UFC’s first Pay-Per-View of the year is a doozy, with two title fights on the slate, plus an intriguing heavyweight match-up. There’s a heapin’ helpin’ of fights to dive into, so Vince Mancini, Burnsy and myself are going to give our official With Leather “Middle School at the Skating Rink Lock-In” Predictions. We are also joined by former UFC fighter and all around swell gent, Danny “Boy” Downes for his insightful picks. If you want to know what these guys are good at, check out the official UFC Fight Card page, or for a lesser version of that information, but with an extra half-joke, you can check out my Event Primer.
However, before a former fighter and some internet dorks talk about their picks, let’s take a look at former world champion Don “The Predator” Frye’s main card predictions for UFC 169.
(Burnsy note: And before we get into those picks that Jessica promised you, let me remind you that our friends from Roots of Fight have generously donated some prizes for UFC 169, so make sure you check out the live discussion post later tonight for the details on that. Here’s a hint for our little contest – tap into your artistic side.)
Welterweight – Neil Magny vs Gasan “Cobra” Umalatov
Jessica: Ugggghhh, Neil Magny, why do you haunt me so? I don’t know anything about Umalatov, but I hope he wins so maybe we can be rid of everyone from the terrible TUF 16.
Danny: Magny has his back against the wall after losing two in a row. Switching his training camp to the Grudge Training Center in Denver gives him an extra boost and he avoids getting cut with a decision win.
Vince: I’ve never seen Umalatov fight, and Magny has lost two in a row. But he does have those freaky long arms, and I have to figure he’s going to learn how to use his reach eventually. Magny by Dhalsim punches.
Burnsy: I’m taking the Cobra here, because he will… he will… rock you.
Lightweight – Tony Martin vs Rashid “Highlander” Magomedov
Jessica: Two debuting guys, and I am contractually obligated to pick the man from Dagestan. Plus, his only tweet so far is pretty boss.
Danny: When it’s a submission ace against a Russian, always choose Russian. If we’re talking about salad dressings, choose Italian. Magomedov by decision
Vince: I don’t know who the hell either of these dudes are. I want to pick the Russian, but everyone else picked him, so I’ll take Tony Martin. Ugh, now I have to root against the Highlander? This was stupid.
Burnsy: I’m taking Magomedov because he looks kind of like Aaron Hernandez and that scares me. I’m also currently throwing cash at my monitor.
Middleweight – Clint “Headbussa” Hester vs Andy “Tank Mode” Enz
Jessica: These are two pretty good yet also dumb nicknames. I’m going with Hester because he’s a known commodity.
Danny: Battle between two TUF 17 guys. Clint has too many weapons and is much more dangerous on the feet. He KOs Enz in the first
Vince: I never like picking the striker in a striker vs. grappler match up. But I think Hester’s awesome nickname and the fact that he’s black outweighs my reservations. Headbussa by bussasization.
Burnsy: I never like taking the guy making his debut, so I’ll stick with my time-honored strategy and pick Hester.
Lightweight – Al “Raging” Iaquinta vs Kevin “The Mo-Town Phenom” Lee
Jessica: Iaquinta trains out of Serra-Longo, and those dudes from Long Island have been killing it on a Bangzilians level recently. I’m taking Iaquinta to box up Lee pretty viciously.
Danny: Primarily a boxer, Al Iaquinta looks and talks like he should be cast in the remake of A Bronx Tale or yelling at his wife in a sleeveless shirt. I’ve never heard Kevin Lee talk, but his nickname is “The Motown Phenom,” which I like. At least he didn’t go with some stupid alliteration like Kevin “The Lamionator” Lee. Despite his creativity, this is too much, too soon for the 21 year old Lee. Iaquinta by decision
Vince: I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about Kevin Lee. He’s undefeated fighting no one I’ve ever heard of. Meanwhile, Iaquinta is a dead-eyed psychopath who would definitely be working for Murder Inc. if he was born 50 years earlier. Iaquinta has a scary history of losing to grapplers, but I have to think he’s figured out sub defense training with Serra in the almost two years since he lost to Chiesa. Iaquinta.
Burnsy: Since losing at TUF 15, Iaquinta has looked like a fighter who is starting to “get it.” Lee’s making his debut, so I’ll stick with my bias for experienced UFC guys.
Middleweight – Nick “The Jersey Devil” Catone vs Tom “Kong” Watson
Jessica: Catone is a Division I wrestler, and Watson is British. This is going to go exactly as you’d expect it, with a lot of take downs and a decision victory for Catone.
Danny: Despite being the favorite coming into the fight, this is a bad matchup for Tom Watson. The British Brawler struggles to stop takedowns and only has a 44% success rate. Catone is a Division I wrestler and BJJ black belt. Catone by submission in the second
Vince: I can’t figure Catone out. How the hell do you beat Costas Philippou and then turn around and lose to Chris Camozzi? I’d love to root for a British guy named “Tom Watson,” but he has a history of losing boring decisions to grapplers, which is what I envision happening here. Sorry, Watson. I’ll never forget how you chipped in to win the ’82 Open.
Burnsy: Two guys who could really use a win, Catone significantly more than Watson. I’m pulling for Catone on this one.
Flyweight – Chris “Kamikaze” Cariaso vs Danny “The Gremlin” Martinez
Jessica: Just as I cannot pick against any fighter from Dagestan, I also cannot pick against a dude called “The Gremlin”. Martinez has this in the bag, baby.
Danny: Cariaso has ten fights in the WEC/UFC and he’s facing a guy that couldn’t even get into The Ultimate Fighter house last season. In fairness, Martinez does train out of Alliance (one of the premier gyms in the country) and half his wins have come via knockout. Even bearing that mind, he’s overmatched here. Cariaso by decision
Vince: Chris Cariaso fights out of San Francisco at a gym down the street from mine, while Danny Martinez is a dirty Zonie, so I think I have to take Cariaso. They’re flyweights though, so you might as well flip a coin.
Burnsy: I’m going to buck my debut fighter trend here and take Martinez. I’m not the most confident guy in the world with this pick, because of the whole TUF thing, but I’m sticking with it.
Lightweight – John “The Bull” Makdessi vs Alan “Nuguette” Patrick
Jessica: I always seem to forget that Makdessi has a wonky eye. This doesn’t factor into my prediction, I just felt the need to mention his wonky eye. Anyway, Patrick should be able to avoid any spinning backfist-related murder and get a submission victory on Johnny Mak.
Danny: Makdessi is a strong striker that incorporates a lot of spinning techniques (which Joe Rogan loves). Patick, while not as accomplished of a striker, does have skills in addition to being a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion. The difference here will be Patrick’s range. Makdessi won’t be able to get on the inside to use his power advantage and will get frustrated. He’ll lunge in and leave himself open to the takedown. From there, Patrick advances position and wins with a rear naked choke in the second
Vince: I don’t know who this nougat guy is, but it looks like he’s beaten a lot of people, and Makdessi got choked out by Speedos Hallman, so I’m taking nougat, by a combination of honey and roasted nuts.
Burnsy: Now, I’ll take the UFC veteran in Makdessi. So watch as Martinez gets his ass kicked and Patrick has the most glorious debut of all-time. All this and more on the next installment of “This is Why I Make Dick Jokes.”
Lightweight – Jamie Varner vs Abel “Killa” Trujillo
Jessica: Varner is a dumb dork, and Trujillo beats people up in fun ways. I’m thinking Trujillo beats up Varner fairly well.
Danny: I’m not sure why people hated Jamie Varner. Is it because of him quitting against Donald Cerrone at WEC 38, or because or those start tattoos on his shoulders? Seriously, though, where do those rank among in the cliche tattoo category? I have them between tribal armband and spider web around the elbow. But then again, we can’t forget about angel wings or Japanese script. What were we talking about? Varner by decision
Vince: Danny wonders why people hate Jamie Varner. Well, speaking for myself, I hate every fighter from Arizona (nothing against Arizonans, Pauly). I don’t really have a good reason for this, other than that one of them is CB Dollaway, but there you go. That said, I hate Varner less than the other Zonies, and I’ve been enjoying his comeback. Speaking of, how the hell is he only 29? I could’ve sworn he was like 38. Varner already broke my heart losing to Tibau, so I’m taking Trujillo by split decision. I hate Tibau.
Burnsy: I feel like I’ve picked Trujillo a million times to win and he’s let me down a million times. And yet he’s only fought in the UFC 4 times. Whatever, I’ll pick him again despite the chain link fence tattoo.
Flyweight – John “Hands of Stone” Lineker vs Ali “Puncher King” Bagautinov
Jessica: I think instead of predicting who will win this fight (It is going to be Bagautinov because Dagestanis Rule Everything Around Me), we should pick what Lineker will weigh in at. I’m thinking 127.6
Danny: Lineker has the biggest knockout power in the division, but he’s one dimensional. Bagautinov may be nicknamed the “Puncher King,” but he’s also a world champion Sambo practitioner. As long as he doesn’t decide to stand toe to toe with Lineker, Bagautinov should suplex his way to a unanimous decision
Vince: With flyweights, the only safe money is on a decision finish. Bagautinov is a world-class grappler and most of Lineker’s losses have come from grapplers, so I’m taking Bagautinov. Also, I like his name.
Burnsy: I really want to like Lineker, but dude can’t make weight to save his life. Maybe if he could make weight and win like he does, he’d be all up in Dodson’s ass for the No. 1 contender spot. I don’t know why I get so irrationally mad that a guy doesn’t make weight, but I’m picking Puncher King because of it.
Heavyweight – Frank Mir vs Alistair “The Demoltion Man” Overeem
Jessica: I am having a super hard time picking a winner in this fight. On one hand, Frank Mir is a good grappler with one punching combination that wilts when he gets hit. On the other hand, Overeem is a good striker that also wilts when punched. Both guys are capable of frightening displays of stupidity and tend to lose in ridiculously hilarious fashions. I’ll take Overeem to punch Mir’s face off, though.
Danny: Both fighters desperately need a win here, but I think Overeem pulls it out. Even with Mir deciding to get on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) it won’t be enough for him to handle Overeem’s power and striking. The ‘Reem (still creepy every time I hear it) wins in the first by knockout
Vince: This is a classic match up here. No, I don’t mean striker vs. grappler, I mean guy who seems to find ways to win fights he shouldn’t, vs. guy who seems to find ways to lose fights he shouldn’t. Yes, Ubereem has much better striking and power than Mir, but he also has a history of leaving his chin dangling where it shouldn’t and getting submitted by grapplers. Between TRT-enhanced Mir and Overeem constantly changing camps, I’m picking Mir. Though I’m not feeling very confident about it, because Mir is old and Overeem is strong. … Okay, hey. This is Vince again. A day later. I changed my mind, I’m picking Overeem. He can’t lose three in a row… can he?
Burnsy: I’m picking Overeem solely because of this photo…
Featherweight – Jose “Scarface” Aldo vs Ricardo “The Bully” Lamas
Jessica: There’s a small voice in the back of my head that’s saying “You’re going to jinx it”, but Jose Aldo has been Anderson Silva-levels beastly lately. Lamas is a good fighter, but I don’t really see anyone at 145 being much of a challenge (Chad “$Money$” Mendes is an Alpha Male, and they can’t win title fights, and Cub Swanson got destroyed by Aldo in less time than it takes to successfully ride a bull). Plus, a big win from Aldo means he might move up to fight Anthony Pettis (If he’s healthy), throwing even more chaos into the lightweight divison. Aldo wins by KO and dances the night away.
Danny: Next to TJ Grant, Ricardo Lamas could be the Rodney Dangerfield of MMA. Despite his successes, he just doesn’t get respect. Well, I’m going to keep the steak going. Aldo has faced high level wrestlers before, and he’s beaten all of them. He’ll put his stamp on the featherweight division with a knee TKO in the third.
Vince: Aldo. Lamas is an animal, and that beating he put on Eric Koch had me screaming at the ref to stop the fight like he could hear me through the TV. But no one has come close to challenging José Aldo, and I can’t bet against him until someone does. Also, “The Bully?” You don’t want to steal nicknames from a guy with a tramp stamp, bro.
Burnsy: Aldo. I respect Lamas so much and really wish I wasn’t so dead set in this prediction, but Aldo.
Bantamweight – Renan Barao vs Urijah “The California Kid” Faber
Jessica: This is a title fight, so throw out how good Faber has been and remember that Team Alpha Male hasn’t held a title since the WEC days, and Faber is a Buffalo Bills-ian 0-4 in title fights since 2009. Barao is going to beat up Faber a bunch, but won’t get the finish since you can break every bone in Urijah’s body and he’ll still keep fighting.
Danny: The “always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” accusation levied towards Faber is becoming less funny and bordering on sad. Like when your aunt hits her mid-30s and hasn’t had a steady boyfriend in awhile. The “California Kid” has struggled in his last few title attempts because of the inability to get on the inside and sustain offense. With the help of new striking coach Duane Ludwig, I think Faber solves this problem and picks up the unanimous decision win. Aunt Cindy on the other hand…
Vince: I used to hate Urijah and his dumb Poochy the Dog style back when he was a world beater, but ever since he became an underdog on the wrong side of 30, I can’t help but cheer his relentless positivity. Beating Michael McDonald was HUGE victory, and I didn’t think he had it in him. I’ll be rooting for Lil Cornrows along with the rest of the Inside Socal crew, but I can’t pick against Barao until I’ve seen at least a hint of a chink in his armor, and I have not seen that yet. Barao to break our hearts.
Burnsy: I don’t think that Faber is going to win. I think he can, and I want him to, though, so I’m going to pick him. I just think that in his last four wins (since losing to Barao for the interim title) he has looked like a man possessed. Especially in his last win against Michael McDonald. My gut’s telling me it’s time.
(Images via Getty)