The ZuffApocalypse is finally over (Everyone, check to make sure all of your body parts are still intact) as UFC heads to Baltimore for UFC 172. Dana White has called this card the most stacked in UFC history, but considering UFC on Fox 11 last weekend was pretty fantastic, I’m putting that sound byte into the “Dana Says A Lot Of Things” file. There are a lot of fights to pick, though, so it’s time for the funniest, most charming, delightful group of prognosticators (And me, LobsterMobster!) to weigh in on what’s going to happen. As always, there’s the ultra-professional Burnsy, Film Drunk’s Vince Mancini, New York Ric, and amateur beer enthusiast, Danny “Boy” Downes.
Jessica: 80-32-2 (70%)
Burnsy: 74-37-3 (65%)
Vince: 36-9-1 (77%)
Danny: 44-14-1 (75%)
Eric: 19-10-1 (63%)
Bantamweight – Chris “The Real Deal” Beal vs Patrick Williams
Jessica: I don’t know what a Pat Williams is, and I at least remember Beal on the Rousey/Tate season of TUF, so I’ll pick him to win by decision.
Burnsy: All right, I have been absolutely terrible these last few events, all because I tried to be “smart” and look up numbers and past results for the fighters. But as one of my media kin on the Island of Misfit Rejects at UFC on Fox told me, “Just go with your gut, man.” So it’s gut time, fam. If a guy says that he’s the Real Deal, I have to pick him.
Vince: I expect Chris the real deal Beal to be a steel eel as the heel Williams slowly congeals in this Bantamweight… uh… squeal? Peel? Anyway, I don’t know much about either, but Patrick Williams doesn’t even have a picture on his Sherdog profile, which is like three steps down from not having a Wikipedia page. Also, Chris Beal is undefeated. Beal.
Danny: Beal gets his first fight in the UFC since his stint on The Ultimate Fighter season 18. Primarily a boxer, he lacks finishing power and a lot of other weapons. Williams has a higher “kill ratio” as Don Frye would call it, but his level of competition has been poor. As long as Beal avoids the wild punch, he’ll take the unanimous decision.
Eric: I’ve got Beal based solely on his TUF appearance.
Lightweight – Danny “Last Call” Castillo vs Charlie “The Spaniard” Brenneman
Jessica: Holy shit, what did Charles Brenneman ever do to Joe Silva and or Sean Shelby? Was beating Rick Story on one day’s notice such an egregious offense that the kid’s got to get his block knocked off at every opportunity? Castillo isn’t known as a monster puncher, but it doesn’t take much to wobble Brenneman’s afro, and I expect Danny to get an early knockout victory.
Burnsy: There was a little hype behind Brenneman’s return to the UFC, but aside from his last lost to Barboza, who ran face first into Cowboy’s jab in Orlando last week, Castillo has been a much more consistent fighter. But mainly, Charlie Brenneman sounds like an 80s sitcom neighbor and that’s just weird to me. Castillo with the bounce back win.
Vince: A battle between two decent-but-not-great wrestlerish sort of dudes. I guess I have to go with my fellow NorCal Latino (I’m half Mexican by marriage ever since a Mexican dude started banging my mom) over the ‘fro-y dork from PA with the dumb nickname (bro, do you even Spain?).
Also, I have to know who’s writing Brenneman’s Wikipedia page:
Throughout his elementary and high school career he wrestled, laying the seeds which would later sprout as his enthusiasm and drive to win at MMA.
My guess is his mom, Charlene Brenneman.
Danny: We need a name for Fight Pass main events in general. Maybe we could dedicate them to Joe Son. Danny Castillo is often treated like the red-headed step child of Team Alpha Male. He’s been with the Zuffa organization since 2008, and he’s only lost to skilled lightweights (yes, even Jacob Volkmann). Brenneman is primarily a wrestler who hasn’t accomplished much since he shocked the world by beating Rick Story (remember when Rick Story was a big deal?). Castillo by TKO in the second.
Eric: I really want to pick Brenneman because he is my hero. Charlie won Pros vs. Joes, the world’s second greatest athletic competition behind The Challenge (but way ahead of that farce American Gladiators — Come at me, bros).
Castillo is the better striker and at least equal when it comes to wrestling. When Brenneman gets rocked, he bounces around in surprising and unique ways, none of them good. If Castillo doesn’t knock him out, he should win a decision. I am sad.
Bantamweight – Jessamyn “The Gun” Duke vs Bethe “Pitbull” Correia
Jessica: I’ve been a Duke fan since the first time I saw her on Invicta (WATCH INVICTA, YO!), kneeing someone to death and then giving a super-yokelly post fight interview. Correia is a jerk and didn’t job to Julie Kedzie in Julie’s last fight, so I’m taking Duke to use her 30-foot long arms and legs to Muay Thai and jiu-jitsu Bethe something fierce. Jessamyn wins by third round TKO (And if she doesn’t, it’ll be a huge Duketastrophe!)
Burnsy: I’m picking Pitbull based solely on her experience in the octagon, but I think Duke has a very promising future. I don’t know why I’m being so diplomatic about this. I think I’m still pissed that Carmouche lost.
Vince: “Bethe” is not how you spell “Beth,” but “Jessamyn” is not even a real name, unless you’re Mormon and you have 12 kids that you’re trying to all give names that start with J. In terms of actual fighting, Duke has decent technique but seems so physically weak that she’s never really impressed me. Meanwhile, Correia doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page and has only fought one person I’ve ever heard of (Julie Kedzie), who she only beat by split decision. I guess I’ll take Correia, because she looks like she can take a punch better.
Danny: Another TUF 18 alum, Jessamyn Duke is a tall, rangy Muay Thai fighter. Bethe Correia is an aggressive fighter that comes forward winging power punches. Duke will have a staggering nine-inch reach advantage, but she still hasn’t figured out how to use that in the best possible manner. Correia is a scrappy fighter that could get on the inside and make it a dogfight, but Duke jabs her way to a unanimous decision.
Eric: It would be easy to make a juvenile joke here about Bethe (pronounced Betch) Correia’s name here, but I would never disrespect With Leather’s standard of decorum.
Although I’ve been disappointed in Duke’s UFC performances thus far, I think she has the physical tools to become a pretty good fighter and will pick up the win on Saturday.
Lightweight – Takanori “Fireball Kid” Gomi vs Isaac Vallie-Flagg
Jessica: I like Gomi for his weird, box-shaped head, his ability to throw hadoukens that shatter Nick Diaz’s face, his uncomfortableness at being on camera for way too long, and I guess he’s pretty good at fighting, too. Vallie-Flagg is a dude I’ve seen several times, but nothing has ever stuck in my memory about him. I’ll take Gomi to wrestle-box a decision out of IVF.
Burnsy: Gomi has way more miles on his tires than Vallie-Flagg, who is actually a year older than him. I’m going to take Gomi despite the wear and tear and his inconsistency over his last seven fights, dating back to 2010. I think he’s good for a win against Valley Forge, who is fighting for just his third time (1-1) in the UFC.
Vince: So it’s either the fabulously inconsistent Gomi or a guy with a hyphen name, huh? Whose last three victories have come by way of split decision, mind you. Can I say neither? I’m going Gomi because I hate hyphenated names almost as much as split decisions.
Danny: In the interest of full disclosure, I feel like I should probably tell everyone that I spent the night on Ike’s couch a couple months ago. We went to an Albuquerque casino and lost a bunch of money at the blackjack tables. Not only that, we spent 35 minutes walking around the parking lot trying to find his car (let’s see Stephen A. Smith top that). Gomi was once a PRIDE legend, but he’s been inconsistent as of late. Vallie-Flagg grinds and pressures his way to a decision.
Eric: Gomi hasn’t looked great since coming to the UFC, but he should be riding a three-fight win streak. Victory was snatched away by villainous MMA judges in his bout with Diego Sanchez.
I’m not really confident picking either guy, but Gomi has been better lately than Vallie-Flagg was in his last fight. He also has better striking and knockout power. Gomi.
Flyweight – Joseph “Joe-B Wan Kenobi” Benavidez vs Tim Elliott
Jessica: Unless Demetrious Johnson permanently destroyed Benavidez’s chin and baby Daniel Bryan and knock him out with a light jab, the master of Joe Jitsu should be able to murderize Elliott. As a final tribute to Bang Ludwig’s legacy, Benavidez will get a first round knockout.
Burnsy: I expect Benavidez to win and get back in the title picture. He hit a speed bump, but he won’t lose again.
Vince: Tim Elliott looks sort of like Riff Raff. That’s pretty cool, but I don’t see it being enough to stop Joe Benavidez, who other than his last fight is a monster.
Danny: My how the mighty have fallen. Benavidez has gone from being a #1 contender for the flyweight title to the preliminaries. If you think being prelim main event means something, no it doesn’t. All discussions of money and sponsors aside, it’s like having the corner office — it’s a symbol of stature. You may not like Elliott because he has two l’s and two t’s in his name, but this should be a much more competitive fight than many initially thought. Elliott is an awkward fighter that throws guys off their timing with a broken rhythm of attack. He’ll have a respectable showing, but he’ll still lose by guillotine in the third.
Eric: Elliott is unpredictable and tough, but it won’t be enough. Joe B doesn’t lose to anybody not named Demetrious Johnson or Dominick Cruz. I’m now wondering how he’d fare against Dominick Johnson and Demetrious Cruz. Either way, Elliott will not have enough time to fill out and submit the paperwork required to change his name before Saturday, so that’s an L.
Featherweight – Max “Blessed” Holloway vs Andre “Touchy” Fili
Jessica: Pretty much everything about Fili is amazing. He’s a piano key belt in Joe Jitsu, he tweeters and instagrams almost exclusively about pizza, he’s a Team Alpha Male, and I get to be semi-hipstery about him by saying “Oh, yeah, I remember watching Tachi Palace Fight streams of him a few years ago, he’s pretty good”. Holloway is lanky and punches pretty well, but is kinda crappy on the ground. I’m expecting Fili to get Touchy with Max and lock up a second round submission.
Burnsy: “Touchy” is the best fighter nickname in the UFC. I’m picking Fili based on that alone.
Vince: These guys are both lanky, well-rounded strikers, and look sort of like mirror images of each other. That said, Andre Fili’s only loss came by way of knee injury and he’s fighting a guy whose nickname is a sorority girl’s Instagram hashtag. What’s his full name, “Max #Blessed #Cardioday #Glutenfree #Selfie Holloway?” Fili.
Danny: Fili’s pun nickname may be better than Nick “The Promise” Ring, but it’s not nearly as good as The Be Sharps. It’s hard to gauge Fili’s skill level because he took his debut fight on short notice. He still picked up the win, but he gassed quick and left a lot of holes for counter attacks. A volume puncher who could wear Fili down with solid footwork, he’ll struggle with the the power differential. Fili takes the decision.
Eric: Does Holloway have a piano key belt in JoeJitsu? No? Andre ‘Touchy’ Fili takes it.
Lightweight – Jim Miller vs Yancy Medeiros
Jessica: Like I’m going to pick a dude named Yancy. For actual analysis, I’ll say that Miller is a super good grappler when he isn’t getting drawn into wild brawls, or fighting his weed-enriched doppelganger (I would have thought the first would be the Healy fight and the second the Diaz one, but whatever). All I know about Yancy is he’s Hawaiian and he used to fight at 205, which is madness for normal people, but par for the course for Hawaiians. Miller is going to out grapple the SPAM out of Yancy and get a third round submission victory.
Burnsy: I’m taking Miller, because at 0-1-1, there’s nothing impressive about Medeiros in the UFC yet, unless you count his ability to turn a Sprite can into a bong.
Vince: First off, I want to say that it kills me that Yancy’s nickname isn’t “Fancy.” Fancy Yancy Medeiros, come on, that’s a walk-off home run right there. Oh right, the fight. Jim Miller is what we call a top-level gatekeeper, better than anyone except the champ and top contender, though I still can’t believe he lost to Pat Healy. He’s pretty good everywhere, with solid boxing, wrestling, and jizznizitzu, while not especially fast or athletically gifted. I could see him getting out struck by someone faster or out grinded by someone tougher, but Pat Healy is probably the only dude in the world tougher than Jim Miller, and Medeiros seems more tricky than he is fast. I see Miller mixing up takedowns and boxing too well for Medeiros to ever get comfortable enough to be… you know… fancy. Miller.
Danny: Medeiros is another fighter who’s hard to evaluate. He’s only been inside the Octagon for 5:19, but I liked what I’ve seen so far. He’s a hard puncher that even KOd Yves Edwards (the commission changed the fight to a no contest after Medeiros tested positive for marijuana). Besides taking the fight on short notice, he throws his punches so hard that he often falls out of his stance. Against Edward it opened him up to the counter hook, but against Miller it leaves him vulnerable to takedowns. Miller by rear naked choke in the first.
Eric: Miller is one of my favorite fighters to watch, with his workmanlike style of decent boxing, decent wrestling, and HOLY F*CK WHAT A MONSTER submission attacks. The guy can take a punch too. Medeiros is a late replacement after Bobby Green dropped out, which I think is a better match-up for Miller. Even though he’s the inferior striker in this one, I expect Miller’s pressure to be too much, overwhelming Medeiros.
Middleweight – Luke Rockhold vs Tim “The Barbarian” Boetsch
Jessica: Rockhold (Also known as Surfin’ USA) is one of the handsomest men in the UFC, especially with Carlos Condit on the shelf due to catastrophic kneesplosion. Boetsch is basically Ben Rothwell’s little brother, and that ain’t a good luck for anyone. Rockhold should be able to out-kickbox Boetsch, and hopefully avoid third round uppercut flurries en route to a decision victory.
Burnsy: After being bulldozed by the unstoppable Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 8, Rockhold knocked out Costas Philippou on Fight Night, and I think he’ll do the same against Boetsch.
Vince: Tim Boetsch hasn’t shown me much since his flukey (though admittedly totally boss) Bushwhackers uppercut win over Yushin Okami. Meanwhile, Luke Rockhold is super skilled and like eleven feet tall. I have to take Rockhold, even though he’s obnoxiously handsome and comes from some Godlike race of real-life superheroes where his brother and father and everyone in his family are pro athletes. I’d like to see him win but f*ck up his beautiful face in the process, just to make me feel better about myself.
Danny: Boetsch likes to attack from the clinch and punch on the inside. He’ll have a hard time closing the distance against Rockhold. The former Strikeforce champ has fast, accurate kicks and can change levels at an elite level. Boetsch will be too busy using his hand to block kicks to get on the inside to punch. Rockhold makes “The Barbarian” seem about as dangerous as Hagar the Horrible when he takes it by 2nd round TKO.
Eric: This is a squash match. Rockhold is better in every aspect of MMA and will dominate. He’s also really good looking, but I’ve yet to find a correlation between attractiveness and fighting excellence. I will continue to research.
Light Heavyweight – Phil “Mr. Wonderful” Davis vs Anthony “Rumble” Johnson
Jessica: My brain still cannot comprehend how Johnson ever made welterweight without dying, but he did it, and wasn’t bad at 170. Now he’s at his almost-natural weight of 205, and he’s actually got some cardio to go along with his power. Phil Davis is still going to wrestle all over him, though. I’d like to see another Mr. Wonderful submission, but I’ll settle for Davis winning by body triangle in the first round.
Burnsy: Phil Davis will win. Wait, let me clarify – Phil Davis better win. Johnson must be furious that Davis spent all his time at media day shit-talking Jon Jones. But Davis also has to know how stupid he’s going to look if he loses. He has to win, so he can face Jones at some point in the near future. Of course, if it’s before Gustafsson gets a rematch, I’ll be furious, but baby steps.
Vince: I really like Rumble, he seems like a dude I could hang with (Dear Rumble, can we hang? You seem cool. Yours Truly, Vince). I’m really hoping he’s a new fighter now that he doesn’t have to kill himself making weight. But his historic weakness, other than anorexia, is getting rear naked choked by wrestlers and jiu-jitsu guys (Koscheck, Vitor, Rich Clementi). Add to that the fact that Phil Davis doesn’t tend to get hit much, and I gotta figure Mr. Wonderful wrestlef*cks Rumble into the canvas. Of course I’ll be rooting for Rumble, because Davis’s last few fights have been more boring than a Peter Jackson movie. If you ask me, the most interesting thing about Phil Davis is the picture they used for his Wikipedia page:
Jeans and no shirt, hobo style. I wonder where he’s going? Maybe he got a stain on the shirt? Somebody get that guy some Shirt in a Can.
Danny: Davis will fight Johnson much like he fought Lyoto Machida. He’ll stay on the outside, refuse to engage and probably go for a last minute takedown. Machida is counter puncher, so that strategy worked. Johnson doesn’t have that finesse. He comes at you with brute force and tries to hurt you. Davis’s chin has never been tested and we’ll finally see if he can withstand a solid punch. Johnson is always prone to fatigue, but he’s my upset special. Johnson rumbles his way to the decision win.
Eric: If Davis can take Johnson down (and it’s likely that he will be able to), he wins rather easily. He’s got slick submissions and Rumble tends to fold up shop after hitting the mat. Johnson always has a puncher’s chance because his limbs are loaded with heavyweight power, but Davis is very good at avoiding damage. Give me Mr. Wonderful.
Light Heavyweight – Jon “Bones” Jones vs Glover Teixeira
Jessica: Jones is one of the top “awesome in the cage, turd-man in real life” fighters out there, and that’s even if you assume his recent homophobic Instagram tirade was the result of a hacked and stolen phone. Other than that massive Swede-tooth he’s got an issue with, Jones has wrecked house on pretty much everyone. Glover does hit super-duper hard, and he’s got good submissions, but there’s a flashing neon sign that reads “GOT WOBBLED BY RYAN BY GOD BADER IN 2013″ that’s giving me panic attacks. Jones punches way better than Bader, plus he’s not prone to leaping face-first into counters, so I expect ol’ Snitchster Christian to triumph. Jones wins by second round KO.
Burnsy: I do not buy Jones’s claim that he was only fighting at 80% against Gustafsson. If that was true, he would have had to have stepped it up to 100% at some point when he realized that Gustafsson was fighting on overdrive. I hope Jones is 100% for this fight, because I want him to keep the title so we can get Jones-Gustafsson II. Jones wins.
Vince: You could boil down my basic fight picking strategy to “never bet on someone doing something you’ve never seen before.” I’ve never seen Jon Jones be threatened by anyone he has a big reach advantage over. Jon Jones is brilliant at using his reach to keep shorter fighters at a distance, as Mike Goldberg never tires of telling us seven times per fight, regardless of who’s fighting, apropos of nothing. One time his wife asked him to pass the butter and he said, “Hey, honey, you know who’s great at utilizing his reach advantage? Light heavyweight champ Jon Jones.”
I think he screams it out when he cums. Anyway, Glover is a beast, but until I see someone negate Jones’ reach, I can’t pick against him. Also, Teixeira got wobbled by both Bader and Fabio Maldonado, in between punchasizing them to death with chingasos from hell. I see Jones using his length to Rampage Jackson Teixeira to a somewhat disappointing decision.
Danny: Being exposed by Alexander Gustafsson and the recent Instagram controversy has caused many to predict the end of the “Bones” era. Not only are those people off base, but I can’t believe they’d ever want to get David Boreanaz off television (I don’t care what he did to Buffy, I still like him). Teixeira has powerful hands, but he’s basically a younger, fast Rampage Jackson who’s far less likely to sexually assault reporters. He doesn’t bring anything to the table that Jones has not already seen. Expect that champ to soften Glover up with kicks and straight shots. Once Teixeira starts to slow down, Jones will turn it up, take him down, and secure the TKO.
Eric: The UFC says Teixeira is Jones’s biggest threat to date. I disagree. He’s a predictable power puncher with an average gas tank and an unproven ground game. I see two ways this fight plays out: Jones takes Teixeira down early and beats him senseless to prove a point or Jones outstrikes Texieira for three rounds to wear him down and secures a late TKO/KO victory or unanimous decision.
Bring on Gustafsson and Cormier.