MMA

UFC 187 Predictions: Who Is Leaving Las Vegas As The New Light Heavyweight Champion?

It’s time! UFC 187 is here, and despite some big changes to the card that was originally announced, it’s still a good night of fights. The bouts kick off at 6:30 PM ET on Fight Pass, so let’s see who’s fighting, and more importantly, who is going to win.

Important Standings of Note:

Jessica: 382-259-4 (60%)
Burnsy: 394-234-5 (63%)
Vince: 192-124-2 (61%)
Ryan: 8-2-1 (77%)
Danny: 161-77-1 (67%)
Spilled: 76-56-2 (57%)
Sydnie: 16-12 (57%)
Chris: 42-13-2 (75%)
NY Ric: 36-26-1 (57%)
Ghost: 6-7 (46%)
Seth: 32-15 (68%)
Biss: 41-39-1 (51%)
Jared: 41-27-1 (60%)
Melanie: 7-2 (78%)

Flyweight: Justin “Tank” Scoggins vs. Josh “The Gremlin” Sampo

Jessica: Both guys have had tough fights on their two-fight losing streaks. I think Scoggins has faced better guys, though, and that’s why I’m picking him to win. Well, that and the fact that I refuse to support Gremlins. Scoggins wins with a third-round TKO.

Melanie: Scoggins.

Burnsy: A possible pink slip fight to start the night? My oh my, we are a spoiled group of fight fans. But seriously, this card is pretty awesome, all things considered, so maybe there’s fun to be had in watching two guys who desperately need a win beat each other up. Both guys lost by submission in their last fights, but Scoggins lasted one round longer so I’ll take him here.

Jared: Nothing like a battle between two guys who’ve lost their last two fights to kick off THE BEST CARD OF THE YEAR, AMIRIGHT?!

I kid, but Scoggins should take this with relative ease.

Lightweight: Islam Makhachev vs. Leo “The Lion” Kuntz

Jessica: In addition to being the newest UFC representative of the Dagestani Knucklegame Cartel, Makhachev is also fully endorsed by the DKC’s top don, Khabib Nurmagomedov. That’s enough for me to throw my full support behind him. Islam submits Kuntz in the first round.

Melanie: Makhachev.

Burnsy: The insane part of my brain that I typically keep locked up and away from the rest of the world wants to see this fight take place somewhere in Texas. An American taking on a Russian guy named Islam? Holy crap, I can’t believe that’s not something that already happened in the WWE. That said, like Jessica, I have a very hard time picking against the DKC, and Leo’s last name also makes me giggle. I know, I’m at the peak of my professionalism right now. Anyway, Makhachev wins, and I guess you can say I’ve converted to Islam.

Jared: When you see a record as impressive as Kuntz’s and have never heard of the guy, it warrants a little investigation. Is this guy a legitimate prospect, or another Jason Reinhardt-level can-crusher? Sadly for Kuntz, it’s the latter. At 17-1, Kuntz’s last fight before being signed by the UFC was against Ted Worthington, whose record stands at an astounding 34-50.

Makhachev, on the other hand, is a battle-tested, undefeated M1 vet. A quick look over his record reveals that the majority of his wins have come over opponents with actual winning records, so that’s all the MMA Math I need to pick my winner. Makhachev.

Welterweight: Mike “Quicksand” Pyle vs. Colby “Chaos” Covington

Jessica: There is no way that a dude named after a mid-tier cheese can defeat the best mullet in the fight game. Pyle is too crafty and veterany. Pyle wins with a second-round TKO.

Spilled: Ah… the eternal MMA pick dilemma. Do you go with the young, undefeated up-and-comer or the crafty veteran? Most of CC’s wins are by sub but Pyle ain’t an easy guy to sub. I’ll ask Carlos B. Dog… ‘Los says “You can’t f*ck with that mullet.” So, I’ll concur. Pyle gets the better of the grappling and comes out with a late-round submission.

Melanie: Pyle.

Burnsy: I won’t normally pick a fighter with a 7-0 record over someone who is experienced, but Chaos is off to a hot start in the UFC and I haven’t used my undefeated fighter endorsement that much lately. So Chaos gets the nod.

Vince: On the one hand, I love Mike Pyle and his fierce mullet. On the other, Covington is an undefeated all-American wrestler. Pyle will be a huge step up in competition, but I haven’t seen enough holes in his game to pick against him yet. He’s a good wrestler, quick as hell, and seems to have decent hands. Covington.

Jared: Ah, Mike Pyle. The supposed “best gym fighter” in MMA history who just can’t seem to put it together in the cage (or at least, his chin can’t). This seems like a set-up fight for Covington, but he lacks the kind of raw KO power that has given Pyle trouble in the past. I’ll take the veteran for the upset.

Strawweight: “Thug” Rose Namajunas vs. Nina “The Strina” Ansaroff

Jessica: This should be a really good fight. Both ladies have solid striking, but Rose should have an advantage on the ground. I’m going with Thug Rose because I’ve been riding with her since before day one. Thug Rose wins with a flying submission in the very first round.

Spilled: I don’t remember Nina’s last fight, though I’m sure I saw it. There are 6,000 fights a year now, my brain can’t retain all that info. Rose has lost her last two, but to top gals. What I know about Thug Rose is she’s as tough as she is adorable and she’s crazy creative/unpredictable with her strikes and subs. Even though she’s like a yellow belt or something in BJJ, anyone who can win with a flying armbar should get promoted at least two belts. I’m gonna be MMA conspiracy guy and say the UFC knows Rose has star potential and Joe Silva is probably going to give her a favorable match-up. Me, Joe and Carlos are picking Thug Rose by second-round submission.

Melanie: Namajunas.

Burnsy: Every thug needs a lady, and every Thug Rose really needs a win right now, so I’ll stick with the popular theory.

Vince: Thug Rose goes to 2-3 if she loses this, but hey, Nina The Strina was 1-3 at one point in her career, so maybe a losing record wouldn’t be so bad. Kinda tough when you’re thrown in with the top 10 right out the gate. Rose broke my heart against Esparza, but I’ve seen Ansaroff fight a grand total of one time in an unimpressive loss. Let’s go Rose.

Jared: Thug Rose once wore our logo into the cage and scored a 20-second flying armbar victory. I am forever in debt to her for that and hope to see more of the same come Saturday night.

Middleweight: Uriah “Prime Time” Hall vs. Rafael “Sapo” Natal

Jessica: Grappler versus striker in a battle of guys that train in New York, but aren’t from there. I guess I’ll go with Hall because I think his defensive wrestling will be good enough to keep the fight standing. Natal’s okay, but I don’t see him winning many exchanges on the feet against Uriah. Hall wins by unanimous decision.

Spilled: I’m going with Hall by TKO, and Carlos is going with Natal by sub. Carlos may be a dog genius but I’ve been watching MMA before he was born. So, it’s even odds on either of us being right.

Melanie: Hall.

Burnsy: Yes, Hall is on a three-fight win streak, but I’m still not convinced he’s reached even half of his potential. Like, when I watch this guy fight, win or lose, I feel like I end up saying that it was a terrible fight, and two of those three wins have come under peculiar circumstances. So, it’s almost like he’s the luckiest fighter in the UFC right now, because the wins are just falling into place. Everyone loves Hall because they expect him to knock a guy out in spectacular fashion every single time, so he’s supposed to excite and thrill us. Meanwhile, Natal goes the distance in almost every fight, win or lose. Basically, I predict this will be the opposite of Fight of the Night, and Natal will hold the key to making Hall turn in a lackluster, losing performance.

Vince: I hate to agree with Dana White, but it seems the only thing Uriah Hall is missing is a killer instinct. Has he developed one? I hope so, because Rafael Natal is decent, but should be way too plodding to beat someone as quick as Hall. Hall.

Jared: Uriah Hall via some crazy shit.

Welterweight: Dong Hyun “Stun Gun” Kim vs. Josh “The People’s Warrior” Burkman

Jessica: I may be one of the few people that still likes Burkman, the last surviving American Who-Hit-U fighter. Sadly, Kim’s way too gigantic and strengthly for Josh. Dong will take Burkman down and proceed to thoroughly bother him for all three rounds. Kim wins by unanimous decision.

Spilled: Ugh. This is why I hate doing picks. I used to look at a card and have mostly definitive opinions on who’d win. Now, it’s like “I don’t f*ckin’ know, man!” Carlos is going with Kim, so I guess I’ll copy his answer. Kim by UD… which means probably Burkman by first-round KO. (my second guess)

Melanie: Burkman.

Burnsy: Dong was unstoppable until he ran into the now-unstoppable (so long as his opponent is basically near death and shouldn’t be fighting) Tyron Woodley, but he’ll get back on track here.

Vince: I was all aboard the Burkman train until he came in against Lombard and stunk up the joint. Also, Dong was looking solid before the Woodley fight, which was kind of flukey, and Woodley is a beast. I don’t really see Burkman being able to catch Dong during his proverbial “spinning sh*t” like Woodley did. Hopefully Dong comes out pissed and not gunshy. Dong.

Jared: Now this is an interesting matchup to predict, if only because of how unpredictable Kim has become. He’s undoubtedly the better grappler of the two, but he’s also traded in his tedious (but effective), grapple-heavy attack as of late for a brawler’s mentality, which could put him in all sorts of trouble against Burkman. I’ll take Kim to smarten up his gameplan and win a close decision.

Flyweight: John “The Magician” Dodson vs. Zach “Fun Size” Makovsky

Jessica: In the immortal words on the fake MMA-version of Ghostface Killah, VIOLENT HOBBITRY, Y’ALL! Zach is a good wrestler, but tiny Johnny Dodson is a violent murder-puncher. Dodson wins by first-round knockout.

Spilled: Dodson is the best flyweight not named Demetrious Johnson. If only Ian “Uncle Creepy” McCall fought consistently at his best, he’d easily be number one, if not the champ…. But I digress. Me and ‘Los agree. Dodson via TKO round two.

Melanie: Dodson.

Burnsy: Every time I watch a flyweight fight with my friends, we have a big argument over the talent at hand. Basically, my friends are blood-lusting vampires, so I have to constantly sell them on Mighty Mouse and Dodson as little guys who are SO MUCH FUN TO WATCH! Dodson is such a wonderful badass and I look forward to him raining fury on Fun Size’s face.

Vince: Problem with flyweights isn’t that they’re small, it’s that they’re obnoxiously evenly-matched and it rarely feels like closure. That said, Dodson is one of the better flyweight finishers, and I don’t think Makovsky is in his league. Dodson.

Jared: Dodson is arguably the fastest flyweight in the division, and just has way more ways to win than Makovsky.

Flyweight: Joseph “Joe B Wan Kenobi” Benavidez vs. John Moraga

Jessica: Moraga is a good fighter, but he’s kind of a “gatekeeper to the stars,” and Benavidez is more than capable of smashing that gate off the hinges. Benavidez will land some big shots, get Moraga wobbled, and then choke him out with the Joa Constrictor. Joe B wins by second-round submission.

Spilled: Joe B. is the best flyweight not named D.J. or Dodson. Joe once tweeted that Carlos was a “cool lil dude” so we’re definitely going with Joe B. Let’s say third rd guillotine set up by a punch that wobbles Moraga.

Melanie: Benavidez.

Burnsy: This could be called the Battle of Two Good Fighters Who Will Never Win the Flyweight Title, Because They’re Not Good Enough to Beat Mighty Mouse or Dodson, but that’s way too long of a name. That said, Benavidez takes this one in my pick for FotN.

Ryan: Any would be MMA bettors take note: Team Alpha Male members win pretty much every fight they’re in except for title fights. Benavidez is one of those lifestyle athletes that keeps his skills sharp and his motivation high at all times. Moraga’s gonna get another bump down the ladder after Joseph is done with him. Joseph Benavidez via submission (guillotine choke), R3

Vince: Moraga’s pretty good, but is he Joe-Jitsu good? Doubtful. Benavidez.

Jared: Benavidez. See my thoughts on Dodson-Makovsky.

Heavyweight: Travis “Hapa” Browne vs. Andrei “The Pitbull” Arlovski

Jessica: Sorry, Travis, but Chael’s gypsy curse still holds strong. Arlovski continues to have a weird career resurgence, wins by third-round TKO and somehow gets a title shot at the end of 2015.

Spilled: Browne wears AA out, backs him against the fence and unloads a barrage or strikes. The only question, does Arlovski survive? Browne by third-round TKO or UD. Carlos is making the crazy pick: Arlovski by third-round Hail Mary punch for the KO. ‘Los loves the old skool guys.

Melanie: Browne.

Burnsy: Browne still owes me for putting on such a sad display in Orlando last year, and his mauling of Brendan Schaub was a good start. For what it’s worth, Arlovski beat Schaub by a split decision, but I’m not in the business of making picks based on how bad someone embarrassed Schaub. I think Browne uses that momentum, though, and gets a much more impressive win this time, and gets back in the title conversation in the process. (I know, that’s a really sad statement, that it takes a win over Arlovksi to be in Heavyweight title consideration, but that division is a mess right now. Get better soon, heavyweight class.)

Ryan: This is a bit of a toss up… skill wise, I think both guys are on equal ground but lately Arlovski has been very hit and miss on his ability to put those skills together in the cage. His fight with Brendan Schaub was one of the worst fights of the year. Meanwhile, Travis’ only stumble lately was a technical clock cleaning at the hands of current interim champ Fabricio Werdum, one he seems to have come back from with more steely determination than ever. I choose the guy with his head screwed on straight and his eyes on the prize. Travis Browne via KO, R2

Vince: Incredibly, Andrei Arlovski’s notoriously suspect chin hasn’t been a factor in his last four wins, and he actually hasn’t been KO’d since 2011. There’s a good chance Arlovski could out-strike Browne for a decision, and I’ll be rooting for the old guy for sure, but I can’t count on it. Not against a six foot seven Hawaiian dude who knocks people out with short elbows against the cage. Browne.

Jared: It’s been so damn fun to see Andrei Arlovski back in the UFC — that he’s managed to pick up back-to-back wins over decent competition is just a bonus. But all good things must come to an end, and it pains me to say that he is going to eat heavy leather until he goes night-night on Saturday.

Lightweight: Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone vs. John “The Bull” Makdessi

Jessica: This seems like as much of a gimme fight as you’re going to get on the main-card of a UFC PPV. Granted, that typically means a hilarious upset, but in Cowboy’s own words, “NOT TODAY, MOTHERF*CKER.” Cowboy is going to pulp Makdessi with kickboxing and throw on a submission for funsies in the second round.

Spilled: Cowboy vs. Bull, that’s kinda appropriate, huh? Cowboy via TKO set up by many brutal leg kicks. Carlos says “sounds about right, but I’m hoping to see a nice liver kick. Bas Ruten style.”

Melanie: Cerrone.

Burnsy: While I’m still super duper bummed about Khabib Nurmagomedov being hurt, I respect Makdessi for taking this fight. Nothing is stopping Cerrone right now, though. The dude is on a wonderful tear and Cowboy will get a title shot as soon as he’s done with the Bull.

Ryan: As a Canadian, I have been informed by the Canadian Council of Fight Fans that I must vote for John Makdessi, if not in my heart than at least in prediction posts like this. Those that haven’t been following Makdessi’s improvements over the past two years probably think this is a crazy choice, but don’t think Makdessi is another Chris Camozzi stepping in to face Jacare. At the very least, Makdessi is gonna turn this into the kind of scrap you want leading into two major title fights. John Makdessi via split decision

Vince: John Makdessi fights incredibly well for someone who appears to have a lazy eye. Sh*t, he’s not going to read this, is he? If so, please don’t murder me, Mr. Makdessi. That said, I have to think he’s giving up way too much reach against Cerrone and probably has the disadvantage on the ground too. Cerrone.

Jared: Cerrone’s hit his peak, and nothing short of Khabib Nurmagomedov is going to stop him now. “Cowboy” wins this with relative ease and finally gets his title shot.

Middleweight Title: Chris “The All-American” Weidman vs. Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort

Jessica: Fun fact: Vitor’s fighting career is only three months younger than Phenomenon, the John Travolta movie. True fact: Weidman is going to obliterate Vitor. Weidman wins by second round TKO.

Spilled: I’m going Weidman by complete dismantling. UD. Carlos? Belfort by flying knee? Are you just trying to be contrary? He’s just smiling at me…

Melanie: Weidman.

Burnsy: A lot of times when I make these picks that millions of people read, I say that I’m really excited about a certain fight. Sometimes that a little exaggerated for the sake of salesmanship, but in this case I am so excited for this fight. Although, it’s not because I think it’s going to be amazing. It probably will, because these are two fighters that are really great, but I just want to sit back and watch Weidman do his thing against Belfort, who has looked like a monster in recent fights, but two of his last three fights were against Michael Bisping and Dan Henderson, so color me unimpressed. Weidman wins, probably by UD, and then we all pray he doesn’t get arrested for choking prostitutes with condoms full of heroin.

Ryan: I’m a huge Chris Weidman fan, but I am also a big believer in science, and whatever illicit science going on under Vitor Belfort’s hood these days is top notch. Not only does it allow him to pass random NSAC urine tests, but it keeps his testosterone levels higher than Weidman, who is 10 years younger and doesn’t have hypergonadism, as Vitor claims he does. So, I’m betting on the cheat to win. How can you lose with both steroids and Jesus on your side? Vitor Belfort via KO, R2

Vince: In nine years, the only two fights Vitor Belfort has lost have been to Jon Jones and Anderson Silva. Of course, we also assume he was juicing, er, TRTing like an East German race horse. I have to assume that’s going to be a factor. But now there’s a question (see above) of whether Vitor might still be doing something shady. But even if this non-steroid Vitor is actually Steroid Vitor in disguise, I’m still not convinced he’s bringing anything Anderson Silva didn’t. Weidman.

Jared: There are so many outside factors that weigh heavily on this fight (Weidman’s constant injuries, Vitor’s inactivity, Vitor’s age, Vitor’s lack of TRT-fueled madness), but Weidman has far less question marks hanging above his head. The champ takes it by championship round stoppage.

Light Heavyweight Title: Anthony “Rumble” Johnson vs. Daniel “D.C.” Cormier

Jessica: F*ck Rumble. And that’s from the heart. Cormier is going to smother him with wrestling, punch his face a bunch and knock out Johnson in the third.

Spilled: Carlos, what do you think about this one? I like D.C., but Johnson’s power punching blitzkrieg has been destroying people.
Carlos: Not Phil Davis or Arlovski.
Okay fair enough… but A.J. has so much reach on D.C., and his speed is gonna be a problem, too.
Carlos: Nothing D.C. hasn’t dealt with before.
Well, I’m picking Anthony Johnson by TKO. I don’t think he knocks D.C. unconscious, but bad enough that the ref steps in.
Carlos: D.C .
Method?
Carlos: Wrasslin’.
Okay… You want a treat?
Carlos: F*ck yeah I do!

Melanie: Johnson.

Burnsy: Rumble’s going to win, but I’m picking Cormier because I have a soul and I want the UFC to be a better company.

Ryan: This isn’t going to be a repeat of the Gustafsson vs. Rumble fight where Gus tried to strike with Rumble and got his block knocked off. Cormier is a smart and wily fellow; he’ll take two rounds wrasslin’ all the pep out of Anthony Johnson and then drown him like he did heavyweights like Josh Barnett and Roy Nelson. Daniel Cormier via TKO, R4

Vince: This one I have no idea. I really like watching both of these guys fight. Rumble has insane power, but if he’s been susceptible to anything it’s a wrestlef*cking, and he’s going against an Olympian here. A really smart Olympian who throws pretty damned good punches. I give the edge to Cormier.

Jared: I don’t know, you guys. I really don’t know about this one. Everyone seems to be pretty high on Cormier here, and rightfully so, but Johnson’s the lengthier/bigger fighter, the better striker, and his takedown defense has improved exponentially over the years. Cormier only has one way of winning this, and his wrestling game has always been more about power and persistence than any kind of flashy, unorthodox takedown attack that catches his opponents off guard.

Jon Jones was able to completely nullify Cormier’s attack using his length and speed, and I see Johnson being able to do the same in at least the early going, where he’s the most dangerous. But Cormier is too smart and possesses the kind of grinding style that so often nullify’s dangerous strikers. Cormier by decision.

Performance of the Night

Jessica: Dodson, Namajunas.

Burnsy: Cerrone, Brown.

Fight of the Night

Jessica: Oh man, so many options. I’ll go with Scoggins vs. Sampo.

Burnsy: Benavidez vs. Moraga.

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