UFC 173 marks the promotion’s return to Vegas for a big night of fights, culminating with a bantawmeight title match. If you would like to glean some information about the fighters on this card, please check out the official UFC 173 page. There are twelve big fights to cover, and we’ve got nearly as many charming, intelligent, and delightful people making predictions on the outcomes. Out of the dirtiest of all the south, Alabama, an American Whu-Tweet-U picker, there’s me, Jessica “Lobster ‘LegKickTKO’ Mobster” Hudnall. Predicting out of Shaq’s sprawling central Florida emu preserve and survivalist compound, the submission mathematician, Ashley “Burnsy” Burns. Formerly of Gilbert Melendez’s Skrap Pak, now heading up his own off-shoot, the Skat Pak, Vince “Film Drunk” Mancini. The man that Time magazine forgot his subscription, former fighter, current writer, all-time drinker, Danny “Boy” Downes.
STANDINGS OF GREAT IMPORTANCE
Jessica: 94-41-2 (69%)
Burnsy: 88-46-3 (64%)
Vince: 50-18-1 (72%)
Danny: 59-22-1 (72%)
Eric: 32-20-1 (60%)
Ghost: 6-7-0 (46%)
Welterweight – David “Bull Dawg” Michaud vs Li “The Leech” Jingliang
Jessica: Is Li the yoga dude from TUF China? I’ve only heard about him, but he’s secretly my favorite fighter. I’m pretty sure this dude isn’t that guys, so I’m going for Michaud (Who I’m sure I’ll confuse with David Mitchell at least once) to win by TKO in the second. Sorry, Leech (Landa?)
Danny: Based on his UFC picture, Michaud looks like he should be a Davy Jones tribute artist instead of fighting a grown man inside a cage. Both of these fighters are aggressive, but deeply flawed. Your jingoism may cause you to root for Michaud, but it’s actually right this time around. I may be a cynic, but, “I’m a Believer.” Michaud by decision.
Burnsy: BULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL DAWG! ARF ARF! Sorry, I want that to be read the way that Patrice O’Neal barks on that one Chappelle Show sketch.
Vince: The UFC has a long a storied history of trying to make a Chinese fighter happen and it hasn’t worked out yet. Meanwhile I know nothing about Michaud other than that he looks like a software engineer at Google. Five bucks on the hair farmer (Michaud).
Featherweight – Sam Sicilia vs Aaron “The Model” Phillips
Jessica: I normally pick dudes I’ve seen before over newcomers, but Sicilia trains out of SIK-JITSU and that’s such a laughable gym/fight team name that it trumps me kind of knowing what he’s capable of. Phillips wins by decision.
Danny: Sam Sicilia doesn’t possess the most diverse of skill sets, but he’s effective. Experience doesn’t count for much, but Phillips is going to be overwhelmed. Plus it’s really easy to root against someone that calls himself “The Model.” Sicilia by 2nd round TKO
Burnsy: Look at The Model’s face and tell me you don’t want Sicilia to ruin it. Ain’t no room for pretty in the UFC, noob. Sicilia by a thunderous punch from the gods.
Vince: I would love to have an opinion on Aaron Phillips, but dude doesn’t even have a picture in his Sherdog profile. Sicilia is a middling gatekeeper taking on a guy undefeated against no one I’ve ever heard of. …No idea. I’ll take The Model just to be different.
Lightweight – Anthony “The Assassin” Njokuani vs Vinc “From Hell” Pichel
Jessica: One dude has a highlight of him kicking a fleeing child in the face. The other dude is the highlight for getting suplexed out of his skeleton. Njo is going to kick Pichel all up in the face bones and get a first round knockout.
Danny: There are so many things rooting against Pichel. The fact that he sells his first name without a letter e. His nickname is “from hell.” Sure we can blame a lot of that on this mother, but I’m the type of guy that believes in free will. Both fighters like to swing, and Njokuani is better at it. He takes the decision win.
Burnsy: I’m going to pick this one by choosing the better movie based on their nicknames. From Hell was a gory tale of prostitutes being murdered in the time of Jack the Ripper, while there are at least six movies entitled The Assassin, and that’s not counting the Sylvester Stallone movie Assassins. So I’m going to pick From Hell to win, because Heather Graham is still pretty awesome.
Vince: Pichel is 8 and 1 and yet I can’t remember ever having been impressed by him. Njokuani has seven losses, but he has the range of a pterodactyl and when he wins he wins scary. If I was a statistician I’d probably pick Pichel, but as a dumb human biased by my own sense of what’s entertaining, I’m picking Njokuani.
Lightweight – “Ragin'” Al Iaquinta vs Mitch “Danger Zone” Clarke
Jessica: Serra-Longo Martial Arts and Pizzeria, baby! Iaquinta is repping Strong Island, and that’s a pretty good look right about now (Discounting Gian Villante, but dude went to Hofstra, you shouldn’t be expecting much out of him) in the punchmenz world. If I have ever remembered anything about Mitch Clarke, I’ve since forgotten it, so I’ll say Iaquinta boxes him up pretty handily and nets a second round TKO victory.
Danny: I must admit I’m a bit biased here since I dream about seeing Al Iaquinta in a remake of Raging Bull. I really feel like he can encapsulate antiquated New York chauvinism. All that aside, his striking will be too much for Mitch Clarke. He’ll get overwhelmed by Iaquinta’s boxing and lost by TKO in the first round.
Burnsy: After losing his first two UFC fights, Danger Zone finally notched a mark in the Win column, but Iaquinta’s riding the hot hand right now. I’ll stick with Ragin’ to push the win streak to four.
Vince: Is it too much to ask for the UFC to book a fight where I’ve actually heard of BOTH guys? I’ve never even heard of anyone Mitch Clarke has fought. Meanwhile, Al Iaquinta is a dead-eyed killer. I’m choosing my fellow pale-skinned eye-talian-American.
Bantamweight – Chris “Holds it Down” Holdsworth vs Chico “King” Camus
Jessica: Time to get existential, y’all! While Holdsworth has a bad nickname, Camus doesn’t go by “The Stranger”, which I think is way more egregious. I’m going with the undefeated Alpha Male to snag a second round submission victory.
Danny: I trained with Chico for a long time. He’s a very hot or miss fighter. Sometimes he’s on point and looks fantastic. Other times he gets distracted and loses focus. When he’s on point he can compete with anyone in the division. He may be a wildcard, but I think he takes this one. Holdsworth has skills, but he’s still one dimensional. Chico’s speed and quickness will help him avoid the takedown and use his hands. Camus by decision.
Burnsy: I think and kind of hope that Holdsworth develops into a great fighter in the UFC, because I was impressed by his submission win over Davey Grant, but I like Chico’s experience more. Also, I’ll keep demanding that Camus change his nickname to “The Fist of Sisyphus” as long as he keeps fighting.
Vince: Camus is no slouch, but Holdsworth is one of the most talented fighters to come out of TUF in a while. Camus’s striking is good enough that I could see him being Holdsworth’s first loss, but until I see a chink in Holdsworth’s armor, I’m taking Holdsworth.
Lightweight: Tony “El Cucuy” Ferguson vs Katsunori Kikuno
Jessica: Kikuno is pretty cool, though I’ve got a feeling he’s going to get wrestled pretty hard here against T-Fergs. Under normal circumstances, I’d probably go with my love of the crescent kick over logic, but I’m kind of putting logic in the back seat on some fights up ahead, so I’ll say Ferguson wrestle-boxes a bunch and gets a third round TKO.
Danny: Kikuno has a great tip game, but he won’t be able to get in position to utilize his strength. Ferguson by decision.
Burnsy: Fergie’s 4-1 since joining the UFC and y’all know me – I’m gonna take that experience every time, no matter how often it bites me in the ass and I lose and these other jerks look smarter than me.
Vince: El Cucuy is a monster. I don’t know who Kikuno is or what a “tip game” is. Does that mean he always gives 25%? El Cucuy is my lock of the night.
Lightweight – Michael “The Maverick” Chiesa vs Francisco “Massaranduba” Trinaldo
Jessica: Trinaldo is a crazy good BJJ dude, Chiesa is an ok BJJ dude, so this will either be Trinaldo running a grappling clinic on Chiesa, or a tepid kickboxing match. I’m edging towards grappling clinic, and Trinaldo snagging a first round submission victory. Sorry, beardo.
Danny: Chiesa is one of those fighters that wins ugly. He never looks like a world beater, but he finds a way to secure the victory. Trinaldo just doesn’t have the ability to dominate. When it comes to a scramble, believe in the Maverick. Chiesa by decision
Burnsy: Let me see, based on his four fights in the UFC, I’m going to pick Chiesa to win by submission in, oh I don’t know, the second round.
Vince: This one is a pick ‘em for me. I’ll take the funky grinder over the slick BJJ guy. Chiesa.
Lightweight: Jamie Varner vs “The” James Krause
Jessica: God I hate Jamie Varner. I have no analysis of how the fight’s going to go, or a witty joke, I just really dislike Jamie Varner and my prediction (Though I guess it is more of a dream or desire) is as follows: James Krause punches Jamie Varner in his stupid face, really hard and often. Jamie Varner falls down, Krause keeps punching, and the referee eventually tells Krause to stop punching. Then Varner complains that he thought he was going to be in a MMA fight, not a face-punching contest. Then Varner gets released from his contract and I hopefully never see him again. Krause by first round KO. Nobody likes you, Jamie Varner, go away.
Danny: Despite having am overwhelming bro look, Jamie Varner is actually a great guy. His style has changed considerably since the WEC days, and while it’s been for the better of the audience, it’s been to his professional detriment. He’s far too aggressive with his striking and leaves a lot of openings for counter attacks. Krause doesn’t have a lot of finishing power, but he does have a six inch height advantage and a stiff jab. He patiently picks Verner apart to the unanimous decision win.
Burnsy: James Krause is THE Ohio State University of UFC fighters with that terrible nickname, but I respect the arrogance. Also, like Ohio State, he’ll manage to kick ass and get this win, so he’ll eventually fall apart and lose when it matters.
Vince: I too once hated Jamie Varner, much in the same way I hate every fighter, human being, and plant life from Arizona (F*CK YOU, CACTUS!). But when he rallied from behind to upset Edson Barboza, I became a fan. Meanwhile, I don’t even know who James Krause is, and I’m not seeing a lot of big names on his resume. I think Varner gets back on the winning streak with this one and Krause has to get some nautical star tattoos in penance.
Bantamweight – Takeya Mizugaki vs Francisco “Cisco” Rivera
Jessica: When he got under the Zuffa fight umbrella, Mizugaki used to win one, lose one. Then, one fateful day, Meisha Tate told Bryan Carraway to “just coast”, and Mizugaki eked out a decision, putting him at a two fight winning streak. That was March of last year, and Takeya hasn’t lost since, now unbeaten in his last four outings. There’s no way Rivera can counteract mojo of that magnitude. Mizugaki wins by decision.
Danny: This is one of those volume vs. power fights. Mizugaki overwhelms opponents with numbers while Rivera can finish it with one brutal uppercut. Mizugaki tends to stay in the pocket too long and that will hurt him here. Rivera by TKO in the second.
Burnsy: I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOOOOOOOOOOOVE the potential in this fight. Both guys are on a roll (if you ignore Rivera’s bad drug test) and Mizugaki has the skills to make this fight go the distance, while Rivera has the power to stop this thing early. I like Rivera to keep the wins going and get back on track in the bantamweight division.
Vince: I can’t remember Rivera’s last few fights, so I’m just going to let my epic level of racism choose this fight, and I so I have to take the Latin dude over the Asian. Also, Rivera’s wins over George Roop, Edwin Figueroa, and Brad McDonald are more impressive than anyone Mizugaki has beating. Rivera.
Welterweight – “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler vs Jake “The Juggernaut” Ellenberger
Jessica: I’d have a lot more confidence in Lawler to win this if it were a five round fight since Ellenberger is an expert at gassing himself out after about 2 1/2 rounds. Robbie did well against Hendricks’ wrestling, but that was apparently the one-armed version of folkstyle. Ellenberger is probably going to take down Lawler easily in the first, land some of his big ground and pound, and then get all wheezy and tired. That’s when Lawler’s going to pounce, and punch the bejeezus out of Jake’s face. Lawler wins by second round KO. Side note: how did he never get saddled with Robbie “Brawler” Lawler?
Danny: Elenberger is going to get drawn into the power struggle. Going toe to toe with Robbie Lawler is like trying to fight the man. You can put up a valiant fight, but you’ll eventually succumb to the power. Lawler crushes the proletariat and Jake Ellenberger by first round KO
Burnsy: I’m basing this pick on what I want to happen – Lawler wins easily, sets up the rematch with Johny Hendricks that should have been set up anyway, and then Lawler wins that fight to set up a third main event between them, and we’re all better fight fans for it.
Vince: Ellenberger has some power, but not as much as Hendricks, and Lawler arguably won that fight. There’s a chance of Lawler getting wrestlef*cked, but he hasn’t been as susceptible to that in recent years as he used to be. Lawler takes the win, and uses the bonus to buy himself some nose cartilage.
Light Heavyweight – Daniel “DC” Cormier vs Dan “Hendo” Henderson
Jessica: A/K/A “Decision” Dan, “Hollywood” Henderson, “Big Right Handerson” Henderson, “Dangerous” Dan “H-Bomb” Henderson, he might rival Ol Dirty Bastard for most nicknames amongst dudes fond of fisticuffs. I love Hendo so dang much, but I’m kind of a realist. His back is basically made out of crumbly short bread, so any wrestling skills he might have once had are now nonexistent, leaving him to rely on his death-dealing Big Right Hand. Cormier is probably just going to wrestle the life out of Hendo because I don’t think he’s an idiot. With that said, my heart won’t let me pick against the American Hero, so I’m going with Henderson to win by the Biggest, Rightest Hand knockout in the third round. Side note, is Hendo not the best human-pug hybrid ever?
Danny: I’d like to think that Hendo can win. Then again, I’d like to think that my old dog Daisy is really just chilling on a farm in Wisconsin. The truth is, WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE AND EVERYTHING YOU DO IN THIS WORLD IS INCONSEQUENTIAL! Besides that, Cormier takes the decision win.
Burnsy: I still can’t believe that Hendo is fighting so soon after his win over Rua in March. I’d like to pick him based on his heart and huevos, but I’m a guy who’s into the whole “being realistic” thing, so I’m taking Cormier to get the win and position himself for an eventual loss in a Light Heavyweight Title fight.
Vince: I was arguing with Ti West about this fight last night, with Ti arguing that Cormier “has never beaten anyone” and wanting to see what happens when he gets hit with Hendo’s H-bomb. Like Danny, I too want to believe in puppy dogs and miracles and immortality, but my guy says Big Country probably hits as hard as Hendo and Cormier managed to figure that one out. I’ll root for Dirty Dan (can’t that be his nickname?) but my money is on DC.
Bantamweight Title – Renan Barao vs TJ Dillashaw
Jessica: Just a quick heads up, dude’s actual name is Renan Pegado, and “Barao” is a nickname that means “Baron” which is weird, since I’ve been seeing him called Renan “The Baron” Barao. Learn your Portuguese, folks. Anyway, Barao is one of the most terrifying fighters right now, and I’m not just talking about his Nosferatu face. He hits hard, he locks up submissions quickly, he’s a damn near total package in a tiny, dancing frame. Dillashaw, meanwhile, never looks like he’s comfortable being in a fight, as if someone is coercing him into stepping into a cage to throw hands with another man. That doesn’t bode well, plus you couple it with the fact that the Team Alpha Male curse looms large over him. However, I fully believe that Dillashaw is exempt from the curse because he did not participate in the blasphemous “Dougie” video that Faber, Mendes, and Benavidez were involved in. It’s not all of TAM, just those three who aren’t allowed to win a title. Dillashaw is going to use the last of the Bang-powered striking to catch Barao with a clean, hard shot that drops him, and then TJ’s leaping onto a choke for dear life and finishing things off. Dillashaw wins by second round submission.
Danny: Dillashaw is a top tier fighter. having said that, he needs a bit more time before he steps up to this stage. One day he could be the 135 lb champion, but this is too much, too soon. Barao by 3rd round TKO.
Burnsy: I picked Faber to beat Barao last time and that might have been one of the dumbest picks I’ve ever made. Barao is just a straight up badass, and there’s no way I’m picking against him. This will be quick and painful.
Vince: Dillashaw is great, but he also has a “cocky rich white kid” air about him that makes me less sad about him getting destroyed by Renan Barao. Dillashaw will be saying Baraouch my face Saturday night.