After a brief hiatus, the UFC is back with 3 events in 9 days in what I am calling the ZuffApocalypse (Maybe MMApocalypse would be a better name?). First up, we have Ultimate Fight Night 39: Nogueira vs Nelson, as two old, physically decrepit fan favorites punch each other in the face for the amusement of various sheikhs. If you need more information on everyone, check out the official UFC Fight Night 39 page, and for stupid jokes with less insight, you can take a peep at my UFC Fight Night 39 Event Primer. Joining me on the picks is as always, the supremely talented Burnsy, Film Drunk’s Vince Mancini, and retired fighter (And thus, any ties go to him since he’ll just punch us in the eyeball), Danny “Boy” Downes.
Featherweight – Alan Omer vs Jim “The Beast” Alers
Jessica: It feels like these names are jumbled up versions of each other. I don’t have anything else to add since who the eff are these dudes, so I’ll take Alers by submission in the first round.
Vince: Ah yes, a classic match up of whats his name vs. Who? Neither of these dudes even have a Wikipedia page. Omer has 10 submission wins and Alers has nine, and on paper (aka Sherdog, the only place where I could find anything about them) they look nearly identical. Only difference I can see is that Omer is an Iraqi Kurd who has fought mostly in Europe, so I have to assume the American has faced stiffer competition. I’ll take Alers by dice roll.
Danny: Despite being slated to start at 8:50 local time for me, this is a fight worth watching. Both fighters are making their UFC debuts, but they each have impressive skill sets. Omer is an extremely aggressive fighter that throws a lot of combinations. Alers comes from the “Tough as Nails” MMA team out of Florida which owns the distinction of being the only fight team to rival Team Sik Jitsu for gym names that were not well thought out.
Both guys are well-rounded, but Alers’s athleticism (try saying that five times fast) will be the difference maker. He’ll soften Omer up with a few slams then lock up a Brabo choke for the second round submission.
Burnsy: My picks percentage has been fantastic over the last year, but this barrage of events is throwing me off. I’m just making an excuse now, because I’m feeling my first really bad event in a while. So now that the preface is done, let’s start the bad picks with Alers pushing the win streak to 8.
Middleweight – Chris Camozzi vs Andrew “Highlight” Craig
Jessica: Since he’s never used “Here Comes the Hot Stepper” as his walkout music, I hate Camozzi forever. Craig’s not bad, so I’m picking him to win by decision.
Vince: Chris Camozzi has put together some solid wins despite the only thing memorable about him being his tattoos. I know I should pick Camozzi, him being a Bay Area guy and a rugby player, but I’ve remembered Andrew Craig more in losses than I ever have Camozzi in wins. Craig by cornrows.
Danny: This fight has the potential for being one of those, “loser leaves town” matches. Camozzi isn’t a world beater on the feet, but he does have the striking advantage. Craig will try to crowd the range and bring it to the ground, but I don’t think he has the wrestling to get the fight to the ground. Even from the clinch Camozzi should be able to land more offense. Camozzi avoids the pink slip with a unanimous decision win.
Burnsy: Camozzi is staring at a third straight loss if he takes the L at Fight Night, so I’m going to throw my weight in his corner and hope that he gets back on track.
Middleweight – Thales Leites vs Trevor “Hot Sauce” Smith
Jessica: You might remember Leites from such fights as “The terrible Anderson Silva fight” and you may recall Smith as “That dude what got his head yanked off by Tim Kennedy”. I think Leites’ BJJ is pretty good and Smith’s not the best at refraining from getting tapped, so I’ll take Leties to win by submission in the second round.
Vince: HEYYY LEITES! People tend to remember Leites’s boring fights but not the part where he rarely loses. I love a guy named “Hot Sauce”, but I’m taking Leites by the transitive property of Ed Herman (Leites has beaten him, Smith has lost to him).
Danny: Thales Leites beat Ed Herman. Trevor Smith lost to Ed Herman. Normally MMA math is about as reliable as carbon dating, but in this case it works out. Leites does have holes in his game, but none of Smith’s strengths can exploit them. Leites will walk forward, get the takedown and suffocate his opponent for three rounds. “Hot Sauce” will have about as much heat as my Irish grandmother’s cooking as Leites takes the decision.
Burnsy: Leites is riding a hot streak since his return, and Hot Sauce is coming off his first UFC win. I feel like every fight for Leites could be his last in the UFC if he loses (I have nothing to base that on but my own opinion, obviously, so don’t look at me like that) so I’ll stick with the crafty veteran.
Bantamweight – Rani Yahya vs “Brutal” Johnny Bedford
Jessica: No matter how good he ends up looking in his fights, I always think of Bedford, sprawled out on The Ultimate Fighter canvas, mumbling “Ohio?” to the question of where he thinks he currently is after John Dodson knocked him the f*ck out. It’s one of those memories that is tough for me to shake, which sucks for Johnny, since he’s pretty good. Unfortunately, Rani Yahya is pretty rad that this here jiu-jitsus they got down at the rec center. Yahya takes this via third round submission.
Vince: Johnny Bedford looks like an extra from Deliverance and would probably be the most backwoods-looking guy ever to come out of TUF if they’d never found Bubba McDaniel. Dear God I hope neither of these professional ass kickers ever read this. Please baby Jesus, shield this from their eyes (you see the danger I put myself in for you, readers?). Anyway, if Bedford can’t avoid a sub from Bryan Caraway I don’t see him avoiding one from Yahya (despite the distinct possibility of Bedford putting on a classic wrestlef*ck). Yahya.
Danny: This is one of the more interesting matchups on the card. Bedford has the clear power and striking advantage, but nine of his ten career losses have come via submission. In addition to having a name that consistently reminds me of the mom from Bobby’s World, Rani Yahya is one of the best submission grapplers in the division. He may not have elite wrestling, but he does convert on about 32% of his takedowns. Yahya takes the second round submission don’tcha know.
Burnsy: I’m going with Yahya here, and I’ll go a step further and predict that he actually finishes Bedford instead of going to decision. It’s a stretch, but I’m bold like that.
Heavyweight – Jared “The Big Show” Rosholt vs Daniel Omielanczuk
Jessica: Big honkin’ supperweights, hooray! Rosholt is a squishy wrestler, and that is basically the best thing to be in MMA. Omielanczuk could have robot gorillas for fists (Possibly illega), and I’d still take Rosholt to awkwardly and sweatily grapple on top of him for the entire fight. Rosholt wins by the most winded TKO “flurry” ever.
Vince: Despite being a giant Pole and having awesome tattoos (at least as important as technique in the fight game), Omielanczuk was so winded in his last fight that he couldn’t finish off an equally winded Nandor Guelmino (which isn’t even that hard, according to your mom). And that was against a Euro with presumably European wrestling skills (read: poor wrestling skills). I’m taking Rosholt by titty smother.
Danny: Jared Rosholt is a 3x All-American wrestler and the winningest heavyweight in Oklahoma State history. The expectations were high for him, but he did not live up to them in his Octagon debut against Walt Harris. Omielanczuk is pretty much a statue on his feet. He doesn’t move around much and does not keep a high pace. He did knockout Nando Guelmino at UFC 165, but Rosholt won’t give him the chance to land a big punch. Rosholt takes this fight to the mat and picks up the unanimous decision.
Burnsy: I hate that Rosholt’s nickname is “The Big Show” because, “Cool man, like the pro wrestler, right?” but I’m still picking him. Once again, I’ll rub my crystal balls and also predict that he ends this with a KO.
Lightweight – “Stripper” Ramsey Nijem vs Beneil “Benny” Dariush
Jessica: Dariush looked really good beating up poor, poor Charlie Brenneman (Still baffles me that Rick Story lost to this dude), but come on, it’s just Charlie Brenneman. Nijem is a solid wrestler and since Wrestling Rules Everything Around Me, Ramsey takes a decision victory in this one.
Vince: Dariush, Dariush, can you do the fandango? Ramsey Nijem is one of those guys it scares me to pick, because he’s so athletic that he tends to get a bit cocky and sloppy (just the way your mother likes it) and drop his hands. See: his fights with Tony Ferguson and Miles Jury. I also hate picking against him because of the aforementioned athleticism, and because he kinda seems like a cool dude. I hate picking Dariush, because honestly, dude can’t even pick a first name? Is it Ben or Neil, bro? But he’s undefeated and he looked like a monster against Brenneman. Dariush via slick vowel combinations.
Danny: Nijem has a one track mind. He likes to walk forward with reckless abandon. While this strategy served him well against my mother’s favorite fighter, it does get him into trouble. He leaves a lot of openings, and his chin can often be a concern. We don’t have a lot of footage Dariush, but he’ll catch Nijem as he comes on the inside and stun him. From there, he’ll move for the submission and finish with a D’arce choke in the second round.
Burnsy: This is where I’ll take my undefeated guy with the blind (and ignorant) hope that he stays undefeated. Dariush will be a huge star!
Welterweight – John “Doomsday” Howard vs Ryan LaFlare
Jessica: Howard has a special place in my fight-fan heart for his performance against Dennis “Superman” Hallman, in one of the greatest Nickname Fights in the world. He’s been looking good recently, too, slowing down a lot of the hype behind Uriah Hall and Siyar Bahadurzada with wrestle-centric wins. LaFlare is all kinds of cool, and he keeps looking better and better in his fights. I think he’s got the grappling to give Howard fits, and I see him sneaking a submission victory in the second.
Vince: Oh, Doomsday. How the hell do you ever pick a Doomsday fight? He seems to pull out victories against stiff competition without looking super impressive in the process. He’ll definitely be LaFlare’s toughest test to date, but LaFlare got mad skillz, and I have to think his battle against Court McGee only made him tougher and more confident. Still, I don’t like how low LaFlare holds his hands against a guy as fast as Doomsday. I’m taking LaFlare, but not feeling very confident about it.
Danny: I try not to hold Ryan’s last name against him even though it sounds like a lame dance club. He pushes the pace and will grind you down for all three rounds. “Doomsday” Howard doesn’t need 15 minutes, though. He has the power to end the fight with one punch, and that’s exactly what he’ll do. LaFlare shoots for a takedown, Howard defends, reverses position and ground and pound his way to the first round TKO.
Burnsy: Doomsday is so damned frustrating. He’s 2-0 since returning to the UFC, but LaFlare is a solid fighter with a great record thus far. I’m going to hate myself for this, but I’m taking Doomsday to bust up LaFlare’s unbeaten streak.
Featherweight – Clay “The Carpenter” Guida vs Tatsuya “The Crusher” Kawajiri
Jessica: Even before his weird, terrible fight with Gray Maynard, I wanted someone to brain Guida with a ball-peen hammer, mostly because I imagine he smells terrible. Kawajiri is cool and and if you aren’t hoping he wins forever, you are probably A Bad. Kawajiri is going to wrestle upon Guida and TKO him in the second.
Vince: Guida looked boring and terrible against Maynard, but he also just made it to the third round against Chad Freakin’ Mendes, who is a trained killer. Also, if your game plan involves taking down and/or submitting Clay Guida, like I assume Kawajiri’s is, that is a bad game plan. Guida all day.
Danny: Clay Guida may have to start paying his carpentry union dues again if this fight doesn’t work out. He’s dropped three of his last four and suffered the first KO loss of his career at UFC 164. That may raise questions about his ability to take damage, but Kawajiri isn’t really known for his KO power. Guida is incredibly awkward and hard to read. That will work to his advantage as he takes the unanimous decision.
Burnsy: Kawajiri has won six in a row, including his UFC debut at Fight Night in January, while Guida has been underwhelming and somewhat depressing in the three losses in his last four fights. I’m taking Kawajiri with a lot of confidence.
Heavyweight – Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira vs Roy “Big Country” Nelson
Jessica: My heart is going to hurt a lot during this fight, I bet. Nelson is susceptible to getting boxed up, and Nog has pretty good punches, but he doesn’t have the footwork or speed to avoid Roy just pushing forward, winging overhands. I also don’t see Nogueira taking Nelson down, and pulling guard doesn’t seem like a smart move either. Nelson is going to win by third round KO and I’ll be super sad. I hate you forever, MMA.
Vince: Antonio Hodrigo Nogueira is the world’s most cuddly and adorable heavyweight MMA fighter, and he could probably get run over by a train and walk it off, but to beat Roy Nelson, who has great grappling, nearly impenetrable takedown defense, and at least three incredibly solid chins, you have to be quicker than Roy Nelson. Big Nog, for all his attributes, has never been known as speedy. Hell, he couldn’t even get out of the way of Bob Sapp. Nelson by knuckle sandwiches, provided he doesn’t eat them all before the match.
Danny: Despite what the lamestream media will tell you, Big Country’s shrinking landmass is not due to global warming. Much sadder than your left wing assaults on the free market has been “Minotauro” Nogueira’s recent fights. At 37 years old, it’s just hard to think that he has the tools to compete at an elite level. Even his much vaunted durability has been suspect as of late. “Above Average Country,” works that overhand right to a third round knockout.
Burnsy: How is this a main event? I’m not complaining, since I get Browne and Werdum in Orlando next week, and I’m pretty happy about that as a top fight, but this one if like the battle of two guys who could fall asleep by the middle of the second round. Hell, I could flip a coin trying to pick a Minotauro fight, since he’s the ultimate “Win one, lose one” guy. If I did that, it would be his turn to win, but I’m picking Nelson, because I feel like a third straight loss will be the end for Big Country, and I’m not ready for that.