Ben Kohn: 8-3 .727
Josh Hall: 15-8 .652
Nolan Howell: 7-5 .583
TC Engel: 13-10 .565
Luke Irwin: 13-10 .565
Earl Montclair: 12-11 .522
Dan Galvan: 5-6 .455
UFC Bantamweight Championship: Renan Barao (c) (31-1) vs. Urijah Faber (30-6)
Luke Irwin: Faber has to know that this is his last shot. This will be his third title shot in the UFC, he’s 34 years old, and he had to run through four guys incredibly impressively AND had Dominick Cruz pull out to even get this shot again. I can’t see him putting that run together again if he’s unsuccessful. But across the cage stands Barao. Renan is a human torch right now. Faber was his stiffest test in the UFC and the only person to go five rounds with him. Urijah knows it’s now or never, and I think he puts in his best effort yet, goes the distance, and maybe takes a scorecard…but it just won’t be enough. Renan Barao via SD.
Earl Montclair: Urijah Faber has damn sure earned this title fight against the now undisputed king at 135. I really think he also earned the right to a full camp for this fight as well and I think taking this on what is extremely short notice for a championship fight is going to cost him. Barao won the first fight handily, destroyed both Michael McDonald and Eddie Wineland AND STILL HAS NOT LOST A FIGHT IN ALMOST 9 YEARS. Faber’s comeback has been amazing to watch, but this is a title fight against a pound for pound top guy on short notice. Bang Muay Thai can’t save you here. Renan Barao, Unanimous Decision.
Ben Kohn: Well it’s time to watch one of the top P4P fighters win again. As impressive as Faber has looked in his 4 fight run, I think he’s going to have the exact same issues he had in the first fight again. Faber just doesn’t have a way to close the distance effectively and he won’t be able to ground Barao (which isn’t exactly something I recommend anyway). Barao will be able to jab and kick Faber from range and win a comfortable decision. Renan Barao by Unanimous Decision.
Nolan Howell: Faber has been showing steady improvement under Alpha Male head coach Duane Ludwig. However, the gulf between every other bantamweight and Barao continues to widen. The striking of Barao steadily impresses fans more each fight as he rids of contender after contender. For some reason, I’m thinking of an upset here. Faber will be taking this on short notice, but he is always in shape. While I don’t believe he will be able to outstrike Barao, his newfound prowess on the feet will be able to help him survive to utilize a grinding gameplan. There, he will wear down Barao and take him into the deep waters. Count on a scramble and a sudden submission late to see yet another king dethroned in the UFC. Faber by fourth-round submission.
UFC Featherweight Championship: Jose Aldo (c) (23-1) vs. Ricardo Lamas (13-2)
Luke Irwin: Frankie Edgar, as he often does, gave us the clearest blueprint yet on how to defeat a fighter deemed unbeatable. Aldo CAN be outstruck, but you need the utmost patience, timing, and speed, something that Ricardo Lamas doesn’t come nearly as prepared as Edgar to own. Lamas will not be able to pace the fight with Aldo, he’s been inactive for too long, and will too eager to bring the fight to Jose. He’ll pay for it. Aldo via R2 TKO.
Earl Montclair: Speaking of not losing a fight in forever (I don’t even want to hear it from the Frankie Edgar fanboiz out there) Jose Aldo is making his 8th defense of his WEC/UFC Featherweight Title. Lamas, not unlike Faber, has been ultra impressive on his road to #1 contendership beating Hatsu Hioki and stopping Matt Grice, Cub Swanson and Erik Koch. Aldo has been dominant in the UFC but at times in unimpressive fashion, having cardio issues, illness and injury. I think Lamas’ style will test Aldo’s phenomenal takedown defense early and often (especially away from the cage to avoid those pesky fence grabs) and may even get one of the early rounds. Over time I think Aldo will time Ricardo’s shot and catch him with either a knee or uppercut and pound him out. Jose Aldo, TKO, Round 3.
Ben Kohn: Read my breakdown at Undercard Superstar :). Jose Aldo by KO Round 2.
Nolan Howell: This fight isn’t remotely as interesting as the main event. Lamas presents Aldo nothing he hasn’t seen before. Lamas’s game is based on power and grit, but sadly, grit only gets you so far if you don’t have a proper gameplan. Unless he plans on Homer Simpsoning Aldo into deep waters or somehow has a stick and move with takedowns style in his back pocket, this will be a long night. Aldo by third-round TKO.
Heavyweight Bout: Alistair Overeem (36-13) vs. Frank Mir (16-8)
Luke Irwin: What gets lost in that Travis Browne fight is that the fight was damn, DAMN close to being stopped in favor of Overeem and in the hands of 95% of other refs, it would have. How Browne was able to withstand that, I’ll never know. I do know, however, when a guy is able to get rocked against the cage by the likes of Josh Barnett, he’ll falter quite easily under Alistair Overeem. Overeem via R1 TKO.
Earl Montclair: This fight is stupid. Just plain stupid. I loathe The Reem and giving him Mir is essentially booking him to fight me at this stage of the game. I hate this most of all because I will have to see his big, dumb face for at least another two years after this. Le sigh. Alistair Overeem, Floppy Mir boy band hair KO, Round 1.
Ben Kohn: Wow this is basically a slaughter. Mir has lost 7 of his 8 fights by T/KO and 5 of them in the 1st round. Overeem is a beast for a few minutes and gasses after that but after seeing what Josh Barnett was able to do in the clinch, it’s really not difficult to pick a winnner. Alistair Overeem by KO Round 1.
Nolan Howell: It hurts to be one of the only Overeem fans left, but this fight is his to lose. This fight will almost certainly be contested on the feet, as Overeem has shown that he is able to wind up on top or stuff ground players when need be. On the feet, well…it is Mir against a former K-1 champion. Barring another moment where Overeem impersonates Ryan Bader by snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, this should send Mir packing. Overeem by first-round KO.
Flyweight Bout: Ali Bagautinov (12-2) vs. John Lineker (23-6)
Luke Irwin: In his neverending rivalry with the scale, I believe Lineker will come out victorious there, and following that, in the cage by destruction to continue his push towards a title shot. Lineker via R2 TKO.
Earl Montclair: Speaking of me, I have about the same chance of making 125 as John Lineker does. Translation: never. The winner of this is very likely next to get tooled by Demetrious Johnson (in a non title fight if it is Lineker). Baugatinov has the tools to use his Sambo game to ground and wear out Lineker here but Ali has eaten punches from far inferior strikers than Lineker is. Last time it was striker vs grappler, Darren Elkins got pooed on my Jeremy Stephens. I fear a similar result here only with a knockout as the ending. Your winner, and first man to miss weight in a UFC title fight since Travis Lutter: John Lineker, KO, Round 1.
Ben Kohn: I really really really don’t want to pick Lineker because his constant weight issues. I have also not forgotten that Jose Maria was beating him up in the first round on the feet and rocked him. Ali has way more power and better striking than Maria and I am thinking this one will be a shocker. Ali Bagautinov by KO Round 2.
Nolan Howell: Baugatinov, despite his sambo, seems to like to have it out on the feet. There, Lineker is a master of violence. I can see weathermen in Russia preparing for a hailstorm of violence in the form of Lineker body punches. Lineker by first-round KO.
Lightweight Bout: Abel Trujillo (11-5) vs. Jamie Varner (21-8-1)
Luke Irwin: Varner tends to struggle against bigger lightweights and Trujillo is one of the biggest they come. Trujillo via R3 TKO.
Earl Montclair: Abel Trujillo is a badly tattoed piece of human shit. That being said, Jamie Varner is about to get dumptrucked by a badly tattoed piece of human shit. Abel Trujillo, TKO, Round 1.
Ben Kohn: Trujillo is a very strong and powerful wrestleboxer who seems to finally be growing as a MMA fighter. That being said, he’s piece of shit as Earl mentioned. Varner has had a career renaissance of sorts but has alternated wins and loses since coming back to the UFC. He lost his last one and will now win this one by being a better wrestleboxer than Truijillo. Jamie Varner by Unanimous Decision.
Nolan Howell: While Trujillo’s power has impressed, he doesn’t seem to have much else. Varner is well-rounded enough to stay in control and avoid the blitzes of Trujillo with well-timed striking or takedowns. Varner by unanimous decision.
Lightweight Bout: Alan Patrick (11-0) vs. John Makdessi (12-2)
Luke Irwin: You don’t fuck with crosseyed karate. Makdessi via UD.
Earl Montclair: Patrick is not coming at Makdessi with anything he has not seen before. This is a damn tough opening bout in the UFC for Patrick. He will be in over his head here with the range striking and versatility of The Bull. John Makdessi, Unanimous Decision.
Ben Kohn: Makdessi has looked very very good recently and I think he will continue to impress here. John Makdessi by dominating Unanimous Decision.
Nolan Howell: Don’t understand this bit of matchmaking particularly, but Makdessi quite obviously has the striking advantage here. While Patrick is great on the circuits of Brazil, Makdessi has faced better competition and expect some taekwondo violence here. Makdessi by second-round TKO.
Flyweight Bout: Chris Cariaso (15-5) vs. Danny Martinez (16-4)
Luke Irwin: Cariaso is a pretty classic mid-tier gatekeeper, even in a division as young as Flyweight, and Martinez hasn’t reached that level yet. Cariaso via UD.
Earl Montclair: Martinez is an Alliance guy who has a ton of experience. 3 of his 4 losses are to Benavidez, Hominick and Formiga. He also has not fought in over a year. Cariaso is certainly going to be able to defeat him but not by a finish. Martinez has fought a lot of good guys and never been stopped. Chris Cariaso, Unanimous Decision.
Ben Kohn: Cariaso is getting a fight against someone he should and will beat here. He will be able to comfortably outstrike Dany. Chris Cariaso by Unanimous Decision.
Nolan Howell: Cariaso has been very streaky at flyweight, but I still don’t think he falls to a regional guy like Martinez. Though Martinez is tough as nails, Cariaso is solid all the way around and he should batter him on the feet with his stick and move style to victory. Cariaso by unanimous decision.
Middleweight Boout: Nick Catone (9-4) vs. Tom Watson (16-6)
Luke Irwin: Watson is gonna bring the violence here. Catone will try to take it to the ground, but after facing someone like Thales Leites in his last fight, that will seem like child’s play to Watson. Watson via R2 TKO.
Earl Montclair: Tom Watson is not a submission guy and has fallen victim to grapplers in Leites/Jesse Taylor but I don’t think Catone is up to snuff here. Watson should be able to take this one pretty clearly. Tom Watson, Unanimous Decision.
Ben Kohn: Tom Watson is not going to finish Catone with strikes and Catone not going to submit Watson if Thales Leitas couldn’t after living there for 3 rounds. Catone has the wrestling though and while neither are very good, I’m gonna pick the grinding wrestler over the ok striker. Nick Catone by Unanimous Decision.
Nolan Howell: While Watson is a hoot to watch on the feet, I think Catone is smart enough to know where his bread is buttered and takes it to the mat. There, he will be able to work Watson down and ride out a decision. Catone by unanimous decision.
Lightweight Bout: Al Iaquinta (7-2-1) vs. Kevin Lee (7-0)
Luke Irwin: I tend to never, ever pick UFC newcomers, but there’s something about Lee I really, really like. Can’t put my finger on it. Lee via UD.
Earl Montclair: This is a really tempting fight to take the underdog on. Iaquinta’s only losses are by submission and Lee is a perfect 7-0 with 4 submissions and 3 UDs. His first 3 wins were the decisions and his last 4 were submission finishes.I am going to shoot for the underdog points here as well as I don’t think Al has improved his grappling enough to deal with someone as fierce as Lee on the ground. Kevin Lee, Submission, Round 2.
Ben Kohn: Al is a nice prospect that is coming from the Serra Longo camp and has looked good since his TUF appearence. He’s getting a debuting Kevin Lee and should be able to pick up a win and look good doing it too. Al Iaquinta by Unanimous Decision.
Nolan Howell: Iaquinta has some upside both on the feet and on the mat and I don’t think Lee will be able to take advantage of that as a UFC newcomer. Iaquinta by second-round TKO.
Middleweight Bout: Andy Enz (7-0) vs. Clint Hester (9-3)
Luke Irwin: Hester is prone to getting caught in a submission, and Enz, a Gracie Barra product, is adept at applying them, but I think Hester knocks him around before that happens. Hester via R1 TKO.
Earl Montclair: Hester has finished 8 of his 9 victories and all by strikes (7 tko/ko and 1 submission). Enz has 5 submission victories (1 via strikes) and 2 SD wins. He is a Gracie fighter so he will want to get this to the ground where Hester has been tapped 2x in his career. Enz has beaten a lot of guys with good records but he has been fighting exclusively in Alaska which is not bound to draw the deepest talent pool to their events. I think Hester should be able to sprawl and brawl his way to a TKO finish. Clint Hester, TKO, Round 2.
Ben Kohn: Hester is going knock someone out and his name is Andy Enz. Clint Hester by KO Round 1.
Nolan Howell: Hester by first-round KO.
Lightweight Bout: Rashid Magomedov (15-1) vs. Tony Martin (8-0)
Luke Irwin: Magomedov is an M-1 veteran that has some damn quality wins over some legit international competition. Magomedov via UD.
Earl Montclair: Magomedov hasn’t fought in a year and 3 months and is traditionally a WW but will be fighting here at LW so there is a potential cut issue. Martin has 6 submissions out of his 8 wins and all of them came in the first half of the fight. He is also quite tall for the division at 6’1″I think taking him by submission here is a solid choice. Tony Martin, Submission, Round 1.
Ben Kohn: Rashid Magomedov by Unanimous Decision.
Nolan Howell: Magomedov by unanimous decision.
Welterweight Bout: Gasan Umalatov (14-2-1) vs. Neil Magny (8-3)
Luke Irwin: Magny is going to make this ugly, but effective. Magny via UD.
Earl Montclair: Magny is on 2 fight skid losing to Moraes and Baczynski.and has lost by submission twice in his career. Umalatov has lost twice in his career and both by Split Decision and half of his career victories are via submission and he favors chokes (which are what Magny’s sub losses are to). Magny has been in the Octagon 3 times so he may be more recognizable but to me the smart play is Umalatov either by UD or submission. I go Gasan Umalatov, Unanimous Decision.
Ben Kohn: Magny is not a very good fighter and is being kept around because of his TUF and Armed Forces pedigree imo. Gasan is a really good fighter that should handily beat Magny. Gasan Umalatov by Submission Round 1.
Nolan Howell: Umalatov by unanimous decision.