The ZuffApocalypse rolls on as The Ultimate Fighter: Nations (Canada versus Australia) reaches its climax on Wednesday night. Known to some as Fight Night 40, this TUF Finale is chock full of dudes from a season of the show I never watched, so I’m expecting a crap shoot on my picks. If you require information about these fighters, take a peek over at the UFC’s official Fight Night 40 page. My terrible picks are joined by the fancy and handsome (Fandsome? Hancy?) Burnsy’s predictions, Vince “Film Drunk” Mancini, and Danny “Boy” Downes.
Before we dive head-first into the predictions, though, here is the very rough running tally and or career fight pick history dating from the first ever With Leather Staff Predictions at UFC on Fox 10. I might try to go back through the live discussion archives to figure out records from the last years, but here’s where we stand.
Jessica: 60-26-2 (68%)
Burnsy: 60-25-3 (68%)
Danny: 26-6-1 (79%)
Vince: 16-3-1 (80%)
New York Ric: 9-7-1 (53%)
Bantamweight – Mitch “The Machine” Gagnon vs Tim “The Psycho” Gorman
Jessica: Gorman is the idiot from that co-ed season of TUF who wanted his knee destroyed rather than bow out of the competition. I hope Gagnon submits him in the first round.
Danny: I remember Tim Gorman as the crazy guy from TUF 18 that spent most of his time on Twitter challenging Bryan Caraway to a fight with the winner becoming Miesha Tate’s boyfriend. I know people on the internet love 1) threats made against Bryan Caraway and 2) deciding women’s autonomy via cage fights, but I’m picking against “The Psycho.” Gorman has strong wrestling, but Gagnon is far superior all around. He’ll take it with a second round TKO.
Vince: More like Mitch Gagnon DEEZ NUTS am I right? …No, probably not. In fact I’m not even sure that works, pronunciation-wise. Judging solely by their records, in which Gagnon has fought much stiffer competition, I have to assume Gorman has been brought in to lose to the hometown Canadian. Gagnon gags on the victory.
Burnsy: I’ll take Gagnon while invoking my rule about not picking newcomers, even though Gorman was already on TUF.
Welterweight – Richard “Filthy Rich” Walsh vs Chris “The Savage” Indich
Jessica: The first of several TUF Nations Finale fights! So, basically Some Dude versus A Guy. I’m going to go with Indich by let’s say decision.
Danny: A battle between Team Australia teammates, Richard Walsh was one of the few Aussies to have success on the show. He has solid boxing and his wrestling isn’t tremendous, but it’s better than Indich’s Filthy Rich takes this one by decision.
Vince: No idea. But I like Filthy Rich’s nickname. Dirty Dick Walsh is my pick.
Burnsy: Two UFC debuts from the TUF Australian guys. It would be funny if one of them came to the octagon in a kangaroo’s pouch. Wouldn’t it? I thought so. I’ll take Walsh before I make any of you angrier.
Middleweight – Nordine Taleb vs Vik “The Spartan” Grujic
Jessica: Taleb has a Wikipedia page and Grujic doesn’t, so nuts to you, Vik. Taleb wins by second round knockout.
Danny: Taleb was one of the early favorites heading into this season. He’s even listed as a cast member for the next season of The Ultimate Fighter. In theory this should be a runaway for Nordine, but he seemed much too passive in his first round fight against Tyler Manowaroa. Grujic’s weakness is his wrestling, but he’ll be able to stand up long enough to take the decision.
Vince: All I know about Grujic is that he looked pretty good until he got subbed against Westcott, which is more than I know about Taleb. Grujic.
Burnsy: There’s apparently something really special about Taleb, because not only was he on TUF Nations, but he’s also on the next season of TUF, and he gets to fight at this event. He must be providing some sweet loving to someone, so obviously he’s going to win.
Lightweight – Mark Bocek vs Mike “El Cucuy” De La Torre
Jessica: You better Bocek yourself before you Bo-wreck yourself, de la Torre. Bocek is a pretty solid grappler, so I’m looking for him to nab a third round submission.
Danny: De La Torre is a last minute replacement with a ton of potential. When you’re facing Mark Bocek, though, that doesn’t mean much. Bocek may not every reach the top of the division, but he only loses to the best. He submits “El Cucuy” in the first round.
Vince: Bocek is a pretty good submission guy and both of El Cucuy’s losses have come by way of submission. SCIENCE. Bocek by ginger magic.
Burnsy: I know Bocek is the crafty veteran who occasionally wins, but I’m going to take De La Torre in this fight for no reason other than I don’t want to pick Bocek.
Bantamweight – George Roop vs Dustin “The Diamond” Kimura
Jessica: Roop is a human scarecrow at 135, and it’s sometimes gross to look at. Kimura has never won by kimura, which is weird. Roop should be able to use his ultra-reach to outbox Kimura and get a solid decision win, and hopefully, a victory sandwich.
Danny: Roop doesn’t have the most impressive record, but he’s no pushover. His lanky, awkward style may not be intimidating, but he knows how to use his reach advantage to maximum effect. He struggles against explosive fighters with knockout power, but Kimura does not fit that description. He’s a grappler that doesn’t possess the wrestling to smother Roop for three rounds. Roop by decision.
Vince: Wait, Kimura stole Dustin Poirier’s nickname? Lame, guy. Roop via non-hackdom.
Burnsy: Between UFC 156 and 165, Kimura had a bit of a bumpy stretch, missing weight and then losing, respectively. Roop is like the perfect opponent for him to make it two wins in a row now, so Kimura with very little doubt.
Light Heavyweight – Ryan “The Big Deal” Jimmo vs Sean “The Real OC” O’Connell
Jessica: Jimmo used to be that cool dude who knocked out Anthony Perosh in like seven seconds and then did the robot afterwards. Now he’s just a dude who’s looked crappy and recently fell victim to Jimi Manuwa’s weird injury-causing powers. I can only assume that Sean O’Connell is related to Jerry O’Connell, which says nothing for his fighting prowess. Jimmo is decent at beating up random dudes, so I’ll take him to win by second round TKO.
Danny: O’Connell’s nickname is “The Real OC.” What does that mean? The guy was born in Salt Lake City. I might give him some credit if he fully embraces the terrible nickname by coming out to the Phantom Planet song “California,” but that’s all he’ll get. Jimmo will be more disciplined on the feet and cruise to a decision win.
Vince: I don’t know who the real Jimmo is. I used to think he was the world’s most boring fighter until he KO’d The Hippo in seven seconds, who I in turn just assumed always got KO’d until he smashed it forward by knocking out Vinny Magalhaes in 14 seconds. Jimmo has since had a lackluster loss to Te-Huna, an impressive victory over Pokrajacs, and an injury whatsit against Manuwa. WHO THE HELL ARE YOU, JIMMO? Nonetheless, I’m picking Jimmo because even though I don’t which Jimmo is going to show up on fight day, I literally don’t know who Sean O’Connell even is.
Burnsy: I figure that this is a gimme for Jimmo, maybe a gimmo for Jimmo – no YOU are the one who makes awful jokes – so I’ll be safe and pick him.
Bantamweight – Sarah Kaufman vs Leslie “The Peacemaker” Smith
Jessica: I’m still not convinced that Kaufman has an opponent until Smith is inside the octagon and the first round begins. If this fight actually happens, it’ll be a nice rematch from their Invicta fight (GO WATCH INVICTA, YO!). Kaufman has a nice boxing game, while Smith is 100% Stockton Slap, so I expect a stand-up fight from these two. After flipping several coins, I’m going to go with Smith by a narrow, split decision.
Danny: Despite the record discrepancies, this is a tighter matchup than you’d initially think. The two fought just over a year ago and Kaufman eked by a split decision. Expect Kaufman to learn to learn her lesson from the fight and made adjustments. She’ll take the second round TKO.
Vince: I know nothing about Leslie Smith, but her Wikipedia says she’s from Norcal. I hella want to pick her because of that, but I think Kaufman takes it.
Burnsy: I’d like to see Smith come out and just level Kaufman for the sake of some fresh blood in the women’s division, not that it’s stale or anything, but the more the better. I’m still picking Kaufman, though.
Lightweight – Sam “Hands of Stone” Stout vs KJ “King Karl” Noons
Jessica: Karl James Noons always tops my list of “MMA Dorkus Malorkuses”, and it’s fun to watch him get blitzed by Krazy Horse all those years ago. Stout, not fighting Spencer Fisher for once, has good kickboxing, and an underrated wrestling game. Noons is dumb, and will probably get punched really hard when he’s flipping his bangs out of his eyes. Stout wins by third round TKO.
Danny: Noons is one of the best boxers in MMA. Unlike James Toney, though, he knows how to use his boxing in an MMA context. Stout has improved wrestling and TKO power, but he’ll struggle with Noons’s footwork. KJ sticks and moves his way to a decision.
Vince: KJ Noons is a great boxer with awesome take down defense who legit beat Nick Diaz in 2007, no matter what Nick Diaz says. That said, he doesn’t seem to be the smartest fighter in the world and I don’t know how the hell he lost to Ryan Couture. With Noons’ footwork and Stout’s chin, I almost guarantee this one’s going to a decision, possibly a split. I think Noons is going to be the slightly better boxer.
Burnsy: This is one of the toughest coin flips I can make, because Noons has lost five of his last seven, and Stout is 3-3 in his last six. I’ll take Stout just because Noons is practically guaranteed to lose by my scientific standards.
Featherweight – Dustin “The Diamond” Poirier vs Akira Corassani
Jessica: Poirier is gonna Cajun Jiu-Jitsu the heck outta Akira and his dumb bald spot and cover-up fedora. Akira is like the only Swedish fighter I want to see get eaten by a moose. Poirier wins by first round submission (Via his patented d’arce choke).
Danny: This is the most mismatched fight on the card. Corassani is a Taekwondo black belt whose three performances inside the Octagon haven’t exactly been spectacular. Dustin Poirier is the #6 ranked featherweight with some of the slickest striking in the division. Poirier could finish this fight on the feet, but he’ll probably take the path of least resistance. Poirier by first round submission.
Vince: Corassani is one of those fighters who’s won a lot without ever looking that impressive, while Poirier has the best nickname in the sport outside of “Shoe Face.” If Poirier can handle the power of Diego Brandao, I gotta think he can handle Akira Corassani.
Burnsy: Corassani is the hot hand with three straight wins, including his UFC debut. I like Poirier, despite the fact that his nickname always makes me think Screech, but I’m going to take Corassani to keep the streak alive.
Welterweight – Chad “The Disciple” Laprise vs Olivier “The Quebec Kid” Aubin-Mercier
Jessica: Again, I didn’t watch this season, so I’m at a loss on these two. Well, I do think I saw a GIF of Laprise killing some dude during the show, but that’s it. I want Olivier Aubin-Mercier to have a waxed handlebar mustache and basically be a French dandy, but I’m pretty sure he’s not, so I’ll go with the Canadian guy with the whitest non-Canadian name possible, CHAD to win by decision. (For the record, GORD is the most white Canadian name)
Danny: Chad Laprise said that his dream was to open up a fight church where he was a pastor. No, this wasn’t some cool turn of phrase like the local strip club being called, “The Library.” He wants an actual church where guys beat each other up and then talk about Jesus. Well, someone beat him to the punch on that one and Olivier will do the same here. Aubin-Mercier combines his judo background with a strong submission game. The only negative I can think of from his time on the show was when they tried to get the nickname “The Quebecois Kid” going. That just sound like a French Canadian Dennis the Menace. It’s just a comic strip about a kid trying to steal Monsieur Tremblay’s poutine recipe. All that aside, Olivier gets the takedown, takes Chad’s back and locks up the first round rear naked choke.
Burnsy: These guys look like they just bumped into each other in the parking lot at Senor Frogs and they want to settle it like a couple of BROs. I also don’t know a thing about these guys, so I’ll get really ballsy and take Aubin-Mercier to win.
Middleweight – Sheldon Westcott vs Elias “The Spartan” Theodorou
Jessica: Blarg, who even cares about these guys? Are they going to be able to defeat the mighty Strong Island Wide-Man? Probably not, so they should not exist, as far as I’m concerned. I’ll go with Theodorou for the heck of it. He wins by third round TKO, I guess.
Danny: I have a hard time being objective for this fight. Mostly because I really did not care for Theodorou’s attitude on the show. Yeah the humble brags about him being a model and general arrogance were annoying, but you expect that from fighters. What I couldn’t stand was how he shoved the movie 300 down our throats. Yeah, I get it, you’re nickname is “The Spartan.” Does that really mean you have to wear the mask, and yell “This is Sparta,” at weigh-ins. I suppose I should be glad he didn’t name himself “The Boondock Saint” and get Latin words tattooed on his hands, but that’s about it.
Oh the fight? Westcott is an extremely aggressive fighter. He charges forward and should be able to keep Theodorou on his heels. Our Spartan model has good wrestling from top position, but he seems uncomfortable on his back. Westcott by decision.
Vince: Ah yes, a classic match-up of those two Canadian guys who kinda look and sound alike. Theodorou’s “This! Is! Sparta!” weigh in was my favorite moment of the show, since Theodorou was literally the only person in the room who didn’t think it was cringingly lame. Obviously my heart says Sheldon, but luckily so does my brain, because dude’s subs are straight NASTY. In all honesty I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone get a tap that fast on a head and arm or on a Von Flue choke (which Westcott actually sunk from half guard). Choosing Westcott unless he gets hypothermia from douche chills.
Burnsy: I am picking Westcott because I want him to annihilate Theodorou so badly that every BRO who airbrushed abs on for Halloween the last 6 or 7 years feels it.
Welterweight – Patrick “The Predator” Côté vs Kyle “KO” Noke
Jessica: Côté has really good boxing, with pretty solid power, and only tends to lose against guys that can out-grapple him pretty ferociously. Noke’s good at the man-grabs, but I don’t think he’s that good. Côté wins because MMA Law states that at least one French-Canadian must be successful in the UFC at any given time. Côté punches his way to a third round KO.
Danny: Côté likes to brawl. He has more KO power than Noke, but a very limited repertoire of attacks. Noke is smart enough to stand right in front of Côté and will use his kicks to keep distance. As Côté charges forward, Noke will change levels for the takedown. Côté has a durable chin, so he’ll be able to survive. He can avoid the KO, but won’t avoid the decision loss.
Vince: I like Côté because he always seems stoned and Noke because he used be a bodyguard for the Crocodile Hunter (I’ve been to that zoo!). Hey, Noke, where were you at on that stingray? Oh God, that’s terrible. Anyway, Côté is a brawler, so it’s tempting to pick Noke because of his obvious reach advantage, but I think Côté has the edge in power, speed, and chin. I see it as a stand up fight, where Côté has a slight advantage. Because when’s the last time you saw an Aussie win a fight on the ground?
Burnsy: I like Côté a lot since his return to the UFC, so I’m pulling for him to win his third in a row. There’s really no science to this one other than I wish I had lines above the letters in my name.
Middleweight – Michael “The Count” Bisping vs Tim Kennedy
Jessica: Bisping is very similar to Luke Rockhold, who took care of Kennedy fairly easily because Tim is like four feet tall. Bisping’s footwork and ability to keep distance should serve him well in this fight. Also helping him is the fact that a title shot isn’t on the line, as he tends to lose those fights pretty handily. Going for Kennedy is the fact that he’s not a thin-skinned dingus, doesn’t tend to gouge eyeballs like a 1980s AWA heel, and is from Texas. That last facet automatically puts him over the edge in my book. Kennedy wins by decision.
Danny: The deciding factor here will be conditioning. Bisping may have a sharp wit, but his punches have about as much bite as pillows. Kennedy’s speed advantage will help him in the early rounds, but I don’t know if he’ll be able to maintain that for all five rounds. Kennedy will want to finish the takedown, but Bisping has an underrated wrestling game. Even Chael Sonnen couldn’t hold “The Count,” down for extended periods. Bisping will start to pull away at the end, but Kennedy will have enough early success to get the UD.
Vince: Man, I want Tim Kennedy to smash this British prick so bad. But like Danny Boy says, Bisping has never had that much trouble with wrestlers, unless you count getting his face smashed by Hendo (best KO ever), and I thought he actually won the Sonnen fight. This fight is a pick ’em, if you ask me. I’ll take Kennedy by a chipmunk’s cock hair, based on the fact that Bisping hasn’t fought in a year. And because it will allow me to root against Bisping, which is important.
Burnsy: This is basically the second event in a row that I haven’t read as much about each fighter and looked back at some previous fights as I like to do – you know, like the Skip Bayless of dick joke makers that I am. I have to admit, I’m really distracted by my awesome media debut at UFC on Fox in Orlando this Saturday, and I’ve been studying up on those fighters. So I’m kind of just making all of these picks based off of vague things that I remember and personal preferences, but I decided that for the main event, I wanted to make a very educated pick… Tim Kennedy wins! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!