Tomorrow night, the UFC returns to the peachiest of states, Georgia, for UFC Fight Night 35 in Duluth. The card is pretty interesting since it’s got a huge collection of former Strike Force fighters, and despite its many faults, Strike Force cards tended to feature a ton of quick finishes, so that could bode well for the entertainment factor of this event.
The patented With Leather Live Discussion will be going up before the first prelim fight kicks off tomorrow at 4 PM ET on the UFC Fight Pass, but today, the UPROXXian crew of Punch Fanz will be focusing on predictions for the fights. Remember, any time former Strike Force fighters win over 50% of their fights against UFC guys, Scott Coker is legally allowed to punch Dana White in the groin, so let’s go, Strike Force! For further (actually, lesser) reading on the fights, you can always check out my UFC Fight Night 35 event primer.
Lightweight – Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman vs Beneil Dariush
Jessica: I have a negative amount of knowledge regarding Dariush, and I really like Brenneman for not only winning Pros vs Joes, but also for the one-day notice beat down he put on Rick Story. Charlie is going to wrestle up Ben and finish things off with a TKO in the second.
Burnsy: I look at these guys and I think, “The hell? Did these guys just agree to fight over the last Busch Light? CHILL BROS! WE CAN GET MORE BEER!” So who wants that last can of beer more? I’m going Beneil Dariush because Charlie Brenneman sounds like the name of the wacky neighbor on a TGIF sitcom.
Lightweight – Vinc “From Hell” Pichel vs Garett “Goodnight” Whitely
Jessica: Two decent strikers going at it here, so by the third law of MMA, this should be an awkward grappling-heavy match. Most people recall Pichel from getting suplexed to death in Rustam Khabilov’s debut, but he had a good run on TUF, which is why, despite that wonky spelling of his first name, I’m picking Vinc to catch Whitely in the third and put him down with a knock out.
Burnsy: Both of these guys have great nicknames and they both lost their UFC debuts in their last fights, so I have no clue to pick. I’m going to go with Vinc Pichel because what if he’s actually from Hell and he just starts breathing fire everywhere? I’m not sure that would be legal.
Flyweight – Alptekin “Turkish Delight” Ozkilic vs Louis “Da Last Samurai” Smolka
Jessica: A fight of two nicknames. One, delightfully fun, the other, kind of dumb. I liked Ozkilic’s debut UFC fight, and hope he continues to do well, based solely on having one of my favorite nicknames. Since this is a flyweight fight, it should be pretty fun throughout. Alp edges out a close decision over Smolka.
Burnsy: I feel like it’s bad luck to predict a guy’s first loss, so I’m going with Louis Smolka here. Is it because I can’t spell the other guy’s name without looking six times? Next question.
Middleweight – Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith vs Brian “B-Hou” Houston
Jessica: Smith was a Strike Force staple, mainly hanging out on Challengers cards, and he even managed to choke out a dude or two. He’s also got the nickname of an AND1 Mixtape street baller, so that’s a major knock against him (Different story if he were “The Professor”). Houston should put him to sleep in the first.
Burnsy: I’m taking Brian Houston here, but only if I can give this guy a new nickname. “BHue”? What the hell is that? No sir, your name is Houston, so your nickname is “The Problem.” YOU’RE WELCOME.
Lightweight – Elias “Xuxu” Silveiro vs Isaac Vallie-Flagg
Jessica: I had to look it up (Because who knows Brazilian colloquialisms off the top of their head?), and ‘xuxu’ means both chayote, yet also cutie. I don’t abide by squash-based nicknames, so I’m hoping Vallie-Flagg takes a lopsided decision victory.
Burnsy: I don’t rarely pick a fight based on age, because that sh*t ain’t nothin’ but a number, son. But I’m going with the elder statesman, Isaac Vallie-Flagg, in this fight because four of his last five wins have gone 3 rounds The last three being splits concerns me a little, but I like Ike.
Lightweight – “Stripper” Ramsey Nijem vs Justin “Fast Eddie” Edwards
Jessica: On one hand, Justin is very close to sharing a name with a doofy independent wrestler. On the other hand, Ramsey Nijem has never impressed me. I expect these two grapplers to sloppily kickbox with each other, and Edwards to take a decision out of the whole affair.
Burnsy: I can’t pick anyone whose nickname is “Fast Eddie” unless he is certifiably a 1930s gangster or a 1970s poker player. “Stripper” is strange, but at least it doesn’t make me roll my eyes.
Lightweight – Cole “Magrinho” Miller vs Sam Sicilia
Jessica: Sicilia has a pretty good beard, and that’s always appreciated. Cole is like the third best Miller in the UFC, which is kind of bad. However, I like gangly fighters way too much for my own good, so I’m hoping Miller can get the fight to the ground and submit Sicilia.
Burnsy: I’m picking Sam Sicilia because I can imagine him walking into the octagon and shouting, “Hey, I’m grapplin’ here!”
Flyweight – John Moraga vs Dustin Ortiz
Jessica: Moraga’s finally fighting again after getting armbarred by my 2013 Fighter of the Year, My Main Man Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (2013 FOTY MMMDMMJ for short). Dustin Ortiz has rocked a glorious afro in the past, but that seems to be no more. Such an egregious mistake means Moraga is going to get a ground and pound related TKO victory.
Burnsy: I’m going to start picking one big upset per event and this is that fight for me. I’m taking Ortiz via KO in this one, and you can take that one to the bank. (Disclaimer: I mean you can walk into a bank and say, “Hi, Burnsy said that Dustin Ortiz will win” and they’ll probably ask you to leave. I don’t mean to gamble on that.)
Middleweight – Derek Brunson vs Yoel “Soldier of God” Romero
Jessica: I always think of poker legend Doyle Brunson when I see Derek’s name on a fight card, which means he’s never done anything of note to overwrite my memory. Romero has both the greatest ankle pick of all time and several fantastic KO finishes to his credit, which means I care about him way more. Romero is going to net himself another first round knockout victory.
Burnsy: Again, I don’t like making my picks based on age, but Romero is 36 and I still think he’s an incredible badass, so I’m picking Romero to handle the whippersnapper.
Bantamweight – TJ Dillashaw vs Mike “The Hulk” Easton
Jessica: Easton is aligned with Lloyd Irvin, and Irvin is a total Creeps McGee. Dillashaw trains at the delightfully bro-tastic Team Alpha Male (AKA the Bangzilians), so he’s way up on the scoreboard. Dillashaw should be able to handle Easton and submit him in the second.
Burnsy: I think Easton might be on the chopping block after losing his last two, but Dillashaw must be furious from his first loss in the UFC (since his loss at the TUF finale in 2011) and ready to bounce back. I’ll take TJ Dillashaw, but this is my most uncertain pick.
Middleweight – Lorenz “The Monsoon” Larkin vs Brad Tavares
Jessica: Larkin is top five pound-for-pound for dudes what shave crazy stuff into their hair. I think I’ve seen a ziggurat in there once. Tavares is a tough boxer, as a lot of Hawaiian fighters are, but I don’t think he’s better than Larkin. I’m expecting a good striking match between the two, but Larkin takes a decision victory.
Burnsy: Brad Taveres’s tattoos make it look like he was run over by a muddy car. That has nothing to do with my pick, as it’s just an observation. I like Tavares in this fight because he’s a pretty consistent fighter and manages to take his opponents the distance and do what it takes. Translated: BORING, but he gets results.
Middleweight – Luke Rockhold vs Constantinos Philippou
Jessica: Rockhold has the best hair amongst active mixed martial artists, while Costa Philippou is coming in off the wrong end of a 30-26 decision against Francis “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” Carmont. This doesn’t bode well for the Greek, since he doesn’t have the same kind of murder power Vitor Belfort does to starch Rockhold. I see Surfin’ USA taking a unanimous decision built off of his lengthy jab.
Burnsy: I feel bad for Rockhold having to face the unstoppable Vitor Belfort in his first UFC fight. He could have driven a truck into the ring and Belfort would have slapped it and made it cry. I think he’ll find Philippou a lot more to his liking and win handily.