ryan Jimmo trains at. Oh, he trains with the Blackzillians. Yeah…Te Huna via KO, round 1.
Welterweight Bout: Che Mills (15-5) vs. Matt Riddle (7-3)
TC Engel: I don’t care how much hate I catch for it, I love Matthew Riddle. Che Mills is somehow a fairly decent favorite in this fight, despite holding losses to Jim Wallhead and Yuya Shirai. Mills is 2-1 in the UFC, with wins over Chris Cope, in fairly impressive fashion, and Duane Ludwig, by injury, and a loss to Rory MacDonald. Riddle, meanwhile, is 7-3(1), with his entire career taking place in the UFC. He’s grown exponentially as of late, looking very good against John Maguire and Chris Clements. I think Riddle has the wrestling game to take Mills down, and finish him once he’s there. Riddle by first round arm triangle.
Luke Irwin: The UFC took notice to how much Riddle loves “buttertooth Brits” and decided to match one up against him! In London, no less! Big Ben! Parliament! This has the potential to be very, very good. However, Mills’s last two fights were Duane Ludwig blowing out a tire and a hellacious beating by Rory MacDonald, so it’s hard to get a bead on Che. Matt Riddle by decision.
Josh Hall: On the feet, Mills is way better than Riddle, but he has fairly terrible takedown defense. Riddle certainly is capable of out wrestling Mills for 3 rounds, but he has a tendency toward mental mistakes in the cage. I’m gonna take Mills by decision here, but I don’t feel good about it.
Connor Dillon: What I wouldn’t give to see Riddle up against Dan Hardy right now. Instead I’ll have to deal with him fighting Che Mills, whose last real victory came against Chris Cope. Now I’m a fan of Riddle and his eagerness to paste them there buttery toothed Brits, but I think Che Mills is just the kind of opponent to test his kickboxing cardio routine. Che Mills via TKO.
Chris Groves: Che ‘Killer Elite’ Mills returns to take on Matt “Matt Riddle” Riddle. Riddle’s striking is not very good, specifically his defense…and his gameplanning is kind of crummy. That being said, this is STILL a wrestler vs striker match-up at heart, and I’m pretty sure I know where the smart money is in that type of matchup. My Pick: Matt Riddle
Tim Hickey: I like Matt Riddle, as he likes pot and so do I. The man can take a punch, and keeps coming forward. Unfortunately for him, Che Mills hits pretty damn hard. Mills via KO Rd 1.
Christian Diaz: Dammit, why are these so hard to pick?! Riddle should be able to take Mills down and dominate him on the ground, but dammit, sometimes Riddle has just got to boxercise. If it stays standing, Mills should decapitate him. Riddle via decision, if he’s smart. Who knows.
Daniel Galvan: The nickname of Che Mills is “beautiful”. No. Riddle via decision.
Lightweight Bout: Renee Forte (7-2) vs. Terry Etim (15-4)
TC Engel: Well, this fight certainly will take place. Etim by second round armbar.
Luke Irwin: Etim’s seriously been fighting in the UFC for six years now? Jeeeesus. It’s been over a year since Etim was last in the cage since getting starched by Edson Barboza, and you never know how a fighter is going to react after that. I’m guessing Terry, not wanting to get back-to-back highlight reel KO’ed, keeps is safe, works the ground and gets a sub in the 2nd. Terry Etim by 2nd-Round Submission.
Josh Hall: Terry Etim is probably forever going to be known for the spinning KO he received at the hands of Edson Barboza (and his subsequent KO face), but he has 14 stoppages out of his 15 wins. Forte, on the other hand, has only gone 1-2 since 2010, coming off a sub loss to Sergio Moraes. Etim has 12 wins via sub, so I predict he collects another here.
Connor Dillon: Okay, Etim’s coming off probably the most devastating knockout of 2012, a spinning wheel knockout from Edson Barboza. Renee Forte is coming off a less harmful loss via rear-naked choke. Now I think Etim has had enough experience in the big leagues that Forte won’t be as comfortable in the cage. The other thing is Etim tends to win and win big. I think Etim will pull off a submission in the last round, knocking Forte from the UFC for the moment. Etim via submission.
Chris Groves: This one is going to be brief. Ultimately this is a rebound fight for Etim to set him up to get wheel kicked in the face at some point in the future. My pick: Terry Etim.
Tim Hickey: Last time we saw Terry Etim, he was getting straight up Chuck Norrised by Edison Barbosa in the KO of the year back in January 2012. I like to picture he spent the majority of 2012 in a monastery practicing peace and trying to wash the nightmares from his head of when he got knocked out Mortal Kombat style. That is until he heard the UFC was coming back to England, and like Schwarzengger in Commando, he comes out of retirement to kick some ass. Unfortunately for Etim they matched him up with Renee Forte. Forte, a contestant on TUF Brazil, has shown a willingness to come forward and throw bombs which could spell disaster for Etim. Forte via TKO Rd 3.
Christian Diaz: Huge layoff for Etim, but I like his height and reach advantage. Etim via decision.
Daniel Galvan: Ready for a magic trick? Here’s the rules. I’ll give you two words, and then I’ll guess the immediate thought in your head. Ready? Terry Etim. Hmm… My magical old lion tooth is telling me that you are thinking of Etim’s brutal knockout loss to Edson Barboza. That’s really got to screw with a guy mentally knowing that loss will probably haunt him for the rest of his life. With that being said, he should be able to put away Renee Forte with ease. Etim via KO, round 2.
Lightweight Bout: Danny Castillo (14-5) vs. Paul Sass (13-1)
TC Engel: Volkmann laid out a gameplan to take out Sass, and I think it’s one that Castillo is more than capable of executing. Sass is, more or less, a slightly more skilled Cody McKenzie, and being a one trick pony only gets you so far. Castillo by Unanimous Decision.
Luke Irwin: Danny Castillo likes to take fights to the ground and wrestle. Danny Castillo gun’ get got. Paul Sass by 1st-Round Submission.
Josh Hall: Danny Castillo loves taking people down, and in this fight I think that will be his downfall. Paul Sass has nasty submissions off of his back, and it will only take a small mistake for Castillo to get caught in a triangle or leg lock.
Connor Dillon: German Luta Livre against an Alpha Male. Sass is coming off his first loss via submission in a fight many expected him to win. Unfortunately he lost that fight and he’s coming back with a vengeance. Castillo is a member of the well known Team Alpha Male, coming off a knockout loss to Michael Johnson. This is going to go one of two ways: Sass will pull a submission on Castillo or Castillo will wrestle Sass into the ground for a decision. For that matter, maybe Sass will even pull a Volkmann. In any case, I’m pulling with the German Shepard. Sass via Submission.
Chris Groves: Wiman made me feel stupid for picking Sass in their fight. I’m not as much of a believer in Paul Sass’ “instant triangle” abilities any more. I think that Danny Castillo has what it takes stifle the Brit’s game here. My pick: Danny Castillo
Tim Hickey: Two fighters looking to get back into the win column, we have a classic wrestler vs BJJ player on our hands. Castillo trains out of Team Alpha Male, so that means we can assume his gameplan is to wing right hooks with zero setup. I would have to think he would be a maniac to take Sass down, as The Sassangle as proven if you put him on his back, he will triangle the shit out of you. Castillo has a good top game, but that being said Sass via triangle choke Rd 2.
Christian Diaz: This is tough. Castillo hasn’t faced a submission grappler since…Cholish? Volkmann?, I guess? Gut tells me Castillo..head tells me Sass..Ugh. Castillo via decision.
Daniel Galvan: It will be interesting to see if Danny Castillo implements his tiring clinch and wrestling game against the slick submission game of Sass. If he does, then Sass should be able to catch him with a Sassangle. Sass via submission, Round 1.
Featherweight Bout: Andy Ogle (8-2) vs. Josh Grispi (14-4)
TC Engel: I am the only person in the world who thinks Grispi can still be what he was in the WEC. Ogle was obliterated by Al Iaquinta on TUF, and followed it up by losing a split decision to Akira Corrasini. If you’re losing to guys like that, you probably shouldn’t be in the UFC. Grispi by first round TKO.
Luke Irwin: “What the Fuck Happened To” Josh Grispi (Patent Pending) is on a Hominickian fall from grace. Unlike Hominick, I think Grispi realizes his head is on the chopping block and puts on a 30-26 show. Josh Grispi by Decision.
Josh Hall: In a fight where the loser likely gets their pink slip, I have to go with the rather flaky but talented Grispi. I have never seen anything from Ogle to indicate he is anywhere near Grispi’s talent level, and I think Grispi gets a much needed KO stoppage to break his 3 fight skid.
Connor Dillon: Josh Grispi vs. Andy Ogle: Let it be known that Andy Ogle is a nice name, and the fighter put up a good one against Akira Corassani. Josh Grispi is ‘the Fluke’ because everyone is surprised that someone who sucks as bad as him is still in the UFC. I’m gonna let my inner butter-toothed Brit come in on this one. Ogle via Decision.
Chris Groves: Grispi has fallen a long way since his title fight aspirations in late 2011, but is he below the level of ‘Getting into a close fight with Akir Corassani’ like Ogle recently did? I don’t think so. My pick: Josh Grispi.
Tim Hickey: Damn, does anyone else remember when Grispi was scheduled to fight Jose Aldo for the FW title? In retrospect, wouldn’t that have ended in fucking murder? Grispi is coming into this fight with his back against the wall, losing all 3 of his fights since moving over from the WEC. While fighting Andy Ogle is a step down from the competition he has fought in the past, Ogle is no pushover. as he has a solid ground game and has shown flashes of power during his career. That being said, unles Grispi has fallen completely off the map, he should be able to get his first UFC win here. Grispi via UD.
Christian Diaz: I’ve been a Grispi fan since his first WEC fight…I like Andy, but I can’t pick against the Fluke. Grispi sub 2…please.
Daniel Galvan: After incorrectly picking Josh Grispi to win a fight for the third straight time on the UFC on FOX 4, I wrote him off as a fighter I would never pick again until he won a fight. But I’m going against my personal vow with this one. This is a great match-up for “The Fluke”. Look for him to take down Andy Ogle and out point him en route to a job-saving verdict from the judges. Grispi via decision.
Middleweight Bout: Stanislav Nedkov (12-0) vs. Tom Watson (15-5)
TC Engel: Tom Watson lost to Jesse Taylor. Stanislav Nedkov by second round TKO.
Luke Irwin: What does years of being a staple and a draw on the British MMA scene get you in your longtime-coming UFC debut? A split-decision loss to Brad Tavares. I had such high hopes, Kong. Stanislav Nedkov by Decision.
Josh Hall: I don’t think either of these guys will be pushing toward title contention any time soon, but if Nedkov can handle the cut to 185 I expect him to be too much for the English veteran. Watson is definitely tough though, and I don’t expect him to go away easy. I’ll go with Nedkov via a grinding decision.
Connor Dillon: Stanislov Nedkov vs. Tom Watson: The Russian Slammer vs. The Kong. I’m riding high on Nedkov here, plus I like him throwing ice cubes at people in McDonalds. Watson is a good test for him, but I think he prevails. Nedkov via slamming through the cage door.
Chris Groves: Logic tells me that Watson should probably use his wrestling to get a UD here…but almost every card has one of those “F*ck logic” kind of fights. Sooo….My Pick: Stanislav Nedkov.
Tim Hickey: In what could potentially be the best fight on the undercard, former light heavyweight Nedkov makes the drop down to middleweight to face former BAMMA middleweight champion Tom Watson. Nedkov is coming off a loss against Thiago Silva (later changed to a NC cause Silva can never seem to pass a drug test anymore) which made him decide to try his hand at 185 lbs. Watson’s only fight in the UFC was a controversial loss to former TUF competitor Brad Tavares. I think both guys come out looking to knock the other’s block off, but I think that Watson has a slight edge as this fight goes on due to it being Nedkov’s first cut to 85. Watson via TKO Rd 3.
Christian Diaz: Nedkov looked alright against Cane and put up a more than respectable fight against Silva until he gassed..while Kong is a Jackson product and former champ. Shrug. Nedkov via decision.
Daniel Galvan: The only aspect of this fight that worries me about picking Nedkov is the cardio of the Bulgarian. He ran out of gas against Thiago Silva, and that could become a bigger problem as he moves down to middleweight. Nevertheless, I think Nedkov will be the first fighter to finish Tom Watson with strikes. Nedkov via TKO, round 2.
Bantamweight Bout: Motonobu Tezuka (19-5-4) vs. Vaughan Lee (12-8-1)
TC Engel: Lee has nice abs. Motonobu Tezuka by third round kneebar.
Luke Irwin: PANCRASE NEVER DIE! Motonobu Tezuka by decision.
Josh Hall: All I have seen of Tezuka was his split decision loss to Alex Caceres, and he hasn’t beaten the highest level of competition in Japan. Vaughan Lee has had a very up and down career, as his 12-8 record indicates. He has pretty slick submissions, but Tezuya hasn’t been subbed in almost four years so I’m taking Lee via decision.
Connor Dillon: Vaughan Lee vs. Motonobu Tezuka: Nothing to see here. I’m not big on Lee. And I know Tezuka lost a split decision to Bruce Leeroy, in a fight he couldn’t take it where he was most comfortable: the ground. Lee on the other hand, just got demolished by the second most ugly fighter in the UFC (Dollaway has that honor), TJ Dilleshaw, on the ground. Maybe Tezuka can take him down and beat him up. I sincerely hope so. Either way, the loser probably gets cut. Simultaneous knock out of the UFC.
Chris Groves: Tezuka just doesn’t strike me as anything special. My pick: Vaughan Lee.
Tim Hickey: I hate you Vaughan Lee. You showed me just how washed up Kid Yamamoto is and forever put yourself into my shit list. I know you were just out there doing your job, but I give no fucks. Even tho you go out and are aggressive, I still say boo on you sir. Lee has been matched up with professional blanket and Pancrase veteran Montonobu Tezuka, who is coming off a close split decision loss of Alex Caceres. I am not even making a decision here based on talent or anything, eff you Vaughan Lee. Tezuka via UD.
Christian Diaz: I guess Lee? He likes to work his ground game and that seems to be Tezuka’s weakness. Lee sub 2.
Daniel Galvan: Motonobu Tezuka has never been knocked out in his career. That changes on Saturday. Lee via KO, round 1.
Flyweight Bout: Phil Harris (21-10) vs. Ulysses Gomez (9-3)
TC Engel: I loved watching Useless during his days with Tachi. I think he can still be a top five fighter at flyweight, and I like him to embarrass Harris in front of his countrymen. Useless Ulysses Gomez by first round RNC.
Luke Irwin: Do you really think Gomez is going to be intimidated fighting a British fighter in London? The man cut his teeth in Tachi, for fuck’s sake. Tachi Palace Fights is a Tarantino and Hunter S. Thompson collaboration of what Thunderdome should be. Gomez via UD.
Josh Hall: Gomez got trucked by current FLW #1 contender John Moraga in his UFC debut, but he is a far better fighter than that fight showed. Phil Harris had a 5 fight winning streak broken in his UFC debut against Darren Uyenoyama when he lost via 2nd round submission. Fun fact: Phil Harris has been finished in each of his last 9 losses. I think Gomez is the better fighter, and the submission specialist adds another tap out to his resume.
Connor Dillon: Ulysses Gomez vs. Phil Harris: Alright, let’s see…Ulysses is a solid fighter, but he’s coming off a loss to the person who’s challenging for the title. A loss that ended with pretty strong elbows being thrown towards him. But Harris (Paul Harris’ brother?) is more of a journeyman than a rising prospect like Ulysses. Most I can see is Harris grinding out a win, but I doubt that happens. I think Ulysses finally makes it home to the Victor’s Circle in the UFC.
Chris Groves: I’m admittedly very unfamiliar with both guys…but the size of it seems to be that Gomez suffered a worse beat-down in his last fight, so by the flawless law of MMA Math…My Pick: Phil Harris.
Tim Hickey: The card opens with a solid matchup of two ground specialists who could put on a really fun fight for those of us who are a fan of matwork. Both are coming off losses against high ranking flyweights and hoping to stay relevant in a very shallow division. With the fight being in Harris’ backyard, you have to wonder if nerves will be a factor, or if being home will lead him to drop some bangers and mash all up on “Useless”. I think Gomez has the better overall game tho, and think he takes this one in a decision. Gomez via UD.
Christian Diaz: Umm…Harris? He lost to the no. 1 contender..let’s go with that. Harris decision.
Daniel Galvan: Ulysses Gomez should be able to follow in the game-plan set by Darren Uyenoyama by out-grappling the British flyweight. Gomez via decision.
Fight of the Night: Poirier vs. Swanson (Luke, TC, Connor)
Submission of the Night: Gomez (TC), Sass (Luke, Connor)
Knockout of the Night: Manuwa (Luke), te Huna (TC), Nedkov (Connor)
Random Moment of the Night:
Nick the Tooth gets drunk and tries to streak through the Octagon, mid-bout. Unfortunately, he gets caught by security and Dana has to bust him out. (Connor)
After his decision victory and subsequent celebration, the English Parliament views Ryan Jimmo’s epileptic dance seizure as a formal declaration of war. Saskatoon lies in rubble four hours later. (Luke)